The Taste of Grief

After a recent tragedy, Lola and Morten attempt to console Marv. An angsty CharliexMarv oneshot.

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1. The Taste of Grief

“You’ve been coming here every day, Lola.”

“I know.”

“Umm… well… maybe you could come a bit less? I mean… we kind of need some alone time.” Marv stared at his shoes, his hands shuffling awkwardly in his pockets.

“Oh… sorry,” Lola said, blushing.

“Wait, don’t go!” Morten pipped up from behind Marv. “I like it when you come round- you can just chat with me and we can leave Marv to cry in his room.”

“Morten!” Marv hissed.

“Wait… Marv, you’ve been crying?” Lola said. “How often?”

“I hear him crying all the time… keeps me awake at night sometimes,” Morten said.

“Morten, please!”

Lola flashed Marv a warm smile. “It’s okay, Marv. It’s normal to cry in times like this…” At that thought, her throat started to tighten… tears started to form in her eyes.

“Come on, Lola,” Morten said gently. “Let’s go to the kitchen… my mum has some pink milk.”

*

“I’m sorry I come so often, Morten,” Lola said, swirling her pink milk with her straw. “I think it might be annoying Marv… and the rest of your family…”

“I don’t mind,” Morten said. “I like having someone here. It distracts me from… Marv looking so sad… and… kind of how sad I am too…”

Lola looked up at him. “I didn’t know you were upset about it.”

Morten shifted in his seat, avoiding eye contact. “Well… I did know Charlie… he was really nice…”

“He was…” A few tears rolled down Lola’s cheek.

“Umm… sorry… I shouldn’t have said that…”

“No, no, it’s fine, Morten.” She took another sip of pink milk. “I shouldn’t be crying in front of you… sorry… it’s not nice to see other people cry…”

“I don’t mind, Lola, really.”

“But I minded when Mum and Dad were crying… that’s why I come here so often.”

“Oh… well… I can understand why…”

Lola sobbed.

Morten gently patted her on the back. “You know, now, it might be painful to remember Charlie… but… once you get past the grief, you’ll think of him, and it will still be upsetting, but you’ll feel happy too.”

“I remember when our pet mouse Nibbles died… I felt really sad… but then, I remembered him, and then I also felt happy, and tried to forget about how sad the death was… and how good his life was.”

“Yes… it’s a bit like that. But you don’t have to force yourself. Just let it happen… but… umm… don’t get too depressed.”

“You’re so nice, Morten,” Lola said.

Morten blushed. “Umm… thanks.”

Lola stared at the lines in the wooden table. Some of them seemed to make pictures, like faces, and animals, like foxes, or an eye.

“Let’s go watch something on the TV,” Morten said.

*

When they went to the living room, though, Marv had taken up the sofa; he was staring at the television, but it wasn’t on.

“Maybe we should…” Morten began.

“Marv, could you kindly get off the sofa, please? Morten and I are going to watch some TV.”

Marv didn’t respond.

Morten sighed. “We should go somewhere else…”

“It’s all my fault,” Marv said.

The sound of his voice made Lola jump.

“The reason he was hit by that bus… was because I distracted him. He was running across the road… waving at me… and because he was waving goodbye, he didn’t look, and…” Marv buried his face into a cushion and started to sob. “I’m sorry, Lola… I killed your brother…”

“Marv, that wasn’t your fault!” Lola said. “You didn’t know that…”

“I loved him… God, I loved him.”

“Well… Charlie loved you too…”

“He wouldn’t now! Not after what I did!”

“No, he wouldn’t blame you! I’m sure Charlie would still love you! You were his best friend…”

Marv chuckled. “Friend… if only you knew, Lola.”

“What… what are you talking about?”

“Lola,” Morten whispered. “I think we should leave him…”

“I suppose he didn’t tell you, did he?” Marv said.

“Tell me what?” Lola asked.

“Lola, let’s go…” Morten hissed, yanking at Lola’s sleeve.

“Do you know, Morten?” Lola asked.

“Please… let’s go, Lola…”

“Marv, what went on between you and Charlie?” Lola said.

“Isn’t it obvious? Did you not even guess before? Did you not see the way we looked at each other?”

