Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (Page 83)

“What kinds of things does he see?”

“He saw Jessamine and knew that she was looking for him before she knew it herself. He saw Carine, and our family, and they came together to find us. He’s most sensitive to non-humans. He always knows, for example, when another group of our kind is coming near. And any threat they may pose.”

“Are there a lot of… your kind?” I was surprised. How many of them could walk around with us all totally oblivious?

My mind got caught on one word she’d said. Threat. It was the first time she’d ever said anything to hint that her world wasn’t just dangerous for humans. It made me anxious, and I was about to ask a new question, but she was already answering my first.

“No, not many. But most won’t settle in any one place. Only those like us, who’ve given up hunting you people”—a sly glance in my direction—“can live together with humans for any length of time. We’ve only found one other family like ours, in a small village in Alaska. We lived together for a time, but there were so many of us that we became too noticeable. Those of us who live… differently, tend to band together.”

“And the others?”

“Nomads, for the most part. We’ve all lived that way at times. It gets tedious, like anything else. But we run across the others now and then, because most of us prefer the North.”

“Why is that?”

We were parked in front of my house now, and she turned off the truck. The silence that followed its roar felt intense. It was very dark; there was no moon. The porch light was off, so I knew my dad wasn’t home yet.

“Did you have your eyes open this afternoon?” she teased. “Do you think I could walk down the street in the sunlight without causing traffic accidents?”

I thought to myself that she could stop traffic even without all the pyrotechnics.

“There’s a reason why we chose the Olympic Peninsula, one of the most sunless places in the world. It’s nice to be able to go outside in the day. You wouldn’t believe how tired you can get of nighttime in eighty-odd years.”

“So that’s where the legends came from?”

“Probably.”

“And Archie came from another family, like Jessamine?”

“No, and that is a mystery. Archie doesn’t remember his human life at all. And he doesn’t know who created him. He awoke alone. Whoever made him walked away, and none of us understand why, or how, he could. If Archie hadn’t had that other sense, if he hadn’t seen Jessamine and Carine and known that he would someday become one of us, he probably would have turned into a total savage.”

There was so much to think through, so much I still wanted to ask. But just then my stomach growled. I’d been so interested, I hadn’t even noticed I was hungry. I realized now that I was starving.

“I’m sorry, I’m keeping you from dinner.”

“I’m fine, really.”

“I don’t spend a lot of time around people who eat food. I forget.”

“I want to stay with you.” It was easier to say in the darkness, knowing how my voice would betray me, my hopeless addiction to her.

“Can’t I come in?” she asked.

“Would you like to?” I couldn’t picture it, a goddess sitting in my dad’s shabby kitchen chair.

“Yes, if you don’t mind.”

I smiled. “I do not.”

I climbed out of the truck and she was already there; then she flitted ahead and disappeared. The lights turned on inside.

She met me at the door. It was so surreal to see her inside my house, framed by the boring physical details of my humdrum life. I remembered a game my mother used to play with me when I was maybe four or five. One of these things is not like the others.

“Did I leave that unlocked?” I wondered.

“No, I used the key from under the eave.”

I hadn’t thought I’d used that key in front of her. I remembered how she’d found my truck key, and shrugged.

“You’re hungry, right?” And she led the way to the kitchen, as if she’d been here a million times before. She turned on the kitchen light and then sat in the same chair I’d just tried to picture her in. The kitchen didn’t look so dingy anymore. But maybe that was because I couldn’t really look at anything but her. I stood there for a moment, trying to wrap my mind around her presence here in the middle of mundania.

“Eat something, Beau.”

I nodded and turned to scavenge. There was lasagna left over from last night. I put a square on a plate, changed my mind, and added the rest that was in the pan, then set the plate in the microwave. I washed the pan while the microwave revolved, filling the kitchen with the smell of tomatoes and oregano. My stomach growled again.

“Hmm,” she said.

“What’s that?”

“I’m going to have to do a better job in the future.”

I laughed. “What could you possibly do better than you already do?”

“Remember that you’re human. I should have, I don’t know, packed a picnic or something today.”

The microwave dinged and I pulled the plate out, then set it down quickly when it burned my hand.

“Don’t worry about it.”

I found a fork and started eating. I was really hungry. The first bite scalded my mouth, but I kept chewing.

“Does that taste good?” she asked.

I swallowed. “I’m not sure. I think I just burned my taste buds off. It tasted good yesterday.”

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