During the following week things seemed to continue on as normal for Charla, though she couldn’t help notice that Alex seemed to be preoccupied with something, but found herself unable to ask since Alex would suddenly bring something up and laugh like it was nothing.
It made Charla wonder if she had done something.
“Back here again I see.” Charla looked up from her history book to see Mordecai looking down at her. “I thought you’d be eating lunch with your classmates.”
After the somewhat awkward moments with Alex and the unease that Charla had felt, she had thought it best to let the girl be with the friends she already had. Even though Alex herself said that it’d be okay for her to stay.
“No it’s fine; I’m used to eating alone. You don’t have to worry about me it’s okay.” even though Charla said it with a smile Alex still looked surprised. But Charla noticed how Alex seemed uneasy or worried these past few days even though she didn’t know why Charla felt as if somehow she was part of it.
“I like it here,” she said. “The weather is good, has been for the past little while, what about you?”
“Me?” he then merely shrugged. “Not sure, though are you alright, being by yourself?”
“I’m fine,” she said as he then went and sat down by the tree. “Don’t you have anything to eat?” she asked noticing that he had nothing on him. He merely shrugged in response. Charla then got up and handed him the other half of her sandwich. “Here, it’s not much but it’ll at least it’s better than nothing.”
Mordecai took the sandwich from her and asked. “Are you sure?”
“Yes, besides sometimes I’m not a big eater. It happens…”
“Is it because of your fainting spell?” he asked taking a bite out of it.
“A little, though it also comes from stress. Which surprised me, I didn’t think I’d have much to worry here in this town.” She gave a bitter smile. “Guess I was wrong…”
“Is that really a bad thing?” Mordecai asked her. “Stress is just a normal part of life, even more so for people in our age and up. Adults can be stressed but also go claiming that we kids can’t understand but we can very easily.”
Charla merely looked at him as she took a bite of her half of the sandwich. She remained quiet as she ate waiting to hear more from this young man. But he didn’t say more.
“Even adults views can be skewed,” Charla said. “Many wishing they had it easier when those who are young wish to grow up fast not knowing what might be there when they do. Before my accident people kept wondering what I’d be doing, what kind of job I’d get, who I’d marry and so on. They wanted to plan out my life but my brother shielded me from it all… and after he died it all just seemed to disappear… like I never seemed to exist.”
Mordecai merely looked at her in silence; he could understand what she was getting at.
Just then Charla’s cellphone buzzed in her sweater pocket. She looked at the screen, then back to Mordecai. “Sorry, I need to answer this.”
He merely nodded in response as Charla got up from the bench and went over to another section of the place to answer the call. With her back turned he smiled slightly as he pushed some of his hair away from his face.
Now wouldn’t be the best time to tell her the truth, he’d have to wait. Wait for a better chance to talk to her. Getting up he decided to leave to let her speak to the person in private.
“Hi Dad,” she said when she answered. “It’s unlike you to call me while I’m at school. Did something happen at work?”
“Well, no. Things have finally calmed down, though if I’m truly honest sweetheart I had to surprise the urge to throw the lot of them out the top story window that caused this whole issue at work.”
“You sound like you really wanted to throw them out that window Dad,” Charla said blankly then she asked him. “Did you make your scary “I’m going to kill you” face again to those directors?”
“I don’t make that kind of face…” he paused as if looking into a mirror. “Do I?”
“You do,” she said. “But only when those who work with you don’t listen to reason. Remember I was with you last year for the “Bring your Kid to Work Day” and you had to deal with a number of people who wouldn’t listen and wanted to cut corners on a redevelopment project, you had a glare that could cut deeper than a knife.”
“Yes, though in your defence Dad you were angrier at them for the comments they made about me than anything else. After that you had no intention of working with them again.”
“Ah yes, that so-called family oriented group that prides themselves on the housing company. People like that who only hold a pack of lies can burn.”
Yeah that sounds like Dad… “So are you okay?”
“I am, but what about you? You don’t sound well.”
Charla’s shoulders sank slightly. “No… it’s… it’s nothing, I’m alright.”
Johan was silent, and Charla didn’t say anything further. “Charla, what happened? Tell me, tell me what happened.”
“I…” she sighed then looked around if anyone was around and moved herself to a far corner of the garden sitting down on another stone bench that was tucked away and kept her voice low. “I’ve been seeing things again, images and the like, all jumbled and disoriented. There’s more but… you… you may need to come here sooner, I think.” Her eyes squeezed shut tightly. “I’m sorry Dad.”
