When they start school again, Charlie looks at the people around them and wonders what their days are like. He thinks about how, if he had gone to another school, he wouldn’t know his friends, so he’s not sure why it all feels so personal. As his loneliness increases, Charlie spends time people-watching at the mall and sees a tough-looking older kid help a lost little boy. The older kid tells the little boy’s mom to watch him better next time. He watches the little boy and his mom eat French fries together and wonders about the lives of the other people passing by. The repetition of the mall activity unsettles him. Charlie says that the only person he’s spoken to in the past two weeks is Susan, whom he asked if she misses Michael. She just stared at him blankly, and her friends called Charlie a freak as he walked away.
By observing those around him, Charlie hopes to figure out what’s going on with himself and how to handle it. The tough-looking older kid helping a lost little boy illustrates that people are much more than their outward appearance, and perhaps that Charlie sees himself as a lost little boy in need of guidance. As Charlie watches the little boy with his mom, he seems to long for that care and easy connection with a parent. Looking for someone to bond with over his lingering grief, Charlie doesn’t realize that maybe Susan is coping in her own way, and Charlie’s blunt question catches her off guard. Charlie’s attempt to be vulnerable with her in that moment only results in making him feel even more like an outcast.
While buying another stash of weed, Charlie hears about Brad’s dad catching Brad with Patrick. Brad’s dad beat him so badly that he didn’t come to school for a week. Even though Charlie wants to call Patrick and make sure he’s ok, Charlie is worried that he won’t be welcomed back into the friend group yet. He goes to Rocky Horror Picture Show on Friday just to see Patrick play Frank ‘N Furter, but he sits unnoticed in the back and leaves before the show is over. He talks to himself on the way home, pretending his friends are with him. At home, he wants to join his sister and her new boyfriend while they watch a movie, but she says they want to be alone. Charlie starts reading his next book assignment from Bill to distract himself.
Brad’s fears about being open about his sexuality are shown to have been justified, given his father’s violent reaction. Yet again, another person in Charlie’s life is a victim of familial abuse. Again, Charlie is unsure of how to demonstrate his care in a tricky situation, so he chooses to do so passively. Charlie turns to reading once more to lose himself in someone else’s story.
When Brad returns to school on Monday, Charlie recognizes a change in him: he no longer has a bounce in his step, and he won’t look people in the eye. Brad ignores Patrick for most of the week until Patrick finally confronts him during lunch. Brad yells, “Faggot!” at Patrick as he walks away, and the two boys get into a fistfight. Brad’s football friends team up on Patrick, and Charlie steps in to protect him and ends the fight. He threatens to tell everyone about Brad if he ever hurts Patrick again. Patrick gets suspended for starting the fight, and both Brad and Charlie get a month’s detention. In detention together, Brad thanks Charlie for stopping his friends. Sam is waiting for Charlie after he gets out of detention and tells him they can all be friends again.
Perhaps because he wants to protect himself by pushing Patrick away, Brad publicly hurls a cruel, homophobic slur at Patrick. Brad, taking after his father, uses violence to deal with his problems. Once again, Charlie uses his fighting skills to solve a conflict, though this time to protect a friend. Despite his earlier behavior, Brad’s gratitude to Charlie indicates that he still cares about Patrick. While Charlie is punished by the school this time for fighting, he is rewarded for saving Patrick by regaining acceptance into the friend group.
On Friday night, Charlie goes to Rocky Horror Picture Show to reunite with his friends. He and Mary Elizabeth become friends again, and she tells him that she’s now dating an older guy who she’s happier with because he has his own opinions. Patrick quit playing Frank ‘N Furter, saying he never wanted to do it again. He watches the show in the audience with Charlie and asks Charlie if he ever thinks that all friend groups are really the same, and the “the only real difference between us is what we wear and why we wear it". Patrick says he thinks “it’s all bullshit.” Charlie says it was “hard to see him mean it that much.”
Mary Elizabeth’s comments annoy Charlie, but also demonstrate that maybe their relationship could have gone much differently if Charlie had asserted himself and participated more. Patrick’s decision to quit playing Frank ‘N Furter suggest that the joy in being more open about his sexual orientation—as the character allows him to do—is diminished as a result of the conflict with Brad. Clearly having lost some of his faith in people, Patrick declares that everyone is really the same, and any differences are just superficial.
