If I ever thought Dr. Day was a merciless asshole before, that was nothing compared to the force he wielded as a woman on a mission. Geeze. He wouldn’t listen to me. I didn’t want to be here. Like I’d told him before, the archway wouldn’t last. That’s why it was so mysterious and most people weren’t believed when they’d reported it. Plus, I was crazy lucky that I’d found it in the first place. But even if it was still there, that genie would just get mad and maybe do something even more horrible to us. But he was determined.
He spoke perfect Selvadoradan. Not gonna lie, it was amazing to watch him talk to the locals. I honestly thought he might have been flirting with one of the ladies. (So weird seeing that in my body.)
Had no freaking clue what he was saying. I thought he was supposed to get us some hotel rooms. But one of the guys started laughing at what Dr. Day had said.
And he took a bow for some reason.
The girl gestured for us to follow.
She ushered us to some weird old guy sitting inside a rickety house boat.
Dr. Day vehemently spoke like he was pleading his case.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
“Everything is full. There’s a lot of schools who’ve filled all the hotels in the area. But the woman I spoke with said this guy might have something.”
The old guy arched an eyebrow and said some words. Then eyed me up and down.
Dr. Day’s face didn’t make me feel comfortable.
Turned out there was only one tiny room with a single bed.
Dr. Day smirked. “Don’t worry, Charlene. You’re very safe sleeping with me.”
I shook my head. “I told you this is a waste of time. Let’s go back home.”
Glaring at me, he spat, “We’re finding that archway and we’re demanding the genie undo the curse. End of story, Charlene.”
I sighed. “Fine. But can we at least get something to eat? Your body is like a bottomless pit. I don’t get how you stay so skinny when it’s always hungry.”
“I work out. Something YOUR body desperately needs.”
I rolled my eyes. I certainly didn’t need a lecture. Especially from him. He had no idea what my life was like, but whatever. I decided not to argue. He was paying after all.
He chose a fancy place and got us a nice table.
“Ooo,” I crooned, looking at all the delicious dishes. “We should get a wine list, too. I need something to take the edge off.”
Not looking up, he said, “Just concentrate on the food. We need all our faculties when confronting that genie.”
“Aw, c’mon, doc, just one bottle. I hear Selvadoradan red wine is amazing. We might as well live a little.”
Eyes narrowing, he hissed, “Let me make myself very clear. We’re not here to have fun. We’re here because of your out of control stupidity that has placed me in your body. And as soon as we eat, we’re finding the archway.”
Okay, this surly attitude was getting old. Fast. “I don’t get how having a few glasses of wine would hurt.”
“Last time I checked, you don’t even have a nickle to your name, Charlene. That means I’m paying so what I say goes. Deal with it.”
I was like a pressure cooker about to blow. “Why do you have to be such an asshole?”
“Why do you have to be so irresponsible? It’s like you’re a little kid on a vacation. Your whole life is a mess. You have no money, you live in a pig stye, and if I hadn’t been such a stupidly nice person, you’d be flunking my class. So get this through your thick skull. We’re not friends. We aren’t on vacation. We’re cursed. And I’M the one who will get us uncursed. So for the rest of our time here, I’d appreciate it if you did what I said for once and shut the hell up!”
His words slapped me in the face. “Is that what you think of me?”
I normally was in total control. I’d perfected the art of having order in my life so I knew what to expect. After all that had happened to me and the people I loved, I didn’t like surprises. I didn’t like change. But Charlene jolted me. Made me unbalanced. And with this horrible experience we’d found ourselves in, I wasn’t acting like myself. I couldn’t believe I was the one out of control.
After I’d blurted some hurtful things, Charlene shuddered, tears welling up in her eyes.
Shaking my head, I said, “No…I…didn’t mean…”
She swallowed. “Yes, you did. Because it’s all true.”
Then she slid her chair back and ran away from me.
God. What was I doing?
I searched everywhere for her. She didn’t return to our room and no one had seen her. But then I figured she would be where I was going to look anyway.
At the place the archway used to be.
But she was right. The archway was gone. In its place was what looked like an antique couch.
“I’m sorry,” I said, feeling like a total jerk.
She sniffed, wiping her eyes.
“You were right, Charlene. I should have listened to you. Coming here was a huge waste of time.”
I motioned for her to sit down and I dropped next to her. “Look…I’ve been going over and over in my mind about what the genie had said to us. Maybe there’s a clue in there for us to figure out. I’m convinced that’s how we’ll get back to ourselves.”
“But…he didn’t really say anything, did he?” Charlene countered. “I mean, he just said he was going to curse us first.”
“Yes, but he also said it was up to us if we receive the blessing or not.”
Charlene gasped, “Do you think we’re going to be stuck like this forever? I mean, that’s not much to go on, Dr. Day.”
“I don’t know, but if we continue to fight, I bet that won’t help.”
Charlene breathed in and said, “Yeah. I guess you’re right. For what it’s worth, Dr. Day, I’m sorry you’re stuck with my life. I am a mess.”
Standing, she turned to leave. I grabbed her hand. “Hey, where are you going?”
“You’re right. Everything I do turns into the biggest dumpster fire. I’m just going to go to the room so I don’t ruin your life even more than I already have.”
Not knowing what to say, I sputtered, “H-Hey, that sounds like a good idea. Let’s get some sleep and then go home tomorrow. We can figure out what to do next once we rest.”
We didn’t speak that night. She looked as if she was on the verge of tears, so defeated. And honestly, I didn’t know what to say to make her feel better.
When I hit the bed, I fell right to sleep.
And although awkward as sleeping partners, it really wasn’t very strange. I was next to my body. Even though it was a little weird, it was comforting, too.
But then I heard her sniffling.
Raising my head, I asked, “Charlene. Are you crying?”
“No,” she answered then rubbed her nose. “Just got a cold.”
“I know you’re crying. What’s wrong?”
She shrugged. “What isn’t wrong? Newsflash, Dr. Day. Even though I’m a mess, at least I was a mess in my own body. Don’t take this wrong, but I hate being a guy. I don’t want to be like this forever.”
I sighed, scooting to the edge of the bed. I wasn’t going to tell her how much I hated living like a girl, too, but this was a challenge. I normally liked challenges. Puzzles. Ginny gave me that love. I wondered what she’d do if this had happened to her.
I could almost hear her now telling me not to give up. The answer was out there. Somewhere. I just had to find it. “Don’t worry, Charlene. We’ll figure it out.”
“But what if we don’t?” she asked. “What will we do?”
I shook my head. That was a question I didn’t want to answer.