Sometimes telling someone else’s story is impossible to get right. Details fade into the background and the perspective of voyeurs see angles that may blend the black and white facts into a slur of greys. There are things that may be important to one person which has no value to anyone else. So, take these things into account when reading. This is not my story.
Lisa moved to town when she was in the ninth grade. Her father had a job opportunity which he couldn’t refuse and he took nothing into account when he made the decision to take his family from their suburban home to the (not so) big city.
Charlotte lived in the city of mediocrity for her entire life. Her parents, like so many in the city, had to work a lot so Charlotte could have all the things that she needed. This meant that Charlotte was alone at home most of the time.
Lisa did not talk to anyone and didn’t try to make friends. For the first month which she was in school, Lisa sat quietly by herself. When called upon in class, she would shake her head and then put it down on her desk. This technique of avoiding things worked for the first few weeks, but then Lisa started to get the attention of some of the other girls. And it wasn’t the kind of attention you can put your head down and avoid. The popular girls sat at the table with Lisa and started to comment about the clothes that she wore and the look of her hair. Lisa tried to put her head down, but it didn’t make them stop. Instead, it made them voracious like hyenas waiting for the prey to die.
Charlotte watched as the mean girls began to sink their fangs into the carcass which was Lisa. She watched as Lisa raised her head just enough to show the tears fall from her eyes. Charlotte had enough. She walked calmly over to the table where the onslaught was happening and stood behind the alpha of their group. Giving smiles to the other three girls, Charlotte grabbed the perfectly quaffed hair of the leader and slammed her face into the table. The three underlings pushed their chairs back and looked in shock as their friend started to push herself up.
“You bitch!” the girl shouted with a tone that held congestion in words. The last sound was accompanied by a solid stream of blood which soaked into her blouse. The entire cafeteria let out a howl of laughter.
“You two, come with me!” bellowed Coach Barnes, the football coach who seemed like he taught breakfast and lunch along weightlifting. He grabbed both girls by the arm and leaded them away. Charlotte looked back at the table which was in the sole possession of Lisa. Tears were still in her eyes, but she had a smile as she watched her hero be escorted out of the cafeteria.
Charlotte sat in the office awaiting the sentencing for her crime. Her victim was most likely in with the nurse. This gave Charlotte the upper hand. Once in with the principal, Charlotte told him how she started to fall and tried to brace herself. The other girl’s head was in the way and it was completely an accident.
“Well, due to certain circumstances, I will have to take you story into account.” The principal chirped. “But I’ll keep an eye on you Ms. Manchmal. For now, your free to leave.”
After school that day, Charlotte started walking home when she saw Lisa standing behind a tree, staring at Charlotte as she walked closer.
“Can I help you with something?” Charlotte stopped and turned to address her apparent stalker.
“Oh. I, um, I just wanted to say thanks for today.”
“Okay, so you said it, anything else?”
“No, well, yeah. My name is Lisa and if you, um, didn’t know it, I’m sorta new here.”
“Yeah, I figured that out,” Charlotte said and began to turn and walk away.
“Hey, if it’s alright with you, I wanted to see if you wanna hang out.” Lisa blushed and turned away slightly before catching up with Charlotte. “My mom makes a mean meatloaf.”
“Does she make mashed potatoes to go with it?” Charlotte inquired.
“Yeah, of course.”
“Then I guess that’s okay.” Charlotte tried to hide her excitement of having a cooked meal for dinner that didn’t come out of a box. “Lead the way. But we have to make a couple stops first.”
The first stop that they made was at a grocery store. Charlotte pulled a cart and Lisa took over the steering of the cart as Charlotte moved on ahead. The made their way down the dry goods aisle and Charlotte started handing large cans of instant mashed potatoes to Lisa.
“I told you my mom was making mashed potatoes.”
“This isn’t for dinner.” And Charlotte put a total of ten cans in the cart. The next stop was the dairy aisle. Charlotte picked up two cartons of eggs and gave a nod to Lisa. Then Charlotte lead her to the register. As the cashier was ringing up can after can of potato flakes, she stopped for a second and gave the girls a curious look.
