DAY 21: The Monday Blues

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Dear Vodka

You know that saying that goes something like “don’t count your eggs before they hatch?” Well, I did just that! It’s just one drama after the other! I’m so frustrated…

I had a fantastic weekend at Aiden’s and a pleasant lunch at the Reeds. Roman finally decided to work with me and not against me. Gran got me a kitten (Lily) and Mum and I, at last, sorted things out. But I guess that man up there just can’t give me a rest! Or perhaps someone’s made an effigy of me and is doing some crazy voodoo shit! I mean seriously?! What did I do that was so bad to deserve this….I’m at a loss!

The day started off on an average note. Theo picked me up with Ellie for school. I hung out with her until the bell rang for the first period. Mr Nolan reminded us that our project is due in two weeks’ time. Mrs Humphrey, our Maths teacher gave us a spot test and then it happened; the thing that made everything go downhill…Let me make one thing straight before anyone’s judgemental honkers go off! Firstly, I am not a violent person. Secondly, I catch on nonsense but never at the expense of my reputation. And thirdly, I am NOT a liar or a cheater. I know that this is hearsay or whatever but it’s the truth. It’s my truth.

So, there we were writing our Math spot test and all of a sudden, Barbara (a.ka. Queen B), shrieked and pointed to the underside of my notebook. I immediately looked up in shock and then down at my book. It was a sheet of mathematical formulae and equations!!!

Okay, let’s just put things into perspective: I have no idea how that page got there but I suspect that Barbara slipped it onto my desk when no one was looking since she sits at the desk next to mine. And another thing is that, when I write, I rest my head on my hand, elbow on the table, while my right-hand writes, so I wouldn’t have seen her put it there because I was facing away from her. But you know how the story goes…no witnesses, no proof.

Mrs Humphrey completely freaked and sent me to the principal’s office immediately after shouting something about ‘dishonesty’ and ‘lack of integrity’ and ‘no respect for her subject,’ as I walked down the hallway to the office. She didn’t even give me a chance to defend myself before she instructed Barbara to accompany me there to make sure that I didn’t get “lost” along the way!

Of course, I was going to confront Barbara about it. After all, it could only be her. Who else would want me to get in trouble, or worse expelled? She just laughed and said “Oh well. You mess with me, you’ll get what you deserve.” I was obviously confused at that point as to what the bloody hell she was talking about because I’d never really interacted with her before now. When she noted the confusion on my face, she yanked on my hair and shoved me into the office door but not before I reacted unthinkingly by slapping her right cheek. Did it leave a mark? Yes. Did the principal exit his office in time to see that part? Why, of course. Did my mother get called in? Absolutely! And, dear Vodka, did I get suspended? Well, there’s no doubt about it!

Argh!!!! Just recounting the events infuriates me. Of course, Mum was furious and totally flabbergasted all at once but, in all fairness, I didn’t care at that moment. Barbara. I don’t even want her name in my book…

So, the result is that I’m suspended with no cell phone, no TV (even though I don’t care that much about it; it’s a load of consumerism and propaganda), no laptop and my Mum doesn’t want to speak to me. But at least it’s only in effect until Wednesday. Thank goodness for that because I cannot bear to not see the rustic blue doors to the entrance of our school and the overwhelming smell of bleach and floor polish, with the plethora of hormones and ubiquitous chatter. I know that the talk will be about me when I get back but, as the saying goes… “If you can’t convince them, confuse them.”

When Roman came over after school to start on the project, he said that Barbara and Aiden had a ‘thing’ and that he completely abandoned her when those terrible things started happening to him. According to Roman, Barbara was ‘a cool chick’ but now she’s simply obsessed with getting Aiden back (how cliché). I still couldn’t understand why she’d do something like that if hardly anyone knew about Aiden and mine’s friendship but then it clicked…Instagram! He probably still has her on there and to be honest, Aiden and the boys and I took loads of pictures on the weekend. That must’ve triggered it!

I just hope that my friends believe me and forgive me for reacting the way I did. Even I can’t excuse me slapping Barbara. I didn’t want to tell anyone that she called me ‘a lesbian slut.’ Frankly, I don’t even want to know how she came to that conclusion. I’ve put Lydia behind me; it’s in the past.

