Warm. Soft blankets enveloping the skin; there’s nothing more delightful than being cosily bundled up in bed, paralyzing the body. Although sometimes it can’t comfort everyone.
Huff after huff of silent cries, heaving into his sopping pillow; it was the fourth time that week that Charlie was crying himself to sleep. Like a switch, the second he hit his pillow it occurred. Talking, flashing images…moments, all echoed through his mind while his body ached for sleep. He couldn’t understand why, his life wasn’t perfect, yes but there was nothing that was solely keeping him up at night. It was like it was a mixture of everything…but nothing, like a black hole had suddenly opened from within side him; emptying his contents.
Charlie twisted onto his side, his blankets strangled around him, holding him down like an angry python. He kicked out and sighed, rubbing a hand over his face. Everywhere ached. He was facing his window now, his eyes glanced up at the glass. An orange glow tinged the sky line, the sun was only beginning to set, he was trying to get to bed as early as possible to try and relieve the hold his body was under.
A flutter caught his attention against the pane, Charlie lifted his head slightly to see the sight of black wings winking at him. A small butterfly was bouncing at the window as if asking to be let in. Without thinking, Charlie held his weight on one elbow while he reached up with his other hand and lifted the latch, and the butterfly floated in. Charlie fell back onto his back with a sigh and stretched his arm over his head, his eyes following the butterflies movements. It was dancing across to each wall and back.
Each night he would try to pin down a reason to why he felt like this and right then he realised what it was he felt.
He felt like he was mourning the loss of someone he loved. He knew that feeling all too well.
But that didn’t seem right, no one he knew had died recently…not that he knew of anyway…
He continued watching the butterfly as his thoughts tumbled through his mind. The little insect began to settle on his mirror, wings slowly flapping in content. The cold breeze from outside was beginning to effect his senses as it curved around his body; chilling him. Charlie pulled the covers up and around him but sneezed nonetheless, he was about to sneeze again when his eyes caught the mirror again, he could have sworn he saw a girl staring back at him.
Charlie lifted himself up in a panic, he could feel his face draining of blood and his eyelashes flicked rapidly off his cheeks. He threw back his duvet cover and plowed towards the mirror. The butterfly seemed to wink in response with its wings, it hadn’t moved from the position from where it had landed. He drew himself closer to the bug, slowly so he would not scare it. It’s colour was so deeply black that it almost seemed to glitter as it drained the light from the room. Although as Charlie was inspecting it a massive bang shuddered the whole house, vibrating off every wall. Someone not very nice was home. Charlie stepped back and cursed as he watched his specimen flutter hurriedly from the mirror and back out his bedroom window. He glanced at his bedroom door and paused in between thoughts, but settled to watch the butterfly fly into the now night sky. The frosty breeze lashed at his face, reminding him of the cold he was allowing in. His eyes had lost focus of the butterfly for a while now but he still seemed transfixed. Still looking out to the wild he pulled the latch in, just in time to hear a;
On the steps.
Charlie’s heart raced in fear as he dove back into his bed, yanking the covers up and over his head. Stilling every muscle in his body so hard that he felt tingles in his shoulders. Suddenly his door bounced of its hinges. A huff a puff and mumbles trailed the door. Charlie’s breath held in his chest fighting; trying to escape. The door creaked and sighed and opposed to the way it was opened and so it was quietly closed with a hush. Charlie was left to ‘sleep’.
* * *
* * * *
Scott Davidson didn’t know why he bought another bottle.
It was almost like it was routine now, machine like the way he maneuvered straight to the desired aisle. His tongue would tango and roll with saliva as he figured out his current craving; and grab the first brand that jumped out from the shelf. His left hand would droop down in shame at yet another purchase he said he wouldn’t take for this time. But he always did, that was the thing about addiction, wasn’t it? It grabbed you from the roots of your nerves and made you dance like a puppet, bending you to your knees so you had little control until you bit into the apple of desire. Red hooded eyes would look straight ahead, ignoring that he had purchased alcohol yet again. Ignoring that he was in a shop. After all, this was the last time right? It had been the last time for a while.
