The tears were fresh as they fell. The scene in front of her continued to break every inch of her heart. She had given her heart away. Now it was returning, broken, destroyed, crushed.
Charlie tried to tear her eyes away from the man she loved. He hadn’t noticed her as he held her twin sister close. She wanted to scream, to confront them, but she couldn’t. All she could do was stand there, tears crawling down her cheeks.
“Told you,” a voice stated. Charlie wanted to roll her eyes, but she couldn’t. She felt numb, as if her emotions had deserted her body. A sigh came from the person, “I’m sorry,” he whispered.
Charlie straightened her spine, trying to stop the tears, “don’t be. You just showed me the truth.” Her voice wasn’t much more than a whisper, but her eyes held determination. “I’m glad I know, before it was too late.” She tried to sound fine, but every inch of her voice betrayed her.
“Charlie,” the man behind her placed his hand on her shoulder, trying to comfort her, “I thought I was wrong. I never thought he would cheat.”
“Neither did I,” Charlie replied, she shook her head and let out a bitter laugh, “especially with my twin sister.” She turned from the couple, the two people she trusted most, and finally faced the man. He towered over her, standing well above six feet. His blazing green eyes held sorrow and regret.
“Do you want to talk to him?”
Charlie didn’t turn around, she knew the pain would be back. Full force. “No thank you,” she replied, her shoulders slumping in defeat. She turned from the restaurant, “see ya around.” She walked back towards her still running car. The door slammed shut as she pulled from the parking lot.
“Charlie!” The buzz of chatter filled the small restaurant as Charlie walked through the door. The woman behind the counter smiled at her, “how have you been?” Bethany Jude asked, embracing Charlie.
“Good,” Charlie replied, “graduation is done and my uncle offered me a job back in Stratford.”
Bethany smiled and nodded, “I always thought having a steady job was key, but having family relations does help.”
Charlie laughed, “yes, it does. I’m headed back tonight, my flight leaves at seven,” Charlie informed her.
Bethany Jude was an old woman in her sixties who ran the diner near Charlie’s apartment. Bethany had lost her husband two years before and she had taken up the diner to help get over her grief. She had wrinkles around her eyes and mouth, signs of smiling. Her brown hair was a mixture of gray hairs and Bethany often referred to it as her ‘salt and pepper’ hair. Today she wore a long, pink skirt with her diner shirt.
Bethany raised an eyebrow at Charlie, “what about your car?” Charlie had been driving the same, run down car since she had arrived in San Francisco. It had been her pride and joy, the start of a new life.
“My uncle has some employees that are coming to San Fansico for a case and one offered to drive it back,” Charlie replied.
“How’s Brody feeling about this?” Bethany asked, referring to Charlie’s ex boyfriend.
“Bethany, Brody and I split two weeks ago,” she replied, “I’m sure he doesn’t care if I go or not.” Brody and Charlie had broken up when the conversation of Charlie going back home came up. Brody was a firefighter for the San Francisco Fire Department. Neither one wanted to have a long distant relationship and decided it would be better if they ended it. “I’m good to start working as an officer.”
“Which, that reminds me,” Bethany said, “my niece is thinking of training at the police academy. I was wondering if you could give her some tips on training.” Charlie knew Bethany’s niece because she worked at the diner on the weekends and some weekdays.
“Um,” Charlie said, thinking over the seven years she had been at the academy, “just tell her if she needs help studying or anything, just give me a call.”
“Thank you,” Bethany said, “Donna’s been at me for weeks to ask you.” Charlie smiled. She had met Bethany’s sister at the park one day when she ran into the two as they were walking.
“Well, tell her I can help,” she said, glancing at her watch, “anyway, I’ve got to go finish packing. My uncle is hoping I can start at the station by the end of the week.”
“Well,” Bethany said, embracing Charlie once again, “I hope everything goes well. Remember to call and I’ll come visit.”
“Of course.” Charlie walked from the diner and onto the busy streets of downtown San Francisco. People walked past, their footsteps brisk, always knowing where to go. The air smelt of the sea which lay in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Golden Gate Bridge loomed over as cars drove over the water.
Charlie took a deep breath, memorizing the smell she had grown so fond of over the past seven years. She walked towards the small apartment building that housed her current living quarters. The rent was affordable and the apartment wasn’t in terrible shape. Charlie opened her door to the apartment, her keys clinking as they hit the entryway table. Charlie entered further into her apartment, shuffling through that morning’s mail. Her eyes scanned over the letters.
Her footsteps faltered as she read the familiar handwriting. She gently took the letter in both hands and looked at it, debating on opening it or not. The last letter she had received from her twin sister had been six years ago. It was a wedding invitation.
Charlie’s hand shook as she turned the letter over, looking at the seal. Charlie hadn’t seen her sister since she left. It had happened right after she caught her sister and her boyfriend, at the time, together at a restaurant. She had felt crushed and left the next day, only her uncle knowing where she went. Charlie ripped the seal and pulled out the paper. She carefully unfolded the letter, afraid it might disappear.
Dear Charlie, the note read, I know you must hate me. After all I did, I don’t blame you. I must say I wished you had come to my wedding, but I know it must’ve been heartbreaking news to hear. I really am sorry, Charlie. I know it won’t change anything, but I hope we can move forwards. Jayden and I both feel very sorry about everything that happened. Please, just give us a chance. Love your twin, Courtney.
Tears rolled down Charlie’s cheeks as she thought about that day. It seemed so long ago and she missed her sister. Betrayal doesn’t go away so easily. Charlie took a deep breath, trying to regain her posture. She needed to move forwards and that wouldn’t happen until she talked to her sister. She placed the letter in her bag and sighed, rolling a finger over her temples. Her head pounded as if her thoughts we’re trying to escape her enclosed mind.
She closed her eyes before reaching for her phone. Her finger hovered over the button of the number she hadn’t called in so many years. She pressed the power button and the screen dimmed. Charlie’s reflection stared back at her. It was a conversation she needed to have in person. She put the device down and walked into the kitchen. She quickly ate then began the long, tortuous process of packing everything away into boxes.