She's not Alone
By Katarina P., Richmond, TX
She's not alone“The cow’s been milked pa,” shouted Charlotte, but like her father does every day, he ignored her. Charlotte Gray lived out on a family farm with her father, Gregory Gray; her mother had died giving birth to Charlotte twelve years ago. Charlotte, or Charlie as she prefers it, was not exactly what you would call a social butterfly; she had been teased for not being like the other girls. You see, Charlie has been raised by a man her whole life, without any feminine input, so everything she does is done the way a man would do it. She wore dingy, blue overalls and button down plaid shirts, mostly red, with her favorite steel toed, dark brown boots. It was her “lack of style,” so to speak, that kept Charlie from mingling with kids her age; her best friends were not human, but they were what kept her competent and sane.
On the Gray farm, there were: cows, chickens, goats, pigs, ducks, and horses; of course, being the little boy that she was, Charlie favored the pigs. For as long as she could remember, she had always loved the pigs; mostly because it gave her the opportunity to get messy with them. As a result of her old childish ways, she had grown to care for a piggy best friend. She named him Frank; yes, like franks, or hotdogs. Charlie had a peculiar sense of humor; even more so, she had a peculiar medical condition. Charlie has a problem with her memory; it’s not that she forgets things; she just tends to black out without warning. There is no trigger that they have found, yet, but every now and again, she will find new scars or bruises that she does not remember happening; that’s how she knows when she has had an episode.
Charlie woke up early to get her chores done before Pa left for work; the farm did not bring enough money for them to live on. She wanted to see if she could get a simple “good morning” from him; but like the past two years, he said nothing to her. They were not always like this, Charlie used to be really close to her father. On the farm, she followed him everywhere, helped him milk the cows, collect eggs and feed the pigs; he even took her out to shoot out in the woods every summer. Pa taught her everything there was to know about the outdoors; she took in everything he had to offer. It was not until she was diagnosed with her condition that he began to drift away. He did not intend to be crude, but the dangers of Charlie’s condition can lead to death, for she is unaware of what is going on around her when she is blacked out. And as she gets older, she looks more and more like his deceased wife; he could not bear to have to bury his daughter with his wife. He had a problem with alcoholism before he married her mother and he was certain that he would relapse if it came down to Charlie’s worst case scenario. To him, he felt that it would be like burying his wife again; Charlie, literally, is a spitting-image of her mother. Every time that he looked at her face, he felt an ache in his chest where his heart used to be. Gregory did his best to detach himself from Charlie incase he ever did have to put her in the ground; but to her, he was just a neglecting jerk. He knew she could never understand and saw no point in trying to explain it to her.
After he left, she went outside to talk to Frank.
“Why do ya’suppose Pa hates me, Frankie? I never brought him no harm. Well heck, I never done nothin’ to make him angry; I does my chores, I cook us suppa, I does well in school. I just don’ undastand.”
Darkness swiftly swallowed Charlie before she could even try to get somewhere secure.
“Say now what are ya’doin’ up there on my roof?! Get down, Charlotte!” said, Mr. Boyle and ever so faintly, “I dunno how many times I done got to tell that guh.”
Charlie came to her senses and realized that her entire day had disappeared. Vanished; it was nonexistent. She thought to herself. “Why am I up here? What time is it? Is pa home? Oh no! Suppa!” She begins to descend and thinks up a little white lie.
“Why I sure am sorry Mistuh Boyle. I was justa tryin’ to save this lil’ bird but it done gone and fell off anyways. ”
Charlie ran home and found Pa sitting at the table; she had never seen him look so distraught. It was eleven at night and Pa’s fret turned into raging anger as soon as he found out that she had an episode as long as a whole day. He never said a word, he didn’t need to; she knew he was angry but could not fully understand why. He started to walk towards his room, after six or so steps, he turns back at Charlie and shakes his head. She hated it when he did that. Charlie ate a bowl of cereal and went to her room to retire.
The next morning Charlie woke up in a panting sweat, she had had the strangest dream. She couldn’t remember all of it but she had the feeling that she was being chased and could only remember a bright and unusual light. It was a light, right? She walked into her powder room and to her disbelief she saw a marking, unlike any other, on her collar bone. It wasn’t a bruise, and it wasn’t a scratch. It looked like a burn yet, it didn’t hurt the slightest bit. She couldn’t understand. Did she black out again? The front door was still locked, nothing had been touched, at all; this was difficult for her to comprehend because Pa’s coffee mug wasn’t on the table like every other morning. Charlie looked outside to see if his truck was gone; it wasn’t, it was parked exactly where it was the night before. By this time Charlie was running to her father’s room only to find that he was missing; confused, scared and alone, she began to bawl, dead center, in the middle of the hallway. “Where is he? What is going on? Why am I alone?!” She cried for many hours, hoping for Pa’s return; it never happened. She eventually fell back to sleep as her convulsions, from crying, stopped, but this time when she woke up she could remember everything that happened in her dream.
