His name was Matty. "Names' Maff-hue, but call me Mah-Tee.", is how'd he say it. Had long curls of browns and blacks to surround his tired face, a skinny rack of ribs concealed his broken heart and long stalks of legs kept him standing. He was often seen at dark parties, in the back corner, snorting white powdered lines off of oak wood tables. "Matty! Come on man, we've got to get you out of here..." George smacked him on the cheek, attempting to wake him up. Matty whimpered and started to move around. "There we go, up, up, up." He threw Matty's arm around his shoulder and helped him stand up, he was still in a high state, but it wasn't enough to consider him unconscious. George semi-dragged him out of the claustrophobic party and outside into the fresh night air. There was so much going on and so many people there, that no one really noticed the problem. Ross pulled up in his tattered out black car, George pushed Matty into the backseat, along with getting in himself. They sped off into the night, George still trying to keep Matty awake. They kept shaking him and forcing him to wake up, once again he just whimpered and shuffled around. "What did he take this time?"
"What did he take this time?"
"Coke doesn't make this happen?" His thick English accent rang in Matty's ears and somewhat alerted him. He started to stir, finally feeling the sensation in his arms.
"Check the creases of his elbow or his forearm."
"He would never..."
"Fucking check!" Ross was on the verge of crashing, George advised him to pull over.
“No, there's nothing here."
"I don't do fucking heroin..." Matty groaned. George sighed out of relief and rubbed his eyes. Matty propped himself up on his knees and placed his hands on his throbbing head.
Now a conscious Matty was standing outside of a high school. Waiting for a friend, himself being too old for high school, for college really, and a little too old to be messing around a high school. Two girls from an above class were looking at him through the window.
"Isn't he the coke-head that's at every party Craig holds?"
"He could be one of those creeps that tries to pick up girls."
"He hangs around Charlie so, I don't know about that."
"Which Charlie? The girl in our class?"
"Yeah." Matty lit a cigarette and took a long drag. Charlie ran up the hall stairs, finding a window clear enough to see in through. She tapped on it, getting Matty's attention. He looked for the tapping and found it up on the second floor. His cheeks flushed a light pink; Matty pushed his hair behind his right ear, Charlie waved and held up her index finger, telling him to wait. He nodded and put the cigarette back between his lips. "I bet he was talking to her. She'll be back in 3, 2, 1..." Charlie burst through the door, the whole class staring back at her. "Told you. The blonde girl mumbled to her friend.
Charlie kept bouncing her leg against the carpeted floor and occasionally twirled a pen around her fingers. These next few minutes were going to kill her, this weekend was going to be amazing and it felt like it was going to take forever. Matty heard the bell ring from outside, and put out his cigarette on the tree he was leaning on. He adjusted his jacket and fluffed his hair, something to make him look more presentable. Which he felt super guilty for coming to get her like this, in his defense, he needed it. Cocaine occupied the majority of his brain, it kept him from jumping off the Capital One skyscraper in town. He was coming down from the high already though, he just didn't want her to know about it.
Matty could here the dismissal bell from outside. His abdomen freaked out, knocking the rest of his body into anxiety. Most students rushed out of the school while Matty avoided getting trampled by them. He was a tall guy, but a bunch of mid-height teenagers running towards him was more worrisome than you'd think. He searched the crowd for Charlie, she was pretty short so it wouldn't be easy. Charlie grabbed her backpack and skipped her locker, she wanted to see Matty way too bad. Besides, there's nothing from that place she even cared about. She stepped out into the warm sun and right away found him at the tree where he always waited. She saw his tired chocolate eyes looking back at her, his dark noodle hair shined in the sunlight. He was standing against the sun, but it still radiated well on him. Matty waved lazily at her, he was always nervous when they first approached each other, or maybe it was just the drugs.
