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In a Wild Moment

By:Ava May

Chapter 1

It had been a mixed couple of weeks for Scarlett Parker. The rays of the sun shone into her apartment and danced across the lounge, creating streaks of light and shadow that summed up the contrast in her life. She looked in the mirror and slid her hands along the curves of her body, patting out the slight creases that remained in the black dress, wondering if she should take it off and iron it, then glancing at the clock and realizing that she was already late. Scarlett sighed as she looked at herself in the mirror. Life was funny in the way it worked out and it was strange to see her reflection looking back at her when she wasn't really sure if she even knew herself.

She slipped on her shoes, picked up her keys, and walked out of the door. Just before she did so, she looked a picture of her and Lisa.

“I really miss you, Sis,” she said, and a silent tear swelled in her eye. Scarlett blinked it back before it began to sting.

The day was warm, and in the distance she could hear the neighbors' kids playing, laughing with glee. Life was so innocent and perfect for them, Scarlett thought, and felt sad that it could not go back to that way for her. Just as she got into her car, her phone vibrated. Her breath caught in her throat, but when she looked at it she sighed with relief. It wasn't Matt calling; it was just her parents.

“Are you on your way, dear?” her mother asked.

“Yeah, I'm sorry I'm late. I'm just leaving now,” Scarlett said as she clipped the seat belt around her.

“Could you pick us up some cranberry sauce on the way? I thought I had more than I did. Sometimes I think I'm losing my mind. Must be my age,” her mother said with a soft chuckle.

“Of course. Any particular brand?”

“Any old thing will do. See you soon,” her mother said, then ended the call. Scarlett tossed the phone into the passenger seat and eased the car out of the driveway, then drove through the city, stopping by at the store on the way. As she walked through the aisles, she resisted the temptation to buy anything else, but at the last minute remembered what Lisa's favorite brand of cranberry sauce was, then she saw a bag of M&M's. She giggled as she thought about how Lisa would rant about how popular the peanut ones were when the chocolate ones were better, so she picked up a packet and munched on them in the car. As she felt the soft shell crunch in between her teeth, she smiled. It was only a few years ago that her mother would have scolded her for eating candy before her dinner. It was one of the small joys of adulthood in which Scarlett reveled.

Then the phone rang and her mood darkened. It was him again. She thought about letting it run through to her voice mail but she knew that it would only make him call again. And again. And again. So reluctantly, she picked up the phone.

“What?” she asked curtly.

“I just wanted to check if you were okay. You know, since it's—” Matt started.

“I'm fine, and even if I wasn't, I don't need you to check up on me. It's not your job anymore.”

“But I still care about you. I want to make sure you're okay.”

“The only thing that's making me not okay is still talking to you. It's over, Matt. And nothing's going to change.”

“Please, Scarlett. I can change. Whatever our problems were, we can work through them. I just know that we're perfect for each other, if you'd only give us a chance.”

“We had a chance, Matt. We had loads of chances. Just let it go. This whining isn't doing you any favors. I'm not in the mood to talk about this right now anyway. I have more important things to think about today.”

“Can I call you later? Just to make sure that you're okay.”

“No. Matt. Leave. Me. ALONE!” she said, and slammed the phone down on the seat, where it bounced a little. The anger rose within her and she crumpled the bag of M&M's in a tight fist, feeling them crack under her force. He wasn't going to make her miserable. Not today of all days. She finished up the remnants of the sweets and then made her way to her parents’.

When she arrived, she clutched the small jar of cranberry sauce in her hand and walked up to the door, knocking. It felt strange to knock, as she'd spent most of her life living here. Only recently had she moved out to the apartment, but in many ways this was still home. Her mother opened the door, and it was clear from her eyes that she had been crying. Scarlett knew that her own tears would come later. They always came at night. Her mother, Janice, hugged her tightly, and it was a hug that lingered longer than usual, but Scarlett didn't mind. She handed the cranberry sauce to her mother, who took it through to the kitchen.

