Truth is Unforgettable

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. At least, that’s what they always said. For the longest time though, Charlotte Harrison didn’t believe it. She believed that if you lived your life responsibly, with honor and integrity, the rest would fall into place.
That was then, this is now.
Now, she realizes how naïve she really was to believe that good intentions couldn’t bring hellish consequences. Desperate to leave her past behind her, she embarks on a trip to a place unknown to her, nearly three thousand miles from the only home she’s ever known.
Determined to regain control and fix the wreckage of her life, Charlotte takes an unexpected leap of faith. She agrees to temporarily move in with Jason, a blonde haired, blue eyed groom to be, and his best friend, Evan, a brown haired boy with the most addictive emerald eyes she’s ever seen.
Addictive emerald eyes she has to remember to stay away from.
Before long, her past comes searching for her, an unsettling reminder that a history like hers isn’t one that can be escaped, even with distance. Fighting to find the truth, Charlotte just may have to break her own rules and form an alliance, trusting that not everyone in this world is against her.
Her strength will be tested, her trust will be broken, and the unforgettable truth will be torn open.

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1. Chapter One

In all the research I’d done before arriving in Seattle, I’d never once heard the city described as bright. I’d chosen it specifically for its notorious reputation of nearly constant cloud cover and threat of rain, which would probably sound strange to ninety percent of the population, but to me it made sense. In a life full of uncertainty, I clung to anything I was absolutely certain of. My love of rain was one of them.

My love of brightness was not. The two o’clocksunshine in Seattle had me squinting as if a flashlight was pointed directly at my eyes. I’d come here chasing clouds, and I found blinding sun.  So much for the somber Seattle I’d been looking forward to.

I forced myself to believe that the unexpected sunshine was good though, an omen of change. It would take some getting used to, just like the rest of this new life of mine, but even I knew that I couldn’t possibly hide behind the clouds forever.  

I could sense that the energy of the city was a positive one. The noise of the traffic gave a hum of liveliness, a sound drastically different than that of the small town I was used to.  In a way, it made me feel insignificant and out of place. Being new to the city, it looked as if everyone around me knew exactly what their next move would be, while I wouldn’t even know where to begin with mine. The feeling was both terrifying and exhilarating, symbolic of a new beginning. I’d waited months for this exact moment, daydreamed about it to escape the cruel reality of my life. I wanted to savor it, the only dream of mine I’d ever been able to see appear before my eyes.

I just hoped I wouldn’t ever have to let it go.  

                                                                 ********

 

Shortly before five o'clock, I found myself standing in front of a large tan colored house with a red truck in the driveway and brown shutters lining every window. Flower pots filled with burgundy flowers lined the sidewalk, and an autumn wreath with a scarecrow holding a welcome banner hung neatly on the front door. I couldn't help but smile; it was just the type of decoration my mom would like.

There was no way the house was an apartment building, like I’d been told it would be. It looked like an upper middle class home in the suburbs, flawlessly polished, and nothing like what I was used to. From the intricate detailing on the door to the spotless patterned brick sidewalk, there was no way this apartment, house, or whatever I should call it was going to cost me four hundred dollars a month.

I looked down at the wrinkled and overly worn scrap of paper with the address written on it as if the ink would suddenly revise itself before my eyes. I'd stared at it for hours by now, never even let go from my hands, and there was no doubt in my mind I'd had the address memorized. It couldn’t be right though, just a small fraction of common sense would be enough to know that.

My heartbeat just about tripled at the realization that there must've been a mistake somewhere. In between all of my carefully orchestrated planning, a single misunderstanding was going to unravel everything for me. I signed a lease to be one of three roommates in an apartment, with my own room and attached bathroom for four hundred dollars a month. It was a big enough compromise for me to agree to be a roommate with somebody to begin with. I'd been dead set on having my own apartment, but as soon as I saw the three lowest monthly rents for apartments in the area, I easily changed my mind. Every one of them was more than twice what I was offered to pay here.

Before my arms went numb, I set down the bags containing everything I owned. For a fleeting second, the image of my entire life packed away in a few tote bags bothered me, but I pushed it out of my mind. Thoughts like that wouldn't do anything to help me now. 

