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Tomorrow_Is_Today1 t1_j5ct6ct wrote

“You should just leave.”

Charlie looked over at aer partner. “Just leave?”

“Yeah.” Alessia crossed her legs, skirt folding against the black sofa. “I mean, you keep stuff here at my place anyway.”

“So she doesn’t get to it.”

Alessia raised her left eyebrow, the way she usually did when Charlie was missing something obvious. “You keep a go bag packed at all times if you have to get away suddenly, and it has all your documents and legal stuff.”

“Yeah, for emergencies.”

“You can just leave. You can stay with me. You’re an adult now, she doesn’t hold guardianship over you.”

Charlie looked at aer hands. “I can just leave.”

Alessia nodded in Charlie’s peripheral vision.

“Just like that. Never have to see my sister again. No more family. No more…any of it.”

Charlie looked up at Alessia. “There’s nothing we’re forgetting?”

“How could there be?”

Charlie blinked. Ae smiled. “It can’t really be that easy.”

“I’d hardly call it easy. More like you’ve been prepared for years, and you finally have the chance.”

Charlie jumped up. Ae laughed. Once, twice. Then ae couldn’t stop. Ae grabbed Alessia and they twirled around the room, socks stumbling on teal rug.

Ae froze. “I have to get my stuff.”


“Can you come with me? I’m.” Charlie swallowed. “I’m scared.”

Alessia pulled Charlie close, the pair enveloped in soft smells of almonds and roses. “I’ll be there the whole way,” she promised. “Wherever you need.”

Charlie gasped a breath, cherishing the denial-driven distance ae had from aer emotions. The floodgate would open eventually. But not yet. Act quickly, and it won’t interfere.

“Let’s go.”


Alessia’s little blue car rumbled through suburbia, and Charlie felt every bump. Don’t think. It’s easier if you don’t think. Or fear. Charlie held an imaginary knot in aer hands, untangling aer anxiety layer by layer. It never ended. But at least ae was breathing.

Charlie stared out aer window at the maroon house as they rolled up. Maroon might be a nice color, if it weren’t for this and blood.

“Do you want me to go in with you?” Alessia asked.


Charlie didn’t realize ae’d responded so quickly until ae heard aer own voice. “No,” ae repeated softer. “You don’t need to go in there. I’ll go in alone and find things to grab. We can always come back anyway.” No we can’t.

“Okay,” Alessia said, and reached for Charlie’s hand. Hers felt warm and soft, and Charlie was in danger of losing grasp on aer numbness. “I’ll be right here whenever you need.”

Charlie smiled weakly at aer partner. Then to the car door, open and close. And up the driveway ae went.

No car outside. Charlie clicked in the garage combination, and found it empty too. She won’t be home. Thank God. Even still, Charlie held aer breath as ae walked through the house, like aer sister could pop out from behind any corner, like ae was trespassing in a space not meant for aer.

Room by room Charlie dug aer nails deeper into aer palms. Ae blinked and returned to a breathing rhythm every few moments. It was so easy to lose it here. In the kitchen where ae saw a younger version of aerself crouched behind a cabinet in terror. In the living room where ae cried alone after they lost their parents, where Samantha hurled her blame so often. In the bathroom where she busted in insisting Charlie not shower and pulling aer out before the suds rinsed away. Replay, replay, replay.

Charlie was surprised how few things ae even wanted to take. So much connecting aer to this place, so little worth keeping. Ae grabbed aer go bag and a few outfits and books from aer room, then stood in the doorway. This felt so anticlimactic, and still there was a pang of sorrow for leaving. The house itself never hurt Charlie, but ae never wanted to see it again.

As Charlie carried the bag out and closed the garage door, Alessia looked up. Her smile shone brightly, and all of a sudden the bag weighed nothing.

It was really over.


Lying in bed, Charlie untied aer imaginary knot of anxiety and found a recorder inside. Ae turned it over in aer hands, marveling at its horrid memories. Ae would never stop it pressing replay. But it would never hit record again.


Cody_Fox23 OP t1_j5fac1g wrote

Thank you for your submission; it has scored 5 points!