I’m seeing Sarah tomorrow…my therapist…I’m quite proud of how I’ve been dealing with the D&A (depression and anxiety) lately but I guess today’s events reminded me of how miserable I am and what a disappointment I can be. I know that it’s not true but that’s what depression does. I slipped two anti-depressants earlier. I shouldn’t have. I was making progress. I think I should use the landline to call Chloe. I really miss her…I need her ray of sunshine right now…

XOX

Charlie

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Day 20: Lunch with the reeds

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Dear Vodka

I fell asleep soundly on Aiden’s bed and woke up with his feet in my face.

Yeah. We slept in the same bed!!

When I came to my senses, I jumped out of bed, causing Aiden to spring up and grab his lacrosse stick. He looked both startled and dazed. It was hilarious. I doubled over laughing. That was until he tackled me and once again, managed to throw me into the pool.

I seriously need to work on my defence techniques!

Speaking of defence techniques, Aiden and I did a quick session at the kickboxing centre, taking a much-welcomed swim afterwards. It was only about seven thirty but I needed to get to the bookstore. Today was my last day until I returned whenever. The morning move by swiftly and once Catherine took over from me, I felt relieved. I’d be just in time for lunch with Theo and Ellie’s family. Theo picked me up from the bookstore but I was in no mood to speak to him. What he did was horrible and if Aiden wasn’t as forgiving as he is, our friendship would have been ruined. Theo kept on apologising in the car but I simply turned up the volume on the radio and he shut his chat box.

Ellie was psyched to see me and so was I to see her. She took me on a tour of their house and she showed me her photography collection from all the years that she’s been studying photography. She’s on the yearbook committee as well, as the photographer obviously. She hopes to pursue a career in it and already has an internship at a local company.

Once lunch was over, I offered to clear the dishes and Theo helped me. Mr and Mrs Reed were attending a high tea and Ellie volunteered to photograph the event. Great! I dreaded the moment they left but I had to deal with it. Theo said nothing as we cleaned the dishes but I knew that he was dying to say something. I broke the ice with “want to play rock, paper, scissors?” We did one round and he won. It was time to spill. He apologised first and then explained why he had acted out. It wasn’t easy for me to forgive him but I asked for some time. He obliged. I felt slightly relieved that we’d at least gotten that out of the way. I wouldn’t want to lose Theo but he needs to know his limits.

Theo dropped me at home after our talk. Home sweet home. Everyone was watching a movie and Mum wanted to know about my weekend. I told her that I’d tell her some other time. All I wanted to do was stand under a hot shower, smothered in lavender-scented shower gel. I wanted to lie on my bed with Lava and Lily and fall asleep whilst the sunlight streaming in through my bedroom window played with the honey-coloured strands of my hair. And that’s exactly what I did!

XOX

Charlie

Day 19: Pandora’s Box Continued…

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Dear Vodka

!!!!!! Argh! What is life?

Aiden wouldn’t speak to me when we got home. He threw his keys on the kitchen counter and shut his bedroom door. I started crying. I felt so overwhelmed! The worst thing was that I didn’t even know what was going on. Why would Theo act out like that and what had Aiden done to deserve the title of ‘traitor’ from Theo?

Aiden eventually surfaced from his room and allowed me to explain myself. We sat on opposite sides of the sofa and I could feel the tension sparking between us. I told Aiden why I didn’t want anyone to know about my depression and anxiety and he apologised for being so brash about the matter. After a moment, he told me that he had a history with Theo. They were close friends until Aiden’s parent’s death and the incident with his best friend. Theo started believing everything that people were saying and Aiden allowed him to drift away because he didn’t want to hurt anyone else. Theo resents him for giving up on their friendship and Aiden hates Theo for believing all those stories about him so easily. They haven’t spoken since. They avoid each other like the plague.

I proposed that the only solution was to sort this issue out at the party. Aiden straight out refused but I reminded him that I’d be with him every step of the way when I took his hand in mine.

Step 1 complete!