The house was alive with the succulent smell of a roast dinner, and Scarlett breathed in deeply. While she'd always had an interest in cooking, she didn't indulge that hobby often since cooking for one often seemed like a waste. Besides, she was kept busy enough at work that she survived on a basic diet, so coming around her parents' was always a treat.

While her mother went into the kitchen, Scarlett went into the lounge where her father was sitting in his armchair, watching the television with glassy eyes.

“Hey, Dad,” she said, and Steve jumped in his chair, startled.

“Oh, Scarlett, I didn't hear you come in. Sorry, I must have been a million miles away,” he said. She smiled at him, although it was a weak one. There was a permanent sadness in his eyes that gave him a wistful melancholy and she hated that it was always there. She still had the memory of him being a cheerful, joyous man, but now he was somber. Well, they all were.

“And how are you? I bet you're feeling pleased with yourself. Have you been thinking of things to spend all your extra money on?”

“I really don't know. The new job means I'll be working more hours, so I probably won't have as much time to do stuff as I used to. The money will probably just sit in my account. I might save up for a holiday, or a mortgage,” she said as she wandered over to the mantelpiece and idly played with some of her mother's porcelain ladies.

“You should make sure that you do something with the money. You can't take it with you after all, and you don't want to be stuck in that office all of the time. You should save up and go traveling like you always wanted. Like she always wanted...”

She knew that it was only a matter of time before her sister came into the conversation. It had been a few years since the accident but it was always awkward whenever Lisa came up. She had been such a big part of their lives that they'd never been able to fill the hole she had left. Scarlett had tried to live her life as best she could, and wanted to live enough for the both of them. As such, she worked hard, with a fierce determination. She rose through the ranks of her company and had been rewarded with a promotion, but it meant that she missed out on some other aspects of life. Lisa had always talked about traveling and seeing the world, and her father wanted to make sure that Scarlett didn't miss out on anything, not like Lisa had to.

“You know, we should be able to talk about her without it becoming awkward,” Scarlett said.

“I know, it's just... I miss her every day. It was horrible the way she was taken from us.”

“I don't think she'd want us to be sad forever though. Sadness wasn't really a part of her life.”

“No, she was always smiling, always laughing. She never failed to cheer me up. She had a light inside of her that only a few people have.”

“I know,” Scarlett said, walking over and squeezing her father's hand.

“That's why I want to make sure that you're happy. I know your career is important to you, and I'm proud that you've gotten as far as you have, but it shouldn't be everything in life. There's more to it than that and you should embrace it.”

“I will, Dad. I know one day I'll go on a trip. If I hadn't gotten this promotion then I'd probably be gone already but I want to get used to my new job first and the new office.”

“I suppose it's like an adventure in and of itself,” he said, smiling.

“And what about you? What are you doing to live life?”

“Oh, you know, I potter about here and there. It would be nice if you visited a little more often,” he said, and Scarlett had wondered how long it would be before the guilt trip started.

“Leave her alone, Steve. She's got better things to do than to hang out with some old coots like us,” Janice said. The apron she was wearing was stained and her gray eyes were tired.

“Do you need any help, Mom?” Scarlett asked.

“No, in fact it's almost ready, so why don't the two of you come and sit yourselves down?”

Chapter 2

Scarlett took her seat at the round table in the dining room that was connected to the kitchen. The smell of the food was strong and her stomach rumbled as her mother brought lots of dishes to the table. There were colorful vegetables, golden-brown potatoes, and succulent meat that oozed temptation. And there was an empty space. Lisa would never join them again, and her absence was still felt dearly. Although they tried to speak normally, the weight of the past was always present, and there was no escaping the harsh reality that her sister had died.

“This looks lovely,” Steve said, clapping his hands together.

“Yeah, Mom. You've outdone yourself as always,” Scarlett said, knowing that her mother had made far too much food, as usual. They sat down, and although they weren't religious, they held hands. It was only at Thanksgiving and Christmas that they did these sorts of things, but it had become something of a family tradition. They held hands and closed their eyes, and their mother spoke.