I awoke, and alas, Charlie was gone. Holly was sleeping next to Will, and the fire was just barely burning. I wanted to go back to sleep, but my internal clock had not switched yet, from days of waking up in the late afternoon. However, my curiosity was burning as much as the flame.
I knew where he was, though. I figured he was back at the site. I sat and watched the flame for a minute, then I got up. My back was aching the hell out of me. I wanted to go back to sleep, but I also wanted to know what he was doing.
I got up, then trudged to the site. I wondered how far away it was from Christmas. My family would always invite everyone. From my extended family, my extended family’s friends, their friends, and basically everyone in a hundred-mile radius. Half of us didn’t even know the other half. But we got to know each other easily. My mother and sister would spend almost the entire day in the kitchen, cooking up a storm. The house would smell like cinnamon, and we’d be singing carols with booze-filled bellies.
My heart sunk when I arrived at the site. Charlie was there, kneeling, facing the crashed plane. It was beginning to rust by now. It smelled heavily of gas and metal. He was praying.
Charlie knew I was there. When he stood up, he said, “I needed to do something.”
“I know,” I replied.
He turned to face me. He was crying again. I never understood why he felt the pain that he did, for people he didn’t even know. I doubted he was just an emotional person. Even emotional people wouldn’t do that.
I asked why he was crying.
Charlie looked a bit flustered, then came up with an answer. “Whenever I pray for their souls, I can’t help but imagine their families wondering when they are going to come back. But they’re not. They’re waiting for the inevitable bad news of their loved ones.”
I didn’t know Charlie was so seraphic. I couldn’t even imagine a guy like him sharing a prison cell with a rapist.
“You never answered my question.”
I furrowed my brows. What question? “You’ve never asked me a question.”
“From yesterday. How’d you spend your glory days?”
I stuttered. He had an amazing memory, too. “Well, in the beginning, my parents were rich. Very rich. As in I’d have my butler drive me to school every day.”
Charlie snorted. “Wow, I couldn’t imagine that kind of luxury.”
I laughed, and said, “Yeah. My dad was high up in a big tech company.” I began walking back from the site, and Charlie followed. “He managed everything. My mom stopped working ever since she got married to that guy. Our house had five floors, decked out with marble and statues. And marble statues. Oh, geez, how I remember I would practically slide down the staircase on Christmas day.”
I stopped talking. I didn’t want to say anything else. I guess that’s all I wanted to remember, is all.
“So?” asked Charlie.
“Hah, well, stuff happened, I guess. My dad died in a car accident, along with his money. My mom had no clue where to go from there. She obviously sold the house. We just couldn’t pay the bills. I was a pre-teen, at this age, mind you. We moved into something smaller. A small house in a small town. With my sister, my mom, and I, we helped rebuild our lives. I personally liked our newer house better.”
Suddenly, we heard a noise come from the bushes, back behind us. I flinched. We stopped walking and turned around, trying to pin an animal or something to the noise.
“Probably just a rabbit or something, let’s keep going,” Charlie says, turning back around. I didn’t want to seem annoying or anything, so I followed along with him.
When we got back to the camp, Holly and Will were still sleeping. Charlie started to pick at the snowy ground, using a stick to draw something. I had my eye on the animal that was following us.
“Charlie. . .” I whispered.
Charlie looked up at me. “Yeah?”ns18.104.22.168da2