Charlie can’t get something across. He needs something about his story to be heard. He needs to be able to tell his story. He feels unable to tell it. He feels it cannot be heard because he cannot manage to do it.

He did not know his own story. It was all in different pieces here and there that could not be brought together and understood. But the story was there. It was there all along.

His story was that he lived for very simple things. He lived to be with Natashka. He lived to keep her safe.

That is all he ever wanted. It is all that ever made him ever think or feel anything.

It’s a simple thing.

What is lost in that is the intensity of his desire for those things. What he can’t express is the profound loneliness and melancholy at not being able to be with her, and that growing up, the backdrop of his whole life was that he could not simply choose to be with her again. He did not know when he would be with her. No one would tell him and he could not ask. He would be trying to practice his spelling or finish his math homework and he would want to cry because it is like there was a terrible, burning wound in him all the time that was her absence.

And that is how he grew up, as a kind of walking wound, or a craving, a sense of absence that was only sometimes relieved.

When he was with her, then he was most often terrified—trying to do everything absolutely fucking right all the time so that they would both live through it.

And that’s how he grew up too. That is what being eight was like for him. It was what 12 was like too. It was an immense, dreadful loneliness relieved by terror.

That is all he knew of life.

Now she is gone. He has no idea what else to live for or what to do about the pain. That is his story.