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charismasantora @ 05:11 pm: The World You Love-Chapter Two part 2
Charisma’s cell phone rang as she was driving home from Catherine’s apartment. Stopped at a light, she flipped it open and read the name on the screen: Mark <3.
“Hi,” she said, answering the call.
“What are you doing tonight?” she heard Mark say.
“I don’t know, what am I doing tonight?” The light turned and Charisma started driving again.
“Well, I would love to take you out to dinner,” Mark said, and Charisma could hear in his voice that he was smiling.
“Sounds good. Pick me up at six?”
Mark agreed, and they hung up, just as Charisma was pulling into her driveway. She checked her front door and found that it was locked, meaning that Damien was at work and Delia was at a friend’s house. Instead of going inside, Charisma went next door to Alex’s house. She was greeted at the door by Hoochie, who ran up and put her paws on Charisma’s leg, and Charisma knew that Alex’s parents must not be home, else the dog would be locked up in Alex’s room.
“Where’s Alex, Hoochie?” Charisma addressed the dog, who started to run toward Alex’s room. Sure enough, there Charisma found Alex, as well as Cecily, who was sitting on the couch and doing what appeared to be Chemistry homework. Hoochie jumped up on the bed and into Alex’s lap, and Charisma followed, plopping down onto the bed and letting out a long sigh.
“I am tired,” she announced to the room a large.
“Ew, get off my bed, you’re all sweaty,” Alex said, pushing Charisma lightly with his foot.
“I’m sorry, what?” Charisma replied in a purposely obnoxious voice as she rolled toward Alex. “Was that, ‘Hey Charisma, you smell nice, why don’t you come steamroll me?’” With that she rolled right over Alex and his dog, amid Alex’s yells of protest and disgust. She reached the edge of the bed and stumbled off, giggling. Cecily was giggling too, though considerably more subtly than Charisma.
“Gross, now I have to take another shower!” Alex whined.
“No, you don’t, because I need your shower,” Charisma told him.
“Go use your own shower!” Alex replied.
“My shower’s lonely, nobody’s home,” Charisma said, making her way towards the bathroom.
“Ugh, fine,” Alex groaned. “Don’t get too lonely in there!” he called teasingly as Charisma shut the door behind her. Charisma sniggered.
As she showered, Charisma saw that the bruises on her body had faded quite a bit. Even her face was looking better, she noticed when she got out of the shower and looked at her reflection in the foggy mirror.
“Alex, where are all your clothes?” Charisma said upon exiting the bathroom and finding that the plethora of clothes that usually adorned Alex’s floor was absent.
“Laundry,” he responded, not looking up from the laptop in front of him.
“Then go get me some clothes from home,” Charisma requested. Now Alex looked up, raising an eyebrow at her.
“Anything else, master?” he asked sarcastically.
“Oh come on, Alex, I’m in a towel,” Charisma implored. “Plus I’m tiiired.” She emphasized this point by sinking onto the bed again, burying her head deep into the dark red pillows. Alex finally consented, and he departed, leaving Charisma alone with Cecily.
Cecily was still focusing on her homework, her thin lips pursed in concentration.
“How was school yesterday?” Charisma asked, breaking the silence.
“Fine,” Cecily answered after a pause.
Cecily was still gazing downward, but Charisma could tell she wasn’t really looking at the book in her lap. Finally, Cecily shrugged, but she still wasn’t going back to her homework, so Charisma knew it was all right to keep pestering her.
“Did you talk to James at all?”
“Um…yeah.” Charisma could tell what that meant: they had talked, but not much – maybe just a few quick words.
“You know Cec, I really think you should try to be less uncomfortable around him,” Charisma said, trying to make eye contact with Cecily, who just stared resolutely at her own lap. “I mean, it’s gotten to the point where you would rather run boring errands with me than be alone with him, or even him and Alex.”
“What about me?” Alex had returned, carrying a small pile of clothes.
