“Do you ever look at your art and just… just question whether this was really you, whether you are really capable of creating something so unusually aesthetic?” she seems confused by my question it probably sounds like an insult, that I think it’s not possible for her to create something so majestic. “I should probably get going.” Odette nods then goes back to dabbing her brush against the canvas.
Hopefully one day Odette will see me as a sister again and not just another person who left her when she needed them. I was young and hated that house, basically hated everyone that ever lived there, everyone that came, then left and with their departure took a piece of me with them.
I shouldn’t dwell on the past just before a meeting, the tears fall too easily these days. Maybe I should stop by the café and grab a coffee for Celeste, she had a pretty unpleasant morning.
“I can’t take it anymore, Charlie!” she complains over the phone and I consider driving over there and just finally taking her away from all this. Blythe wouldn’t think twice she’d take her camera, a jacket and we’d be on our way to whatever our new home would be.
“Is Odette okay? Where is she right now?” of course Blythe would forget about her, in times like these she’s supposed to set her feelings aside, no matter how frightened she is, Odette is ten times more afraid than Blythe.
“She’s asleep.” Blythe answers uninterested. That’s the thing about Blythe she can be the kindest person you know but also the most self-centred. I put up with it because we both need each other more than we can admit.
“Go sleep next to her, everything will be fine by tomorrow morning. I’ll be there with you and the arguing would have subsided. Okay?” I assure her but we both know that once her mother is high and her father has a few drinks too many it will happen again and I might not be there to comfort her.
“Two decafs please, May?”
“Blythe.” He says from behind me, he says? This just… it’s not possible. Char-lie… Charlie can’t be here? “Yes it’s me, Blythe can you look at me?” I stand dead in my tracks, May staring at me like I’ve seen a ghost, because in a way… in a way I have.
“Miss, can you please move to the next counter?” May asks so politely I feel embarrassed for not moving over.
“Is there a red head standing behind me?” I whisper to May not knowing whether a ‘no’ would be better than a ‘yes’.
“I’m sorry I can’t hear that, but can you please shift to the side?” he hasn’t said anything so maybe he gets that I don’t want to speak to him, maybe he’s gone? Hopefully he is gone. So, I pick up the carton of coffees and turn around heading for the door but there he is leaning to the side of the door. I can’t help but drop the coffees ruining my white skirt.
“No! Stay away from me, Charles. Stay away!” I yell running out of the shop, now I have to find a new coffee shop close enough to both my apartment and work. Why do I care about that now?
“It’s not my fault that I’m here and you know that so don’t even try to run away.” He stops me as I’m halfway out the door. “It’s been ten years at least have the audacity to say ‘hello’ since you didn’t have any to say ‘goodbye’.”
“I have to go, Charles.” I manage to say as I walk away.
“See you tonight at your engagement party, Blythe!” he shouts and waves as I look back. I can’t have this today; I can’t have him there.
“I don’t know if I can do this, Charlie, maybe I should just tell my father. Mom…she’ll kick me out of the house.”
“Then we finally go to New York.” I smile but she’s just more agitated, so I take her hands and place the necklace her mother bought her for he tenth birthday. “I found this a week ago behind the couch.”
“Just promise me that if… if she hates me for it that you will be there and I won’t be alone.” Blythe asks as the tears dry on her cheeks.
“Even when you’re old and married, having your ten kids with Juli, I promise you that I will be there living in the apartment upstairs from yours. I also promise that even if your father or mother isn’t there to walk you down the isle, because you’re not marrying a man, I will be there every step of the way.”
“You’re so cheesy,” she finally smiles “But where would I be without you.”
“We need to talk!” Celeste says as she pulls me into her office “What happened to your skirt?”
“Noth…nothing.” I shake my head trying to sway away the memories of Charles “What do you need to talk about? Did your parents catch their flight?”
“Yes, they’ll be here in time but that’s not it. Dr Remi called he said you missed the past few weeks’ appointments and that you haven’t been picking up your phone.”
“He has no right to call you!” I lash out
“First of all he did not call me, I answered your telephone and he may have believed that I was you and secondly how dare you speak to me in that manner!” we should not be fighting at work, it’s unprofessional of us.
“We are not doing this here.” I lower my voice as I walk to the door. “I’ll see you tonight at our engagement party and we’ll talk about it after, Celeste.” I walk out not even waiting for a response. I just made things worse with my reaction but I’m not in the right head-space for confrontation. Right now, I need Charlie. If I take off for the rest of the day no one will question it, I’ll go home call him and maybe Dr Remi after.
She’s just scared, always so scared and hurt. When I met her in sixth grade as young as we both were I could already see the hurt in her eyes, she needed me and I was there, I think she still needs me.
We’d sing, dance and cry when it rained, so that no one could hear or see us at our most vulnerable. Though the singing has stopped since her parents took her to the psychiatrist, seeing our relationship as an illusion.
“Can you hug me, Charlie? Can you tell me that I’ll be fine, that everything will be fine.” I take her in my arms kissing her forehead.
“Tell me what I’ve missed from your life.”
“Celeste is amazing and beautiful and I love her but… these last few years it feels like I haven’t been myself. Maybe it’s because I’m on meds, or the fact that I haven’t seen my parents in ten year or that my sister hates me...” I stand up not knowing why I’m talking to him again.
“You’re not crazy for seeing me, I never thought you were. At that time you needed a friend, someone to hold you through the pain and so you made me.” I wipe away the tears as he speaks “I’m here again because you need me to understand what you’re going through and I do, Blythe. I always will, because that’s what friends are for, that’s what you made me for.”
“He is real, Dr Rutherford, I can hear him and feel him and…”
“No! You don’t know him! You don’t know me!” she interrupts but sits down again because she knows… I know that what the doctor is saying true. Now we only need to decide whether she is going to allow me to further dwell with her.
“This is not normal, Charlie. I’m speaking to myself right now! How am I not supposed to feel crazy? How am I supposed to tell Celeste that I actually want to be off my meds, that I still want to see this person I made up in my mind!” I start crying again. He is the friend I never had in school, the family that did not abandon me when they found out that I was gay or seemed mad in my head.
“We’ll figure things out and if we don’t we’ll finally run away.” He chuckles and I smile. “I’m here now and no matter how long I’ve been gone I’ll always be here.”