The Oblivion of Charlotte DuMont
This story won Honorable Mention at WOW! Women on Writing Spring ’16 Flash Fiction Contest.
The grief counsellor at St. Mary’s gave me this journal. She said writing helps, but I think she’s an idiot. Writing won’t bring Dad back.
Mom’s not handling things well. She’s locked herself in her room again. She keeps forgetting he died. Every morning she wakes me up and says, “Charlotte, did you hear your dad leave this morning? I can’t find him anywhere, but his car is here.” Then I have to watch her fresh grief over and over again when I remind her.
I keep thinking about that day. It was just the two of us on the lake, Dad with his fishing pole and me with my book. I stuck my bare feet in the cool water, and he said, “Careful, sweetheart. Those catfish might think your toes are worms.”
I leaned my head on his shoulder, and he pretended to forget who I was. He scooted away, and I laughed so hard and trapped him in a hug while he tried to escape. That’s when he touched his forehead and slumped over. I thought he was joking, and I kept poking him and tickling him. He didn’t move. I didn’t know how fast an aneurysm kills. Maybe it’s not such a bad way to go.
The funeral was awful. Dad’s coworkers from the law firm came. I’m not sure how well they knew him. They were nice, I guess. One sweaty, fat lawyer in a too-tight suit shook my hand, and then he acted all weird, like he’d just woken up from a coma and didn’t know what year it was. Jerk. The woman who was with him practically yanked his arm off trying to get him to leave.
He wasn’t the only one, either. Even Aunt Vi asked me what I was doing there — like I wasn’t supposed to be at my own dad’s funeral! Seriously? I hate them all.
It’s been ten days, and Mom is still forgetting Dad died. Sometimes she even forgets where she is or why she came into my room. If I leave her alone, she does better. I know it sounds stupid, but I wonder if I’m the one making her forget.
I can’t believe I just wrote that. That sounds really stupid.
I went back to school today. Cherise gave me a hug and then stared at the board with her mouth hanging open the rest of third period. Mike Brewster bumped into me in the hallway and then asked me if it was recess time. I told him there is no recess in high school, and he started to cry. Like, literally cried. Then my physics teacher told me I hadn’t turned in the last three assignments. It made me so mad that I just went for it — I touched his hand, and he totally forgot we were even talking and started humming the national anthem.
I’m freaking out. What’s happening to me?
It’s my fault. I must have killed my dad.
Mom thought I was crazy when I told her, but when I showed her how the mailman crashed into the neighbor’s garage after I shook his hand, she stopped ignoring me. Later, when I touched our waitress’s arm and she immediately had a seizure, Mom finally believed me. My touch is cursed. I don’t know why this is happening. I don’t know anything.
Actually, there are three things I know for sure:
- I can never touch anyone ever again.
- Mom is scared of me.
- She should be. I’m scared of myself.
It’s been six months since Dad died. I miss him so much my body aches. I can’t do this anymore. A life where you can’t touch anyone is no life at all. Mom, if you find this journal, I’m so sorry. I love you. I didn’t mean for any of this to happen. You’ve been a good mom, and this is not your fault. Please forget about me.
* * *
My name is Charlotte DuMont. There’s snow outside my window, and my room is just as white. I’m alone. It’s just me and this journal that some lady slipped through the feeding hole in my door. She talked to me for a minute, said she was a grief counsellor or something like that. She said writing helps. I think she’s an idiot. But maybe I am, too. I can’t remember.
Originally published at www.kelleyhicken.com on August 22, 2016.