“Lola…”

“Charlie and I were in love, Lola. But then I just threw it all away… it’s my fault he’s gone… now I can’t hold him, I can’t…” Marv hid his face in his hands, his body shuddering.

“Marv…” Lola said, reaching out.

“Come on, Lola,” Morten said.

And Lola finally left.

*

“Do your parents know?” Lola asked Morten once they were out of earshot. “About…”

“Yes. After I found out, he told me, then he told them, and Marty. They took it quite well.”

“How did you find out?”

“Well… I found a letter Charlie wrote for him left on the doormat once… and he wasn’t home, so I decided to read it, in case it was important, and…”

“They wrote each other letters.”

“Yes. After… what happened… he gave all the letters to me to get rid of. But I couldn’t bear to do that, so I just kept them somewhere…”

“Can I… read some?”

Morten blushed. “Are you sure, Lola? They’re quite… intimate…”

“Oh… wait, what? They’re those types of letters?”

“Oh, no!” Morten’s face was now painted bright red. “They’re just really personal, that’s all!”

Lola giggled. “Thank goodness! I can’t imagine Charlie writing something like… that!”

“I can imagine Marv doing that,” Morten muttered. “Okay… you can read them.”

*

Just seeing the letters made Lola feel tearful; all were handwritten on white lined paper, in Charlie’s distinctively neat handwriting.

Some of the letters were mostly unromantic- letters from holidays, with photographs attached. Looking at those pictures, of Charlie smiling in the sun, or curled up in a tent, made Lola cry a little bit, but also made her smile herself.

Others felt a bit intrusive to read. Lola knew that Charlie enjoyed poetry, and he’d really shown this in a few of the letters. Reading about Marv’s freckles, and his warm lips, made Lola read those ones rather quickly.

Then, she got to another letter- one that was still in its envelope. On the back, the date was written… and it was the day of his death. With shaky fingers, she opened it…

Dear Marv,

I still haven’t told my parents, or even Lola, about us. I know you want me to. But it’s not because I’m ashamed of you, of us. I’m just scared of how they’ll react. I know you were worried about your family, and they accepted it, but… I don’t know about mine.

I know, someday, I’ll have to tell them. And even if they don’t agree with it, I will still love you. Because I don’t think anything can stop me from loving you. I know it’s cliché, Marv, but… no matter what happens, I will still love you.

When I’m with you, Marv, I feel like nothing else matters… you always make me so happy. No matter how upset I am, you can always cheer me up, just by smiling, just by being with me. And I would like to thank you for that, for being there for me, for making me so happy.

Sorry… this is sappy. I know you hate stuff like that. But… I have to tell you. Because if something happens, I think you need this.

I don’t know if eternal love is true, but I hope it is, because, Marv, if I had the chance, I would gladly stay with you forever.

Love from Charlie

“Lola… are you okay?” Morten asked.

“Morten…” Lola said, wiping away a tear. “There’s a letter Marv hasn’t read yet… and I think he needs to see it…”

*

A year had passed since Charlie’s death.

Lola was round the Lowes’ apartment, drinking pink milk, sitting in front of the television as Morten and Marv sat either side of her. All three of them were smiling.

All of them were talking, about Charlie, stories about him…

“There was this one time we tried kissing on the swings… and he fell off!” Marv said. “Broke his nose!”

“Wait a moment… I think Charlie did once come home with a broken nose… he said he got it from playing football!”

Marv laughed.

“One time, Charlie was on the beach,” Lola said. “And… he was playing with these children and… they buried him all the way up to his neck! Mum and Dad had to help him out!”

“Oh!” Morten said. “Do you remember the time Sizzles farted in his face!”

“Morten!” Marv said with a chuckle.

“That was funny!” Lola giggled.

As they talked, Lola could feel a pang of sadness still, a longing for Charlie to be there, laughing and joking with them… she suddenly felt ashamed of smiling and messing about on a day of mourning. But then, she remembered something he said once…

“It’s good to be nice, Lola. It’s nice to see people happy.”

Lola smiled at the ghost of him in her mind… she imagined a path, one that led into the distance, decorated by flowers, where butterflies danced, and the sun shone, and Lotta, and Morten, and Marv, and her parents, were beckoning for her to catch up and, so she eagerly walked on.

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