I watched him from behind as he filled up his canteen next to the river. I think, at that point, I had lost all feeling. The temperature didn’t bother me. I was becoming numb.
I imagined Charlie, a man who prays to God when we’re all asleep, being interrogated by a cop. I thought of all the questions they normally have to ask someone. Then I thought of his responses. The feeling the thought gave me made me sick to my stomach. Being wrongly accused. I could never imagine the feeling one would feel being sentenced to life in prison when you weren’t the one who did it. No more family. No more church. No more life.
“Come on, Duncan. Holly needs water.”
And yet here he stands with me. If I were him, I would run away from all of us. Live by myself in the wilderness. It would be better than prison. Trust me, I’ve seen the place.
My legs were sore from the countless days of sleeping on the floor. I plodded down from the snowy hill I was standing on to fill up the canteen for Holly.
Without looking at him, I whispered, “I’m sorry.”
“What? I can’t hear you over the river, you know.”
Standing up and turned back around, I repeated, “I'm sorry. I treated you like a dog. I shouldn’t have punched you on that night. If only. . . I can’t even imagine the suffering you went through. Knowing there’s a killer like that out there and you’re stuck in a cell alone.”
Charlie’s answer caught me by surprise as he touched my shoulder. I flinched at the touch.
“I’ve come to terms with it, barely,” started Charlie again, “We’ve discussed this enough. Let’s get back to camp.”
I couldn’t shake my mind from it. I didn’t know why Charlie didn’t want to talk about it. I was infatuated by him, I really was. The way he handled things. He always knew what to do. He never got angry unless there was a true reason. Unless I got angry at him.
I then wondered where he came from. Does he have a family? I asked him my questions.
“I was born in Georgia if that’s what you’re asking. Dad was a car mechanic. Mom a teacher. We had a small house with a big yard. A lot of room for football in the back with my dad. Hey, I even got on the high school team.” Charlie looked at me and smiled.
I laughed. “You? On the high school football team?” I ducked under a branch.
“Don’t laugh,” he said, even though he was laughing himself, “I was as big as you back in my glory days”
“Well did you have a cheerleader as a girlfriend?” I asked. We were having fun.
“You would think so, but no. She was cute as hell, though. A real smartie. She knew her stuff. We bonded well.”
Now I was interested in this mystery girl. “What happened to you two?”
“Miranda was her name. Never got bored of me, even though I was holy as hell. But, you know, life got to each other and stuff. She went off to college. I didn’t have enough money. So, she kept writing, but we grew apart. Dad needed help with the shop. Life happened, is all. It was high school, you know?”
The fun conversation grew somber. 98Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡkLR4by4sJH
Life happened, is all. I repeated what he said in my head.
“So, what about you? How’d you spend your glory days?”
Before I could answer, we saw the current state of Holly. ns22.214.171.124da2