“Nothing,” Charisma said quickly as she saw Cecily’s cheeks redden. Alex looked between the two of them and seemed to understand that he shouldn’t persist.
“Here,” he said to Charisma, dropping her clothes on the bed. “And I got you a granola bar, too, since you didn’t eat breakfast.”
Charisma didn’t ask how he knew this. She just accepted the food and went into the bathroom to change.
Alex had picked out a dark blue Panic! At The Disco shirt and faded black skinny jeans for her, as well as underwear which matched the shirt, which caused Charisma to smile at her best friend’s ridiculousness.
Charisma quickly put on some make-up to conceal her facial injuries, then emerged from the bathroom and said, “I need to go visit Damien at work. Alex, did your mom or dad leave us a car?”
“Yeah, my mom’s car’s here,” Alex answered, shutting his laptop and getting up. Cecily arose too, setting aside her homework, and the three of them made their way out the door.
Damien was working at a construction site not far from the high school, where a new housing complex was being built. Charisma found him supervising progress in a far quadrant, and Alex and Cecily lagged behind as they approached, so that she could talk to her brother privately.
“Hi,” Charisma said, trying to sound as friendly as that one syllable would possibly allow. Damien looked at her with the same haughty glare he had given her that morning. “Damien, I am so, so, so sorry. I can’t believe what a douche I am for saying what I did. Please forgive me?”
Damien didn’t say anything. He didn’t even look her. “Please?” she said desperately. “I didn’t mean it…”
“That’s the thing, Charisma,” Damien said at last. “Maybe you were right…”
“What? No!” Charisma said loudly. She pointed at herself. “Douche, remember?”
“Maybe it was a mistake taking custody of you and Eric and Delia,” Damien continued, ignoring Charisma’s interruption. “Who was I to think that I could take care of a teenager, a little kid, and a baby? Maybe I should have let them adopt you out.” The resigned tone of Damien’s voice deeply bothered Charisma.
“No, Damien!” she insisted. “Those people, they – they wanted to tear our family apart! They wanted to give us to people we didn’t know, people who had treated our parents like shit! You did the best thing for all of us. You did a brave thing, and it’s thanks to you that we can still all live together!”
Damien scrutinized Charisma’s face for a minute, and she made herself look as earnest as possible. She truly meant what she had said, and she didn’t want her brother thinking any different.
“I guess you’re right,” Damien sighed at long last. “But I can’t help but wonder if –“ He didn’t complete his thought, he just gazed off into the distance, and Charisma waited a few seconds before speaking again.
“I should go, Alex and Cecily are waiting.” Damien nodded mutely. Just as Charisma was turning to leave, however, she heard her brother’s voice again.
“I talked to Eric.” Charisma’s eyes widened. She watched her brother in anticipation, waiting for him to continue. “I told him he’s coming to dinner tonight, whether he wants to or not.”
“I’m going out with Mark tonight!” Charisma said in an anguished voice, but as soon as she saw the ghost of that old angry look on Damien’s face, she amended, “But I can have him come over instead. Is that okay?” she added, trying to be as nice and compliant as possible.
“Yeah, sure,” Damien answered. “I’ve gotta get back to work, I’ll see you tonight.
Charisma said good-bye and went to rejoin her friends.
“Good news!” she said as they got back into the car. “Eric is gonna be home tonight!” Alex and Cecily both smiled appreciatively at this information; they knew how much it upset Charisma to have an absentee brother. “Mark’s coming for dinner, too, do you guys want to join?”
“Sure,” Alex answered, but Cecily shook her head.
“It’s Chris’ last night before he leaves for school,” she explained. Chris was Cecily’s eldest brother, and also the reason for which Cecily never referred to Charisma by her nickname.
“Okay,” Charisma said, “I need to call Mark.”
She informed Mark of the change in plans, and he agreed without protest; he was also pleased to hear that Charisma would get to see Eric, and he was willing to alter their plans for the evening in order to accommodate the occasion.
