Charlie Ever After

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36| Charlie

I walk out of the automatic doors, leading me to the hospital parking lot and the numb feeling- that I was silently hoping would stick around a little longer- diminishes almost immediately as the cool air whips me in the face. As soon as I feel the melt down coming on, I run as fast as I can and lucky for me, I make it to my car before I completely lose my shit.

I'm slamming my fists against the steering wheel and smacking the sun visor. With one whack a picture flutters down, landing in my lap. It's a strip of photos that Tanner and I had taken a month or so back. The school had a photo booth set up on campus for spirit week and I begged him to take a picture with me. It only took a second of whining before he finally agreed.

I pick up the picture, holding it in my shaky hands and it does nothing to stop the tears that are freely flowing down my cheeks. My chest aches and I want nothing more than to feel his arms wrapped around me, but I threw that chance out of the window when I turned down his offer to come see me.

The stupid girl in me was hoping that I'd get home and see him sitting in the Ramirez's driveway but I don't get my hopes up. I didn't give him much of a choice in the matter. I told him no.

I pull into the driveway about fifteen minutes later and my hopes of him being here are deflated when the only cars in the driveway are Lydia and Isaac's. Tears spring to the corners of my eyes and I let them fall before hastily wiping them away.

I slip inside of the Ramirez house without saying a word and make my way up to the spare bedroom, closing the door behind me. I sink down into the queen sized bed and curl up into myself as I let the tears fall. I think about my mother and how when I got to the hospital she was laying in the hospital bed, sleeping. She looked so peaceful and this awful voice inside my head was reminding me of all of the bad things that my mom has put me through, telling me that she didn't deserve this level of peace when I was falling the fuck apart.

I tucked away the voice and sat by her bedside for three hours before I felt my eyes starting to get heavy. I gave her a kiss on the head and left. That visit, that taunting voice in the back of my head was driving me crazy. I needed to leave. But leaving didn't relieve the huge knot of pain that I felt in my chest. It only grew bigger.

I think about Tanner and how in a few weeks, our simple relationship had been plagued with so much drama and hardship that I couldn't keep my head from spinning.

I let it all out. I cry, for hours until I can't anymore- until I think all of the tears my body can produce have been expelled and are now dried up all over my face. Now the numbness is back and I stare up at the ceiling, the knot in my chest getting bigger as the minutes tick by.

~

I don't know how long it takes me to fall asleep, but when I wake up I can feel the salty sheet of grit coating my cheeks from last nights tears and my body is so stiff that I'm afraid if I move, I'll break.

I let out a soft groan and roll to my side. The pain is still there in my chest, but after crying last night, I think it shrank about a centimeter. My phone vibrates next to me, causing me to force my eyes back open, just as I feel sleep pull me back under it's spell.

I sigh and grab for the device, holding it up to my ear after dragging my thumb across the screen.

"Hello?" I grunt.

The person on the other side of the phone clears their throat and it makes me sit up in bed, the haze of sleepiness finally lifting from my consciousness.

"Ms. Ramsay? This is Dr. Elkins from Scottsdale General. You're the person listed as MaryAnn Ramsay's emergency contact." The doctor is silent for a minute causing me to panic.

"Is she alright? I was just there last night, what the hell happened?" I ask frantically as I rush out of bed and start pulling on my shoes.

He clears his throat again, obviously uncomfortable by my outburst. "Ma'am, she's okay. She's ready to go home. You can come pick her up whenever you're ready.

"Oh." Is all I can say before the line goes dead.

I sit there for a moment or two with my phone in my hands as I stare at the black screen as I replay the doctor's words over and over again in my head.

"She's okay. She's ready to go home."

Was I even ready to pick her up? To face her? That awful voice that I filed away is back and it's so loud- telling me that she deserves to rot in that hospital bed until the day she dies. It's telling me that she should have just died that night and that my life would be a lot better without her.

I clench my eyes shut and place my hands over my ears as if that could stop the thoughts.

"Stop." I whisper, over and over again.

They're all thoughts that I've had at one point in my life but they crash around me in such a way that thrusts me into a full blown panic attack.

Isaac and Lydia both rush in, seeing me crumpled to the floor and holding my hands over my ears. I keep screaming stop.

They must think I've completely lost it, but Lydia just rushes over to me and envelops me in her small arms. She rocks me back and forth as she takes deep breaths in hope that I start to mirror her.