Charlie and Patrick begin spending a lot of time together, and Patrick smokes heavily and takes large amounts of caffeine pills. When Patrick picks up Charlie for a night out, he’s listening to the mix tape that Charlie made for him, and says he’s been listening to it all night. Charlie notices that Patrick has a “sick smile” on his face that’s “glazey” and “numb.” Patrick tells Charlie that he feels free and that things will be different when he goes to college. They spend the night drinking in a park exchanging stories. When Patrick drops off Charlie at home, he thanks him for defending him in the cafeteria and then kisses him. Patrick apologizes but Charlie tells him that it’s okay and lets Patrick kiss him because “that’s what friends are for.”
Always a giver and supporter in relationships, Charlie passively spends time with his friend, but isn’t honest with Patrick about his concerns. Patrick’s choice to listen to the tape from Charlie shows that he feels the support and care Charlie put into the tape, and, as Charlie had hoped, the tape is helping Patrick get through this “bad time.” Charlie’s reasoning for letting Patrick kiss him once again illustrates his misunderstanding of how true friendship works. He thinks passively putting others’ needs before his demonstrates friendship more than simply being honest would.
Spending nearly every night with Patrick, Charlie explains how hard it is to see his friend hurt so much. Since he can’t make Patrick stop hurting, Charlie just follows him around as Patrick shows Charlie “his world.” One night, Patrick takes Charlie to the park where men go to hook up with each other. He explains the “rules” to Charlie before going off with another boy. An older man asks Charlie for a cigarette and sits down next to him. Charlie recognizes him as the local TV sports anchor, and the man talks to him about sports, even mentioning Charlie’s older brother. Charlie asks the man what it’s like to be on TV, and the man gets up and leaves. Patrick takes Charlie to various places throughout town like karaoke bars, dance clubs, and a bathroom at a gym, and he tells Charlie that it’s difficult to always be safe.
While he continues passively supporting Patrick, Charlie learns a lot about the secretive gay community. He doesn’t seem to realize it when an older man is clearly trying to pick him up, however. Unexpectedly hearing his brother’s name mentioned during this experience perhaps makes Charlie forget where he is and what’s happening. Because of his time with Patrick, Charlie becomes more aware of and sympathetic to the struggles of gay men, many of whom feel they have to conduct their relationships in the shadows. The secretive pick-up culture contributes to added health and safety risks, as Patrick points out.
Charlie explains that Patrick always begins their nights excited and ends them looking sad. At one point, they see Brad picking up another guy in the park, but Patrick says nothing. He throws a wine bottle out the window as he drives Charlie home. When he drops off Charlie, Patrick doesn’t try to kiss him again like he had every other night, but instead, just thanks him for being his friend.
Something about seeing Brad with someone else at the park triggers a change in Patrick and he tosses the alcohol away almost as if to say that he doesn’t need it anymore. Because he doesn’t kiss Charlie anymore, perhaps he also realizes that the kisses weren’t helping either.
During the last weeks of school, Charlie writes about everyone else’s upcoming plans like graduation and prom. He says that Bill is feeling sentimental about finishing his first year of teaching and he decided not to move to New York. He gives Charlie a list of movies to watch and write about and the last extra book of the year, The Fountainhead. He tells Charlie to be a “filter” and not a “sponge” when reading this book. Charlie works hard to maintain his straight A’s and almost gets a B in math, but his teacher tells him to stop asking “why?” and just follow formulas. He remembers feeling afraid of starting high school, but he feels so good at this moment that his earlier fear seems funny. He mentions that Patrick has stopped drinking ever since he saw Brad in the park with other men.
Instead of making his own end-of-the-year plans, Charlie is fixated on everyone else’s lives. Bill’s decision to continue teaching instead of moving to New York suggests that he is feeling fulfilled in his current work. He incorporates films into their extra assignments as a way of exposing Charlie to critically thinking about stories presented through different media. Though he gives Charlie some preliminary guidance before he reads the books, Bill largely allows Charlie to experience and think through the stories on his own.
Charlie enjoys The Fountainhead and admires the author for wanting to be a great writer even though she came to America barely speaking English. He feels inspired to try to write a story, but he only gets one sentence written. Because everyone else is busy with end-of-the-year plans, Charlie says he has a lot of time for writing and reading. He feels excited for his friends but wishes those things were happening to him, too. Thinking about his future graduation, Charlie hopes to be valedictorian and wonders if Bill would help him write that speech.
