Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (Page 6)

I decided the most beautiful of all was the smaller girl with the bronze-colored hair, though I expected the female half of the student body would vote for the movie-star blond guy. They would be wrong, though. I mean, all of them were gorgeous, but the girl was something more than just beautiful. She was absolutely perfect. It was an upsetting, disturbing kind of perfection. It made my stomach uneasy.

They were all looking away; away from each other, away from the rest of the students, away from anything in particular as far as I could tell. It reminded me of models posed oh so artistically for an ad—aesthetic ennui. As I watched, the wiry skinhead guy rose with his tray—unopened soda, untouched apple—and walked away with a quick, graceful lope that belonged on a runway. I watched, wondering if they had a dance company here in town, till he dumped his tray and glided through the back door, faster than I would have thought possible. My eyes darted back to the others, who hadn’t changed.

“Who are they?” I asked the guy from my Spanish class, whose name I’d forgotten.

As he looked up to see who I meant—though he could probably guess from my tone—suddenly she looked at us, the perfect one. She looked at my neighbor for just a fraction of a second, and then her dark eyes flickered to mine. Long eyes, angled up at the corners, thick lashes.

She looked away quickly, faster than I could, though I dropped my stare as soon as she’d glanced our way. I could feel the patches of red start to bloom in my face. In that brief flash of a glance, her face wasn’t interested at all—it was like he had called her name, and she’d looked up in involuntary response, already having decided not to answer.

My neighbor laughed once, uncomfortable, looking down at the table like I did.

He muttered his answer under his breath. “Those are the Cullens and the Hales. Edith and Eleanor Cullen, Jessamine and Royal Hale. The one who left was Archie Cullen. They live with Dr. Cullen and her husband.”

I glanced sideways at the perfect girl, who was looking at her tray now, picking a bagel to pieces with thin, pale fingers. Her mouth was moving very quickly, her full lips barely opening. The other three looked away, but I still thought she might be speaking quietly to them.

Weird names. Old-fashioned. The kinds of names grandparents had—like my name. Maybe that was the thing here? Small-town names? And then I finally remembered that my neighbor was named Jeremy. A totally normal name. There were two kids named Jeremy in my history class back home.

“They’re all very… good-looking.” What an understatement.

“Yeah!” Jeremy agreed with another laugh. “They’re all together, though—Royal and Eleanor, Archie and Jessamine. Like dating, you know? And they live together.” He snickered and wagged his eyebrows suggestively.

I didn’t know why, but his reaction made me want to defend them. Maybe just because he sounded so judgmental. But what could I say? I didn’t know anything about them.

“Which ones are the Cullens?” I asked, wanting to change the tone but not the subject. “They don’t look related… well, I mean, sort of…”

“Oh, they’re not. Dr. Cullen is really young. Early thirties. The Cullen kids are all adopted. The Hales—the blondes—are brother and sister, twins, I think, and they’re some kind of foster kids.”

“They look old for foster kids.”

“They are now. Royal and Jessamine are both eighteen, but they’ve been with Mr. Cullen since they were little. He’s their uncle, I think.”

“That’s actually kind of amazing—for them to take care of all those kids, when they’re so young and everything.”

“I guess so,” Jeremy said, though it sounded like he’d rather not say anything positive. As if he didn’t like the doctor and her husband for some reason… and the way he was looking at their adopted kids, I could guess there might be some jealousy involved. “I think Dr. Cullen can’t have any kids, though,” he added, as if that somehow made what they were doing less admirable.

Through all this conversation, I couldn’t keep my eyes away from the strange family for more than a few seconds at a time. They continued to look at the walls and not eat.

“Have they always lived in Forks?” I asked. How could I never have noticed them during my summers here?

“No. They just moved down two years ago from somewhere in Alaska.”

I felt a strange wave of pity, and relief. Pity because, as beautiful as they were, they were still outsiders, not accepted. Relief that I wasn’t the only newcomer here, and definitely not the most interesting by any standard.

As I examined them again, the perfect girl, one of the Cullens, looked up and met my gaze, this time with obvious curiosity. As I immediately looked away, I thought that her look held some kind of unanswered expectation.

“Which one is the girl with the reddish brown hair?” I asked. I tried to glance casually in that direction, like I was just checking out the cafeteria; she was still staring at me, but not gawking like the other kids had today—she had this frustrated expression I didn’t understand. I looked down again.

“That’s Edith. She’s hot, sure, but don’t waste your time. She doesn’t go out with anyone. Apparently none of the guys here are good enough for her,” Jeremy said sourly, then grunted. I wondered how many times she’d turned him down.

I pressed my lips together to hide a smile. Then I glanced at her again. Edith. Her face was turned away, but I thought from the shape of her cheek that she might be smiling, too.


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