Worry Rock

The Kitchen Table Never Felt So Wrong

---Charlie's POV---

I don't remember a thing. Nothing. Well, I remember Mick swearing he was in love with Rene, but past there, nothing. Damn blackouts. It's worse with Mick though; he didn't even remember that much. Joey told me that nothing really happened of importance though. "You just made a fool of yourself, that's all," is what he said. I'm not surprised. I'm pretty damn obnoxious as a drunk.
Well, we spent most of the day in general leisure with our brother band. I think they were trying to be sensitive to Mick's and my hangovers. We got on the plane at about 3:00, and now we're home. It feels so good to be home. Like maybe everything can be easier now that I don't have shows and things like that to distract me. So much so that I think I may have made a decision. I know, crazy, right?
But I'm still feeling a bit overwhelmed. I need to vent now to someone I haven't vented to in a while. Who, you ask? Well, none other than Adrienne Armstrong.
Now you're asking me, Why Adie? Why don't you talk to your best friend, Jakob? Or Boom? Or maybe even the twins or Billie Joe? Believe me, I thought of those too. But I do have a good reason. I've vented to Boom and Jakob a lot over the past few months. They deserve a break from having to deal with my emotional instabilities. Not the twins because, well, just because it doesn't seem quite right to me. They're not the most sensitive guys in the world. Not Billie because he gets kind of annoyed with how I'm dealing with the Joey problem. Which is my main thing to vent about. But really, I know he has a good excuse. I mean, hello, it's his son.
So Adrienne. She can accept how I'm so confused and frustrated with all of this. She understands. In a way, I guess I look to Adie as my mom. I've never had a mom. Like I said before, my mom died the day I was born. So I guess I've just replaced her with the only woman who has been there caring for me over my entire life: Adie. I don't feel bad about it. Why should I? It's not like I ever got the chance to know my mother anyway. I have no reason to miss her.
"Adie?" I say timidly, standing in the door of the kitchen where she's sitting at the table looking over some designs for Adeline.
"Hey, Charlie," she answers, glancing up to me. "Come here, I want your opinion on something." I close the door and walk up behind her, looking down at the sketches and print-outs over her shoulder. "Remember that t-shirt contest I told you we're having? Well, here are some entries. What do you think?"
I reach a hand down and spread the pictures out a bit so I can see them better. "Wow," I say. "These are really good."
"I know. I'm having a hard time deciding who will win."
"How about you have a few winners?" I suggest. "I really like these two." I single a couple out, one hand drawn and one computer print out, pushing them to the side.
"I liked those too. I'll make this one the winner." She points to the drawn one. "And this will be second prize." She points to the printed out one. "I was always a sucker for hand-drawn designs," she chuckles.
"I know, right? This person obviously has some talent."
"Julisa Cook. Yeah, she's won contests for us before. I've talked to her, actually. Nice girl." I nod, sitting down at the table next to Adrienne and resting my head on my arms. "What's wrong, Char?" she asks me, putting a hand on my arm, the way she always does when she knows I'm upset about something.
"I don't know. Nothing. Everything." Adie nods as I shift to hold my head in my hands, leaning my elbows on the transparent glass table.
"You wanna talk about it?" she asks, scooting her chair next to mine and putting her arm around me comfortingly, pulling me closer to her.
"Yes," I say in a melancholy tone. There's just something about her that makes me want to expose my innermost feelings, whatever they may be, and have them rush out. Often, that means crying. Which sucks.
"Is it about Joey?" she asks me, rubbing my arm with the hand wrapped around me. I nod.
"I don't want to hurt him anymore."
"I know, sweetheart. You're doing the best you can." You see what I mean? Even though Joey's her son, she can still accept how I'm feeling about it. She wants Joey to be happy, but she knows I'm trying. Now, if that's not world's-greatest-mom material, I don't know what is.
"It's not good enough," I tell her. Well, I never said I accepted how I've been doing. She pulls me partly off of my chair and onto her own, holding me closely. I'm nearly to the point of holding back tears now, feeling like I'm thirteen again and trying to be strong after my first heartbreak.


