I hated everything about Charlene’s apartment. The colors. The old smell. The chipped paint.
It was so broken down, cracked, and probably moldy.
An obvious health hazard.
But she kept it the best she could with fake flowers and a few decorations.
The worst part was her trash heap of a room. She was an absolute slob! I mean, how could people live like this?
I’d left it alone for long enough. I thought we’d be back to our own bodies by now. But it seemed the genie was still playing his sadistic game.
After tidying up, I still wasn’t satisfied. If I was going to make the best of things, I wasn’t living another minute in this dump.
There was only one thing left for me to do.
Myla’s mother was a real estate broker. It was time I changed addresses.
“Thank you for meeting with me, Mrs. Owens,” I said as I walked up to Myla’s mother. She’d helped me and Zack try to find a home before Dad offered to buy the house of my dreams. And since Myla was Charlene’s best friend, it wasn’t too weird for me to ask for help.
“Are you sure you can afford this address, Charlie?” Myla asked. “Places around here go for $2000 a month or more.”
“I certainly could find a cheaper apartment for you that would be much nicer than what you’re already in,” Mrs.Owens added.
I laughed nervously, trying to think up a good lie on how my income went from 0 to plenty in a matter of a week. “Well…uh…Dr. Day said he’d take me on as a TA next year, so with that and a windfall from a…um…r-rich uncle…you know…this will be fine.”
“Oooooo…” Mala sang. “You and Dr. Day! Zack told me about you two. You took me up on my advice! You’ve GOT to tell me all the details, girl, when you get a chance! You’ve been holding out!”
“Heh…you’ve got it all wrong, Myla. Dr. Day and I are platonic. Honest!”
“Are you ready to see the apartment then?” Myla’s mom interrupted.
I wanted to thank her for the diversion. Thanks to my brother’s wild imagination, everyone thought I was dating Charlene.
The apartment was more than I’d expected for something so small and relatively cheap. If Charlene and I came though this experience without killing each other, I did want to make her a TA next year. She needed the extra income and I could use the help with my research.
Myla assisted me with using some of Charlene’s things in decorating. Once we were finished, I knew Charlene would approve.
And the view out of the bedroom window was amazing. It reminded me of the time I saw the view of Oasis Springs for the first time with Ginny.
I hadn’t even thought about Ginny since I’d experienced this curse. The familar pang wrung through me but all it did was make me numb.
Turning toward Myla, I said, “Hey, thanks for the help. Couldn’t have done it without you.”
“Anytime, bff. And I hope to God you show a certain professor this room. It has a romantic ambiance he’s sure to love. I know Zack’s a romantic. I bet his brother is, too!”
My face warmed. I couldn’t imagine even being with Charlene as ourselves let alone…Why did everyone have a one track mind about us? I guessed I couldn’t blame them. We were inexplicably attached because of this weird situation. To try to keep them off the scent was exhausting. I just smiled. No use in trying to explain why we were always together.
When I met Charlene at the gym the next day, she squealed and covered her face. “What the HELL did you do to my hair?”
My stomach lurched. I thought she’d at least like it a little bit. I knew I shouldn’t have gone along with that hair dresser in coloring it. But maybe she hated the length.
“I…uh…asked the hair dresser to do a current style. But if it’s the length you’re worried about, I can assure you it’ll grow out. Are you that mad about it?”
Her face beamed. “Hell no, Dr. Day! It’s so pretty! I just didn’t ever have the funds to color my hair or go to a fancy salon. Omg! I’m so happy I could kiss you!”
I shot her a look. “Please don’t. I couldn’t take my face anywhere near yours.”
She snorted. “You’re so hilarious when you’re mad, Dr. D. Hey, listen, I don’t mean to change the subject but I’ve found something totally amazing! The genie showed me that note someone sent you about Ginny!”
My eyes narrowed. “What note?” Then I remembered. A student, Yarita Wiles, who had stalked me a few years ago, sent me the worst piece of trash about Ginny.
I got her to confess that she’d made the whole thing up and she apologized, saying she just wanted me to not be depressed and to move on.
All it did was make me miss Ginny more. After that, I had a strict policy of not getting close with my students.
I shook my head and practically spat, “One of my crazy students sent me that, Charlene. It’s a load of garbage.”
Disappointment colored her features. “Oh. I see.”
But then she waved her arms emphatically. “Explain this though, Dr. Day. It felt like the genie practically SHOWED me where the note was. Do you think that even though the girl made it up that somehow she was right? I mean…how can you explain that I knew something was in your drawer?”
I rolled my eyes. “Honestly, Charlene, that’s just a coincidence. I thought I’d thrown that stupid thing out a long time ago. But seriously listen to yourself. You expect me to believe that Ginny is living in Sulani with her mermaid husband and children? That’s insane.”
She cocked her head. “Yeah…it is kind of a stretch but…I don’t know…the feeling I got was so real. Like the genie put it in my mind that I was about to stumble on the key to us breaking the curse. But I guess you’re right. Just forget I said anything.”
I grabbed one of the arm machines, throwing all my frustrations out in training.
The weights clanked as we both did our sets. After a while, Charlene said, “Dr. D, I really think you need to start dating. Yarita was kind of right. You’ve got to move on. It’s the only way you’re going to be happy and us break the curse.” Charlene effortlessly pushed the weights up with my muscles.
God, I’d give anything for my body to be mine again. I groaned, “I’m…not…dating…while in this…
Next we ran a few miles on the treadmill. Although weights had been a problem, I was getting used to running. And as I plodded along, I thought about what Charlene had said. Maybe she was right. Maybe we both needed to start dating. I could always start with Zane…he wasn’t so bad for her. And if that made her happy, it would get me back soon and I could get on with my life.
“Charlene, what if I had you go out with Zane. He asked me out the other day. Would you like that?”
“Ew…no, Dr. D. Zane is soooo not me. He’s a total slob and lazy and like, all over the place.”
I raised my eyebrows. “You don’t like that?” They sounded like the perfect match!
“No, of course not. Now if you wanna set me up, how about your friend, Todd? He’s like crazy freaking hot.”
I stopped in my tracks. “Todd Monteira? No.”
“But why not?” she whined. “He’s a friend of yours and a scientist. I think we’d get along great.”
Todd Monteira was my best friend, but he was also a player. I wouldn’t trust him. But I didn’t want to tell Charlene that. “Dr. Monteira is on staff. And so he’s out of your reach.” This conversation was going nowhere.
More and more I felt like both of us were just grasping at unattainable straws.
What if I was doomed to be cursed with this body forever?