An random scenario from a novel I'm working on.
|I watched Charlotte carefully that night, taking special care to not do anything to upset her. At the time, I was thinking about my own gross memories, my own horrors. I suppose I put myself in her place, then, not genuinely caring for Charlotte, but focusing on my own, selfish needs.
I held her, though. I held her, and I promised her she'd never have to do it again. She shook in my arms, her silent tears not wavering, and I wondering why she chose to come to us in the first place. Why even bother, if she knew she couldn't handle her job? It angered me, and I released her, leaving her sobbing into a pillow while I went to find a decent cup of coffee.
The sharp air of the cool night felt good against my skin, still hot from the heat of Charlotte pressed against it. My body trembled.
Walking quickly down the street, I made my way to a quiet, family-owned cafe a few blocks away. They knew me there. They'd bring me my coffee as soon as I sat down, and let me stay as long as I needed; even if it meant staying past closing. They never questioned me, never confronted me, but let me sit silently in the corner booth I had quickly become accustomed to having.
The coffee burnt my mouth, but I didn't care, I didn't feel it. I looked up at the sound of the cafe door opening, and saw Charlotte heading my way. What was she doing here? I'd have to remember to scold her later, to tell her that she wasn't allowed out of the house.
She sat down across from me, giving her order to the short waitress who appeared just after Charlotte walked in. After the waitress left, she turned to me, her eyes red from earlier's tears. Her skin was flushed, and it was obvious she had run here.
"I'm sorry," she said simply. I looked up at her, and then back down to the cup of coffee I was twirling in my hands. I didn't say anything in response; what could I say? After the waitress reappeared with Charlotte's order (a mug of hot chocolate, and a piece of cherry pie) and a quick check up on me, it was the two of us alone again. I looked up from my coffee to look at Charlotte. She was poking her pie gently with a fork, the juices sliding out from the center. She took a bite, her face contorting a bit. "Sour," she said, after seeing what must have been a strange look on my face. I nodded. We sat in silence for a bit longer, Charlotte eating her tangy pie, and me drinking my coffee.
"Why did you come to us?" I asked after some time, unsure of the silence. Charlotte put down her fork, and looked into my eyes.
"I had nowhere else to go," she replied. I saw her eyes flicker briefly, and I wondered what she was hiding. I remembered the look Kay gave me earlier that day, and I wondered if Kay knew. I always thought Kay was the smartest of all of us, and if anyone would know anything about the girl in front of me, it would be Crooked Kay. I made a mental note to talk to her soon.
Charlotte finished her drink, and paid for both of our orders. We left the cafe without speaking to each other; walking next to each other, but not with each other. It had gotten darker since earlier, and much colder, and I rubbed my bare arms roughly to create some warmth. Charlotte cast me a sideways glance, but I was too involved in my thoughts to pay much attention.
When we arrived to my apartment, I told Charlotte she could sleep in the bed for tonight, if she wanted, but only tonight. She smiled faintly, and sat on the couch, staring at the white wall ahead of her. I sat beside her gingerly, unsure of what to do. She was crying again, tears streaming down her pale face. I laid my hand on her back, and she hung her head at the touch. She turned into me, and I held her again, awkwardly on the couch. Her arms wrapped around my waist and squeezed me as though I were the only solid thing left.
"Let's go to bed," I whispered, fearing speaking would be too loud. She looked up at me and nodded, and walked slowly in front of me to my bedroom. I helped her strip down to her underwear, and gave her a shirt to sleep in. After changing myself, I climbed into bed beside her. I slept as close to the edge as I could, not wanting to touch her in the night; it would be too much.