“How about James?” Charisma asked after hanging up. “What’s he doing today?”
“I dunno, I haven’t seen him since Thursday night,” Alex said, and Charisma realized that she had not seen her friend since then either. She decided to call him, but there was no answer.
“Oh well,” she said, “I guess we’ll see him tomorrow for the show.” That’s assuming he doesn’t forget…she thought privately. She was slightly concerned by the fact that James hadn’t picked up his cell phone, because he almost always answered her calls; but he had been known to act rather strangely from time to time, and forgetting about a show was just the sort of thing he would do during one of his funky periods.
Let’s hope that’s not the case, Charisma thought. It would be quite difficult for them to perform without a lead singer…

That evening found Charisma with Alex and Mark, playing Guitar Hero in her living room, while Delia watched from the kitchen as she helped Damien prepare dinner.
“Mark, I’m sorry, but you are terrible at this,” Charisma commented as her boyfriend failed at the third song in a row.
“Yeah, I’m not gonna lie,” Alex said, “This is pathetic.”
“Psh, whatever,” Mark said, handing the plastic guitar to Charisma. “You guys both actually play guitar. I don’t, remember?”
“Still,” Charisma said, selecting the most advanced level and starting a song. “My little sister can play Guitar Hero better than you.”
“My wiener dog can play Guitar Hero better than you,” Alex added.
“Yeah, I’m sure,” Mark said sarcastically, watching moodily as Charisma hit every single note.
“Oh yeah, Hoochie’s a pro,” Charisma said; at the sound of her name, the dog, who was sitting on Alex’s lap, perked her head up. “Maybe you should teach Mark here a thing or two,” Charisma said to Hoochie, looking at the dog out of the corner of her eye.
“Shut up,” Mark said jokingly. “You know how bad it is for my self-esteem that my girlfriend can kick my ass at a video game?”
“I’m pretty sure your self-esteem was abolished the day I beat you at arm wrestling,” Charisma replied, grinning. Alex laughed, but Mark repressed his smile, pretending to be insulted.
“Laugh all you want, Alex, but she’s stronger than you, too!” he said, letting on a smirk.
“I don’t have a problem with that,” Alex replied, shrugging.
“Hell, she could probably bench press you,” Mark said, laughing.
“She could probably bench press us both at the same time!” Alex exaggerated.
“Geez, you guys, I’m not a superhero,” Charisma said, hitting the last notes of “Godzilla”. “Though I won’t deny that I am a champion of Guitar Hero. Check it out, a hundred percent!”
Delia clapped and cheered, but Mark eyed Charisma suspiciously.
“Wait – Charisma, don’t you know how to play that song on a real guitar?” he asked accusingly.
“Maybe…” Charisma answered shiftily.
“Cheap!” Mark declared. “You’re not a champion, you’re a cheater!”
“Jealous much?” Charisma teased him.
“Hey kids, no fighting!” Alex said, nudging Charisma with his foot as he pet Hoochie leisurely.
Charisma, Alex, and Mark all looked toward the door for the cause of Delia’s exclamation. The front door had opened, and in had walked a person who looked very much like Charisma, but male, and older. Whereas Damien and Delia resembled their father – round-faced and light haired – Charisma and Eric had gotten their looks from their mother: they had the same sharp features and perfect bone structure, with slightly darker hair than their siblings. Charisma had also been told that she had her mother’s laugh, but she had to take her brothers’ word for this because she had never met her mother.
“Hey Eric, long time no see,” Charisma said, trying to keep any resentfulness out of her voice. “Whatcha been up to?”
“Stuff,” Eric answered vaguely, greeting Alex and Mark with a small wave.
“Oh, that,” Charisma said, unsatisfied. She wasn’t going to badger him, though; she wanted this to be a pleasant evening.
“All right, dinner’s ready,” Damien announced from the kitchen. Charisma noticed that he had not said hi to Eric. “Everybody come get plates.”
