An infatuation; An innocent crush. A morbid, malicious and obsessive love. When the line between the two is blurred by an irrational jelousy, how will Charlie save herself and Frank?
“Gerard? As in Gerard Way?” Tristian asked of his friend Charlie.
“Yes…” She replied, blushing. “What? What’s so funny?” She asked fearfully. “Oh nothing… I’ve just barely even seen him talk to anyone but his brother before, let alone ask some random girl out!” Tristian quipped before breaking down into a fit of giggles. “But that’s not important, you have a date! That’s awesome!”
Charlie shook her head and bit at a nail nervously. “I don’t even know him though…” She whispered. Why she was so anxious, she didn’t know. “Oh calm down, it’s a dance, not an arranged marriage.” Charlie sighed and thought back to a few hours ago on a bench in a park near her house in Kearny.
She was sitting alone on a bench under a tree, which shaded the sun that had been shining bright that morning. She was reading over an essay she had just written in her notepad. It was nothing important, just some school assignment that was due. She squinted up at the sky, put the time at about 11, and stood to leave. As she did, she had heard someone call her name.
She turned around to see a boy walking towards her. He was wearing jeans and had messy hair that matched the colour of his black shirt. She had a feeling she might have seen or met him before somewhere and she quickly racked her brain, not wanting to be impolite.
“Hi. I’m really sorry, but do I know you?” She said kindly.
No, Gerard thought. She didn’t know him. Well, she didn’t remember him, to be more accurate. She had met him many times on various occasions, mostly through other friends. She went to school at Queen Of Peace High with his friend Frank.
“No.” He said, trying not to sound as hatefully nervous as he was. He couldn’t blame her for not remembering him, people rarely did. He was too quiet, too boring, too shy and too weird.
“But I was wondering, uh… My school’s having a dance on Tuesday night and I was wondering if you’d come with me.” He was looking at his feet, his hands working anxiously, knotting themselves together at increasingly fast intervals. Charlie raised an eyebrow. “A dance?” She had said.
“Yes, a dance.” He replied.
She had agreed, handed over her notepad so he could scrawl a time, date and place. And his name. She read the thin and hasty words again as she walked home. Gerard Way. Who was he? Why did he want to take her to his school dance? She mulled this over as she walked through the gate and up the driveway of her small house on. She again looked at the piece of paper she had ripped out of her notepad. It also had his home number and address. She walked to her room and sat on her bed, which squeaked in protest. “Shut it.” She told it. Her father would be asleep in his own room, and she knew he would not want to be woken. She placed the paper and her bag on the floor and picked up the phone to call Tristian.
“I know…” She said “But I didn’t know him at all, and he knew my name. I’ve never seen him before…” She heard the faint sound of police sirens somewhere and rolled onto her stomach lazily.
“Yes you have, actually. My cousin Ray is good friends with Frank Iero, who goes to your school, but is also good friends with Gerard, who goes to Belleville High School with me.” He explained, sounding rather proud.
“Yes Tris, but that doesn’t explain how I’ve met him.” Charlie said, sounding a tad exasperated. “Oh.” He said “Well, a few months back I think it was, remember me and you went with Ray, Frank and that Mikey kid to a gig at Maxwell’s? Well Mikey is Gerard’s brother. If you remember, me and Frank ended up sleeping at Mikey (And Gerard’s) place, and you talked to Gerard when you brought us in. You had to explain we were drunk and needed a place to crash.” He finished breathlessly. “And then Ray took me home! I remember.” Charlie replied. “You guys were so wasted… But Gerard is Mikey’s brother? Ok I get it. I’ll call him later. Maybe.” She heard distant stirrings from down the hall. “My dad’s awake, I’d better go. Bye Tris.” He said goodbye and she hung the phone up.
“Charlie.” She heard her father’s voice and quickly rushed to where he was standing outside her room. “Yes dad?” She said as she neared him. He looked very tired, rings under his green eyes that were flecked with blue, the same eyes as his daughter’s. His thinning brown hair was unbrushed and tussled and his chin had not been shaved. “I’m going to work. I’ll shower and eat when I get there. Clean up the house a bit, please, Marnie’s coming over when I get back.” Charlie nodded and handed him his jacket. He kissed her goodbye and walked out the door and down the street. His girlfriend Marnie had his car still, so he’d be catching the bus to work today. It was Sunday, so he only had to work for half the day, but she knew he got so stressed and tired, and it didn’t help that he had to catch the bus.
