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.”
I lift her head from my shoulder and hold her face in my hands. “Charlie, you have to promise me something.” I wipe her tears away with my thumb. “Promise me you will never fall out of love with me again. Because I don’t want to forget you all over again. I never want to forget a single second with you.”
She shakes her head. “I swear. I’ll never stop loving you, Silas. And I’ll never forget.”
I dip my head until my mouth meets hers. “Never Never.”
Silas is bringing dinner home. I wait for him at the kitchen window while I pretend to wash vegetables for a salad. I like to pretend I’m washing things at the sink just so I can see when he pulls into the driveway.
His car pulls in ten minutes later; my fingers are pruned from the water. I grab for a dishtowel, feeling those damn butterflies in my stomach. They never went away. From what I’ve heard, that’s a rare thing after this many years of marriage.
The kids get out of the car first. Jessa, our daughter, and then her boyfriend, Harry. Normally my eyes would go to Silas next, but something makes me linger on Jessa and Harry.
Jessa is just like me: stubborn, mouthy, and aloof. I’d cry, but she mostly makes me laugh with her one-liners. I like Harry; they’ve been together since freshman year and plan on going to the same college when they graduate next year. They’re usually the epitome of teen love, all glassy eyed and touchy like Silas and I used to be. Still are. But today, Jessa stands off to the side of the driveway, her arms folded across her chest.
Harry gets out of the car too and goes to stand next to her. They must be fighting, I think. Jessa sometimes likes to flirt with the neighbor kid, and Harry gets upset.
Silas walks in a minute later. He grabs me from behind, wrapping his arms around me and kissing my neck.
“Hey, Charlie Baby,” he says, breathing me in. I lean into him.
“What’s up with those two?” I ask, still watching them out the window.
“I don’t know. They were really weird on the ride home. Barely spoke.”
“Uh, oh,” I say. “Must be the hot neighbor boy again.” I hear the front door slam, and I call Jessa into the kitchen. “Jessa, come here!”
She wanders in, slowly, without Harry in tow.
“What’s up?” I ask her. “You look shell shocked.”
“Do I?” she asks.
I look at Silas and he shrugs.
Jessa jabs a thumb over her shoulder. “He’s in there.”
“Okay, well you two get ready for dinner. We’ll eat as soon as the salad is done.”
She nods, and I swear she’s going to start crying.
“Hey, Jessa,” I say as she turns around to leave.
“I was thinking we could go to Miami for your birthday next month. Does that sound okay to you?”
“Yeah,” she says. “Cool.”
When she’s gone I turn to Silas, whose eyebrows are drawn together.
“I didn’t know we were going to Miami,” he says. “I can’t get time off for work that quick.”
“Silas,” I say sharply. “Her birthday isn’t for six more months.”
The line between his eyes relaxes and his mouth opens. “Oh, yeah,” he says. And then realization hits. “Oh. Oh.” He brings a hand up to the back of his neck. “Shit, Charlie. Not again.”