Charlie Ever After

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o2| Charlie

It’s been three days since graduation. I have a countdown as to how many days left until move in day and today we’re down to 53 days. It seems like a lifetime away. How am I going to get through the whole summer with the growing anticipation of moving away for school? The university of Arizona was so close, yet so far. All I’ve ever dreamed of was getting away from this town, away from my mother, away from Gavin and all the awful memories this town houses for me.

The only group of people that probably even care that I exist are the Ramirez family. For thirteen years Erin Ramirez has been my pseudo mom, since my own mother can’t stay sober long enough to help me out from time to time. She has picked up so many of my cracked pieces and glued them back together, as has the rest of the family, treating me like one of their own... and for that I owe them my life.

Besides for them, I feel trapped here in Scottsdale. Trapped saving my drunk of a mother, trapped in this abusive mind fuck of a relationship with Gavin, and trapped in my own god damn head 99% of the time.

I have so many goals and ambitions, I just have to get away so I can achieve them. Start over, start fresh and new. Maybe even reinvent myself. Charlie Ramsay, who? And U of A is my chance to do just that. To get away, just far enough where no one knows who the hell I am. I can be Jane Doe. Hell, I could even be Marilyn Monroe reincarnated. I laugh at the thought.

I sit up in bed now, the constant flood of thoughts making it hard for me to fall back asleep. I look over at my bedside table to where my alarm clock is positioned towards me. The digital numbers reading 7 am. “Three days into summer vacation and I can’t even sleep in.” I groan. “You’re a loser Charlie.” I reach my arms over my head, crossing them as I stretch, hearing a few cracks here and there.

“Aren’t you going to school today?” My mother mumbles from her spot in the breakfast nook. She’s cradling a cup of coffee in a pair of shaky hands, her head bowed, and eyes shut warding off the early morning sun. I take in the sight of her and grab a paper towel from the dispenser, setting it under her hands to catch any spills before returning to the counter to make myself a cup.

I drop down across from her, studying her over my steaming cup. “It’s summer vacation. Graduation was three days ago, I even marked it on your calendar.” Not that a simple gesture like that would make her remember such an important day.

She opens her mouth as if she’s going to say something but promptly snaps it shut before taking a moment to gather her thoughts. “I could’ve sworn it was next week.”

I shake my head quietly, disappointment flooding through me. As much as I may hate her, she’s my mother and I still love her with all of my heart as contradicting as that is. I find myself wishing sometimes that she’d finally come to her senses and realize that she needs to get her shit together, I want her to be an important part of my life. I’m sick of sharing a house with a complete stranger, she is my flesh and blood after all- but, I’m coming closer and closer to leaving and never looking back; to save myself.

“No mom.” I reply. “But I’m sure Lydia’s parents recorded it or something.” I say without a glance at her. I push my chair back, the wobbly legs screeching across the linoleum.

“I have to get ready for work. I love you.” I say, leaving a small kiss on her forehead before slipping out of the kitchen and back up the carpeted stairs to my bedroom.

I sit at my vanity, coffee still steaming in front of me as I look at myself. My eyes are sunken in, my skin is pale and blotchy and my normally shiny brown hair is lacking it’s normal luster.

A sigh escapes my lips as I open my makeup bag pulling out some concealer, mascara, foundation, and my favorite clear lip gloss that tastes like vanilla. I conceal the bags under my eyes, smearing my face with some foundation to hide my uneven skin tone and coat my long eyelashes with black mascara before wiping a thick coat of lip gloss across my lips. I try to give my reflection a smile, but it looks more or less like I’m in terrible pain. With a shrug I stand up and walk to my closet, pulling out my work uniform- a gaudy grey polo and a black pair of work pants along with a black non-slip pair of sneakers. I change quickly and sweep up my long dark brown hair into a high ponytail, calling it a day before grabbing my bag and making my way downstairs and out the door.

I’m leaving almost an hour early for work, but I couldn’t stand another minute in that house. I sling my bag across my body and soak in the late June sun. It kisses my skin sending a chill through my body as I start my walk into town. It’s so beautiful out today I don’t feel like being cramped up in my car on the short ride.

When I get into town, I walk into my favorite coffee shop A Cup or Two and wait in the line that’s almost flowing out the door. I pull my phone out of my pocket and scroll through my notifications. Gavin texted me this morning around 2 am.

I’m home. I missed you.

Sure, he did. On to the next one from him.

Why aren’t you answering?

That one was a few hours later at 6. Then another one buzzes in.

What the fuck, I know you have work at 10. Why are you ignoring me, I know you’re awake.

I ignore this message as well, sliding my phone back into my pocket as the line moves up. I sigh, looking around. There’re a few groups of people sitting down at the tables that are littered throughout the coffee shop, but most people were grabbing their orders to go.

It’s finally my turn in line, and I go up to the barista with a smile, ordering my usual: A large iced caramel macchiato with extra caramel sauce. I watch as the girl makes my drink, handing my money over as she hands me it. I thank her and make my way over to a table in the corner and sit down. I pull my book out of my bag and sip my drink as I dive in; A sappy romance novel, I know super cliché to be reading, but I enjoy reading the fantasy lives of these women who end up with the most attractive, most amazing men. It fills me with hope that one day I too will find my true love. I almost choke on my drink as I think about it, it seems like such a myth. A perfect man, ha that must be a joke.

Forty-Five minutes later I check the time on my phone and throw my book back into my bag before draining the last of my drink. I toss the cup and drape my bag over my body and head out the door, a few minutes later arriving at the small diner in the center of town. Bubba’s.

