‹ Prequel: I Don't Do Lonely Well
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Inside Your Heaven

carry the fire.

“It was really hard losing him,” Charlie sighs. “He just got in a fight with my parents and left the house. I tried calling him a few times, and he never answered. But he texted me and told me he was okay. I guess he came home after I fell asleep because I woke up to EMT’s rushing through my house and my mom crying.” Charlie’s eyes get watery.
Alex nods responsively.
“He left me a note telling me that nothing was my fault, and he loved me so much. He just couldn’t take it anymore. I can’t believe he could be so fucking selfish. He left me when I needed him. But I feel bad for being mad at him.”
“Don’t feel bad because I felt that way, too. I still feel that way sometimes. I’ll be straight up honest with you, I think it’s one of the most selfish things someone can do, but knowing and understanding the reasons help. I’ve met a good number of people who’ve tried, and some of their reasons, I think I’d do the exact same.”
“Like what? Because I think it’s pretty fucking selfish.”
This makes me shift uneasily. I know Alex’s position. I’ve known since we got in a fight over it, but this poor girl has no idea that the person she’s confiding in has tried doing what she’s so upset about.
“I’ve met kids who were bullied, I’ve met kids with abusive parents, but one always stands out to me,” Alex tells her. I start realizing where he’s going with this.
“Which one?”
“I met a girl a good few years back who was in an abusive relationship, and she had already tried to kill herself once before I met her. This guy scarred her so bad that she wouldn’t be with a guy unless it was in public. She had to break up with her boyfriend in a coffee shop so that there were witnesses and he couldn’t hurt her.”
“Yeah, I was actually there when she did it. We got to be pretty close, and when you start seeing behind the scenes of their life, you learn that she’s working two fulltime jobs while taking classes just to make ends meet. On top of that, her parents are getting a divorce, and her little brother ran away.”
“Did she try again?”
“I thought she was going to. I left tour because I was so scared. I wish everything could end the way this did. She’s fine, she’s happier than ever, but not everyone is. It’s hard to deal with some things, and she almost didn’t make it out of this. The doctors luckily saved her life, and fate brought her into my life.”
“Sorry, but you just sound so inspired. She’s got to mean a lot to you.”
“She does.”
“Do you know her?” Charlie asks me.
“Yeah, I’m pretty close with her, too. I actually wouldn’t have met Alex without her.” Alex’s lips pull into a toothless grin.
“Moral of the story, it’s selfish, but just like anything, there are exceptions,” Alex concludes.
She kind of sits there and thinks for a moment. “I mean, I still think my brother is selfish. I was there for him, I supported him, and I never let him forget for a second.”
“And you feel guilty. Like you should have done something more to help.” Charlie nods. “And, of course, you’re going to feel that way, and it’s going to fucking suck. But those three girls that came in with you? They’re not going to leave you feeling alone for a second. There are days where you’re just going to want to quit, but they won’t let you. You might hate them for it. Lord knows I hate Jack sometimes for it, but if he hadn’t helped pull me together, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I would have my fans, my band, or my fiancée. I wouldn’t even have a life.”
She just kind of looks at him for a moment. “It’s like you know my life,” she laughs. Alex laughs, too.
“I’ve been there before. I know how hard it gets. I know what it’s like to be on the high of your life, and then it all slips from your grasp. You name it, I’ve been there. Part of the reason I share my songs with my fans is because I want them to take comfort in the knowledge that they’re not alone—someone else has been through it, and they’ll get out of it.” He rests his hand on her shoulder. “Everything will turn out in the end. If it doesn’t, it’s not the end.”

I’m packing up my stuff at the end of the day when there’s a knock at my door. “Come in!” I call. The office door pushes open, and I turn around. “Charlie,” I greet in surprise.
“I just wanted to say thank you for earlier today…I really needed to hear that, and I don’t know if I could ever say thank you enough to the both of you.”
“We both love what we do for just this reason. And he absolutely loves hearing that his music and his stories help his fans get through tough times. No need to thank us, Charlie.”
“I just wanted you to know how much it’s impacted me.” I smile and zip up my bag. “I just have a question, and I swear I won’t say a word.” I nod in encouragement to the question. “Is the girl Alex told me about you? Because if it is, I’m so sorry if anything I said insulted you or hurt you. I’m still just so frustrated and—“
“Don’t worry about it.”
She smiles and heads out of the office. My phone rings. “Hey, babe,” I greet.
“Hey, I’m here, and there are like twenty kids around me. So, can you possibly meet me outside?”
“Yeah, absolutely. I’ll be right out.”
It’s really amazing that Alex is so chill with his fans when all he wants to do is get back home. It’s obvious to me that he’s been sleeping all day—his hair is stuffed into a beanie, he’s wearing jeans that aren’t skinny, and he’s not wearing a coat.
He politely tells the kids that he has to go, but he promises to come back to the school soon. We get into the car and head home. “You really made a huge impact on Charlie today.”
“Good. I really hoped I could. She seemed so unhappy.”
“She asked me if I was the girl you were talking about.”
Alex actually slams on the brakes. “Shit, babe. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean—“
“No, it’s totally fine, Lex,” I cut him off. “I think I need to learn to be able to tell my story in order to better help people.”
♠ ♠ ♠
if this is all i have to give,
these written words exposing within,
and everyone has a secret of sin.
why do i feel all alone in the end?