He was silent for a moment before he asked. “You don’t need to be sorry Charla, never for this. What you are going through even I cannot imagen. But your uncle…”
“He doesn’t know,” she said quickly. “He doesn’t know Dad; he only remembers the car accident. So I reminded him about my blackouts… but the other thing… I just… I couldn’t tell him Dad, I couldn’t tell him… about the incidents. I’m afraid that he wouldn’t understand.”
Her father was silent she could only guess as to the expression that was on her father’s face at that very moment. It was anger, silently brewing anger, like foreboding storm. “I see…” was all that he said in a low tone in response.
“Please don’t be angry with him…” Charla said softly. “It’s okay if he doesn’t know. At least for now, nothing really bad has happened yet. But I’m not sure, this whole town has ears and eyes everywhere.” Her body began to shake as her eyes grew wide. “I’m afraid… Dad I’m afraid. I’m afraid of myself!”
“Charla calm down, you know as well as I do that worrying about that will only make things worse for you.” he said in a calm soothing voice. “You said nothing has happened yet, you need to believe in that okay? No matter what, you have done nothing wrong.”
Charla closed her eyes as she had the sudden urge to just go home, but even then she knew she couldn’t do that. She was in this town for better or worse, she only hoped to get a better understanding before it turned to worse.
“You really think that?” she asked him.
“Yes,” he said. “I do, you are my daughter. I will always be on your side. Regardless of what anyone else says.” There was a brief pause before he spoke again. “I will speak to your uncle about your condition, since things over here are almost settled I’ll take the chance to come by in person.”
“Okay…” she said softly. “Dad, I’m sorry for putting you through all of this on top of everything else you do.”
“You can’t take the blame, if anyone should be blamed it should be the one who pushed you, Carlin and the driver off the road. He was one man I will never forgive.”
Even though he said that Charla couldn’t help but blame herself for it all, even though she wasn’t the one who caused the accident, she felt like she was the cause and that was a feeling a guilt that would never go away.
“Charla,” her father spoke drawing Charla out of her thoughts. “I know things are hard but you have to try your best there. At least until I’m able to get to Sharlton, okay?”
“Yeah,” she sighed. “I understand text or call me when you find something out.”
“You know I always will Charla, I love you sweetie.”
She closed her eyes and savored those words. “I love you too Dad,” when she hung up she stared at her cellphone with a sad almost blank expression. Even though his words helped remove some of the feeling of dread, she couldn’t help but think what may happen in the future because of her condition, and the horrible things behind it all.
As she leaned against the wall of the school and looked up to the sky, it looked cloudy with dark grey clouds in the blue clouds. Charla inhaled the afternoon air and she could smell the fragrance of rain, it was going to rain soon. Her eyes remained looking up at the sky, as her mind drifted from here into a small memory.
A memory of her and her brother playing in a field in the early autumn of Germany, where old homes seemed to stand tall against the ways of time, holding old charm with the afternoon sun beginning to set, she recalled the laughter that she and her brother shared as he held her hand as they ran through the tall grass. Even as they ran he never let go of her hand, always held tight when they finally reached a spot where a large rock lay resting above the tall grass. The two of them sat there, for what felt like hours as they watched the sun set as they remained on that rock holding hands in that blazing sky.
What she wouldn’t give to go back to those days, but those were days she could never truly have ever again, no matter how much she wished for it.
The sound of a cat meowing drew her back to reality. When she opened her eyes she looked to her side to see the cat from before sitting there and staring up at her.
“Hello again Shadow,” she said with a faint smile. “I haven’t seen you for a while, what have you been up to?” she asked the black cat as she ran the back of her along the top of its head as it purred loudly. “You must have been on some interesting adventures, when I was little my brother and I would sometimes follow stray cats in the when we were in Germany, to see where their secret hideout would be. It was only a barn in the country but it was still fun to explore.” Her gaze looked back up to the sky. “It makes me wonder… if I’ll ever do that again.” She felt something pawing at her leg and saw that Shadow was kneading her skin. “You want food right?” she asked the cat as she gently picked it up and set him on her lap while keeping her hands underneath his front legs. “That’s why you come around to people isn’t it, well I’m sure it’s nothing wrong too it but if you keep this up you’ll just get fat.”
The cat meowed at her.