She maneuvered through the people in the crowd to Matty and grabbed onto his arm. People were just way too pushy. His heart skipped a beat when she touched him, but he refused to notice. He grabbed her hand to guide her through the crowd. Once they got to the sidewalk, she let go; Matty really didn't want her to. "Jesus, it's like a hurricane in there, innit?" Charlie chuckled, admiring the scenery around her. Matty admired the way she looked at the sky as they strolled. He then turned away, he just couldn't think about her like that right now.
She can't be what you need if she's seventeen.
A man Matty thought was wise at the time said, but he figured that since he was nine years older than her that it kind of fits. She was a teenager, and he was practically a man now. Sometimes he didn't act like one though. But she was beautiful, and he wouldn't stop thinking that. No matter what. "So re' we going to your house first?" Matty asked, his English accent thick with every word.
"Yes, I have to get some things for the trip. And I am not wearing these awful clothes."
"It won't be that long of one, you probably don't need much." Charlie nodded and kicked a rock with her shoe. There was something weird coming from Matty. He was always a bit quiet, but never this quiet. Charlie looked up at at him and he was looking down at the sidewalk while chewing on his bottom lip. Charlie nudged his arm.
"Somethin' wrong?" Matty shook his head. Which nothing really was, he just couldn't stop thinking about Charlie in ways that he shouldn't have been.
Charlie didn't live far from school, which is why they walked. Matty walked ahead and opened the gate of the cross-wired fence that lined the white house. It was two-stories, but it was pretty small. You could tell which room was Charlie's. Her window was set by a window planter, full of flowers and ferns. She even had a garden under her window, even had plants in her room. "Thanks." She muttered while walking through. Inside her father groaned at the sight of leather clad Matty out of the dining room window, realizing what day it was.
"It's Friday. Charlie brought Matthew with her." A pregnant Kay emerged from the hallway.
"And?" Paul sternly looked at her. "Oh! That trip thing." Kay continued placing dishes into the cupboard. "Well, it's only two nights, and she said she'd call us if anything went wrong. Those boys have been around since they were all kids, they're her best friends. I doubt anything malicious would happen, Paul."
"They seem like trouble. With all the black, and they all smell like smoke." Kay rolled her eyes.
"That's Denise's son you're talking about. She's going." She pointed at Paul. He sipped from his glass of tea. Charlie opened the door to Paul’s far left.
"Hey. I'm just gonna gather some things and pack. I'll let you guys know when we leave." Charlie smiled at her parents and walked up the stairs. Matty gave them a small smile and waved as he followed her. Paul's eyes burned into the young man's back as Matty hopped up the stairs. Kay watched her husband's judgement subdue as Matty left the room.
"Leave her be." Paul grunted at Kay's remark and returned his eyes to the newspaper in front of him. Matty pushed the door behind him per Charlie's request. Charlie threw her backpack on the bed and slid her shoes off by her closet. Matty leaned against the wall by her desk, scanning over dozens of notebooks and broken pencils. She shuffled around, gathering clothes, some shoes and needed necessities for the road. It was just a music festival, but it meant the world to Matty for them all to go.
"Are the guys picking us up here?"
"Yeah." Charlie continued to gather her things.
"Wait," She turned to face Matty. "Aren't you taking stuff? Where is it?"
"In the van." Matty's tone changed. It's like the snow only let him get chewed for a few seconds before spitting him out in the grand canyon.
"Are you sure you're okay? You seem a little gloomy."
"I am the definition of gloomy." He laughed. Charlie smiled and zipped up her bag.
"When will they be here?" Matty shrugged.
"George still has to pick up Adam from work, and get Ross. So not too long." Charlie nodded as she went back to her closet, facing it in thought. Matty's eyes trailed down her neck and across her shoulder before pulling away to look at the street out the window. A fairly quiet street, just how Charlie liked it. She couldn’t stand the car lights that said hello when she tried to sleep at night. She slipped the ugly polo shirt over her head and chucked it in the hamper by the door. Matty was startled by the shirt whipping past his body. He shook his head and pulled a pack of Camels out of his back pocket and fished out a cigarette. He kept his head in every direction but Charlie’s for very obvious reasons. While Matty was having a miniature mental breakdown by the door, Charlie switched from her itchy school uniform into clothes that actually made her feel like herself. She quickly looked into the mirror to see if anything else needed assistance before zipping her bag back up. She threw that same bag over her shoulder and stepped into some slip-on shoes, Matty’s eyes were still focused on the street outside.
