Love Walks In

By: Samantha Chase


Seventeen Years Ago…

Why wouldn’t everyone leave?

Hugh Shaughnessy stood in the corner of his living room, glaring at the masses. They came. They saw. They said their condolences. Wasn’t that enough?

Everywhere he looked, there were people. He glanced at his watch and shook his head with disgust. Four thirty. Didn’t anyone realize someone needed to start preparing dinner at five? Every night the family sat down for dinner at exactly six fifteen, but if someone didn’t start moving these people toward the door, it wasn’t going to happen.


It was all about the schedules.

There was no room for spontaneity—no room for straying from the norm. He’d learned that the hard way. And there were at least a hundred people milling about to witness the lesson he’d been forced to learn.

Turning his back on everyone, he thought of the conversation he’d had only days before with his mother.

“Do you have any idea what time it is?” Lillian Shaughnessy asked her second oldest son as soon as he’d walked through the front door.

Hugh took off his letterman jacket, hung it on his designated peg on the wall, and shrugged. “I don’t know. Nine?”

His mother’s eyes narrowed as she looked at him. “It’s after ten. Where were you that you couldn’t call to say you were going to be late?”

Not really in the mood for a lecture or an argument, Hugh walked toward the kitchen to get something to eat. He made it all of three steps before his mother—who was almost a foot shorter than him—grabbed him by the arm and forced him to look at her. “What?” he snapped. “I went out with a couple of friends after school. I lost track of time. It’s not a big deal. I’m almost eighteen. Don’t you think it’s time I stopped having a curfew? I mean…really. Can’t a guy go out once in a while without it turning into a big deal?”

But it was a big deal. Lillian Shaughnessy ran a tight ship in her home. With six kids, she had no choice. There were chores to do, meals to cook, homework to be checked, and without a routine—a schedule—things could easily fall apart and break down into chaos.

“You know the rules, Hugh. You had chores to do this afternoon—chores Quinn had to take on because you weren’t here.”

“So? I’ll do his chores tomorrow.”

Lillian looked up at her son, her expression firm. “That’s not the point and you know it. You broke the rules. Again. You didn’t come home on time and you didn’t call. Again. This is the third time this week.” She held out her hand. “Give me your keys.”

“What?” Hugh cried. “But…that’s not fair!”

She shook her head. “No driving for a week. You’ll have to take the bus to and from school. If one of your friends drives you, you’ll still need to be home on time. No extra stops, no excuses.”

Hugh wanted to argue, but he knew it was pointless. Without a word, he put the keys in his mother’s hand and turned to go to his room.

“Your dinner is in the microwave,” she said, still standing where he’d left her.

“I’m not hungry,” he mumbled and went to his room.

For the next two days he was the model son—he came home on time, did his chores and his homework all without saying a word of complaint. On the third day, he came home miserable. It was storming and the walk from the bus stop had left him soaked to the skin.

“You’d better get changed before you catch a cold,” his mother warned, but she looked distracted.

“What’s going on?” Hugh asked.

“Darcy has an ear infection. I’ve got to pick up a prescription for her.” She looked out the window and frowned. “I had hoped the rain would let up by now. I can’t wait any longer.”

It was on the tip of his tongue to offer to go for her, but he remembered his punishment. And for a moment, he wanted to be mean—to show her how her stupid punishment affected her too. “Well, if I was allowed to drive, I’d go. But since it’s so important for me to learn my lesson…” He let his words die off.

Lillian merely gave him a tight smile. “You can be mad at me all you want. You broke curfew…for what? To go joyriding for an afternoon? Was it worth it?” She reached for her coat and slipped it on, her eyes still on Hugh.