I had thought he was a nice guy. Thought I was in love for the first time ever. Thought I was so lucky ever to have met him, much less go out with him. I remember so much about him. Two years older than me, dirty blond hair, blue eyes, perfect smile. Everybody liked him. Jakob thought he was a douche and made fun of him, but I always became shy when Johnny Butler was around. I know Jake didn't tell anybody I liked him, and he was the only one I told, so I guess word just got out somehow that me, a thirteen-year-old, like a fifteen year old, the oldest boy in my grade. I guess that's just how things turn out though, right?
It happened at the eighth grade dance near the end of my middle school career. I was there on a strictly friends basis with Jakob since neither of us had gotten dates.
"Come on, you turn that guy down too?"
"He probably doesn't even like me," I told him. "I don't feel like dancing."
"Charlie, you're at a dance. The idea is that you actually dance."
"Maybe I don't want to." Jakob just rolled his eyes and started to walk away. "Wait! Where are you going?"
"I'm going to have some fun. Unlike you. Now, I order you to dance with the next person who asks and have a good time. I don't care if it's fucking Alton Baker. You will dance with someone."
"Alton? Do I have to?" I shuddered. Al Baker. That one kid everybody hates. Everybody. The geeks, the preps, the punks. Whatever. You just didn't like Alton. Sometimes I felt sorry for the kid, but then I didn't like him either.
"Yeah, if he asks you. But I think somebody'll beat him to it."
Before I could ask what he meant, I felt a tap on my shoulder and I turned around to have my brown eyes meet with a familiar pair of blue ones.
I swear, I thought I was dreaming.
"Have fun with the douche," Jakob whispered in my ear before walking off.
"Hey," he had said to me, making my young heart melt. "I'm John."
"I - I - " I thought I was about to die of embarrassment. "I'm Charlie," I settled on.
"Charlie? Is that your real name?"
I smiled then, not like I wasn't smiling before. "No. My real name's Carlie. I don't like it."
"I think it's beautiful." Beautiful He thought my name was beautiful. I remember screaming and dancing around in my head at that point, happy to be alive. "You want to dance?"
Needless to say, I was walking on air that night. We had danced, and we had held hands and walked around, and he even gave me my first kiss. I felt like I was in heaven. And then he asked me to be his girlfriend.
Oh, the fantasies of marriage he started then.
So from then on we were pretty inseparable. He'd hold my hand at school, walk me to class, you know, the whole cute-boyfriend shebang.
Until that day.
I was sitting, eating lunch with Jakob while Johnny was making up some work from a teacher. Well, that's when she came.
Molly Richard.
I had never really liked Molly, but when she told me that Johnny had been cheating on me, for some reason I believed her. From that afternoon on, Johnny and I were no more.
It was only a few weeks later, when he and Molly were going out, that I found out she had lied.
Still, I never talked to Johnny again.
And Adrienne understood.

*End Flashback*

"It's the best you can do," Adie tells me again. "Joey knows that. He might get frustrated sometimes, but he does know you're trying." I sniffle, feeling a bit of moisture at the corners of my eyes, but I don't feel like wiping it away right now.
The more I think, the more upset I get. Adrienne keeps me pressed against her, and eventually, a few silent tears are making their way down my cheeks. All the while, I'm thinking, wondering what I should do about this awful mess that I'm in. "Adie?" I say timidly after coming to a conclusion.
"Yeah, sweetie?"
"Please don't hate me." She pulls me out to look at me and wipes a few tears from my face with her thumb.
"I could never hate you, Charlie."

*The Next Day*

"It was so great," Jakob keeps saying, while making that thinking-about-Jenny smile.
"Yeah, I know, you had a wonderful, magical, perfect date with your wonderful, magical, perfect girlfriend. It's all wonderful, magical, and perfect." I smile at him. It's nice to see Jakob happy, all my problems aside.
"Charlie, she said she loves me." He smiles even wider. "She loves me."
"You know, you may have forgotten this, but she's told you she loves you before."
"It was different this time," he says. When he sees the look I give him, he says, "I'm serious. It was more like - like it was real this time. Like before, it was just something that she said, but - I dunno. It's just - " he let out an amused sigh. "I don't know."
Ashlynn - yes, we still talk to her - pipes up now. "You're cute when you talk about her, you know that?"
"So I've been told," he says to her with a small grin and glances to me again.
"It's true, you are," she laughs.
"There you go again," I tell Ash. "Boosting his ego." She just shrugs, picking up the video game controller again.
"Okay, so let's play again. How did we get on this subject again?"
"Um, we started talking about motercycles and people who ride them, and then Jakob of course thought of how Jennifer loves motercycles, and you told him he was cute again," I answer.
"You make it sound like I compliment him all the time."
"You do."
"Yeah, but I compliment other people too, so technically that doesn't mean anything different."
Jakob speaks up again. "Oh, Ashtray! I'm not special? I feel so unloved."
"Yeah, okay, now redeem yourself by kicking my ass at video games."
"You're on!"
He grabs another controller, and moments later, they're at it again.
I sigh and stand. "I'm going to get something to drink," I announce, walking towards the door.
"Okay," says Ash. All I get from Jakob is a grunt.
I walk down the stairs and back into the kitchen where I find my boyfriend sitting with a cup of coffee. "Hey, Joe," I say to him.
"Hi," he mutters, continuing to stare into his cup.
He's been really quiet for the past few days. I'm not sure why, but he has. It probably has something to do with me. Probably with how I've waited so long to decide. Because I'm a fucked up loser. Oh, wait, Adie told me to think positive thoughts. Right...
I'm a fucked up loser... who has a job. Sort of. Can playing music with your friends really be considered a job? Dammit. I'm going to have to work on this whole self-compliment thing.
"Joey, what's wrong?" I ask after grabbing myself a can of Coke from the fridge.
He looks up at me, putting his I'm-okay mask on. "Nothing. Why?"
I sit next to him at the table, the very same one at which I had somewhat of an emotional breakdown last night. Seems a little ironic now, don't ya think? "Joey, I'm not stupid. You've barely talked in days. What is it?"
He hesitates, starting to bite the nails on his left hand nervously and looks away again. "I guess it's just been bothering me about how you seem so nonchalant about this whole situation."
"Nonchalant?" I ask in disbelief. "Do I really seem that way?"
"Yeah, especially compared to what's going on in my head."
"I'd have thought I looked like a total wreck," I reply truthfully. Nonchalant? Wow. I underestimate my own self-composure. I wonder if that can count as a compliment to me? Damn Adie for forcing me to be nice to myself.
Joey smiles slightly. "No. You're cool as a cucumber." I almost laugh at him using that phrase but just smile instead.
There's a moment of silence now - talk about awkward. I decide to break it by saying the thing that's been nagging me to just say since yesterday, though I'm still not sure I want to say it. "Actually, Joe, I've been meaning to talk to you about that."
He looks back over to me again, his eyes penetrating. I feel suddenly nervous, but I won't let myself back down now.
Is that courage? Probably not. I'll ask Adie later... wonder what the rules for this whole point-out-the-nice-things-about-yourself business are.
"Yes?" he says apprehensively.
"I'm still a bit confused. I mean, obviously, at this point, I've accepted how you feel, but it's still hard to put my head around what I think. Sometimes I think I might love you, but then other times, I just wish it was all like it used to be. I don't think I can go on like this any longer."
He nods slowly, and speaks in the same way as if choosing his words as carefully as possible. "We could work it out," he says. "I've been waiting a while, and yeah, I get impatient, but I could wait for you."
"Didn't you hear me? I can't go on like this. It's too much."
"So what do you want, Charlie? Please, I'm trying to help you as much as I can. I'll do whatever I need to. Just tell me what you need and I'll give it to you."
"I-" Here it goes. "I need some space, Joe."

