Love Notes - By Heather Gunter

Chapter 1-Charlie

I wake up to incessant screaming. It’s deep and commanding and damn if it isn’t directed at me. It is way too early for this shit to start. The only words I’m able to make out are “fat ass”. They are unmistakable, I hear it enough and know better than to holler back. I slowly remove myself from the warmth of my bed where I feel safe and protected.

I take in the surroundings of my new room. The walls look like someone has thrown up Pepto-Bismol all over them and the floor has God awful rose colored carpet. The walls will definitely need to be painted, the carpet I’m stuck with, I’m definitely going to need an area rug. I am so not a pink girl.

All of a sudden I hear the words again, and if it’s at all possible, even more clear this time around. “Charlie, get your fat ass in here!” I can’t help the sigh that releases from my mouth as I walk into the room, albeit a little slowly, where the screaming originated from.

The minute my dad notices me; I can tell he’s seething mad. I don’t say anything because it will be utterly pointless. Any words that come out of my mouth while he’s this upset will surely set him off even more and I'd live to regret them. This is normal for me. I can’t do anything right and have never been able to. I’m a huge disappointment to him.

“Charlie, what did I ask you to do last night that you didn’t do?”

I’m trying to recall what it is when instantly, like a bolt of lightning, it hits me and whatever color I have in my face must be gone. I know and I screwed up. I always screw up. I don’t mean to, it just happens. I forgot to do the dishes. I know… stupid, right? It may seem this way, but it’s really not so stupid. My parents are the epitome of cleanliness. They hate anything not being cleaned or picked up. Everything must be perfect. Just like this family is supposed to be perfect. Looks are deceiving.

I take a deep breath, before I answer him, unable to keep my voice from quivering. “I’m sorry; I forgot to clean the dishes last night. I was tired from unpacking and I went to lie down and I fell….” He doesn’t even wait for me to finish the word asleep, before he barks out, “What are the rules Charlie? We have them for a reason. What if we had company stop by? How would that look?”

I can’t help but think to myself, “Why would we have company, we just moved here?” Of course I don’t say this out loud, things are bad enough and it would only spur him on and that is definitely something I don’t want. If he took my Jeep away I would be lost. It’s always a constant threat. I bought it myself with my own money prior to moving here but somehow it’s always used against me.

He looks at me with cold calculating eyes and I can see his brain spinning several different scenarios. “I could take your Jeep away…” I feel the beginning of tears threaten to come out but I’m desperately willing them to stay put. I don’t like to cry in front of him, ever. He lets this sit for a moment before continuing, “But then I would have to take you to school and I don’t have the time or energy to mess or deal with you.”

I slowly and quietly release my breath thanking the Lord for allowing me to keep my Jeep, my prized possession. My one and only saving grace. I desperately try to reign in the look of relief I'm sure I'm showing on my face. I don't doubt he caught it. You would be hard pressed not to.

“However, you are to go to school and home and that’s it, no job hunting or anything for two weeks. Got it?” he says.

I nod my head that I understand and turn to leave when I hear, “Charlie.” I slowly turn back around, scared he’s changed his mind about my Jeep. But instead of anger his voice changes to snarky, “You clearly don't care if you repulse anyone. You really should have tried harder to lose weight. I think you may have gained a few pounds over the summer. You’re dismissed.”

I can’t get out of there any faster and I don’t want him to