“I’m home alone a lot and need something easy to make. Can you put that in paper?” Charlotte said in an aggressive tone. The cashier blew a bubble with the gum she was smacking on and continued ringing them up. Charlotte put the bags back in the cart, paid the cashier, and pushed the cart out the door.
“How are we gonna carry all these cans?” Lisa looked confused.
“We’re not, we’re gonna push,” and Charlotte took control of the cart and began pushing in a new direction.
“I live this way,” Lisa said, pointing back the way they were originally headed.
“I said we had to make a couple stops,” Charlotte said and continued to push the cart off the premises and around a corner.
A few blocks later, Charlotte stopped the cart and sat down on a bus bench. Digging around in her bag, her hand came out with a keychain.
“Hand me one of those cans,” Charlotte requested while flipping through the keys. She seemed to have a collection of them. When she found what she was looking for, she took the can from Lisa and popped the plastic top off. Then she took the strange metal piece on the keychain and began to shimmy the can open. She opened one after another, having Lisa put the lids back on and passing the cans back and forth. When she finished the last can, she addressed Lisa.
“It’s a P-38. My dad got it while in the army. It comes in handy sometimes. Now cover your face, we’re getting close,” and Charlotte pulled her hoodie over her head and continued to walk. Lisa put her head towards the sidewalk and followed Charlotte.
The two of them moved a few more blocks down the road and waited. When Charlotte saw the little red sports car pass them, she waited a few seconds and motioned for Lisa to follow. Charlotte grabbed a couple cans of the potato flakes ran into the yard, spreading the flakes into pockets of snow on the grass. Then she ran back and did the same thing again; Lisa followed suit.
Once all the flakes were gone, they went to the eggs. Lisa took one in each hand and tossed one at the house before Charlotte stopped her.
“No. Don’t waste ‘em when they will just wash them off. Do this.” Charlotte reached down into the grass and dug a little hole. Once she did that, she placed the egg in the hole and covered it up enough to hide it from view. “See, like this.” Lisa took the example and continued to plant the eggs in the ground. “These are next.” And she reached into her backpack and pulled out a handful of forks. She split them up and handed some to Lisa. With a quick flick of the wrist, Charlotte planted the first fork into the ground.
Once they were done, they ran back several blocks and stopped. The two of them laughed and Lisa grabbed Charlotte’s hand and took her towards her house.
To Charlotte’s surprise, Lisa lived only a few streets down from her. Her house was not the largest on the street, but even from the outside, it was warm and inviting. The inside was even more inviting. There was a smell of cookies and spice in the air. The house was meticulously clean. Pictures of Lisa and her parents were apparent in every room which Charlotte gazed upon. The one thing that Charlotte enjoyed most about Lisa’s house was that Lisa’s mother was always home.
Before they walked through the first room, Lisa’s mother was greeting them with a plate of cookies. Charlotte reached for the cookies, but before she took a single bite, Lisa was introducing her mother to Charlotte.
“Mom, this is Charlotte. Charlotte, this is Missus Sallope, otherwise known as mom.”
“Nice to meet you, Missus Sallope,” Charlotte said and immediately shoved half a cookie in her mouth, making Lisa laugh.
They made their way to the living room and flopped down on the couch. For the next two hours, the girls talked, laughed, sang, and cried. They both liked many of the same things and hated similar things. Although Charlotte had several friends, she never really believed in the whole “best friend” thing. And this day was no different. She didn’t make a best friend, this was the day that they became family.
Each day for the next three years, the two of these girls were inseparable. They would help each other with work. They assisted each other with talking to boys. They were there to defend each other when girls became petty, and they were there to cry on each other’s shoulder. They would take turns sleeping at each other’s houses. They would share clothes.
For four years, the two of them would remain sisters. And after spending time apart, their sisterhood would be put to the toughest of tests, and it would fail.
Charlotte told me more of this story. Much of the story I choose not to remember. Some of those parts were too hard to forget. Charlotte had a sister for the first time in her life. And it wasn’t long after that when Charlotte lost more than a sister, more than a friend. She lost herself. I believe I met Charlotte by chance. She would say there is no such thing as chance. But I am the one telling this story. And her story will continue to be told through the eyes and ears of a priest in waiting.