Status: Weekly Updates

A Day at a Time

Twenty Four

Friday night, Charlie makes her way home from the hospital to her apartment. It's almost eleven o'clock by the time she makes it back. She reaches into her purse to fish for her keys when the door opens in front of her, revealing Melissa. She has relieved look on her face which is painted lightly in nude makeup.

"You scared me," Melissa exclaims, laughing lightly.

Charlie shakes her head at her sister, pushing past her and closing the door behind them. "And you think you didn't, me? What are you doing here," She questions.

"If you don't want visitors, you shouldn't leave your spare key on the door frame," Melissa rolls her eyes at her sister and crawls back into Charlie's bed, which lies messily made, indicating that this is where Melissa had been waiting. 90 day plays on the television in front of them.

Charlie shrugs her bag and jacket off, tossing them on the floor near the front door. She makes her way into the bathroom before changing her into her pajamas. When she comes back out Melissa sits comfortably under a pile of Charlie's blankets absorbed into the latest episode.

On the screen a woman is yelling at a man, her fiancee, Charlie assumes. She shouts at him in public, calling him a stingy tight-wad, saying that she would have never come to marry him had she known about his finances beforehand. She wonders how her sister can bear to watch this, as it's embarrassing. Moreso, who would agree to this when the world can see their hardship. She hopes their just actors.

"You want ice cream?" Charlie asked opening the freezer. When Melissa agrees, she grabs a pint and two spoons. She flips the lid of the ice cream off the tub, leaving it to melt on the counter before she makes her way back to her bed and gets comfortable.

"So why are you really here? Besides my cable," Charlie asks, offering Melissa a spoon.

"I saw dad today," Melissa starts. Charlie groans internally, having forgotten about Melissa's dinner date with their father and presumably his new family, as well. Although she would rather do anything other than talk about their father she nods supportively, encouraging Melissa to continue. "We had dinner at the Alley. That new restaurant on the corner, where the old Chinese restaurant was growing up remember?"

Charlie nods again. Of course, she remembers. She had spent many nights in high school at the Chinese restaurant with her school books, finding it difficult to concentrate at home, with her parents arguing or her father drinking heavily in the living room.

"So, he brought Marie and Tommy. They're actually alright. Marie is an ER nurse, you would like her, and Tommy is her son. I guess the father left shortly before she met dad..." Melissa babbles. Charlie meant to be attentive and listen to Melissa but she can't help feeling a pang of sorrow in her gut. Not for anyone but herself and her family. Why was it that this man could be a good husband to Marie and a good father to a kid that isn't even his but treat his real family like shit and abandon them. "Anyway, I starting talking to dad and he apologized for his behavior and for leaving us as he did. He said he's been sober since he left, he even showed me his chip. He met Marie in AA and she sponsored him for a few months before they got together-"

Charlie's eyes shoot up to meet Melissa's as she hears this, "Doesn't it bother you that Tommy and Marie got the life that we and mom should have had? What did we do that he couldn't love us even with a bottle to his lips?"

"He was sick, Charlie," Melissa says softly, tilting her head sorrowfully.

"I see sick every day," Charlie argues. "He was a selfish asshole, he was weak and he had no self-control. He didn't know how to love or accept it and I honestly feel sorry for Tommy, who now has to deal with him. I hope he can stay sober so he doesn't destroy that boy the way he did, me."

Melissa sighs, she had expected Charlie to be upset. Melissa had always been the optimist of the family and she was hopeful that she could rebuild the broken relationship they had with their father.

There was not one part of Charlie that wanted to see their father again, a part of her blames him for their mother's death. If he had stayed would she be okay today? Without the stress would she have led a healthier lifestyle or with the support of a loving husband could she have fought the illness that came her way? The doctor in Charlie knows better than to believe this but the daughter in her will never be able to forgive the man that broke her mother's heart.

She thinks of Gerald and how close they had become and how toxic it could be to love someone like him. So she doesn't and she can't. Thinking back on her adult life, she can't remember one man that she did love. She didn't love Tristan, her boyfriend for most of her adulthood and he knew that. That's why he left her. She couldn't tell him she loved him because she always second-guessed who he was. Would she wake up someday and not know the man in front of her? Her father didn't just become an alcoholic all at once, it was slow. So slow you wouldn't even know it. Until one day he picked up the bottle and he didn't stop. He didn't hide it and he had no shame, and suddenly he wasn't the man that Charlie loved anymore but just a man who would make Charlie question other men for the rest of her life.


How are you doing? Gerald presses send, reaching out to Charlie. It's been two days since he's heard from her last and he had been trying to give her the space she needs. It took some time but he finally understands that Charlie is nothing like himself. She needs time to think and process on her own. She doesn't drink her feelings away and laugh them off, she stops and feels them.

His phone rings back, I'm okay.

And that's all he hears from her. Two weeks will pass before he hears from her again.