Apr/May 2013  •   Fiction

Creeping Charlie

by Emily Burke

Artwork by Clinton McKay

Artwork by Clinton McKay


Your mom comes home to find you in your room, halfway through yet another season of Supernatural, the blankets all shoved to the foot of your bed, your backpack untouched by the front door. You wonder what she thinks of you still wearing your pajamas at half past two on a Sunday, if it doesn't make her a little sad, your insistence on stubborn laziness, if it isn't a little disappointing to see her oldest daughter still hung up on baby girl childhood dreams.

She says maybe you should spend a little less time getting emotionally involved in TV shows and a little more time getting emotionally involved in real life. Maybe she's right, you think, but in the words of Freaks and Geeks, Season 1, Episode 13: "Real people have to relate to one another."

And to be honest, you don't really want to relate to anyone.



On Saturday, you help your mom weed the flower bed, and she goes to rip out a vine of purple buds, but you stop her.

"They're beautiful," you say, and your mother agrees but—

"They're weeds, honey, Creeping Charlies—they'll take over the whole garden, suffocate everything."

You hesitate for a moment and then reach to tear some away, only straining slightly before the roots give way and you're left with a handful of beautiful useless leaves, the tiny purple flowers sweating into your palm.



Get in a fight over Facebook message with your best friend / Boy of Your Dreams. Became irrationally angry when he signs off without responding to your apology, angrier than you probably have the right to be. Don't even consider texting him. Don't. Honestly, seriously, really, don't think about texting him. Decide he's mad at you for no reason. Half-heartedly believe if there is a reason, it's not even your fault.

Reach for your phone.

Wonder when you became the kind of girl who caves so easily. Acknowledge it feels natural, a relief, even, like pulling the branch of creeping charlie from the flower garden, the slight resistance of the roots before it finally gives way.

Resent you call yourself a feminist, but you'd throw it all away for this boy.

Resent you call yourself a fighter, but peace is all you've ever let yourself know.



You worry sometimes you are getting bad again, but you still have three seasons of Supernatural left to watch, and your friend says you should sleep over at her house next Saturday. You'll eat Chinese food and watch movies and play outside, if it snows.

"We'll take pictures of our eyelashes with the snowflakes clinging to them," she promises. "It'll look so artsy!"

And that's more than enough.



But. That boy.

And of course, there's a boy, there always is, or a girl, maybe, depending on who's telling the story. But right now, you're telling the story. It's you, and it's a boy, and you've been calling to him for ages—across the world, across the room, across your bed, across the center console, across the frozen edge of the lake where once you both slipped on the ice and almost fell through.

(And you've been doing that a lot, lately, you've noticed—not walking on ice, but doing reckless acts of abandon in the places you think he might notice and scold you, because it's not much, but at least it's something.)

It makes you feel weak, predictable, ugly even—not the boy himself but the fact that he exists, the fact that the way he acts sometimes should make you want to stomp your foot and fume, but all the same, whenever you're with him, all you really want to do is start singing.



He's got a girl he loves, and she lives three states away, and he says she's like a hurricane. You aren't sure what simile he'd use to describe you, but you suspect it'd be a little less wanted and a little more suffocating, a little less rosebuds and a lot more Creeping Charlie.



Finish the season of Supernatural. Don't change out of your pyjamas. Toss your phone under your bed so you don't have to worry about texting anyone back. Get really irrationally sad thinking about the season finale, sadder than you probably have the right to be, considering the fact that it's a TV show and none of these people are real, but you justify it because you love those heroic, flawed, fictional brothers so much, perhaps more than you love yourself, and that's starling but not foreign, surprising but not totally unexpected.

It's familiar, a relief, and almost nothing like a hurricane.