Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (Page 74)
After several hours, the green light that filtered down through the canopy brightened into yellow. The day had turned sunny, just as promised. For the first time since we’d started, I felt excitement again.
“Are we there yet?” I asked.
She smiled at the change in my mood. “Nearly. Do you see the clearer light ahead?”
I stared into the thick forest. “Um, should I?”
“Maybe it is a bit soon for your eyes.”
“Time to visit the optometrist.” I sighed and she grinned.
And then, after another hundred yards, I could definitely see a brighter spot in the trees ahead, a glow that was yellow-white instead of yellow-green. I picked up the pace, and she let me lead now, following noiselessly.
I reached the edge of the pool of light and stepped through the last fringe of ferns into the most beautiful place I had ever seen.
The meadow was small, perfectly round, and filled with wildflowers—violet, yellow, and white. Somewhere nearby, I could hear the liquid rush of a stream. The sun was directly overhead, filling the circle with a haze of buttery sunshine. I walked slowly forward through the soft grass, swaying flowers, and warm, gilded air. After that first minute of awe, I turned, wanting to share this with her, but she wasn’t behind me where I thought she’d be. I spun around, searching for her, suddenly anxious. Finally I found her, still under the dense shade of the canopy at the edge of the hollow, watching me with cautious eyes, and I remembered why we were here. The mystery of Edythe and the sun—which she’d promised to solve for me today.
I took a step back, my hand stretched out toward her. Her eyes were wary, reluctant—oddly, it reminded me of stage fright. I smiled encouragingly and started walking back to her. She held up a warning hand and I stopped, rocking back onto my heels.
Edythe took a deep breath, closed her eyes, then stepped out into the bright glare of the midday sun.
EYES CLOSED, EDYTHE STEPPED BLINDLY INTO THE LIGHT.
My heart jumped into my throat and I started sprinting toward her.
It was only when her eyes flashed open and I got close enough to begin to understand what I was seeing that I realized she hadn’t caught on fire. She threw up her hand again, palm forward, and I stumbled to a stop, almost falling to my knees.
The light blazed off her skin, danced in prism-like rainbows across her face and neck, down her arms. She was so bright that I had to squint, like I was trying to stare at the sun.
I thought about falling to my knees on purpose. This was the kind of beauty you worshipped. The kind you built temples for and offered sacrifices to. I wished I had something in my empty hands to give her, but what would a goddess want from a mediocre mortal like me?
It took me a while to see past her incandescence to the expression on her face. She was watching me with wide eyes—it almost looked like she was afraid of something. I took a step toward her, and she cringed just slightly.
“Does that hurt you?” I whispered.
“No,” she whispered back.
I took another step toward her—she was the magnet again, and I was just a helpless piece of dull metal. She let her warning hand drop to her side. As she moved, the fire shimmered down her arm. Slowly, I circled around her, keeping my distance, just needing to absorb this, to see her from every angle. The sun played off her skin, refracting and magnifying every color light could hold. My eyes were adjusting, and they opened wide with wonder.
I knew that she’d chosen her clothes with care, that she’d been determined to show me this, but the way she held herself now, shoulders tight, legs braced, made me wonder if she wasn’t second-guessing the decision now.
I finished my circle, then closed the last few feet between us. I couldn’t stop staring, even to blink.
“Edythe,” I breathed.
“Are you scared now?” she whispered.
She stared searchingly into my eyes, trying to hear what I was thinking.
I reached toward her, deliberately unhurried, watching her face for permission. Her eyes opened even wider, and she froze. Carefully, slowly, I let my fingertips graze the glistening skin on the back of her arm. I was surprised to find it just as cold as ever. While my fingers were touching her, the reflections of the fire flickered against my skin, and suddenly my hand wasn’t mediocre anymore. She was so astonishing that she could make even me less ordinary.
“What are you thinking?” she whispered.
I struggled to find words. “I am… I didn’t know…” I took a deep breath, and the words finally came. “I’ve never seen anything more beautiful—never imagined anything so beautiful could exist.”
Her eyes were still wary. Like she thought I was saying what I thought she wanted to hear. But it was only the truth, maybe the truest, most uncensored thing I’d ever said in my life. I was too overwhelmed to filter or pretend.
She started to lift her hand, then dropped it. The shimmer flared. “It’s very strange, though,” she murmured.
“Amazing,” I breathed.
“Aren’t you repulsed by my flagrant lack of humanity?”
I shook my head. “Not repulsed.”
Her eyes narrowed. “You should be.”
“I’m feeling like humanity is pretty overrated.”
She pulled her arm from under my fingertips and folded it behind her back. Rather than take her cue, I took a half-step closer to her. I could feel the reflected shine on my face.
And she was suddenly ten feet away from me, her warning hand up again and her jaw clenched.