Three – Protecting the Future
Charlie stared at her for a moment, then knowing she wasn’t joking he sighed.
“I’m already leaving, what more do you want from me?”
“I want you to stop seeing them,” Ashley said.
“If you insist so will I,” Ashley cut him off.
“This isn’t right,” Charlie protested, his tone weak even to his ears.
The thought of Koya unable to go to school shook him. Koya was doing Business Commerce; she had dreams, big dreams. He couldn’t allow his mother to trample them.
“It’s your call,” Ashley said. “We’ll go see your friends in a few minutes.”
Ashley moved to a table set beside by the wall and grabbed a bunch of keys. She entered the living room and came back wearing a light coat over her nightgown. Her skin was light brown, her eyes sharp and keen. Charlie had always thought his mother pretty, what with her trim figure always in elegant clothes and her hair done in the most elegant weave. She was the envy of the town, but right now, she was the one he hated most.
“Have you decided?” Ashley asked in that sweet voice that had told him goodnight countless times.
That voice grated on his raw nerves now. He wondered what she would do if he hit her. Closing his eyes, Charlie forced his anger down. His mother wasn’t bluffing, that much he knew. This wasn’t about him anymore. Charlie stepped down the few steps he’d taken and followed her defiantly to the front door.
Ashley led the way to her black car. He hadn’t seen it parked in the driveway. He would have known to avoid her. He cursed his muddled thoughts. Sliding into the front passenger seat, he watched his mother start the car with a determined look on her face.
Ten minutes later, they parked at Ashi’s house. A modest stone house, flowers grew around the property in a wild riot. Ashi’s parents had purchased the land and build a few years back. Charlie cursed under his breath as he walked the gravel path to the blue steel front door. His knock was soft; he took a step back from the door and looked back at the black car waiting at the entrance, the windows opaque. The door opened and Ashi stood there smiling at him in pink pajamas.
“Hey guys, Charlie is back,” Ashi said with a grin. “Did you miss Koya?”
The sound of hurried footsteps filled his ears, and the door widened to reveal Kim and Koya. There were in t-shirts and pajama bottoms. Their eyes bleary from lack of sleep, Charlie couldn’t believe he was doing this.
“You missed me?” Koya asked with a smile as she pushed between Ashi and Kim to hug him.
“Lovesick, both of you are too much,” Kim complained with a grin.
Ashi and Koya laughed. Charlie couldn’t help the wince at their happiness. He cleared his throat.
“Actually, I came to—
He broke off and took a step back from Koya, looking back at the black car. He didn’t want to do this. Why couldn’t his mother wait the year?
Koya’s gaze followed his to the black car and she took a step forward. Her slender hand touched his and he glanced back at her. Her beautiful eyes were full of concern.
“Is everything okay?”
Her voice, the things it did to his heart, he couldn’t imagine never hearing it again. But could he really convict her to a life without her dreams? She’d worked hard for the opportunity. She kept up her grades, and was planning an advertising business after college, how could he take that away.
“I came to tell you that it’s over,” Charlie said.
“What’s over?” Koya asked, her gaze still on the black car.
“We’re over,” Charlie said.
Ashi gasped and Kim took a step forward, as though to protect Koya from him.
“Your mother is in the car, isn’t she?” Koya asked.
“No. I’m doing this for both of us, Koya. I’ve thought about it—
“Cut the crap, Charlie. You’re doing what your mother wants, aren’t you? Is this what she said you do? Did she threaten you?” Koya reached for his arm.
“Listen to me,” Charlie said, keeping his tone cold.
Koya wasn’t one to take bullshit lying down. She wasn’t going to make this easy. It was the reason why he loved her so much. If he didn’t get serious, she would fight his mother, and that would leave her with no future. He had to protect her.
Placing his hands on her shoulders, Charlie met her gaze.
“I’m telling you these things, not my mother, Koya. I’m freeing you to love someone else while I’m gone. So do me a favor and listen. We’re breaking up.”
Koya shook her head in denial. Tears filled her dark eyes. Damn it, she was killing him.
“What about what you said last night?”
“Yeah, Charlie,” Ashi said. “Why are you being a jerk this morning?”
“I’ve always been a jerk,” Charlie said. “You’re just noticing now. This is the best thing for us. I won’t be seeing any of you again. I’ve decided to leave with my dad next week, so goodbye and have fun in school. Koya, in time you’ll see I’m right.”
Charlie brushed his lips against her cool cheek, then let go of her shoulders. She fell back against Kim who stood behind her. Not wanting to see her tears, Charlie turned and hurried to the waiting car. Getting in, he wiped a hand down his face as his mother started the car.
“Very good, Charles,” Ashley said.
“You and I, we’re done,” Charlie said as she drove out of Ashi’s compound. “I won’t forgive you for this.”
Other Stories in the EA Friday Feature