Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (Page 62)
“Nothing better than an irritated grizzly bear,” I agreed, nodding.
She laughed, then shook her head. “Tell me what you’re really thinking, please.”
“I’m trying to picture it—but I can’t,” I admitted. “How do you hunt a bear without weapons?”
“Oh, we have weapons.” She flashed her bright teeth with a wide grin that wasn’t really a smile. “Just not the kind they consider when writing hunting laws. If you’ve ever seen a bear attack on television, you should be able to visualize Eleanor hunting.”
I glanced across the cafeteria toward Eleanor, grateful that she wasn’t looking my way. The long, smooth lines of muscle that ran down her arms and legs were suddenly much more than intimidating. I pictured her gripping under the edge of a mountain, then lifting…
Edythe followed my gaze and chuckled. I stared back at her, unnerved.
“Is it dangerous?” I asked in a low voice. “Do you ever get hurt?”
Her laughter pealed like a bell. “Oh, Beau. About as dangerous as your slice.”
I looked at the pizza crust and said, “Yikes. So… are you… like a bear attack?”
“More like the lion, or so they tell me,” she said lightly. “Perhaps our preferences are indicative.”
“Perhaps,” I repeated. I tried to smile, but my mind was struggling to fit the paradoxical images together, and failing. “Is that something I might get to see?”
“Never!” she whispered. Her face turned even whiter than usual, and her eyes were suddenly horrified. She pulled her hand gently from mine and wrapped her arms tightly around her body.
My hand lay there empty on the table, numb from the cold.
“What did I say?” I asked.
She closed her eyes for a moment, regaining control. When she met my stare at last, she looked angry. “I almost wish it were possible. You don’t seem to understand the realities present. It might be beneficial for you to see exactly how dangerous I actually am.”
“Okay, then, why not?” I pressed, trying to ignore her hard expression.
She glared at me for a long minute.
“Later,” she finally said. She was on her feet in one lithe movement. “We’re going to be late.”
I glanced around, startled to see that she was right and the cafeteria was nearly vacant. When I was with her, the time and the place were such minor details that I completely lost track of both. I jumped up, grabbing our bags from the floor.
“Later, then,” I agreed. I wouldn’t forget.
EVERYONE WATCHED US AS WE WALKED TOGETHER TO OUR LAB TABLE. This time she didn’t angle the chair to sit as far from me as the desk would allow. Instead, she sat right next to me, our arms almost touching. Her hair brushed my skin.
Mrs. Banner backed into the room then, pulling an outdated TV and VCR on a wheeled frame. It seemed like everyone in the room relaxed at the same time. I was relieved, too. I knew I wouldn’t have been able to pay attention to a lecture today. I had too much to sort through inside my head already.
Mrs. Banner shoved the old tape into the VCR, then walked across the room to turn off the lights. And then suddenly, as the room went black, things got weird.
It wasn’t like I wasn’t already hyperaware that Edythe was right there, just an inch away from me. I wouldn’t have imagined that I could be more aware of her. But in the dark, somehow… It was like an electrical current was flowing through her body into mine, like those miniature lightning bolts that jump between live circuits were dancing up and down the small gap between our bodies. Where her hair touched my arm, it was almost painful.
A crazy strong impulse to reach over and touch her—to stroke her perfect face just once in the darkness—almost overwhelmed me. What was wrong with me? You couldn’t just go around touching people because the lights were off. I crossed my arms tightly over my ribs and balled my hands into fists.
The opening credits started, and the room got a fraction brighter. I couldn’t stop myself from peeking over at her.
She was sitting exactly like I was—arms crossed, hands clenched, just glancing over to me. When she saw me looking, too, she smiled, almost like she was embarrassed. Even in the dark, her eyes still burned. I had to look away before I did something stupid—something that would definitely not conform to her idea of careful.
It was a very long hour. I couldn’t concentrate on the movie. I didn’t have any idea what it was about. I tried to act normal, to make my muscles relax, but the electrical current never let up. Now and then, I let myself take a quick glance in her direction, but she never seemed to relax, either. The feeling that I just had to touch her face also refused to go away. I kept my fists crushed safely against my ribs until my fingers were aching with the effort.
I sighed with relief when Mrs. Banner flicked the lights back on at the end of class, and stretched my arms down at my sides, flexing my stiff fingers. Edythe laughed once.
“Well, that was… interesting,” she murmured. Her voice was low and her eyes were cautious.
“Umm,” was all I was able to respond.
“Shall we?” she asked, on her feet in one liquid movement. She scooped her bag up with one finger.
I stood carefully, worried I wouldn’t be able to walk straight after all that.
She walked with me to Gym in silence, and then paused at the door. I looked down to say goodbye but choked on the word. Her face—it was torn, almost pained, and so unbearably beautiful that the ache to touch her hit me even more intensely than it had before. It was all I could do to just stare.