The girl tapped her deep red nails on the arm of the sofa. She smiled pleasantly, but there was a subtle thread of impatience woven into the way she looked at Timothy's mother. It was more thread than attributed to her actual clothing. The dress collar was high, but a semi-sheer white cotton that barely covered lines underneath with transparent fog.

It was absurdly, uncomfortably hot out, but even Sara didn't see an excuse for such a garment. It was simply uncalled-for. She'd have several words with her son later, including reiterating her expectations on his asking girls out. Particularly one – don't.

There were other things to talk about, and this issue added to the pile. It was always a big pile, for some reason she couldn't fathom.

She resisted the urge to let her pointed gaze linger, and looked to Timothy instead. He sat in the living room arm chair on the other side of the coffee table, appropriately distanced from the girl he'd brought to the front door just a minute before.

His dark hair was darkened further by sweat. He didn't look like he knew he was in trouble, but there was something behind his attitude. Better add that to the pile.

“Tim has told me so much about, you Mrs. Johnson!” Lucy piped up, fingers still. The floor fan stirred her off-white dress.

Sara looked back with a small bolt of alarm and found Lucy's sharp blue eyes locked onto her. Sara cocked her head to the side, burying surprise under the effort of maintaining her pleasantries.

“Funny, he hasn't mentioned you before,” she said.

“Oh, I know,” Lucy started again. “I want to apologize for that. I asked him not to.”

They both glanced to Timothy. He glanced up to his mother, then to Lucy and back.

“He insisted,” she continued, tugging her light grey collar. “I was just a little nervous. Well, a lot nervous.”

She was starting to look a little red, Sara had to admit.

Lucy laughed quietly. It didn't sound real, more like bad acting. A recording of bad acting.

Sara laughed to mirror it. Two could play at that game.

“I'm glad you could finally come by! Can I get either of you something to drink first?”

The surprised look on Timothy's face was priceless.

“Sure!” Lucy answered. “Thank you so much.”

“Okie-dokie. I'll be right back.” Sara stood and made her way to the kitchen, a spring in her step. Once she crossed the threshold, her smile dropped. They were hiding something.

She tried to remember if there was any indication of a girl when she went through his bedroom recently. There were plenty of notes from homework in his sparsely furnished room, along with dirty laundry. Just not the kind she actually liked to find.

The Biology report on climate change was coming along nicely, but his reasoning had taken a weird turn. It now somehow tied into religious texts regarding the end of the world. Teenagers today. It was ridiculous, and way too heavy for acceptance by any competent teacher. If he didn't pass, they'd have to have a talk. If he kept it in and did, they'd have to have a talk about him lying. Again.

She hardly reached up to select drinking glasses before hearing voices.

“She seems okay,” Lucy said quietly.

“Yeah, I don't know what's up.”

“You still don't think she'll agree to it?” she spoke softly again.

Sara quietly set the tall glasses down. Instead of running the tap, as originally intended, she broke into the fridge and moved a few containers around. She found two cans of soda, set them on the counter, and continued rummaging. She hoped they might say something else, and the sound of water running might interfere with hearing as well.

Nothing else came. She grabbed the cans and left.

She didn't exactly walk quicker than usual, but Timothy looked like he'd been caught doing something other than sitting peacefully. It was a joy to behold.

It was almost enough to make her overlook Lucy's dress was now a soft charcoal grey. The girl had also started to look unwell, almost like a spontaneous sunburn had been applied. She stared at her, dumbstruck for a moment, still holding the cans.

“Mrs. Johnson, I was thinking--” Sara blinked and realized she had held her breath, “--I wanted to ask if you'd want to meet my dad. We wanted to come to you first and apologize, but--”

“I'd love to,” Sara said.

What?” Timothy burst. There would always be time to edit her memory of the conversation later. At the moment, there was too much potential for disciplinary material.

“Definitely. I'd love to meet him. However, I do need to have a private talk with my son about his lying about having a girlfrien--”

“I didn't say she's my girlfriend, mom,” Timothy cut in. It was Sara's turn to look surprised.

Don't use that tone with me,” she said, eyes flashing.

“Hey Sara,” Lucy announced like a brick through the window. Sara turned, breath already in her lungs to berate yet another – but it was no longer a girl.

Whatever it was standing there, the dress was black. The skin was red. Blue eyes were replaced with burning embers.

You agreed to meet my dad, right?” Lucy said with a thousand overlapping voices.

There came a burst of white-hot light, then both cans dented the wood floor.

Entered in the Summer 2019 24 Hour Short Story Contest,

hosted by BookLocker.com

915 Words

July 13, 2019

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