Day 19: Pandora’s Box

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Dear Vodka

I swear, Vodka, that whenever things begin to work out, the universe dishes me a serving of some bad karma! Jonah made breakfast for all of us, which was simply cinnamon pancakes and bacon.  I was starving. Despite being awake, I felt like a complete zombie. Aiden picked me up and after noticing that I was barely responding he threw me into the swimming pool. I laughed about it but only once I managed to pull him in with me. After a much-needed shower, breakfast and a light application of make-up, Aiden dropped me off at group therapy. I told him that it was a youth gathering event and that he could fetch me around noon at the back of the centre. He seemed a bit confused but shrugged it off.

The last thing I wanted was Ellie questioning my choice of friends once again. It was great to see Theo again but Ellie was nowhere to be seen. She apparently had some dentist’s appointment. I guess that solved that problem! Theo bought me a berry smoothie at the refreshment station before we went in and our staring competition started. This time, however, one of the girls sitting next to Theo noticed and raised her hand, demanding that the coordinator remove me from the session. Drama queen much? Turns out, she has a thing for Theo and was getting a bit envious of all the attention Theo was directing at me.

Oh well, you win some and you lose some. I did, however, have to share in the group and I got my first “we’re here for you Charlie.” Theo said “not” at the end and everyone glanced in his direction. I simply laughed and said that he had something stuck in his throat. I asked to be excused and he followed shortly after. We stayed in the parking lot for the rest of the session. We caught up on my first week at a new school and he told me about all his catch-up time on series since the university was only staring in a month’s time.

Aiden spotted me sitting on the pavement when he fetched me, so going around the back wasn’t necessary. All was well until he saw Theo. He went absolutely still like a statue. So did Theo. I began to panic. What was happening? Then, all of a sudden, Theo called Aiden a traitor and Aiden looked as if he was going to explode. Theo asked me what I was doing with “this scumbag” and Aiden redirected the remark back at Theo. I’d never seen either of them this upset before! Theo practically grabbed my arm, leading me in the direction of his car but I violently shook him off and got into Aiden’s Jeep. Theo looked betrayed and spat out: “Do you seriously trust this traitor with your life? It’s enough that you’re suffering from depression and anxiety. He’ll only make it worse.” Aiden looked at me and I couldn’t help but feel as if I wanted to disappear into the seat. How could Theo say such things? Aiden looked betrayed too but he just sped off and said nothing throughout the ride home.

 

XOX

Charlie

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Clean slates

I saw him. And he saw me.

Shock! A sharp intake of breath.

Dear diary, if you were an actual breathing human being on the other side of this stupid pen and paper what would you say? Would you tell me to just forget about him? Would you tell me that it gets better in the end? Would you tell me that someday I’ll wonder what I ever saw in him? And remind me that I have sweet, darling, Finn? Would you also tell me that first boyfriends have a reputation of being awful pigs?

Perhaps.

I saw him. And he saw me.

Lungs burning. Eyes stinging. A complete exhale.

Would you believe that he just looked at me as they passed me by? Today. In the mall. While I was out with mum.

I accidentally steered mom in the direction of Burger King in my haste to avoid her seeing them too and she ACTUALLY thought I felt like a fucking burger!!! I don’t think I have any more tears left in my body because I’m crying and no tears seem to form. My head is thumping and my ribs ache. My throat is dry and scratchy. Still, no tears. I’m all tapped out.

I wish I had access to a time machine. Not to go back in time. I’d like to go forward. I want to know what happens the day I die. I want to know everything.

Am I old? Is it next week? I wouldn’t be surprised if I suddenly found myself at St Peter’s door next Wednesday. Would be easy that. To slip away into the darkness… but then I think about what gran has said again and again. I’ve put up on my bedroom mirror… scribbled it on the cover of every one of my school books…

ALL OF THIS IS JUST A SEASON IN TIME. IN 10 YEARS FROM NOW WHERE WILL YOU BE?

I know it’s just something to try and convince me there is a future but if I’d succeeded in cutting my wrist last January I wouldn’t have been around to be in Germany. I would have missed out on meeting Finn and Finn is wonderful. Mum says there are many more Finns and Charlies’ out there in the world. Although, the ones I have are pretty amazing.

Exams are killer but they’ve been the focus of my last few weeks. I’ve read and reread all of Finn’s emails to me. He sends me the most gorgeous photos. He wants to be a professional photographer but I’ve seen his charcoal sketches and I think he’ll make an amazing whatever his beautiful soul wants him to be.