Charla laughed. “Alright, alright, today I actually have some food I can give you so you’re lucky but don’t think I’ll do this all the time.” She carried the cat back over to the stone bench by the tree only to stop and look at her food seeing the other half of the sandwich that she had offered to Mordecai was resting with the other. “Huh? I thought I gave this to Mordecai, was he not hungry after all?”
“What’s going on with you?” Alex stopped in the hallway of the school and looked back to Jason with a slight frown.
“Huh? What are you talking about Jason?”
His eyes narrowed on her. “I think you know what I’m getting at. You’ve been acting strange this past week, you’re distant and what’s more you keep going home early too. Charla thinks that she’s to blame.”
“What? Why would Charla think that?”
“Because of how you’ve been acting around her!” he said. “I’ve noticed it too, you may not be aware of it but you have a warry expression whenever you look at Charla, as if… as if you think she’s some type of monster. Just what is going on Alex?”
Alex looked away from him, she couldn’t say anything to deter what he thought but wasn’t sure what to say at all. She had been constantly looking into issues involving brain injury and split personalities. “It’s not like I mean to do that it’s just…”
“I’ve been looking into Charla’s injury, and there’s something I wanted to ask her about it but I’m not even sure how to go about it.”
“Then why not just ask her flat out like you always do?” Jason said. “Something like that never held you back before.”
She looked away again. “It’s not that simple…”
Jason merely looked at her in silence as a number of students walked by talking and laughing as the two remained quiet. He knew pushing the matter wouldn’t solve anything so with a sigh he said.“Alright fine I won’t push, but you should try to talk to Charla about it since it concerns her, and soon. She’s a nice girl, it’d be sad if she went back to being alone…”
Alex merely turned and left. I know that… she thought to herself as she stopped see Charla eating lunch by herself in that small garden while listening to music and writing notes for class as a black cat seemed to lie close to her lap. I know I should ask her, but can I really just go up to her and ask what’s inside that head of hers? Wouldn’t that be more like I’m accusing her then just asking?
Alex then saw a first year coming over and spoke to Charla, she seemed familiar with the first year student and smiled and talked to her while the black cat just remained where it was.
Alex shook her head and glared towards the floor, what the hell was with her? She wasn’t normally like this so why was there so much hesitation in wanting to know one thing about something that the girl many not even fully know?
Was there even a point in asking, knowing that there might not even be any answer to be given? “What’s wrong with me?” Alex asked to no one, as she headed to the bathroom nearby and looked at herself in the mirror, she stared long and hard at herself, glaring hard at her own reflection. “Why I can’t I just ask her? What am I so afraid of in asking such a seemingly simple question to one damn girl?” she shook her head and grit her teeth. What the hell, it shouldn’t be this hard, she shouldn’t waver so damn much and yet she did.
The last time she did was when her mother became sick.
Alex froze when she realized, remembering how long she felt hesitant before she laughed, laughed at what seemed so damn stupid. “God, how stupid can I be?” she said with a bitter smile before looking at herself in the mirror and shook her head. If you were here Mom you’d probably think I’m one hell of a sorry sight.
Letting out a deep breath Alex left the bathroom and went back to where she saw Charla, she was alone again, both that first year and the cat were gone and now Charla was leaning against the tree with her eyes closed listening to music. Alex began to approach only to stop; maybe this was a bad idea.
Maybe asking her now wasn’t the wisest thing to do. She shook her head; no she couldn’t keep wavering on this. She had to talk to Charla about this now; Alex couldn’t keep making excuses for this.
Charla was now reading another book, a book that looked to be in German, she had finished one of the books that were written in Japanese and now another book in German from that same book store that they had gone to before when Charla first arrived. Alex went over to her, quickly so not to lose her nerve. “Hey…”
Charla looked up to Alex with a slight blank expression. As if waiting to see if Alex would say anything else.
“Uh, look. I’m sorry for avoiding you this past week. I didn’t mean to do that it’s just… I looked into something about your head injury and… there’s something I want to ask you.” she stopped when Charla stood up putting her things away in her bag and kept looking at her with a blank expression.
“I figured, it shouldn’t surprise me in the least.” She slung her bag over her shoulder. “If you really want to know, best to follow me.”
Alex looked at Charla’s back, the wind began to pick up, lifting her hair to reveal the tale tell signs of a scare from the accident. Alex followed her; she had a feeling that they would skip the rest of school for this, and talk in a more private area.
Mordecai stood in one of the entry ways of the small garden area sticking to the shadows as he watched the two girls leave before he went and headed to his next class.