A Red Dress and An Easter Egg Hunt

Submitted into Contest #244 in response to: Write about a character who sees a photo they shouldn’t have seen.... view prompt


Drama Fiction Holiday

You never know that one moment will alter your perspective on the life you had before. Once it happens, your in a state of limbo. Unable to move forward and not ready to revisit the past. A past that was merely an illusion in which you were nothing more than a naïve participant.

On the Thursday before Easter, Emily had the entire house to herself. This was the weekend her family gathered together for a family reunion and holiday that she hosted each spring. It had turned into a tradition that she always looks forward to. Today Emily woke at six am and went for her usual walk with her Golden Charlie. When she returned to the house it was empty. Josh had left for the office and now it was time to make coffee.

She sat with her bowl of oatmeal and blueberries as the coffee brewed in the machine. The house was so serene that it was hard to imagine in less than forty eight hours it would be full of family and there would be no quiet moments like this.

Emily called her sister Kate to confirm what time they would be arriving on Friday morning. For the next three hours, Emily deep cleaned the entire house. It was early afternoon when she decided to take a little break.

She made herself a cup of tea that she took over to the breakfast nook and sat beside the window. She could stare into her back garden and think about all the baking she still had to start before Sunday arrived. The good news was many of her guests would bring a few surprise desserts that would help Emily scale down on time spent inside a hot kitchen. Kate always made cheesecake, her cousin Donna baked pies and this year even Molly was making homemade fudge and brownies. Emily would be responsible for chocolate cake and a new bunny cake that all the children looked forward to.

On the table in front of her, sat an old shoe box that now contained

old photographs and keep sakes. Emily lifted the lid and peaked inside. She pulled out a hand full of photos and began to browse through them. The first one was of herself and Kate as young girls. Emily was about five and Kate was four. The two girls wore their best spring dresses and big wide smiles. Emily smiled down at the memory. Now she missed Kate so much because her sister lived seven hours away from her. The second photograph was of her older brother Daniel standing in their childhood home wearing his dress blues from the Marine core. His hair was close cropped and he wore a serious expression on his face.

This was typical of her brother. Emily continued to browse through the box. Most of the pictures she had seen many times before. A few she laughed at while others brought tears to her eyes. Mostly the ones of Molly and Nicholas as young children. No matter how old they were now, her kids often had this effect on her.

She took another sip of her tea. Emily was ready to place the photos back inside the box and than return it to the bench where it always stayed. Something caught her eye. She thought at first she had a picture from a stranger mixed in with all the others. Emily brought the photo up to her eyes to get a closer look. It was of a stunningly beautiful woman wearing a short red dress and laughing into the camera. Who is she?

Emily didn't recognize her. She turned it over in her hand hoping there might be a date on the back but no such luck. She looked at the woman again. The picture was here by mistake. It had to be, it didn't belong here among all the other family photos. Emily returned the shoe box to the storage bench but took the picture of the woman in the red dress upstairs.


Friday the house was full of family and Emily had managed to put the mystery photo out of her mind. Josh had left early to pick Molly up at the airport. Emily had stayed to greet the other guests when they arrived. Kate strolled into the kitchen and found Emily holding a rolling pin in one hand and dusting the counter with flour.

"Hey, how are you doing in here?"

Emily just wiped her hands on a towel without responding.

Then she opened the oven to check on the sugar cookies. They weren't done, so she shut the door. 'Emily, can you tell me what's bothering you?" She turned to face Kate. "Nothing is wrong. I would just like to get these cookies done so we can get the kids outside. I mean its a beautiful day. We had so much rain lately." Kate nods.

"You just seem like your upset. I'm here if you want to talk."

"Maybe later. Come on help me get all the kids outside for the egg hunt."


The afternoon went as well as can be expected. The whole scene was like something out of a children's fairy tale. The grass was so green (no doubt from all the rain) the flowers were budding, the tables were covered in bright pink, yellow and blue coverings, while ten children screamed and ran around the large property looking for brightly colored Easter eggs.

Kate was smiling at her own kids as Molly helped her young cousins collect the eggs they had found. Once the baskets were full, the children got to line up and play a few games. After the games it was snack time and sorting through their goodies.

"Well, I could use a nap." Molly said.

Kate burst out laughing. She placed her hand on Molly's shoulder.

"Look at your Mom she never stops. I give her so much credit. She's like the energizer bunny." Now Molly laughed.

At the long tables Emily was placing juice boxes, hard boiled eggs and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches out for the children. Each time one of the children would ask her a question, Emily would stop, smile and answer them.

"Mom, do you need any help with them?" Molly asked.

"No, its all taken care of. You can get something to eat though."

Molly smiled than started to head towards the house.

"Molly? Have you seen your Dad?" Molly shakes her head before going inside.

"Come on everyone! Sit down, have some juice! Hurry up, no Easter bunny visit if we don't finish."


By five pm most everyone had settled down and the house became quiet again. Emily was alone in her bedroom. She yawned and sat on the side of the bed. The photo of the mystery woman still plagued her but she tried hard not to think about it. She could hear Charlie barking from somewhere in the house. She knew it was time to take him for another walk.

At the bottom of stairs, Emily saw Kate talking with Josh. Her sister waved at her. Emily found her shoes slipped them on and grabbed Charlies leash off the hook by the front door. "Emily are you walking Charlie now? I could come with you?" Josh asked.

"No you stay. I'll be fine by myself." She pushed past the two of them and found the dog in their den.


The fresh air felt good and Emily needed this time to clear her head. She got to the end of the block and stopped so Charlie could smell a nearby hedge. She closed her eyes for just a moment. The only thing she saw was the lady in the photograph. She hated how much it still bothered her. She slowly opened her eyes and Josh was standing beside her. "Hey, I know you said you were fine but I thought you could use the company."

"Well I am fine. You should go back and play host or something." Charlie started to walk and Emily began to follow. Josh followed them. Emily spun around to face him.

"Josh go home, I need this time to think. Please go."

"I think we need to talk about this. You staying quiet and keeping it to herself only worries me more. If your going to yell do it here and now."

"Maybe we should talk. I mean Kate must have told you I was upset and that..."

"I'm sorry Emily. You have to believe me. I was an ass and you have every right to be angry. It was along time ago and she meant nothing to me."

Emily puts her hand in front of her mouth. She hadn't even realized that she was shaking until now. Josh reached out to touch her.

"No! You stay away from me! I hate you!"

"Emily please, forgive me. I'm only just a man, I made a mistake. How long have you known?"

Emily wipes the tears away.

"I didn't know for sure until just now."

Josh looks stunned.

"But you had the picture in our room so I thought..."

"Do yourself a favor and don't think. When we get home I expect you to pack a bag. Your going on a trip and your going to be gone for very long time."

April 04, 2024 20:43

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Kristi Gott
02:55 Apr 09, 2024

Well told! The slice of life and the characters of the family sound real and it is easy for the reader to imagine them and feel engaged in the story. The snappy ending where he mistakes finding the photo in the room for her already knowing reminds me of the saying not to assume things. Good writing, well done.


Joyce Schook
00:02 Apr 10, 2024

Thank you so much for your kind words. I'm so glad you enjoyed my story!


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