Scott looked down at the whiskey he had bought entranced by the label; a mouthful would take the itch off until he got home.
Red, white and golden brown encompassing the bottle was all he could see. Scott smiled, closing his eyes to feel the warm comforting buzz he felt from the pricks of his scalp right through to the bones of his feet. When he opened his eyes again he jolted in fright as his hands were stiffly clinging to his steering wheel and he was chugging slowly down a darkening lane way. His left hand rocketed out to wipe his eyes from the haze, dragging his wrinkles further down his leather skin. His eyes shifted to his rear view mirror, thankfully there was no cars behind or in front of him. For now.
His eyes then drifted down to see his litre bottle of whiskey hastily shoved into and barely fitting into his coffee cup holder; half empty. Scott’s hands began to shake in realisation, a pit opened within his stomach pulling his insides under, churning, burning; creating hellfire of dread. A bump in the road nudged him to also comprehend that he was accidentally steering his beat up sedan off the road. Once he was back on the straight and narrow, Scott squinted out of his dirty windshield trying to make out where he was. The sun was setting and it let off a brilliant golden glow, highlighting the heaps of leaves that floated around and across the roads. Ahead, the road began opening up onto a junction leading down into a village. Scott sighed in relief as he began to recognise his surroundings.
‘Must have taken the back roads…’ Scott thought to himself. His fingers began to drum on the steering wheel, he was on edge. He had to get home. His arms began to shake in impatience, bubbling to anger at no one but himself. His car creaked to a halt, indicator on. His watery eyes zoomed right and left and right and left and right and left. There were many cars going in the same direction, very slowly. Scott leaned farther and farther towards his dashboard, curiosity beginning to overcome his restlessness. Then his questions started to be answered as a hearse drove by cocooning a coffin, carrying it to its final destination. Scott blinked and let out a sad sigh as he remembered that the funeral of a local woman, the same age as his son who was murdered was that day. As the cars that were accompanying the dead seemed to move, Scott glimpsed many supportive mourners on the paths cradling together. With no music or talking radio heads within the car with Scott, the blinking of the indicator seemed to click louder and louder with each second that passed. Scott’s eyes bugged out of his sockets as he stared down at the handle, at the last minute he switched it off and burst off into traffic anyway, turning without flicking it back on. Horns blared at him from every direction, it encircled him, it was a miracle he didn’t hit anybody.
One more chug,
and finally he was home. He was itching to get home, it felt like his skeleton was trying to jump out of his skin. He carved his keys into the his front door and let it swing off the hall table, allowing him to jolt back to reality with the deafening noise. He didn’t remember taking out the whiskey bottle from his car, but it was in his hand nonetheless. He slammed it down on the table and stared at it, his body shook, he couldn’t tell what he was feeling anymore. But what he did know was that he was utterly helpless. He was doomed to seek it out anytime, anywhere no matter what he was doing, he would be thinking; when would be the next time he would be satisfied? He glanced up the stairs, he had to talk to someone…
In desperation he began to crawl rapidly up the stairs in a hurry to relieve his woes. He puffed out air as he got to the landing and made his way towards his sons room, he threw the door open once again. He grimaced this time at how loud it was, especially as he saw his son curled up asleep. He felt guilty then, because he knew how his son struggled to sleep the past week. He had a feeling to what was going on but didn’t want Scott to get any ideas unnerving him.
