Charlie Ever After

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The day is drawing near where I have to leave and go back to school. I told myself that getting an apartment near campus was going to help me. It was going to help me find my independence, but now with the time approaching I’m starting to get nervous and second guess my decision.

As much as it will be nice to have my own space where I can party, or not have anyone bothering me when I have to study. I sure as hell am going to miss the temper tantrums, the giggles, and having my dad and Trish bugging me about my every move. It’s going to be weird to be my own person.

The girl from the party has still been haunting my memories, it’s been a full month almost and I keep replaying the situation in my head. My curiosity has been getting the best of me. I just want to know if she’s alright.

Against my better judgement, I pull out my phone and send a text over to Isaac.

Hey man. How are you? Idk why I’m asking now but what happened at the party last month? Is that girl okay? And sorry for causing a scene by tackling the guy...

I type it out, erase it, type it again and finally press send. It’s not weird of me to ask, is it?

I sit around second guessing myself for a few more minutes before I get up and finish gathering some of my last-minute essentials. Classes starts in a week and I still have to move everything into my new apartment, I blow out a sigh at the thought of all the work that has to go into moving.

An hour or so passes before I hear Collin’s beater pulling up the driveway. I look out the window and he has our other roommate and best friend Jace with him. “Oh this will be fun.” I say to myself before taking the stairs two at a time to meet them at the door.

“Hey man, what’s up?” Collin says and makes a beeline for the kitchen, not even waiting for my response. It’s always the first place he stops when he comes over. He snags a cookie off the counter, freshly baked thanks to Trish- before helping himself to the fridge. He turns around with the gallon of milk and a string cheese hanging out of his mouth.

Jace and I just stand there staring at him.

“What?” He says mouth full of string cheese. “If we’re going to be moving I need all the energy I can possibly consume.” He pours himself a glass of milk and leans against the counter. “How much shit of yours do we have to haul out of here?”

I roll my eyes, tucking my hands into the front pockets of my jeans. “I don’t know man, maybe ten boxes? I didn’t sit there and count them.”

“Ugh.” He groans. “Well let’s get this shit show on the road, ladies!” He says after taking a gulp of milk and walking past us and up the stairs.

“The balls on this kid, I swear he might get himself or us killed at school this year.” Jace laughs and shoves my shoulder as we both run up after Collin.

“So, where’s the gremlins at on this fine day?” Collin asks as he observes the corner of boxes.

“My SISTERS and parents are out for the day. The girls were upset that I was leaving so Dad and Trish decided to take them all out to the park and for ice cream.”

“How is that hot piece of ass that you get to call a step mom?” Collin teases, already getting on my nerves. I don’t know how I’m going to manage an entire year living with this asshole.

“First of all, that’s fucking disgusting and if you ever talk about my step mother like that again I’m going to punch you so hard that you’ll forget your name.” Collin throws his hands up in defeat. I’m usually a super chill person, but there are only a few things in this world I truly cherish and one of them is my family. I would do anything for them. We have our differences but they’re mine.

Once all of the boxes are loaded into the bed of my truck we all cram into my prized possession- my 1996 Ford F150, she has a split color paint job, white and red. I spent most of my later high school years and up until a year and a half ago fixing her and restoring her to perfect shape. She’s been my passion project for so many years that I couldn’t imagine driving anything else, no matter how many times my parents offered to buy me something newer and more reliable.

“Alright, let’s get this over with.” I groan and put the truck into reverse, backing out of the driveway.

It only takes us about twenty minutes or so to get to our apartment but it takes us nearly all day and into part of the night to get our shit to the house and inside. We stopped at Jace’s house after we unload my stuff. His house is only a ten minute drive from the campus and his load is the easiest. He didn’t have much that he was bringing, but Collin on the other hand was another story. He lives in Scottsdale with his parents which is about an hour and some change away from campus, and of course as we’re half way back he miraculously remembered he forgot something at the house so we had to drive all the way back.

The apartment came furnished thank god, so we didn’t have to worry about acquiring furniture and lugging it into the house. The décor wasn’t the best but for three college kids all that matters is we have a place to sleep and a fridge to house our booze.

“Who’s up for making a beer run?” I ask from my position laying on the couch.

“Already got it covered man!” Jace says as he pulls out a case of Natty Light.

I gag and hurl myself off the couch. “What the hell is this shit, man?”

“It was the cheapest I could get.” Jace shrugs his shoulders and rips open the box before pulling out a can, popping the tab and taking a long swig. “I did get us a bottle of some cheap ass vodka though. Does that offer me redemption?” He laughs and pulls it out of it’s brown paper bag, passing it to me.