For the first time, Charlie mentions background information on the author of the book Bill gives him, suggesting that he’s developing a stronger interest in the writers behind the stories and identifying with them. He attempts to write the beginning of a book and can’t figure out where to go with it, not realizing that he’s been writing his story all along in his letters. Instead of living in his present moment, Charlie daydreams about moments he thinks will make him happy three years from now. However, it’s a positive development that Charlie feels excited about the future.
All of his friends have decided on which colleges they will attend in the fall: Patrick is going to University of Washington, Sam is going to Penn State, Charlie’s sister is going to Sarah Lawrence, and Mary Elizabeth is going to Berkeley. Seeing his friends excited about their colleges makes Charlie think of a quote he read in The Fountainhead about a man telling his friend that he would die for him but he won’t live for him. Charlie interprets this line as every person having to live for themselves and choose to share their lives with others. Charlie shares all of this information with his psychiatrist, but says the psychiatrist just wants to talk about his childhood memories and says it’s important.
Though he genuinely feels happy for his friends and their accomplishments for getting into their desired colleges, he also recognizes those accomplishments mean a new chapter in their lives—one he doesn’t get to experience along with them. The literature he reads helps him start to understand what Bill meant when telling Charlie to participate: that one can love and support their friends, but first they must live for themselves. Though Charlie feels that these realizations are significant, his psychiatrist’s focus on his childhood memories suggests to the reader that the psychiatrist suspects there’s something even more important there that Charlie doesn't realize yet.
At the seniors’ last day of school, Charlie feels happy for everyone he loves because they are happy. His sister even allows him to hug her in the hall. After school, Charlie, Sam, and Patrick go to Big Boy and talk “about the things that seemed important at the time.” Suddenly, Patrick starts running up the hill toward the sunset and then Sam and Charlie follow. Charlie writes that “everything was as good as it could be.” At the Rocky Horror Picture Show performance that night, Patrick decides to play Frank ‘N Furter one last time, and Charlie thinks it’s his best performance ever. Charlie’s sister and her new boyfriend come to the show, and Charlie teaches them how to dance the Time Warp. Afterwards, Charlie’s sister hugs him again, and he leaves with his friends to go to a party.
Celebrating other’s joy makes Charlie happy, too. The three of them running off after the sunset represents both the freedom and excitement they feel, but the sunset also represents that something is coming to an end. For the moment, that feels good to Charlie. Patrick’s decision to play Frank ‘N Furter one last time implies that he’s feeling more like his old self, but also ready to move on to new things after this last performance. The growing bond between Charlie and his sister is implied with her attendance at the performance, as Charlie invites her into that community, and it gives them another experience to share.
Charlie deejays at the party, and everyone complements his skills with playing the right music at the right moment. He considers deejaying to make money for college, though his brother told him that if he plays professional football, he’d pay for Charlie’s college. On prom night, Charlie feels extremely lonely without his friends at school, although his mom made him his favorite sandwich to bring for lunch knowing he’d feel sad without them. Charlie hopes that everyone enjoys their prom and that no one gets into a car accident. Charlie gets home from school the next day to find that his friends and sister are all still asleep from the late night. At school, Bill invites Charlie to spend a day with him and his girlfriend at his house.
Charlie’s ability to choose just the right music is recognized again, making him feel validated and in tune with the people around him. Charlie’s day at school without his friends provides just a small example of what the next three years could be like once they go away to college. Though it doesn’t help much, his mom’s gesture of kindness with the sandwich shows the small ways in which she tries to show him affection. While Charlie worries about how he’ll get through the days without his friends, Bill’s invitation offers Charlie an essential connection with someone who will still be around.
After prom, Sam and Craig broke up. Charlie explains how nice everyone looked and how much fun they had there despite the bad music. Charlie’s sister and Patrick both told him that the school-organized after party was great and had a deejay playing good music, and people snuck in alcohol. Craig had rented a hotel suite for the group and was mad because everyone else wanted to go to the after party, so only he and Sam went to the suite. The day after the prom, Mary Elizabeth’s new boyfriend, Peter, who is friends with Craig, demanded that Craig tell Sam he had been cheating on her since the beginning of their relationship.
