Janette rolls her eyes and huffs, then turns around. “Weirdos,” she mutters.
Charlie grins at me and then points down at the journal. “Here,” she says. “I’m about to read the very last entry.”
I move the box that separates us and I scoot closer to her so I can read the last entry with her. “Is it weird? Sharing your journal with me?”
She gives her head a slight shake. “Not really. I kind of feel like we aren’t them.”
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 3RD
It’s only been fifteen minutes since I last wrote in this journal. As soon as I closed it, Silas texted me and said he was outside. Since my mother doesn’t allow him in our house anymore, I walked outside to hear what he had to say.
He caught my breath and I instantly hated myself for it. The way he was leaning against his Land Rover—his feet crossed at the ankles, his hands shoved in his jacket pockets. A shiver ran over me, but I blamed it on the fact that I was in a pajama top with spaghetti straps.
He wouldn’t even look up when I walked to his car. I leaned against it next to him and folded my arms over my chest. We stood there for several moments, suspended in silence.
“Can I just ask you one question?” he said.
He kicked off his car and stood in front of me. I stiffened when his arms came up beside my head and caged me in. He dipped his head a couple of inches until we were eye to eye. The position we were in was nothing new. We’d stood like that a million times before, but this time he wasn’t looking at me like he wanted to kiss me. This time he was looking at me like he was trying to figure out who in the hell I was. He was scrolling over my face like he was looking at a complete stranger.
“Charlie,” he said, his voice raspy. He pulled his bottom lip in and bit down on it while he composed what he was about to say next. He sighed and then closed his eyes. “Are you sure this is what you want?”
His eyes popped open at the steadfastness in my response. My heart ached for what he was trying to hide in his expression. The shock. The realization that he wasn’t going to talk me out of it.
He tapped his fist on the car twice and then shoved himself away from me. I immediately stepped around him, wanting to go inside my house while I still had the strength to let him leave. I kept reminding myself why I was doing this. We aren’t a good match. He thinks my father is guilty. Our families hate each other. We’re different now.
When I reached my front door, Silas said one last thing before getting into his car.
“I won’t miss you, Charlie.”
His comment shocked me, so I turned and looked at him.
“I’ll miss the old you. I’ll miss the Charlie I fell in love with. But whoever this is you’re turning into…” He waved his hand flippantly up and down my body. “Is not someone I’m going to miss.”
He climbed inside his car and slammed his door. He backed out of the driveway and peeled away, his tires screeching against the streets of my slum neighborhood.
And now he’s gone.
A small piece of me is angry that he didn’t try harder. Most of me is relieved that it’s finally over.
All this time, he’s done everything he can to remember how things used to be between us. He’s convinced himself that they can be that way again one day.
While he spends all of his time trying to remember…I spend all of my time trying to forget.
I don’t want to remember how it feels to kiss him.
I don’t want to remember how it feels to love him.
I want to forget Silas Nash, and everything in this world that reminds me of him.
The prison is not what I expected. And what was I expecting exactly? Something dark and rotting, set across a backdrop of grey skies and barren land? I don’t remember what I look like, but I do remember what a prison should look like. I laugh as I climb out of the car and smooth out my clothes. The red brick is bright against the blue sky. There are flowers growing along the grass, dancing a little when the breeze hits them. The only thing ugly about this setting is the barbed wire that runs across the top of the fence.
“This doesn’t look so bad,” I say.
Silas, who gets out behind me, raises an eyebrow. “You’re not the one locked in there.”
I feel warmth rise to my cheeks. I may not know who I am, but I do know that was an extremely stupid thing to say. “Yeah,” I say. “I guess Charlie is an asshole.”
He laughs and grabs my hand before I can protest. I glance back at the car where Janette and Landon are watching us through the side windows. They look like sad little puppies. “You should stay with them,” I say. “Teen pregnancy is a thing.”
He snickers. “Are you kidding me? Did you not see how they fought the whole way here?”
“Sexual tension,” I sing, as I swing open the door to the main reception area.
It smells like sweat. I crinkle my nose as I walk up to the window. A woman stands in front of me, a child tugging on each of her hands. She swears at them before barking her name at the receptionist and passing them her ID.
Shit. How old did you even have to be to visit someone in this place? I fumble for my driver’s license and wait my turn. Silas squeezes my hand and I turn to smile weakly at him.
“Next,” a voice calls. I step up to the window and tell a stern-faced woman who it is I’m here to see.
“Are you on the list?” she asks. I nod. The letters indicated that I had been to visit my father several times since he was incarcerated.
“What about him?” She nods toward Silas who produces his driver’s license.
She pushes back his ID and shakes her head. “He ain’t on the list.”
“Oh,” I say. It takes her a few minutes to get everything into the computer, and then she hands me a visitor’s badge.
“Leave your bag with your friend,” she says. “He can wait out here.”
I feel like screaming. I don’t want to go in there alone and talk to some man who’s supposed to be my father. Silas has his shit together. I want him to come with me.
“I don’t know that I can do this,” I say. “I don’t even know what to ask him.”
He grabs both of my shoulders and bends his head to look me in the eyes.
“Charlie, based on his manipulative letters, this guy seems like kind of an asshole. Don’t buy into his charm. Get answers and get out, okay?”