a thing i'm working on.

"charlotte. i'm watching it. i'm watching the lion king." 

his voice is urgent, sharp. my throat is dry. i check the clock and replay the message three more times. how long has it been? fourteen weeks since he moved out, two since the last time his sponsor called with an update. i do the math. calling at 4am means he missed curfew at the halfway house means he could be anywhere.

i don't recognize the number. 

"pick up, char. i'm watching the lion king."

i'm fuzzy from lunesta and two tabs of lorazapam. i haven't slept in what feels like years because this always happens, because this phone call always comes. my fingers are clumsy and i hit the wrong number on the phone at my bedside table. i need to dial three. 

finally, a voice on the other end. "adele, i'm sorry, it's charlotte."

she repeats my name as she passes the phone to Tim, the Sponsor, who's instantly wide awake. sober.

"shit, char. where is he?" 

i don't know. my cell is buzzing

L_O_ KI_G.







my apartment is a mess. i've moved eight times in the last six months, existing on sublets and acquaintances' couches until twelve days ago when i moved here, to this miserable hole in the wall where i exist on unrefrigerated orange juice and don't have my own bathroom.  


i'm trying to remember the last time i felt like a person. the last time i wore something other than this awful grey sweatshirt that has become as much a part of me as my skin. i remind myself what day it is, what year.  

"i'm here. i'll call the house and the cops." 

"don't pick it up, char." 

the screen is bright and buzzing. i can feel it in my brain, can actually picture the vibrations running down my arms and legs, charging through my nervous system, lighting me up like a christmas tree.


i'm trying to focus but i can feel myself slipping. i grab the bottle on the table next to me and force myself to read the number on the cell phone to tim who i know is trying to calm adele, who i know is crying. 

"i'm on my way." 

there is an ambulance parked outside, lights flashing. i can hear the fire truck on its way-- the siren gets louder and louder, wailing, hurrying, rushing, and i don't even hear the phone explode as it hits the concrete after falling six floors from my bedroom window.