I sometimes wondered if Rachel and I were so close, if we meant so much to each other, that it prevented us from really letting Charlie in. By the time he was born, we had our own language, our own world. But the truth was, Charlie simply wasn’t that interested in us. As a little kid, he did his own thing, played his own games. He didn’t want to do the kind of stuff Rachel and I were doing. He didn’t want to talk about what Rachel and I talked about. He was always forging his own path, rejecting the one we had laid out for him.
By the time he was finished, I was holding in my lap a ripe papaya, a liter of water, a toothbrush, toothpaste and a stiff cotton night gown. On his lap was a clear plastic bag filled with fresh fish, a black wallet and another black plastic bag.He began tearing into the fish, draining all the blood and throwing the rest of it into the bushes. He must have been hungry. I attacked my bottle of water with similar urgency, swallowing half a liter in less than a minute. Then I turned to the papaya.
I wasn’t sure how to open it without making a mess of it. I looked at Caleb.He extended a claw and sliced the fruit into quarters. I began chewing into the sweet flesh hungrily and I had finished the whole thing in a few minutes. I eyed the toothbrush and the night gown.Now what? I asked once he’d finished his fish blood.
He stood up and brushed himself down. Opening the wallet, he pulled out a wad of cash and began counting it.I stared at the currency. We’re in—
Brazil. On the borders of a city called Manaus.
Brazil. Well, at least that explained the rainforest. The opening of the gate was in the heart of the Amazon.I wanted to reach out to him. I wanted him to hold me in his arms just one last time. Feel his hand in my hair, his palm touching the side of my face. I wanted to kiss his cold cheek. But I held myself back. I knew that it would just make things more painful in the long term, just as his kiss had.
Caleb was right. We never should have shared that kiss.Mona appeared on a rock a few feet away from us.
I looked at her, biting back the pain.Please take Caleb back first, I said, fighting to keep my voice steady. I’ll wait here for you.