“Let’s go.” Charlie opened the door and walked downstairs, Matty obviously following. She strolled along into a parent-less kitchen and zoomed straight to the fridge. Matty sat down at the island table in the middle of the room, watching Charlie look for... whatever she was looking for. Charlie grabbed a water bottle and turned around.
"What do you have?"
"Everything you ever wanted... Meaning potato chips and frozen chicken nuggets." Charlie laughed. All Matty wanted right now was another line. Or two.
"Some caffeine would be nice."
"Coffee? In the afternoon?" Matty shrugged. Charlie sat her bottle down on the table and grabbed a can of coffee grounds, Matty didn't think she'd actually make him some.
"You don't have to do that, love, it was just a suggestion." Charlie continued on his coffee anyways. Matty hurriedly put his cigarette out before Paul came in and shot him on site. "So, how was school?"
"Fine... You never ask me about school..." Charlie laughed. Matty just wanted to let her know he cared, she knew he did. It was just the paranoia kicking in. After a few minutes of deafening silence and awkward coffee maker noises, Matty was accompanied by a hot mug of coffee with one teaspoon of sugar and a splash of milk.
"I could pay you to make me this." Charlie smiled at his compliment. She didn't think much of it, but Matty insisted that she made the best coffee. Even though it was from a canister and a machine, the thought of it being from her was thrilling. Matty indulged in it a few minutes later, after taking a few sips he looked over at Charlie. She was scrolling through her phone and didn't even touch her water. He couldn't blame her.
"So, are you excited?" She pulled Matty out of his thoughts.
"Are you excited, you know, for the festival?"
"Oh, yeah. Super stoked." Matty smiled and took another sip of coffee. He was more excited about seeing her for two and a half days straight. And getting all kinds of drugs in his system, ready to try anything that was offered to him. Charlie turned around and shook her head at herself.
‘Why did you fucking ask that?’ She asked herself silently.
Soon after awkward small talk and an empty mug of coffee, George finally texted Matty.
"George said that they were on their way." Charlie grabbed her backpack and jogged out to the hallway, first calling out to her parents.
"Mom? We're leaving now, I'll text you when we're halfway there." And Matty followed her out of the door.
"See? She's a good kid."
Matty leaned against the wall of the van, shirtless, while Charlie yapped on about school and how she couldn’t wait until June, graduation month. Which Matty wished she wouldn't remind him. He placed his bony hand on his chest, right above the tattoo that was dedicated to his nana, Ann. The tattoo was a heart, behind two joining hands. Two birds kissing laid upon the heart, and surrounding the whole thing read, "Annie, true love". He loved her so much, it was tragic when she left. She had cancer of the soft palate for twenty years, died at the age 75. Died three years ago, on his mum's birthday, Matty just turned 23 that past April. While in his thoughts, he heard George's deep voice somewhere in his ears. "Matty!"
"Did you hear me?"
"No, what?" George took a drag from the cigarette he just lit.
"Your mum called this morning. You should really go see 'er."
"She's all the way back in Manchester. I'm not going to go all the way back and turn around and come back."
"But what if she comes back to the states?"
"Why would she do that?"
"I don't know. Charlie? Isn't Denise one of your mum's best friends?"
"I guess... I haven't seen or heard from her in a really long time." Charlie really didn’t want to get involved in their fight.
"Well ask 'er, see if she'd like to see 'er?"
"Why are you so destined on getting her to see me?"
"Because! You need to be reminded of what's important! Like your family!"
"Wait, why? What's wrong Matty?"
"Nothing, just feeling down a bit lately." George rolled his eyes.
"I was just suggesting it. I think she'd appreciate it. So would Louis."