"I can't do it. I'm supposed to pick her up and bring her home like nothing even happened. Shit, I don't even know what the fuck happened. How can I bring her back there and not worry for the rest of my god damn life? How can I have a normal life now, go back to school and move on like I've wanted to for fucking years?" I'm practically screaming at them. I shrug out of Lydia's grasp as I struggle to stand, but when I do I'm pacing the floor and clawing at myself like there's bugs crawling under my skin.

In that moment, I know I'm losing my shit. Normal, sane people don't act like this, feel like this. This is the definition of crazy and I almost accept it.

"What the fuck." I scream out and crumple down again, hot and heavy tears streaming down my face- even when I think they're all dried up, more continue falling.

Lydia and Isaac look to each other before back to me. They do this two more times before Lydia slowly makes he way over to me and Isaac slides down to the floor on my opposite side.

They don't say anything, they just hold me and wait for me to talk to them.

"I don't know if I can do it anymore. I don't know if I can be her mother when all I want is for her to be mine." I can see the tears glistening in Lydia's eyes which only make me cry harder as I lean into both of my best friends. They hold me and listen to me as I cry, nodding their heads in agreement with me when need be, otherwise they’re silent.

They don't know what to say, and I don't blame them. They've been there to witness almost every shitty hand I've been handed when it came to my mother. They've been there for all the boyfriends, all the bruises she'd come home with, the drunken nights when I'd call them scared and they'd have their parents come pick me up.

I've realized it before, but as I sit here sobbing in their arms- it hits me, they're the only family that I have. They may not be blood, but they're all I need. Them and Tanner.

After I've been reduced to nothing but sniffles Lydia, Isaac and I sit there silently for a few moments before I speak up.

"I know I should hate her- and I do. But I just need to make sure she's at least home and safe before I distance myself completely from her." I speak my inner thoughts and they both just look at me before placing a reassuring hand on my back. Sometimes with how they act, you'd swear Lydia and Isaac are twins.

"Do what you need to do Char. We love you and will always stand by your side. No matter what." Isaac says as he rubs slow circles on my back.

I just nod and soak up a few more moments with them before I stand up and start gathering my stuff.

~

"Here ya go, Ma." I say as I help her down onto the couch.

I have her all set up with the remotes for the television, a huge bottle of blue Gatorade- her favorite when she's sick, or hungover and a bowl of steaming soup sitting on the coffee table.

She lets out a grunt and sits back, pulling her casted leg up onto the couch and resting her head back against the pillows that I fluff under her.

"Thank you." She sighs and flips on the TV with one of the remotes that I have laid out across her lap.

I just nod my head and hand her the bowl of soup before retreating to my childhood bedroom with my backpack of clothes.

I only planned on staying the weekend, so I've already had to re-wear some things. I walk over to my dresser and pull out an old t-shirt as well as a pair of pajama pants before gathering all of my dirty laundry and bringing them into the laundry room, where I start a load.

Once all of my clothes are in the machine and the cycle is started, I pull myself on top of the dryer and lean my head back against the cabinets above. A tired sigh escapes my lips and so do a few silent tears. The numbness is back in full force, but I still catch a few tears slipping out here and there.

When I got to the hospital to pick up my mother, I made sure to ask for her doctor almost immediately. I was met with an annoyed nurse who told me that he was a busy man. I didn't care though, I needed to see him now. I needed to know what the hell happened to her, because I knew she wouldn't tell me herself.

I pleaded to the tired looking woman once more before she rolled her eyes and nodded her head. "Fine. Take a seat, it may be a while."

And a while it was.

I waited around for almost two hours until a graying, middle aged man walked into the room. I had been sitting in an uncomfortable hospital chair watching as my mom took a Valium induced nap before I had to cart her home.

As soon as I saw him walk in, I got to my feet and walked into the hallway with him hot on my heels. He stood before me, a sigh escaping his lips.

"Nurse Jen said you had to speak with me. That it was urgent." He looked at me impatiently and my blood instantly started to boil. This man is supposed to be a doctor, she was one of his fucking patients.

"Sorry to be taking up a few moments of your precious time." My tone had a bite to it that I couldn't hold back.

His expression instantly shifted as he stood straighter in his spot.

