Out of bed

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Chapter three: Out of bed

"It had been bad for a while, you know that. It's not like it was really a surprise." Jolene is looking at me with her huge green eyes, her red topped head cocked in judgmental sympathy as she sits on the edge of my untidy bed. She said she came to check in on me and inform me that my boss sent her to bring me back to work. I could sense the shock in her face when I opened the door to let her in. She held out a casserole of some dish as if she was visiting a widow, but it almost dropped as I watched her survey the dump that was currently my home. She didn't take a polite grasp of her facial expression because she followed me with that shocked and reproachful look all the way to my bedroom. I could sense the glowering heat of her judgment mixed with pity as she sat on the corner of my bed, dusting off invisible dirt prior to sitting. "Charlotte, I mean seriously, when was the last time you cleaned this place. It looks awful."  

"Jolene, I can't remember why you came here again, remind me." I questioned with a sigh. 

"Why to make you feel better Charlotte" Jolene's emerald eyes were wide as her english accent dramatized her shock.  

"Then why are you going out off your way to make me feel worse?" I responded with a not so subtle hint of sarcasm. 

"Oh, I'm sorry Charlie, I didn't realize. I mean..." her eyes averted to her shuffling feet. "We were all worried about you that's all." She looked up at me and the shock, the reproach and the pity were replaced with genuine sympathy. I wasn't mad and she knew it. Jolene and I had been through a lot and if anyone could get away with being unknowingly insensitive it was her. I knew what she meant all along, she was shocked to see what state I was in. I glanced in the mirror above my dresser and shared her shock. My hair showed a sheen of grease that seemed to drip down into every pore on my face. I pulled at the now greenish orange Mets shirt and now too big grey sweat pants that seemed to swallow my body. I put my hand through my disheveled hair and jumped back in disgust.  

"Whoa! What the hell is that disgusting smell, it smells like ASS!!" I covered my nose but the smell seemed to get worse.  

"Um, Charlie, that would be you." Jolene snickered in her hands. "Come on luv, let's get you washed." Jolene led me into my bathroom and began to unstick the clothes from my putrid body and held my breath as she turned the shower on. She tested the water and guided me into the tub, placing a new bar of soap on the tub sill. I stood under the warm water letting it run over my oily hair and back. I exhaled to the faint smell that was now evaporating with the steam. I heard Jolene rummaging through my room.

"Hey are the clothes in the red basket or the blue basket clean? OY! Never mind. I figured it out." She screamed over the running water. An arm suddenly popped through the shower curtain holding an already loaded toothbrush. "I insist" she said.

I grabbed the toothbrush and began scrubbing. I washed my hair several times, the mirror image guiding my hands thoroughly, and scrubbed my body till the bar of soap was half its original size. When I finally turned off the water I found a sparkling white towel and fresh new clothes laid out for me on the counter top. I dressed and checked my shiny new self in the mirror before exiting for Jolene's inspection. She was fast I had to admit. She had already cleared the area around my bed and I could hear the washer running in the background. I followed the sound of angry cleaning to my kitchen where I found my redheaded friend taking a serious crack at my pile of dishes.

"Honestly Charlie, is rinsing a plate against your religion?" I looked about at the mess and saw a pile of letters stacked by the door. I walked over and read the address on the top most letter before I even had it in hand.

To the future Mr. and Mrs. King it stated in the neat cursive my mother so excelled at. I could tell by its shape it was more than likely a congratulatory card. The rush of emotions that had kept me hostage for what felt like weeks came rushing back as I held the envelope addressing my past. I looked at the top right corner of the envelope. It was postmarked May 28th, the day I found the house empty.

"Jolene, what's today?"

"June 10th." she yelled from the kitchen. June 10th! How long had I been......? "Almost 2 weeks." Jolene stared at me as if she could read my mind. She took the envelope from my hand and led me to the kitchen table. She sat me down and placed a bowl of lucky charms in front of me.

"Jolene, does my family know?" I asked through choked breath.

"Yeah, you're mum was out of her mind with worry, she called me at work and begged me to check on you, but you wouldn't answer any of my calls, or even the door. I was about to call the fire department to kick in your door but David showed up at my work and left a key and instructed me to come over."

"David?" the lucky charms dropped out of my mouth.

"Yeah, I guess he had been over here to pick up something the arsehole forgot and found you less than yourself. He wanted me to keep quiet about finding you to save your feelings but that was before I found you in this state." the smile she gave me showed she was trying hard to lighten the mood. I could feel the tears running down my face into my bowl.

"What did he forget?" I asked.

"His bloody soul." Jolene scowled. She must have seen me wince because she placed her hand on mine and lifted my face with her other hand. "And the best thing that ever happened to him."

Jolene suddenly shot up and lifted me up by my arm. "OY! I almost forget! We have got to get you to work Charlie! You've got to finish that story by today or Phillip's going to axe us both!" She ran into my bedroom and returned with white tennis shoes. "Let's go!" She yelled as she dragged me out the door.

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