"And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust."
- T.S. Eliot
I glanced at the clock and stifled the scream that threatened to escape my throat.
Four minutes had passed since I'd last glanced at the clock.
Someone somewhere was having the time of their life messing with me.
I gazed around Dawn's room. Every inch of available wall space was completely covered; with film posters, concert tickets, band posters, movie stubs. It was everything I'd ever wanted in a room and more. My attention wandered to the window and I glowered at the darkening sky. It was only just past seven o'clock, and it was already getting dark. The lamp in the room was distorting the faces in the posters, and I looked around at them with newfound interest until I felt something hard rap against my knuckles. I looked up to see Dawn glaring at me, bearing a ruler in her hand like a dictator's whip.
"For God's sake Addie, FOCUS."
I had to stop my eyes from rolling; she didn't look like she'd appreciate the gesture at this particular moment in time. I opted instead for a salute and a barked "Yes Ma'am!".
"You realise that this test is tomorrow, right? You seem way too flippant for someone who's currently sitting at a fail."
"I've come to accept my inadequacies by now, dear. Besides, didn't some fool once preach that a person's flaws made them more interesting? This flunk will send my levels of interestingness into orbit."
"Shut up, it was the only word I could come up with on short notice."
Her restraint not being what mine was, she rolled her eyes at me and turned back to the Chemistry textbook. I sighed deeply and tried to concentrate, but every time I attempted to focus on ions I could feel a dull thumping begin at the back of my mind. I peered at Dawn under my eyelashes, and envied the quiet concentration she radiated. She wasn't much better at Chemistry than I was, but she actually made an effort to study and would probably end up with a passing grade.
I examined my hands and noticed a little chip in the bronze polish of my right thumbnail. I'd have to remember to fix that when I got home. The ends of my hair caught my eye as I studied my nails, and I noted the appearance of a few split ends that hadn't been there the week before. I would need to remember to make a hair appointment to fix that too. My knuckles grabbed my attention next, and I pondered their infinitely weird shape, making a fist and running my other hand over them.
Dawn's mobile shrilled suddenly from her desk and I jumped, scattering pens everywhere.
"Hello?" she murmured as I dived to the floor to fetch the runaway pens. I heard her tone move from the quiet it started at to confusion before finally landing on panic, although the actual words were muffled by the sofa chair I found myself under, groping for a lost writing implement. When I emerged she had hung up the phone and was frantically pulling on her shoes.
"I'm so sorry Addie, but we're gonna have to cut this study thing short. That was my mom on the phone, checking to see how my little brother enjoyed soccer practice."
Not comprehending, I shot her a quizzical look.
"The soccer practice that I forgot to pick him up after at six o'clock."
"I feel a colossal 'whoops' coming on here."
"Yeah, pretty much. Come on, grab your shoes. If you don't mind waiting in the car while I get him I'll drop you off after."
I smiled in appreciation of the offer but declined it.
"Honestly Dawn, don't worry about it. I can walk from here, it's not like it's far. Maybe some fresh air will give me the mental boost I need to dive back into the depths of ionic equations."
She laughed as she hustled me down the stairs. Thirty seconds later I was out the door, watching her drive away at a mentalist's speed. I chuckled quietly to myself and turned in the opposite direction. I had never walked home from Dawn's before, but given the relative size of Forks I was pretty sure I could manage to find my way.
Clack. Clack. Clack.
The heels of my boots pounded out a staccato rhythm as I walked along, the sky getting darker with every step I took. An ominous rumble of thunder made me quicken my step and I felt the first small spits of rain on my face. In a ridiculously optimistic move that morning because it had been dry, I had worn a jacket without a hood. I was clearly being made to pay for my foolishness now as the rain began to grow heavier and I still didn't recognise any of the houses I was passing.
Clack. Clack. Clack.
I faltered for a moment as I turned a corner and didn't find the street I was expecting to see, but continued on because I was still fairly confident I was going in the right direction. The rain was now running in rivulets down my face, and the thunder roared once again. I pushed a sopping strand of hair from my eyes and looked around for someone who could give me directions. It was a useless action however, as this street was every bit as deserted as the one before it had been.
Clack. Clack. Clack.
