Mother didn't want me to attempt walking up stairs with my twisted ankle, so instead she insisted that I sleep in a chair in the parlor. She placed my foot in a large bucket of ice water, and wrapped it in a bandage.
"I don't understand how your ankle could become twisted just from falling. It sounds unlogical."
"Well, I was running. Perhaps I tripped."
"Does it hurt to stand?"
"Only a little. Perhaps Michael or Mitchell can carry me up to bed."
"Nonsense. I'd prefer you sleep in here. Just to be safe."
"Mother, I'm all right-"
After two hours, mother fell asleep at my side. I carefully slid my foot out of the water and managed to stand. My ankle was feeling somewhat better, I just knew I had to find the man I met and apologize to him. I had been so prejudiced. However, I had no idea how to find him. The only way I would be able to find him would to be ask other people, people from Ireland. I guess it was a risk I had to take. If my mother or brothers even knew I met an Irish man they would despise me. That's why I had no choice but to do this in secret. I walked down every street, limping at times, trying to recover information about the Irish man. All I was able to discover was that his name was Johnny and he had been living in New York for most of his life. Also, he was a thief. As I had suspected. Though, I still couldn't ignore the fact that he tried to help me and he DID NOT steal my brooch. I was about ready to give up on my search, when I saw Johnny trying to steal a watch from a man's pocket and he succeeded.
"I thought jewelery didn't suit the Irish man?"
Johnny turned around and seemed frightened by my appearance.
"I thought you went back to your home, lass."
"I did. For awhile. I know I was wrong to judge you. After all, you did offer to escort me home. I thank you for that. I also apologize for my prejudice."
"I don't blame you. Most Americans often think we're out to slice them, but we're not. We're people to. Just because we come from a different land, doesn't mean we don't share the same cousins."
"That makes perfect sense, actually. You're a very smart person. You could be considered for a position on the press."
"No. They don't trust me."
"You mean they know you're Irish?"
"I know those who are prejudiced. However, that is simply discrimination. It's wrong."
"Not in their eyes, lass. In their eyes, I'm only one thing. A poor Irish man."
"Well, in my eyes, you should at least sit down and talk to them. I do have connections. I can find you a wonderful job."
"You don't understand. I'm not meant to be kept in an office. I'm not made to wear tailored suits and carry a cane. I'm a thief. I'm Irish."
For awhile, I didn't know what to say. Johnny turned to leave but I grabbed him by his arm.
"Johnny, please. There must be some way I can apologize for my prejudice."
"Come with me."
"Come see my world, lass. It may not be as grand as your home and as clean as these streets but it is my world."
I nodded. Johnny took my hand and began leading me around. We finally ended up in an unfamiliar place. Or a place that I didn't recongize, at least. There was lots of activity. Dancers, fiddle players, gypsies. It was all very exciting and quite frightening. Suddenly, Johnny squeezed my hand.
"Relax. Nobody will touch you." Johnny said.
Johnny led me to, what seemed to be, a penthouse of sorts. The steps were steep and narrow. Johnny was the first to go down the steps and then he helped me along. It was dark and damp and not to mention very cold.
"Johnny, its so dark."
"It's all right. Nothing down here but rats and a nice warm bed."
"Now, don't be afraid. They don't bite. At least not the Irish like me."
"Rats can tell the difference?"
"Of course.We are their cousins, after all."
"Oh Johnny, can you not forgive me for all that I've said?"
"It's not you, lass. It's the world. Y' know, I still don't know your name."
"My name is Harriet. Harriet Young. I know its a rather odd name, but I do love it."
"Its not odd. It's beautiful."
"You really think so?"
"Yeah. At least you're not a bastard."
"A bastard? You mean you-"
"My Mam, God rest her, was a whore. She loved me, though. When I asked her about Da, she was too ashamed. I never bothered to think about it. Back when I was a lad, there was only one way to gain money. Sell something of value. The Irish had only the clothes on their backs and the food on their tables. They were provisions. Not wanting me to go hungry, Mam acted out of love."
"What happened to her?"
"When I was about nine. My Mam was outside with a client and I was waiting for her. He was American. I didn't think much of it. Not until I heard five gunshots. I ran outside and my Mam was dead."
"She was shot?"
"I try not to think about it."
"Oh Johnny, I'm sorry. If I had known..."
"It's all right, lass. I don't blame myself. There was nothing I could do. I was still a small lad and-"
Suddenly, Johnny broke down in tears. At first, I didn't know how to act. Then it came to me. I had to console him somehow. Carefully, I wrapped my arm around his shoulder and kneeled by his side.
"I lost my Father when I was young. It's very painful. For awhile, I blamed myself. Then I realized something very important. It was his time. As it was your mothers."
Suddenly, I felt something wet hit my hair. I looked up and saw there was a rather large hole in the ceiling and it was raining.
"Oh for Heaven's sake, I'm getting wet."
"Afraid of rain?"
"Well, of course not."
"Then ignore it. It's only water."
"Can I ask something?"
"Can you kiss me?"
"Kiss you? On the lips?"
"You said you wanted to repay me. Its the only payment I ask. One little kiss."
"Well, if you insist it's the only payment."
Slowly, I leaned towards Johnny's face and kissed his lips tenderly. At first, I thought I should pull away. Then, I realized, I DIDN'T want to pull away. I wanted to keep kissing Johnny. So I did. Before I knew it, I could feel Johnny unbuttoning the back of my dress, then my whole dress fell to the ground.
"Doesn't this feel right?"
"Oh Johnny, I don't know you at all. We come from two different worlds."
"I don't care and I know you don't care either. Just stay with me for one night."
"Only one night?"
"Just one simple night."
Being a guillble young lady, I agreed to continue with the seduction. I removed my petticoat and the dreaded hoop. Johnny slipped his hand behind my head and kissed my neck. It felt so different than a regular kiss. It was filled with such passion. A passion that I never thought I could feel.
The next morning, I felt so drained. As if all my energy had been taken away. I saw all my clothes laying on my right side and Johnny was on my left. We were only covered by a single blanket. Carefully, I placed a kiss on Johnny's cheek. He woke up after feeling the touch of my lips.
"Harriet, is something wrong?"
"Nothing. I just need to return home."
"It's not even sunset. Stay for awhile."
"Johnny, I gave you what you wanted. I seduce you. I'll never forgive myself. It was a mistake."
"Didn't you feel something?"
"Then why ignore what you feel?"
"Johnny, I know that I will never meet another man like you and I believe I have fallen in love with you. Despite my family, despite my upbringing. In a fantasy, I would be with you. This is the real world, Johnny. You're Irish and I'm American. We have to forget this night."
"Do you want to forget it?"
As I began to cry, I hugged Johnny. I could feel his warm hands running up and down my back. I could hear him whispering soothing words into my ear. I wanted this moment to last forever, but I knew it couldn't. I just knew I had to make it last for as long I could.