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.
“Are you bleeding? Did you hurt yourself?” he asks. He helps her stand, leads her back to where I’m waiting. She slurs her words and pats him on the cheek, and I wonder if he knew when he went to help her that she was homeless. I wouldn’t touch her. She smells. I step away from both of them, and watch him watch her. He’s concerned. He keeps his eyes on her until she’s stumbled off down the next street, and then he swings his head around to find me.
In this moment—right now—it’s so clear to me who Charlie is. She’s not as good as Silas. She loves him because he’s so different from her. Maybe that’s why she went to Brian, because she couldn’t live up to Silas.
Like I can’t.
He half smiles at me, and I think he’s embarrassed to be caught caring. “Ready?”
I want to tell him that what he did was nice, but nice is such a silly word for kindness. Anyone could pretend to be nice. What Silas did was innate. Boldfaced kindness. I haven’t had any thoughts like that. I think about the girl in class the first morning who dropped her books at my feet. She’d looked at me with fear. She expected me not to help. And more. What else?
Silas and I walk in silence. He checks his phone every few minutes to make sure we’re headed in the right direction and I check his face. I wonder if this is what a crush feels like. If watching a man help a woman is supposed to illicit these types of feelings. And then we’re here. He points across the street and I nod.
“Yeah, that’s it.”
But it’s almost not. The diner has transformed since I was here with Janette. It’s loud and pumping. There are men lined up on the sidewalk smoking; they part for us as we walk by. I can feel the bass in my ankles as we stand outside the doors. They open for us as a group leaves. A girl walks past me laughing, her pink fur jacket brushing against my face. Inside, people are defending their space with widened elbows and jutted hips. People glare at us as we walk by. This is my space, back off. I’m waiting for the rest of my group—keep moving. We bypass the few empty seats in favor of walking deeper into the building. We press through the crowd, walking sideways, and flinching when raucous laughter erupts next to us. A drink spills on my shoes, someone says sorry. I don’t even know who, because it’s so dark. And then someone calls our names.
“Silas! Charlie! Over here!”
A boy and…who was that girl who picked me up this morning? Annie…Amy?
“Hey,” she says, as we draw close. “I can’t believe you actually came back here after last weekend.”