Charlie Ever After

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o4| Charlie

The next morning I wake up with a raging headache. My whole body aches and I can’t help but wonder to myself how my mom does this every single day. I groan and throw my legs over the side of my bed, the cold of the hard wood floor sending a shiver through my entire body. I grab my phone off of the bedside table and flop back down, my feet still firmly pressed against the floor. I scroll through my notifications with one eye open, shielding the other from the harsh light. Lydia has already texted me three times and it wasn’t even 10 A.M yet. The party wasn’t for another 11 hours and yet she was probably already up and ready. I hit her contact info and press Facetime. Within three rings her face lights up my screen. She’s beaming from ear to ear.

“You were even more drunk than I was last night, how are you up this early and how the fuck are you already this happy? I’ve only been up for like two minutes and I can already tell you that I’m miserable.” I grunt.

“Oh, c’mon miss grumpy pants. Cheer up, today is going to be a glorious day!” She sings as she looks away for a moment and towards what I’m assuming is her vanity mirror.

“Are you already doing your makeup? It will all be mush by the time tonight rolls around.” I roll over onto my stomach and watch her make the humiliating O face as she coats her long lashes in mascara.

“Why aren’t you already here?” Lydia asks, completely ignoring comment.

I roll my eyes again and groan into my comforter. “I’ll be there in twenty.” I reply before hanging up and forcing myself up.

I walk into the bathroom and turn on the shower to damn near boiling hot. I step in, letting the steam envelop me and allowing the water to melt away all the sadness I felt last night and if I’m being completely honest with myself am still feeling. Before drifting off to a very unrestful sleep I promised myself that I was done with Gavin. I wasn’t going to let him hurt me anymore. I deserved better. I deserved a love like Nathan and Lydia’s.

Once I was clean and feeling somewhat normal, I stepped out and wrapped myself up in a towel, standing in front of the mirror where a hidden note was starting to fade away. “I love you. Xo xo Lydia.” She must’ve written the note after showering here one night. How I never noticed it was beyond me but it made my throat tighten and a new batch of tears sting the corners of my eyes. I blinked them away but sat on the edge of the tub, my legs weak and shaking as I think about one of the only people who show me unconditional love. She has always accepted me for who I was: the flaws, the bitchy moments, the drama, Gavin, my drunk of a mother. She always accepted me for me and never expects anything different. You can’t pick your family, but if I ever was able to I’d always pick her in a heartbeat.

I took in a shuddering breath before retreating into my bedroom. I sit at my vanity and stare at my reflection- my blood shot eyes, raw and stinging with the dark circles to make them look even more hollow. I look up onto my wall at the cluster of photos from years ago. Lydia, Isaac, and I. We were all so happy. The two of them look the same but I almost don’t recognize the me from those days. I was happy, the smile reached my eyes. Now I was just a ghost of the girl I once was, and I was determined to find my way back to being that girl again.

After a long look in my closet, I give up. I don’t have anything worth my time, and I know if I show up to Lydia’s with something of mine on she’d most definitely strip me herself and treat me like her own little dress up doll. I instead throw on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, tossing my hair up into a messy bun and packing my makeup away in a travel bag to bring with me.

By 11 o’clock I walk into the Ramirez house. Everything smells clean, and there are vacuum marks over vacuum marks. I can tell that Isaac has gone back into his full-on cleaning frenzy. “Guys?” I call out, my voice echoing around the foyer. I hear rummaging upstairs; I take them two at a time and walk into Lydia’s room throwing my bag onto her bed. There’re clothes thrown everywhere. I take a second to look around. “Geeze, isn’t this a little much?”

Lydia pops her head out of her closet one fake eyelashes dangling off her eyelid and runs a hand through her hair. “I can’t find anything!” She whines. I pick up a formfitting red strapless dress from her bed and hold it up.

“What about this?” I ask and she just rolls her eyes in reply, she just goes back to her digging. “I mean, while you’re in there I guess you can find me something to wear too.” Her ears perk up at this and she stumbles out of her closet.

“Oh, Charlie sweetie. I have the perfect thing picked out just for you.” She says, clutching my shoulders.

“You worried more about dressing me than yourself?” I ask, a dumbstruck look glued to my face as I reach my hand out across her forehead. “Are you ill, sweetheart?”

She shakes her head and walks over to her closet, picking a hanger off of the hanging rod and walks towards me. She hands it to me, to hold up against myself and steps back so she could check me out herself. She gives a nod and looks as if she’s having a conversation with herself in her head. “Okay, go try it on. Let me see.” She says and retreats to the closet, and all I hear is her violently rummaging around.

I strip off my shorts and t-shirt and pull on the outfit. It’s a cream-colored sun dress that was fully lace. The hem ended around mid-thigh, the neckline plunging damn near my belly button and has flowy long sleeves that made me feel like a 70′s summer goddess. I study myself in the mirror, the contrast of the light color against my bronzed skin made the outfit stand out. I adjusted my breasts in the top and couldn’t help but admire how I looked.

Lydia finally resurfaces from the closet and stops dead in her tracks. “Damn.” She mutters. “When did you grow titties!” She giggles and throws a pair of nude heels at me. They’re tall with a skinny heel and only an inch-thick band that goes over my toes for support.