They all went into the kitchen and filled their plates with spaghetti, before settling down at the breakfast bar (which also served as the lunch bar and dinner bar in the Santora household). Charisma sat between Mark and Eric, directly across from Delia.
“Whoops!” Delia hit Charisma’s glass of water as she put her plate down, thanks to the limited amount of space at the narrow bar. Charisma caught the glass before it fell, and just a small amount of water spilled onto the marble.
“Here.” Mark reached over and wiped up the water with his napkin.
“Wow, it’s been awhile since we’ve been this crowded at dinner,” Charisma noted, wondering if Eric would take the hint at his absences.
“You know, we just might have to invest in a table,” Damien remarked, adjusting his and Eric’s plates so that they would both fit across from each other.
“Table? What is this thing you speak of?” Charisma said in mock confusion. She couldn’t help but watch Eric out of the corner of her eye; he had hardly spoken at all, and he wasn’t making eye contact with any of them much either.
There was a slightly awkward silence during which everyone at the table kept glancing at Eric, who looked resolutely down at his plate.
Finally, Charisma cleared her throat and said, “How was your game today, Deels?”
Delia looked up from her food. “We lost,” she pouted.
“Aw no, how many goals did you let in?”
“Two.” Delia held up two fingers.
“Delia!” Charisma said, widening her eyes and feigning disappointment. “What were you doing? What kind of goalkeeper are you?” she demanded in perfectly good humor. “Way to let down your team! It’s all your fault!”
Everyone laughed, including Delia. “No it’s your fault for not being there!” she responded. “You’re my good luck charm!”
“Aw okay, I promise to come to the next one,” Charisma vowed. “But you should really just get some lucky underwear or something – it’s much more dependable. Hey Eric, why don’t you come next week, too? You haven’t seen Delia play in forever,” she added to her brother, staring directly at him, forcing him with her eyes to speak at last.
“I might be busy,” Eric muttered, not looking at Charisma.
Charisma decided not to argue the point. She did, however, want to keep Eric in the conversation. “Don’t you ever miss soccer?” she asked him, resting her chin on her hand and studying her brother’s face.
“Not really,” Eric mumbled back.
“Oh, did you used to play?” Mark asked from Charisma’s other side, and Charisma felt a rush of gratitude towards her boyfriend. It wasn’t easy to keep up this nearly one-sided conversation, and Damien was being no help at all; he wasn’t even trying to hide the irritation he felt toward Eric, and he kept glaring at the younger man, remaining tight-lipped. Alex, meanwhile, was using his fork to fling peas into Delia’s mouth for her to catch.
“Yeah, I quit when I was fourteen,” Eric answered Mark, then put a large bite of pasta into his mouth, probably to avoid having to answer any more questions.
“Catch, Chris!” Charisma turned just in time to see Alex lob a green pea at her; she opened her mouth and moved her head to the right slightly to catch it. The pea landed on her tongue, and as she chewed and swallowed it, Charisma found herself smiling at her best friend, and his not-so-discreet attempts at keeping the mood light.
Alex smiled back, a smile which became a broad grin, and it was mirrored by Charisma. Before long, they were shaking with suppressed laughter, and as Eric, Mark, and Damien looked on in confusion, Alex and Charisma broke into hysterics. Delia also began to giggle uncontrollably, and the three of them just kept laughing, for no real reason whatsoever.
“Does one of you want to tell us what’s so funny?” Damien asked with an annoyance that was rather unwarranted, Charisma thought.
“I’m sorry Damien,” Charisma said, calming down enough to speak, “but sometimes you just have to laugh.”
Damien disagreed, apparently, and he gave Charisma a stern look which she did not feel she entirely deserved. It shut her up, though, and Delia and Alex stopped laughing, too, leaving the six of them in yet another uncomfortable silence. Charisma and Alex had to avoid each other’s eyes in order to keep from cracking up, and Delia was unable to keep a straight face.
