Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (Page 50)
“Now,” she said with a grim smile, “it’s your turn.”
“CAN—CAN I ASK JUST ONE MORE?” I STUTTERED QUICKLY AS SHE ACCELERATED much too fast down the quiet street.
I was in no hurry to answer her question.
She shook her head. “We had a deal.”
“It’s not really a question,” I argued. “Just a clarification of something you said before.”
She rolled her eyes. “Make it quick.”
“Well… you said you knew I hadn’t gone into the bookstore, and that I had gone south. I was just wondering how you knew that.”
She thought about it for a moment, deliberating again.
“I thought we were past all these evasions,” I said.
She gave me a kind of you asked for it look. “Fine, then. I followed your scent.”
I didn’t have a response to that. I stared out the window, trying to process it.
“Your turn, Beau.”
“But you didn’t answer my other question.”
“Oh, come on.”
“I’m serious. You didn’t tell me how it works—the mind-reading thing. Can you read anybody’s mind, anywhere? How do you do it? Can the rest of your family do the same thing?”
It was easier to talk about this in the dark car. The streetlights were behind us already, and in the low gleam from the dashboard, all the crazy stuff seemed just a little more possible.
It seemed like she felt the same sense of non-reality, like normality was on hold for as long as we were in this space together. Her voice was casual as she answered.
“No, it’s just me. And I can’t hear anyone, anywhere. I have to be fairly close. The more familiar someone’s… ‘voice’ is, the farther away I can hear him. But still, no more than a few miles.” She paused thoughtfully. “It’s a little like being in a huge hall filled with people, everyone talking at once. It’s just a hum—a buzzing of voices in the background. Until I focus on one voice, and then what he’s thinking is clear.
“Most of the time I tune it all out—it can be very distracting. And then it’s easier to seem normal”—she frowned as she said the word—“when I’m not accidentally answering someone’s thoughts rather than their words.”
“Why do you think you can’t hear me?” I asked curiously.
She stared at me, eyes seeming to bore right through mine, with that frustrated look I knew well. I realized now that each time she’d looked at me this way, she must have been trying to hear my thoughts, and failing. Her expression relaxed as she gave up.
“I don’t know,” she murmured. “Maybe your mind doesn’t work the same way the rest of theirs do. Like your thoughts are on the AM frequency and I’m only getting FM.” She grinned at me, suddenly amused.
“My mind doesn’t work right? I’m a freak?” Her speculation hit home. I’d always suspected as much, and it embarrassed me to have it confirmed.
“I hear voices in my mind and you’re worried that you’re the freak.” She laughed. “Don’t worry, it’s just a theory.…” Her face tightened. “Which brings us back to you.”
I frowned. How was I going to say this out loud?
“I thought we were past all these evasions,” she reminded me softly.
I looked away from her face, trying to gather my thoughts into words, and my eyes wandered across the dashboard… stopped at the speedometer.
“Holy crow!” I shouted.
“What’s wrong?” she asked, looking right and left, rather than straight ahead where she should be looking. The car didn’t decelerate.
“You’re doing one-ten!” I was still shouting.
I shot a panicked glance out the window, but it was too dark to see much. The road was only visible in the long patch of bluish brightness from the headlights. The forest along both sides of the road was like a black wall—as hard as a wall of steel if we veered off the road at this speed.
“Relax, Beau.” She rolled her eyes, still not slowing.
“Are you trying to kill us?” I demanded.
“We’re not going to crash.”
I carefully modulated my voice. “Why are we in such a hurry, Edythe?”
“I always drive like this.” She turned to flash a smile at me.
“Keep your eyes on the road!”
“I’ve never been in an accident, Beau—I’ve never even gotten a ticket.” She grinned and tapped her forehead. “Built-in radar detector.”
“Hands on the wheel, Edythe!”
She sighed, and I watched with relief as the needle gradually drifted toward eighty. “Happy?”
“I hate driving slow,” she muttered.
“This is slow?”
“Enough commentary on my driving,” she snapped. “I’m still waiting for you to answer my question.”
I forced my eyes away from the road in front of us, but I didn’t know where to look. It was hard to look at her face, knowing the word I was going to have to say now. My anxiety must have been pretty obvious.
“I promise I won’t laugh this time,” she said gently.
“I’m not worried about that.”
“That you’ll be… upset. Unhappy.”
She lifted her hand off the gearshift and held it out toward me—just a few centimeters. An offer. I glanced up quickly, to make sure I understood, and her eyes were soft.