“How do you expect me to walk in these?” I ask warily

“Very carefully, with like-” She checks the clock on her wall. “nine hours to practice.” She says with a smile.

Nine o’clock comes before we know it. Some people show a little after nine, but most were fashionably late, showing around ten. By eleven the party was just getting started.

I tilt my drink to my mouth, this is my third mixed drink but before this I had two shots, so I’m feeling a pretty heavy buzz. I get up from my seat on top of the kitchen counter, where Lydia is wrapped between my legs in a heated conversation with Nathan. The party is buzzing. There’s people in the living room dancing, people in corners making out and probably a few upstairs doing more than that. I’m living for the vibe of the party. I put a little more alcohol in my cup before making my way out to the patio, kicking off the heels that Lydia insisted I wear.

I sit in one of the chairs that litter the concrete patio and relax my head back feeling the cool night breeze. After a few moments I lift my head up peering over to the pool. There’s a few couples milling around, making out, and there’s a group of guys playing a pretty heated game of volleyball in the back corner of the pool. I laugh and stand up, feeling slightly wobbly but steadying myself before making my way to the side of the pool where the steps are. I sit down at the edge and dunk my feet in, letting the cool saltwater rush across my skin and basking in the smell of sea that drifts around me. I lean back on my elbows and drift my feet back and forth through the water creating ripples.

Suddenly, I hear heavy footsteps behind me. I lean my head back a little further and open my eyes looking up at the figure approaching me. My body stiffens, and I shoot up so fast that my head spins. I stumble slightly but he catches me, grabbing my arm with so much force that it causes me to stagger even more.

“Gavin, what the fuck are you doing here?” I slur, pulling my arm free from his tight grasp and stepping away from him.

“I came to see you. And I find you looking like this-” He says gesturing to my outfit.

I look down at my outfit, forgetting for a moment what I’m wearing. I self-consciously wrap my arms around my body as if to shield myself from his judgmental stare.

“Gavin, I already told you. I’m done. Haven’t you got the hint already from my ignoring you?” I say, completely incredulous of his behavior. I may be used to how he is, but each time he says something nasty, lashes out, or gets rough with me it still takes me by surprise. When we first met, he wasn’t like this. He didn’t get nasty until a few months into us dating. Sometimes I would sit there and wish that the old Gavin would come back, or that I could figure out how to appease him, to make him happy again. But I gave up a while ago. I concluded that there’s no saving Gavin Davis. He’s a damaged soul, irreparable. Now I was just so wrapped up in it all that it’s hard to walk away and not look back. I’m afraid to leave, afraid of how far he’ll go to assert his dominance over me.

I watch as he clenches his jaw, his fists balled at his sides. “Excuse me?” He says with a laugh, completely taken aback by what I just said.

“No, excuse me.” I say trying to push past him, but he grabs me by the shoulders and shoves me into the pool. I let out a scream, my body sinking to the bottom before I surface. I gasp, sucking in a big gulp of air and clearing the water out of my eyes. I look towards where he was last standing and I see a mob of guys dragging Gavin out of the yard. I cross my arms over my chest, completely mortified as I look around. Everyone is staring at me. I’m on the verge of tears as I climb out of the pool and am greeted by Isaac with a towel that he promptly wraps around me.

As soon as he ushers me inside and up into Lydia’s room I burst into tears. He sits me down on Lydia’s vanity chair after throwing a towel down to protect the fabric. He tries soothing me as he rummages through Lydia’s drawers, pulling out some clothes for me to change into. He comes to my side, wiping my tear and mascara covered cheeks with his thumbs before helping me unzip my dress. I tug it off aggressively and throw it to the side, not caring if Isaac sees me in my most vulnerable state.

“How could he have fucking done that Isaac. I’m completely humiliated. I am at a loss.” I practically scream as I pace a hole in the carpet around Lydia’s room.

“Really, because I’m honestly not surprised Charlie.” He says, and that catches my attention because I turn to him, a complete look of shock washing over my face. He continues, “Charlie, we’ve all seen the bruises. We’ve all noticed how...damaged you’ve become since dating him. We’ve seen the signs. We thought we’d let you sort it out, we’ve tried to tell you to leave. We’ve been trying to show you how much of a prick he is, but you have refused to see it repeatedly.” Isaac is furious, also drunk which just adds to his aggression. “I love you Charlie, we all do. My parents included. And we hate seeing you hurt, but there’s only so much we can do until you finally realize and decide to leave. From that point on we can do whatever you need us to do, to help.” He said, his tone evening out and oozing with sympathy. “You’re like my sister Charlie. I do truly love you with my whole heart.” He says, walking towards me as he embraces me in a tight hug. The tears spring from my eyes again as I hug him bag, refusing to let go.

He’s the first one to pull back. “Okay, getting a little awkward... you are still half naked.” He says and laughs as he shoves the clothes towards me. A blush spreads across my whole body as I take them and kick him out of the room before changing.

I decide that I’ve had enough excitement for the night, and crawl into Lydia’s massive California king size bed that she had to beg her parents for, for over a year. I grab her remote, turning on the tv to the Lifetime channel, watching a sappy love movie before drifting off into a fitful night of sleep.

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