Marnie was nice enough, Charlie was glad her father was happy when he was with her, but sometimes she suspected Marnie harvested secret dislike for her boyfriend’s young daughter, Which Charlie thought was odd. People usually got on with her just fine, she rarely argued with anyone about anything. She was the Get-Along girl, and she actually considered herself to be rather boring.
She sat down on the couch and turned on the TV.
Charlie had a few friends at her school. She hated the school itself, hated being taught by nuns, hated the stupid uniform, but her father worked hard to send her to such a prestigious school, so she never spoke a word against it. Most of the kids’ parents at her school drove Bentleys and she was sure she was the only student who lived in Kearny. She had to catch the bus to school most days. She hated that too, but didn’t protest.
Things had been different before her mom left them to marry some truck driver guy and run off to California with him. Charlie had really expected more from her mom; a completely respectable and prominent member of society. That was when they lived in North Arlington, near her school. Her mom was a successful real estate agent and that, combined with the intake from her father’s carpentry business, put them above the average annual income line. But her dad’s business began to waver in its success, money became more or less steady, mom started drinking more and then one day, just left, leaving a letter and a few invaluable possessions.
Then things got bad. Her father was forced to sell the business, they moved to their tiny house in Kearny. Charlie knew it killed her father to be living in such a bad area, with all the crime that went around, but what choice did they have?
Charlie looked around the room, deciding what to clean first, when she heard the phone ring. She stood up to answer, suspecting it to be Tris.
“Hello?” She said. For a second or two there was silence on the other line, save for the faint crackling of phone lines. She was about to speak again when she heard a quiet, shy “hi…” She furrowed her brow and said “Who is this?”, Though she might have known…
“It’s Gerard. From the park? My friend Frank gave me your number.”
“Oh. Hi Gerard.” Charlie said. Suddenly her mouth was very dry. “Can I help you?”
Can I help you? She thought. God, I sound like a receptionist or something.
On the other line, Gerard’s anxiety increased tenfold. She didn’t want to talk to him… But he pushed himself and finally he spoke. “So it’s a yes to the dance? I guess that’s why I called…”
There was a slight pause before Charlie said “Yes, I am.” Somewhat stiffly. Gerard couldn’t help but smile. “Well, I’m going to have to get your address off you, so I can pick you up.” Charlie’s eyes widened. She looked around her, outside to her overgrown and neglected yard, at the messy kitchen and cramped living room. “Uh, how about I meet you there?” She said hopefully.
Gerard paused, confused, before saying “Ok…” There was an awkward silence, and it was Charlie who broke it. “So I know I’ve met you before, you’re Mikey’s brother… Do you want to tell me something else about you, too?” She wanted to say something else, but trailed off, feeling stupid. Gerard didn’t want, though. “How about you tell me about yourself. I mean, I asked you out and all…” he said.
Another pause. “Like what?” Charlie said softly. “Well, lets start with what music you listen to, how old you are, your friends, stuff like that.” He said, sounding far more confident than he felt. A long silence, before Charlie said “I’m sixteen, and-“ Gerard cut in, to say “Sixteen? I thought you were in Frank’s grade…” Charlie rolled her eyes and said patiently “I’m older than I should be for my grade, and Frank’s younger than he should be for my grade. Technically, we should both be fifteen.” Gerard nodded and asked for her to continue. She did. “I love Queen.” She said, simply.
She did. Queen was her favourite band. She didn’t listen to as much music as Tris and his friends did, but she did love Queen. “I like Queen too” Gerard said excitedly. Gerard considered his range of music tastes quite broad, and Queen was definitely in there somewhere. “Cool. So, are you good friends with Frank?” Charlie said. “Yeah his one of my best mates. You?”
Charlie considered this. Frank Iero. He was in a few of her classes, and they had both been attending that horrible school since the end of elementary school (Which they attended together too). She didn’t know much about him. She thought he was funny, but was intimidated by his confidence, his charm. She had been out with him a few times (always with Tris and often Ray.)
“I wouldn’t call us close, but I’m friends with him, yeah. Do you know Ray? He’s Tristian Harmer’s cousin. Tristian goes to school with you.”
