Never Never: Part Three
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I remember. I was there. “It might still drive okay, though. It’s worth a shot, and I can’t keep using...whose car is this, anyway?”
“Mom’s,” he says. “I texted her this morning and told her yours was in the shop and that we needed hers today.”
I knew I liked this kid.
“So…Janette, huh?” I ask him.
He turns toward the window. “Shut up.”
The Land Rover’s front end was a debacle of twisted metal and debris. But apparently the damage was only cosmetic, because it cranked right up.
It took all I had not to go inside the gate again and scream at that psycho woman for leading us in the wrong direction, but I didn’t. Charlie’s dad has caused enough of a shit storm in her world.
I calmly drive my car to Charlie’s house and wait for her at the end of the road like I said I would. I text her to let her know I’m in a different vehicle.
I begin to turn theories over in my mind while I wait for her. It’s hard for me to suspend belief in order to give our circumstances an explanation, but the only things I can come up with are otherworldly.
An alien abduction.
Twin brain tumors?
None of it makes sense.
I’m making notes when the passenger door opens. A rush of wind follows Charlie inside the car, and I find myself wishing it would push her all the way to my side. Her hair is damp and she’s in different clothes.
She says, “Hi,” and pulls the seatbelt into place. “What were you writing?”
I hand her the notebook and pen and then back out of the driveway. She begins reading over my summary.
When she’s finished, she says, “None of it makes sense, Silas. We got into a fight and broke up the night before this started. The next day we can’t remember anything other than random stuff, like books and photography. It keeps happening for a week, until you don’t lose your memory and I do.” She pulls her feet up on the seat and taps the pen against the notebook. “What are we missing? There has to be something. I have no memory before this morning, so what happened yesterday that made you stop forgetting? Did anything happen last night?”
I don’t answer her right away. I think about her questions. How all along, we’ve been assuming other people had something to do with this. We thought The Shrimp was involved, we thought her mother was involved. For a while, I wanted to accuse Charlie’s father. But maybe it’s none of that. Maybe it has nothing to do with anyone else and everything to do with us.
We reach my house no closer to the truth than we were this morning. Than we were two days ago. Than we were last week.
“Let’s go through the back door in case my parents are awake.” The last thing we need right now is for them to see me sneaking Charlie into my bedroom to stay the night. The back door won’t take us past my father’s study.
It’s unlocked, so I make my way in first. When all is clear, I grab her hand and rush her through the house, up the stairwell, and to my bedroom. By the time I shut the door behind us and lock it, we’re both breathing heavily. She laughs and falls onto my bed. “That was fun,” she says. “I bet we’ve done that before.”
She sits up and brushes the hair out of her eyes, smiling. She begins to look around my room, through eyes that are seeing it again for the first time. I immediately get that longing in my chest, akin to how I felt last night at the hotel when she fell asleep in my arms. The feeling that I would do absolutely anything to be able to remember what it was like to love her. God, I want that back. Why did we ever break up? Why did we let everything that happened between our families come between us? From the outside looking in, I’d almost believe we were soul mates before we let it all fall apart. Why did we think we could intervene with fate?
When she looks at me, she knows something is going on in my head. She scoots to the edge of the bed and tilts her head. “Do you remember something?”
I sit in the desk chair and roll toward her. I take both of her hands in mine and I squeeze them. “No,” I say. “But…I might have a theory.”
She sits up straighter. “What kind of theory?”
I’m sure this is about to sound crazier coming from my mouth than it does swimming around in my head. “Okay, so…this might sound stupid. But last night…when we were at the hotel?”
She nods, encouraging me to continue.
“One of the last thoughts I had before we fell asleep was how—while you were missing—I didn’t feel whole. But when I found you, it was the first time I felt like Silas Nash. Up until that point, I didn’t feel like anyone. And I remember swearing to myself right before I fell asleep that I would never allow us to drift apart again. So I was thinking…” I release her hands and stand up. I pace the room a couple of times until she stands up, too. I shouldn’t be embarrassed to say this next part out loud, but I am. It’s ridiculous. But so is every other thing in the whole world right now.