The Alphabet Stories: Charlotte
Updated: Mar 1, 2020
Story by Liane Carter
Illustration by E.J. Klepinger
I have allowed you to excuse yourself with ‘It’s just the way I am, Charlotte.’ Your expectations are a mountain you sit atop and no one can reach your un-scalable height. Sometimes you look down on me and spit on my head. I’ve learned to wear a hat.
I was drawn to your darkness, thought I could heal your pain. I now know no person can do that for another. You must do it for yourself and you never will. I’ve been foolish for years, not seeing that you kept it like a comfort blanket, an excuse you refuse to release. You don’t want to change and that’s your choice, but it’s time for me stop thinking in a fairy tale, that one day you will.
So I have no choice, Gary. I have tried. Many would say for too long. Is two years too long? With you, yes. I am going to blow up your mountain.
Standing in our kitchen for the last time I say louder than I expected, ‘Goodbye, house.’ I grab a pen and a piece of paper and sit at the kitchen table to write. My hand threatens to crush the pen. Your words stab in my head: Charlotte, your writing is hideous. If you must leave me a note, print it out. Just as you’d rather I not ride a bike, dress more like I’m ‘actually female’ and stop drinking whisky. Your list is long.
When you come home from Jack’s stag weekend this afternoon, will you even care that I’ve sold most things I own - and some of yours - to buy the Triumph Bonneville that’s sat out of sight at the side of the house? That the rest of the money is stuffed in my trousers, rucksack and a money belt? I need to write the note. You will be home soon. I need to leave before you arrive, before your mountain explodes. I write.
Gary, I’m traveling for a few months and not coming back. Both free at last.
P.S. My brother will pick up any mail.
I stick the note on the fridge and hear your car pull up outside. Panic pounds in my chest. I turn up the volume on the radio in the kitchen, race through the back door leaving it wide open, run around to the side of the house and mount the bike. Shit. I’ve left my helmet on the kitchen counter. I can’t go back. My hands are shaking. I fumble then slip the key in the ignition and the rest is automatic from a life before you: foot down, hand turns. You call out my name because I am expected to always run to the door to greet you when I hear you pull up, no matter what I might be doing. The bike growls its strength beneath me reminding me I had some once. Did I really hear you call my name or is it a memory of your temper to weaken me? I’m sure the radio has stopped and then I hear you shout behind me.
“What the ….?”
I open the throttle and I’m gone … or maybe I am - for the first time in a long time - reappearing. Your pride won’t permit you to chase me. There goes your mountain. Boom!