James pulled away and looked at Scarlet, his eyes looked… angry. “You’re still thinking about Nick, right?” he asked, letting her go. Scarlet bit her lips, feeling guilty. “I’m trying, James…” She began difficultly, “I… I need time.” She said weakly, looking at her feet. There was something about James that made Scarlet felt scared whenever he was mad, but she didn’t know what it was.
Surprisingly, he sighed. “I’m pick you up tomorrow at seven?” He asked, his voice stiff.
“Yeah. Prom…” Scarlet mumbled, managing a weak smile. “It’ll be fun.”
Then he took off. Scarlet heaved out a sigh of relief and bent over to pick up the roses, holding them tentatively in her hands. They were dark red, just the way he liked it. She felt the tears coming and swallowed them, but the lump in her throat was so huge that it was suffocating her. She blinked back the tears and turned on the door knob.
Only to find her mom sitting at the sofa. She turned to smile at Scarlet, taking a swig from the glass of wine she was holding. Her cheeks were pink from the drinking; her brown hair fell loosely around her shoulders. She looked a lot like Scarlet with her brown hair and fair skin. She was holding up a red dress, examining it carefully.
That was when it hit her --- today was the fifth anniversary since her father left. He left her mom for another woman --- and they haven’t seen each other ever since. Scarlet had been so caught up in her own drama lately that she had forgotten about this important date completely. She sat down next to her mother and poured herself a glass of wine. They sat in silence, until Scarlet spoke.
“Mom… You okay?” She asked carefully, looking at her mom. Her mom turned to face her and smiled faintly, her eyes weary and red. She cried, for the obvious reason.
“You’re such a liar, mom.” Scarlet snorted, taking another sip of her drink, trying to drown herself with it so she could forget about everything for a while. Her mom remained in silence and sighed, murmuring, “I missed him, Scar.”
“I know.” Scarlet said, doing her best to get herself drunk, which wasn’t working --- it was wine, after all.
“How are things with you with James?” Her mom, who had been too busy with her social life and business to be concerned about Scarlet’s school life ever since her father’s death, asked. Scarlet felt her stomach churned and took a last swig from her wine.
“Things were fine.” She replied as short as she could, but her wavering voice gave her away. She looked away, trying her best to swallow the tears, but they rolled down her cheeks so quickly that she didn’t even have a chance to. Her mom reached out to pull her into a hug, combing her hair gently. “You’re such a liar, Scarlet.”
They looked at each other through tears and laughed in unison, rolling their eyes.
“What’s wrong, sweetie?”
“Everything, mom, everything.” She cried, knowing that she could do it as loud as she wanted to. She told her mom everything. Nick, James, Noelle. She had purposely left out the part about the flyers, since it wasn’t really the point. Not entirely, anyway.
Her mom only smiled.
“When your dad left, I tried my hardest to forget about him, but it wasn’t working.” Her mom said and smiled weakly. “Everywhere I look, he was there. The pictures, the memories… Everything. It was haunted. I dream about him every night. It wasn’t going away at all.” She looked around their new furniture, and her smile faded a little.
“That’s why you remodeled the house?” Scarlet asked, astonished.
“Yes. I kept everything that reminds me of him in a box and shoved it into the attic. I vowed to never look at them again.” She said with a laugh, placing her glass down on the table.
Scarlet raised an eyebrow, “Do you peek at them?”
Her mom smiled sheepishly. “Sometimes.”
“What about the dress?”
“I wore it to the first prom we went together. I decided to keep it as a souvenir, anyway.” Her mom said while gently rubbed her fingers against the soft fabric. It gleamed beautifully under the dimmed light from the ceiling, reflecting soft, red light on their faces.
“And you’re wearing this to prom tomorrow.” Her mom declared, beaming proudly and patted her head gently. “You’re going to look beautiful. It’ll be fun.” She added, in attempt to convince her, or cheer her up. But Scarlet doubted it, somehow.
“Thanks, mom.” She mumbled, taking the dress and headed upstairs.