Saturday, March 16, 2013

Millie's Mistake (a story)

By Bethany

   June, 1923.

  "Mildred, you told Mr. and Mrs. Wallace that you would watch their baby for them tonight while they go to the dinner party, didn't you?" Mrs. Conroy came into the kitchen where her 14 year old daughter was sitting at the table.
  Millie slapped her hand to her forehead and groaned "Oh no!"
 "Dear, don't be so melodramatic," Mrs. Conroy stopped a moment, remembering something "Was there someone at the door? I thought I heard something as I came downstairs"
 "Oh! How could I have forgotten?" Millie moaned again "That was Mrs. Anderson who just left. She came over to ask if I would watch Peter and Jeremy because she and her husband are going to the party too, and I said yes! How could I have forgotten about the Wallace's baby?"

  Her mother looked down at her "Well, what are you going to do? You can't cancel on the Wallace's, your responsibility is to them, since they asked you first"
"I know! But Mrs. Anderson was so glad when I said yes because she said she couldn't find any one else available!"
"You mean willing to" Mildred's older brother Alistair came into the kitchen. "Pete and Jeremy are so rambunctious, I’m not surprised"
 "Please don't call me that" Alice was a nickname Alistair had received from the boys at the school he used to go to, and when his sister found out about it, she insisted on using it also.   "But Alice, if you watch the Anderson's boys, I can watch the Wallace baby and everyone will be happy!"
  Alistair raised his eyebrows "Happy?"
  "Oh would you? I'll never do anything like this again, and Peter and Jeremy love you!"    "Love me? You mean they love ambushing me from the bushes when I'm coming home from work, climbing on me, and begging me to give them rides on my bicycle. And I can't say I return the same fondness"
 Alistair looked down into his sister's big brown eyes.
  "I can't believe I'm saying this, but…"
 "Oh thank you! And like I said, I'll never double book again, and you'll never have to help me…" 
"I'll hold you to your word on that"
    Millie stood up and gave her big brother a hug, and Mrs. Conroy smiled.    "That is very kind of you to help your sister Alistair"
 "Don't thank me yet, see if I survive the night first"

 Alistair walked up the steps onto the grand front porch, then across to the entrance. All the houses in this neighborhood were built in the Victorian period, and most of their occupants were quite well to do. In fact, the Conroys felt out of place amongst the stately homes and wealthy people. They had been living in an apartment in Chicago, until Mr. Conroy received a letter, stating that a great uncle of his had died, and left him his house, and what was left of his money, since he had no closer relatives to bequeath it to. So the Conroy's packed up their things and moved to a wealthy railroad town in Iowa. When they got there, they found that the uncle did not have much money left, and his house, though very large and beautiful, had not been kept up as it should have been. Nevertheless, the Conroy's moved in, and their first summer in town was spent painting, trimming back over-grown foliage, and giving everything an overall cleaning. Mr. Conroy found a good job in town, and the children were welcomed into the local school. Once the women of the neighborhood found out about Mildred's skill with child care, she was never without requests for watching their children.
  Alistair rang the door bell and waited, hearing the bell echo through the house. A minute later Mrs. Anderson answered the door. She was in her mid thirties, her hair cut stylishly short and set in waves, and she was dressed for the dinner party, her gown also in the latest style. She ushered Alistair into the entryway.
  "Hello Alistair, I was expecting your sister, is she unable to come?"
  "Yes mam, but she sent me instead. Millie had forgotten about a previous plan she had made"
  "Oh, well I'm grateful for anyone, I'm sure the boys will be excited to find out that you have come"
  "Yes mam,"
  "If you'll just follow me, the boys are in the nursery playing"
Just then, a blur slid down the stair railing and ran into the parlor.
  "Well, they were in the nursery…"

 Mildred came home late, around 11:00pm; her brother was still at the Anderson's. Mr. and Mrs. Conroy were sitting up in the parlor, waiting for their children to come home.      
 "Oh mother!" Mildred came bursting through the door "The Wallace's baby is such a doll! His name in Henry, and he was so well behaved! He never cried, and when I laid him down to sleep, he was a little angel and didn't fuss at all!"
  "That's good to hear that your time went well!" her mother smiled.
  "Is Alice home yet?"
  "No, but he should be soon" as soon as Mrs. Conroy said that, Alistair came in, closed the front door, then sat down heavily on the davenport besides his father. His light brown hair was disheveled, his shirt was un- tucked, and he looked completely drained of energy.
  "How was your evening?" Millie asked
  Alistair looked at his sister.
 "I spent the evening with Pete and Jeremy Anderson, do you really have to ask?"
  "I don't know what you do with them, when I watch them they are quite well behaved!"
  "What do you do with them? Tie them up and lock them in a closet?"
  "No! Of course not... So, what happened?"
   "Well, when I got there, they were playing a war game of some sort. So as soon as their mother and father left, they decided to take me prisoner. I spent the first half hour trying to get out of an upstairs room they locked me in. I have to go back tomorrow to fix the door. Because I kind of had to..."
  "You broke down the door!?" Millie interjected.
   "Well it was that or jump out of a second story window! Actually, I just took the door out of the frame by unscrewing the hinges with my jackknife, but I still have to go back and fix it"
  "Alright, what happened next?"
 "I gave them a pretty stern talking to, and everything went better until closer to their bedtime..."
  "Well, there were a few troubles because of bath time, but..." he sighed "Getting them into bed was the worst of all"
  "Why? All you have to do as read them a few stories, and they'll go right to sleep" Millie said.
  Alistair laughed in disbelief "Ha! I couldn't get them to hold still for a minute, let alone read them an entire book. Anyways, after chasing them around the house for an hour, and trying to get them into their pajamas..."
  "Couldn't you have just told them to do that?"
  "They don't listen, and they don't take me seriously! Finally, I had them tired out enough that they put their pajamas on and crawled into their beds, but after that it was, "I need a drink of water", or, "I have to go to the bathroom", or "Pete hit me!", or "Jeremy poked me in the eye!". They both sleep in the nursery, so every time I would close their door, they'd run out of bed and start wrestling with each other. Up until right before their parents came home so that when they peeked in on them, they saw two little sleeping angels, and wondered why I looked like I had spent the night fighting the Revolutionary War!"
   He yawned "I better hit the sack before I collapse into a comatose sleep on the sofa" 
  Alistair headed up stairs to his bedroom, and Millie followed.
   "Was it really that bad?" Millie said, concerned.
   "No, I was exaggerating slightly, but only slightly mind you. Let's just say, next time I watch the Wallace baby?"
    "You mean, you would help me baby-sit again?"
    "Did I say that? I think I'll leave the child watching to you from now on"
    "Alright" Millie laughed "I am, very grateful for what you did though"
    "You better be! Just kidding, that's what big brothers are for right? Helping out their little sisters?"
    "Good night!"
    "Good night"
    "I love you Alice"
     "I love you too little sis, but don't call me Alice"



  1. Even better than when I read it in the magazine :) Pete and Jeremy remind me of my little brothers. I liked all the parts you added that weren't there before!

    1. Thanks! Pete and Jeremy are inspired by some of the kids Becca and I have babysat, so they were fun to write about.


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