Silas grins. “I don’t know myself well, but I can tell I have a lot of game.”
“Oh, please,” I say. “If you were a game, Silas, you’d be Monopoly. You just go on and on and everyone ends up cheating just to be over with it.”
He’s quiet for a minute. I feel bad for saying something so awkward even if it was a joke.
“You’re probably right,” he laughs. “That’s why you cheated on me with that asshat, Brian. Lucky for you, I’m not Monopoly Silas anymore. I’m Tetris Silas. All my pieces and parts are going to fit into all of your pieces and parts.”
I snort. “And the guidance counselor’s, apparently.”
“Low blow, Charlie,” he says, shaking his head.
I wait a few seconds, chewing on my lip. Then I say, “I don’t think I want you to call me that.”
Silas turns to look at me. “Charlie?”
“Yeah,” I look over at him. “Is that weird? I don’t feel like I’m her. I don’t even know her. It just doesn’t feel like my name.”
He nods as we walk toward his car. “So, I get to rename you?”
“Until we figure all this out…yeah.”
“Poppy,” he says.
“Hell no, what’s wrong with you?”
He opens the passenger side door to his Rover and I climb in.
“Okay…okay. I can see you don’t like traditionally cute names. We can try for something tougher.” He walks around to the driver side and climbs in. “Xena…”
We go back and forth like this until Silas’s GPS tells us that we’ve arrived. I look around, surprised that I was too engaged with him to notice the drive here. When I look down at my phone I see that Brian has texted me six times. I don’t want to deal with him right now. I shove my phone and wallet under the seat, out of view.
“Where are we?”
“Bourbon Street,” he says. “Most happening place in New Orleans.”
“How do you know that?” I ask suspiciously.
“I Googled it.” We stare at each other over the hood, and then both shut our doors at the same time.
“How did you know what Google was?”
“I thought that’s what we’re supposed to be figuring out together.” We meet at the front of the car.
“I think we’re aliens,” I say. “That’s why we don’t have any of Charlie and Silas’s memories. But we remember things like Google and Tetris because of the computer chips in our brains.”
“So, can I rename you Alien?”
Before I can think about what I’m doing, I send the back of my hand into his chest. “Focus, Silas!”
He uumphs, and then I’m pointing straight ahead. “What’s that?” I walk ahead of him.
It’s a building, castle-like in structure, and white. There are three spires jutting up toward the sky.
“Looks like a church,” he says, taking out his phone.
“What are you doing?”
“Taking a picture…in case we forget again. I figure we should document what’s happening and where we go.”
I’m quiet as I think about what he said. It’s a really good idea. “That’s where we should go, right? Churches help people…,” my voice trails off.
“Yes,” says Silas. “They help people, not aliens. And since we’re—”
I hit him again. I wish he would take this seriously. “What if we’re angels and we’re supposed to help someone, and we were given these bodies to fulfill our mission?”
He sighs. “Are you listening to yourself?”
We’ve reached the doors to the church, which are ironically locked. “Okay,” I say, spinning around. “What’s your suggestion for what’s happened to us? Did we boink our heads together and lose our memories? Or maybe we ate something that really messed us up!”I storm down the stairs.
“Hey! Hey!” he calls. “You’re not allowed to get mad at me. This is not my fault.” He runs down the stairs after me.
“How do we know that? We don’t know anything, Silas! This could be all your fault!”
We’re standing at the bottom of the stairs now, staring at each other. “Maybe it is,” he says. “But whatever I did, you did it too. Because in case you haven’t noticed, we’re in the same boat.”
I clench and unclench my fists, take deep breaths, concentrate on staring at the church until my eyes water.
“Look,” Silas says, stepping closer. “I’m sorry for turning this into a joke. I want to figure it out as much as you do. What are some of your other ideas?”
I close my eyes. “Fairy tales,” I say, looking back up at him. “Someone is always cursed. To break the spell they have to figure something out about themselves…then…”
I can tell he’s trying to take me seriously, but this somehow makes me angrier. “There’s a kiss...”
He grins. “A kiss, huh? I’ve never kissed anyone before.”
“What? If I can’t remember, it doesn’t count!”
I fold my arms across my chest and watch a street musician pick up his violin. He remembers the first time he picked up a violin, the first notes he played, who gave it to him. I envy his memories.
“I’ll be serious, Charlie. I’m sorry.”
I look at Silas out of the corner of my eye. He looks genuinely sorry—hands shoved into his pockets, neck dropping like it’s suddenly too heavy.
“So, what do you think we need to do? Kiss?”
I shrug. “It’s worth a try, right?”
“You said in fairy tales they have to figure something out first…”
“Yeah. Like, Sleeping Beauty needed someone brave to kiss her and wake her from the sleeping curse. Snow White needed true love’s kiss to bring her back to life. Ariel needed to get Eric to kiss her to break the spell the sea witch put on her.”
He perks up. “Those are movies,” he says. “Do you remember watching them?”
“I don’t remember watching them, I just know I’ve seen them. Mr. Deetson spoke about fairy tales in English today. That’s where I got the idea.”
We start walking toward the street musician who is playing something slow and mournful.
“Sounds like the breaking of the curse is mostly up to the guy,” Silas says. “He needs to mean something to her.”
“Yeah…” My voice drops off as we stop to listen. I wish I knew the song he was playing. It sounds like something I’ve heard, but I have no name for it.
“There’s a girl,” I say softly. “I want to talk to her…I think maybe she knows something. A few people have referred to her as The Shrimp.”
Silas’s eyebrows draw together. “What do you mean? Who is she?”
“I don’t know. She’s in a couple of my classes. It’s just a feeling.”
We stand among a group of onlookers, and Silas reaches for my hand. For the first time, I don’t pull away from him. I let his warm fingers intertwine with mine. With his free hand, he takes a picture of the violinist, then he looks down at me. “So I can remember the first time I held your hand.”