Not getting to experience it for himself, Charlie has to hear about all the fun second-hand. According to the story, Craig seems to have made a decision for the group and then resented them for not appreciating that decision, and furthermore, he prevents Sam from enjoying her after-prom experience with her friends. The discovery of Craig’s cheating confirmed Charlie’s earlier suspicions that he didn’t appreciate Sam. In this moment, there’s a strong parallel between Craig and Charlie’s brother, both of whom cheated on their girlfriends, which suggests that they feel entitled to relationships with women without feeling any sense of duty to be respectful or honest with them.
After Craig tells Sam, she leaves crying. Peter and Craig start yelling at each other, and Patrick and Charlie prevent them from getting into a fight. While they drive Peter home, he tells them the full account of Craig’s cheating, but he isn’t sure how much Craig told Sam. They hope, for her sake, that Craig gave her a “soft” version, and they agree not to tell her the whole truth unless they need to. Charlie realizes that he doesn’t feel happy about Sam and Craig breaking up, but instead he feels sad that she was hurt. That’s when he realizes that he really loves her.
Though the conflict here stems primarily from dishonesty, both Charlie and Patrick decide that the kinder option for Sam in this situation is partial honesty and protection from the whole truth. Their choice demonstrates that in some circumstances the full truth can only do more damage. In addition to all the other secrets he carries, this is yet another secret that Charlie holds for the people he loves. Charlie’s belief that he must really love Sam because her happiness is more important than his contradicts his earlier realization about living first for himself before sharing his life with others. He seems to struggle to apply his knew knowledge to his relationships.
During his lunch at Bill’s house with Bill and his girlfriend, Charlie describes their house as comfortable and filled with books. They listen to jazz music throughout lunch. After chatting for a while, Bill thanks Charlie for the wonderful experience he had teaching him and asks Charlie if he knows how smart he is. Charlie shakes his head no, and Bill tells him that he is one of the most gifted people he knows and that he wants to make sure Charlie knows he’s very special. Bill worries that no one else has ever told him that. Bill also tells Charlie that he considers Charlie to be a friend. This makes Charlie cry, and he tells Bill that he’s the best teacher he’s ever had.
Bill’s house mirrors the atmosphere that Bill himself creates—warm, gentle, and inviting. As perhaps the most important male authority figure in Charlie’s life, Bill sets a positive example for Charlie, showing that men can also be sensitive, smart, and openly appreciative of one another. Clearly Bill knows that Charlie doesn’t receive enough validation, and his praise of Charlie is perhaps the most significant interaction he’s had with an adult since his aunt died.
Charlie hugs both Bill and his girlfriend before he leaves their house, and on the way home he thinks about how the last person who said he was “special” was Aunt Helen. He admits that he’s grateful to have been called that again and thinks everyone “is special in their own way.” He still hasn’t heard from his friends since the dramatic breakup, so he spends the evening buying graduation presents for them.
Again, Bill and his girlfriend embody warmth and are more affectionate with Charlie than his own family. Aside from his friends, Bill is the first person in a long time to make Charlie feel “seen,” and replaces his Aunt Helen as his primary adult influence. Charlie’s decision to go shopping for his friends illustrates his efforts to feel connected to them even when they’re apart.
On his last day of school, Charlie rides the bus home and says that he normally sits toward the middle of the bus because he doesn’t know whether he belongs to the “nerds” in the front or the “squids” in the back. On this day, he sits in the front to see the other kids and thinks about how different everyone looks. That evening, Charlie’s brother comes home for his sister’s graduation. During dinner, Charlie mentions that the TV sports anchor complimented his brother and then suddenly remembers that the anchor was trying to pick him up at a secret gay park. Luckily, his parents are satisfied when he just tells them that he met the man at the park. Though Charlie still hasn't heard from his friends, he looks forward to seeing them the next day.
Even after a full year of school, Charlie still doesn’t know where he belongs, especially since his friends are leaving. The bus ride prompts him to confront this lack of belonging in a small way. He notices the changes in other people, but—perhaps because he feels somewhat in the same place he was at the beginning of the year—Charlie doesn’t consider how different he looks. Charlie’s dilemma in having to tell a partial truth about meeting the TV anchor further demonstrates that his experiences with Patrick and his relationship with his brother are two aspects of his life that likely can never overlap.
