Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (Page 28)

Then again, I didn’t weigh as much as a van.

“I’m good, I swear,” I mumbled. Please, please let me not vomit on her.

“Hey,” McKayla called after us, already ten paces behind.

Edythe ignored her. “You look simply awful,” she told me. I could hear the grin.

“Just put me back on the sidewalk,” I groaned. “I’ll be fine in a few minutes.”

She propelled us quickly forward while I tried to make my feet move in the right pattern to match her speed. A few times I could swear that my feet were actually dragging across the ground, but then, I couldn’t feel them very well, so I wasn’t sure.

“So you faint at the sight of blood?” she asked. Apparently, this was hilarious.

I didn’t answer. I closed my eyes again and fought the nausea, lips clamped together. The most important thing was that I not vomit on her. I could survive everything else.

“And not even your own blood!” She laughed. It was like the sound of a bell ringing.

“I have a weak vasovagal system,” I muttered. “It’s just a neurally mediated syncope.”

She laughed again. Apparently, the big words I’d memorized to explain these situations did not impress her the way they were supposed to.

I wasn’t sure how she got the door open while dragging me, but suddenly it was warm—everywhere except where her body pressed against me. I wished I felt normal so that I could appreciate that more—her body touching mine. I knew that under normal circumstances I would be enjoying this.

“Oh my,” a male voice gasped.

“He’s having a neurally mediated syncope,” Edythe explained brightly.

I opened my eyes. I was in the office, and Edythe was dragging me past the front counter toward the door at the back of the room. Mr. Cope, the balding receptionist, ran ahead of her to hold it open. He faltered when he heard the dire-sounding diagnosis.

“Should I call nine-one-one?” he gasped.

“It’s just a fainting spell,” I mumbled.

A grandfatherly old man—the school medic—looked up from a novel, shocked, as Edythe hauled me into the room. Did he notice that when she leaned me against the cot, she half-lifted me into place? The crackly paper complained as she pushed me down with one hand against my chest, then turned and swung my feet up onto the vinyl mattress.

This reminded me of the time she’d swung my feet out of the way of the van, and the memory made me dizzy.

“They’re blood typing in Biology,” Edythe explained to the nurse.

I watched the old man nod sagely. “There’s always one.”

Edythe covered her mouth and pretended her laugh was a cough. She’d gone to stand across the room from me. Her eyes were bright, excited.

“Just lie down for a minute, son,” the old nurse told me. “It’ll pass.”

“I know,” I muttered. In fact, the dizziness was already beginning to fade. Soon the tunnel would shorten and things would sound normal again.

“Does this happen a lot?” he asked.

I sighed. “I have a weak vasovagal system.”

The nurse looked confused.

“Sometimes,” I told him.

Edythe laughed again, not bothering to disguise it.

“You can go back to class now,” the nurse said to her.

“I’m supposed to stay with him,” Edythe answered. She said it with such confidence that—even though he pursed his lips—the nurse didn’t argue it further.

“I’ll get you some ice for your head,” he said to me, and then he shuffled out of the room.

I let my eyelids fall shut again. “You were right.”

“I usually am—but about what in particular this time?”

“Ditching is healthy.” I worked to breathe in and out evenly.

“You scared me for a minute there,” she admitted after a pause. The way she said it made it sound like she was confessing a weakness, something to be ashamed of. “I thought that Newton girl had poisoned you.”

“Hilarious.” I still had my eyes shut, but I was feeling more normal every minute.

“Honestly,” she said, “I’ve seen corpses with better color. I was concerned that I might have to avenge your death.”

“I bet McKayla’s annoyed.”

“She absolutely loathes me,” Edythe said cheerfully.

“You don’t know that,” I countered, but then I wondered.…

“You should have seen her face. It was obvious.”

“How did you even see us? I thought you were ditching.”

I was pretty much fine now, though the queasiness would probably have passed faster if I’d eaten something for lunch. On the other hand, maybe it was lucky my stomach was empty.

“I was in my car, listening to a CD.” Such a normal response—it surprised me.

I heard the door and opened my eyes to see the nurse with a cold compress in his hand.

“Here you go, son.” He laid it across my forehead. “You’re looking better,” he added.

“I think I’m okay,” I said, sitting up. Just a little ringing in my ears, no spinning. The mint green walls stayed where they should.

I could tell he was about to make me lie back down, but the door opened just then, and Mr. Cope stuck his head in.

“We’ve got another one,” he warned.

I lurched off the cot to make room for the next victim and handed the compress back to the nurse. “Here, I don’t need this.”

And then McKayla staggered through the door, now supporting Leann Stephens, another girl in our Biology class. She was currently sallow green. Edythe and I drew back against the wall to give them room.


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