Brian went back to his office and found Charlotte sat with a cup of tea… She was not drinking it, just holding the cup and saucer, and the cup was rattling, her hand was slightly shaking, he could not know if this was because she was fearful or because of her medication. He paused. He needed to say the right words here. He had to intimate that he did not blame her for the accident, but at the same time, he could not undermine his management team.
” Charlotte are you okay?”
” Yes thanks.”
” I’ve spoken to the guy who got injured and he does not blame you. He believes that you were not in the wrong… He puts the blame on Jim. I am going to have to sort out a few things, but it will take a couple of hours. So, what I’m suggesting, Charlotte, is you take the rest of your shift off, of course you will be paid for it, and come back to work tomorrow. I will have sorted out the situation and you will be able to carry on your good work.”
She nodded dumbly. Having no words to say, silence was always a safe option. She was led out of the office by Brian and she put down the cup and saucer on the office table.
She walked out of the store in a dazed state. She could not compute the events of the day. Was it shock? Or just the general befuddlement caused by her meds.
She turned left out of the carpark and out on to the main street.
“Charlotte?” A voice came from behind her.
She turned and saw the young man, whom she had inadvertantly injured only half an hour before.
She carried on walking, she did not have the energy to deal with a conflict. He ran to keep up with her,
She ignored him and continued to walk. A hand grabbed her shoulder.
“WAIT!” She cowered away from his loud voice and physical contact.
“Please.” His voice was plaintive. She stopped and with a fixed jaw she stared at him.
“I just wanted to say, I don’t blame you for what happened. Your supervisor is a complete Prick!”
It took Charlotte a moment to take in his words. This was the drugs! She was not naturally slow on the up-take.
” I’m so sorry, you got hurt. It was stupid… A stupid situation… You are right, Jim is a total dick!”
“There is something else, Charlotte, do I know you?”
” I very much doubt it, I’m old enough to be your mother.”
“There is something about your face that rings a bell, I can’t place it, were you on television?”
“No you are mistaken. I’ve been away for a long time.”
“Would you like to come for a coffee or something?”
“I don’t drink coffee.”
“I don’t drink on a work day.”
“Ok. I’m not about to proposition you, you know, I just wanted to talk. There is something about you… something lurks in the back of my mind, and I think you can help me bring it out.”
Charlotte was not good at talking to people she didn’t know, she was afraid to give too much, in case she gave away too much. There was so much stuff, she did not want to bring back to the surface… That way lies madness. An old friend, now ostracised and banished. She did not seek company. She had a teddy bear at home. She confided in him. No one else. Yet, she felt that maybe she owed this young man, a moment, after all she had cut him… However inadvertantly.
“Ok, a small spritzer won’t hurt.”
They walked in silence as he led her into the nearest pub. It was not a place that Charlotte had frequented. She didn’t tend to drink in public. She limited her alcohol to one bottle of Chardonnay at the weekend, a glass a night, taken with her evening meal. It was a limit she had set for herself, under advice from her Counsellor.
As they walked in, she sat with her back to the wall by the door.
“What would you like?” He asked.
“A spritzer please.”
“Half white wine, half soda.”
He went to the bar and ordered a pint and a spritzer. He came back from the bar and looking at Charlotte, the sun shone on her forehead through the window and suddenly he could see the scar on her head highlighted by the sun’s impertinent rays. His mouth gaped… The scar was unmistakeable.
He knew who she was. When she looked up at him as he approached the table, she could tell by the look on his face, that he had worked out who she was. She made to get up… Her first reaction was to flee.