Status: New

A Day at a Time

Introducing

Its 82 degrees and sunny in San Francisco this morning. The streets are busy, horns honking, pedestrians taking up the sidewalk. People are so busy looking at their phones they bump right into others, a teenager runs his skateboard into a middle-aged man with a briefcase. The man drops his phone and hollers at the kid but the boy is long gone. His briefcase pops open, emptying all the contents. The pedestrians scramble around him but keep walking, so does Charlie. This is San Francisco, she’s not in Stowe anymore.

Charlie takes a right into a small bakery, local arts line the brick walls and there’s a woman in the corner playing a guitar. Customers sit around talking, on their phone, typing busily on their laptop; no one notices the girl in the corner. This is the place where Charlie grew up, her mom’s best friend owned a toy store in this property. There is still a mark on the doorway into the back with her height etched in but still everything different. Charlie orders a coffee for here, waiting patiently for her sister, Melissa, to come out from the back.

Melissa bought this building three years ago and opened a bakery, a desperate attempt to distract herself from her impending divorce one year later. Stephen was the man that broke her heart but also the man that gave her a second chance at life, if she were still with him she would have never learned the lessons that she had today. Charlie feels proud of her sister for making a life for herself and finding her independence.

Melissa snakes her way around the counter and runs up behind her sister engulfing her in an embrace and picking her up from her spot at the cash register. “Charlie!” She squeals, dropping her back on her feet.

This is the first time Charlie has seen Melissa in a year. See, this thing about Charlie is she hates this place. Hates these people and hates this town. She had spent too many years here growing up with a deadbeat father and a mother who tried her hardest but it was never enough. The people here don’t give a shit about anyone, nothing is personal and you’ll probably never see them again.

Charlie moved to Vermont four years ago, she had just graduated with her doctorate and needed to get the hell away from this town. She made herself home in the small town of Stowe and only visited to see her sister. Stowe is the kind of town you read about in storybooks, everyone knows everyone from the mail delivery person to the store clerks. If you go to the diner they know your order. Charlie worked beside an older man whom owned the practice for 30 years and was seeking a partner to help, she was so close to buying into his business. She had established relationships with all of her patients; this is the person she is, this is the place she wanted to be.

She was devastated when she received a call from Melissa a month back, her mother had been diagnosed with terminal breast cancer, and by the time it had been caught it had metastasized throughout her body. She knew she had to come home and be with her family, however long that may be. Charlie picked everything up, found an apartment in San Francisco and a job as an ER doctor. A month later, here she is – back where she never wanted to be.

“Charlie, I am so glad you’re home. I missed you so much, how is the move going? Do you love your apartment? When do you start the new job?” Melissa hounded her with questions, which is fair enough considering they haven’t spoken since the news.

Charlie signs and takes a seat at the table closest to the musician and motions for Melissa to follow, “Settle down, I just flew in yesterday. I haven’t settled in, I don’t even have furniture. I wanted to see you, catch up, visit mom.”

Melissa rolls her eyes, “Okay, I get it. I’m just happy you’re home.” Charlie flinches at the word home, this is not her home anymore and she doesn’t plan on making it one. Melissa continues, “Let’s go shopping, we can pick up mom. I’m sure she’d love to come and see your new place.”

Charlie nods, excited to see her mother but dreads shopping and talking about the move. This is not permanent, she keeps reminding herself. Her apartment isn’t bad, it may be the one of the things she likes about this city. She lives close to her family and is only a few floors above a bar. There’s a balcony hanging off the side of the building, where she can lay out and stargaze.

They get up to leave, Melissa waives a young woman over in an apron to clean the table. On the way out of the door, Charlie throws a five into the musician’s guitar case.

Everything is the same when they arrive at their mom’s house. Melissa pushes the red door open without knocking and Charlie’s eyes bounce from wall to wall, it’s as if she had never left. In the living room to her right, sits her father' recliner. She remembers the days she would come home from school to see him passed out with open bottles around. No one knows where he is now, if he's even alive. He left in her junior year of high school. Charlie had come home to a house that looked raided. He took with him: his clothes, his stash of alcohol, and her mother's valuables. She remembers when her mother came home from work that night to find Charlie cleaning up the mess he left behind. She remembers her mom sobbing all night.

Her mom exits the kitchen, making her way over to the girls with a grin on her face and her arms out. She looks good, she’s aged since Charlie has seen her last but she doesn’t look sick. Charlie sighs and embraces her mom in a hug. “Missed you, Ma” Charlie mumbles in her hair.
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Let me know what you think! Do you love Charlie, do you hate her, do you understand her? More to follow, I just want everyone to really get to know our main girl. Any feed back is always appreciated, thanks!