Misjudged – Final
Dinner was surprisingly nice. Tommy was kind of nervous that Scarlett and his dad would start fighting again, but they were both pleasant to each other. Jason borrowed Arnold’s guitar and played the song he wrote about Tommy for his parents, and Tommy’s mother even cried a little.
“You really wrote that after what these three told you about him?” asked Tommy’s dad.
Jason nodded his head and smiled. “Yes, sir.”
Arnold stared sadly at Tommy.
“Aw, son, I’m sorry I was such a jerk. Tomorrow is a Friday, right? We’ll go to the park after school and then get milkshakes afterwards, how does that sound?”
Tommy nodded excitedly and began rambling about how Cash and Greyson’s classmate made the best chocolate milkshakes.
“When do you two wanna go camping?” Jason asked Greyson and Arnold.
“This weekend works for me.” Greyson looked at Tommy’s dad. “How does this Saturday and Sunday sound?”
Arnold nodded and looked at Jason, who suddenly looked shy.
“Actually, I can’t this weekend.”
Greyson laughed and said, “Since when do you have plans? You live in a tent in a forest.”
“Well,” Jason began, “I’ve got a job interview on Sunday morning.
Scarlett dropped her fork. “HOW?”
“What the hell, Scarlett?” whispered Cash. “Be happy for him.”
Regardless of his whispering, everyone heard Cash anyways. Scarlett rolled her eyes.
“I am happy for him. But, no offense old man, you don’t exactly scream ‘corporate guy’. What kind of job interview did you get?”
“It’s nothing big. Just doing some stuff around the base. Nothing like I was doing, but it’s still something.”
“You can borrow one of my suits,” offered Arnold. I can send it to the dry cleaners tomorrow and have it to you by Saturday.”
Jason smiled. “Thank you.”
After dinner was over, Scarlett offered to help Tommy’s mother with the dishes. There were a few minutes of uncomfortable silence, until Scarlett decided to finally break the awkwardness.
“I’m sorry I’m kind of a b-.” She stopped herself. “I’m sorry I’ve been kind of standoffish towards you.”
Tommy’s mom made a noise of acknowledgement and continued to wash the place she was holding.
“It’s just that Tommy is a great kid, and I was upset that you and his dad just seemed to brush him off.”
Tommy’s mother turned to look at Scarlett. “I can understand. But I just wish it didn’t have to happen behind our backs.”
Scarlett looked at the ground. “Yeah. We didn’t mean to, but almost every time we came by you two were gone or arguing. I know what it’s like to hear my parents argue all the time, and I just wanted to help Tommy so he wouldn’t feel the same way I did.”
“Where do you live?”
Scarlett looked back up, confused at the sudden question. “As soon as we turned 18, Greyson, Cash and I got a small house together.”
“Where are your parents?”
“My dad left and soon after my mom dumped me off at a shelter. I hated it. I hate her.”
Scarlett hadn’t realized it, but she started to cry. Tommy’s mom noticed and hesitantly pulled her into a hug, which Scarlett clung to.
“If you ever need to talk…or if you ever need a mom, you’re always welcome here.”
Scarlett sniffed. “Thank you.”
Tommy ran in and Scarlett shoved his mom away.
“Dad said we could watch a movie! You gotta come into the family room!”
Scarlett ruffled his hair and said, “Be there in a sec, we have to finish the dishes.”
Halfway through the movie, Tommy passed out on Scarlett’s shoulder. Arnold carried him upstairs and the teens and Jason left to go home. They all decided that monthly dinners would become a thing.
As the months went on, Tommy’s family, in a way, adopted the three troubled teens. When they graduated, Tommy and his parents were there to cheer them on.
Scarlett left to go to a state college, but gave Tommy her scrapbook she had been working hard on before she left. It was full of all of the different memories they shared. Scarlett and Tommy wrote letters back and forth, and Tommy’s parents would send her care packages once a month.
Cash, inspired by Jason, decided to join the army. He left almost right after graduation, but still sent out letters and pictures to everyone when he could.
Greyson had successfully quit smoking and went to a community college. He stayed in town, and still hung out with Tommy when he could. However, because of his grades, he was able to get a top-notch internship so he kept busy.
Jason got the job, and was able to save up enough money to buy himself a small apartment in town. He went to Tommy’s house for the holidays and was able to keep in touch with the three teens.
Tommy was disappointed that he didn’t get to see everyone as much, but he was happy they were still able to keep in touch. He eventually made new friends that were his age, but he still considered Scarlett, Cash and Greyson his best friends.
Tommy’s dad was able to quit drinking and repaired his relationship with Tommy and his wife. To celebrate, they renewed their vows and took a big family vacation. Everyone was happy.
previous: Misjudged – Part Eight
first chapter: Misjudged – Part One
more by CASSIE GAMMIE
photograph by Daria Nepriakhina