Eager to find out what was going on, I took a deep breath and knocked on the door. If I was going to have to completely overhaul my plans for staying in Seattle, I might as well know sooner than later. Hotels around the city wouldn’t have vacancies for long with Thanksgiving just a few days away.

The large door swung open, knocking the scarecrow wreath off it in the process. I maneuvered to the right, but the welcome banner from the wreath, evidently made of metal, lightly scraped the back of my hand.

“You always use the welcome wreath as a weapon?” I asked, bending down to pick up the decoration.

“You always knock when there’s a doorbell?” a deep voice replied, annoyed tone barely hidden.

“Don’t they both have the same purpose?” I asked, looking up for the first time at who I was talking to. My eyes were met with the sight of a tall, muscular, brown haired boy with unbelievable eyes. Emerald in color, they had the extravagance that made me wish I was bold enough to dare him to a staring contest on the spot. Those eyes would make the awkwardness so worth it.

“Well, one of them is a lot more pleasant to the eardrums.”

Before I could reply, another voice called out from around the corner.

“You assault our new roommate with the wreath, then want her to apologize for knocking? Seriously, Evan?”

Stepping into view, the man looked to be older than the boy who opened the door, but not by very much. Blonde haired, blue eyed, and just about as tall as the boy I could now assume to be Evan, he was still clearly in his early twenties.

He must be Jason. I’d spoken to him on the phone a few times to get the details all ironed out, and he’d been nice enough to mail the lease to me so I could sign it before I’d even arrived. At the time, It’d been a huge relief. Every other landlord for apartments in the area wanted to meet me in person, fearful that the fact that I was nineteen would mean parties and broken leases.

“So, this isn’t a mistake then? This is the right house?” I asked, half expecting Evan to slam the door in my face, despite Jason’s cheerful presence.

“What made you think it wasn’t? Last time we talked, you had the address memorized.”

“I still do, it just is a little more than I expected.” I replied, still trying to figure out why in the hell someone would accept such a low rent for a place that could easily get twice the money.

“No mistake, you’ve got the right place. As long as you’re Charlotte, that is.” He joked, looking down at my tote bag with my name visibly labeled across the side in large, sharpie marker writing. I’d been a little paranoid about losing it on the bus.

“I’m definitely Charlotte.. That makes you Jason, and you Evan.” I said, nodding my head toward each of them on the mention of their names.

“Bingo. Now lets get your bags inside and show you to your room.”

“Sounds great to me.” I replied distantly, noticing Evan staring at my hand.

“What?”

“You actually like that stuff?” he asked, motioning towards the McDonald’s coffee cup in my hand.

“Coffee is coffee.” I replied, not seeing what the big deal was. His expression was as if he’d just realized I’d been hanging onto some foreign drink that’d turn him green if he got close enough.

“Never say such a thing in Seattle.” He warned with a flash in his eyes, as he walked past me and lifted my bags in an effortless motion with one hand. I watched as he walked into the house, down the hallway and began up the stairs.

An almost indistinguishable chuckle to my left caught my attention.  Jason’s thoughts must’ve mirrored my own.

“He’s not a fan of me being the new roommate, is he, Jason?”

“That’s just how he is Charlotte, My little brother is serious about his coffee, and takes some getting used to. I have a feeling the two of you will get along just fine.”

The thought seemed unlikely to me, “What makes you say that?” I asked.

“He likes mysteries.” He said simply, with a knowing smirk on his face. It was obvious he was over simplifying what he was really thinking, but I didn’t bother to pry. Despite the humor in his eyes, the tone of his voice made it clear he wouldn’t be saying more.

                                                                          ********

My room was better than I had hoped it would be. On the second floor, it was on the right side at the end of the hall. Beside the bed was a night stand with a lamp placed on top, and next to the window stood a large mahogany dresser. To the right was a window with brown embroidered drapes thin enough to let the early evening light shine through. The window was spacious, allowing for a pleasant view of the backyard and wooded area behind the house. The walls were a creamy tan color, an attractive contrast to the dark wood floors, and the closet had more space than I’d ever need. It was the most I’d been blessed with in years.