"Don't you dare,"
"Guys! Knock it off!" Ross yelled from the back of the van. No one really heard Ross speak, so for him to yell was astounding. Everyone except George looked at him. Charlie was curious as to what they were actually hiding. She knew them too well, there was something under the surface, maybe something to explain why Matty was so down lately.
"Yes darling? Couldn't sleep?"
"Yeah, I just... Have a lot on my mind."
"Do you want to talk about it?" Matty nodded in the dark. He climbed into bed and laid his head on her knees. She ran her fingers lightly through his hair, trying to calm him. At this point in history, Matty had shaved the sides of his head, leaving a thick stripe of dark-chocolate brown down the middle.
"Nana? How old was grandpa when you married him?"
"Well he would be 85 now, so about ten years older... I think he was 32."
“I wish he didn’t have to take that job.”
“I miss him dearly. He’s the love of my life.”
“I know, nana.”
“I hope you find someone like that one day, Matthew.” Matty looked up at her.
“You think so, nana?”
“I know so. It’s when you least expect it though. So never expect anything.” She smiled down at Matty, her smile radiating on him. He returned a sweet smile and stared at the ceiling.
“What about mum? Do you think dad is hers?” Nana was quiet for a few moments, Matty took that as a “no”.
“People can still love each other when things go wrong.”
“Don’t worry about it too much, darling.” Matty knew it wasn’t going to get better.
Matty woke up in his own bed that morning, the smell of sweet pancakes filled his nose. He was puzzled as to how he managed to get to his own bed. Surely his nana didn't pick him up and carry him to his room. Matty swung his long feet onto the floor and rubbed his face. His phone read the time, 10:37am. Still too early. He decided that it wasn't polite to eat breakfast while shirtless, even though it was his family. He slipped on a black long-sleeved shirt and pushed the sleeves up to his elbows. "Good morning Matthew."
"Jesus Christ, mum, just call me Matty."
"Whatever you say. Sit! Have some pancakes."
"What's the special occasion?" Matty grinned. His mother looked quite surprised when he asked. "Mum, I'm kidding I know what today is. Happy Birthday!" Matty gave his smaller mother a hug and a kiss to her temple. He sat down at the bar and grabbed a fork. "Is nana up yet?"
"In fact no, why don't you go and wake her? She if she'll eat something hm?"
"Sure." Matty's stomach started to twist into knots, he didn't know why. He knocked on his nana's door, lightly at first, just to see if she was already awake. "Nana? We made pancakes, do you-" Matty opened the door slowly, and peeked his head in. She was asleep, she didn't seem too excited about the pancakes. Matty walked over to the side of the bed, where nana was facing. She rubbed her arm softly. "Nana? It's time to wake up..." She didn't move. "Nana?" Matty shook her arm again. Nothing. He finally noticed that she wasn't breathing all too well. "Oh god no..." Matty ran into the kitchen, his parents startled at his entrance. "Nana, she's not waking up." His mum dropped her fork on the table and ran into her room.
"Call the paramedics, Tim!" She called out to her husband. Matty started to panic and everything got loud. His ears couldn't pick out certain sounds and his face started to get hot, he was just glad Louis wasn't awake. His little brother wasn't as close to her as Matty was, but it still would've been traumatic. Matty leaned against the wall and slid down to the floor, he was too nauseous to stand up, he could vomit at any given moment. Everything around him wasn't as loud anymore, it was just an eerie silence through the house, like an eye of the storm. He massaged his temples unconsciously, tears were forming at the brim of his eyelids. In the distance, paramedic sirens were heard coming this way. Tim came out of the room to help Matty up.
"Come on, we need to get out of the way." Tim gently took Matty's arms and pulled them upwards, along with the lanky boy. His face was expressionless now, tears were still falling, but he just couldn't believe it. He started to feel numb, and everything started to look blurry. Tim helped him to the couch, and sat next to him. Matty propped his elbows on his knees and lowered his head between said knees. "She'll be okay." Matty knew she wouldn't be.
