Scarlett by John Roberts

Scarlett shook her hair and slunk onto the sofa, her legs drawn up beneath her, “Dad, “she said in a little girly voice, “I,” she stopped and put a hand to her mouth.

“Yes, Scarlett,” replied her father in a disapproving tone and eyes narrowed, “Take your hand away for your mouth. I can’t hear you “.

“Sorry, Dad, "

“Piggy …what do you want?”

“Don’t call me Piggy, “Scarlett said in an angry tone, “That was my childhood nickname.” Scarlett turned away, muttering almost mutely to herself defiantly,” I'm grown up now.”

She squirmed on her seat and stared at her father, “Look, I'm a mature woman for heaven’s sake …I will never see thirty again.” She put her head back and laughed sharply” You like Clive, don’t you? “The sentence is stretched out with an interval between each word.

Harry, Scarlett’s father, looked at Scarlett and made a dismissive gesture, then took a pipe out of an ashtray and began cleaning it. Then, he looked back at Scarlett, " Now remind me, “he said, "Is he the person you go out with on Thursday and Saturdays…tall, thin-faced, long hair, goatee beard never says a damn word."

“Oh Dad…that’s Josh... and that’s because you hide away….an’ always have your head in the paper “.

" Shaking his head, Harry replied, " No, I don’t …or are you talking about the little guy who takes you out Fridays, Sundays, and Tuesdays. “

He sighed, “The one with the Brummie accent…I can’t make out a word he says... not ahead or tail …you do pick them, don’t you Piggy. Quite a social diary you have...how do you keep up?

Taking in a deep breath, Scarlett got to her feet, “The Thursday and Saturdays guy was Josh, “her voice became quite almost sad, “We split up yonks ago…didn’t mom tell you. “

“Err, yes …I think, " responded Harry looking away toying with his pipe, " She mentioned something about it …about someone you’d given the elbow to.” Then with a dramatic swish, he lit up his pipe, which caught alight on the third match struck.

“Scarlett…I'm sorry about that.”

“I’m not, “she responded snappishly “He’s a right minger …I'm not vexed…not vexed at all…Josh…is a loser.”

Now, why on earth are you talking as if you come from South London.” The last two words were spoken badly in a mockney accent.”

Then Harry sat down with a bang, opened up a newspaper and humphed. Then seconds later, looking over the top of the paper, Harry mumbled, “We sent you to a private school, and you've ended up sounding like someone out of that dreadful programme, err, err ‘EastEnders’ …your mother and I are quite concerned.

“Dad…don’t get your knickers in a twist…you’ve forgotten ain't ya’.”

With an exasperated moan that sounded as if it came from deep in his chest, " You have to remember, “Harry said, “Scarlett, the art of a good marriage is diplomatic deafness... you simply filter out all the flim-flam the wife…or husband says …you may need to remember that if you are ever.” The word ‘ever’ was emphasised loudly, " Get married."

“I go out with Clive and only Clive...I live with him…haven’t you noticed?”

“Can’t say I have… Piggy”

“DONT CALL ME PIGGY, “Scarlett yelled at full volume, with tears in her eyes.

“Temper…temper, Scarlett dear …Clive, Mmm, now doesn’t he drive a red sports car...how can he afford that... eh…sells drugs, I bet.”

“Oh, dad, “Scarlett replied in a whiney voice. The next moment she shook her head and continued in a proud tone, “Clive is something big in the BBC.”

Scrunching up the newspaper, Harry scowled,” The BBC …full of looney left-wingers …they should bring back national service…give em’ all some backbone… bloody yuppies.”

“Dad, Clive is Chief commissioner for BBC Radio drama and - "

“What?" Harry brusquely interrupted his daughter, “He doesn’t look old enough to vote... has he started shaving? I thought he was just fourteen.”

Scarlett crossed her legs and sat back, a satisfied smile on her face, “Clive is a good friend of David Walliams.”

