24 | in her history textbook

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| 24 |

Are you a cat? Because you're purrrrfect.

CHARLOTTE SMOOTHED DOWN  her black skater skirt and fiddled with the collar of her thin, black and white polka dotted shirt.

Her lips were sore from biting on them so much, the nerves and the stress overwhelming. Charlie's fingers combed through her shoulder-length, brown hair. Her phone buzzed in the small purse she had on her shoulder, and Charlie checked it.

Teddy Orion: i'm here

Taking a deep breath, she hobbled slowly down the stairs, the wedges on her feet causing the imbalance.

Charlie's dad was lazily sitting beside the counter in the bookstore, her mother reading behind it. She cleared her throat, causing her parents to look up.

"I... Teddy's here," she mumbled, adjusting the purse strap.

"Oh, honey," her mother sadly whispered, putting her book down. "You look beautiful."

Charlotte nodded with a straight face. "I'll see you later."

"All right," her mother replied, her father giving her a grim smile.

It was June fifth, exactly a week after Violet Dawes died.

Malcolm had not been to school the whole week. The mood among the friends was somber, and not at all the usual content atmosphere. They rarely had a conversation of more then twenty words.

Charlotte safely made it to the Cadillac, only slightly stumbling once. She never wore heels, so this was a first. A first. Her first funeral for someone younger than seventy. Her first group of friends. Her first [non-fictional] crush. Her first... Whatever the hell she was with Teddy.

His jaw was clenched and his onyx-black hair was snazzily tousled to one side of his forehead. One hand was gripping the steering wheel like his life depended on it, while the other hand tapped a mile a minute on the dashboard. His expression was forcibly stiff, as if he was about to cry.

Teddy didn't look at her once as she got in the car and buckled up. His stormy eyes were dead set on the road [A/N LOL "DEAD SET" HAHAHA PUNS], and Charlotte stiffened her posture. The tension was strong, and it never usually was with Teddy.

Her sweaty hands were fidgeting in her lap, her eyes darting from him to the window.  The unfamiliar trip to the funeral home flew by her, the flourishing maple trees and daintily decorated houses looking tall and daunting.

Charlie shot a peek at Teddy to see him staring right back at her. She blinked for a second before she blushed and turned away.

Charlotte was nervous. She did not like seeing dead bodies. To see the still, unmoving corpse of a girl once full of life terrified her. To see what was left of a human once their brain blanks and their heart freezes and their breath clogs for good and their eyes gloss over and no no no no no no no no.

She cleared the image from her head, gnawing her teeth together and squeezing her hands.

She could nearly hear her heart in the silent car, thump thump thump as she tried to think of anything but where they were going and what they were doing and who they were seeing.

Teddy pressed play on the CD player on the car. A Day in the Life softly hummed throughout the old, clunky machine.

Thank you.

They rattled along, Charlie humming along every so often. Teddy was silent.

"If at any time you need a Charlie hug, I'm here," she blurted out. She desperately needed to say something comforting to him.

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