Day 23. The Next Chapter

Day 23: One night your character decides to leave home and never come back. But at the airport, he or she encounters an old friend, and they get in a conversation. Something about this conversation makes leaving home suddenly seem much more difficult than your character had expected . . .

Life has so many different chapters . . .
Life has so many different chapters . . .

Five years had passed since they last saw each other but their worlds were about to collide once more. Charlie sat at the bar in the Departure lounge of the Fort Lauderdale International Airport patiently waiting for his flight when he spied Anthony across the lounge area. He had just walked in, travel documents in hand with a duffel bag over his shoulder in true military style. Charlie frowned over his cup of coffee. He was the last person Charlie needed to see at this point, but he thought better of hiding from the inevitable. Anthony made his way over to the food court and Charlie knew he would eventually spot him. When it happened, Charlie was ready for it. He raised his cup to Anthony when their eyes met, and smiled. Anthony paused in his tracks but made his way over to Charlie.

“How you been Charlie?” Anthony asked as he approached the bar.

“I’m good, I’m good, can’t complain you know.” Charlie shrugged. “How you?” He asked after a moments’ thought.

“I’m good.” Anthony paused searching for the words that had failed him years ago. “Charlie, I’m really sorry about how things went between us -”

“Don’t . . .” Charlie interrupted him. “Don’t worry about it. What’s done is done. It was better it happened then and not after we got married, know what I mean?” He shrugged. “Have a seat.” He gestured to the stool next to him. Anthony reluctantly sat.

“So where you heading man?”

“I’m actually heading to London,” Charlie started. “I got a job offer there and I needed a change, so why not.” He replied preferring not to tell Anthony that he was the real reason he’s leaving.

Waking up in the hospital to see his best friend and fiancé in a loving embrace had not sat well with Charlie, and it still bothered him to this day. That was the last time he saw Anthony who chose to run away rather than deal with the shit-storm. Deidra on the other hand, he saw every now and then. After the hospital debacle, they called off the wedding of course, but they were still hooking up, in a most unhealthy way. Charlie made several attempts to escape Deidra but the island was just too small, they would always cross paths somehow. So when he got the job offer in England, it was a no-brainer for him, he had to take it; this was the perfect opportunity to start over.

“That’s good, glad to hear it.” Anthony nodded.

“So where you been? And where you heading?” Charlie asked more pointedly.

Anthony sighed. “Heading home for a week then I’m back on the road again.” He remained vague but Charlie didn’t question it considering how vague he was earlier.

The two men sat in an awkward silence at the bar mulling over their thoughts. Charlie wondered what kind of conversation could he possibly have with his former best friend.

“So . . .” Anthony started. “When do you plan to come back home?” He asked hesitantly.

“I dunno, probably when I’m ninety and ready to die. I have no reason to come back any time soon.” Charlie responded trying to disguise the resentment in his voice but he doubt he was successful.

“Wow, that bad, huh?” Anthony replied.

Charlie chuckled not sure whether to answer him or not and decided against it as he sipped his coffee.

“Look, I know things went pretty bad between us and I went M.I.A. afterwards, but I’d hate to see you just leave and disappear on us.” Anthony didn’t look at Charlie, he kept his gaze out into the crowd so he didn’t see Charlie’s frown but Charlie knew Anthony was referring to he and Deidra which meant they still kept in touch; that didn’t sit well with him but he knew he had to let it go.

“Remember that weekend we spent at the cabin in Ocho Rios?” Anthony asked after a while trying to change direction.

“Yeah, that was a good weekend.” Charlie smiled remembering the trip he and Anthony took with their girlfriends at the time. The cabin was in the middle of nowhere next to the White River where they went swimming, rafting and tubing. It was probably the best weekend Charlie ever had as an adult, that he could remember, and that made him frown even further.

“You were so drunk you jumped off the diving board into the river in the dead of the night. You remember that?” Charlie laughed. “You frightened the shit outta me that night you see Tony, I would have killed you if I didn’t fear you were already dead.”

“Yeah that was rather stupid of me.” Anthony snorted his assent. “Got the girls all riled up though, then we had some real fun, right?”

“Yeah” Charlie agreed. Anthony’s girlfriend was worried sick when he disappeared down the river, that when he came walking through the woods unharmed and grinning, she literally melted in his arms and never left his side the entire weekend.

Charlie smiled to himself at the memories he had formed with Anthony. Most of his memories were with him, in fact, he doesn’t remember doing anything without his best friend and side-kick. And then he thought, there were so many things he would miss about his island home that he would not be able to do in England. Suddenly and for the first time since he accepted the job offer, he contemplated whether he made the right decision.

Passengers of Flight 846 from Fort Lauderdale to London Heathrow please proceed to Gate 6

The intercom buzzed and Charlie sighed.

“That’s me.” He stood gathering his bags and documents before turning to Anthony. “It was good seeing you Tony.” Anthony got up and attempted to hug Charlie who opted for a hand-shake instead.

“Take care of yourself Charlie,” he said.

“You too, Tony.” And with that, Charlie walked away from his long-lost friend, wondering if they will ever see each other again.

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