CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR
The Tomorrow After
At times it felt as if nothing had changed, like tonight.
Tonight dad, Uncle Lou, and Niall, sat at the island in the middle of the kitchen drinking pints and talking about the days they once spent on the road. They laughed, they cursed, they acted like bloody teenagers.
And it was perfect.
But then I looked up whilst laughing at one of Uncle Louis' sarcastic remarks, innocently looking in front of me, and met eyes with Niall.
He smiles the smile that I know is reserved for me, and immediately I feel the jolt in my very being. I try to avoid it, but oh, for the life of me I just couldn't.
Moments like those, moments when I feel my whole world collide with his, and my heart starts racing, and my cheeks flush, moments like those are when I realize nothing could ever be the same.
"Oh." I look at dad as he smiles, unaware of my lack of focus. "Yeah?"
"Why didn't Janice come over?"
"Too tired from driving."
"Ah, too bad."
Dad picks at his takeout container, knowing that if he didn't eat enough, the alcohol would quickly run through his veins.
"I have to get going." Uncle Lou says looking at his watch, "Gotta get home to my girls." He says with a satisfied smile.
"I should be hitting the road then too." Niall says as he gets up from his stool noisily. He places his bottle in the bin and looks at dad still picking at his food. "Bloody lightweight."
"We're not all Irish, Niall." Dad says with a smirk.
"You had two pints, Harry. You look like you had ten."
Niall comes up to me and wraps me in his arms, when he pulls back he points a finger in my face, "I expect you to put your father to bed when we leave. Don't want him making a mess."
"I had two pints." Dad whines from his seat.
"He had four." Niall whispers pointing at the bottles by dad's feet.
I stifle a giggle and nod, "I'll take care of everything."
He leans in closely once more and whispers, "Fireproof, princess. Don't forget that."
I don't think I ever could.
I nod and smile as he steps away and says his final goodbyes, before leaving with Uncle Lou. I'm left with a bunch of empty glasses on the counter, and dad looking increasingly intoxicated with each passing second.
Dad was a funny thing, he never could take to drinks as well as my uncles and Niall. Even just a few pints had him bashful and smiley and flushed. It was quite adorable really.
He signals me over to him, "Tell your old dad the truth now."
"What did you and your mum fight about?"
"It's nothing dad."
He looks at me with a smirk, "Ems, you know very well that your mum only drinks when things are very bad. You can trust me."
"Dad, we just had an argument is all." I reply guiltily, "It'll blow over in a few days."
He looks at me, choosing to believe me. "You're right. Your mum doesn't hold grudges, I'm sure it wasn't anything too terrible, or else I would have heard about it already."
"Do you need help cleaning up?"
"It's not much, don't worry about it."
"I'm going to bed then." He kisses the top of my head and walks towards the staircase, "Goodnight, baby."
As I finish cleaning the kitchen, I silently swear to myself that tomorrow I would make it right with mum.
Although, perhaps, not entirely right. I don't quite know how to fix the whole Niall situation, but that could wait for the moment. I think the important thing was to make sure mum knew how much I loved her, and that the comment I had made was out of pure anger and rage and that it was an utterly stupid and immature thing for me to do.
Tomorrow, I would try tomorrow.
I did try tomorrow, the next tomorrow, and the tomorrow after that...but mum simply would not have it.
Every moment I would try to corner her, to approach her, or simply say a word to her, she would pretend as if I did not exist and would leave.
I knew that I had hurt her, but could it also be she was over exaggerating a bit?
Dad having had enough of the silent treatment, conspired to help me get mum alone, no questions asked. So it was this afternoon that we had decided to finally put our plan into action.
"I'm going to take Ollie out, leaving you two here alone, alright? Maybe that's what you two need, some alone time."
I nod, "Maybe."
"By the time I come back, I expect to see you both hugging it out then."
"Uhuh. Well. Wish me luck." I say turning to go towards mum's room. I hear dad close the front door, and knew that with Ollie in the car already, it wouldn't be long before they were long gone.
I knock on her door, not really waiting for a response and instead simply letting her know that I was coming in.
She doesn't respond, instead continues reading her novel with her glasses perched upon her nose. She's stretched out in bed, wearing joggers and a jumper.
"Mum? Who are you calling mum? According to you I'm not your 'mum'." She says without even batting an eye.
I exhale loudly, "Do you have to act this way?"
"What way would that be, Ems." She says, clearly uninterested.
"Like a child."
She takes off her reading glasses, places the book onto the bed, and finally makes eye contact with me, "Do you want me to act like an adult?"
"Are you going to act like one too?"
"Then let me ask you a question?"
I could feel the nervousness build in my stomach as I uttered a weak "What?"
She sighs, "What is it about Niall that makes you think it's okay to destroy your family?"
"What?" I could feel my jaw drop a bit, not having expected mum to be saying that.
"You do realize what your little relationship with him means if your father finds out, don't you?"
"The end, Emma. The end."