“Hey Charlotte, what’s with this bag? Are you really from this era?”
“No, please stop it. Please...”
“Oh no, you don’t...” The woman tossed the bag to a man bursting in giggles. She could see her wavy brown hair darkened smoothly with the night. Her face wrinkled from smiling. Her complexion’s a color of mocha flavored cake ---- Charlotte’s favorite.
“Please, I’m so sorry. I wont show at school anymore but please give it back... I’m begging you...”
“Go, Mike, show this whore what it feels like being an actual whore.” He nodded and walked towards Charlotte with a smirk. The light shone by the street lamps gave enough illumination of the scene. The night was cold, three people pinned her down against the grassy cold ground. Nobody was around, the park was quiet. The man’s on top of her and ripped her blouse open. One button went off, it was colored peach as big as a coin. Her skirt was being cut and slit open by one of the girls holding her down and you could hear the tearing sound as the fabric split apart. “Hahaha, okay... Where did you get this lingerie, grandma... Hahaha!” The shrieking laughter from the other two burst and made her even more humiliated.
Her legs wiggled side by side trying to kick the man away from her until bang. She fell completely on the ground. All she can do was cry and try to think what had hit her that made her completely out of control. Her senses were all intense, she could smell the cologne of the man on top of her, the tight grips of the people holding her down and has prevented her from any movements. In the process, a woman from afar continued growling and screaming calling out for her. She could taste an iron-like in her mouth yet, she couldn’t see clearly the people from a distance except recognizing their voices. They laughed as she cries from humiliation. “Please, Stop. Stop... Mike, please!” Charlotte’s crying and begging for mercy. They seem not to listen for the man was getting to the good part. Charlotte’s struggling from the brutality of taking her soul from her seems to have come to an end. High school could be really fun but, when you upset the wrong people you better take cover. You can’t make a mistake making a friend the wrong way. You can’t date a guy who is taken or part of a big group and a property of someone. You can’t trust anything what a man says. This is what Charlotte thought of the moment everything was collapsing and happening that night. She’s weak, her energy was drained from the crying and screaming but Raquel wasn’t contented with the result. She winced and looked at someone not too far from her.
“Dre, give me a pen.”
“Pen for what ? You’ve done enough already, Raquel! STOP IT!!!”
“Just shut up, dude.” A guy holding a woman from behind remarked.
“F*CK YOU SHANE, LET HER GO TOO!”
“You are a little bummer.” Raquel got up and walked to snatch a pen from Charlotte’s things scattered on the grass.
“I hope you’re happy with your new tattoo Charlotte and it’s free. Psycho...” A flash came and it blinded her than she already has.
One, two, Raquel, Mike, Dre, Shane and another woman hopped inside the cars. Without the glasses, all she could make out were Red and Blue, big and small then all were mixed coloured figures walking and laughing. Her bag was ripped open as she was. She struggled standing. She crawled her way to her things. Charlotte was sweating and crying searching for something very important. She glided and slid her arms around the cold grass until she took a hold of something small. A case with a ribbon on it. She immediately opened it to see if it’s still inside what she thought would be. Her face perplexed and tears came running down even more from her swollen eyes. What she thought was inside---It wasn’t. She cried as she wobbly walked to go home. Walking down the street , she stopped as she saw a silhouette from a couple of feet away from where she stood, it was tall, slim and has a built of a man. Without thinking, she opened her trembling mouth and called out to it. “Hello? Please, help me... please...” She cried for help, but the figure didn’t flinch and bit by bit turned small and faded away from a distance. “No, Please come back! Please, I need help... Please!!” Charlotte fell onto her knees trying to reach her hands towards the figure but it was gone. The night seems to be longer than she expected it to be.
The house was empty, she went to the bathroom and washed her face. She tried to think and thought of what is to happen. She figured that she cant live for this moment. She ran outside, down the basement, took a feet long rope and tied it with a noose. She couldn’t see well enough and bumped the dresser. A picture frame fell and she heard the loud shatter of the glass. She bent and picked it despite having fragments of glass cutting into her sweaty palms. She stared and cried once more. “I am sorry, I am sorry for not listening. I love you...” Charlotte told herself and pulled the picture closer to her chest.