When the meal was finally over, Charisma offered to clear the plates, hoping to get back on Damien’s good side.
Damien, however, had something else in mind. “No, why don’t you let Eric do it?” he said, looking straight at his brother. “He hasn’t been around to help out with anything for days, the least he could do is wash some dishes.”
Eric glowered at Damien as he got off his stool and started collecting plates. “I’ve been busy,” he muttered, almost under his breath,
“Busy doing what, exactly?” Damien asked in a contrastingly loud voice.
“Oh, he already told me in great detail,” Charisma cut in. “Apparently he’s been doing ‘stuff’.” She made quotes in the air with her fingers as she said the last word.
“You know what, I am an adult, and I don’t have to tell you every single detail of what I do!” Eric spouted angrily from his position in front of the sink.
“Yeah, well, you’re also a part of this family, and when you disappear for days on end, leaving Charisma and me to take Delia to and from school and soccer, do all the shopping and the cooking, and everything else, I have the right to demand an explanation,” Damien retorted, standing up and facing Eric.
“Well, I don’t have an explanation for you,” Eric said. That, Charisma knew, was not going to fly with Damien.
“Why not?” Damien said, his eyes flaring up with that familiar fire. “You must have been doing something these past few days, so what was it? Or were you too intoxicated to remember?”
“What’s ‘intoxicated’ mean?” Delia asked, looking from her brothers to Charisma.
“It’s another word for ‘stupid’,” Charisma answered sourly, glaring at Eric.
Eric looked down at the dishes he was washing, refusing to make eye contact with Charisma. “I’m not stupid,” he muttered.
“Well, you sure act like it sometimes!” Damien shouted. “I mean, what the hell is wrong with you?”
“Hey, guys, let’s go watch TV,” Charisma suggested to everyone still sitting at the table. Alex and Mark nodded in understanding, and they led Delia away from the breakfast bar. Charisma had a feeling that things could get ugly, and she would rather Delia not watch their brothers argue this harshly.
They could still hear, though, when Damien shouted, “It’d be nice if you actually gave a shit about your sisters, or about me!”
“I do give a shit –“
“Then prove it! Stick around! For more than twenty-four hours, maybe!” Damien said, his voice rising still more.
“Hey, I’m sorry if I actually have a life, and can’t be here twenty-four seven!” Eric yelled back.
“And what a life you’re living, Eric! You don’t have a job, you don’t even have a girlfriend, just a long line of one-night stands!”
“Fuck you!”
“Delia, go to your room,” Charisma said abruptly to her sister.
Delia was watching her brothers, captivated by their fight, so Charisma pushed her in the direction of the hallway. The girl left reluctantly, glancing back as she walked away.
“Why are you like this, Eric?” Damien demanded, his face reddening with fury. “Ever since Mom died, you’ve been on this downhill slope. It’s like we’re just waiting for you to hit rock bottom!”
The tension in the room could have been cut with a knife. Charisma, Mark, and Alex were all staring into the kitchen, where Damien and Eric were standing and facing each other, steam practically coming out of their ears.
Finally Eric spoke again. “It’s hard losing your mother when you’re only ten years old, you know!”
“What, you think it’s any easier at twelve? Or what about Charisma and Delia? Neither of them ever even had a mother, but they’re not all fucked up like you!” This statement pained Charisma for more reasons than one, but she didn’t say anything.
“I am not fucked up!” Eric bellowed.
“No, you’re not, you’re just an asshole.”
You’re an asshole!”
Charisma had heard enough. She turned away from the kitchen and started walking swiftly to her own bedroom, Alex and Mark right behind her. Damien and Eric were still yelling, but Charisma wasn’t listening. She was blocking them out, letting her ears be deafened by the rush of anger filling her head.
Charisma opened her bedroom door and this time her way was unblocked. She entered, then stepped aside to let Alex and Mark in. As soon as they had passed the threshold, Charisma slammed the door shut, hoping that her brothers would hear and at least note that she was unhappy with them.