In the dream she was in a hospital and lying on what looked like table. She could hear voices, faintly, but enough to know that she’s not alone; she attempted to look around and to her horror she found herself, not only naked, but tied down to a cold, silver table. “What is this?!” There wasn’t much else she could see except a bright white light; “I know this ain’t no heaven,” she thought to herself, she began to panic and scream at the top of her lungs. Yet no matter how loud she yelled, nothing was coming out; she would still run out of breath, but it was impossible for her to make a sound. A hexagon formed along the white lining on the walls, it was a door; a strange one, but it was still a door. That was when they came in. “Oh thank goodness,” she thought, but then she realized how skinny these beings were. They were tall, and all had the same face; they were unlike anything she had ever seen before. They had the build of a human yet they had no hair. They only had four fingers and at the end of each finger there were what can be described as suction cups. Their arms and legs hardly had any muscle to support the bone; she couldn’t get past how skinny they were. Their eyes were so different: they were as if they were two black holes covered by a film, they were very round and were about the size of a tangerine. They had no nose, only nasal passages. They literally had two holes in their faces for breathing. Their mouths were barely existent; all that her straining eyes could see was a thin black line defining itself between the upper and bottom lip. Their skin was so smooth and cold; the color did not make sense to her. “In order for their skin to be that color, their blood has to be different too.” They were a very pale blue and they had dark blue freckles covering the entire surface of their arms, legs and back. “Well I’ll be damned,” she exclaimed. Charlie violently arose from the floor and ran outside to go to Mr. Boyle’s house. The front door slammed behind her as she looked up and found Pa slowly descending from a hovering, black, aircraft that only confirmed her worst fear. It was a hexagon, just like the door from her dream…memory? They were being abducted, and there was nothing she could do about it. She took refuge back inside the house and watched her drugged up Pa stumble towards the front door. “What does this mean? What should I do?” At this point in her life, damn near anything could’ve been possible. Charlie’s mind had never raced at the pace of her panting heart before; she began to have an anxiety attack. Pa finally made way into the house.
“God damn it Charlotte! What’d I tell you about leavin’ mah door unlocked?! Do ya’want some stranga just waltzin’ in here? ”
She couldn’t believe it, he spoke to her. She was so stunned by everything that was happening, she fainted. As she slept, everything had become clear; she remembered everything that had happened in every black out she had ever had and it all lead to that room on the table. Every scar, every bruise every memory lost; she owed it to that room. She was a specimen, a project, an animal for them to study.
Charlie woke up to a bright light, and all she can think is “Not again!” This time however, she isn’t tied to a table; she is tied to herself. She looks down and finds herself in a straightjacket surrounded by a room with white walls with only a bed to accompany her. A door opens,
“Good morning Charlotte, any more dreams about farms?”
She was baffled, it was Pa. He was talking to her, in a lab coat, and being kind. Endless questions caressed her mind; where she was, why she was there, why Pa was acting funny, and why he was wearing a lab coat. Her unfamiliar surroundings were strangely familiar; everything she saw reminded her of all the dreams she had remembering her lost time. Then she snapped.
“Get this thing off’a me, Pa! Why are ya wearin’ them funky white clothes?” she violently struggled as she attempted to free herself from bondage but it was all in vain. That’s when Pa decided to open his mouth, and scare the living wits out of her.
“My name is Dr. Gregory Gray, not Pa; Charlotte you have no father. You are a child of the state and you are being held here at Sunny Hills insane asylum. You and your father were in a tragic car accident two years ago. They couldn’t get you to accept your father’s death at the orphanage, so Mr. and Mrs. Boyle, the owners, sent you here with me.”
Charlie couldn’t grasp reality; and after listening to Dr. Gray, she wasn’t sure if she wanted to.
“So what ya tellin me is ….I’m crazeh? How do I know what’s real an’ what aint?”
“All in good time, Charlotte. But now that we have finally gotten you to see reality, we can begin your new life.”
He left. Leaving her to reflect on all that her mind had held on to. She started to wonder who she was, she looked in the mirror above the sink in her little unit cell, and studied every line and crease of her face; every strand of hair that was out of place. At this moment, her face began to appear unfamiliar to herself. She had no idea what to think or what to believe. Then she stared into her eyes and was reminded of her father. Then she noticed the scar on her collar bone from the crash; it was too much for her. She strictly wanted to go back to the farm and talk to Frank but she knew it would never happen. “Does Frank exist?...”
The next morning Charlotte had an appointment with Dr. Gray but she never showed. This wasn’t the first time but usually it is because she is in the lobby or wandering outside his door. One would think that her keeper would ensure her locations but he wasn’t exactly the brightest crayon in the box.
“How did she get out of her room?! Where is her keeper?!” exclaimed Dr. Gray. Charlie’s keeper came to talk to him.
“I’m so so sorry sir. I turned my back for just a quick second to get her pills and when I attempted to hand them to her, there was no one to hand them to. Am I fired?”
“No, you’re not fired. Mistakes happen. Alright, let’s lock it down and call out a search party.”
For many hours, the Sunny Hills staff searched for Charlie inside and out; they checked in the trees, the pool, they even checked her favorite place, the roof. Yet all they could scruff up was her medical bracelet by the cliff that led to the ocean. It was an eighteen story drop off with a bed of sharp and jagged rocks. As the waves splashed over them, it was evident that they would have swallowed anything in their path. Dr. Gray began to tear up; for he felt that he had failed her. He only wanted to restore her to the beautiful person she could be; to bring her into the real world and provide her with opportunities to make something of herself. But now there was no one for him to help, she was gone and there was no longer anything he could do. He kneeled down to pick up her bracelet and noticed that written on the underside was I’ll live. He wasn’t sure what to make of it but he showed no one the message; he simply placed it in her file and continued on to the next patient.
So where is she? Is she dead? Alive? I’ll tell you only if you promise not to ruin it for others. You see, Charlie is not dead; nor is she missing. She’s right here, writing this story.