Every fiber of my being should’ve been screaming out with gratitude over the drastic improvement from my previous home, but as much as I tried, I couldn’t forget. Thousands of miles away, my memories still haunted me everywhere I looked. The lamp reminded me of the one that used to stand in the kitchen back home, worn with age, and eventually shattered by rage.  The backyard reminded me of all that I’d lost. Of all the chances that were ripped away from me in a backyard back home, all too similar to the one just beyond the window. Even the color of the wood and the walls made me think of the life I’d been forced to leave behind, the shades too reminiscent of a time that was now lost forever. I wasn’t in denial about my past, and I sure as hell wasn’t romanticizing it, but it was all I’d ever known. I knew that it wasn’t much of a life to live, and more often than not, it was a hell of a life to live, but the few good memories I had made my heart ache. I’d told myself for so long that I’d be able to fix it all, and my mom and I could finally live life the way we’d dreamed. Being in Seattle was necessary, my only choice at this point, but I couldn’t ignore the feeling that I’d lost. I couldn’t be the heroine of the story like I’d promised myself I would be. Instead, I was the scared little girl running from everything.

People terrified me, noises played tricks on my mind, daylight was my enemy, and yet, I had to pretend everything was normal. I had to deaden every single feeling I had swirling inside me when I was around anybody, locking them away in the darkness. Pretending was who I was now, a made up version of me.

I didn’t have to be happy about the way that things turned out, but I did have to be smart. People are curious by nature, and it’s the curiosity that pulls them to offer help when they see distress. Giving in to that offer of help then gives them the power, the blind trust that strangers don’t earn. Trust that raises your hopes just to smash them into the dirt once you realize your first mistake was in assuming someone’s intentions were good. Believing in the goodness of anyone is a dangerous game. Just the kind of game I refuse to play.

                                                                           ********

The embroidered drapes weren’t thick enough to block out the light. For someone as naturally nocturnal as me, I’d be fooling myself if I thought for a second that they’d last more than a week. The early evening glow they allowed to be cast over the room was peaceful, but even that wouldn’t deter me from tacking up some thick towel to block it out.  I knew that once 7am rolled around, I’d feel like I was trying to sleep in the middle of some department store.

Nighttime was just more peaceful for me. I could think clearly, and breathe like I’d craved to all day. I didn’t have to pretend to be something I wasn’t, if I wanted to let my scars show I did. If I wanted to be vulnerable and terrified of the world around me, I could be. At night, I could escape the prying eyes of the people around me and finally find some inner peace. There weren’t any condescendingly fake offers of help, because nobody was there to see me with my guard down. I could drop the façade I’d wrapped myself in, and just be who I was, without suffering the consequences.  Nobody ever understood my love of the night, and for that I was thankful. If nobody ever understood, then nobody would ever try it out for themselves, and I’d always be able to find peace underneath the darkness of the stars.

By the time the sun had gone down, I’d made my bed with the sheets, pillowcase and comforter I’d brought along. It gave the room a more complete feel, but the design was clearly contrasted. The rich, detailed accents of the rest of the room more than slightly clashed with the clearance rack bedding I’d added.  I voiced a humorless chuckle at the view in front of me. The now awkwardly decorated room was picture perfect proof of how out of place I was.

“Care to share?” called a voice from behind, startling me.

I jumped back, nearly tripping over the bed as I let out a yelp of surprise. I connected the source of the voice to Evan, now standing in my doorway with an expression that quickly evolved from curious to slightly startled himself.

 “Are you ok? I didn’t mean to scare you, your door was open.”

Taking a deep breath, I managed to stutter out “it’s ok.”

“You sure?” he asked. “You seem pretty freaked out right now, honestly.”

So much for the subtle, guarded persona I tried to create, I thought.

“I’m not freaked out. I was just deep in thought and you surprised me. I’m fine.” My own voice sounded distant to my ears, but I was proud of the steady tone I’d managed to get across.

Evan shot a semi-disbelieving look towards me, but seemed to let it pass as he said “Whatever you say.”

Leaning against the door frame, he surveyed the room without saying a word.  I watched as his eyes made a pathway from the window to the floor, eventually settling on my unpacked bags by the base of the bed.

