“Grace,” Judy said softly, giving me a look that begged me to drop it.
For her, I would, but still, I was pissed off.
“Oh, I forgot Hank and I have a meeting for the parade in about fifteen minutes, so we’re going to head out.” Judy pushed her chair back from the table and kept her smile on her face. “Come on, Hank,” she said.
She bit her bottom lip to hold back her tears. “Please, Hank, we can’t be late.”
He reluctantly stood and left with her, and then my parents went back to casual conversation as if nothing had even happened.
“Are you kidding me?” I snapped, making the two of them look in my direction.
“I beg your pardon?” Mama questioned.
“What is it, Grace?” Dad asked.
“How could you do that to her? How could you laugh in her face when she brought up preaching a sermon?”
“Oh, Gracelyn Mae”—Mama rolled her eyes—“that was just your sister being her silly self.”
“No, it wasn’t. She’s been practicing for weeks, probably months, and when she finally built up the nerve to tell you two, you laughed in her face. How did you not see it? How did you not see how your laughter hurt her? She pretty much bolted out of the room.”
“She couldn’t be serious,” Dad said, baffled. “Judy isn’t a preacher.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I said with narrowed eyes, confusion swimming through my brain.
“Well, you know, your sister is into different things like shopping, throwing events around town, party planning—things like that. She’s more like the town cheerleader. She’s not one to run a church,” he said. At that moment, for the first time ever, I saw my father in a different light.
“You think she’s stupid?” I asked.
“I didn’t say that.”
“You didn’t have to,” I snapped. “I’ll have you know she is a preacher. I’ve listened to her, and she is one of the strongest voices I’ve ever heard. She has so much heart and compassion for every person in the world. She is gifted beyond compare, and you had the nerve to laugh in her face when she came to tell you her dream!” I hollered, overly passionate about trying to get them to understand.
“Grace, lower your voice,” Mama ordered.
“No. I won’t be silent about this. She worked so hard for this, and you two were so disrespectful. If you ever had a dream and you took it to Judy, she would cheer you on for the rest of your life. She’d believe in you more than you’d believe in yourself, and you two didn’t even give her a moment to breathe.”
“I think it’s time for you to leave the table,” Mama said, her voice low and annoyed.
Dad didn’t speak a word.
That hurt me more than anything else.
My eyes stayed on him, and I couldn’t help the tears that filled my eyes. “I’d expect this from her, Dad, but you too? You’re supposed to be the one who believes in us. You’re supposed to be the one who listens to our dreams and tells us we can fly. The person you were tonight? The way you laughed at my sister? I don’t even know who you are right now.”
“That’s comical, coming from the girl having an affair,” Mama snapped.
“Excuse me?” I asked, perplexed.
“You know exactly what I’m talking about. Just go, Grace. Leave. Go run off to see that delinquent boy of yours.”
I sarcastically laughed. “Wow. I’ve been waiting for you to throw that in my face, but I think your timing is off. That has nothing to do with the issue at hand.”
“It has everything to do with the issue at hand. Your word and your character are void to me right now because you are running around town like a wild woman. I mean, seriously! Tattoos?! Burgundy hair?! What is going on with you? This isn’t you. And you’re skipping around with a filthy dog who doesn’t even deserve a bone. Yet you’re just giving him all of you like a disgusting whore.”
My mouth dropped open. “What did you just call me?”
“Do you know the damage control I’ve had to do because of your rampage these past few weeks? Tattoos on your skin…leaving Jackson’s place late at night—do you know how hard it has been for me?”
“How hard it’s been?” I huffed. “For you?”
“Yes. Do you know what people have been saying to me? What they have been saying about our family?”
“No. Do you know what people have been saying about me? You know what, I can’t do this. I cannot talk to you.”
“You’re a disgrace to this family’s name! Sleeping around with that dirty monster when you’re married.”
My heart was breaking, and she didn’t even notice. I swallowed hard and lowered my head. “Finley cheated on me, not the other way around, but what do you care? It seems you’re determined to choose everyone but your daughters lately. I’m done with it all. I’m done with the church and their judgments, and I’m done with you and yours. By the way, over the past few weeks, Jackson has treated me with more respect than you ever have in all of my life, so if he’s a monster, Mama, that must make you the Devil.”