Ryan walked up to the apartment door and pulled out his key. It was after 8 pm and he was exhausted from his trip. He couldn’t wait to see Charlotte. When he opened the door, he was stunned. On the table were the flowers he had gotten, wilted and dead. The ring box was on the table with three pieces of paper next to it. He stepped into the apartment and looked around. There was something very strange. Strangely quiet. As he set his bags down, he noticed something on the floor by the door. A key. A key to what? He picked it up and walked over to the table. His heart sank. There were two notes and a check for the amount of her share of rent for the next two months.
Randi, room 1608.
Have a happy life with your stupid whore! I’m leaving!
Charlotte’s key to the apartment, he realized. He set it down on the table, unsure what to do.
Ryan walked over to the couch and sat down. He set his elbows on his knees and rubbed his forehead. This was not the surprise he was expecting. She left.
Where would she go? Where would Charlotte go?
Of course, to Melanie’s. THAT’S what Melanie knew. Melanie knew she was leaving, but she hadn’t heard from Charlotte either? Was she playing him? What in the world was going on?
Ryan got up and walked around the apartment trying to find any clues he could about where she went. He walked into the bedroom and saw all of her clothes and shoes were gone. She didn’t take anything else, though. None of the decor. Their jar of loose change was even still there. Ryan then went to the office and stopped short. Her phone was sitting on his desk, his desk drawer left wide open. He strode over and picked up the phone.
Ryan took Charlotte’s phone and went to his travel bags. Locating his charger, he plugged in her phone in the kitchen. He knew he needed to give it a few seconds, so he went to the bathroom while he waited. When he came back he turned the phone on. Ugh, now he needed to wait for it to boot up. Ryan got himself a glass of water and slammed it. Wiping his mouth, he set the glass in the sink and went back to her phone. Logging in, he found that she had five missed calls, eight voicemails, and 17 text messages.
Ryan started with the text messages. Several were from him, but most were from Melanie. What did she have to say?
Monday, 6:15 pm: Come on over whenever. We’re ready for you.
Monday, 9:42 pm: Are you coming over? Or are you going to wait until tomorrow? That’s fine too, I know Ryan’s gone until Thursday.
Tuesday, 10:17 am: Hey, Ryan’s calling and texting me, what do you want me to do about that? You know, if you ever decide to pull your head out of your ass and talk to me.
Wednesday, 8:13 am: Look, whatever. If you don’t want to stay here, that’s fine. Stop being an ass and get back to me.
Wednesday, 3:14 pm: Hey, sorry. I’m getting worried about you. You’re not getting back to anyone. I don’t mind lying to Ryan but I need to know what the lie is, okay? Please call me back.
Wednesday 8:30 pm: Char? I’ve tried calling you too. What is going on? Do I need to call the police for a missing persons? I don’t even know if you’re missing. Please call me. Or text me. I just want to know you’re alive.
Thursday, 7:02 am: I’ve been thinking. If I don’t hear from you by the time I get home from work, I’m filing a missing persons. Stop being an ass and get back to me.
Thursday, 6:23 pm: I’m serious. I’m stopping by the police station tomorrow and filing a missing persons. Call me back.
Ryan grabbed his phone and sat back down on the couch. He called Melanie. She didn’t answer. He cursed.
Ryan got up and grabbed Charlotte’s phone and called her back.
“It’s about time you called me back! I’ve been worried SICK about you!” Melanie yelled into the phone.
“Melanie, it’s Ryan. Please don’t hang up.” He sounded tired. Very tired.
“What the hell do you want?” Melanie snapped.
“Charlotte is gone. She left her phone on my desk. I know she isn’t with you by all your texts to her. Where else would she go if she didn’t go to your place?”
Melanie was silent. Ryan was trying to figure out if she was working on their lie or if she truly was stunned. Finally she spoke.
“What do you mean she’s gone?”
“Well,” Ryan began. “She left a note saying she’s leaving, she wrote me a check for rent for two months, and I found her key that she must have slid under the door after she locked up.”
“Okay, that sounds pretty definitive. Have you tried her mom?”
“Come on, Melanie. You and I both know that the last place she would ever go is to her mom’s. I very much doubt she is there.”
“Yeah, you’re right.” Melanie admitted. Charlotte’s relationship with her mom was rocky at best. “Look, she just told me that she was leaving you. She didn’t have a plan so she was going to come here. You obviously know that she didn’t. She didn’t stay there and she doesn’t have a phone. You know her just as well as I do – she could be anywhere.”
“Well, she’s probably still in the city because of her job, so that narrows it down a bit.” Ryan said. He continued slowly, forming the thought as he went. “I will stop by her desk tomorrow and see what’s going on. I have some meetings in the morning, but I can do it in the afternoon. I have it off anyway since I was at the annual meeting most of this week.”
“You probably shouldn’t go,” Melanie said. “I mean, you’re the reason she left.”
“It’s a misunderstanding. I will clear that up.” Ryan asserted.
“Dude, she caught you cheating with what’s-her-face. She. Caught. You. Your cheatbag face is the last one she wants to see on the planet.”
“She caught me cheating? She saw me cheat on her with someone else without my knowledge?” Ryan was starting to get angry. Did Melanie seriously know everything Charlotte ever thought? Why didn’t Charlotte talk to him about these things? He could have cleared this up a long time ago.
“She saw you two come out of your apartment together. Did you really think you could sleep with someone in your own apartment and not get caught? You’re a real piece of work.”
Ryan closed his eyes and took a deep breath. There was no use in getting into a fight with Melanie over the phone about something she clearly had wrong information about.
“I am?” Ryan finally said. “You know, why don’t you enlighten me about myself. I’d love to hear your take.”
“You’re such an ass. Go ahead. Find Charlotte at work. Confront her there. Make a big scene. Frankly, I don’t give a rat’s ass what you do. She was right to leave a lying, cheating, scumbag like you. You make me sick just talking to you.”
Melanie hung up on Ryan. He had such a headache from everything that had happened since he got home. He wished he could try to maintain a civil conversation with Melanie but she was so impossible and dramatic. Everything turned into major drama with her, always to the extreme. It didn’t matter, though. Ryan got the information he needed – Melanie knew no more about where Charlotte was than he did. If she had, she would have given something away. She always does.
Ryan knew he couldn’t do anything else tonight. He needed to gather his thoughts, take some time, and then act. He got into the shower and stood there for 20 minutes before finally getting out and crawling into his empty bed. Ryan reached for Charlotte’s pillow. It smelled like her. A tear tumbled out of his eye and his heart ached knowing that Charlotte thought he would ever be unfaithful. He drifted off to sleep faster than he expected and dreamt about Charlotte all night.