Aiden and I prepared for the party. I wore my favourite black velvet crossover mid-drift top with a high-waisted check skirt and stockings. I paired it with a black pair of combat boots. I put my hair up into a messy bun, coating up my lips with a touch of deep red lipstick and my eyelids with liquid eyeliner, Cleopatra style. Aiden cleaned up pretty well too with his torn jeans and a navy Guess t-shirt. He’d actually put a comb through his locks!

We arrived at the party with a mission to repair his relationship with Theo. I am officially glad to say that I was successful! It was mighty difficult but I won’t go into the details now. All that matters now is that they’re friends once again. Well, to be more accurate, they’re acquaintances because Aiden thought it best that they remain that way. I had to agree with him. Putting back four years’ worth of a friendship is a whole other obstacle. And besides, Aiden is still working on himself. That takes time. We left the party around eleven because Aiden doesn’t like driving at night. We had a good time however, even if it was short. Time flies when you’re having fun!

XOX

Charlie

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

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 13: Sunday Lunch with the Familià

Dear Vodka

I woke up extra early this morning and sneaked into Mum and Dad’s room. The sun was just rising and I convinced Mum to walk down to the beach with me in her sleepy state. Dad was already up, fixing a pipe under the kitchen sink. Dad has his own plumbing business. He would always joke about me taking over the business and Mum would cover my ears, whispering into them that princesses don’t do such things. I wonder if she still thinks I’m her princess.

Mum was okay with me inviting Theo and Ellie over for lunch. In fact, she drove straight to the supermarket after I asked. She looked excited. She looked alive and healthy. She looked like my Mum. We sat on the beach in complete silence at first. After about two minutes, Mum burst into tears. I noticed the few grey streaks in her long strawberry blonde hair. I noticed the veins in her hands as she put her hand in mine and kissed it over and over again, repeating the word ‘sorry.’ I began to cry too. I embraced Mum and I could feel the bones in her back through her clothes. She’d lost a lot of weight ever since I moved out. We sat on the beach for quite a while, pouring our hearts out; allowing our tears to fall onto the sand and watching as it made splotches in the sand. It was therapeutic.

I now know why Mum’s been so distant all these years. Mum had quite the life as a teenager before she met Dad. She was a wild flower, partying day and night. She was rebellious. She lived in the moment, too afraid to think of what the future would bring. When Mum turned sixteen her dad died of a heart attack. It was sudden and it completely tore her apart. He was her favourite person. She blamed herself for not spending enough time with him. For abandoning her relationship with him because she wanted to be a teenager and ‘live life.’ She slipped into depression.

When I was born, Mum still had that hurt inside of her and she resented bringing me into this world ever since. As a result, she suffered from postnatal depression. She was afraid that I’d turn out like her. She said that I reminded her so much of herself and she couldn’t bear to watch me grow up into the person she was. That’s why she pulled away.

I was shocked. All these years I’ve been my mother’s biggest fear. All these years I’ve resented her for something she had no control over. Mum asked for my forgiveness but I simply embraced her and said ‘sorry.’ We walked back to the house which was one road away from the beach. Thomas and I helped Dad prepare lunch while Mum made dessert. In our household, Dad’s the cook. The only thing Mum’s good at in the kitchen is making dessert. For the first time, I felt like I belonged. I felt a sense of home in my own home.

Theo and Ellie arrived just as we were finishing up. Theo helped me set the table while Ellie entertained Thomas with her talk about electrical engineering. Apparently, Ellie wants to study electrical engineering in England. It came as a complete shock to Thomas who is studying industrial engineering in England. I reckon they’ll get along well even though Ellie’s my age. Theo is three years older than me but age doesn’t matter in our family really. Mum is eight years younger than Dad anyway.

Lunch was delicious and the conversation was pleasant. It was like heaven having my family and friends all in one place. Mum was extra happy and open. She told us about how she met Dad while Dad shot carrots at Mum, telling her that she was embarrassing him. Mum simply laughed and continued with the story. After lunch, we played a game of Scrabble and I won. Obviously!

Ellie, Thomas and Theo and I took a walk on the beach whilst Mum and Dad tidied up in the kitchen, reminiscing over their younger years. It just happens to be my luck that Ellie attends the same school as me. Yippee! Theo studies Applied Chemistry at the local university. They live like ten minutes away from Mum and Dad’s. Guess I’m moving back in!

XOX

Charlie