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He used to bring me flowers every morning.
“Nice day, Nat. Nice day,” he’d always say.
But the day hadn’t even begun yet.
WHAM! The blast knocked me off my feet. I slammed down hard on my back, onto the floor. Winded, I lay there, stunned. What was happening?
It was abrupt. The chest shattering feeling still lingered moments later, leaving me to stare helplessly at a vast sky above me, empty of everything but the glistening stars. Absolutely everyone, I’ve ever met, graced my mind. I called out to all of them, voice weak, eyes heavy with tears and frustration - but no one came. Screams erupted from around me, children, adults, men and woman; all the same, desperate, frightened and in need. The sound of feet pounded against the pavement thundered through the night
The last thought I came to mind, was of him. Then I wondered, why him? Why Charlie?
Faster than the realization of my feelings for him.
I laid there, pinned underneath a rogue support beam. The sky above me, the prideful stars that glisten and shone brightly, began to sympathize, washing me with cool, light rain drops. They mingled and blended with the tears I didn't even know I was shedding. I hollered like holy hell, wishing for someone - anyone - to help me. My screams were only buried, like the rumble around me.
My lungs grew frail. Every breath I attempted, every time I tried to fill my lungs with the crisp air that surrounded me, I could feel them concave.
Faster than the realization, that I was dying.
“Holy shit, Nat!”
I couldn’t sit up, or turn my head, but I knew who it was. His feet thudded against the rubble covered ground, and I felt every single step he took. Before I knew it, he was above me, trying his hardest to pull the beam off of me. He was giving it all his might, but it just wasn't working.
"Charlie, just stop."
“I’m here, OK? You’re gonna be OK, Nat.” He gently glided his thumb across my forehead, pushing aside a few stray strands of wet hair. His blue eyes burned into mine with a passion I hadn’t seen since the days I watched him scribbling in the garden. "You're gonna be OK."
I remembered my mother, the kind woman she was, always let Charlie sit in our vegetable garden and write his stupid stories. Always writing those dumb stories, he was. He said the garden brought him solace, and as long as he helped around the house when asked, mother didn’t mind. My little sister’s window was next to the garden so, once in a while, when boredom struck with the intent of killing, I’d watch him. And he’d scribble against the pages with such feverish passion, the sunshine pouring all over his back. Once in the while, he’d crack the stupidest laugh if I ever heard one. Father figured him mad. I didn’t know what to think of him.
He was handsome, yeah.
Charming, maybe. Only time I heard him speak was in the mornings, when he first got to our farm, all the way from the city, and offered me flowers. He’d mutter something about a nice day and I’d nod, even though the day hadn’t even began. And that time in the garden.
Smart, pro -
His voice cut in. “Nat, please stay with me.” His placed his rough hands on my face, caressing every inch of my cheek. I must’ve spaced out. The water licked down his hair, until it was smooth against his head.
“Charlie, where’s my father?”
“I don’t know. Everyone’s trying to figure out what’s going on.”
“Charlie,” I rasped, “ I need my father - please.”
Faster than the realization that I'd never see my father again. Or any of my other family for that matter.
The last thing I ever asked my father was stupid. Beyond stupid, really. I asked him, if he remembered ‘the sensation of falling’. I’d read it somewhere. Described as the between life of gaining a love. Ya’know? After you just met them, and before you were real deep in love. The in between. I wanted to know how it felt.
He ruffled his crumb infested beard, unfurling some crumbs as he considered my question. After he gave his eyebrows a break from scrunching together at me, he cracked a grin. Man, was that grin wide. Just close to breaking his face, I’d always say. “You sure are weird one, Nat. All those things your pretty little mind comes up with just amazes me”
It was the first time I’d talked to Charlie when I decided to ask him. I stormed right up into that garden, then doubled back once his blue eyes settled on my face, pretending I’d drop something. I probably spent about five minutes, foolishly fumbling over the ground pretending I lost something before I decided to try it again.
“Um,” I coughed, dragging the fist I had previously balled in front of my lips, through my coffee black hair, “boy?”
He glanced up, from his pages, from his furious scribbling, and cocked an eyebrow. “Boy?” My cheeks burned brighter than the sun that had been viciously beating down on the back of my neck.
“Nat, I’ve been bringing you flowers everyday,” he set his book down next to him as he rose up, dusting the grass off the back of his trousers, “and you don’t know my name?”
I wanted desperately to yank my hair in front of my face and hide from him. To say never mind, and retreat back into the house. Back to watching him behind a windowsill.
“Charlie, Nat. I’m Charlie.”
“Charlie,” I muttered it lowly, as if it held some sort of secret I wanted no one else to hear. “do you - um, do you know what it’s like to fall in love? The sensation of falling.”
I licked at my chapped lips, trying to taste something other than the metallic tang of blood. It was horrible. This whole thing was horrible.
“Do you,” I wheezed, “do you, remember that day in the garden?"
He nodded, his eyes trained on me. They were the color of an ocean just after a storm. “The sensation of falling?”
“And,” my voice broke a little, but I was able to regain it, “what did you say?”
“The gods felt it every time. The longer the fall, the more it pleased them.” he bit his lips, watching my eyes dim. “It burned into their bones, and then we just became a story to tell.” I couldn't fight the smile that danced across my lips, and apparently, neither could he - the corner of his dark pink lips tore upwards, and before me, was the greatest grin I'd ever seen. Not as big as my father's, but all the more special.
I'd swear to always remember that smile.
“Who told you that?”
“I wrote it, Nat.”
He was smart then. Handsome, yeah. And charming, most definitely. “Will you read me some more?”
“Of what you wrote.”
I heard the sound of shuffling, before I felt him next to me again. I couldn’t look up at his face anymore, only the stars.
Faster than the realization that Charlie's voice, was the last one I'd hear.
And he began to tell me a story. He said he couldn’t remember exactly what he wrote, so here was a new one. One about us. “Since the beginning of time,” he started, his voice, low, unsure almost, but then he continued, “they’ve been telling stories - it just happens ours was one of them. Our love was so bright, it even blinded the gods.”
I was left gazing hopelessly upon the stars, where the gods lived. I hoped they at least told our story right.
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