---Joey's POV---

I knew it. I knew she couldn't love me that way. I knew she would end it.
"I do love you, I just don't know if I really love you like that. And maybe us being together is confusing me even more. I think it might be a little more helpful if I could think on my own." I close my eyes, holding back tears. She's leaving me. That's all I can think; she's leaving me. "Can I just have some time with us apart? Maybe it could be easier then." That's when I open my eyes to look into hers. Those sincere, sad brown eyes. The ones that have caught my own in some way or another since I was sixteen. I remember trying to sketch them over and over again, but never thought I had it right. I didn't realize until later I had liked her. Of course, I blew all those feelings off when that was over, thinking, you know, it's just Charlie. It was a little crush, and now it's over. Which it very well could have been. But now it's not. I know that at least.
"I'm sorry, Joey."
I stand up, trying to compose myself, and begin walking towards the door.
I stop, and controlling my voice as much as I can, turn to her. "I said I'd do what I could to help you. If space is what you need, then fine. You have it. Congratulations. You're officially single." With that, I grab my keys off of the counter and leave the room, slamming the door behind me.
Single. I'm single. I never wanted to be that again. Now that I think about it, I don't think anybody has really ever loved me before. But there's nothing really special for them to see anyway.
Maybe she will though. Maybe. She said that she needed some time to sort things out. Maybe it will go in my favor. Eventually. So that means it's a maybe, right? A maybe that's way too close to a no, but a maybe all the same.
I'm driving right now. Somehow, I think driving in pouring rain with tears in my eyes and feeling emotionally unhappy isn't a good thing. I pull over onto the side of the street I'm on, about fifteen minutes away from home. I don't really know where I am, but I can see it's some nieghborhood, and not too bad of one at that. I put my headphones on, switching to the song I think seems creepily appropriate for my situation. It makes me feel a little better though. November Rain by the Guns N Roses.

When I look into your eyes
I can see a love restrained
But darlin' when I hold you
Don't you know I feel the same
'Cause nothin' lasts forever
And we both know hearts can change
And it's hard to hold a candle
In the cold November rain
We've been through this such a long long time
Just tryin' to kill the pain
But lovers always come and lovers always go
An no one's really sure who's lettin' go today
Walking away
If we could take the time to lay it on the line
I could rest my head
Just knowin' that you were mine
All mine
So if you want to love me
then darlin' don't refrain
Or I'll just end up walkin'
In the cold November rain

Do you need some time...on your own
Do you need some time...all alone
Everybody needs some time...on their own
Don't you know you need some time...all alone
I know it's hard to keep an open heart
When even friends seem out to harm you
But if you could heal a broken heart
Wouldn't time be out to charm you

Sometimes I need some time...on my
own Sometimes I need some time...all alone
Everybody needs some time...on their own
Don't you know you need some time...all alone

And when your fears subside
And shadows still remain, ohhh yeahhh
I know that you can love me
When there's no one left to blame
So never mind the darkness
We still can find a way
'Cause nothin' lasts forever
Even cold November rain

Don't ya think that you need somebody
Don't ya think that you need someone
Everybody needs somebody
You're not the only one
You're not the only one

I glance around me sorrowfully, trying to calm down, trying to be positive, when I see something sticking out of the ground.
It's a For Sale sign.