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.
I rub the nerves out of the back of my neck while I lock eyes with her. “Charlie? What if…when we broke up…we screwed with destiny?”
I wait for her to laugh, but instead, a rush of chills covers her arms. She makes to rub them away as she slowly takes a seat back down on the bed. “That’s ridiculous,” she mutters. But there’s no conviction in her words, which means maybe a part of her thinks this theory is worth exploring.
I sit down in my chair again and position myself in front of her. “What if we’re supposed to be together? And messing with that caused some sort of…I don’t know…rift.”
She rolls her eyes. “So what you’re implying is, the universe wiped away all of our memories because we broke up? That seems a little narcissistic.”
I shake my head. “I know how it sounds. But yes. Hypothetically speaking…what if soul mates exist? And once they come together, they can’t fall apart?”
She folds her hands together in her lap. “How does that explain why you remembered this time and I didn’t?”
I pace the room some more. “Let me think for a minute,” I say to her.
She waits patiently while I rub the floor raw. I hold up a finger. “Hear me out, okay?”
“I’m listening,” she says.
“We’ve loved each other since we were kids. We obviously had this connection that has lasted our entire lives. Up until external factors started getting in our way. The thing with our fathers, our families hating each other. You holding a grudge against me for believing your father was guilty. There’s a pattern here, Charlie.” I grab the notebook that I wrote in earlier and look at all the things we naturally remember and all the things we don’t. “And our memories…we can remember things that weren’t forced on us. Things we had a passion for all on our own. You remember books. I remember how to work a camera. We remember lyrics to our favorite songs. We remember certain things in history, or random stories. But things that were forced on us by others, we forgot. Like football.”
“What about people?” she asks. “Why did we forget all the people we’ve met?”
“If we remembered people, we’d still have other memories. We’d remember how we met them, the impact they’ve had on our lives.” I scratch at the back of my head. “I don’t know, Charlie. A lot of it doesn’t make sense still. But last night, I felt a connection with you again. Like I had loved you for years. And this morning…I didn’t lose my memories like you did. There has to be significance in that.”
Charlie stands up and begins pacing the room. “Soul mates?” she mutters. “This is almost as ridiculous as a curse.”
“Or two people developing in-sync amnesia?”
She narrows her eyes at me. I can see her mind working as she chews on the pad of her thumb. “Well then, explain how you fell back in love with me in just two days. And if we’re soul mates, why wouldn’t I have fallen back in love with you?” She stops pacing and waits for my answer.
“You spent a lot of your time locked up inside your old house. I spent all that time looking for you. I was reading our love letters, going through your phone, reading your journals. By the time I found you yesterday, I felt like I already knew you. For me, reading everything from our past somehow connected me to you again…like some of my old feelings had come back. But for you...I was barely more than a stranger.”
We’re both sitting again. Thinking. Contemplating the possibility that this might be the closest we’ve come to any sort of pattern.