The ambulance finally arrived and that's when everything was completely silent. Not a sound was made, no moving, no clocks ticking, it's like time had stopped. His mum walked out and into the kitchen, the paramedics rushed through the door and she showed them to the room. She put her hands over her mouth as she stood outside the room. Tim got up to console his the woman, Matty didn't change his position. He didn't even move when they tried to get his attention. Soon enough the coroner arrived to announce the death. 5:37 am. She was in that bed for a bit more than 5 hours. For some reason, Matty felt guilty. There was no reason to, but he did. He was just glad that Louis wasn't up yet. The paramedics rolled his nana out of the house finally, but the house was still in that eerie state. Everything was still quiet. It pushed Matty over the edge. He blinked hard once, and pushed himself off of the couch. His long feet stomped straight to his room, and he grabbed a duffel bag, stuffed it with some left over clothes, shoes and anything else he brought with him. Matty slung the bag over his shoulder and shut the door behind him. He then walked down the hall to Louis' room. Slowly, he opened the door, trying not to disturb him. He was facing away from the door, breathing heavily, sleeping still. Thank god. Matty's semi-formal black loafers collided with the carpet underneath, as he walked towards his bed. He put his forehead to Louis' left temple, wishing him a silent goodbye. Before Matty could get a chance to get emotional again, he left without another move. He went into his grandmas room, which he shouldn't have. She kept her jewelry in a floral box inside her wardrobe. Matty gently pulled the door to her wardrobe open, and found the box in its usual spot. He opened it and was greeted with all kinds of lengths of chains, all different mediums, gold, silver, bronze, white gold, etc. She wasn't really a ring or bracelet person, but there were tons of earrings and necklaces inside. Matty was only looking for one, and it was all the way at the bottom. A locket, gold of course, but engraved on the front, "Annie, true love". It hung on a long chain of gold as well. Matty put it in his pocket and closed the box. He ran his long fingers across the top, then ran his free hand through his hair. After shutting the door he left the room. Not shutting that door. Matty walked back into the living room and stood in front of his weeping parents. "I love you all, but I'm sorry. Goodbye." He mumbled quietly, and with that he was out the door. He texted George.
I'm coming back. I'll be there in at least two days.
Charlie's eyes fluttered open when the van hit a bump in the road. She rubbed her eyes and turned to her right, Matty was staring at the hood of the van, hand resting on his forehead. She nudged him. "What's wrong? Can't sleep?" Matty shook his head. Charlie could see him perfectly in the dark. "What are you thinking about?"
"Nana." He croaked out.
"Still thinking about her a lot?" This time Matty nodded.
"I'm sorry, I honestly don't know how to make it better. I wish I could." She mumbled the last sentence, but Matty heard her loud and clear. It was then quiet for a few minutes, then he turned his head towards her.
"Go back to sleep, you need some rest." Charlie nodded, and laid her head against his shoulder. Secretly he hated when she did that, it drove his heart mad.
"Matty! Get up dude, we're here!" Charlie shook Matty violently from excitement, in an attempt to wake him up. He mumbled and turned over. George rolled his eyes and slammed on the breaks, causing Matty's head to collide with the seat in front of him.
"Damn it, George!" Matty scratched his head and sat up. "What the hell do you guys want?"
"We're here!" Charlie squealed and looked out of the window. Matty's heart caught on fire at the sight of her being so excited. He looked up at her; it was like the sun welcomed her like a child and brightened her entire form. Everything was in slow motion as the dust particles danced around her like she was a queen. And to Matty, she was. George drove in circles just trying to find a place to park and set up “camp”. Matty put on and buttoned up a white blouse with floral accents. It was hot enough to just wear that, he just kept his jeans on from yesterday. The hole on his knee was enough breeze.
Charlie threw a small velvet backpack over her shoulders. "Are you guys ready?" She asked; she was practically bouncing with excitement. Matty looked at her through his curls, chuckling at her excitement; his cheeks turned pink and George cleared his throat. Matty looked up at him and glared. George gave him the "she is a child, what the hell did we tell you about this" look. Matty didn't care, he just wanted her. He sighed heavily and quickly slipped his shoes on.
