Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (Page 33)

We trudged through the thick sand down to the beach, McKayla leading the way to a circle of driftwood logs that had clearly been used for parties before. There was a fire ring already in place, filled with black ashes. Erica and the girl I thought was named Becca gathered broken branches of driftwood from the driest piles against the forest edge, and soon had a teepee-shaped construction built atop the old cinders.

“Have you ever seen a driftwood fire?” McKayla asked me. I was sitting on one of the bleached benches; Jeremy and Allen sat on either side of me, but most of the other guys sat across the circle from us. McKayla knelt by the fire, holding a cigarette lighter to one of the smaller pieces of kindling.

“No,” I said as she placed the blazing twig carefully against the teepee.

“You’ll like this, then—watch the colors.” She lit another small branch and laid it alongside the first. The flames started to lick quickly up the dry wood.

“It’s blue,” I said in surprise.

“The salt does it. Cool, isn’t it?” She lit one more piece, placed it where the fire hadn’t yet caught, and then came to sit by me. Luckily, Jeremy was on her other side. He turned to McKayla and started asking her questions about the plan for the day. I watched the strange blue and green flames crackle upward.

After a half hour of talk, some of the girls wanted to hike to the nearby tide pools, but most of the guys wanted to head up to the one shop in the village for food.

I wasn’t sure which side to join. I wasn’t hungry, and I loved the tide pools—I’d loved them since I was just a kid; they were one of the only things I ever looked forward to when I had to come to Forks. On the other hand, I’d also fallen into them a lot. Not a big deal when you’re seven and with your dad. It reminded me suddenly of Edythe—not that she wasn’t always somewhere in my thoughts—and how she’d told me not to fall into the ocean.

Logan was the one who made my decision for me. He was the loudest voice in the argument, and he wanted food. The group splintered into three pieces—food, hiking, and staying put—with most people following Logan. I waited until Taylor and Erica had committed to going with him before I got up quietly to join the pro-hiking group. McKayla smiled wide when she saw that I was coming.

The hike was short, but I hated to lose the sun in the trees. The green light of the forest was a strange setting for the teenage laughter, too murky and menacing to be in harmony with the joking around me. I had to concentrate on my feet and head, avoiding roots below and branches above, and I fell behind. When I broke through the dark edge of the forest and found the rocky shore again, I was the last one. It was low tide, and a tidal river flowed past us on its way to the sea. Along its rocky banks, shallow pools that never completely drained were filled with tiny sea creatures.

I was cautious not to lean too far over the little ocean ponds. The others were reckless, leaping over the rocks, perching precariously on the edges. I found a stable-looking rock on the fringe of one of the largest pools and sat there, totally entertained by the natural aquarium below me. The bouquets of anemones rippled in the invisible current, hermit crabs scurried around the edges in their spiraled shells, starfish stuck motionless to the rocks and each other, and one small black eel with white racing stripes wove through the bright green weeds, waiting for the sea to return. Watching took most of my attention, except for the small part of my mind that was wondering what Edythe was doing now, and trying to imagine what she would be saying if she were here instead.

Suddenly everyone was hungry, and I got up stiffly to follow them back. I tried to keep up better this time through the woods, so naturally I tripped. I got some shallow scrapes on my palms, but they didn’t bleed much.

When we got back to First Beach, the group we’d left behind had multiplied. As we got closer I could see the shining, straight black hair and copper skin of the new arrivals, teenagers from the reservation come to socialize. Food was already being passed around, and the hikers hurried to claim a share. Erica introduced us to the new kids as we each entered the driftwood circle. Allen and I were the last to arrive, and, as Erica said our names, I noticed a younger girl sitting on the ground near the fire look up at me with interest. I sat down next to Allen, and McKayla joined us with sandwiches and sodas. The girl who looked to be the oldest of the visitors rattled off the names of the seven others with her. All I caught was that one of the boys was also named Jeremy, and the girl who noticed me was named Julie.

It was relaxing to sit next to Allen; he was an easy person to be around—he didn’t feel the need to fill every silence with talk, leaving me free to think while we ate. And what I thought about was how strangely time seemed to flow in Forks, passing in a blur at times, with single images standing out more clearly than others. And then, at other times, every second was significant, etched into my mind. I knew exactly what caused the difference, and it was troubling.

During lunch the clouds started to move in, darting in front of the sun momentarily, casting long shadows across the beach, and blackening the waves. As they finished eating, people started to drift away in twos and threes. Some walked down to the edge of the waves, trying to skip rocks across the choppy surface. Others were gathering a second expedition to the tide pools. McKayla—with Jeremy shadowing her—headed up to the little store. Some of the local kids went with them; others went along on the hike. By the time they all had scattered, I was sitting alone on my driftwood log, with Logan and Taylor talking by the CD player someone had brought, and three teenagers from the reservation, including the girl named Julie and the oldest girl, who had acted as spokesperson.

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