Dark Thing, Make a Myth of Yourself
make a myth of yourself:
all women turn into lilacs,
all men grow sick of their errant scent.
You could learn
to build a window, to change flesh
into isinglass, nothing
but a brittle river, a love of bone.
You could snap like a branch—No,
this way, he says, and the fence
releases the forest,
and every blue insect finds an inch of skin.
He loves low voices, diffidence
on the invented trail,
the stones you fuck him on. Yes
to sweat's souvenir, yes to his fist
in your hair, you bite
because you can. Silence
rides the back of your throat,
his tongue, your name.
There was a time when I would have been nervous to be the new kid. However, by now I've had my fair share of first days of school and had gotten used to the routine: get to school early to get registered in the office. Get lost on my way to class because the map the secretary drew for me is unclear. Introduce myself as Edward from Chicago. The truth is I hasn't lived in Chicago for nine years but it's easier to answer questions about Navy Pier than it is to try to remember a fun fact about Sunbury, Ohio. The next step is make or break—it's time to claim a seat. Maybe next to the cute girl in the red tank top or over by the greasy looking guy in the back. I'll want to sit next to the girl but a girl causes extra complications when it's time to leave again. Greasy guys don't really give a fuck if you suddenly stop showing up to English.
This time is different though because I'm apparently staying here.
In Forks, Washington.
The most unknown town in the entire country. The greenest, wettest place I've ever seen. Our new house is so far from the highway that I'm convinced we'll eventually be swallowed up by the massive trees and vines that cover everything.
I guess I should be relieved to have some stability, to see mom "happily remarried at last." At least, that's what Dr. Halverson said before mom and I packed up her Volvo and drove the two thousand miles to a wet, green hell.
But honestly I don't really feel anything at this point—I've already got this routine, an old habit I can't seem to break.
Anyways, when I finally find room 104 and my first period English class, the teacher introduces me with so much enthusiasm that it makes me feel like I'm five years old and at my first day of kindergarten. New kids must not be a common thing here and the thought washes over me in a wave of dread.
I'll stand out more than I already do—tall and gangly with bright coppery hair that never seems to lay flat. Add new-kid-in-a-small-town to that list of descriptors and I should just give up now.
Happy junior year to me.
"Go ahead and sit anywhere that's open," the teacher, Mrs. Hayes, says kindly and gestures a chubby hand towards the rest of the class, the two dozen or so pairs of eyes that have been trained on me since I stepped through the doorway.
I have three options.
The first is in the second row next to a girl with a mess of platinum curls and an anxious hand with fingers that are going tap tap tap on her desk. Though her blue eyes are friendly, she pops her gum.
Too loud. Definitely too loud.
The second option appears to be fast asleep, her face completely hidden under a wild curtain of dark hair. She doesn't stir and nobody really acknowledges her presence. Something about her makes me feel like the chair next to her was left empty intentionally. Okay, moving on.
Option three is a desk next to a lanky guy with long, shaggy hair the color of wheat fields in Indiana. Not as greasy as I usually prefer but he will do.
"Jasper," blonde kid says softly as introduction. I give him a half smile, keeping my eyes on his faded White Stripes t-shirt. Lack of eye contact is the best way to establish the casual detachment I strive for. We don't exchange anymore words and I try to listen to Mrs. Hayes get a discussion started on symbolism in Invisible Man. Her voice is a little hoarse, like she's getting over a cold, but it's unwaveringly cheery and my stare stays on the way her owl shaped brooch glimmers in the fluorescents for the remainder of the period. The familiar boredom is seeping in. I've already studied this book at the private school I attended for six months in New Jersey. That was also the place I helped my last greasy friend, James, sell all the prescription drugs we could find. James used to jokingly call me the Xanimal because I was taking bars of Xanax with breakfast nearly every day.
At least it wasn't lines of coke.
I don't really like drugs—they were just what everyone was doing. They didn't play baseball, they played poker for coke and hundreds of dollars. The Xanax was different though—it was prescribed to me, totally legit. I just took them with gin at eight in the morning.
Obviously, I fit in just fine.
When the bell rings, Jasper hangs back, asking me if I know where I'm going. I always appreciate this small kindness—it makes things a little easier.
"My next class is in that hallway, too, I'll show you," he says, his eyes scanning the schedule in my outstretched hand. He's got a slight accent, a hint of a southern twang.
We make our way to the front of the room and the dark haired girl who slept through the entire period steps out in front of us, her eyes not leaving the linoleum floor. I only catch a glimpse of her face, of a rosy, pale complexion. She's swallowed in a black hoodie, black jeans, and black boots.
Just outside, two girls are standing in the middle of the hallway, their arms crossed over their chests. Foot traffic works around them, like rocks in a stream. The shorter girl has ear buds in and she's twisting them with a blue polished finger as one corner of her pink mouth twitches upwards. The blonde next to her is at least a head taller than her and not nearly as friendly looking. Her blue eyes are hard as steel, her red lips set in a firm line.
As soon as the dark haired girl reaches them, they turn on their heels, walking down the hallway with a certain authority and a certain kind of grace. Students fill into the space they left and everything continues on as if that wasn't the weirdest thing I've ever seen.
I want to ask Jasper about them but I manage to stop myself. I'm bored—not rude. Besides, Jasper's face is beet red and I think it would just be better for the both of us to just continue on our way in companionable silence, moving the opposite direction from the three before us.
