Her mother takes a step outside and pulls the door shut behind her so that I can’t see inside at all. “That’s none of your business,” she hisses. “Get the hell off my property!”
“Is she here or not?”
She folds her arms over her chest. “If you aren’t out of my driveway in five seconds, I’m calling the police.”
I throw my hands up in defeat and groan. “I’m worried about your daughter, so can you please put your anger aside for one minute and tell me if she’s inside?”
She takes two quick steps toward me and pokes a finger into my chest. “Don’t you dare raise your voice at me!”
I push past her and kick open the door. The first thing I’m hit with is the smell. The air is stale. A fog of thick cigarette smoke fills the air and assaults my lungs. I hold my breath as I make my way through the living room. There’s a bottle of whiskey open on the bar, sitting next to an empty glass. Mail is scattered across the table—what looks like several days’ worth. It’s like this woman doesn’t even care enough to open any of it. The envelope on the top of the stack is addressed to Charlie.
I move to pick it up, but hear the woman stalking into the house behind me. I make my way down the hall and see two doors to my right and one on the left. I push open the door to my left, just as Charlie’s mother begins screaming from behind me. I ignore her and make my way into the bedroom.
“Charlie!” I yell. I glance around the room, knowing she isn’t here, but still hoping I’m wrong. If she isn’t here, I don’t know where else to look. I don’t remember any of the places we used to hang out.
But neither would Charlie, I guess.
“Silas!” her mother yells from the doorway to the bedroom. “Get out! I’m calling the police!” She disappears from the doorway, probably to retrieve a phone. I continue my search for…I don’t even know. Charlie obviously isn’t here, but I keep looking around anyway, hoping to find something that could help.
I know which side of the room is Charlie’s because of the picture of the gate above her bed. The one she said I took.
I look around for clues, but find nothing. I remember her mentioning something about an attic in her closet, so I check the closet. There’s a small hole at the top of it. It looks like she uses her shelves as steps. “Charlie!” I call out.
“Charlie, are you up there?”
Just as I check the sturdiness of the bottom shelf with my foot, something slams against the side of my head. I turn, but immediately duck again when I see a plate fly out of the woman’s hand. It crashes against the wall next to my head. “Get out!” she screams. She’s looking for more things to throw, so I put my hands up in surrender.
“I’m leaving,” I tell her. “I’ll leave!”
She moves out of the doorway to let me pass. She’s still yelling as I make my way down the hall. As I walk toward the front door, I swipe the letter off the bar that was addressed to Charlie. I don’t even bother telling Charlie’s mother to have her call me if she makes it home.
I get in my car and pull back onto the street.
Where the hell is she?
I wait until I’m a few miles away and then I pull over to check her phone again. Landon mentioned he heard it ringing under the seat, so I lean over and reach my hand beneath the seat. I pull out an empty soda can, a shoe and then finally—her wallet. I open it and sift through it, but find nothing I don’t already know.
She’s somewhere out there, without her phone or her wallet. She doesn’t have anyone’s numbers memorized. If she didn’t come home, where would she have gone?
I punch the steering wheel. “Dammit, Silas!”
I should have never let her leave by herself.
This is all my fault.
My phone receives an incoming text. The text is from Landon, wondering why I left school.
I drop the phone back onto the seat and notice the letter I stole from Charlie’s house. There’s no return address. The date stamp in the top corner is from Tuesday—the day before all of this happened.
I open the envelope and find several pages inside, folded together. Across the front, it reads, “Open immediately.”
I unfold the pages and my eyes instantly fall to the two names written at the top of the page.
Charlie and Silas,
It’s addressed to both of us? I keep reading.
If you don’t know why you’re reading this, then you’ve forgotten everything. You recognize no one, not even yourselves.
Please don’t panic, and read this letter in its entirety. We will share everything we know, which right now isn’t much.
What the hell? My hands begin to shake as I continue reading.
We aren’t sure what happened, but we’re afraid if we don’t write it down, it might happen again. At least with everything written down and left in more than one place, we’ll be more prepared if it does happen again.
On the following pages, you’ll find all the information we know. Maybe it will help in some way.
~Charlie and Silas.
I stare at the names at the bottom of the page until my vision is blurry.
I look at the names at the top of the page again. Charlie and Silas.
I look at the names at the bottom. Charlie and Silas.
We wrote ourselves a letter?
It makes no sense. If we wrote ourselves a letter…
I immediately flip to the pages that follow. The first two pages are things I already know. Our addresses, our phone numbers. Where we go to school, what our classes are, our siblings’ names, our parents’ names. I read through it all as fast as I possibly can.
My hands are shaking so badly by the third page, I can hardly read the handwriting. I set the page in my lap to finish. It’s more personal information—a list of things we’ve figured out about one another already, our relationship, how long we’ve been together. The letter mentions Brian’s name as someone who keeps texting Charlie. I skip over all the familiar information until I get close to the end of the third page.
The first memories either of us can recall are from Saturday, October 4th, around 11am. Today is Sunday, October 5th. We’re going to make a copy of this letter for ourselves, but will also mail copies in the morning, just to be safe.
I flip to the fourth page and it’s dated Tuesday, October 7th.
It happened again. This time, it happened during history class on Monday, October 6th. It appears to have happened at the same time of day, 48 hours later. We don’t have anything new to add to the letter. We both did our best to stay away from friends and family the past day, faking illnesses. We’ve been calling one another with any information we know, but so far it seems this has happened twice. The first time being Saturday, the second being Monday. Wish we had more information, but we’re still kind of freaked out that this is happening and aren’t sure what to do about it. We’ll do what we did last time and mail copies of this letter to ourselves. Also, there will be a copy in the glove box of Silas’ car. That’s the first place we looked this time, so there’s a good chance you’ll look there again.
I never checked the glove box.
We’ll keep the original letters somewhere safe so no one will find them. We’re afraid if anyone sees the letters, or if anyone suspects anything, they’ll think we’re going crazy. Everything will be in a box on the back of the third shelf of Silas’ bedroom closet. If this pattern continues, there’s a chance it could happen again on Wednesday at the same time. In case it does, this letter should arrive to both of you that day.