Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (Page 8)
“Was that the girl I sat next to in Biology?”
“Yeah,” she said. “She looked like she was in pain or something.”
“I don’t know,” I responded. “I never spoke to her.”
“She’s weird.” McKayla lingered by me instead of heading to the dressing room. “If I got to sit by you, I would have talked to you.”
I smiled at her before walking through the boys’ locker room door. She was kind and seemed to like me. But that wasn’t enough to make me forget the last strange hour.
The Gym teacher, Coach Clapp, found me a uniform, but she didn’t make me dress down for today’s class. At home, only two years of P.E. were required. Here P.E. was mandatory all four years. My own special version of hell.
I watched four volleyball games running simultaneously. Remembering how many injuries I had sustained—and inflicted—playing volleyball, I felt a little nauseated.
The final bell rang at last. I walked slowly to the office to return my paperwork. The rain had faded away, but the wind was strong, and colder. I zipped my jacket up and shoved my free hand into a pocket.
When I walked into the warm office, I almost turned around and walked back out.
Edythe Cullen stood at the desk in front of me. Impossible not to recognize her tangled bronze hair. She didn’t seem to notice the sound of my entrance. I stood pressed against the back wall, waiting for the balding receptionist to be free.
She was arguing with him in a low, velvety voice. I quickly picked up the gist of the argument. She was trying to trade from sixth-hour Biology to another time—any other time.
This could not be about me. It had to be something else, something that happened before I got to the Biology room. The look on her face must have been about some other problem. It was impossible that a stranger could take such a sudden, intense dislike to me. I wasn’t interesting enough to be worth that strong of a reaction.
The door opened again, and the cold wind suddenly gusted through the room, rustling the papers on the desk, waving through my hair. The girl who came in merely stepped to the desk, placed a note in the wire basket, and walked out again. But Edythe Cullen’s back stiffened, and she turned slowly to glare at me—her face was ridiculously perfect, not even one tiny flaw to make her seem human—with piercing, hate-filled eyes. For an instant, I felt the oddest thrill of genuine fear, raising the hair on my arms. As if she were going to pull a gun out and shoot me. The look only lasted a second, but it was colder than the freezing wind. She turned back to the receptionist.
“Never mind, then,” she said quickly in a voice like silk. “I can see that it’s impossible. Thank you so much for your help.” And she turned on her heel without another look at me, and disappeared out the door.
I went robotically to the desk, my face white for once instead of red, and handed him the signed slip.
“How did your first day go, son?” he asked.
“Fine,” I lied, my voice cracking. I could see I hadn’t convinced him.
When I got to the truck, it was almost the last car in the lot. It seemed like a haven, already the closest thing to home I had in this wet, green hell. I sat inside for a while, just staring out the windshield blankly. But soon I was cold enough to want the heater, so I turned the key and the engine roared to life. I headed back to Charlie’s house, trying to think of nothing at all.
2. OPEN BOOK
THE NEXT DAY WAS BETTER… AND WORSE.
It was better because it wasn’t raining yet, though the clouds were dense and black. It was easier because I knew better what to expect of the day. McKayla came to sit by me in English, and walked with me to my next class, with Chess Club Erica glaring at her all the way there; that was kind of flattering. People didn’t stare at me quite as much as they had yesterday. I sat with a big group at lunch that included McKayla, Erica, Jeremy, Allen, and several other people whose names and faces I now remembered. I began to feel like I might be treading water, instead of drowning in it.
It was worse because I was tired; I still couldn’t sleep with the rain beating on the house. It was worse because Ms. Varner called on me in Trig when my hand wasn’t raised and I had the wrong answer. It was miserable because I had to play volleyball, and the one time I didn’t dodge out of the way of the ball, I hit two of my teammates in the head with one bad volley. And it was worse because Edythe Cullen wasn’t in school at all.
All morning I was trying not to think about lunch, not wanting to remember those hate-filled stares. Part of me wanted to confront her and demand to know what her problem was. While I was lying awake in bed, I even imagined out what I would say. But I knew myself too well to think I would really have the guts to do it. Maybe if she hadn’t been so abnormally beautiful.
But when I walked into the cafeteria with Jeremy—trying to keep my eyes from sweeping the place for her and totally failing—I saw that her four adopted siblings were sitting together at the same table as before, and she was not with them.
McKayla intercepted us and steered us to her table. Jeremy seemed thrilled by the attention, and his friends quickly joined us. I tried to tune into the conversations around me, but I was still uncomfortable, waiting for Edythe’s arrival. I hoped that she would simply ignore me when she came, and prove that I was making a big deal out of nothing.
She didn’t come, and I got more and more tense.
I walked to Biology with more confidence when, by the end of lunch, she still hadn’t showed. McKayla, who was starting to seem weirdly, I don’t know, territorial about me, walked by my side to class. I hesitated for a second at the door, but Edythe Cullen wasn’t here, either. I exhaled and went to my seat. McKayla followed, talking about an upcoming trip to the beach. She lingered by my desk till the bell rang, then she smiled at me wistfully and went to sit by a boy with braces and something close to a bowl cut.