I'm fully planning to sit alone during lunch. The small tables near the fire exit are usually empty because these old, small town schools are always the same. Dim lighting, gray tinged atmosphere, Formica and linoleum everywhere with that terrible 1970s orange. They're far from the line and from the trash cans. Not really the most ideal or practical spot.
Unless you're avoiding the awkward where-do-I-sit dance of walking slowly down the aisles of tables, ignoring the curious stares of your new peers. Waiting in line for lunch is brutal. I don't know anyone and everyone is just staring at me, no one bothers to say hello. I pull my phone out of my back pocket, just for something to do. Two new messages.
Hope you're having a great first day, don't forget what Dr. Sheppard told you about being open! Love you, I'll be out front at 3. Love, mom.
Where the fuck are you? Vic says you moved?
Okay, two very different messages. I can practically hear James' frustration in his text but I genuinely forgot to tell him.
I wonder what Dr. Sheppard, my newest therapist extraordinaire as well as my newest enemy, would say about that.
In the time it takes for me to get a slice of pizza and make my way across the cafeteria, the table I was banking on is taken.
It's the three of them, again.
The blonde is talking quickly, tossing her hair over her shoulder while the girl with the earbuds nods.
Between them is the girl from my English class, her chin resting in the palm of her hand and her gaze focused on the apple in front of her. I avert my eyes quickly as hers start to shift to mine.
I ignore the icy feeling in my gut as I head to the table next to theirs. My need for isolation from the rest of the Forks High population trumps my vague, irrational fear.
I'm a little more than halfway there when Jasper cuts me off, coming to such an abrupt stop in front of me that I nearly run him over.
"You…you can sit with me," he tells me, his eyes shifting to the back sections of tables. I hesitate to follow him to the direct center of the room, where the noise of teenaged chatter is deafening.
Jasper's table is half empty and for that, I'm grateful. The gum-snapper from earlier is there, Jasper sitting down next to her, along with a couple discussing something quietly with their heads together. I set my tray down across from them and everyone at the table looks up.
Could this be anymore awkward?
Gum-snapper introduces herself as Jessica, a friendly smile fixed to her face.
"That's Angela and Ben," she says, gesturing to the couple. They've already shifted their attention back to their conversation so they don't acknowledge her introduction.
"Are you having a good first day?" she asks, her voice is sweet and her eyes are soft.
"It's okay." I want to tell her that this is my third school in two years but I keep that to myself. I know by now the pitying looks I'll get, the questions that seem to never end.
"He almost sat in the back," Jasper tells her and her eyes widen in surprise, a bite of mashed potatoes pausing in front of her.
She sets her fork down and looks at me seriously, like, too seriously.
"You don't want to sit in the back. That's their spot."
I can't stop myself from looking over her shoulder, meeting the dark haired girls' gaze. Even from so far away, I can see that her eyes are also dark, stormy almost, framed by thick lashes and purple smudges. I wonder if she doesn't sleep, if the circles under her eyes match mine. Below that darkness is a pink blush on her cheeks and full lips painted the color of a plum.
She's beautiful, there's no denying it. She's beautiful like a cold evening in December, snow falling slowly. However, when her expression flashes to something fierce, something stony, I jerk my stare back to Jessica, my face growing warm and probably bright red.
"Don't look at them!" Jessica hisses, ducking her head, looking to Jasper as if she needs backup.
"What is going on? Are they serial killers? Witches?" I laugh nervously because the both of them seem really uneasy and it's a little ridiculous.
"Don't even joke. We've gone to school with them since kindergarten and there's something weird about them. They're so weird."
Jasper shakes his head, sighing a "shameful" at her words.
"No, okay listen. You see Rosalie? The blonde one?" I do. She's still talking animatedly. Once Jessica sees my acknowledgement she continues, "she gets everything she wants. She goes through boys like tissues. She's in line to be our class valedictorian—no one is anywhere close to her GPA."
"So she's rich and hot and smart? Not really that weird."
"It's more than that. She's terrifying, honestly. I've seen a teacher refuse to accept a late assignment from her and the look in her eyes was not normal. I swear they went black and the temperature in the room literally dropped like, ten degrees. And then of course they accepted it and she got an A."
I roll my eyes because even though I'm new and I'm supposed to be making a good impression, everything Jessica just said is bullshit. I want to tell her she's insane but she keeps talking.
"And Alice." Jasper cuts her off with a glare.
"Alice is alright," he tells her, his voice firm.
"I mean, don't get me wrong, she's a lot better than Rosalie. But she never takes those earbuds out and she's just…too nice."
"Being too nice is not a thing," Jasper mutters, shaking his head. "Can we move on? It's his first day and you're already dragging him into your gossip vortex."
"I'm just trying to warn him! Do you want him to fall victim to Rosalie's wrath when he encroaches on their space?" She's being dramatic and Jasper knows it but he lets out a resigned sigh as she waves her fork full of mashed potatoes around.
"What about the other one?" I ask, not even bothering to appear disinterested in the answer.
"Bella Swan," Jasper says but he seems distracted, spinning the bottle cap from his Coke on the table in front of him.
"Nothing special. Just weird, a little scary," Jessica continues, shrugging exaggeratedly. "Can I see your schedule? I wanna know if you're in any of my other classes."
While she makes comments about teachers and subjects to no one in particular, I let myself look at that table in the back where the girl called Bella is sharing one of Alice's earbuds, her eyes closed.
She may not be anything special, but she's definitely something.
Hoping to get these out every Thursday, I've already gotten a lot of it written so that should be a pretty firm schedule.