Title: I've got my big coat on
Emily, gen, pg-13
Author's Notes: Response to tempertemper77's prompt Emily + all these things that I have done at the Lie to Me Comment Ficathon on LJ.
I'm five years old, it's getting cold, I've got my big coat on.
- Taylor Swift, 'The Best Day'
The funny thing about parents is that, for all the times they say I know what it's like, I've been there, really, they've forgotten what it is like to be sixteen.
They remember the sneaking around, the climbing out of windows, the thrill of those first kisses, but they don't remember the soft smile the boy gives you that makes you climb out the window, or the deeply hurtful comments that fly around high school corridors that you'll do anything to forget about.
They also don't remember just how perceptive you can be.
As much as she loves her parents, and as much as her father is the leading deception expert in the world, they are terrible at keeping certain things from her. They think she has no idea. They think that just because they no longer wear their wedding rings or live under the same roof, that just because they now have a piece of paper that declares them divorced as opposed to married, that things have changed.
Nothing has changed.
She walks back out the front door, as quietly as she can, her school bag still over her shoulder and her iPod headphones buried deep inside her ears.
The first time Emily lies to her father, it's to protect her mother. She stands in the hallway, her grandmother's now broken watch in her hand and the fresh memory of her mother's tears behind her eyelids every time she blinks.
"Daddy," she whispers, as soon as he walks through the front door. "Daddy, I broke Grandma's watch. I'm so sorry, Dad."
Cal's eyes are so focused on her eight-year old hand clutching his mother's time-keeper, he fails to see the lack of guilt on his daughter's face.
("The face is smashed," Zoe cries. "What am I going to do?")
She calls her Dad's feelings for Gillian the first time she meets her. It's something in the way he smiles when talking to her, the way his eyes follow her as she moves around the room. He's taught her well, her Dad, and she files all this information away for a later date.
You see, Emily wants so badly to dislike Gillian because she senses that things are going to change and that Gillian is just the first gust of wind, but she can't. Gillian is warm and kind and funny and her Dad's happier than he's been in a long while. It feels like a betrayal to her mother, but to make up for it she lies to Zoe when they're next alone together.
("So, what do you think of Gillian?" Zoe's trying to be off-hand, but Emily can see straight through her.
"No one's that nice, are they Mom?"
Zoe smiles, kisses her daughter on the cheek. Emily can tell that she's trying desperately to believe her.)
Emily's wretched to Zoe's first boyfriend post-Cal. She does it out of loyalty, out of spite, out of the utter hatred for change. No matter how bad the arguments were or how many times she went to sleep with her pillow clenched over her head to muffle out the sounds, she still misses the three of them living under the same roof.
Because sometimes, it was wonderful.
Jack is her first boyfriend. She's fifteen years old and trying not to notice that her father is sleeping his way through D.C. while her mother pretends that the breakdown of their family unit hasn't affected her in the slightest. Zoe quips that, for the first time in years, she can breath again without worrying about what her eyebrows are doing. Emily knows better.
Jack is nice to her, says all the right things, and her first time is quick and not exactly romantic, but she remembers it without a bitter taste in her mouth which she supposes counts for something. At the time she's so filled with anger and sadness that she wonders whether she was really there at all.
When Gillian's marriage is falling apart, too, she sees her chance.
"He's so much happier when he's with you."
She makes sure to keep her voice as even as possible, because though she knows her words are true, she knows Gillian needs to see and hear the evidence to back it up.
The surprised look on her face is the only confirmation Emily needs to know that she's done it right.
Rick is kind, and patient. He treats her as if she's never done this before, and because they haven't had the talk, he probably just assumes that she hasn't. Emily's made a pact with herself, though, that she's going to take it slow this time. Going fast hasn't worked out for her so far, after all, and she really likes Rick, worries that if (when) she tells him that he'll think badly of her and find someone whose first time it'll also be when he finally feels it's the right time.
Emily can never be that person, but she tries not to worry about it too much because what's done is done and there's nothing she can do about it.
"Two boyfriends ago."
It feels like a weight off her chest. Who she was then and who she is now are almost incomparable, but she feels the need to attempt to draw the two together. She wonders, now, how her Dad managed to miss the signs.
But Emily knows better than anyone that people only see what they want to see.
When she looks in the mirror now, and all of this past year, in fact, she sees who she wants to see, and no longer who she's pretending to see.