The next morning, Charlie’s family has a brunch to celebrate his sister’s graduation. Charlie’s grandfather immediately begins making racist comments as soon as they arrive at the school, and Charlie’s brother manages to quiet him by threatening to take him back to the nursing home and making him miss his sister’s speech. As Charlie’s sister gives her speech, Charlie and his brother exchange a smile and hold their crying mom’s hands. Charlie watches his sister and his friends receive their diplomas, and says it was a “great day.” After the graduation, Charlie’s grandfather is the first to hug Charlie’s sister, and Charlie says his dad hugged her the longest.
The dynamic between Charlie’s grandfather and brother suggests that the two traditionally masculine men understand each other in a way that no one else understands them. Both men manage surprising displays of compassion when they feel proud of their family members.
At her graduation party, Charlie’s sister opens her gifts. Her older brother promised to take her shopping for her college supplies, and Charlie gives her a hand-carved stone house to “make her feel like she’s at home” always. Sam calls Charlie during the party and invites him over, but he can’t leave until his relatives do. Once they finally leave, Charlie’s father thanks him for staying and gives him twenty dollars and his car keys. On his way to the dance club, Charlie drives through the tunnel thinking about how “glorious” it is. He describes it as entering a calm dream before making a grand entrance into the city.
The gifts that Charlie’s brother and Charlie give to their sister further illustrate how vastly different their characters are. Both care about their sister, but Charlie’s brother, like his father, shows care through financial support while Charlie demonstrates his affection with an extremely thoughtful, creative, and personal present. While he’s alone in the tunnel this time, Charlie recognizes how good the passage feels, and feels excited for the transition that the tunnel represents, suggesting perhaps he’s starting to embrace his adolescence more and more.
At the dance club, Charlie dances with Sam, and when a slow song comes on they hold each other a little closer, and Charlie wishes the clock would stop. Afterwards, he and his friends go to Peter’s apartment, and Charlie gives all of his friends graduation gifts, the most special of which are for Sam and Patrick. To them he gives his copies of the books that Bill assigned throughout the year with a note written on his typewriter telling them both that they are his two favorite people. He tells all of his friends that he will miss them, and then starts crying. Sam takes him to the kitchen and tells him that she’s really scared to be alone at college. They agree that when things get to be “too much” for them, they will call each other and write letters.
Charlie and Sam’s romantic dance implies that there are still feelings between them—definitely on Charlie’s end and maybe for Sam, too. Again, Charlie gives stories to communicate his love for others, this time all of his favorite books from Bill. Charlie is sharing these important parts of his growth and self-discovery with his two favorite people. Sam’s confession that she is also scared of being alone helps Charlie recognize that those feelings aren’t abnormal, and she demonstrates for him how to ask for help and support when it’s needed.
The next day at school without his friends, Charlie feels lonely. One kid calls him “teacher’s pet” after Bill’s class, but Charlie says that didn’t bother him because he thinks the kid “missed the point somewhere.” He tries to make friends with the person with the locker next to his but fails. Feeling glad the school year is over, Charlie looks forward to spending time with his friends before they leave. He also says he earned straight A’s for the entire year, and his mom hangs his report card on their refrigerator.
While the kid’s insult may have bothered Charlie more at the beginning of the year, his reaction to it now suggests that he’s acquired a little more confidence over the year. Charlie’s rejection from his locker neighbor imply that his quest to make new friends likely won’t be easy, but spending time with his current friends distracts him from that upcoming struggle. In a rare moment of validation, Charlie has his academic efforts recognized.
During a busy week of preparations and farewell lunches, Sam has lunch with Craig to get closure, and Charlie explains that she feels sad, but a “hopeful kind of sad.” At the last party with his friends before they leave for the summer, they all sit together and reminisce about the year. Eventually it’s just Sam, Patrick, and Charlie, and Charlie remembers a time when he was walking in between the two of them and feeling that he belonged for the first time. Patrick decides to go to bed and leaves Sam and Charlie alone. Sam asks Charlie to stay with her as she finishes packing.
Though she was in an unhealthy relationship with Craig, Sam demonstrates a healthy way of closing that chapter of her life and allowing herself to move on to the next thing. As she, Charlie, and their friends sit and reminisce, they form a sort of collective memory. The memories between Patrick, Sam, and Charlie are particularly significant for Charlie because they were the beginning of relationships that have been life-changing for him. Patrick’s leaving suggests that he understands that Charlie and Sam want to be alone.