Gerard nodded on the other line. “Yeah I know Toro. And Tris, he comes to gigs with us. Good guy.” Charlie was glad they’d found some common ground. “Yeah, he’s my best friend. And Ray’s great too.” Gerard agreed. “You know my brother Michael, yes?” Charlie said she did. They both knew the conversation was winding down and Gerard, wanting to end on good terms before he said something stupid, said his goodbye. “Goodbye Gerard” She said “It was nice talking to you.”
She cradled the phone and looked at the clock. They had been on the phone for an hour! She gulped and begun her cleaning hurriedly, not wanting to anger her father.
The next day at school Gerard and Tristian ditched fourth period math to smoke behind the gym and talk about Charlie.
Tristian was in Gerard’s grade and though they rarely talked, Tristian knew this wasn’t because of any distance between them; Gerard just kept to himself, mostly. He was a quiet, withdrawn guy who spent most of his lunchtimes in the art room (To which a trusting teacher had given him the key) and most of his class time up the back, doodling absently and occasionally looking up to keep himself on track. He was a smart kid, and got regular good grades.
He lived in Belleville with his parents and brother. Mikey was three years younger than Tristian and Gerard and he too went to Belleville.
Tristian had thought this all out the previous night and couldn’t understand why he had chosen to invite Charlie to their graduation dance.
“So he just asked you out? Did you see him anywhere at the park, or did he just appear behind you, like a phantom, or-“ Frank Iero’s eager voice was drowned out by the loud whir of a blender.
He and Charlie were in Food Tech, and Charlie was blending up hazelnuts for their muffins. Frank was supposed to be mixing icing, but that task had been instantly forgotten when he had been given the information that his friend Gerard had asked out a girl.
The girl, Charlie Kolega, was almost two years older than him, but was in his grade and most of his classes. He had known her since grade school but had only been friends with her since the beginning of 9th grade.
Charlie had never struck Frank as Gerard’s type, but then again, Gerard never struck Frank as having a type.
Charlie emptied the blender into a mixing bowl to which she added flour and cooking chocolate. “Frank, get me an egg.” She said. “Please.” She added. Frank did so, still thinking. That was just it, Charlie was really nice. She would blow off hanging out with her friends to help her dad or her elderly next door neighbour. She never dismissed anyone’s ideas, she was polite, quiet. Not the exact opposite of Gerard, but contrasting still.
Gerard was quiet and polite enough, but Gerard only spoke when it was completely necessary, whereas Charlie went out of her way to be nice. Gerard was the guy who stayed at home while everyone else went out partying, and got drunk or high alone. Gerard often bought from Frank’s own dealer, just to go home and get stoned by himself in the basement of his mom’s house, where he spent most of his time. He had customed the space into a bedroom, and while it was dark and musty, it was liveable.
“So did you remember Charlie from that time she brought me, Mikey and Frank to your place?” Tristian asked curiously, taking care not to sound nosy. Gerard took a drag of his cigarette, ashed it onto the ground and said “Yeah I guess, but I met her before that. I don’t know when though, that’s why I didn’t mention it to her. I just think she’s really interesting.”
Tristian didn’t point out that if what Gerard said was true, he’s only met her twice before he asked her out. He didn’t see how Gerard couldn’t know her so well, or even remember her name.
Charlie was his best friend, and he knew her well and thought he had a well earned right to say she was a very interesting person, but from an outsider’s point of view, he didn’t see why Gerard was so intrigued.
Charlie Kolega had missed the mark of beauty by only a few inches. She was pretty in a quiet, hesitant way, but could look very stunning when she tried, which wasn’t often. She had pretty green eyes that were always changing shades and adopting various flecks of yellow, blue or brown. She was as pale as any Newark teenager would be, but had a light dusting of freckles over her nose and cheeks. She kept her curly dark hair shoulder length. Her father’s hair was dark brown, and her mother’s had been ebony, and Charlie’s was a cross between the two. Sometimes when it hit the sun it gave off blue-purplish shine, like that seen on the head of someone with raven hair, but sometimes in the light it seemed reddish auburn, like she had brown hair. She just referred to it as “dark”.
Her hair was naturally curly but she tried to keep it from ending up that way with her mother’s old hair straightener. Tristian assured her he liked it curly but she seemed to loathe it. She never quite got her hair as dead-straight as she wanted, but the wavy result she ended up with kept her happy.
