The dull, silver clouds cast a very dark shadow on the world that Charles had been forced to live in. To put it simply, he disliked his life. There were times when it was just the average teenage emotions wanting to shut down whenever something bad had happened during his school day- like an insult flying towards his way by a familiar jerk or receiving a detention (which he commonly did wordlessly, followed by some muttering)- and others when he just felt a sense of great depression that would come and go as it pleased.
He could not argue about the weather, though; it was perfect. It was one of those days when the rain would hammer down on the ground and windows of the school for a minute or two, then die down to a small drizzle. The cycle would go on and on, leaving Charles with a small smile on his face that he himself thought that he was a little weird.
Toys in the attic, he would think to himself whenever his thoughts would revolve around it. Just a bunch of toys in the attic that haven't been touched in God knows how long...
It was funny how the thunder would rumble or the lightning would dance whenever he had begun to think about those untouched toys, snapping him out of his weird trance. He wish he would forget about the weird things he would do sometimes. The weird things that his head would make him do. These "things" included talking to himself in the dark, to the shadows that danced to the dim streetlight that shined in his bedroom, or his habit of constantly washing the irritating dark circles that showed up under his eyes every morning; even though he knew they wouldn't go away.
He didn't want to deal with such things, but he had no choice but to deal with them and the reminders that came from the idiots in his class every passing day.
"Ride along with the storm", his father would always tell Charles when he was complaining about his life (which he often did).
He had been born Charles Randalf Burnside in 1995. Randalf. God, how he despised his middle name. It sounded like a cross between "Randall" and "Ralph" and sounded hideous to say out loud. He had gotten teased about it since middle school by just about everyone.
"You shall not pass!" Seemed to be the most common phrase he had heard from kids back then. He did not understand reference at first and wish he had never asked his father what it meant. When he had found out, he died a little inside. Just a little. Charles enjoyed his last name. "Burnside" sounded pretty cool in his opinion. For some reason, he always looked at his last name with optimism. It never crossed his mind that "Burnside" sounded like someone who was lying down sideways on the grass and only got sunburn on one side of his body.
He never thought much of "Charles" at all. For some odd reason, no one called him "Charlie". He personally thought it as taboo for his parents. He found himself wondering multiple times if a man named Charlie had been killed in a car accident on his birthday (which was oddly enough, October 31st), or if some serial killer named Charlie had been on his very first spree after murdering his first victim (or the victim could have been Charlie and the killer could have some stupid name like Dennis or something).
Even when he was playing outside
(Toys in the attic)
With friends, no one ever called him Charlie.
Charles supposed that his dislike of life was something that normal teenagers feel during their junior year in High School. He wondered about many things during these walks during lunch, when one could roam the school grounds as they pleased. It was relaxing to just find a quit place to sit at school and read, especially when it was raining. The pitter-patter of rain drops on the windows, the-
Charles found his thoughts being broken again. He was surprised, however, that what had broken his thoughts wasn’t the dancing lightning that struck now and then, or the rumbling thunder that had come afterwards in concert after a few Mississippi’s. What he had heard was something that would take his senses on a roller coaster ride not long after.
What he had heard with the thunder and the pitter-patter was very light sobbing. Charles, who was not the bravest student, was startled by the sobbing and quickly looked around. There was nobody. He was about to climb stairs to head to the library when he heard the crying. It did not sound like someone in pain, but more like someone in great depression, wanting to let everything out. Like a child who just told a lie and is being confronted by his or her parents.
Charles followed the cry down the stairwell, the same one that he was about to ascend. He walked down the stairs, leading to another empty hallway, where he came upon a girl. She sat with her back against the wall and was hugging her knees. She shook with every sob. She wore a black sweater, the kind that a woman wore when Charles used to go to Church with his mother when he was very young. He loved how floppy the sleeves of the sweater were but was confused when he saw that it had no hood, and was open without any buttons or zipper. He remembered asking his mother what the woman was wearing.
"Just a sweater, son."
He had believed his mother and left it at that. He didn't want to ask too many questions; when he did, his mother gave him a weird look. He hated when people did that, thinking of him as odd
(Toys in the attic)
And that he needed some mental assistance.
It couldn't have been a sweater, sweaters aren't open like that without any sort of way to close them.
As Charles approached the sobbing girl, he noticed her jet-black hair, which matched her weird sweater. He also noticed that she was bespectacled. When Charles got close to the girl, he bent down.
"Excuse me, are you ok?"
He spoke very softly and quietly, despite the fact that there was no one else in the room. The girl stopped sobbing suddenly. The only sound that could be heard was the rain on the windows. She turned her head slowly, her eyes meeting Charles'. They were a dull crimson hiding behind her glasses. Charles' face quickly went scarlet, but he had no idea why. The crimson-eyed girl seemed to notice this, and tilted her head slightly. Her hair seemed to bounce as she did.
The next two words flew out of Charles mouth too fast for him to prevent.
Charles’ eyes widened when he realized what just came out of his mouth. He flinched and quickly looked around in case anyone had heard him. He looked back at the girl.
“I mean, uh-“
“What did you just say?”
“I was asking if you were ok!”
“…You just called me beautiful, didn’t you?”
The girl stood up quickly, and Charles followed. The girl wiped tears from her eyes again and smiled. She must have noticed Charles’ reddened face. She walked over to Charles and looked up at him; their difference in height was about three inches. She stared into his eyes… and hugged him. She stretched as she hugged him, resting her head on his left shoulder. One of the frames from her glasses scratched Charles’ neck, which left a red mark that would take weeks to go away and cause a lot of irritation. But at this moment, Charles barely even noticed. Her earlobe grazed Charles’ neck as well, littering him with goose bumps; it was freezing cold.
Held him tightly, like a child holding on to a parent for protection. Charles enjoyed the smell of her hair but could not point out the exact smell… something between fruits and cinnamon rolls. Her breasts pressed against his chest softly, causing Charles to let out an embarrassing squeak. Once again, he felt a wash of relief that no one else was watching or listening to this. The girl released Charles.
“Thanks for calling me that… you didn’t have to…”
Charles turned on the charm for a second.
“I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t mean it…”
“Mhmm. Why were you crying?”
“I don’t want to talk about it…”
There was an awkward silence for what seemed like hours. The rain had stopped, as if the clouds themselves realized how awkward the moment was. The girl broke the silence by asking Charles if he had a phone. When Charles handed his phone to her, she quickly opened it and started pressing keys. When she was finished, she handed it back to Charles. Charles discovered that there had been a new addition to his Contacts.
“…Tessa?” Charles repeated the new contact’s name.
“Charles. I read your phone.”
Another awkward silence as the rain began pounding again.
“I’ll text you later tonight,” Tessa said. “Don’t text me unless I text you first. Okay?”
Weird, Charles thought. But then he remembered the toys in the attic and dismissed the thought quickly. With that, the two new friends said their goodbyes and walked off in different directions. As Tessa walked, a sudden thought came to her.
“He… he warmed me up…”