Midnight Sun (Twilight #1.5)(16)


by Stephenie Meyer

It was odd, the pain that image caused me. I couldn't understand it. Was I jealous, because she had a future that I could never have? That made no sense. Every one of the humans around me had that same potential ahead of them - a life - and I rarely stopped to envy them.

I should leave her to her future. Stop risking her life. That was the right thing to do. Carlisle always chose the right way. I should listen to him now. The sun rose behind the clouds, and the faint light glistened off all the frozen glass.

One more day, I decided. I would see her one more time. I could handle that.

Perhaps I would mention my pending disappearance, set the story up.

This was going to be difficult; I could feel that in the heavy reluctance that was already making me think of excuses to stay - to extend the deadline to two days, three, four... But I would do the right thing. I knew I could trust Carlisle's advice. And I also knew that I was too conflicted to make the right decision alone.

Much too conflicted. How much of this reluctance came from my obsessive curiosity, and how much came from my unsatisfied appetite?

I went inside to change into fresh clothes for school. Alice was waiting for me, sitting on the top step at the edge of the third floor.

You're leaving again, she accused me.

I sighed and nodded.

I can't see where you're going this time.

"I don't know where I'm going yet," I whispered.

I want you to stay.

I shook my head.

Maybe Jazz and I could come with you?

"They'll need you all the more, if I'm not here to watch out for them. And think of Esme. Would you take half her family away in one blow?"

You're going to make her so sad.

"I know. That's why you have to stay."

That's not the same as having you here, and you know it.

"Yes. But I have to do what's right." There are many right ways, and many wrong ways, though, aren't there?

For a brief moment she was swept away into one of her strange visions; I watched along with her as the indistinct images flickered and whirled. I saw myself mixed in with strange shadows that I couldn't make out - hazy, imprecise forms. And then, suddenly, my skin was glittering in the bright sunlight of a small open meadow. This was a place I knew. There was a figure in the meadow with me, but, again, it was indistinct, not there enough to recognize. The images shivered and disappeared as a million tiny choices rearranged the future again.

"I didn't catch much of that," I told her when the vision went dark.

Me either. Your future is shifting around so much I can't keep up with any of it. I think, though...

She stopped, and she flipped through a vast collection of other recent visions for me. They were all the same - blurry and vague.

"I think something is changing, though," she said out loud. "Your life seems to be at a crossroads."

I laughed grimly. "You do realize that you sound like a bogus gypsy at a carnival now, right?"

She stuck her tiny tongue out at me.

"Today is all right, though, isn't it?" I asked, my voice abruptly apprehensive. "I don't see you killing anyone today," she assured me.

"Thanks, Alice."

"Go get dressed. I won't say anything - I'll let you tell the others when you're ready."

She stood and darted back down the stairs, her shoulders hunched slightly. Miss you. Really.

Yes, I would really miss her, too.

It was a quiet ride to school. Jasper could tell that Alice was upset about something, but he knew that if she wanted to talk about it she would have done so already. Emmett and Rosalie were oblivious, having another of their moments, gazing into each others' eyes with wonder - it was rather disgusting to watch from the outside. We were all quite aware how desperately in love they were. Or maybe I was just being bitter because I was the only one alone. Some days it was harder than others to live with three sets of perfectly matched lovers. This was one of them.

Maybe they would all be happier without me hanging around, ill-tempered and belligerent as the old man I should be by now.

Of course, the first thing I did when we reached the school was to look for the girl. Just preparing myself again.

Right.

It was embarrassing how my world suddenly seemed to be empty of everything but her - my whole existence centered around the girl, rather than around myself anymore.

It was easy enough to understand, though, really; after eighty years of the same thing every day and every night, any change became a point of absorption.

She had not yet arrived, but could I hear the thunderous chugging of her truck's engine in the distance. I leaned against the side of the car to wait. Alice stayed with me, while the others went straight to class. They were bored with my fixation - it was incomprehensible to them how any human could hold my interest for so long, no matter how delicious she smelled.

The girl drove slowly into view, her eyes intent on the road and her hands tight on the wheel. She seemed anxious about something. It took me a second to figure out what that something was, to realize that every human wore the same expression today. Ah, the road was slick with ice, and they were all trying to drive more carefully. I could see she was taking the added risk seriously.

That seemed in line with what little I had learned of her character. I added this to my small list: she was a serious person, a responsible person.

She parked not too far from me, but she hadn't noticed me standing here yet, staring at her. I wondered what she would do when she did? Blush and walk away?

That was my first guess. But maybe she would stare back. Maybe she would come to talk to me.

I took a deep breath, filling my lungs hopefully, just in case.

She got out of the truck with care, testing the slick ground before she put her weight on it. She didn't look up, and that frustrated me. Maybe I would go talk to her... No, that would be wrong.

Instead of turning toward the school, she made her way to the rear of her truck, clinging to the side of the truck bed in a droll way, not trusting her footing. It made me smile, and I felt Alice's eyes on my face. I didn't listen to whatever this made her think - I was having too much fun watching the girl check her snow chains. She actually looked in some danger of falling, the way her feet were sliding around. No one else was having trouble - had she parked in the worst of the ice?

She paused there, staring down with a strange expression on her face. It was...tender? As if something about the tire was making her...emotional? Again, the curiosity ached like a thirst. It was as if I had to know what she was thinking - as if nothing else mattered.