“You didn’t bring much, did you?” Evan asked.

“I figured a fresh start would be best,” I answered, staring down at my bags, wondering what exactly he was getting at. “Easier to carry, easier to pack, less hassle that way. “

He nodded in understanding. “Makes sense. Why Seattle?”

“Why not Seattle?”  I shot back, slightly sharper than I’d intended to.

His eyes met mine once again, clouded with confusion at my non-answer.  An uncomfortable silence lingered once again, and I shifted my eyes from his. Curiosity was natural, I was used to people being curious about me. I didn’t share much about myself and I didn’t trust anyone. It wasn’t all that surprising that people would want to solve the mystery that I’d become.

I lifted my focus to Evan’s once again and found that he was still staring at me.

“Look, I just came up here to tell you thattonight is Jason’s engagement party. You’re invited.”  

He broke away from the doorframe with a defeated sigh and turned away to walk down the hallway. Guilt for my harsh tone settled in the pit of my stomach immediately. I didn’t have it in me to answer all the questions Evan must’ve had swirling around in his mind, but I didn’t have the strength to make him hate me less than an hour after meeting him either.

Internally sighing, I decided to give him a chance.

“I like the rain.” I called out after him, watching as he stopped mid-stride. He paused and turned back towards me, a look of uncertainty etched on his face.

“That’s why I came here.”

He stood there, evidently thinking for a few seconds. The lapse of time made me wonder if I’d made a mistake in stopping him, or if he was trying to find something else to interrogate me about. To my surprise though, he smiled.

“I like the rain too, Charlotte.”

I smiled in response, the first genuine smile I’d felt in a very long time.

                                                                           ********

Trying to figure out to wear to an engagement party when you’ve never been to a party of any sort before is a very specific kind of stressful. Particularly more so if you only have casual clothing and get squeamish at the thought of a room filled with strangers.

An engagement party is supposed to be dressy. At least, it sounds like it should be. It sounds like the kind of party that girls wear dresses to, with fancy shoes and jewelry, not jeans and a black t-shirt like I was about to.

Part of me wondered why I’d even agreed to go to the party. I knew that I’d be polite to do so, and it’d be a better first impression than hiding up in my room, but I also knew that I’d be further reminded of how much I didn’t belong. With my outfit I knew I’d stick out like snow in Florida, and with my past I knew I wouldn’t deal well with the crowd. I only knew two people, Jason and Evan, and they were both still pretty much mysteries to me as it was. Jason seemed kind, but he also seemed to be high on life at the moment. I’d have to let time tell me if that really was his personality, or if it was all because of his new relationship status. 

Evan didn’t even really have a description in my mind yet. He was nice enough, but I could always picture the wheels of his mind spinning. It felt like my guard needed to be up three times as high as usual around him, and it made me unsettled. He held an unusual intensity in his gaze and his expressions, and a curiosity that I recognized as dangerous for myself. The whole point of me being in Seattle was to lock my past away, not let my new roommate interrogate it out of me.

I took my hair down from my ponytail and used my fingers to straighten the fly away hairs that were out of place. Looking in the mirror, my own reflection was still foreign to me. My hair was darker and shorter, my eyes looked drained of light, and I looked nothing at all like the girl I used to be. I wanted it to be that way, to have any and all reminders of the old me erased from my mind so I wouldn’t have to remember. I’d have dyed my hair green and gotten a pixie cut if it would have given me the power to fully forget, but I knew that nothing would truly make the shadows I was running from disappear. They’d always follow me, and forever leave an unforgettable feeling of fear in the pit of my stomach. Seattle was a necessary escape, and a relief in some ways, but there wasn’t a single thing about it that felt real. It felt like I was dreaming, temporarily hidden from my true reality, only to have to run for my life once I opened my eyes. 

But I knew that if I was really going to set myself free from my past, I couldn’t let my anxiety of the future prevent me from living in the moment. To start new, I had to let the past go, and that was exactly what I’d try like hell to do.

So, as I flicked off the light by the doorway, I took a deep breath and shut the door to my room behind me. Jason’s engagement party would be a step in the right direction, whether or not my jumbled nerves agreed with me.

                                                                           

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