There is no anger. There is only disappointment.

That's the worst of it, I think. The cold stares at my back. The way he won't meet my gaze. When he leaves the room just as I've entered it.

I hear him once, talking on the phone late at night. His voice is rough and tired and world-weary, though never once have I thought my father truly old. Suddenly, he sounds it. I don't know whom he's speaking to. It's a confessional.

"I don't know what I did wrong," he says, tucked into the corner of the couch. The television hums low and steady, making his words run thick like cold soup. "Maybe I should've sent her to private school. I've never been one for parenting."

He listens to the cold, hard plastic, and hidden on the other side of the wall—I wait.

"She never talks to me. Is that her fault?" Pause. "I don't know. I don't know what to say. She's eighteen now, old enough to—" Pause. "No, not nearly old enough for that. God." Pause. "She's nearly graduated. She can do what she wants. I don't know. Maybe I shouldn't have taken her—maybe would've been better off . . ." Pause.

I leave, tired.

I remember Edward stumbling out of the bed, the fear so blatant in his eyes. The two men standing across from each other, judging but not speaking. The lump in Edward's throat as he swallowed deep and heavy. Regret, glancing back toward me. His mutterings of "I'm sorry, so sorry" as he made his greedy escape. Charlie, not even speaking. (Not even breathing.)

I stare at the ceiling, tired.

The nights have been like this lately: hard and cruel and waiting for summer. I watch as the sunset lingers later and later, until the days are just long stretches of clouds leaking into night.

Even the stars are cloaked in shadows, the night so dark and deep.

There's something so spectacularly lonely about being a night owl. There's triumph in being the last one awake, that last holdout to the supposed bodily constrictions of man. The aching fatigue. The weary soldier. The survivor. But what is won at the end of the battle if there is no one awake to share it with?

At this point, I'm not sure what's right and I'm not sure what's wrong. All I know is I can't spend another night alone.

These nights alone are rubbing me raw. I slide open the window with a rusty creak, angling myself out one leg and then the next. The branches are wet with recent rain, slippery with growing mold and scratchy with leaves. My jeans and shirt are muddy by the time my bare feet hit the cool grass.

The sun is just sinking behind the trees, hazy in the smoky clouds. I open the wood paneled fence to his backyard, my wet feet leaving footprints against the deck. The sliding glass door is uncovered, giving me full view to the darkened house.

It's disturbingly unchanged, down to the dark, dark wood.

I knock on the glass and wait. And wait. And wait. Finally, I see the back of his head as he walks to the front door. I knock again and he whips around.

His face is blurry through the dirty glass, shadowed by the dim lighting. We stare at each other for a few moments until he finally comes over, faster faster faster until the door slides open and he slips out.

"What are you doing here?" he asks, and I think I break a little under the heaviness of his voice. His eyes glance back to my house quickly several times.

"What's wrong with me?" I ask him instead, for something has to be. After all, I keep coming back. It doesn't look right or sound right or act right or taste right but God damnit it feels right.

His mouth opens, lets out a breath. Brow furrowed.

"Nothing," he says. "Nothing's wrong with you."

His hands pull me inside, until my bare feet sink into the soft carpeting of his living room. He slides the door shut and looks at me sadly, wanton yet resigned. His internal debate wars for a few moments, though I see something cement when his shoulders sink.

Maybe he's given up.

"Come here," he says, the forehead kiss so chaste it hurts. He leans in close. "I wish you weren't so wrong," he whispers, hot breath on my neck. "Because I swear to God it feels too right."

My fingers tangle into his.

Absently, I wonder how long it'll take Charlie to even realize I'm missing.

blah blah blah i have nothing to say. i appreciate le reads/recs/reviews etc for this story ya'll are da best js js