3 months later
I took a deep breath, inhaling the cool December air. Calling my dog, I started making my way back home. Snow covered the hills around the small country village I was living in, filling me with the joy I always felt when winter made it's presence known. There was just something magical about this time of the year. Especially Christmas, of course.
I wondered what Harry was doing and my mind went back to a conversation we had, a few days ago.
‘Is there something wrong?’
‘Oh! Sorry. What?’ I asked.
‘You’re distant… Is everything alright?’ Harry squeezed my thigh.
‘Yeah… I’m fine.’ I answered softly.
‘You don’t look fine.’
Oh; that smirk…
‘I’m just thinking.’
His expression turned serious again. ‘About Katie. Aren't you?’
I sighed and nodded. ‘Yesterday I picked up the phone again and almost called them. But I still can’t do it, Harry.’
‘Do you want me to be there? We can call them right now.’
‘Now?’ I asked panicked.
‘Yes, why not?’ Harry shrugged.
I shook my head. ‘No, no. That’s not a good idea.’
‘Why? You’re going to be fine.’
‘Just look at me, Harry! I’m stressed just by the thought of calling them. I’m not going to be fine at all!’
Harry got up from the couch.
‘Yes, you are. But the only way to find out, is to call them. Just do it.’
He threw the phone on the couch and I stared at it.
‘You just don’t understand. It’s not that simple.’ I got up from the couch as well and wanted to leave the room, but Harry stopped me.
‘Don’t walk away, Scarlett.’
I sighed, staring at the ground. He wrapped his arm around my shoulders and took me back to the couch.
‘Alright. Now, let’s sit down. Relax. Think about it. You’re just going to pick up the phone, dial the number and wait. They’ll pick up, telling you how lovely it is to hear from you. Then, what will you say?’ He asked, pressing my body against his.
I shook my head. ‘I don’t know. I really don’t want to do this…’
Tears formed in my eyes but I wiped them away.
He gave me a sympathetic look and caressed my cheek.
‘It’s okay. If you really don’t want to, then don’t. Don’t cry, love.’
‘But I feel so… so foolish! My own daughter… And I don’t even have the balls to pick up the phone and dial the number.’
‘It’s okay, sweetie. Sorry for being so insistent. I just thought that was the thing you needed.’
I nodded, placing my head on his shoulder.
‘I want to, Harry. I really want to. I just can’t do it yet.’
I opened the little gate and waited for my dog to follow me before closing it.
Walking through the pasture, towards my house, I debated whether I would call them today or not.
I really wanted to see her. Just one, simple call.
Like Harry said; pick up the phone, dial the number and… and then what?
What could I say? Hey, I have been ignoring my daughter for the past few years. But I’m back, when can I come over?
I sighed, opening the back door.
Humming a Christmas song I heard on the radio earlier that day, I dried my dog with a towel and made my way to the kitchen to make a cup of hot chocolate for myself.
After pouring the steaming chocolate in a cup, I stared at the phone on the counter.
I hesitantly reached out for it. Yes? Or no?
Letting out a shaky sigh, I grabbed the phone.
My heart was pounding rapidly while I finally pressed in the numbers that had been stuck in my head for months.
How many times had I been standing on the exact same spot? Phone in hand, whispering the number over and over again, not being able to actually dial it?
I couldn't remember. It must have been at least twenty times.
Closing my eyes, I murmured a quick prayer. Then, I pressed the green button.
With every beep I felt myself getting more and more nervous.
Suddenly, I heard the phone being picked up.
Hearing her voice made me feel a little better. She was a nice person. She wouldn't be mad, right?
‘Eh, Anna. It’s Scarlett.’
‘Scarlett! Oh god!’
There was a silence on the other side of the line.
‘I’m sorry… I’m really sorry.’ I said in a choked voice. ‘Maybe I shouldn't have called-‘
‘No! No, darlin’. It’s fine. I was just… surprised, I guess.’
‘I wanted to know… how she is. And I wanted to say sorry. I know I haven’t made any effort to visit her or at least ask how she is. But I want you to know that she has never left my mind. I have been constantly thinking about her. I didn't forget her…’
Tears tickled my cheeks, but I didn't wipe them off.
‘I know darlin’. It must have been very difficult for you. But sweetheart; you are still very welcome here.’
I smiled a little. ‘Thank you. Thank you so much.’
‘Oh, not a problem at all. Now we are talking about it anyway; my holidays start in two weeks. If you’re not too busy, you could come visit us! I’m sure you’ll love Ireland.’
I thought about it.
Why not? I had the time. I had the money. The only thing missing was the courage to do it…
I made a quick decision, avoiding the situation in which I over-think everything and eventually say ‘no’.
‘I would love to visit.’ I said.
‘Oh, wonderful. Your boyfriend is welcome too.’ She said kindly.
How did she know I had a boyfriend?
‘Thank you, but I think this is something I have to do on my own. It’s pretty… emotional for me.’
‘I understand. Shall I call you later about the details?’
‘Sure. That will be fine.’
‘Alright, then- oh! Wait. Have you received my e-mails?’ She asked.
I swallowed. Right. The e-mails. I totally ignored them.
‘Eh, well… maybe they ended up in my spam box. Because I don't remember receiving any e-mails from you.’
Lies, lies, lies. I was getting better at it. Shame on me.
‘Well, if you can’t find them then tell me, I’ll send them again. They contain some lovely pictures of Kathlyn.’
‘I’ll look at it as soon as possible. Thank you again, Anna.’
‘No problem, Scarlett. Tell your mother I said ‘hi’. I’ll call you soon, bye!’
‘Bye.’ I answered, smiling.
Anna hung up the phone and I let out a deep breath.
‘Wow.’ I whispered, placing the phone on the counter.
Staring out of the window, I stood in the living room, taking sips of my chocolate now and then.
I replayed the whole conversation to let it sink in.
Finally. Finally I had mustered the courage to call them.
I smiled. To be honest, I was pretty proud of myself. Calling the foster parents of my daughter was a big step towards acceptance of the situation.
Because that was one thing I had never done. Accept it. Sure, I tried to forget about everything and it had seemed like I had picked myself back up again, but the truth is; I never fully did.
When my cup was empty, I brought it to the kitchen.
Back in the living room, I lit a fire and made myself comfortable on the couch with a good book. Soon, my dog Teddy – yes, I’m serious, his name's Teddy – joined me.
I sighed contently. Nothing was better than sitting in your living room with a warm fire and a good book, knowing it’s cold outside.
Hours later, I woke up when the phone was ringing.
I glanced at the clock, yawned and got up from the couch, walking towards the kitchen.
Just when I wanted to pick up the phone, the person hung up.
I grabbed the phone and checked who called me, a smile slowly forming while I called Harry back.
‘Scarlett! I've got good news. My place is sold! With a little luck, I’ll be home tomorrow evening.’
Home. He already called my house a ‘home’. I smiled brightly and I suddenly realized how much I had missed him.
‘That’s perfect, Harry. Can’t wait to see you again.’
‘Oh, me neither Scarlett. I really miss you.’
‘I’m going to make something special for dinner tomorrow, do you have any preferences?’ I asked.
‘Hmm… Chicken? Haven’t had chicken in a long time.’
‘Then chicken it is, my lord.’
He laughed. ‘I would love to talk to you for a little longer, but I've got quite some things to do, so I have to go.’
‘No problem. See you tomorrow.’
At that moment, nothing made me feel happier than the thought of Harry coming home.