I can feel Charlie stiffen in my arms as she stares at the blank card on the table. I shove back from the table and pull Charlie up. “This is ridiculous,” I say loudly, accidentally knocking my chair over.
I’m not pissed that the woman is trying to scare us. It’s her job. I’m pissed because she’s actually scaring Charlie, yet she’s keeping up this ridiculous façade.
I take Charlie’s face in my hands and look her in the eyes. “She planted that card to scare you, Charlie. This is all bullshit.” I take both her hands and begin to turn her toward the exit.
“There are no blank cards in my tarot deck,” the woman says.
I pause in my tracks and turn around to face her. Not because of what she said, but because of the way she said it. She sounded scared.
Scared for us?
I close my eyes and exhale. She’s an actress, Silas. Calm your shit.
I push open the door and pull Charlie outside. I don’t stop walking until we’re around the building and on another street. When we’re away from the store and away from the damn flickering of the sign, I stop walking and pull her against me. She wraps her arms around my waist and buries her head against my chest.
“Forget all of that,” I say, rubbing my hand in reassuring circles over her back. “Fortune-telling, tarot readings…it’s ridiculous, Charlie.”
She pulls her face from my shirt and looks up at me. “Yeah. Ridiculous like the both of us waking up at school with no memory of who we are?”
I close my eyes and pull away from her. I run my hands through my hair, the frustration from the day catching up to me. I can make light of it all with my jokes. I can dismiss her theories—from tarot readings to fairy tales—simply because it doesn’t make sense to me. But she’s right. None of this makes sense. And the more we try to uncover the mystery, the more I feel like we’re wasting our damn time.
His lips fold in and he shakes his head. He wants out of here. I can feel his edginess.
“Maybe we should go back and ask her more detailed questions,” I suggest.
“No way,” he says. “I’m not entertaining that again.” He starts to walk away, and I consider going back in there myself. I’m just about to take my first step toward the shop when the “Open” sign in the window turns off. The shop is in sudden darkness. I chew on the inside of my cheek. I could come back when Silas isn’t around. Maybe she’d talk to me more.
“Charlie!” he calls.
I run after him until we’re walking side by side again. We can see our breath as we walk. When did it get this cold? I rub my hands together.
“I’m hungry,” I say.
“You’re always hungry. I’ve never seen someone so small eat so much.”
He doesn’t offer to feed me this time, so I continue to walk beside him. “What just happened back there?” I ask. I’m trying to make a joke of it, but my stomach feels funny.
“Someone tried to scare us. That’s it.”
I look up at Silas. Mostly everything together except those shoulders, which are tense. “But what if she’s right? What if there weren’t any blank cards in her tarot deck?”
“No,” he says. “Just no.”
I bite my lip and sidestep a man dancing backward down the sidewalk.
“I don’t understand how you can dismiss something so easily, considering our circumstances,” I say from between my teeth. “Don’t you think—”
“Why don’t we talk about something else,” Silas says.
“Right, like what we’re going to do next weekend? Or how about we talk about what we did last weekend? Or maybe we talk about…” I smack my hand against my forehead. “The Electric Crush Diner.” How could I forget about that?
“What?” Silas asks. “What’s that?”
“We were there. You and me, last weekend. I found a receipt in my jeans pocket.” Silas is watching me recount all of this with a look of mild annoyance on his face. “I took Janette there for dinner last night. A server recognized me.”
“Hey!” he yells over my shoulder. “If you touch her with that I’ll break you in half!”
I glance behind me and see a man pointing a foam finger at my butt. He backs off when he sees the look on Silas’s face.
“Why didn’t you tell me that?” Silas says under his breath, directing his attention back to me. “That’s not like tarot readers, that’s something important.”
“I really don’t know. I meant to…”
He grabs my hand, but this time it’s not for the pleasure of our palms pressing together. He drags me down the street with one hand while typing something into his phone with the other. I’m both impressed and mildly annoyed at being spoken to like that. We may have been something in our other life, but in this life I don’t even know his middle name.
“It’s on North Rampart Street,” I say, helpfully.
He’s pissed. I kind of like the emo-ness of it. We pass through a park with a fountain. Street vendors have set up their artwork along the fence; they stare at us as we pass by. Silas is taking one step to my three. I trot to keep up. We walk so far until my feet hurt and finally I yank my hand free of his.
He stops and turns around.
I don’t know what to say, or what I’m mad at, so I place my hands on my hips and glare at him.
“What’s wrong with you?” he says.
“I don’t know!” I shout. “But you can’t just drag me around the city! I can’t walk as fast as you and my feet hurt.”
This feels familiar. Why does this feel familiar?
He looks away and I can see the muscles working in his jaw. He turns back to me and everything happens quickly. He takes two steps and scoops me off my feet. Then he resumes his pace with my bouncing ever so slightly in his arms. After my initial squeal, I settle down and clasp my arms around his neck. I like it up here where I can smell his cologne and touch his skin. I don’t recall seeing perfume among Charlie’s things, and I doubt I would have thought to put any on. What does that say about Silas? That in the midst of all of this, he thought to pick up a bottle and spray cologne on his neck before he left the house this morning. Was he always the type of person who cared about the little things—like smelling good?
As I think these thoughts, Silas stops to ask a woman who has fallen in the street if she’s all right. She’s drunk and sloppy. When she tries to stand up, she steps on the hem of her dress and falls back down. Silas sets me down on the sidewalk and goes to help her.