Waking (Ginger Man 10)

Charlie. He assumed the voice was an echo from a fleeting dream, so he kept sleeping. And then he started a new dream, about his football coach grabbing him by the shoulders, telling him to get in the game. “CHARLIE.”

He opened his eyes, saw Maggie’s angry face glaring down at him, red hair dangling down either side of her face like curtains. Her face relaxed a little, but retained an edge as harsh as her tone. “Thought you weren’t going to wake up.”

Charlie rubbed his face with his right hand. “Sorry. Up late last night, couldn’t sleep.” He remembered writing Mike’s story in the notebook he’d found, finally coming to bed at 4:30.

Maggie stood up, sighed. “Good thing you have the afternoon shift today. But I gotta go.” She walked over to refrigerator, and that’s when Charlie noticed something wasn’t right.

“Why am I on the sofa?”

Maggie stopped herself from opening the refrigerator door, and looked back at Charlie in frustration. “Because that’s where you slept last night.” She pointed to the makeshift kitchen table where they had eaten dinner the night before. “And I don’t ‘preciate your sense of humor none neither.”

“Wha — ” Charlie dug his elbows into the sofa cushions, pushed his body up. This didn’t make sense, he remembered lying in bed, next to Maggie. How — his eyes saw what Maggie had been pointing to on the table. A plastic bag, its shape revealing its contents.

“Gallon jugs?”

Maggie nodded, as she headed for the trailer’s front door. “Of rubbing alcohol, yes, just like in that story you told me.” She opened the door, looked back at Charlie again. “Gonna take you fifteen minutes to wash off what you wrote on our hands.”

The door slammed behind her. Hand — Charlie brought the palm of his right hand up to his face. Written in black ink were the words WAKE UP.

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