She rarely bothered to wear make up, even though she had plenty (again, her mother’s), and often wore unflattering clothing that hid her slim, blossoming figure. She had never been overweight or even chubby, and often remarked upon her dislike of her ‘knobbly’ legs or ‘bony’ elbows. She wouldn’t listen when Tristian tried to assure her they were fine.
Nevertheless, Charlie was attractive enough. Tristian guessed he could understand why Gerard liked her, but something still seemed off. It was so abrupt.
Frank watched Charlie work, chattering away to him absently. She had mentioned her interaction with Gerard in the park as an afterthought to a story about her weekend. But Frank was burning with curiosity and Charlie knew it. Charlie also knew that as soon as she said something else, Frankie would be burning with curiosity about that too. Despite this, she sighed and put down her spoon and bowl. “I was just sitting there finishing my English essay.” She saw the look on Frank’s face and added “You didn’t do that, did you?” He shook his head disdainfully, she knew he hated English. “Anyway, I stood up to go home, and he called out my name, and I turned around and there he was. What I keep wondering is how he knew I would be at the park… He lives in Belleville, there’s no way he was just there by coincidence.” She began mixing again. “Well Tris may have mentioned it, he knew you were going, right?” Frank said. Charlie nodded and emptied the bowl into a muffin tray.
She brushed her hands on the white apron they had to wear and said “Well I’m actually excited about it. He is kinda cute.” As soon as she said the words she almost gasped in surprise. She was excited.
“You’re blushing!” Accused Frank playfully, tickling her. She laughed and swatted his hands away. The teacher looked at them disapprovingly.
Girls and Boys weren’t supposed to play at this school. They were supposed to sit on opposite sides of the room, of the playground, of the gym, of the universe. They began to clean up in silence, both of them trying not to laugh, Frank failing.
Two bells rang, signalling the end of school for all four of them.
Gerard and Tristian walked out the gates of Belleville High, into the parking lot where Gerard’s car was. He had offered to give Tristian a lift, and Tristian had accepted.
Frank accompanied Charlie up to her locker to put her things away, save for her English book, which she gave to Frank to copy the assignment from.
They were walking down some stairs when Charlie stopped dead in her tracks and said “Frank, that dance is tomorrow…” Frank stopped too, a few steps below her and said “I know. I’m going too, remember?”
Frank had hastily gotten himself a date with a graduate who was a friend of a friend in order to go and observe Gerard and Charlie.
“I haven’t got anything to wear…” Charlie said, panicking now. Frank raised his eyebrows. “Well then, it looks like we’re going shopping.” Charlie hung her head and continued down the stairs. “I can’t Frankie. I have chores. And besides, I don’t have enough money for a dress or anything.”
Charlie would have been afraid to admit this to anyone else, but she knew Frank wasn’t any better off than she, and wouldn’t mock her situation like she feared her other, wealthy peers would. “Well go home and do the chores, and meet me at the Mall in Belleville. Money isn’t a problem, trust me.” Charlie nodded, said goodbye and rushed to the bus stop.
When she got home she quickly did the dishes. Trust me. What did that mean? Did she want to trust Frank Iero? Don’t be silly, she told herself. He’s your friend. She glanced at the clock: 3pm. She would usually be calling Tris now, but he would have to wait. She changed out of her uniform and rushed out the door and down the street to the closest bus stop. When she got there she pulled a wad of change out of her pocket and counted it, sitting down in the shelter.
A few minutes later, she heard a beep, and looked up to see her father’s old car pulled over in front of her. It was Marnie.
“Charlie!” She called. Charlie walked over to the car. “Hey babe. Where are you headed?” Said Marnie. Charlie thought before answering. She had done her chores and everything, she was entitled to go out. She looked at Marnie before saying. “A mall. Can you give me a lift?”
Marnie looked startled. She had never heard of Charlie going to a mall after school. She nodded and Charlie hopped in the back, giving her a direction in which to head. Marnie knew the place and drove in silence.
Marnie was a tall red headed woman, with small brown eyes and a great love for jewellery. She talked a lot (Well, a lot in comparison to her boyfriend and her boyfriend’s young daughter) and loved to sing. She was a telemarketer and lived in East Newark, alone.
When she had first started seeing Charlie’s father Greg, Marnie had disliked Charlie, thinking her hostile and stuck up. But as she got to know them both, she saw that (in both cases) they were just shy and hurt from that mother and wife that abandoned them years ago.