My glance around had revealed to me a narrow alleyway between two houses on the opposite side of the road though. Feeling a little nervous about getting lost and more than slightly annoyed about the god-awful weather, I crossed the silent street and stood at the mouth of the alley. It was long, dark and narrow, but I could see cars passing by on the other side and figured I might be able to find someone there to ask for directions. I took a tentative step forward and tried to ignore the butterflies building in my stomach, attempting to forget every bad horror movie my brothers had ever forced me to watch. I was always the one to bitch about the idiocy of the female characters in those films, and the sheer stupidity they always seemed to display by walking into dark, deserted spaces of their own accord. I had almost convinced myself to turn back when the sensible part of my mind shouted that I was in Forks, a place not normally synonymous with psychopathic killers. Scoffing at this realisation, I moved through the alley.
Clack. Clack. Clack.
I had never been the type to glance fearfully over my shoulder any time I had to walk somewhere alone, but I felt a sudden urge to do it now. There was, of course, nothing behind me and I mentally berated myself for being so paranoid as I turned back around. It was as I was doing this that I first noticed the figure a little further down the alley, and my gasp of surprise was lost amongst the pattering of the rain. I slowed my steps a little and studied the figure because its shape was too hunched over to be human.
Clack... Clack… Clack…
Before we moved here, my dad had looked up Forks online and found a couple of newspaper articles about wild animal attacks. They had happened a while before we'd even heard of the place and hadn't happened again since, but the descriptions of the victims were pretty gory and stayed in my mind. They hadn't been enough to convince my dad we shouldn't move here, and I desperately hoped I wasn't about to prove him wrong by walking into the salivating jaws of a feral wolf. The dilemma between turning and running back the way I'd come and continuing forwards was forming in my brain, and I remembered the advice always given on wildlife shows: don't run. It would have to be move forwards then. The outline hadn't moved since I'd noticed it, and my heart rate accelerated as I contemplated creeping past it in the hope of escaping its notice. I sucked in my breath as quietly as humanly possible and leant onto my tiptoes before moving soundlessly forwards. I could feel my hands shaking at my sides as I drew up beside it, but a sudden flash of lightning revealed what the darkness had not: garbage bins dumped together making an animal-like shape. I let out a gust of breath and allowed my body to drop backwards against the wall, appreciating the rain for once as it fell onto my flaming cheeks. It was as I was leaning against the wall that I heard a long howl coming from somewhere in the distance, and my reaction was immediate: I bolted.
Clack. Clack. Clack. Clack. Clack. Clack.
Gasping for breath I tumbled out of the alley at the opposite end, and almost fainted in relief when I noticed that I had rolled up on the main street. Suppressing the urge to giggle hysterically because I was so overjoyed, I made my way to the coffee shop to dry off and wait out the rest of the storm and ponder what the hell could have made the noise I'd heard.
Forty minutes and two vanilla lattes later I had calmed down significantly (although I had no answer to the question of what had made the noise, except that it could be a real animal somewhere as opposed to a garbage bin one), but the extra caffeine shots had increased the shaking in my hands. There had been no sign of the thunder or lightning for at least twenty minutes, and although the rain hadn't stopped it had at least slowed to a drizzle, which I figured was the best offer I was likely to get in this place. My hair couldn't possibly get any worse now anyway, and I had pretty much wiped off all of my remaining eyeliner in the bathroom of the coffee place to avoid looking like a drowned Goth.
I made my way along the familiar route home, almost singing to myself in relief that I knew exactly where I was going this time.
Clack. Clack. Clack.
I was clacking along quite happily when I heard the howling again. Although I was feeling safer because I was on familiar streets, the noise didn't prevent me from moving a little faster. Trying to put images of angry animals out of my mind, I was watching my feet on the slightly cracked pavement when I walked slap bang into someone.
"Sorry," I mumbled, dodging out of the way.
I gasped out in surprise when the person grabbed my arm, and looked up into the familiar face of Embry.
"Oh! Hi… I thought we weren't seeing each other tonight?"
"Unless you're here seeing someone else…"
"Oh my God, are you seeing another girl?! I mean, I guess we never really agreed to be exclusive or anything, but you could have at least told me. I guess that would explain all the secrecy though..."
The urgency in his voice was so evident here that he stopped me in my rather garbled train of thought, and I looked at him properly for the first time. He was shirtless, although it was still raining and freezing cold to boot. Little droplets of rain were dripping down his carved cheekbones, and his black eyes were burning.
He was furious.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone! Did you all have a good one?
Believe it or not, this was actually meant to be my Halloween chapter, but with uni work and whatnot it's never been finished until now. I hope you all like it, this is for everyone who's ever left me a review: I can't believe you guys were still doing that even though I've been totally AWOL for about 2 months.
Also, I've been nominated for Twilight Awards?! WTF, man. Really. I totally can't believe it. Thank you so much to whoever is responsible, it means the world.