Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (Page 4)
Finding the school wasn’t difficult; like most other things, it was just off the highway. It wasn’t obvious at first that it was a school; only the sign, which declared it to be the Forks High School, clued me in. It looked like a collection of matching houses, built with maroon-colored bricks. There were so many trees and shrubs I couldn’t see its size at first. Where was the feel of the institution? I thought. Where were the chain-link fences, the metal detectors?
I parked by the first building, which had a small sign over the door reading FRONT OFFICE. No one else was parked there, so I was sure it was off limits, but I decided I would get directions inside instead of circling around in the rain like an idiot.
Inside, it was brightly lit, and warmer than I’d hoped. The office was small; there was a little waiting area with padded folding chairs, orange-flecked commercial carpet, notices and awards cluttering the walls, and a big clock ticking loudly. Plants grew everywhere in large plastic pots, as if there weren’t enough greenery outside. The room was cut in half by a long counter, cluttered with wire baskets full of papers and brightly colored flyers taped to the front. There were three desks behind the counter; a round, balding man in glasses sat at one. He was wearing a t-shirt, which immediately made me feel overdressed for the weather.
The balding man looked up. “Can I help you?”
“I’m Beau Swan,” I informed him, and saw the quick recognition in his eyes. I was expected, already the subject of gossip. The Chief’s son, the one with the unstable mom, come home at last.
“Of course,” he said. He dug through a leaning stack of papers on his desk till he found the ones he was looking for. “I have your schedule right here, Beaufort, and a map of the school.” He brought several sheets to the counter to show me.
“Um, it’s Beau, please.”
“Oh, sure, Beau.”
He went through my classes for me, highlighting the best route to each on the map, and gave me a slip to have each teacher sign, which I was to bring back at the end of the day. He smiled at me and hoped, like Charlie, that I would like it here in Forks. I smiled back as convincingly as I could.
When I went back out to my truck, other students were starting to arrive. I drove around the school, following the line of traffic. Most of the cars were older like mine, nothing flashy. At home, I’d lived in one of the few lower-income neighborhoods that were included in the Paradise Valley District. It was a common thing to see a new Mercedes or Porsche in the student lot. The nicest car here was a brand-new silver Volvo, and it stood out. Still, I cut the engine as soon as I was in a spot, so that the earsplitting volume wouldn’t draw attention to me.
I looked at the map in the truck, trying to memorize it now; hopefully I wouldn’t have to walk around with it stuck in front of my nose all day. I stuffed everything in my backpack, slung the strap over my shoulder, and sucked in a huge breath. It won’t be that bad, I lied to myself. Seriously, though, this wasn’t a life and death situation—it was just high school. It’s not like anyone was going to bite me. I finally exhaled, and stepped out of the truck.
I pulled my hood down over my face as I walked to the sidewalk, crowded with teenagers. My plain black jacket didn’t stand out, I was glad to see, though there wasn’t much I could do about my height. I hunched my shoulders and kept my head down.
Once I got around the cafeteria, building three was easy to spot. A large black “3” was painted on a white square on the east corner. I followed two unisex raincoats through the door.
The classroom was small. The people in front of me stopped just inside the door to hang up their coats on a long row of hooks. I copied them. They were two girls, one a porcelain-colored blonde, the other also pale, with light brown hair. At least my skin wouldn’t be a standout here.
I took the slip up to the teacher, a narrow woman with thinning hair whose desk had a nameplate identifying her as Ms. Mason. She gawked at me when she saw my name—discouraging—and I could feel the blood rush into my face, no doubt forming unattractive splotches across my cheeks and neck. At least she sent me to an empty desk at the back without introducing me to the class. I tried to fold myself into the little desk as inconspicuously as possible.
It was harder for my new classmates to stare at me in the back, but somehow, they managed. I kept my eyes down on the reading list the teacher had given me. It was pretty basic: Brontë, Shakespeare, Chaucer, Faulkner. I’d already read everything. That was comforting… and boring. I wondered if my mom would send me my folder of old essays, or if she would think that was cheating. I went through different arguments with her in my head while the teacher droned on.
When the bell rang, a pale, skinny girl with skin problems and hair black as an oil slick leaned across the aisle to talk to me.
“You’re Beaufort Swan, aren’t you?” She gave off the vibe of an overly helpful, chess club type.
“Beau,” I corrected. Everyone within a three-seat radius turned to look at me.
“Where’s your next class?” she asked.
I had to check in my bag. “Um, Government, with Jefferson, in building six.”
There was nowhere to look without meeting curious eyes.
“I’m headed toward building four, I could show you the way.…” Definitely over-helpful. “I’m Erica,” she added.
I forced a smile. “Thanks.”
We got our jackets and headed out into the rain, which had picked up. Several people seemed to be walking too close behind us—like they were trying to eavesdrop or something. I hoped I wasn’t getting paranoid.