I can’t even pronounce the brand, but I’ll take some cheap ass, practically rubbing alcohol vodka over that shitty beer any day. “Please tell me that we at least have some Coke, or orange juice- something to chase this shit down with.”

“Hey, beggers can’t be choosers!” Collin calls from his spot on the recliner, remote in hand as he holds out his hand signaling Jace to throw him a beer.

“Yeah, there should be something in the fridge.” Jace says, hurling a can of beer towards Collin. He just barely catches it without falling off of the recliner.

“Touchdown.” Collin yells.

I roll my eyes and make my way to the fridge, pulling open the door and it’s my lucky night because there’s a whole case of Coke. I rip open the box grab one, popping the tab before rummaging through the cabinets. I pull out three shot glasses, the only items in our bare cabinets so far. I line them out on the small kitchen island and pour one for each of us. With the sound of the top cracking off the vodka, Collin makes his way over to join us. We all lift the shot glasses to out lips and tilt our heads back before slamming the shot glasses back down on the island one after the other.

“Ahh, like water.” Collin lies straight through his fucking teeth as his face screws with the taste of the vodka.

I take a sip of my Coke and dare to reach my hand in the box of Natty light and pull one out. I take a sip of the lukewarm beer and instantly regret it. “Ahh brings back memories of high school.” I cringe.

Both Jace and Collin go to bed around eleven and I’m left awake, my fourth beer in my hand and after two they actually don’t taste so bad anymore. I definitely have a buzz and the only reason I know this is because I find myself missing Alicia. I sigh and pull my phone out of my pocket, I haven’t gotten a chance to check it all day. I know I should probably shoot a text to Trish, even if it’s so late I know she’ll appreciate me letting her know that I’m still breathing.

I tap my screen to wake it up and I see a text from Isaac. I click out of the notification and go to my messages, sending Trish a text- We’re here safe and sound, everything is moved in and settled. Please give the girls a kiss for me. I’ll call them first thing in the morning. Goodnight, love you guys.

I sit back and think to myself how lucky I am to have the family I do. I have an amazing stepmother- granted I didn’t always adore her like I do now. When dad first brought her around, I was pissed. It was three years after mom died and bratty, thirteen year old me just couldn’t fathom my father being happy with anyone else. Once I finally gave Trish a shot though, I fell in love- not literally, but I wouldn’t want anyone else to be my step mom. It’s also an added bonus that she makes my dad super happy and she gave me my three mini best friends.

Thinking about this sobers me up enough to know that my initial idea to text Alicia was a bad one, and I’m glad for the fact that I’m easily distracted. I go back into my messages and open the message from Isaac.

Hey man, I’m good. How are you? You guys are moving into your place soon right? Yeah, she’s alright. That was Charlie, Lydia’s best friend. She’s been to a few of the parties that Alicia and Jake used to throw. That prick was her (hopefully) ex boyfriend. He’s a real piece of work, let me tell you. Don’t apologize, I’m glad you got a good shot in. He deserves quite a few more blows to the face. She’s a good girl, she deserves someone way better than that asshole. You may actually see her there on campus. She’s an incoming freshman.

I quickly scan the message, and the only thing that registers in my brain is the words: see her on campus. My mind wanders back to that night and how scared she looked- ashamed even, standing there in front of him. She was covering her body- that amazing fucking body. Tears were leaving black streaks down her cheeks and from my spot on the lawn I swear I saw her shaking. To say she’s beautiful is an understatement, especially in that moment when she was at her most vulnerable. Just the sight of her made me forget all about Alicia in that moment and all I wanted to do was protect her. My mind hyper focuses on her as I try to remember every magnificent feature of her.

I shake my head. What the fuck. I don’t even know this girl and just the thought of her had me feeling like I was going to throw up in the best of ways. “What the hell do they put in this shit.” I whisper to myself, staring at my beer before taking another long sip, draining the rest of the can. I toss it into the trash and decide that it’s time I drag my ass to bed and get some sleep- the only problem is when I finally lay down and get comfortable, her face flashes behind my closed eyes and she’s all I can think about, and when I finally fall asleep she’s all I can dream about.

Hey guys! I really hope you’re liking the story so far! I just wanted to leave a quick trigger warning for the next chapter. There are some heavy themes of domestic violence and assault. If you have any questions, concerns, feedback or would just like to let me know how you like it, or something you’d like to see in the future- please don’t hesitate to reach out!!

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