I open my eyes. “You.”
He brushes his thumb over my mouth and leans in to kiss me. “Me too. I love you, Charlie.”
And without hesitation I say, “I love you, too, Silas.”
When his lips meet mine, I’m no longer scared. Because I know that whatever happens in the next few seconds…it’ll happen with Silas, and that brings me comfort.
He threads our fingers together and says, “Ten seconds.”
We both inhale deep breaths. I can feel his hands shaking, but they aren’t shaking nearly as badly as mine.
The only sound I hear is the thrashing of my heart. The rest of the world is chillingly silent.
My lips are still resting softly against hers. Our knees are touching, our eyes are closed, our breath is mingling between us as I wait to make my next move. I know for a fact that I didn’t lose my memory this time. That makes twice in a row…but I have no idea about Charlie.
I slowly open my eyes so that I can see what’s in hers. Her eyes remain closed. I watch her for a few seconds, waiting to see what her first reaction will be.
Will she remember me?
Will she have no idea where she is?
She begins to pull back, slowly, and her eyelids flutter open. There’s a mixture of fear and shock in her expression. She pulls back a few more inches, studying my face. She turns her head and looks around the room.
When she glances back at me, my heart plummets down my chest like the drop of an anchor. She has no idea where she is.
Her tear-rimmed eyes swing to mine and she quickly covers her mouth with her hand. I can’t tell if she’s about to scream. I should have put a note on the door like we did last time.
She looks down at the bed and lowers her hand to her chest. “You were wearing black,” she whispers.
Her gaze falls to the pillow next to me. She points at it. “We were right there. You were wearing a black t-shirt, and I was laughing at you because I said it was too tight. I said it made you look like Simon Cowell. You pinned me to the mattress, and then…” Her eyes meet mine. “And then you kissed me.”
I nod, because somehow…I remember every single moment of that. “It was our first kiss. We were fourteen,” I say. “But I had been wanting to kiss you like that since we were twelve.”
She slaps her hand over her mouth again. Sobs begin to rack her entire body. She lunges forward, wrapping her arms around my neck. I pull her down to the bed with me and everything comes rushing back in waves.
“The night you got caught sneaking in?” she says.
“Your mom went after me with a belt. Chased me right out of your bedroom window.”
Charlie starts laughing between her tears. I’m holding her against me, my face pressed against her neck. I close my eyes and sort through all the memories. The good ones. The bad ones. All the nights she cried in my arms over the way things turned out between her mother and father.
“The phone calls,” she says quietly. “Every single night.”
I know exactly what she’s talking about. I would call her every night and we would stay on the phone for an entire hour. When our memories left us, we couldn’t figure out why we had talked for so long every night if our relationship was falling apart.
“Jimmy Fallon,” I tell her. “We both loved Jimmy Fallon. And I would call you every night when his show would come on, and we would watch it together.”
“But we never talked,” she says. “We just watched the show together without speaking and then we’d go straight to sleep.”
“Because I loved hearing you laugh.”
Not only are the memories flooding me right now, but the feelings. All the feelings I’ve ever had for this girl are unfolding, and for a second I’m not sure if I can take it all in.
We hold each other tight as we rake through a lifetime of memories. Several minutes pass as we both laugh at the good memories and then more minutes pass as we succumb to the not so good ones. The hurt our parents’ actions inflicted on us. The hurt we’ve caused each other. The hurt we’ve caused other people. We’re feeling every bit of it, all at once.
Charlie clenches my shirt in her fists and buries her face in my neck. “It hurts, Silas,” she whispers. “I don’t want to be that girl again. How can we make sure we’re not the same people we were before this happened to us?”
I run my hand over the back of her head. “But we are those people,” I say to her. “We can’t take back who we’ve been in the past, Charlie. But we can control who we are in the present.”