I watched as I- me- the one of me who wasn't Emma- slowly nodded, her brown eyes intent on mine.
"Okay," she said. "What're you thinking?"
There's a smile on my lips already, and it just gets wider. "I say we book it for home, usual route. That gives us until Dad gets home to figure out what's... what I am." I wink at her again. "Unless you have any better ideas."
She blinks, looking at me owlishly through her glasses "...aren't you... me?"
I laugh and nod as I pull her away from the door. "And you have the best ideas, believe me."
Taylor-me doesn't look very convinced as I tug the hood on her sweatshirt over her head- god- and pull her out into the hallway.
Everyone's in class, the halls are empty, and I'm sneaking out of school so I can play hooky with myself. This is awesome. Myself doesn't seem to feel the same way, though; I have to lead her by the nose like a lead balloon six days after the birthday party, steering her past classroom doors with tugs on her sweatshirt sleeve, her feet falling with mine in time to the slow beating of my heart.
She locks up as we pass an open door, and I almost sweep the poor thing off her feet to get her out of sight.
"Mmm!" I nod briskly, pulling her along like I'm leading her in Winslow hallway tango. "Yeah, I- uh- she has a presenta-come on-tation this period."
"B-but you... she... I thought you were-"
"Emma?" I have to stifle a laugh - they're bad for sneaking. "God, I'm so glad I just look like the bitch. C'mon, less talking, more walking."
We had to slow down once we were a block or two away, partly to avoid attracting attention, mostly because Taylor-me had apparently done way less cardio than I had and needed to catch her breath.
I mean, I hadn't done any cardio that I knew of. Yeah, I had loosey-goosey queen bitch energy, but was that from Emma, or was that... me?
Taylor kept looking over at me as we walked, hands shoved in the pockets of her sweatshirt.
"Do you know what she's planning?" she finally asked.
I shook my head, lifting one finger up and tapping my temple. "I'm..." I hesitated, glancing over my shoulder. "I know what you know?"
She glanced back behind us as well. "But- the- with Madison, you said-"
"Ohmygod stop that, you look so suspicious," I hissed, looking around to see if anyone had noticed. "I just... knew what to say to get her off my back; like, I knew the words, but I didn't know what they meant until I said them."
I leaned over and dropped an arm over her shoulder like she was a draft ox and affection was my yoke. "Hey. For what it's worth...? I totally know how you feel." Her shoulders shook as she coughed a laugh, and I couldn't help but smile.
We walked like that for maybe a block before my arm started to ache and we had to split off; her footfalls still fell with mine, in time to the beat of my heart.
"So," I echoed, glancing over at her.
She smiled, looking a little sheepish. "What's. Um. What's it like, being... her?"
"Emma? It's... enh." I make a face. "I feel like me, until I see a reflection or my hands, and then..." I shake my head. "It feels weird if I think about it too much."
I snort. "No. No. To hell with that. It's not your- it's not my fault, this happened because that she-bitch-"
Something touches my hand and I look down; Taylor's fingers are wrapped around a fist I hadn't realized I was making. I look up and her eyes meet mine and she lets go like she was scalded.
I take a breath. Look down at the passing sidewalk, staring at my designer jeans and flashy kicks as pavement passes underneath us and somehow still feeling so alone.
I look up again and Taylor's looking right back at me and I don't understand the look on her face until I find myself making it.
I hold my hand out.
She takes it.
And my heart skips a beat.