Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (Page 5)

“So, this is a lot different than Phoenix, huh?” she asked.

“Very.”

“It doesn’t rain much there, does it?”

“Three or four times a year.”

“Wow, what must that be like?” she wondered.

“Sunny,” I told her.

“You don’t look very tan.”

“My mother is part albino.”

She studied my face uneasily, and I stifled a groan. It looked like clouds and a sense of humor didn’t mix. A few months of this and I’d forget how to use sarcasm.

We walked back around the cafeteria, to the south buildings by the gym. Erica followed me right to the door, though it was clearly marked.

“Well, good luck,” she said as I touched the handle. “Maybe we’ll have some other classes together.” She sounded hopeful.

I smiled at her—in what I hoped was not an encouraging way—and went inside.

The rest of the morning passed in about the same way. My Trigonometry teacher, Ms. Varner, who I would have disliked anyway just because of the subject she taught, was the only one who made me stand in front of the class and introduce myself. I stammered, went splotchy red, and tripped over my own boots on the way to my seat.

After two classes, I started to recognize some of the faces in each room. There was always someone braver than the others who would introduce themselves and ask me questions about how I was liking Forks. I tried to be diplomatic, but mostly I just lied a lot. At least I never needed the map.

In every class, the teacher started out calling me Beaufort, and though I corrected them immediately, it was depressing. It had taken me years to live down Beaufort—thank you so much, Grandpa, for dying just months before I was born and making my mom feel obligated to honor you. No one at home even remembered that Beau was just a nickname anymore. Now I had to start all over again.

One guy sat next to me in both Trig and Spanish, and he walked with me to the cafeteria for lunch. He was short, not even up to my shoulder, but his crazy curly hair made up some of the difference between our heights. I couldn’t remember his name, so I smiled and nodded as he rattled on about teachers and classes. I didn’t try to keep up.

We sat at the end of a full table with several of his friends, who he introduced to me—couldn’t complain about the manners here. I forgot all their names as soon as he said them. They seemed to think it was cool that he’d invited me. The girl from English, Erica, waved at me from across the room, and they all laughed. Already the butt of the joke. It was probably a new record for me. But none of them seemed mean-spirited about it.

It was there, sitting in the lunchroom, trying to make conversation with seven curious strangers, that I first saw them.

They were seated in the corner of the cafeteria, as far away from where I sat as possible in the long room. There were five of them. They weren’t talking, and they weren’t eating, though they each had a tray of food in front of them. They weren’t gawking at me, unlike most of the other students, so it was safe to stare at them. But it was none of these things that caught my attention.

They didn’t look anything alike.

There were three girls; one I could tell was super tall, even sitting down, maybe as tall as I was—her legs went on forever. She looked like she might be the captain of the volleyball team, and I was pretty sure you wouldn’t want to get in the way of one of her spikes. She had dark, curly hair, pulled back in a messy ponytail.

Another had hair the color of honey hanging to her shoulders; she was not quite so tall as the brunette but still probably taller than most of the other guys at my table. There was something intense about her, edgy. It was kind of weird, but for some reason she made me think of this actress I’d seen in an action movie a few weeks ago, who took down a dozen guys with a machete. I remembered thinking then that I didn’t buy it—there was no way the actress could have taken on that many bad guys and won. But I thought now that I might have bought it all if the character had been played by this girl.

The last girl was smaller, with hair somewhere between red and brown, but different than either, kind of metallic somehow, a bronze-y color. She looked younger than the other two, who could have been in college, easy.

The two guys were opposites. The taller one—who was definitely taller than me, I’d guess six-five or even more—was clearly the school’s star athlete. And the prom king. And the guy who always had dibs on whatever equipment he wanted in the weight room. His straight gold hair was wound into a bun on the back of his head, but there was nothing feminine about it—somehow it made him look even more like a man. He was clearly too cool for this school, or any other I could imagine.

The shorter guy was wiry, his dark hair buzzed so short it was just a shadow across his scalp.

Totally different, and yet, they were all exactly alike. Every one of them was chalky pale, the palest of all the students living in this sunless town. Paler than me, the albino. They all had very dark eyes—from here they looked black—despite the range in their hair colors. There were deep shadows under all their eyes—purple shadows, like bruises. Maybe the five of them had just pulled an all-nighter. Or maybe they were recovering from broken noses. Except that their noses, all their features, were straight, angular.

But that wasn’t why I couldn’t look away.

I stared because their faces, so different, so similar, were all insanely, inhumanly beautiful. The girls and the guys both—beautiful. They were faces you never saw in real life—just airbrushed in magazines and on billboards. Or in a museum, painted by an old master as the face of an angel. It was hard to believe they were real.

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