Introductory note: The formatting always gets screwed up on WordPress whenever I upload it sooooo…I guess I’ll just roll with it! Enjoy and let me know what you think. My creative writing teacher said to dumb down the main character and not have her have mental issues, but I think it enhances the story. He said make it about an imperfect girl becoming a little more perfect. I didn’t tell him I wouldn’t change it. I hope that when he reads it he will get how it all fits together. 
Chapter 1: If it’s destroying you, is that love?

A girl came out of an old house on the streetway. Illuminated by the
streetlights, she walked cautiously and at a fast pace away from the house. Only to come to the top of the street. She waited pacing back and forth.
A worn jeep rolled up to the unpromising street way. She walked across the
main road with urgence. The man in the driver’s seat disappeared from view for a few seconds and the door was opened tentatively. The girl hesitated, but she got in. Bruises were barely conceivable on her forearms and legs. Cigarette smoke swirled around inside the jeep, this was her escape.
He looked at her as he drove.
“Are you sick?” he said.
“Am I sick?” She looked out the window.
“Sick or maybe delusional, why would you think I would be asleep?”
“I don’t know, sometimes nobody’s…”
“Well, I’m always.” He placed his hand over hers.
“I’m…scared.”
“Your arm–”
“Fuck off…” She shifted away from him
“Charlotte…” His hands gripped the steering wheel. He bit his lip.
Charlotte turned her head and shivered nervously looking over her shoulder.
Two beaming headlights trail behind them. Following. Smoke encompassed her; it’s hard to breathe. Yet it wraps around her like a warm linen. The cityscape rose up in the distance.The streets were empty and illuminated as the jeep pulled into the city, out of place.
The jeep pulled up to a wilting hotel in decay. Cars filled the parking lot. The
man got out of the car, worn out black converse tapping on the pavement. He walked around the back of the jeep and stopped for a minute in front of the girls door. He tentatively opened it up and roughly grabbed her wrist, much more harshly than necessary. He tugs her out of the jeep like a small rag doll. She tumbles to the ground, but doesn’t fall. He holds her up carefully, steadying. She swayed back and forth slowly she looked up into his eyes.

“I want to feel something.” She ran her hand over his cheek.
“Or maybe you want to feel nothing.”
“You don’t know anything–”
“What makes you think you know something? You don’t know anything.
You’re fucking sixteen, Charlotte.” He yanked her wrist.
“What…”
“You’re naive if you think people actually care about you–”
“They care more than you ever–”
“Shut up.”
“I–”
“Grow up.” He looked at the ground.
***
About a week later, she laid on his bed with minimal clothing on,
shivering underneath the thin blanket. The big t.v. was static in the background and she did not care to pay it any attention. She was more concerned about where he had gone. She sat curled up in a ball looking down at her hands. They shook violently, tears began streaming down her cheeks.

The door creaked open.
“Hey.”
“Hey Ace,” she looked up at him.
“Do you want a drink?”
“What’ve you got?”
“Liquor, coolers.”
“Ok,” she was visibly shivering.
He left the room and returned a short time later a blue drink in his
hand. She looked blankly at the glass as he sat down next to her on the bed. He
looked at her expectant, she sat completely still.

He inhaled sharply.
“Have you ever had a drink before?”
“Not an alcoholic one.”
“Well I meant…”
“Is this ok?”
“It’s 15% it’s some pussy ass alcohol compared to what I
usually drink.” He strokes her back.
She took a big drink and almost immediately started coughing.
“Damn that burns..”
“Oh sweetheart we have a ways to go with you.”

Maybe two hours later the drink kicked in Charlotte fell lazily on top of
him. He smiled and held the small girl. He kissed her forehead and pushed her blonde hair out of her face.
“What have I done?”
Chapter 2: Broken

“Yes mom.” Charlotte poured the cup of essential oils down the drain.
“I drank it all.”

Charlotte walked up the steps to her room. She locked the door behind
her and lit a candle to mask the scent of her Turkish royal cigarettes. It had been a gift from Ace. He had told Charlotte he didn’t like it when his girl didn’t have what she needed. She smiled down at the cigarettes. The anxiety went away.