The house was dark, a woman screamed on top of her lungs and wept all night. She picked the untied rope and rolled it. Some items including the picture frame and other things that she thought could trigger her has been tossed and thrown inside a basket. There was still things left in the living room. She took the basket to put the stuff somewhere secured. A chest under the bed got pulled and made screeching noises. She never thought, she would have to live her entire life feeling broken. She went down to push the chest back to its place when she noticed something peering from the side of the mattress. She examined and took a hold of a notebook. ‘Charlotte’s Diary’ it says. She read it and cried as she never imagined everything that’s written. “I thought of it everyday... How hard it all was. ” She said to herself. Her nails bit the cover of the diary as she glided her watery eyes towards it page by page. She didn’t realize the time and spent her entire night that turned into a day reading it. She folded the diary, shoved it under the pillow and laid down to close her eyes.
Knock! knock! A loud banging on the door with an unknown person behind it came and woke her from a strange but a happy dream and as she got up, she saw herself smiling in the mirror in front of her. She thought, it was the reality until a loud knock on the door that’s been going on for the past five minutes took her away. The floor was still a mess and the bathroom supplies were out all untidy. The kitchen smells. The mop’s on the floor having red stains and producing an awful odor. She rushed to the bathroom and washed her face to freshen herself up. Her eyes were puffy and her lips were all chapped. Her nose was blocked and she tried to sniff to see if it’s really there. Staring into the mirror, she thought of something stupid like letting the person rot outside and not attend the door. It was funny and necessary but she came to her senses and went to the door. Behind the wooden door was a woman wearing a pair of jeans, a shirt that has a You and Me printed on it. Her hair’s so long that it’s brushing her face as the wind blows. She got two bags hanging on her shoulders side by side. Her eyes popped wide open and frowned once the door swung open. Her eyes showed the sign of guilt. “Charlotte, uhmm .. How are you? How are you feeling?” She asked and paused for a minute. Before she can say anything, Charlotte decided to close the door and suddenly it stopped. The woman has lifted her arms to prevent it from closing. She exhaled and spoke with a trembling voice. “Charlotte please, I am so sorry. I didn’t know and I never thought that Raquel would do something like that. I mean, Please let me make it up to you... Let’s talk, talk to me... Forgive me Charlotte... Please... Talk to me. I am worried about yo------” She burst in tears and sniffed through crying. She wiped her cheeks while asking for forgiveness. “Charlotte, I am really sorry... Here... I came back to the park and brought your things, Your glasses are broken, I bought you a new one. I also stitched up your bag because it’s your favorite...Forgive me...” She handed the bag and kept on. Charlotte didn’t say a thing. She was like a mannequin staring through nothing. It felt like she doesn’t know what was happening. Until, she reached and grabbed the bag then shut the door before the woman could say another thing. The memories flashed back so clearly that it made her dropped down to her knees. The house was echoing with her screaming in grief. She thought of it as a nightmare. The night that was so silent and dark that it became so vividly clear to detail what had happened. She was disturbed by a phone ringing. She searched and looked where it was coming from. The bag she just received from the woman has the sound of it. She sniffed and wiped her eyes, calming herself. She took the bag and unzipped it open. The phone was vibrating and ringing simultaneously. She couldn’t put herself to answer and the call then was forwarded into a voicemail. She grabbed it and pressed the button to hear the message.
“Hey, It’s Felix. How are you doing? Are you alright? You didn’t show up to our club meeting yesterday. How was the date with... you know... u--hh Call me when you get this. I’m worried about you Char..”
The message caused her to fully regain herself and came rushing to the bedroom. She took the diary under the pillow and opened it searching for a specific page. She then speak out, “Felix, is my best friend... But he doesn’t know what it feels like to love somebody and be loved by that someone back. I appreciate him and like him as my friend. August 30th.” Charlotte took a minute to settle in and dialed the number back. Felix answered but she froze upon hearing his voice. Felix kept on calling out for her but she didn’t say a thing. She wasn’t ready to talk. She hung up. She’s confused and still sulking.
