Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (Page 21)

Edythe was there; she’d already stacked them in a pile, which she offered to me.

I took them without really looking at her.

“Thanks,” I mumbled.

“You’re welcome,” she answered. Still mad, sounded like.

I straightened up, and hurried to Gym without looking back.

Gym didn’t make my day any better. We’d moved on to basketball. On the first day, even though all of them had seen me play volleyball, the other kids still seemed to think I should be good. It didn’t take them long to figure out the truth. They never passed to me now, which was good, but with all the running I still managed to have a few accidents per game. Today was worse than yesterday, because I couldn’t concentrate on my feet. All I could think of was Edythe.

It was a relief, as usual, when I was finally free to leave. I couldn’t wait to be back inside my truck, alone. The truck was in pretty decent shape, all things considered. I’d had to replace the taillights after the accident, but that was it. If the paint job weren’t already hopeless, maybe I would have had to do something about the new scrapes. Taylor’s parents had to sell her van for parts.

I rounded the corner and nearly had a heart attack. Someone small and thin was leaning against the side of my truck. I skidded to a stop, then took a deep breath. It was just Erica. I started walking again.

“Hey, Erica,” I called.

“Hi, Beau.”

“What’s up?” I asked as I went to unlock the door. I glanced down at her, and fumbled my keys. She looked really uncomfortable.

“Um, I was wondering if you would go to the spring dance with me?”

I carefully inserted the car key into the lock.

“Sorry, Erica, I’m not going to the dance.”

I had to look at her then. Her face was down, her black hair hiding her eyes.

“Oh, okay.”

“Because I’m going to be in Seattle,” I said quickly, trying to make her feel better. “It’s the only day I can go. So, you know, oh well. I hope it’s fun and all.”

She glanced up from under her hair. “Okay,” she repeated, but her voice was slightly more cheerful now. “Maybe next time.”

“Sure,” I agreed, and then immediately regretted it. Hopefully she wouldn’t take that too literally.

“See ya,” she said over her shoulder. She was already escaping. I waved, but she didn’t see it.

I heard a low laugh.

Edythe was walking past the front of my truck, looking straight forward, her mouth not betraying even the hint of a smile.

I froze for a second. I wasn’t prepared to be so close to her. I was used to bracing myself before Biology, but this was unexpected. She kept walking. I jerked the door open and climbed in, slamming it a little too hard behind me. I revved the deafening engine twice and reversed out into the aisle. Edythe was in her car already, two spaces down, sliding out into the lane in front of me, cutting me off. She stopped there—to wait for her family, I assumed. I could see the four of them walking this way, but they were still all the way back by the cafeteria. I looked in my rearview mirror. A line was beginning to form. Right behind me, Taylor Crowley was in her newly acquired used Sentra, waving. I ducked my head and pretended I couldn’t see her.

While I was sitting there, focusing all my efforts on not staring at the driver in front of me, I heard a knock on my passenger side window. It was Taylor. I glanced in my mirror again, confused. Her Sentra was still running, the door left open. I leaned across the cab to crank the window down. It was stiff. I got it halfway there, then gave up.

“Sorry, Taylor, I can’t move. I’m pinned in.” I gestured to the Volvo. Obviously there was nothing I could do.

“Oh, I know—I just wanted to ask you something while we’re trapped here.” She grinned.

What was with this school? Was this some kind of practical joke? Hazing the new guy?

“Will you go to the spring dance with me?” she continued.

“I’m not going to be in town, Taylor.” I realized I sounded too sharp. I had to remember it wasn’t Taylor’s fault that McKayla and Erica had already used up my patience.

“Yeah, McKayla told me that,” she admitted.

“Then why—”

She shrugged. “I was hoping you were just letting her down easy.”

Okay, it was totally her fault.

“Sorry, Taylor,” I said, not feeling nearly as bad as I had with McKayla and Erica. “I’m not going to the dance.”

“That’s cool,” she said, unfazed. “We still have prom.”

Before I could say anything, she was walking back to her car. I could feel the red patches staining my face. Straight ahead, Archie, Royal, Eleanor, and Jessamine were all sliding into the Volvo. In the rearview mirror, I could see Edythe’s eyes—staring at me. They were crinkled around the edges, and her shoulders were shaking with laughter. It was like she’d heard everything Taylor had said, and found my splotchy reaction hilarious. I revved my engine, wondering how much damage it would do to the Volvo and the black car beside it if I just muscled my way through and made my escape. I was pretty sure my truck could win that fight.

But they were all in, and Edythe was speeding away with her nearly silent engine.

I tried to concentrate on something else—anything else—as I drove home. Would McKayla ask Jeremy to the dance? Would he blame me if she didn’t? Was Taylor serious about the prom? What would be my excuse for that one? Maybe I could work out a visit to my mom, or maybe she could come here. What was I going to make for dinner? We hadn’t had chicken in a while.

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