About that time, my mother walks into the kitchen. She stops short when she sees Charlie. “Did you spend the night here?” My mother doesn’t seem very pleased.
“No.” I lie for Charlie. “I just picked her up this morning.”
My mother’s eyes narrow. I don’t have to have memory of her to know she’s suspicious. “Why aren’t you two at school right now?”
We’re both quiet for a moment, but then Charlie blurts out, “It’s a flex day.”
My mother nods without question. She walks to the pantry and begins speaking to Ezra.
“What’s a flex day?” I whisper.
Charlie shrugs. “I have no idea, but it sounded good.” She laughs and then whispers, “What’s your mother’s name?”
I open my mouth to respond, but I draw a complete blank. “I have no idea. I’m not sure I ever wrote it in any notes.”
My mother peeks her head out of the pantry. “Charlie, will you be joining us for dinner tonight?”
Charlie looks at me, and then at my mother. “Yes, ma’am. If I can remember.”
I laugh and Charlie smiles, and for a split second, I forget what we’re about to go through again.
I catch Charlie staring at the clock on the oven. I can see the worry, not only in her eyes, but in every single part of her. I grab her hand and squeeze it. “Don’t think about that,” I whisper. “Not for another hour.”
“I have no idea how anyone could possibly forget how magnificent this is,” Charlie says, taking the last bite of whatever it was that Ezra cooked for us. Some might call it breakfast, but food like this deserves its own category.
“What is this again?” Charlie asks Ezra.
“Nutella French toast,” she responds.
Charlie writes Nutella French Toast down on a piece of paper and scribbles two hearts next to it. Then she adds a follow-up sentence that says, You hate crawfish, Charlie!!!
Before we leave the kitchen and head back to my room, Charlie walks over to Ezra and gives her a big hug. “Thank you for breakfast, Ezra.”
Ezra pauses a moment before hugging her back. “You’re welcome, Charlize.”
“Will you make that for me next time I’m here for breakfast? No matter if I can’t remember eating it today?”
Ezra shrugs and says, “I guess.”
As we’re walking upstairs, Charlie randomly says, “You know what? I think money is what made us mean.”
“What are you talking about?” We reach my bedroom and I close the door behind us.
“It just seems like maybe we were ungrateful. A little bit spoiled. I’m not sure our parents taught us how to be decent humans. So in a way…I’m grateful this happened to us.”
I sit on the bed and pull her back against my chest. She rests her head on my shoulder and tilts her face up to mine. “I think you were always a little nicer than me. But I don’t think either of us can be proud of who we were.”
I give her a quick peck on the lips and lean my head back against the wall. “I think we were a product of our environment. Inherently, we’re good people. We might lose our memories again, but we’re still the same on the inside. Somewhere deep down, we want to do good. Be good. Deep down we love each other. A lot. And whatever this is that’s happening to us, it’s not touching that.”
She slides her fingers through mine and squeezes. We sit in silence for a little while. Every now and then I’ll glance at my phone. We have about ten minutes left until 11:00 a.m., and I don’t think either of us knows how to spend that time. We’ve already written more notes than we’ll be able to comprehend in the next forty-eight hours.
All we can do is wait.
My heart is beating so hard, it’s losing rhythm. My mouth is dry. I grab the bottle of water sitting on Silas’s nightstand and down a big drink. “This is terrifying,” I tell him. “I wish we could speed up the next five minutes and get this over with.”
He sits up straighter on the bed and grabs my hand. “Sit in front of me.”
I sit in front of him. We’re both cross-legged on the bed, in the same position we were in at the hotel room two days ago. Thinking of that morning makes me ill. I don’t want to acknowledge the possibility that in a few minutes, I might not know who he is.
I have to have faith this time. This can’t go on forever. Can it?
I close my eyes and try to control my breathing. I feel Silas’s hand reach up and brush the hair from my eyes.
“What’s the one thing you’re the most scared of forgetting?” he asks.
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.