I remember the schedules and pull hers out of my back pocket. “We’re not together until fourth period History. You have English first. It’s back in the other hallway,” I say, motioning toward her first period classroom.
She nods appreciatively and unfolds the schedule. “Smart thinking,” she says, glancing it over. She looks back up at me with a wicked smile. “I guess you got these from your guidance counselor mistress?”
Her words make me wince, even though I shouldn’t really feel remorse for whatever happened before yesterday.
“Ex-guidance counselor mistress,” I clarify with a grin. She laughs, and it’s a laugh of solidarity. As screwed up as our situation is, and as confusing as the new information about our relationship is, the fact that we can laugh about it proves that we at least share in the absurdity of it all. And the only thought I have as I walk away from her is how much I wish Brian Finley could choke on her laugh.
The first three classes of the day felt foreign. No one in them and nothing discussed seemed familiar to me. I felt like an imposter, out of place.
But the instant I walked into fourth period and took a seat next to Charlie, my mood changed. She’s familiar. My only familiar thing in a world of inconsistency and confusion.
We stole a few glances at each other, but we never spoke during class. We aren’t even speaking now as we enter the cafeteria together. I glance at our table and everyone from yesterday is already seated, save our two empty seats.
I nudge my head toward the lunch line. “Let’s get our food first.”
She glances up at me, briefly, before looking back at the table. “I’m not really hungry,” she says. “I’ll just wait for you at the table.” She heads in the direction of our group and I head toward the cafeteria line.
After grabbing my tray and a Pepsi, I walk over to the table and take a seat. Charlie is looking down at her phone, excluding herself from the surrounding conversation.
The guy to my right—Andrew, I think—elbows me. “Silas,” he says, jabbing me repeatedly. “Tell him how much I benched Monday.”
I look up at the guy sitting across from us. He rolls his eyes and downs the rest of his soda before slamming it on the table. “Come on, Andrew. You think I’m stupid enough to believe your best friend wouldn’t lie for you?”
Andrew is my best friend, yet I wasn’t even sure of his name thirty seconds ago.
My attention moves from the two of them to the food in front of me. I open my soda and take a sip, just as Charlie clenches her waist. It’s loud in the cafeteria, but I still hear the rumble of her stomach. She’s hungry.
If she’s hungry, why isn’t she eating?
“Charlie?” I lean in close to her. “Why aren’t you eating?” She dismisses my question with a shrug. I lower my voice even more. “Do you have money?”
Her eyes dart up to mine as if I just revealed a huge secret to the entire room. She swallows and then looks away, embarrassed. “No,” she says quietly. “I gave my last few dollars to Janette this morning. I’ll be fine until I get home.”
I set my drink down on the table and push my tray in front of her. “Here. I’ll go get another one.”
I stand and go back to the line and get another tray. When I return to the table, she’s taken a few bites of the food. She doesn’t tell me thank you, and I feel relieved. Making sure she has food to eat isn’t a favor I want to be thanked for. It’s something I hope she would expect from me.
“Do you want a ride home today?” I ask her, just as we’re finishing up our meal.
“Dude, you can’t miss practice again,” Andrew shoots in my direction. “Coach won’t let you play tomorrow night if you do.”
I rub a palm down my face, and then I reach in my pocket and retrieve my keys. “Here,” I tell her, placing them in her hand. “Drive your sister home after school. Pick me up when practice is over.”
She tries to hand the keys back to me, but I won’t take them. “Keep them,” I tell her. “You might need a car today and I won’t be using it.”
Andrew interrupts. “You’re letting her drive your car? Are you kidding me? You’ve never even let me sit behind the damn wheel!”
I look over at Andrew and shrug. “You aren’t the one I’m in love with.”
Charlie spits out her drink with a burst of laughter. I glance over at her, and her smile is huge. It lights up her entire face, somehow even making the brown of her eyes seem less dark. I may not remember anything about her, but I would bet her smile was my favorite part of her.
This day has been exhausting. It feels like I’ve been on a stage for hours, acting out scenes I have no script for. The only thing that appeals to me right now is either being in my bed or being with Charlie. Or maybe a combination of both.
However, Charlie and I both still have a goal, and that’s to figure out what the hell happened to us yesterday. Despite the fact that neither of us really wanted to bother with school today, we knew school could lead to an answer. After all, this did happen in the middle of the school day yesterday, so the answer could be related somehow.
Football practice may be of some help. I’ll be around people I haven’t spent much time with in the last twenty-four hours. I might learn something about myself or about Charlie that I didn’t know before. Something that could shed some light on our situation.
I’m relieved to find all the lockers have names on them, so it isn’t hard to locate my gear. What is hard is trying to figure out how to put it on. I struggle with the pants, all the while trying to look like I know what I’m doing. The locker room slowly empties out as all the guys make their way to the field until I’m the only one left.
When I think I’ve got everything situated, I grab my jersey off the top shelf of the locker to pull it on over my head. A box catches my eye, located in the back of the top shelf of my locker. I pull it toward me and take a seat on the bench. It’s a red box, much larger than a box that would just contain a piece of jewelry. I pull the lid off and find a few pictures at the very top.
There aren’t any people in the pictures. They seem to be of places. I flip through them and come to a picture of a swing set. It’s raining, and the ground beneath the swing is covered in water. I flip it over, and written on the back, it says, Our first kiss.
The next picture is of a backseat, but the view is from the floorboard, looking up. I flip it over. Our first fight.