But that makes me wonder about what my own future holds and I don’t want to think about that too much. I’ve been working with my therapist and she’s been amazing. No drama. No condescension. Just support and non-judgement. And my parents, of course, they are both exhausting and understanding in equal measure. I’m told to put myself in their shoes in almost every session. I don’t complain about them anymore. I’m trying not to manipulate them. Trying not to lose my temper.

But sometimes… like with the whole burger thing… even I don’t have enough zen left.

Day 18: Surf’s up!

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Dear Vodka

What a week!

A new school, a newfound relationship with Mum, new friends, a new kitten and group therapy! The universe must be thanking me for something I did right! Aiden and I are going surfing straight after school. The weather is amazing and I couldn’t feel any better about myself. Life is good for once…

Aiden picked me up this morning so that I could buy a wetsuit. He has an extra surfboard so that isn’t going to be a problem. Ellie seemed pretty upset when I called her last night to tell her that they needn’t fetch me for school in this morning. She wanted to know if anything was wrong but I made up some excuse about wanting fresh air. I couldn’t tell her about Aiden. She’d say that he was bad news and I wasn’t exactly in the position to tell her why he wasn’t. Ellie is awesome but she’s also really stubborn when it comes to her opinion of others. Once she’s made up her mind about you, that’s that.

I decided to hang out with Aiden after all but then I bumped into Ellie and she totally freaked. I explained to her that I’d be careful; that I met Aiden at a party before I knew about his ‘reputation.’ She seemed to calm down a bit but warned me once again about not getting too close. I don’t know why she’s making such a big deal about it. Anyway, I’m super energised for later despite the fact that I got about four hours of sleep last night.

I got an A on my oral presentation for Portuguese class. I also managed to get Roman’s cooperation on our Biology project. He’s having a ‘back-to-school’ party on Saturday that he invited me to. I said that I’d check my schedule. I’m getting kind of used to Roman now with his wild head of golden curls. We agreed to start working on the project on Monday at his house. We’re off to a good start so far. Let’s hope it stays that way!

I was a bit nervous to stand up on the surfboard but Aiden is extremely patient. I eventually got a grip of things and at one point I stood on the board for a full ten seconds! It felt exhilarating as my motion on the board was in balance with the curve of the waves. I fell off the surfboard more times than I can count but it was all good. After all the surfing, Aiden took me for a ride on his motorbike. The slight breeze of the wind felt welcoming on my skin as the sun appeared to chase after us. We stopped for frozen yoghurt at Marcel’s and then we crashed at his place for a while until Matt, Jonah and Connor showed up unexpectedly. They didn’t even see us on the sofa. They simply walked in and went straight to the refrigerator, ranting on and on about their hunger. Boys! Aiden and I gave them such a fright when we burst into laughter. Aiden remarked that his home was their home. They would often come over and do as they pleased. After all, the door mat did read: Mi casa e su casa. The boys and I went to an underground nightclub once Aiden and I changed into casual clothes from our swimwear.

Mum didn’t seem phased when I asked if I could stay over at Aiden’s for the weekend. A simple chat with his parents over the phone and it was final. It was actually Dad who convinced Mum (as usual). Mr and Mrs Clark were home by the time we got home from the nightclub. Matt, Jonah and Connor slept over too. I couldn’t sleep, so I went to the living room to watch a movie instead. I ended up watching the latest season of Grey’s Anatomy instead. Connor crept into the kitchen as I was watching television and joined me on the couch. Connor’s always seemed like the quiet one. I like him. He’s got this cool persona about him. We chatted for hours about random things but mostly about Aiden. Connor thinks that it’s a miracle I got Aiden to open up. I accepted the compliment and soon fell asleep on his shoulder.

XOX

Charlie

Day 17: Match made in HELL!

penned by: Julia Smith

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Dear Vodka,

I sat up all night last night thinking about what Aiden had told me. On top of that, I still had loads of homework to complete and Ellie wasn’t exactly making it any easier because she kept on texting me about our English essay that was due today. I’m so exhausted. I don’t even know what day it is today. Argh! Mr McNolan, our Biology teacher, made my day even more miserable when he announced that I was paired with Roman Withers, the ultimate class clown and official pain in my ass! Seriously!?

I’m presently chewing coffee beans. Thomas wanted to watch this newly released horror movie but I said “maybe next time,” and shut my bedroom door behind me, crashing onto my bed. I still can’t get Aiden off my mind. I looked for him at school today but he was nowhere to be found; neither were any of his friends. I thought about calling him but I also want to give him some space. It was really brave of him for confiding in me what he did.