They reached the mall and Charlie thanked her and kissed her cheek. Marnie was so pleased she asked Charlie if she would like a lift home. Charlie said she would very much and could Marnie please pick her up at seven from this same spot. “Seven?” Marnie said “A tad late, don’t you think?” Charlie shrugged. “Maybe. But I can catch a bus home, if it’s any trouble.” Marnie shook her head and said it was no trouble at all, and drove off.
Charlie turned and looked around. She had been here a few times, but never after school with a friend. She was excited. She headed towards the fountain Frank said he’d meet her at and there he was, sitting by himself sipping a Coke. She waved and skipped towards him. “Hey Frankie!” She said cheerfully. He nodded and handed her another Coke. She thanked him and they both started walking around. “Okay,” said Frank. “What did you have in mind?” Charlie shrugged. Frank rolled his eyes and steered her to the nearest dress shop.
“Ok,” He said importantly, as though he were the authority on the matter. “First, what colour?” He yanked a pink frilly tulle thing off a hanger and batted his eyebrows “Baby Pink?” He said, picking up another one, a long, slim blue dress with shiny sequins. “Glamorous Demure Blue?” Before Charlie had a chance to say anything else he was picking at another rack, and another… “Smouldering Scarlet? Mysterious Black? Down-To-Earth Green? What about-“ Charlie burst out laughing, before choking out “Ok, ok, let’s go through them slowly.”
They surveyed and discussed each dress, talking over Gerard’s favourite colours, her favourite colours. She was embarrassed when Frank got to talking about her figure and what it would suit best and she went bright red when he suggested they get new lingerie for the occasion.
“Frankie!” She had gasped. “What?” He said cheekily “I’m not suggesting anything, but it’s fun to feel sexy even under your clothes. Tell me I’m wrong.” But she didn’t.
They eventually found a beautiful indigo dress with black satin trimmings. She tried it on and was astonished when she looked in the mirror. It hugged her figure rather than hide it. It accentuated her growing breasts and hips and her flat stomach. It was tight down to her waist where it flowed freely. It ended just below her knees. It was beautiful. She looked at the tag and said through the curtain “Frank, how are we going to afford this?” Frank didn’t answer but burst through the curtain. “Oh It looks lovely on you, now lets see what it looks like on me!” Charlie wrinkled her nose, confused, before Frank held up another of the same dress. He stuffed it in his bag and whispered “Get changed.” to her. She opened her mouth to protest, Frank turned around and faced the other way so she could change. She did. She put the dress back on the hanger and took it out and put it on the shelf saying loudly “It just wasn’t riiiiight!” so the attendant could heard before walking out casually.
When they got out she grabbed Frank and whispered “Frank! What did we just do?!” He grinned toothily and shrugged. “Shoes next then?” Charlie was torn between pretty new clothes and honesty… She thought about it. She didn’t have any pretty shoes or bags at home except her mom’s, and she didn’t want those. She sighed. “Ok.”
They moved through the mall casually, drifting into shops and then back out again a little weighed down than before. When they had gotten absolutely everything they needed (plus a few extras), it was 6:45. “Come with me and wait for Marnie?” Charlie said to Frank. Frank nodded and they both walked outside to sit on the bench.
“Thank you so much for today Frankie.” Charlie said, hugging him. She was surprised by how whole she felt, having just gone on a shoplifting spree, and surprised more by how good it felt to be hugging someone her age; a friend. He nodded and gave her his bag. “There wasn’t anything in it anyway. So are you going to school tomorrow?” He said. Charlie raised her eyebrows. “Why wouldn’t I be?” She said, confused. “Don’t you want to get ready?” Charlie grinned “I need all day to do that?” Frank nodded solemnly. “If you say so.” Marnie pulled up and Charlie walked to her car. “Bye Frankie!” she said happily, jumping into the car.
Marnie looked out the window at the boy Charlie had just been with. He looked younger than her, or maybe the same age, and had piercings and was wearing a black band shirt and torn jeans. She knew people from this area were generally poor, but so were people from Kearny and Charlie always looked presentable. Marnie wrinkled her nose and drove away, while her boyfriend’s daughter sat in the backseat, beaming, happiest she’d been in months.
Thanks for reading the first installment of my newest story!
The first few chapters are a bit slow, but I thought I should break in the characters properly.
But, as my stories often do, it'll turn nasty eventually.
So, keep reading, give it a chance!