December 22nd, 1899
It's around nine. I'm writing this now, about the things that happened yesterday.
At eight, Jack came by to pick me up.
He wore his usual clothes, but they were clean instead of spattered with mud and dirt. His hair was combed fresh, and his cowboy hat hung down his back, like always.
"'Llo Mrs. Jacobs." He said politely when Ma opened the door.
Ma smiled. She likes Cowboy. "Hello Jack. Won't you come in?" She stepped aside, holding the door open, and Jack stepped in.
I whirled back to the mirror, and reviewed myself one last time.
I wasn't wearing a corset, because I had for years, so I could take a break every now and then. Instead of a white dress, I wore a deep blue skirt with a white blouse. The blue skirt reached to my ankles, something Ma would approve of. The blouse wasn't something Ma had picked out, or knew I had it. It was something my friend Anita gave to me. It scooped low in front, but not low enough so that Ma would freak. Just enough to show a little chest. As long as I didn't lean over, Ma wouldn't protest. No, the real problem was the sleeves and the back. The back scooped dangerously low by Ma's standards. Halfway down my back. And the sleeves, well, they were lace, the kind that tore easily. Ma would hate those. My heels were my best, my white ones. My hair was curled, and hanging loose around my shoulders.
But the outfit passed Ma's silent inspection, and she shooed us out the door, kissing my cheek, and warning Jack to bring me back soon, because I had work to do the next day. Jack knew that 'soon' meant before midnight. Ma and Pa are very lenient that way.
David had left earlier, to meet Havoc somewhere.
Les was already in bed; Ma had made him.
So there were no worries as Jack and I walked through the streets of Manhattan.
Even in the Bowery, when a girl is walking with a guy, she's considered untouchable by most.
The night was beautiful. The moon was full, the stars were already out. The December night was freezing, but I didn't mind. Walking with my hand in Jack's, I felt warmer than I ever had before.
Behind the factory, Mrs. Owens, the factory owner's wife, had cleared out a warehouse that was used for the fabrics we made in the factory.
The warehouse would have been dismal, but with so many people, it was lively. Out of crates and planks of wood, a stage had been erected at one end of the warehouse. A few doors to the side led to an office upstairs that would be where business was sorted out, but the doors were abandoned now. The warehouse lights were on, and people were already dancing. Some people sang on the stage, and played music. Irish music.
Along another wall, a long table held food and drinks. Mrs. Owen had thoughtfully decided to abandon the warehouse, before she got kicked out. The drinks table was stocked with everything from water to beer.
Jack grabbed a beer, and led me out onto the dance floor.
That night was wonderful.
I drank more alcohol than I've ever consumed in my whole life. I danced until my feet hurt, then I gathered my skirts and my heels in one hand, and I danced some more.
The beer stung my insides, but it tasted so good. All the people around me were as drunk as I was. Mr. Owens had better be prepared for a lot of hung over girls the next day at work.
I spotted Racetrack whirling a laughing Jill around on the dance floor, and a few other people I knew. Anita, and Jolene, and a few others.
Still Jack and I danced on.
But around eleven, Jack and I took a break from dancing. Our bodies heaving with panting, we leaned against the wall, next to the doors that led to the offices.
I took a long drink of beer, and dropped my heels on the ground.
"Not gonna dance more?" Jack asked, taking a long drink from a bottle.
I shook my head vehemently. "Too tired." I took a long drink, too.
My dress felt warm. There were too many people. I rested my head on Jack's shoulder.
I don't remember most of the rest of the night.
I remember that some people played spin the bottle, others danced and drank. Some gambled, some played poker, and a few girls dragged their drunk dates into the offices, grinning evilly.
Ma says when Jack brought me back, I was fast asleep, nestled in his arms. The next day, I was so hung over, Ma sent David to tell Mr. Owens I wouldn't be going to work that day because I was sick.
I spent the day at home, helping Ma when my head didn't hurt too much.