A knock on the door. Charlotte slid the box of camels under her blanket.
“Are you going to school today?”
“No, I’m not up to it.”
“Charlotte there are things called truancy laws–”
“I know.”
“You’ve missed so many days…”
“I haven’t missed anything important and my grades are good, what’s the
problem?”
“You can’t hide from life forever.”
“You’re such a fucking pushover you let me.”
“I’m trying my best.”
The woman backed out of the room and shut the door. Charlotte blankly stared
at the ceiling. She slowly drifted off into a much needed nap. She didn’t see the pack of camels fall onto the floor of her room.
***
Charlotte’s mom entered the room. She quietly put the laundry basket
on the bed. There were pop bottles and energy drinks in every corner of the room. The room smelt like a vanilla candle and something else. She couldn’t quite place what it was, but it made the room feel stuffy. An object was crouched under a pile of papers with red ink all over them. She moved the papers and underneath was a memory box. She opened it cautiously. Inside there were birthday cards, concert tickets, necklaces, photos. One stack of pictures stood out. A stack of family photos which had been carefully, elaborately altered. Her face had been scratched out, cut out, or scribbled over with the same red ink all over the papers that had been covering the box.

The door creaked open.
“What are you doing in my room?”
“What have you been doing in your room…”
“That’s none of your business.”
“I’m your mother.”
“Only by blood.”

Charlotte’s mom looked at her daughter and then down at the
memory box.

“What is this..?”
“You should know, you gave it to me…”
“I did?”
“I don’t know why I thought you would remember.”
“Charlotte, let me fix this-”
“You don’t break something and put it back together…”
“Charlotte-”
“I’m not a little girl anymore, maybe you would know that if you were actually around.”

***
Ace looked down at the phone in his hand, nothing. Not a single notification.
Their last conversation Charlotte had been too drunk to comprehend anything he said to her. He glanced at a picture of her smiling, bright blue eyes. She was fragile looking, he rugged and sturdy. One of their more cheerful days together. He had been hesitant to take the picture. It could be used as evidence against him. It was their only picture together.
Charlotte had practically disappeared from existence after the night she slept
over at this place. He wondered if he had done something or if she didn’t want to see him anymore. His mind was running rampant.
His phone dinged.
“Hey Ace.”
“Hey.”
“We need to talk.”
“Are you sure you’re not just using that as an excuse to see me?” He smiled
smugly at his phone.
“No, it’s serious.”

He carefully typed his next words.
“What happened?”
“She found the cigarettes.”
“Does she know where you got them from?”
“No, I lied about it.”
“Thank god.”

Chapter 3: Touch has a memory

“I don’t like it when you don’t tell me what’s going on.”
“I’m sorry-”
“When you’re in a relationship you don’t keep things from each other.”
“Ace-”
“It’s rude as all hell.”

Ace got up and walked out of the room to give Charlotte some space. Charlotte
rubbed her arm. He had left a red mark on it, but it was nothing compared to the rest of her body. Her back was another story.

***
Music blared and was only amplified off of the walls of the bathroom. The
mirror had long since fogged over. Charlotte sat in the shower and let the scorching water wash over her. It stung, but it hurt far less than anything else had in the past few months.

There was a knock on the door, but it was ignored. Charlotte sat still in the
shower her head down with tears falling down her face.

Another knock.
“Charlotte, you’ve been in there over an hour.”
“I can’t get clean.”
“What are you talking about…”
“I keep trying..but I can’t…”
“Charlotte, open the door.”
“No…”

Charlotte’s mom unlocked the door using the key to find her daughter sitting in
the shower. Her back was covered with cuts and bruises. She rushed over to her. She turned off the water and tried to reach for her daughter.

Charlotte screamed.
“Don’t touch me.”
“Charlotte, who did this to you…”
“Nobody…”
“Somebody had to have given you those…”

Charlotte got up and grabbed a towel. She stormed out of the bathroom and up
to her room. Charlotte’s mother sat on the bathroom floor. Water dripped from her hair and clothes. She didn’t move for several minutes.

***
“Charlotte, I don’t know who gave those to you, but I swear to god you’re not
seeing them again.”
“You don’t have any control over who I choose to hang out with.”
“Charlotte, they’re hurting you–”
“You wouldn’t understand.”
“What is there to understand?”
“I–”
“No, you’re miserable crying in the shower…”

Charlotte said nothing more but simply nodded her head. There was no point
in this conversation continuing.