"Are we ready?"
"I think so." Ross mumbled. Adam nodded his head.
"Alright, let’s head out." Charlie opened the doors to the back of the van and stepped out onto the grass. Matty held onto her shoulder as he stepped out behind them. George looked at Matty sternly again. "Where do we want to go first?" The five of them looked around in all different directions, music and yelling voices inhabiting their ears.
"Honestly, I don’t know."
"Neither do I."
"Let's go get food."
"Dammit Ross, is that all you think about?"
"I'm up for something to eat." Charlie said, squinting her eyes at the deadly sun.
"Well then let's find something, I don't know if there's much here besides alcohol." Matty said as he pulled Charlie towards him; they all went in search of food trucks. Matty was right though, all they found were alcohol vendors and margarita stands. Did they not know that there were underage kids attending? I guess they didn't care, it wasn't really going to stop them, also why weren't there any cops here? And why did Matty suddenly care so much?
"Okay, maybe there really isn't much here." Adam mumbled.
"We've run around in circles for 20 minutes now." George whined. Matty really didn’t care all that much, the copious amounts of cocaine made him forget about food.
"Okay, let's just forget about the food, let's just try to find some good music." Adam announced. Matty pulled all four of them to a fairly small stage, with nothing but instruments on it. The only way he could figure this out was to have some quiet.
"Great band. Love the sound." Matty rolled his eyes at George’s snide comment and searched for a piece of paper.
"You brought a schedule?" Ross asked. Matty pushed some of his bangs behind his ear.
"I want to see certain bands."
"Isn't this all about just walking around and enjoying music?" Charlie asked. Matty looked up at her and put the paper back in his pocket.
"Yeah... You're right." He smiled. He couldn’t say no to her eyes.
"Let's just walk around and see what we can discover." George sighed.
The five of them found each other in the clearing by a stage, dancing around mindlessly. Matty was sitting cross-legged along with Ross, just enjoying the night. Charlie was a princess of the sunset in Matty’s eyes, watching her twirl around and move to the music. By this time, the sky was turning to a dark violet and the clouds seemed to disappear. Matty watched her in awe, watching her fingers glide through the air and her hips spin around. He wanted to dance with her. "Alright guys! That's the end of the show! Thank you for coming out, we'll be back tomorrow morning!" Charlie whined quietly and pushed her hair out of her face. It was unbelievably hot at night around the fields. Matty jumped up
"Why don't we try to find food now?" Ross whined.
"Yeah, we haven’t had anything all day." George said as sweat rolled down his forehead. All of they guys looked at each other and mutually agreed. "Let's go."
"So where to? What sounds good guys?" George asked. Matty was pulling some buds apart for a smoke.
"I could go for some breakfast right now." Ross replied.
"But who sells breakfast at night?"
"IHOP. Waffle House." Charlie perked up.
"Ooh! Let's go to IHOP."
"What's there?" Matty asked, looking up from his progress.
"They have breakfast foods, like pancakes and crepes, they have lunch and dinner and stuff too. They're open for 24 hours." He made a sound of agreement and went back to fixing the spliff.
"IHOP it is." Ross was finally content. Matty smirked and held his creation up.
"Yeah, I'll take a hit or two." Adam said while getting into the trunk floor. Charlie was already in the back with Matty, sitting to his left. Matty lit one end of the cigarette and brought the other end to his lips. Charlie watched him like she was in a trance, completely won over by him once again. He welcomed the bitter air into his mouth and let it circulate through his lungs before opening his mouth. White clouds emerged from those same lips. Matty scooted closer to Charlie, it seemed to be a habit at this point. He handed it to Charlie, looking at her in adoration. Charlie took it from him and repeated what happened to Matty. Nothing new. Once the smoke filled her mouth, it escaped into her lungs and burned all the way down. Smoke filled the van, it got so bad that George had to roll down the windows. Adam chuckled and took the joint from her.