I haven’t written in SO LONG, yall. Like, SO LONG. But I’m back with new year goals to write every few weeks, so be ready! This is a takeaway of Still Me by Jojo Moyes, and I hope you enjoy.
She was hyperventilating.
I don't know what happened in that moment, whether someone had done something to her or if her maniac disorder was taking part.
But I knew, as her assistant, I had to do something.
Charm is my boss, wife of the CEO of one of the biggest companies right now, and a multi-billionaire. How would I describe her? As insecure, thin, tall, and someone who has no filter. You think you look bad in a skirt? She will confirm it for you. Don't like your hair? She will not hesitate to tell you. It's discouraging but it helps her feel better about herself.
I used to work as a secretary at a local law firm, where Fredrick (Charm's husband) used to intern at. We stayed in touch, and years later he reached out and asked me to be Charm's assistant. I was to book all her appointments, (hair, dental, dermatologist, etc.) go to all her social gatherings with her, and most importantly - be her "friend". According to Fredrick, Charm was diagnosed with Bipolar Manic Disorder when she was 14. She's never had many friends, and the friends she used to have wanted her money. So she was left isolated.
I've tried to bond with her. We've gone out to diners together, baked together, listened to music together, but even when she's at her nicest, she keeps this wall up. Like she's hiding something.
Fredrick called me to his office today, something he hasn't done since he hired me. I immediately started to overthink, looking back at what I've done right and wrong. I probably walked into his home office looking white as snow.
"Annabell, Charm has locked herself in her room again. I think she's worried about tonight."
"Tonight?" I must have missed something in the calendar. Oh shoot.
"Yes, I apologize we didn't notify you, but we are on such short notice. I got a call earlier today that Charm and I were to attend a tea party, or so be it a Tea Ball on behalf of the Children's Adoption Foundation. But for some reason, when I told her the news she ran to her room and locked it. I'm worried about her, Annabell. Can you go talk to her please?"
I did not want to do it. But because I don't want to lose my job and my home, and so I put my best poker face on and nodded. I walked out of the door and glided over to Charm's bedroom, where I could hear sobbing.
I knocked on the door three times. On the fourth knock, she finally answered the door. And to say she looked terrible was an understatement. Mascara was flowing down her eyes, her hair looked a mess, she looked NOTHING like the Charm Bellogini I knew. You could tell she has been in bed for a bit of time because there were mugs on the desk, the bedsheets were rolled around, and the room looked a mess - something that wouldn’t happen unless Charm ordered the maid away.
I kneeled down next to my boss, and rubbed my hand on her back in circular motions, just like she likes it. We stayed in silence like that for 15 minutes or so until she spoke up.
“I don’t want to go Anna.”
I looked up at her and saw her eyes were bloodshot, and new tears were threatening to fall out of her eyes.
“Why Charm? Why not? It’s only a tea ball, and it can’t be as bad as other social events that we’ve gone to. As long as it’s not hell, and we’re together, it will be fine.”
“Why should I go to a tea party with a bunch of snobby, stuck up, arse-holes, a party that is about child adoption, when I have given a child up for adoption? What is the meaning of that? If I wanted to donate to a child adoption foundation, I would have done it with my daughter in hand. But my daughter is now one of them.” She said in a quiet voice, slowly breaking. “I regret giving her up every day but I was only 16 and I didn’t know what to do. And before you ask, No, Frederick doesn’t know. And I don’t want you to tell him. I’m scared… I’m scared he’ll look at me differently, and I don’t want that. I love him, Annabell.”
I was stunned. There was nothing else to do but embrace her and let her cry into my shoulders.
“How about this- what if we get you all ready, do your hair and makeup and nails and etc. and order some chinese takeout from that rustic place you like. Then we will take a deep breath and go to the party together. Swallow your emotions, Charm. I know it’s hard but we’ve got to push through it. I’m here for you. Think of the positives, and everything will be ok.”
She looked at me with big, hopeful eyes and she got up, wiped her hands on her dress, and walked confidently out the door, waiting for me. To say the least, this was a bonding experience.
I told her I had to run to the bathroom, and instead snuck into Fredrick's office to tell him that I had convinced Charm to go. "You, Anna, are a life saver.'' I walked out and quickly started barking orders at the staff, telling people to make calls to the boutique, the salon, and etc. I then pulled Charm to go to the dress shop, where we looked for a suitable dress for the occasion. After she found a dress that enhanced her beautiful curves, and I found a dress that at least fit, we then drove over to Garden Nails and Co., Charm's favorite salon where we got our nails, makeup and hair done.
After endless hours of running around to get ready, we returned home 2 hours before the party started. And those 2 hours were a total fiasco. Charm, was once again worried about the party, but we pushed through it. And when we got there, it was nothing like we expected.
Nothing about the party really shouted, Children's Adoption Foundation. It really just shouted (or whispered, because that's all that rich people do.") social gathering where I talk to people that I'm forced to speak to because of business transactions. Everyone was sipping champagne, in tiny dresses or suits, and classical music was playing in the background. I swear, I could see Charm's face visually relax. It wasn't any better than social gatherings we've gone to from the past, but it's better than Charm was expecting. We spent around 2-3 hours at the "party" until Fredrick finished up his small talk and we headed home. The whole ride home, Charm held my hand closely. This was a very unusual night.