As she packs, Sam turns to Charlie and asks why he didn’t ask her out after she broke up with Craig. He explains to her that her feeling happy was more important to him than him getting to think about her romantically. She explains to Charlie that he can’t just put other people’s lives before his. She says that doing nothing doesn’t count as love, and he needs to show it with actions. Sam also explains that letting Patrick kiss him wasn’t being his friend because it wasn’t being honest with him. Charlie is uncomfortable, but Sam continues, telling him that she told him not to think of her romantically before because she doesn’t want to be someone’s crush, since that means the person only likes the idea of her rather than the real her.
After finally articulating for someone his flawed understanding of how relationships work, Sam explains to him that participating in relationships requires honesty and action. This is perhaps the first time that someone else has called out Charlie’s faulty view of relationships and taken the time to help him address it. In explaining these things to Charlie, Sam is demonstrating exactly the kind of honesty she’s talking about. Even though it makes Charlie uncomfortable, she is honest with him because she cares about him.
Crying a little, Sam explains that she blamed Craig for holding her back, but she realizes now that she wasn’t being honest by not doing the things she wanted. She decides to get to know herself better and not let anyone else make her feel small again. When she asks Charlie where he is and what he wants to do, he kisses her, and she returns the kiss. Gradually, they undress while kissing. But, when Sam slides her hand under his pants to touch him, Charlie stops her. He explains that it felt good and he didn’t know what was wrong, but he starts feeling terrible and overwhelmed. Unable to drive home, he falls asleep on her couch. Just before he drifts off, Charlie says, “I can’t do that anymore. I’m sorry,” but he wasn’t talking to Sam.
In this moment, Sam models for Charlie again how to productively recognize a bad relationship and move on from it. She embraces the notion of having a good relationship with oneself before trying to have good relationships with others. The honesty and vulnerability she creates opens up the opportunity for Charlie to do the same. Charlie’s severely negative reaction to an act of consensual intimacy suggests that someone touching his penis has triggered a repressed memory. As he drifts off, he seems to regress into that memory, talking to whomever it was who last touched him that way.
That night Charlie has a dream that he is watching TV with his siblings and Aunt Helen, and Aunt Helen touches him the way Sam did. He wakes up to find Sam and Patrick standing over him looking worried. After they eat breakfast with Sam and Patrick’s parents, the rest of their friends come over to say goodbye before Sam leaves. As Sam hugs Charlie, she tells him that it’s okay that he wasn’t ready last night and that she would miss him. Charlie tells her that she’s his best friend. After she drives away, Mary Elizabeth invites Charlie to Big Boy with her and their friends, but Charlie feels bad and decides he needs to go home.
Charlie’s dream provides the first clear indication that his aunt may have sexually abused him. Despite Sam’s kindness and understanding, their experience the night before seems to have brought something traumatic to the surface for Charlie. He draws a parallel between Sam and Aunt Helen when he tells Sam that she’s his best friend, something he previously said about Aunt Helen. Instead of seeking comfort from the rest of his friends after Sam leaves, something about this experience is making him seek isolation.
As he drives, Charlie hears songs that aren’t playing and sees TV shows that aren’t on. He says he’s writing all of this down to keep from “breaking apart” because he can’t talk to anyone else about it. He thinks he could maybe have talked to his Aunt Helen about it, but now he’s questioning that because he’s beginning to think what he dreamed about Aunt Helen is true. Feeling like his thoughts are crashing in, Charlie keeps thinking about how the lost little boy at the mall will grow up and “hit [his] sister.” He says he has to stop writing, but first, Charlie thanks the anonymous reader for being someone who listens, understands, and doesn’t mind getting letters from a kid. He tells them that they mean a lot to him, but he doesn’t want to waste their time anymore.
This time without the help of LSD, Charlie seems to be sinking into a blackout. His letter writing is an attempt to regain control over the situation, as something about ordering the words on the page seems to help him hold it together. But now that he is confronting the memory that his favorite person molested him, his previous coping mechanisms are ineffective. As he sinks further into crisis, his mind plays through the cycles of abuse he’s witnessed as represented by the little boy at the mall who, like many men, could grow up to be another abuser. Even in the midst of crisis, Charlie takes the time to express gratitude to the reader, but his last comment about wasting their time creates tension and suspense. The reader doesn’t know what Charlie will do and is reminded of what happened when Michael no longer felt like he could talk to someone.