"I want to know what the fuck happened to my mother. No one has told me anything, and I know she fucking won't. So can you be a freaking gem and fill me the hell in." My jaw is clenched so tight that once I was finally able to relax it, I had to rub it with my hand as it ached in response.

"She was assaulted. That much we know, but we don't know much else Ms. Ramsay. Your mother hasn't exactly been forthcoming with us or the police either."

The word police instantly shocked me back to reality. So someone was smart enough to get the police involved.

"There's only so much we can do when a patient won't say a word." He sighed and somehow he looked even more tired than he did just a few minutes ago.

"I'm sorry Mrs. Ramsay. That's all we know. She has a broken leg, she had her stomach pumped, and she received one hell of a beating but she's alive and breathing. We've given her Valium to calm her down and to help with the withdrawals from the alcohol." The silence between us was so thick and hard to swallow, but he finally spoke up.

"The rest is up to her." His pager beeped against his white doctors coat and he looked at me apologetically. "I'm sorry Ms. Ramsay. I have to go. I wish you the best." He said before running off to his next patient.

She was assaulted, and I would never know who did it or why. My mother was never one to talk about her personal life, and even when she came home battered in the past and I pestered her for hours, asking her who and why as I cried at her feet. I always worried about my mother and probably always will until the day one of us dies.

I slam my head against the cabinet it's resting against, wanting to feel any kind of physical pain- just to take away the emotional pain, even if just for a second.

Finally, I slide down from the dryer and drag my feet as I walk to my bedroom. I pull a hoodie out of my closet and pull it over my body before walking over to my bedroom window. I shove it open, pushing the screen up with it before I angle my body through the frame and crawl out, pulling myself to a sitting position once I reach the roof.

I sigh and look up at the stars before pulling my cellphone from my pants pocket and calling the only person I can think to call right now.

My dad picks up after two rings and I can see that he's laying in bed, his readers perched up on the bridge of his nose. "Baby girl, what's wrong?" He asks and I can hear shuffling in the background before I see Carlos' face wedge it's way in between the phone and my father.

"Sweetheart." He coos.

I start sobbing as they both look at me with worried expressions painted across their faces.

I explain everything to them, how I found mom beat up and unconscious on the living room floor, how Tanner wasn't there for me and how I think I ruined our relationship by pushing him away, how I was completely falling the fuck apart.

They both listen to me as I tell them everything that's happened in the past few days. Tears form in the corners of my dad’s eyes as his hand covers his mouth, when I tell him about mom. He weeps for a moment. At one point in time my mom and dad were very much in love and I think feelings like that- people like that, leave an impression on you.

Carlos comforts his husband with open arms and reassuring words as he looks back and forth between the both of us. Carlos never had kids of his own, but he always told me that I am his kid- blood of not. He's watching both of the most important people in his life break down in front of him and he doesn't know what to do.

My dad and I sob together for a few more minutes before we're reduced to sniffling messes.

"I love you guys, so much." I sniffle.

"We love you too, Charlie girl. You know if you need a place to go, you can always come here." Carlos smiles at me and then over at my dad and as their eyes meet I can see so much love passed between them that it makes my heart ache for Tanner. I miss him and I love him, and I know I royally fucked up by trying to push him away.

"I need to get some sleep, but I'll see you guys soon. Promise." I try to force a smile but I can feel fresh tears threatening to escape.

We hang up and I crawl back in through my bedroom window and throw myself down on my bed. I can hear the blaring stage laughter from whatever show my mom is watching, accompanied by the familiar sound of her soft snores.

I fall asleep feeling trapped and helpless and missing Tanner and my life back at school more than ever.

~

It's Thursday and by now I think my mom is feeling much better. It's been five days since I found her crumpled on the floor and now I watch as she hobbles to the kitchen in her cast. She refuses to use the crutches that the hospital supplied her with, deeming that wobbling around like a lunatic was better for her armpits. I didn't argue though. I knew it was pointless.

I sigh and crane my head over the back of the couch and watch as she digs in the fridge. I know there's a few beers in there and I hope that she doesn't pull one out.

Since my mom has been home she hasn't had a drop of alcohol, but I did take notice of the prescription of Valium dwindling a little too quick. The anxiety I had about her drinking is now replaced with anxiety about the little white pills that were prescribed to help with the withdrawal from her drinking. The cycle is never ending with her.