Bubba’s was my home away from home and the people who work here are family to me, like the Ramirez family. On first glance Bubba, the owner can seem super intimidating but he’s like a father to me, he’s sweet as pie and would give you the shirt off his back if need be.

I give Bubba a smile as I walk through the door. “Hey Bubba, good morning. How are you doing?” I greet him.

“Ahhh Charlie dear. I’m good, it’s a beautiful day and my shining star just walked in.” He says tossing me a wink.

A blush creeps up to my cheeks slightly as I let a giggle escape my lips. “Oh Bubba, you have your ways to make the ladies swoon!” I teased. I throw an apron around my waist and grab an order pad and a pen.

“Oh Charlie, you have a young man asking for you down at table 5” Bubba says to me. I nod to him and make my way to the table; the guy is turned away from me but from the back of his head I already know who it is. A shiver travels down my body as I make my way closer to the table, stepping into his line of vision.

Before he could even speak, I let out a sigh. “What are you doing here Gavin.” I’m deflated. Whenever he’s around, he sucks the energy from me like a leech.

He glares up at me. “I tried calling you and texting you.” He tries but I stop him.

“You only texted me twice. I was asleep at 2 am when you got home, and I was asleep at 6. Now what do you want.” I was being rude, but I was still hurt over him ditching me on graduation night.

I saw the muscle in his jaw tighten and flinch as he grits his teeth. He keeps his voice low, but he reaches out and grabs my arm so hard I let out a yelp as he forces me to sit in the seat across from him.

“What the fuck is wrong with you. You answer me when I message you, you hear? Or are you fucking some other dude.” He says with a harsh laugh.

I cower at first but my fury bubbles up inside me. I lean across the table and look him square in the eye, keeping my voice low and steady. “I didn’t answer you for a reason, Gavin. I was pissed and still am fucking pissed you ditched me on graduation night. I’m your girlfriend, not your possession. I’m there and have been there for every significant event that has happened in your life since we’ve been together... and honestly, I’m sick and tired of always coming second in your life. This has gone too far, all you do is hurt me. And lately it hasn’t only been mentally and emotionally...” I veer off but force myself to continue. “I’m sick of it Gavin, I deserve more than this.” And with that I try to stand up, but he grabs my wrist again and forces me back down. The fire is blazing in his eyes now. I look over his shoulder and see Bubba puffing up his chest and storming our way, but I send him a silent plea with my eyes to keep his distance for now.

Gavin is at loss for words. I never stick up for myself when it comes to him and I can see the shock written clear as day across his handsome yet hideous face- but I can’t sit back anymore and let him tear me down just like I’ve let my mother do to me since birth. I need to remind myself of my worth.

“First of all-” He interrupts my thoughts and leans in so close to me that I can feel every stray drop of spit that sprays from his mouth as his rage consumes him. He keeps his voice steady, but I can tell that any minute he’s going to explode. All I can do is be thankful for the fact that we’re in public and he wouldn’t dare hit me in public, this town is too small and there’s no way his father wouldn’t find out if an ordeal like that were to happen. “You are my girlfriend; therefore, you are a possession. MY girlfriend.” He holds my wrist hard, his fingers tightening with every word. I try pulling away, but it just makes his grip tighten more.

“Gavin, let go.” I say between gritted teeth as I try to yank myself free, watching Bubba as he starts towards us again. I shake my head to tell him not yet.

He lets go slightly but leans in even more. “Don’t think you’re tough Charlie, because I know just how weak you are.” With that he lets go of my wrist and stands up, walking out the door. I look up, seeing Bubba walking out behind Gavin, posture straighter than I’ve ever seen, shoulders hauled back making him appear bigger and beefier than he already is. I force a smile and get up from where I’m sitting, rubbing my wrist. I walk over to my first table and start with a quick introduction, giving them daily specials before taking their drink orders.

The diner was busy all day. I opted to stay for a double since one of the waitresses called out sick. It’s now 11 pm and I’m sitting at the register counting my tips, making change, stuffing the singles and the five-dollar bills into the drawer, taking out 20′s and 10′s to replace them. I shove the money into my wallet, saying my goodbyes as I walk out the door- purposely avoiding Bubba and his concerned looks.

I walked into the parking lot, staring down at my phone when I hear a loud whistle. I look up and scan the parking lot for anyone familiar when I see Isaac and Lydia sitting on the hood of Isaac’s prized possession- his 1971 Chevy Camaro that him and his father have been rebuilding for the past ten years. An instantaneous smile spreads across my lips as I whistle back and race towards them. Isaac has the top down which meant we were going for a joy ride.

“What’re you guys doing here?” I squeal and give each of them a tight hug.

“We’re here to take you out. Bubba called us and said you had a rough night.” Isaac says and gives me a sympathetic smile to let me know Bubba only reached out because he was concerned.

I nod and let out a sigh. “Yeah, it was a little tough.” I say, not letting too much slip out. The less I tell them the better. I don’t want them to have to worry about me. They do enough for me, I don’t want to be a bother any more than I already am.

I just let the negativity and stress of the night melt off my shoulders as I hop into the back seat of the car and slap at the front seat. “C’mon, let’s go! And please blast some good music. Lydia please assume the role of DJ so your brother doesn’t have us listen to love ballads all night.” I laugh as they both settle into their seats, Lydia grabbing the AUX cord before Isaac even has the chance. Lydia cranks up the music and Isaac pulls out onto the highway. All three of us are singing at the top of our lungs, our hair whipping in the wind; and in this moment I realize how much I’m going to miss them when I go away to college and we all start our own adult lives in a few short months.


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