Aiden’s been battling insomnia and anxiety for the past six years ever since his parents died and he lost his best friend three years ago. What makes it worse is that everyone at school hasn’t exactly been very sympathetic about his situation. However, many of them don’t know the real story. They just fear Aiden. He’s become some untouchable person people tolerate but don’t actually want to get close to. He says that he feels responsible when things go wrong in people’s lives that he’s close to. I asked him about me; why would he befriend me then? He gave the famous “you seemed different” line but he seemed extremely sincere when he said it. He also said that he didn’t know that I’d become such an important part of his life, albeit it’s only been a couple of weeks now. He invited me to join his social circle. I said I’d think about it. I can’t just leave Ellie or tell her about what Aiden told me.

I’ve just about completed my homework that’s due for tomorrow. It’s complete insanity! Ten subjects! What was I thinking when I selected my subjects? I just hope that I can convince Roman to buckle down on this project. It’s a big part of our overall mark for the year and we can’t mess up. If I have to do it by myself I will but then I’ll use Roman as my lapdog. We have to build a model of the heart and do a presentation on its functions, diseases and treatments and so forth. Fingers crossed. Out of all the organs, we just had to get the heart. Perhaps the most complicated and important organ in the body! Nice one, Mr McNolan!

I have an oral for Portuguese class tomorrow. I have to do a presentation on the Portuguese language and culture in Angola, one of the countries the Portuguese colonised. I hope that I’ve nailed it.

XOX

Charlie

Day 16: Gran’s puuurfect surprise!

penned by: Julia Smith

 

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Dear Vodka,

Getting home, I was beyond exhausted from school. Neither Mum, Dad or Thomas were home, so I was forced to call Aiden for a ride to Gran Lilith’s. He handed me a note the day before which read:

We need to talk in private. Don’t let anyone know about this.                                                     A. A.      x 

 

It gave me the chills, to be honest. He picked me up shortly after the call in his Jeep. The dusty sunset orange one. The one I secretly love because it’s open on the sides.

No one was smiling however when I got into the Jeep. What was going on? Especially since Aiden is never serious when I’m around. I asked him about it but he said that he’d tell me once I’ve finished my business at Gran’s’. Frankly, he was freaking me out. Gran recognised him from the last time and invited him in for tea but I made some lame excuse about a group project that was due tomorrow and that we needed to get on with it.  SO… my visit was brisk. I’d forgotten about Gran’s surprise until she stopped me just as I was about to leave with my cat Lava and a few of my things. She gingerly handed me a small box ordering me to take it with both hands. Guess what?! It was a kitten! I almost made Gran Lilith lose her balance when I jumped on her. I hugged her so tight!

She’s perfect!

When we got back into the Jeep, Aiden made a joke about naming the kitten, Ash. I laughed because then I’d have Ash and Lava. Get it? I thought about his suggestion but decided against it. If I lost Aiden in any way, the kitten would be a constant reminder of him if I did name her Ash. We brainstormed names and eventually settled on Lily because of her snow-white coat. By the time we dropped them off at home, Thomas was there already, so I entrusted him with taking care of Lava and Lily.

We drove to Bean Therapy and I ordered an espresso whereas Aiden ordered his usual decaf latte. It made sense now! He suffered from insomnia because of his parents and best friend! I almost shouted it out once I realised it as he ordered his decaf latte. We spoke for hours and we also happened to be the last people at the café. After all that, I knew that Aiden needed me for a little while longer, so I suggested we drive down to the beach and watch the sunset. We sat in complete silence. We watched as the sun disappeared into the sea, taking its last breath so that the moon could come alive. I took Aiden’s hand in mine and he didn’t pull away. We sat for a little while longer until we both came to our senses and realised that we still had tons of homework to complete. We listened to The Japanese House as he drove me home. I hugged him tight before he left. He needed to know that I would always be there for him; that I wouldn’t abandon him. He is mine now and I am his, and as long as we both fight for our friendship, nothing can separate us. He’s teaching me how to surf on Friday.

There goes the neighbourhood!

XOX

Charlie

Day 15: Wishbone. Funny Bone. Backbone.

penned by: Julia Smith

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Dear Vodka

It’s been great living under the same roof as Mum and Dad again. Thomas and I keep on pranking Mum and Dad but they’ve gotten us back after we accidentally broke late Aunt Rita’s glass vase that she bestowed upon Mum in her will. Mum was pretty upset but Thomas promised that we would cook dinner for the next week.

