“Will you come to pick me up later? Oh, all right then, I wouldn’t want to abolish your citizen’s rights and freedoms, you are entitled to your drinking liberties! I forgot it’s Friday and that you’ll want to get wasted. Okay, okay, not wasted, you’ll want to get wild”, joked Charlene, teasing Jo, her best friend, called Joan by the people who knew her less but simply Jo by her closest friends. Jo, on the other hand, called Charlene simply Char. Charlene loved that abbreviation.
Instead of driving to the “Demure” that night, they agreed to get a taxi. It made perfect sense to Charlene who was usually the responsible one of the two. But Jo insisting on the taxi was something else: ”I must have had a good influence on her”, a thought passed through Charlene’s head, happy that she won’t have to think about Jo’s safety on her way home or Jo picking up another drunken bozo and letting him drive her home.
Prim and proper, such reckless behavior was inexcusable for Charlene. But she loved her friend to bits. Jo was a good person, and an even better friend, for that matter.
“Maybe I should loosen up a little and stop being such a controlling freak”, Charlene thought, as she recalled her mom’s lecturing about good behavior and how much she struggled with trespassing the strict boundaries her mom set when she was a kid.
Her mom wasn’t physically abusive, but she caused a lot of damage with her cold, pretentious manner while raising Char as a small girl. The little one didn’t know anything better than to always be a good girl. Otherwise, her mother would withdraw and isolate her.
Ignoring her daughter whenever she didn’t perfectly fit in the frame she had set imagined for her, she often locked her daughter in her room with the warning:
”Now stay there to think about what you have done. You can’t get out until you apologize!”
The silent treatment was her mom’s usual way as Charlene was growing up, making it the usual escape method from anything that resembled unpleasant feelings.
As young as four, Charlene often found herself sitting alone in silence in her room, crying, confused and wondering what she did wrong this time.
Her mom never talked about what happened. She never hugged her or comforted her. Charlene was left alone to make sense of the emotional world around. On her way to becoming an adult, her biggest childhood lesson was that she must work hard to earn someone’s love and respect. She was never good enough, always hard-working and conscientious.
Her friend Jo was almost the total opposite. And yet they worked well together, especially when going out.
Charlene loved her Friday nights together with Jo and was looking forward to this one, too. The only murky thought was meeting with Daniel and having to tolerate his abhorrent attitude: he was extremely good looking but too aggressive for Charlene’s taste.
Despite her lack of appreciation for her colleague’s distasteful ways, she paid special attention to how she looked that evening.
Charlene did her hair and makeup herself, so she had some more time after work on Fridays to rest and take the best care of her looks. That was not a problem anyway: she was gorgeous, as Jo used to remind her often.
This evening, she felt like wearing something comfortable. She picked up her wide-legged beige pants, added her favorite champagne-colored silk collarless shirt and the tiny rose-gold-plated necklace that revived the whole ensemble.
Char wore that shirt often. But this time, she decided to spice things up by curling up her hair into neat loose waves, the Lauren Bacall style. The minuscule amount of glitter on her cheeks and her decolletage complemented the look perfectly. She took a glance in the mirror. For some wonderful reason, she liked the way she looked tonight. It might be too much for the “Demure” but she didn’t care: the rosy glow would look great under the club lights.
The phone blinked: Jo messaged her to let her know she is on her way. Charlene picked up her purse and her favorite trench coat and locked the door behind her twice.
She left her apartment with an unusual gut sensation in her gut. It felt like an omen that an important night is in the making.