Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (Page 16)

“Ow,” I said, surprised.

“That’s what I thought.” Nothing seemed funny to me, but it sounded like she was trying not to laugh.

“How in the…” I trailed off, trying to clear my head, get my bearings. “How did you get over here so fast?”

“I was standing right next to you, Beau,” she said, her voice suddenly serious again.

I turned to sit up, and this time she helped me, but then she slid as far from me as she could in the limited space. I looked at her concerned, innocent expression, and was disoriented again by her gold-colored eyes. What was I asking her?

And then they found us, a crowd of people with tears streaming down their faces, shouting at each other, shouting at us.

“Don’t move,” someone instructed.

“Get Taylor out of the van!” someone else shouted. There was a flurry of activity around us. I tried to get up, but Edythe’s hand pushed my shoulder down.

“Just stay put for now.”

“But it’s cold,” I complained. It surprised me when she chuckled under her breath. There was an edge to the sound.

“You were over there,” I suddenly remembered, and her chuckle stopped short. “You were by your car.”

Her expression hardened abruptly. “No, I wasn’t.”

“I saw you.” Everything around us was confusion. I could hear the lower voices of adults arriving on the scene. But I stubbornly held on to the argument; I was right, and she was going to admit it.

“Beau, I was standing with you, and I pulled you out of the way.”

She stared at me, and something strange happened. It was like the gold of her eyes turned up, like her eyes were drugging me, hypnotizing me. It was devastating in a weird, exciting way. But her expression was anxious. I thought she was trying to communicate something crucial.

“But that’s not what happened,” I said weakly.

The gold in her eyes blazed again. “Please, Beau.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Trust me?” she pleaded.

I could hear the sirens now. “Will you explain everything to me later?”

“Fine,” she snapped, suddenly exasperated.

“Okay,” I mumbled, unable to process her mood swings with everything else I was trying to come to terms with. What was I supposed to think, when what I remembered was impossible?

It took six EMTs and two teachers—Ms. Varner and Coach Clapp—to shift the van far enough away from us to bring the stretchers in. Edythe insisted she hadn’t been touched, and I tried to do the same, but she was quick to contradict me. She told them I’d hit my head, and then made it sound worse than it was, throwing around words like concussion and hemorrhage. I wanted to die when they put on the neck brace. It looked like the entire school was there, watching soberly as they loaded me in the back of the ambulance. Edythe got to ride in the front. It was a thousand times more humiliating than I’d imagined today would be, and I hadn’t even made it to the sidewalk.

To make matters worse, Chief Swan arrived before they could get me safely away.

“Beau!” he yelled in panic when he recognized me on the stretcher.

“I’m completely fine, Char—Dad,” I sighed. “There’s nothing wrong with me.”

He rounded on the closest EMT for a second opinion. While the EMT tried to talk him down, I tuned them out to consider the jumble of absurd images churning in my head—images that were not possible. When they’d lifted me away from the car, I had seen the deep dent in the tan car’s bumper—a very distinct dent that fit the slim shape of Edythe’s shoulders… as if she had braced herself against the car with enough force to damage the metal frame.…

And then there was her family, looking on from a distance, with expressions that ranged from disapproval (Eleanor) to fury (Royal), but held no hint of concern for their little sister’s safety.

I remembered the sensation of almost flying through the air… that hard mass that had pinned me to the ground… Edythe’s hand under the frame of the van, like it was holding the van off the ground…

I tried to think of a logical explanation that could make sense of what I had just seen. All I could come up with was that I was having a psychotic episode. I didn’t feel crazy, but maybe crazy people always felt sane.

Naturally, the ambulance got a police escort to the county hospital. I felt ridiculous the whole time they were unloading me. What made it worse was that Edythe simply glided through the hospital doors on her own.

They put me in the emergency room, a long room with a line of beds separated by pastel-patterned curtains. A nurse put a pressure cuff on my arm and a thermometer under my tongue. Since no one bothered pulling the curtain around to give me some privacy, I decided I wasn’t obligated to wear the embarrassing neck brace anymore. As soon as the nurse walked away, I quickly unfastened the Velcro and threw it under the bed.

There was another flurry of hospital personnel, another stretcher brought to the bed next to me. I recognized Taylor Crowley from my Government class beneath the bloodstained bandages wrapped tightly around her head. Taylor looked a hundred times worse than I felt. But she was staring anxiously at me.

“Beau, I’m so sorry!”

“I’m fine, Taylor—you look awful, are you all right?” As we spoke, nurses began unwinding her bloody bandages, exposing dozens of shallow slices all over her forehead and left cheek.

She ignored me. “I thought I was going to kill you! I was going too fast, and I hit the ice wrong.…” She winced as one nurse started dabbing at her face.

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