Charisma crossed her room to the nightstand, which comprised of six cubic wooden drawers stacked unevenly on top of each other, built by Damien and painted in various bright colors by Charisma and Alex quite a few years ago. She turned on her iPod, which was sitting in its dock at about eye level (the nightstand had to be tall in order to reach the height of the top bunk), and she turned up the volume so as to drown out the already muffled sounds of her brothers’ fight.
Mark and Alex stood watching Charisma as she did this, all three of them in silence; Charisma was too angry to speak, Mark didn’t know what to say, and Alex knew that it was best not to say anything yet. Finally, Charisma dropped onto a stool, which was just like the nightstand but half as tall, and the other two seemed to take this as an invitation to sit down as well.
Alex crawled cautiously onto the bottom bunk, which was crammed full of CD cases instead of a mattress, letting Mark have the seat closest to Charisma, on the other drawer-stool.
Charisma let out an exasperated sigh, and leaned back to let her head fall onto the top of the piano behind her. She could sense the other two watching her, but she didn’t care to respond to their stares quite yet.
It had been a while since Damien and Eric had fought like this. Lately, Damien was always peeved with Eric, and he had perfectly good reason to be; but Damien usually had the sense to avoid accosting his younger brother. But tonight, he hadn’t even tried to keep the peace; Charisma could tell from the start of the evening that Damien was just looking for a confrontation. She felt annoyed at the both of them, and as the song playing from her iPod ended and a brief silence ensued, revealing yet more shouting from the kitchen, her annoyance only grew.
Charisma didn’t have to open her eyes to know that it had not been Alex or Mark who had spoken. The voice was quite different from that of a teenage male, and besides, Delia was the only one who ever called her “Chrisma”.
She opened her eyes anyway, and saw her sister standing in front of her, looking quite as upset as Charisma felt.
“Hey, Delia,” Charisma sighed, sitting up straight.
“How long do you think they’re gonna fight for, Chrisma?” Delia asked, and the distressed look on her young face was absolutely heartbreaking.
“I really don’t know,” Charisma answered honestly. “You wanna do some practicing?” She nodded back at the piano.
Delia’s face lit up. She nodded enthusiastically and pranced over to the piano bench. Alex paused Charisma’s iPod, and in the brief silence before Delia started playing, Charisma discerned that her brothers were still going at it.
She wasn’t the only one who had noticed. “I can see where you get your stamina, Charisma,” Alex remarked, the corners of his mouth turning up just a little.
“Hey, when it comes to bitching people out, the Santoras know no boundaries,” Charisma replied drolly. She found, however, that when she tried to smile, she couldn’t quite get herself to be sincere. She abandoned the attempt, deciding that no smile was better than a fake smile. Mark seemed to observe her discontent, and he reached out for her hand, taking it in his own. Charisma took strength from this small comfort, and continued, “I really hope neither of them says anything they’ll regret…though it may be too late for that.”
“You know they’re not serious about the things they call each other,” Alex said quickly, catching what Charisma was referring to. “It’s just like when you and Damien fight, you say things you don’t mean.”
“Yeah, well, I don’t care if Damien meant it or not, he’s right: Eric is an asshole,” Charisma replied bitterly, inwardly hoping that Delia’s loud piano playing would prevent the girl from hearing Charisma’s words.
Alex didn’t argue with her, deciding it was best to just let her hate Eric for now. Mark just squeezed Charisma’s hand, not really knowing what else he could do to help. The family dynamic of Charisma and her siblings was a confusing one, and the only person outside of themselves who seemed able to grasp it was Alex, who was close enough to Charisma to be considered virtually a part of their family.
The yelling was becoming gradually more audible. Damien and Eric were apparently coming closer to the front of the house.
Delia stopped playing as Damien’s voice was heard just outside Charisma’s door: “WELL THEN, WHY DON’T YOU JUST GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE?”
