Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (Page 66)
“Sure, Beau,” Taylor said, looking confused.
“Look,” I said, “I can’t do this anymore.”
Everyone fell silent. Jeremy’s eyes got all round. Allen looked embarrassed. McKayla shot me a critical glance, like she couldn’t believe I was doing it this way. But she didn’t know exactly what I was doing, or why I needed this audience.
Taylor was shocked. “What?”
I scowled. It was easy—I was pretty angry right now that I hadn’t talked myself out of this, or come up with a better way. But it was too late for improv now.
“I’m tired of being a pawn in your game, Taylor. Do you even realize that I have feelings of my own? And all I can do is watch while you use me to make someone else jealous.” My eyes darted quickly to Logan, whose mouth was hanging open, and back to Taylor. “You don’t care if you break my heart in the process. Is it being beautiful that’s made you so cruel?”
Taylor’s eyes were wide, her mouth open in a little o.
“I’m not going to play anymore. This whole prom charade? I’m out. Go with the person you really want to be with.” A longer glare this time at Logan.
And then I stalked away, slamming through the cafeteria doors in what I hoped was a dramatic way.
I was never going to live this down.
But at least I was free. Probably worth it.
Suddenly Edythe was right next to me, keeping pace like we’d been walking together all along.
“That truly was spectacular,” she said.
I took a deep breath. “Maybe a little over the top. Did it work?”
“Like a charm. Taylor’s feeling quite the femme fatale, and she’s not even sure why. If Logan doesn’t ask her to prom by Monday, I’ll be surprised.”
“Good,” I grunted.
“And now back to you…”
Edythe kept up the quiz until we were in Biology and Mrs. Banner arrived, dragging the audiovisual frame again. When she was finished with her prep and turned toward the light switch, I saw Edythe slide her chair a half-inch farther away from mine. It didn’t help. As soon as the room was dark, there was that same electric tension, the same restless craving to stretch my hand across the short space and touch her cold, smooth skin.
It was like an itch that just got more and more demanding. I couldn’t pay attention to anything else. Hopefully whatever movie it was that we were watching wouldn’t be on the final.
After a little while, maybe fifteen minutes—or maybe it was only two and it just felt so long because of the electricity—I shifted my chair over and slowly leaned to the side until my arm was just touching her shoulder. She didn’t move away.
I thought that little contact would help, that it would take away the nagging want, but it kind of backfired. The little frisson of electricity got stronger, changed into bigger jolts. I was suddenly dying to put my arm around her, to pull her into my side and hold her against me. I wanted to run my fingers down the length of her hair, to bury my face in it. I wanted to trace the shape of her lips, the line of her cheekbone, the length of her throat.…
Not really appropriate for a classroom full of people.
I leaned forward, folding my arms on the table and gripping under the edge with my fingers, trying to hold myself in place. I didn’t look at her, afraid that if she was looking back at me, it would only make self-control that much harder. I tried to make myself watch the movie, but the patches of color just wouldn’t resolve into coherent images.
I sighed in relief again when Mrs. Banner hit the lights, and then finally I looked at Edythe; she was staring back, her eyes ambivalent.
Like yesterday, we walked toward the gym in silence. And also like yesterday, she touched my face wordlessly—this time with the back of her cool hand, stroking once from my temple to my jaw—before she turned and walked away.
Gym passed quickly. To save time, Coach Clapp told us to keep the same partners, so McKayla was forced to be my teammate again. I watched her one-woman badminton show without participating—for both our safety. She didn’t talk to me, but whether that was because of the scene in the cafeteria, or our falling-out yesterday, or because my expression was so vacant, I didn’t know. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I felt bad about that. But I couldn’t concentrate on her any more than I could make sense of the movie in Biology.
I felt the same sense of harmony when I walked out the gym door and saw Edythe in the shadow of the gym. Everything was right in my world. A wide smile spread automatically across my face. She smiled back, then launched into more cross-examination.
Her questions were different now, not as easily answered. She wanted to know what I missed about my home, insisting on descriptions of anything she wasn’t familiar with. We sat in front of Charlie’s house for hours, as the sky darkened and rain plummeted around us in a sudden cloudburst.
I tried to describe impossible things like the scent of creosote—bitter, kind of resinous, but still pleasant—the high, keening sound of the cicadas in July, the gaunt, feathery trees, the enormous sky, extending white-blue from horizon to horizon. The hardest thing to explain was why it was so beautiful to me—to justify a beauty that didn’t depend on the spiny vegetation that mostly looked half dead, a beauty that had something to do with the exposed shape of the land, with the shallow bowls of valleys between the craggy hills, and the way they held on to the sun. I found myself using my hands as I tried to describe it to her.
Her quiet, probing questions kept me talking freely, forgetting to be embarrassed for monopolizing the conversation. Finally, when I had finished detailing my old room at home, she paused instead of responding with another question.