I slapped Thomas the moment Mum was out of the room. Thomas is a great cook. The only thing I know how to do is make waffles and all those basic breakfast-y stuff. I always end up burning the food. I can’t help it. So, out of anger, I told Thomas that, since he came up with the brilliant idea, he’d be doing it all by himself. I felt bad afterwards and bought him the entire Game of Thrones collection from my savings. It was an impulsive buy but I hated seeing Thomas upset. He wasn’t upset per say but I felt guilty for being so nasty.

I woke up to Ellie’s face.

I thought I was dreaming but then I smelt Thomas’s famous Belgian waffles from the kitchen and I knew that that meant I was late because Thomas only wakes up when I leave for school. I blushed like a burnt tomato when I saw Theo in the kitchen. I was still in my PJ’s as I made my way through the kitchen into Thomas’s room to use his en suite shower. I heard Thomas, Theo and Ellie burst out laughing as I ran half-naked into the room, straight into the shower. Okay. Confession time: when I say ‘PJ’s’ I mean knickers and a t-shirt. I felt so embarrassed but after a searing hot shower with the linger of berry shower gel still on me, I got over the worst of it and I laughed about it afterwards. 

Any way…Theo dropped us off at school and I bumped into Aiden as I made my way to my locker. He greeted me briefly and slipped a note into my hand. I wanted to reach for him but he was out of sight in a flash. It was kind of strange. I spent the rest of the day going from class to class, each one presenting more homework than the former. At the end of the day, I’d acquired five sets of homework! Something good came out of my day, however, when I acquainted myself with Tanner, a boy in my Literature class with extremely sleek blonde hair and ocean blue eyes, and Kennedy, a girl in my Geography class who looks Brazillian. Turns out her mother is actually Brazillian and her father Canadian. That’s an interesting combination. We had lunch together. Tanner is quite the adrenaline junkie. Kennedy is class president and enjoys playing the piano.

I looked back on the day and felt quite blessed. Gran Lilith called me earlier. She said that she’s going on a cruise ship to the Caribbean Islands with Bridget on Friday. I promised to come around tomorrow to fetch Lava. Gran Lilith says that she’s got a surprise for me when I come. I wonder what it is. Knowing Gran Lilith, it’s probably something Mum won’t approve of.

Oh well, ciao for now!

XOX

Charlie

 

 

To the only Chloe who matters

from: Finn Schmidt
to: Chloe Vollenhoven
date: 26 August 2017 at 00.12
subject: fwd, fwd, re:

Hi Chloe,

Oh my God! I finally saw that email you sent. I am sorry. We are still enjoying the last of our Summer vacations but that’s not your fault.

Where shall I begin? I’ve been away with my friends and your cousin to Spain. Boys only. This made me want to talk to you everyday. Once I imagined that you were talking to someone down at this little private beach but she wasn’t you. I felt dissapointed. Is that how you say it?? My English isn’t good.
Help me when I fail you.

How are your father and mother? I think about your last few emails all the day. I think I can hear your voice when I read them. This makes me smile.

How is my little friend Jack? Tell him I’ve got a few new collectable toys for him. You told me not to post it so I won’t. When I have saved up enough money for a ticket, I will visit you in person.

Did that make you smile Chloe? Did I make you smile? The beautiful smile that lifts at the corners of your mouth and makes your eyes close? How I wish to see you now.

Like I said before… I saw your email from that awful boy. I won’t say a bad word so that you will have to read it. I hate boys like him. He sounds like a selfish boy with no kindness in his heart. I can only assume from this that he is a handsome boy. Why else would a girl like you want to be with a boy like that?
Good for him if he has a girlfriend Chloe. She obviously does not know his true self yet. Feel sorry for her. Don’t feel jealousy. That boy doesn’t deserve you.

Sorry.
I am feeling rage. Is that right? I am feeling rage?
If you help me with my English I can get full points on my exams next semester.

Wish you would come to Germany to stay. It would be good to have you here all the time.

Talk soon.
Finn heart Chloe. Something like that. 😉

xxx

PS new music playlist as long as my (you know what) waiting for you in our special loscation.
PSS now I know I’ve made you smile, definitely.
PPSS I am smiling too. So hard my face hurts and I can’t stop.

xxx

Please send my best to your father, mother and Jack and your friend who works at the book store… Also starts with a C. I forget… I’m so bad with names.

xxx wish these were real xxx