She hobbles back into the room and plops herself back down on the couch and lifts her leg back up, tilting a can of soda to her lips.

"I want to talk to you, Charlie."

Her words catch me off guard. I pick at the fraying knees of my jeans before nodding my head.

"What about?" I ask, not looking up from the hole that I was just making bigger by my picking.

She's silent for a moment but she clears her throat and starts, "Charlie..." And that's how I know bullshit is about to start spewing from her mouth.

I sigh but I let her continue.

"I know that I haven't been the best mom and for that I'm so sorry. I know your life has been anything but easy and I know that I'm a big reason for that and again, I'm sorry." Another pause.

"After your father died-" I don't let her continue this time because my anger flares.

"Yeah, died." I laugh incredulously. I know I'm definitely losing my shit now.

"You must believe your own fucking lies at this point. Do you even hear yourself?" I'm raising my voice, something that I don't think I've ever done to my mother before.

She stares at me, speechless. Her mouth is slightly agape as she listens to me.

"He's very much fucking alive. You were just too ashamed to admit that he left you for a man, because he's gay. He left you to be the most authentic version of himself and you fucking killed him off. How dare you. Did you not think about me?" I'm sobbing at this point, hot tears streaming down my face as I yell at my mother from just a few feet away.

I'm on the edge of my seat by this point and my breathing is so heavy that I feel like I'm going to pass out. I brace myself on the arms of the La-z boy I'm sitting in and try to calm my breathing.

She's not looking at me. She's looking at the ground like the coward she is. She can't admit to her wrongs, ever.

"He found me three years ago mom, and I've been talking to him and his husband ever since." I make sure to add extra emphasis on the word husband because I know it will hurt her.

I chance a glance up at her and watch as she cringes at my words, but remains silent.

For a moment guilt washes over me but I shove it right back where it came from and continue on. "How could you lie to your own daughter like that?"

"You let me believe that he was dead for over ten fucking years?" I stand up from the chair and my arms are up in the air as I speak. I catch her flinch from the corner of my eye but fight on with my words.

"Who in their right fucking mind does that to their child?"

"He had to hire a private investigator to find me. He sent letters and birthday presents. He tried to call and visit and you fucking denied me that. You denied me my father, all because you were butthurt that he was finally fucking happy and it wasn't with you." I scream and I can feel my voice growing hoarser by the minute as I say everything that I've wanted to say for as long as I can remember, all the stored up anger and resentment that I hold towards my mother is finally slipping it's way through the cracks.

"You're a fucking monster. You're not sorry. I can't even count the times you've said those words." I can't stop now that I've started.

"I loved you. I cared about you and you always chose yourself." I suck in a shaky breath.

"I hate you." My voice wavers and when I look up at her, I can see tears shining in her eyes.

I turn on my heels and stomp up the stairs to my bedroom. I stare at the sad walls and think about all the sad memories I've had in this bedroom and start tearing every single poster and picture off of the walls. In my younger years they were the only thing that kept this room from feeling like a jail cell- but I realize that no matter what was on the walls, I was just lying to myself. This room was and will always be a jail cell and this house is the fucking Prison.

I throw all of my clothes into my bag and grab my car keys, shoving my feet into my shoes as I rip out of the house before sliding in my piece of shit car and driving,

Half of the ride I'm a shaking mess, until I stop for a warm cup of coffee and a donut. I shove the pastry down my throat before taking a relaxing sip of the warm brew. I inhale it's intoxicating scent before taking another sip, placing the cup in the cup holder before maneuvering my car back onto the road.

Within two and a half hours- the extra half hour added on because about fifteen minutes away from Tucson, it started storming- bad. I pull up and I'm just as shaky of a mess as I was when I left my mother's house, but this time it was from the anxiety of driving in weather like this,

I slide out of my car and stand there for a moment as I look up at the two story house in front of me, swallowing hard as the rain soaks me almost instantly. I shuffle up the steps and to the front door where I pound on it with the palm of my hand.

"Please answer, please."

I'm breathing heavy and that dizzy feeling is starting to come back. The door opens slowly and when my eyes connect with steely grey ones, I lunge forward and don't let go as I sob into him.

~

A/N: FINALLY! A new chapter! I hope you guys enjoy this one! I took some readers’ recommendations and tried to add more scenes with Lydia and Charlie’s mom!
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