Charlotte’s mom left the room and walked down the stairs. She didn’t hear the
ding Charlotte’s phone made or the sound of the cool night air moving into Charlotte’s room. She didn’t pay enough attention to hear the sound of Charlotte removing the window screen or the sound of Charlotte sliding out and down onto ground level.
Chapter 4: Anything and Everything in moderation

Ace and Charlotte laid in his bed and he held her close. He kissed her
forehead. A familiar scene for the both of them. There was comfort in it, but also tension. A sort of caution between the both of them.

He pulled her on top of him.
“If you learn anything from me it will be this; anything and everything in
moderation.”

Charlotte said nothing, but inhaled peacefully. She felt him shift underneath
her. She thought nothing of this, he was most likely uncomfortable. Then it happened, he hit her.

“What did I say?”
“Anything and everything in moderation.” She shook.
“Good girl, I’ve done a lot of things in my life, but never enough to get
hooked.”

He got up and started to put his clothes on for the day. She followed suit
hastily and found her clothes scattered around his room from the night before. She laced up her converse and threw a hoodie over herself. Not really bothering to present herself, it was just another day. Charlotte did not want to anger Ace any further than she already had.

***
Ace and Charlotte drove around looking for somewhere to eat. Ace
spotted a Perkins. It wasn’t too risky to eat there and they could pull it off.

He turned the music down.
“Ok, you’re gonna be my little sister.”
“I think I can pull it off.”
“Or we can just say you’re eighteen you look the part.”
“At most I can pull off ten,” She laughed.
“You’re gonna make me feel worse than I already do.”

They smiled at each other. He pulled into the parking lot and parked the
jeep. It was very crowded with many college students. His eyes darted back and forth. Charlotte got out of the jeep. They walked in together keeping a distance between each other.

They were escorted to a booth and sat across from each other. Charlotte looked
down at her phone. There were several messages from her mother. She quickly slid it back into the pocket of her hoodie. Several minutes later they got a to go box and were on the road. Ace had bought her a slice of French silk pie.
***
Charlotte sat in the passenger seat of his jeep a few blocks away from her
work. It was at least ten minutes before her shift started. She was in no rush to go to work earlier than necessary.

“You’ll forget about me when you meet someone more appropriate
someone your own age.”
“No Ace I would never–”
“Charlotte when it comes to settling down and having someone’s children even
though you say you don’t want any–”
“Age doesn’t bother me Ace.”
“It wouldn’t be till next spring when you graduate I can’t–”
“You didn’t care about that before–”
“Look sweetheart I just wanted you–”

Charlotte grabbed her things and got out of the jeep slamming the door behind
her. She walked off tears streaming down her face.

“Charlotte,” he banged his hands against the steering wheel.

She whipped around and threw the piece of pie on the ground. There was not a
doubt that this was over, it was done. At least for now.
***

Charlotte’s mom pushed the door of Charlotte’s room open. Her entire body
was shaking with anger, but there was only disappointment in her eyes.

She held up a bottle of Charlotte’s pills.
“Why was this in the trash?”
“I don’t need them.”
“Charlotte, you need them to stabilize you…”
“You don’t know me or anything about me.”
“I know that I expect you to make the right decisions.”
“I…”
“If you say you can’t I will…”
“I won’t say I can’t it’s a matter of want.”
“It’s up to you to make decisions.”
“I know that…”
“Then you know it’s up to you to stop making all the negative ones.”
“You say that like it’s so fucking easy.”
“Because I believe you can.”
“No, I can’t.”
“Charlotte, life isn’t out to get you.”
“Then why do I and everybody I love settle for less?”
“I think…people are afraid to expect more for themselves.”
“Mom…”
“You haven’t called me that…”

Charlotte’s mom wrapped Charlotte in a hug. Charlotte didn’t fight it, but
collapsed in her mother’s arms. For the first time in a few months they just sat together. There was no screaming, no storming out of the room, no pushing away. Just a warm heartfelt embrace, mother and child.

“Can I really change?”
“That’s up to you.”

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