I shake my head with a soft laugh. “I don’t know myself very well, but I must have been extremely competitive. Because I just took that as a challenge.”
“Took what as a challenge? You think you can make me like you again?”
I look over at her and give my head the slightest shake. “No. I’m gonna make you fall in love with me again.”
I can see the gentle roll of her throat as she swallows, but just as fast as she let her guard down, it flies back up. “Good luck with that,” she says, facing forward again. “I’m pretty sure you’ll be the first guy to ever compete with himself over the affection of a girl.”
“Maybe so,” I say as we pull into my driveway. “But my money’s on me.”
I turn the car off and get out. She doesn’t unbuckle. “You coming? I need to take a quick shower.”
She doesn’t even look at me. “I’ll wait in the car.”
I don’t argue. I close the door and head inside to shower, thinking about the small smile I could swear was playing in the corner of her mouth.
And while winning her over again isn’t my main priority, it’s definitely the new back-up plan in case neither of us can figure out how to revert back to who we were before yesterday. Because even through all the bullshit—her cheating on me with Brian, me cheating on her with the counselor, our families in turmoil—we still obviously tried to make it work. There had to be something there, something deeper than attraction or a simple childhood bond, that made me fight to keep her.
I want to feel that again. I want to remember what it feels like to love someone like that. And not just anyone. I want to know what it feels like to love Charlie.
I’m standing on the edge of the lawn, looking down his street when he walks up behind me. I don’t hear him approach, but I smell him. I don’t know how, since he smells just like the outdoors.
“What are you looking at?” he asks.
I stare at the houses, each of them immaculate and manicured to the point of irritation. It makes me want to shoot a gun into the air, just to see all the quiet people inside scramble out. This neighborhood needs a little life breathed into it. “It’s strange how money seems to silence a neighborhood,” I say quietly. “On my street, where no one has money, it’s so loud. Sirens blaring, people shouting, car doors slamming, stereos thumping. There’s always someone, somewhere, making noise.” I turn and look up at him, not expecting the reaction I have to seeing his damp hair and smooth jaw. I focus on his eyes, but that isn’t much better. I clear my throat and look away. “I think I prefer the noise.”
He takes a step until we’re shoulder to shoulder, both staring at the taciturn street. “No you don’t. You don’t prefer either.” He says this like he knows me and I want to remind him he doesn’t know me at all, but he puts his hand on my elbow. “Let’s get out of here,” he says. “Go do something that doesn’t belong to Charlie and Silas. Something that’s ours.”
“You’re talking about us like we’re body invaders.”
Silas closes his eyes and tilts his head back. “You have no idea how many times a day I think about invading your body.”
I don’t intend to laugh as hard as I do, but I trip over my own feet and Silas reaches down to catch me. We’re both laughing as he rights me on my feet and rubs his hands up and down my arms.
I look away. I’m tired of liking him. I only have a day and a half worth of memories, but they’re all filled with me not hating Silas. And now he’s made it his personal mission to make me love him again. It’s annoying that I like it.
“Go away,” I say.
He raises his hands in surrender and takes a step back. “This far?”
Another step. “Better?”
“Yes,” I smart.
Silas grins. “I don’t know myself well, but I can tell I have a lot of game.”
“Oh, please,” I say. “If you were a game, Silas, you’d be Monopoly. You just go on and on and everyone ends up cheating just to be over with it.”
He’s quiet for a minute. I feel bad for saying something so awkward even if it was a joke.
“You’re probably right,” he laughs. “That’s why you cheated on me with that asshat, Brian. Lucky for you, I’m not Monopoly Silas anymore. I’m Tetris Silas. All my pieces and parts are going to fit into all of your pieces and parts.”
I snort. “And the guidance counselor’s, apparently.”
“Low blow, Charlie,” he says, shaking his head.
I wait a few seconds, chewing on my lip. Then I say, “I don’t think I want you to call me that.”
Silas turns to look at me. “Charlie?”
“Yeah,” I look over at him. “Is that weird? I don’t feel like I’m her. I don’t even know her. It just doesn’t feel like my name.”
He nods as we walk toward his car. “So, I get to rename you?”
“Until we figure all this out…yeah.”
“Poppy,” he says.
“Hell no, what’s wrong with you?”
He opens the passenger side door to his Rover and I climb in.
“Okay…okay. I can see you don’t like traditionally cute names. We can try for something tougher.” He walks around to the driver side and climbs in. “Xena…”
We go back and forth like this until Silas’s GPS tells us that we’ve arrived. I look around, surprised that I was too engaged with him to notice the drive here. When I look down at my phone I see that Brian has texted me six times. I don’t want to deal with him right now. I shove my phone and wallet under the seat, out of view.
“Where are we?”
“Bourbon Street,” he says. “Most happening place in New Orleans.”
“How do you know that?” I ask suspiciously.
“I Googled it.” We stare at each other over the hood, and then both shut our doors at the same time.
“How did you know what Google was?”
“I thought that’s what we’re supposed to be figuring out together.” We meet at the front of the car.
“I think we’re aliens,” I say. “That’s why we don’t have any of Charlie and Silas’s memories. But we remember things like Google and Tetris because of the computer chips in our brains.”