Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (Page 75)
“I’m sorry,” I said.
“I need some time,” she told me.
“I’ll be more careful.”
She nodded, then walked to the middle of the meadow, making a little arc when she passed me, keeping those ten feet always between us. She sat down with her back to me, the sunlight incandescent across her shoulder blades, reminding me of wings again. I walked slowly closer, and then sat down facing her when I was about five feet away.
“Is this all right?”
She nodded, but she didn’t look sure. “Just let me… concentrate.”
I sat, silent, and after a few seconds, she shut her eyes again. I was fine with that. Seeing her like this—it wasn’t something you could get tired of. I watched her, trying to understand the phenomenon, and she ignored me.
It was about a half hour later that suddenly she lay back on the grass with one hand behind her head. The grass was long enough to partially obscure my view.
“Can I…?” I asked.
She patted the ground beside her.
I moved a few feet closer, then another foot when she didn’t object. Another few inches.
Her eyes were still closed, lids glistening pale lavender over the dark fan of lashes. Her chest rose and fell evenly, almost like she was asleep, except there was somehow a sense of effort and control to the motion. She seemed very aware of the process of breathing in and out.
I sat with my legs folded under me, my elbows on my knees and my chin on my hands. It was very warm—the sun felt strange on my skin now that I was so used to the rain—and the meadow was still lovely, but it was just background now. It didn’t stand out. I had a new definition of beauty.
Her lips moved, and the light glittered off them while they… almost trembled. I thought she might have spoken, but the words were too quiet, and too fast.
“Did you… say something?” I whispered. Sitting next to her like this, watching her shine, made me feel the need for quiet. For reverence, even.
“Just singing to myself,” she murmured. “It calms me.”
We didn’t move for a long time—except for her lips, every now and then singing too low for me to hear. An hour might have passed, maybe more. Very gradually, the tension that I hadn’t totally processed at first drained quietly away, till everything was so peaceful that I was almost sleepy. Every time I shifted my weight, I would end up another half-inch nearer to her.
I leaned closer, studying her hand, trying to find the facets in her smooth skin. Without even thinking about it, I reached out with one finger to stroke the back of her hand, awed again by the satin-smooth texture, cool like stone. I felt her eyes on me and I looked up, my finger frozen.
Her eyes were peaceful, and she was smiling.
“I still don’t scare you, do I?”
She smiled wider. Her teeth flashed in the sun.
I inched closer again, stretched out my whole hand to trace the shape of her forearm with my fingertips. I saw that my fingers were trembling. Her eyes closed again.
“Do you mind?” I asked.
“No. You can’t imagine how that feels.”
I lightly trailed my hand over the delicate structure of her arm, followed the faint pattern of bluish veins inside the crease at her elbow. I reached to turn her hand over, and when she realized what I wanted, she flipped her palm up in a movement so fast it didn’t exist. My fingers froze.
“Sorry,” she murmured, and then smiled because that was my line. Her eyes slid closed again. “It’s too easy to be myself with you.”
I lifted her hand, turning it this way and that I as watched the sun shimmer across her palm. I held it closer to my face, trying again to find the facets.
“Tell me what you’re thinking,” she whispered. She was watching me again, her eyes as light as I’d ever seen them. Pale honey. “It’s still so strange for me, not knowing.”
“The rest of us feel that way all the time, you know.”
“It’s a hard life,” she said, and there was a forlorn note in her tone. “But you didn’t tell me.”
“I was wishing I could know what you were thinking.…”
“I was wishing that I could believe that you were real. I’m afraid.…”
“I don’t want you to be afraid.” Her voice was just a low murmur. We both heard what she hadn’t said—that I didn’t need to be afraid, that there was nothing to fear.
“That’s not the kind of fear I meant.”
So quickly that I missed the movement completely, she was half-sitting, propped up on her right arm, her left palm still in my hands. Her angel’s face was only a few inches from mine. I should have leaned away. I was supposed to be careful.
Her honey eyes burned.
“Then what are you afraid of?” she whispered.
I couldn’t answer. I smelled her sweet, cool breath in my face, like I had just the one time before. Unthinkingly, I leaned closer, inhaling.
And she was gone, her hand ripped from mine so fast that they stung. In the time it took my eyes to focus, she was twenty feet away, standing at the edge of the small meadow, deep in the shade of a huge fir tree. She stared at me, eyes dark in the shadows, her expression unreadable.
I could feel the shock on my face, and my hands burned.
“Edythe. I’m… sorry.” My voice was just a whisper, but I knew she could hear me.
“Give me a moment,” she called, just loud enough for my less sensitive ears.
I sat very still.