“FINE!” A few seconds passed, then the front door slammed. Charisma, Alex, Mark, and Delia sat in a stunned silence.
Charisma suddenly felt as though she were about to cry. Her brothers’ words were ringing in her head, and she found herself wishing more than anything to just have a normal family.
Delia started playing again, tentatively; the cheerful tune invaded the tense air of the room, steadily making the mood more comfortable.
“Well, that doesn’t sound good,” Alex said, clearly referring to what they had heard outside the door, and not Delia’s playing, which sounded lovely.
“Seriously,” Charisma said in a surprisingly steady voice. “Eric finally came around for dinner, and what does Damien do? He tells him to leave.”
“He’ll be back, though,” Alex said reassuringly. “He knows Damien doesn’t really want him gone.”
“Yeah,” Charisma said slowly, “and what do you wanna bet Damien is out there right now, all of a sudden realizing what he’s done and wishing he hadn’t said that?”
“Well, that’s good, right?” Mark spoke at last. “He’ll, you know, realize the error of his ways, and…you know…fix it.”
“Yeah, I’ll bet they’ll have made up by tomorrow, just like you and Damien,” Alex added optimistically.
“F sharp.” Alex and Mark both looked at Charisma curiously. She turned around and clarified, “Delia, that’s an F sharp.”
“Oh! Thanks,” said Delia, finding the right note and continuing her song.
Charisma stood up and stretched. “It’s dark out already,” she remarked, looking out the window.
“Whose night is it to…?” Mark stopped mid-sentence when Charisma shot him a warning look and nodded at Delia.
“I think it’s me and James tonight,” she replied, her stomach sinking as she said it. She didn’t feel much like going out tonight, and the idea of possibly fighting vampires was entirely unappealing.
“I’ll go,” Mark volunteered, standing up.
“You sure?” Charisma asked, looking up at him gratefully. “You don’t have to if you don’t –“
“No, I don’t mind,” Mark cut her off. “You’re all injured still, and…well, after tonight I’m guessing you’re not in the mood to go out?”
Charisma smiled. “’Kay, thanks.”
“I’d better get going.” Mark kissed her quickly and headed for the door. “I’ll see you tomorrow at the show.”
“Don’t forget to text me!” Charisma called after him as he left.
Mark had left her bedroom door open, and as Charisma went to close it, she decided to glance out and see what Damien was doing. She saw him at the sink, finishing the dishes that Eric had started. He was turned away from her, but she could tell from his hung head and sluggish movements that he was quite upset.
For a moment, Charisma felt sorry for Damien, and even considered going out and comforting him – but then all her anger towards him came rushing back. He had instigated the fight, when it could have been a peaceful night, and Eric could still be home. Charisma turned on her heel and went back to her bedroom.
Alex was now sitting on next to Delia at the piano, playing the harmony to “Heart and Soul” while Delia played the melody. Charisma started singing as she walked in.
Heart and soul, I fell in love with you, heart and soul…”
They continued for a few minutes, then Charisma noticed Delia yawning. She came up behind the girl and grabbed her under the armpits. “Okay, Deels, time for bed!” she said, pulling her sister off the bench.
“But it’s a weekend!” Delia whined, nonetheless letting Charisma lead her away from the piano.
“But you’re tired!” Charisma imitated in an equally whiny voice. Delia didn’t argue. “Come on, if you go to bed now, I’ll sing you to sleep!”
“Okay!” Delia said excitedly, launching herself towards the door.
“All right, go brush your teeth and then come get me!” Charisma called.
Charisma reached around Alex, who was still on the piano bench, and grabbed her guitar from the corner where it sat, leaning against the wall. She sat on the bottom bunk and started to play some chords with a pick taken from the top of the piano.
Alex started to play the music that Delia had left open on the piano. It was an incredibly simple song, and he sight-read it perfectly.