The next morning,
Scott forced himself up, he wanted to be there for his son. He wasn’t sure if he had connected the dots himself…His birthday was this week, his twenty first. Scott was still sitting on his bed, his legs didn’t want to support him. His body was heavy, stuck within a cycle of rejecting alcohol. His rough hands shook at his face to try and massage feeling back into the lines that mapped his features. A muffled shrilling shriek ran through his ears, his phone was vibrating his snoozed alarm through his pillow. Scott sighed and shoved his hand under to switch it off. Nine a.m, it wasn’t too early but it was early for an alcohol worn body. He slammed a fist on his twig of a knee, trying to rouse himself. He had to put his son in front of himself, he hadn’t done so in a good while. Scott grasped himself up and to his feet, he wobbled a bit but he held his balance. A chill crept through his skin as he was only dressed in his worn out boxers, he pulled on his dressing gown and shuffled on slippers before creeping downstairs to the kitchen. Scott blinked and squinted around his house, he felt like he was only beginning to see for the first time in ages; blind for weeks. The house wasn’t that messy, but you could tell that certain areas seemed to be left abandoned…while Charlie helped around the house, he certainly secluded himself mainly to his own room. The house was just occupied by ghosts, drifting through for their needs.
Sadness wracked through Scott, he felt like he was failing his only son. He was failing his son. Dust whispered underneath his slippers as he padded around his living room. Observing his house like a stranger, inspecting what each abandoned glass and cigarette butt represented in the linear story. Which one was first, which one was last? Scott exhaled in defeat and moved finally to the kitchen, he flicked on the kettle and it churned; building up to a scream. As he waited, he also clicked on the radio, not turning the dial to anything in particular; he just needed voices for company. Scott leaned against the counter, trying to rest once more his feebled body. His eyes flickered to the side of the fridge, old photographs of a better time littered its body. Scott’s favorite one jumped out at him. It was a photo of himself in a fitted deep blue suit beaming out at the camera, he was holding up a laughing four year old Charlie, who was reaching out towards his mother; Janet. It was their wedding day.
Of course, his wife was no longer with us. He was never the same when his wife died, but of course it was Charlie’s loss too, his mother. Three years. Scott was only beginning to dawn on how much damage his way of mourning further caused harm to his only family member left.
“Of course, of course they’re gonna say they’re not together but the the tabloids and the pictures say otherwise. Ya can’t explain away them photos, ya seen ‘em Jim? They could be sold to Playboy…”
“Ya, I’ve seen ‘em Bobby, scandalous stuff right there!” Scott sighed as his ears began taking in the nonsense that spewed from the radio, he decided to leave the station on as he began to make breakfast. He opened the fridge to see it was barren of food, random condiments and basic rations scattered the shelves. Scott rummaged for a moment and found two eggs and one slice of bacon in an opened package. He grimaced but he was sure he could work with what he had, it wouldn’t be a full Irish breakfast but it would be something nice nonetheless. As Scott pottered around he seemed oddly transfixed with the gossip of unknown celebrities love affairs, it made him smile at the thought. The silliness he and the presenters seemed to have over this was insane. His mouth twinged as he realised how rare it was over the last few years for him to smile. And, he smiled again. He had also found bread bundled into the cupboard so he had toast popping out at him now, signalling he was nearly ready to serve up.
Just as Scott was laying plates out and about to turn and call up to Charlie, his eyes had met his sons. He looked worried, not happy that he was serving breakfast.
Nonetheless, Scott broke another unfamilar smile and pronounced; “Oh, Charlie I was about to go and wake you, you’re just in time for breakfast!”But Charlie’s expression didn’t change.
“Breakfast?” Charlie questioned.
“I got up because I thought I could smell burning.”
“Nothing’s burning, I can assure you.” Scott joked, but a twinge of defeat echoed his words.
“You never make breakfast.”
“Today I did.” Scott said defiantly.
There was silence then as Charlie raised his eyebrow and nodded, pulling out a seat at the rarely used kitchen table. Scott swallowed and turned back to placing the food onto two plates, he had given the rogue bacon to Charlie.
Scott moved the plates down and shoved Charlies in front of him with cutlery. Two slices of toast cut into triangles, an egg and the bacon was placed on top as a way of decorating up the plate.
“Uh, I’m allergic to eggs…” Charlie said, without looking up, he was scraping the egg with his fork over to the side of his plate so the yolk didn’t bleed too much onto the rest of his food. Scott looked at his son wide eyed and grabbed his plate.