The night’s approaching again but Charlotte was busy cleaning the house. She’s emptying the garbage and throwing it outside when a woman spooked her from behind unintentionally. An old lady carrying a picnic basket that sends off a very sweet fragrance was behind calling her out. She has grey short hair resting on her shoulders. Her robe was knitted and comfortable enough to warm the body during the cold winter nights. Her face was wrinkled, but even though she’s old, she never held a cane. She stood firmly on the ground. Charlotte remembered, Mrs. Cartflerry always comes and carries something with her from across the street. Charlotte smiled and greeted her.
“Good evening Mrs. Cartflerry. How’s it going?” She said, but Mrs. Cartflerry stared at her from head to toe.
“Are you alright dear? I brought some pumpkin pie. You forgot about our reading session.” She was staring to Charlotte like she has never seen her before. Her eyes glitters from her presence.
“I am sorry, I was busy but everything’s alright, thank you Mrs. Cartflerry. uhm, Do you wanna come inside for some coffee or tea?” Her voice was steady but the way she moved was intriguing on the contrary. They went inside and prepared Mrs. Cartflerry a Chamomile tea. Mrs. Cartflerry looked so uneasy, she kept on looking around and couldn’t help herself but to ask.
“Are you perhaps, redecorating? Why is the ceiling so wrecked dear? What happened here? Are you sure you’re okay?”
“I am really fine. Thank you. Now, here’s some tea... Uhm, let me fix this for you so we can taste what you baked.” She pulled plates, spoons, forks and knives from the shelf. It was light and cleaned even though everything else was out of place. Mrs. Cartflerry always loved the original mix of tea Charlotte prepares for her. Its fragrance and taste are magical as she describes it. Mrs. Cartflerry always thought of her like a bell-flower that blooms in the spring and hides during winter. She always thought of her as a maiden that gives smile to people, make them laugh when they are sad and give them hope on surviving the cunning reality of aging.
Mrs. Cartflerry was watering her plants in the backyard when she heard a loud truck out of nowhere. She went inside and peeked through the window to check it out. She remembered seeing a girl with beautiful long hair, complexion as white as a paper and the genuine face who’s innocent about the cruelty of the world. She watched her as she carried loads of boxes back and forth out of the truck. She watched her as she goes to school, grocery and read a book at the pavement of her home. A day or two, Charlotte noticed her, waved and went to greet her. New to the neighborhood, they became friends and more of a company to each other. Sometimes, Charlotte would visit her to just sit around and listen to her stories, most of the times they bake or cook together, another times its just another day to share something about school. Charlotte loved her stories. Even though, she could be a little different in other days like not saying anything at all or even to look and wave at her. It’s like, she is a whole different person at those times and she was seeing another Charlotte. However, Charlotte reminds her of her daughter, Delphine——- who she hasn’t seen in years. Mr. Cartflerry loved their daughter so much that she was spoiled and given everything; he willed the house to hers, the mansion from their hometown, South Carolina, the car and even the collection of paintings that’s worth a lifetime. Delphine was closed to him, they planned her future together, but a wonderful life was suddenly moved by his death. It was late afternoon, Mrs. Cartflerry was out doing grocery with Delphine when Mr. Cartflerry collapsed inside their living room. The deceased Mr. Cartflerry changed the whole atmosphere in the house. After Delphine’s graduation she decided to pursue her dreams in Paris. She was determined for it was a promise to keep with her loving father, little did she know that change is constant. Delphine would write letters to Mrs. Cartflerry twice a week or even more. It turned into once a month to nothing. Mrs. Cartflerry wrote letters to her, trying to reach and convince her to come home. She did. Weeks after, Delphine went home announcing her engagement to a French cuisine chef, Mehdi and the place the wedding would be held. Mrs. Cartflerry was happy but was upset finding out that she wont be able to come to her daughter’s wedding. She’s sick and won’t be able to travel far. A year after, she haven’t heard anything from her. No phone calls, letters or even post cards. She tried to reach her by contacting her son-in-law’s restaurant ‘Le Restaurant et de Cafe’ . They never entertained her. She wanted Delphine to visit her once and know how she’s doing ---- she did once again. A month later, Delphine came home crying and weeping. Mehdi and her fought involving her parents-in-laws. Mrs. Cartflerry took care of Delphine and showed her again the love a mother will give. It was magical, important and satisfying. Mrs. Cartflerry finished watering her plants and went in talking to her daughter about staying where she can visit her any time she wants but Delphine was different that night. She was packing and fast pacing. “You’re selfish. You think you are the only person in the world. I am going back to Mehdi, I love him.” Those were the words Mrs. Cartflerry cannot forget. It was heart-breaking that it gave her months and months of sleepless nights. Until, Charlotte and her parents moved into the neighborhood, everything changed for Mrs. Cartflerry. Charlotte showed her the love of a daughter to her mother. They enjoy each others company. The grief she felt after her daughter’s abandonment was healing and being cured with the affection she can never imagine. The death of her husband, the lonely nights, the backyard she’s kept for years being watered and cleaned, it all changed when Charlotte appeared. It was all easy and very calming. Sometimes, she would cry for the memories, but Charlotte’s company would always turn it into something special. She forgot the hatred and loneliness she felt. “Charlotte is a gift.” She always say.