“Really, “Harry replied whilst knocking out ash in his pipe, “He churns out books like there’s no tomorrow …do you know he's a distant, a very distant relative of your mother’s.”

“Can I, " Scarlett asked, coughing theatrically, “Open a window, please…your pipe tobacco stinks…you smoking old socks.”

Smirking, Harry said, "Scarlett…what a name ...it was your mother’s choice…I wanted you to be called Elizabeth after our dear Queen.”

“Oh, Dad “.

Getting up and opening a window, Harry turned and faced his daughter with eyes downcast, " Your Mother was at Goldsmith’s lecturing around the time you were born. She was with a real wild crowd …she bought them to our house a few times, but I didn’t approve …the neighbours began talking… so I put a stop to that.”

“Dad, I have something, “Scarlett squirmed on the sofa, " To ask you.”

“Money, I suppose, “Harry grunted, “How much…why?"

Scarlett stood up and sat next to her father, brushing a hand across his cheek, “Oh no, no, dad…I'm a successful Businesswoman…I own my own company …I have more than enough lolly, and I don’t need sponge off you, not now,”

“That’s news to me," Harry replied in a surprised tone of voice.

“Oh dear… you and Mom are on the Board…you both kindly provided me with seed money when I started.”

“Did we? Oh good,” replied Harry shuffling keys in his pocket loudly.

“Dad, “said Scarlett in a hesitant tone.”

“What?” Harry reached out and touched scarlet’s cheek affectionately.

“Clive has asked me to marry him.”

“Really …well, why didn’t you say earlier instead of just fluffing around…does your mother know? “

“Oh yes, “answered Scarlett in a gushy voice. “And he’s booked a table for us at the Ivy.”

“The Ivy... very nice.”

“Yes…we thought both parents should meet before- “.

Harry butted in sharply, “God, I remember meeting your mother ‘s parents... for the first time …I was nervous; in fact, I was bloody terrified. Her Dad was an Army Officer. Very formal... He died before you were born... I don’t think he thought I was the right type …he had high hopes of his daughter marrying into the military …silly old bugger, but he was a nice guy once. You got to know him.”

“Whatever, “Scarlett said, her voice taking on a sarcastic tone.

“Tell me, who is his Parents?" Harry asked, “I suppose they’re from Croydon or Tottenham.” Harry pronounced the word Tottenham as Tot-en-ham and despairingly.

“Clive’s mother is the youngest daughter of the Duke of Northampton.”

Harry said, " Bloody hell… yer ‘what! "In a surprised tone.

“Clive’s father is a High Court judge.”

“Bloody hell again, Scarlett …I'm speechless.” Next moment he stood up and poured himself a whiskey.

“And there is something more, Dad, “

Harry stared at Scarlett with a proud but dumbfounded expression, then returned to his seat.” More ...I must sit down my heart is all a flutter... where are my tablets.”

The next moment Scarlett stood up and wandered over to the side table; pensive looking, she passed him his drugs.

“Oh, thank you…what do you mean more?”

“Netflix has approached Clive."

“What in the world is Netflix… it sounds like some virulent disease you get in the tropics or an Australian fast bowler…one of the same, I suppose.”

“Daddy be serious…just for once... concentrate…this is important.”

“My little joke Piggy.”

“They ‘ve offered him a job.”

“That’s nice…I suppose.”

“Working in America…Los Angeles.”

“Wow…L.A.”

“Yes, and were flying there the day after our restaurant date next week…to live.”

“To live, live...oh, oh…my little girl’s leaving me.” Suddenly Harry put his hands across his face, shuddered, then slid gasping to the floor where he lay in a crumpled heap still and silent.

“Daddy, daddy, “bawled Scarlett as she rose from her seat crying, kneeling alongside her floor prone Father feeling his wrist. “Mommy, mommy, come quickly. I think Father is having a heart attack ...he has no pulse, none at all!"


Published in Issue #26

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