“Wow, that’s tough stuff,” he said as he finished.
“It is tough for me, Alex!” said Delia, appearing in the doorway.
“Of course, you’re a tiny person!” Alex joked as Delia came over to where he was.
“Yeah, with way tinier hands than you!” Delia replied.
“Psh, not that much!” Alex purposely provoked the child.
“Yeah huh, look!” Delia help up her hand, and Alex put his against hers. Indeed, his was quite a bit larger. “Your hands are the same size as Chrisma’s!” Delia observed.
“I know,” Alex said. He and Charisma had noticed long ago that their bodies were the exact same size, including their hands and feet.
“Wait, lemme see.” Delia grabbed Charisma and Alex’s hands and compared them to each other. Sure enough, their fingertips matched up perfectly.
“Okay, stop stalling,” Charisma said, pulling her hand away. “Let’s go.” She took Delia out into the hallway. Alex followed them. “What song do you want?”
“Um… ‘Love of Mine!’” Delia said as she entered her own bedroom. “And Alex has to sing, too!”
“What?” Alex said dubiously.
“Yeah, you have to sing the part about the boy!” Delia informed him, climbing into bed.
“Oh, fine,” Alex capitulated. He pulled up a chair from Delia’s desk, and Charisma sat at the end of Delia’s bed.
Charisma played the opening for “I Will Follow You Into The Dark” by Death Cab For Cutie. It was one of Delia’s favorite songs, a popular pick for bedtime.
Love of mine, someday you will die, but I’ll be close behind. I’ll follow you into the dark. No blinding light, or tunnels to gates of white just our hands clasped so tight, waiting for the hint of a spark,” Charisma sang, watching the pacified expression that swept over her little sister’s face as she settled into sleep.
When Charisma reached the second chorus, Alex started to sing quietly, “In Catholic school, as vicious as Roman rule, I got my knuckles bruised by a lady in black. I held my tongue, as she told me son, fear is the heart of love, so I never went back.”
Charisma and Alex sang the next chorus together. Alex’s voice grew slowly fainter, until Charisma was alone in singing the end.
Delia was asleep by the time Charisma played the last notes. Charisma leaned over and kissed her little sister on the check. “Night, Deels,” she whispered, and got up to leave. Alex kissed Delia and said good night, and the both of them went back to Charisma’s room.
When Charisma had shut the door behind her, she and Alex looked at each other for a moment, then Alex gave Charisma a feeble smile, which she returned.
“You okay?” Alex asked, already putting a comforting arm around Charisma. She knew she didn’t even have to answer, because Alex would understand just how she was feeling without her having to explain. He would know that she didn’t want to stay up talking or playing music; she just wanted to go to sleep and wake up to another, hopefully better, day.
They got ready for bed quickly and climbed into Charisma’s top bunk. It was such a relief for Charisma to be able to lay down her head and let go of all the things bothering her. She pushed every worry out of her mind, focusing on getting to sleep. Alex put some quiet music, and Charisma tried to force herself into sleep as quickly as possible, not wanting to give her brain a chance to plague her with concerns.
Inevitable thoughts penetrated her mind, however, and she couldn’t help but recall the things she had heard Eric and Damien say to each other earlier that evening.
Sometimes she wanted to just break down, stamp her feet and holler. Sometimes she wanted to scream at Eric for what he was doing to their family. Sometimes she wanted to be part of a normal family with parents and everything. Sometimes she wanted to go find the man who had been stupid enough to drive drunk on the freeway and cause the death of her parents, and give him a good kick in the head.
Something white appeared right in front of Charisma’s face. She took it, realizing that it was a tissue, being offered to her by Alex. She hadn’t even noticed the tears filling her eyes. Alex had, though, even though she was facing away from him. She felt his arm snake around her waist, and she closed her eyes, letting the soothing music and her best friend’s comfort ease her into sleep.

Current Mood: lazylazy
Current Music: Anberlin - Glass to the Arson
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