Mrs. Cartflerry was sipping on her tea when she asked about the ceiling. “Dear, are you sure everything is alright? You look rather pale. Didn’t you remember we have a story telling this afternoon?” She asked spooning a slice of her pumpkin pie. It was all combining in her mouth as she continues to chew. The sweetness of the sugar, the mashed pumpkin was meddled in smoothly and the fragrance of a newly baked good was covering the tip of her nose. She can tell that Charlotte was enjoying the pumpkin as she smiled eating it.
“Mmm... This is really something Mrs. Cartflerry. Did you add vanilla extract in it?”
“Oh yes, I think it wasn’t all mixed well. How can you tell?”
“It’s not like I haven’t eaten your pies and cakes, right?”
“Haha, sorry dear. You never been good in tasting. You always ask me what was in it because you just enjoy the food that I always make for you, what we always prepare. ”
“Oh! I see...” Charlotte said flustered.
Mrs. Cartflerry spooned another from her pumpkin slice and stared at her for a few seconds.“You know dear, you can always tell me what’s going on. Everything that’s bothering you. I’ve always been here for you as your second mother and a good neighbor.” Mrs. Cartflerry was done with her food and she took her basket as she got up to go and step out. Charlotte went to see her to the door and dropped something. Mrs. Cartflerry looked at it and Charlotte stared at her like a little girl guilty with something.
“You know, I told you to never put it carelessly. You never know where you would drop it. You and I know how important that necklace is...”
“Yes, you’re right. I remember. Have a good night Mrs. Cartflerry. ”
“Goodnight Dear, never think you’re not welcome in my home.”
“I wont.” The door shut and Charlotte looked into her hands holding the necklace. She clicked somewhere and the locket opened. “Charlotte...” She said while looking at a little picture of her young self. It was a silver coloured and a heart shaped locket. You can never know its a locket because the secret lever for the necklace was hidden really good, it was rather slick. The memories she was remembering seems to be happy as Charlotte was seemingly smiling staring at it.
Everything was done, the cleaning, packing and mopping. The house is tidy, the bathroom’s white, the living room looks cozy and the bedroom was unsure. Charlotte seems tired and went to the bathroom to have a nice warm shower. The water went from crystal clear to scarlet red. “Shit... I’ve got to wash myself really good.” The knob turned and the water stopped pouring. It was warm and comforting. She grabbed a towel and wrapped herself in it. Looking into the mirror, she stared at herself, thinking of the night that has happened that left her broken. The night was windy, you can hear the wind whistling as the trees dance along with it. The dogs were disturbed and barking from afar thinking that someone might be entering their territory. During the day, it turns into a busy place where cars goes back and forth, people going out from their lair ---- either go to do grocery or to the park with their screaming little children or people visiting their friends to do school projects or to party at home. However, when night approaches the busy and noisy place turns into a cold, silent street where people sleeps and enjoys the night for their pleasures. Few blocks away across from the beautiful garden of Mrs. Cartflerry, one woman’s still up and she just finished washing herself. She stepped out of the shower spot and caught herself in the mirror.She popped her lips together releasing a pop sound while the water drips from her head. Turning her head side by side as if adoring herself, she then spoke to her reflection, “When writing is your only way of telling, Charlotte...” she elicited a smile filled with mysteries. The soul that’s been ripped apart with nothing was now invisible and cant be seen from the look in her vivid brown eyes.