“Since when?” He asked as he scraped the egg onto his own plate. He then stood up and grabbed a napkin and wiped the plate of yolk and his fork.
“Uhm…since I was twelve.” Charlie answered, his eyebrows quirking in confusion at his father. All Scott could say in response was; “Oh.”
Heavy silence weighed the room down as they both tucked into their now luke warm meal. The radio presenters seemed to take stage again, their voices louder because of the tense quiet.
“I don’t know Bobby, I just don’t get how affairs still happen, does it not hurt? Like obviously it hurts the person being cheated on emotionally yes, but don’t the others involved not get that ache of betrayal? The physical ache of betraying a soul mate?”
“Maybe they never matched with their soul mate?”Bobby questioned.
“Maybe.” Jim contemplated. There was a crackle as Jim was trying find the right words. “I think it’s messed up. My brother never had the luxury of meeting his soul mate, the stuff that he went through…well, boy oh boy thankfully he has his Gurdian. I wouldn’t wish a sucker’s soul mate dying on them after matching on my enemy.” Jim’s words seemed to shatter the room like glass. Charlie’s brown eyes met his match with his father’s. The thing is with coffee brown eyes, it didn’t take much to make them look drained with sadness. Scott’s heart felt like it had been punched, his body drained…he lusted once more for the swig of the bottle.
He was trying to be better, a light dinged within his brain, flashing answers for both their questions.
“Charlie…” Scott sounded out his sons’s name carefully.
“I think I know why you’ve been like this for the last few days…” Scott trailed off, he glanced at his son, he could see from his expression that fear gripped him. Charlie bit and chewed his teeth, feeling icy. He had no idea that his dad was even sober enough to be aware something was wrong. Charlie swallowed; “you do?” His dad nodded solemnly and cleared his throat; “I think your soul mate has died.” Once the words were strung out in the open, they seemed to hang there hauntingly; cementing the truth. Charlie’s heart lurched as if to confirm it.
“You really…think so?” Charlie expressed hoarsely. Once again his dad nodded, this time not meeting his eyes. “We’ll have to go down to the Town House to contact the ministry to make sure…” Scott trailed off his eyes unfocused, thinking.
“Dad?” Scott blinked rapidly and turned his attention back to his son.
He said nothing more.
“Is it true, will…I never…know love?” Scott pursed his lips, his grey stubble stretched against his skin with the movements.
“You will still have her as your guardian.” Was all Scott said.
Charlie bowed his head, unable to comprehend what he was feeling entirely. ‘That butterfly…’ Charlie thought, putting the pieces together. It must be true. He was mournful, he had always thought the idea of a one true love wasn’t true. The whole world sold it to him. But he always wondered what would happen when he finally turned twenty-one, with such bad luck all his life…was it meant to just occur out of nowhere? Meeting the one? It sounded so natural, the stories his mother would share with him how she and his father had met. And of course the stories of lovers never being able to meet. A boy dying on a boy, a girl dying on a girl and a girl dying on a boy. These were woven to feel like fables, myths for people who didn’t believe in love. People who didn’t believe in love like Charlie…was he being punished?
“It’s true then?” Charlie pushed his father to answer, “she’s bound to me now? How its that fair on her spirit?”
Scott bowed his head in acknowledgment, he sighed trying to choose the best words.
“Yes but it’s for the best the best for both of you.”
“What do you mean?” Charlie asked with an edge to his voice unsolicited anger was bubbling away. “It’s for the comfort of both of you, otherwise you’d both go insane without love in your lives, she’d dissipate into a poltergeist and you…”Scott smirked sadly, “you’d turn out like your old papa here.” He said bitterly.
Charlie looked up, reading his father, knowing that he spoke the truth. Feeling like he had accepted what was happening within his soul, his heart rate, he had realised that seemed to always feel like being on speed dial lately; finally seemed to calm down. This was his life now, and he had to embrace that fact. Otherwise his father was right, he could feel the resentment of the world manifesting within his being the past few days, and this confession of truth to himself, felt like the pins holding him down were being released,