Charlotte ate green peppers all day long. She was a real paragon of virtue. She went to the gym every day of the week – no excuses. She didn’t drink anything except water and camomile tea. She was a fine example of health and fitness.
And then she wasn’t. Suddenly, or so it seemed, she started filling herself with fast food – McDonald’s, Burger King, Wimpy’s – and drank gallons and gallons of Coke. She started every day with a quadruple espresso with five spoons of sugar – and early mornings were a long-forgotten dream. The gym? Pfft. Who had time for that? Certainly not Charlotte any more.
In short, she started taking up a lot of bad habits.
If asked why – and many people did – she would just wave her hand dismissively and respond in a breezy fashion that she was happier this way. Who needed goals? Certainly not Charlotte. Not any more.
Of course, life is not that simple. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.
Nobody had been with Charlotte when she decided to service her clapped out old car on the August bank holiday. All her friends were out of town with family and other loved ones. She was insistent that home was where she was staying – she had gym obligations, a marathon to train for and besides, her food preferences were so different to everyone else’s that she often ended up not eating at all, which was, of course, a very bad thing. At no point would she admit that she was lonely because of it, not even to herself. So, she busied herself attending to her car. A money saving opportunity so that she could travel to the New York Marathon – so she told herself.
The whole servicing exercise went well. It was easy – at least on a car that didn’t rely on diagnostics like modern cars. Mechanics was a new skill for her, and one that she was good at.
Not quite as good as she thought. The thing that she did to the brakes on the Honda – that was the tipping point. Careering down Lakey Hill at 60mph, the B52s blaring from the new speakers she’d wired up to the cassette deck, she couldn’t have been happier. Until she tried to brake. Nothing. Nothing but a loose pedal, a blind bend and a dry stone wall hurtling towards her.
Charlotte didn’t remember the impact. The smell of leaking brake fluid and hot metal and oil spreading across the road wiped all of that from her memory banks. But the bruise across her shoulder as the seatbelt jerked her back into her seat and the body-wide aches and pains reminded her that she was damned lucky to get out alive. The car of course was a write-off. She didn’t care about that.
Life could not be planned and controlled to the finest details. It could however be enjoyed in all its fragility.
For now, eating and drinking everything she had denied herself for years was the answer. If her friends couldn’t cope with that, well, that was their problem.
Or so she told herself.