Chapter Summary: The way Rosalie said 'yes' like that. I wanted that. I so wanted that my body ached. I wanted to look into her eyes and feel connected, just like this, and feel her very being say 'yes' like that to me.
I appraised her. She seemed serious when she said she would show me her 'Midas touch,' her 'death touch,' but she was always saying so many things, and how was it possible to get to everything she said, unless you lived forever, like her.
I didn't have that luxury.
"No," I said.
She smiled faintly at me.
"Why?" she asked gently.
"You show me right here and right now, Rosalie Hale." I was firm.
She smiled again. "Why?" she asked. Always gentle with me now.
Was I that close? I didn't think I was feeling hysterical.
"I'm not gonna let you distract me with something else, and say 'oh, tomorrow, oh, tomorrow!' when you don't show me why my name isn't 'Lillian' and you don't ..."
"Shoot!" I scowled angrily.
"What?" she asked concerned.
"Now I don't even remember what the other thing that you were going to tell me today! See?" I almost shouted in frustration. "You delay and you get away with everything because you know I'll forget! Well, I'm not letting that happen this time. You show me right now!"
She shook her head solemnly. "No," she said calmly.
My eyes narrowed at her. "'No,' huh? Chickening out, are you?"
I didn't want to sound bitter.
But I just didn't know how to sound anything else.
Besides betrayed, maybe. I was hoping she wasn't lying to me, but now with her refusing to back up what she said, I just couldn't help think that ...
"No, baby, not here, and not now," she said evenly.
She didn't even care that I called her a chicken, or a quitter, or anything. She could call me a chicken-shit, and that stung — and maybe it stung because I knew she was right — but whenever I called her anything, she just didn't care. She didn't defend herself. Even worse, she just ignored my accusation as if I hadn't spoken at all. It was like what I said was beneath her. She wasn't a chicken just because she wasn't, and she knew it, and no matter what I said, it just didn't matter, because she knew who she was, right to her core.
But... Shoot! I just hoped she wasn't lying to me, is all. That's all I was hoping. Was that too much to ask? Too much to demand, right now? I didn't think so.
She was calm when she asked her 'why'-questions. But I wasn't. My voice quavered.
"I seem to remember someone being cold, tired, and hungry," she replied evenly. "I don't need you colder, more tired, and hungrier than you are now."
"So you're just gonna let routine carry me away from the truth," I shot back fiercely.
"Baby," she sighed. "What I will show you will take more than an hour. We do it here, you watching me, the cold seeps into tired, hungry you, and what am I left to care for? Hm? Again? I thought we could move past that now. Let's get you back inside and fed. I am what I am wherever I am. I can show you there as well as here, but there you can see this, and eat and be warm."
She paused, letting her words sink in.
"What do you say?" she offered reasonably.
I glared at her. I had been played to agreeing with her again.
"More than an hour, huh?" I confirmed suspiciously.
She smirked. "I just so love repeating things I've said, as emphasis and repetition obviously makes a statement more true."
She rolled her eyes sarcastically.
I frowned. "You sure do love a lot of things, don't cha, Rosalie?"
She glared at me.
I felt suddenly vulnerable. "You will show me?"
Now she frowned at me. "I already gave you my promise, Lizzie."
"That still ..." I began surprised. "You still have to do that promise?"
"Circumstances don't alter a promise, Lizzie," she said, "if they did, then it wasn't a promise after all, was it?"
This surprised me. I thought that ... well, I mean, she promised me that she would tell me, or try to tell me, when she was going to kill me, but that was before this ... but the way she promised, so seriously... did she see this happening? so far into the future?
I suddenly realized that she must have. She must have already been thinking of my name when she made that promise, and she must have already seen us being right here, and right now, and making that promise, knowing that she'd have to honor it, even now. Even if it didn't matter any more. The world had moved on, but she didn't.
"But how long do you have to keep it?" I asked her.
She smiled sadly. "Forever and ever, baby. Forever and ever."
I tried to swallow what she said.
"Even after I'm dead and gone?" I asked. "You have to keep your promise to me even after I'm dead and gone?"
She said it so simply.
"I wish I had asked for a different promise," I said sadly.
It now seemed pointless, her promise.
"Like?" she asked easily.
"Well, ..." I began.
She held up her hand. I stopped, then she shook her head.
"Lizzie," she said sadly.
I waited, then I asked defensively, "What?"
"You wanted to trade one temporal promise for another just now. After I show you this, honoring that one promise, what good would it be? A temporal promise? Lizzie," she chided gently. "You are not thinking of the consequences, you just ask for a promise. But that's all you really need to do: just ask, right? You don't need a promise if you get what you ask for, and if you don't get what you ask for, then a promise, consequently broken, doesn't make it all better. No, it only makes it worse. If you want a promise, ask for something eternal, but then why ask for an eternal promise when you are mortal? Icarus' wings brought him to the Sun only to be burnt by it, then to fall into the sea, drowning in its depths. Do you see what I'm saying?"
Rosalie was that Sun, and I was burnt by it.
"Yeah," I cast my eyes down. "I don't need a promise, I just need to ask."
"Close enough," she said easily.
"What?" she asked softly.
"It just feels better if you'd promise," I said petulantly.
"Lizzie," Rosalie said, calling me from myself.
I looked at her sadly.
"It only feels better because no one's 'yes' means 'yes' anymore," she explained, then implored quietly: "Let my 'yes' mean 'yes,' and you won't need a promise to feel better, you'll feel just right saying what you mean, then doing what you say."
"So you're gonna do that?" I asked humbly.
I think this was the first time I noticed that when anybody said 'yes' it was if their whole body was saying a qualified and hesitant 'maybe,' instead.
But when Rosalie said 'yes,' her eyes said 'yes,' her heart said 'yes,' her whole being said 'yes.'
I wanted to believe her. I wanted so hard to believe her.
I realized that I wanted to believe her more than I had ever wanted anything. My whole life was nothing. It was just ... pointless. I get up, fix breakfast, I went to school for a while, then I switched to the courthouse, but that was just it. Then I'd go home, and what? Pa and I'd do something, but mostly not, I'd just do homework or read, mostly, after supper then bed.
I had never wanted anything, because there was nothing to want.
But now Rosalie was saying 'yes,' and I so wanted her 'yes' to be 'yes.' I mean, I really wanted that.
Because, and here was the killer, if her 'yes' wasn't 'yes,' ...
Then there was no point, right? There was no point if your hope ... just wasn't. If your hope was a sham, then you may as well go back to what you were doing until someone noticed you had stopped moving because you were dead, and then they would bury you as they scratched their heads trying to come up with something nice to say about you at your funeral if only they could remember you at all.
Those were my alternatives. I could hope, I could so want to reach for my hope, or I could go back to my nothing existence.
And that hurt, realizing that I was given a choice, that I could choose hope if I wanted to, because ...
Because Rosalie was right again, there was not one other person I knew back where I came from, back where she took me from, that even knew they had that choice. I mean ...
I mean, even Pa. He just did what he did, because he did it every day, and that was his whole life.
That's what his whole life summed up to: just doing his job. That's what everybody's whole life summed up to.
But Rosalie said 'yes,' and if her 'yes' meant 'yes,' ... I mean, if it really meant 'yes,' then ...
Then my life wouldn't be just being whatever it was I was doing, but it would mean I could really say something and really mean it.
And I had no idea what that meant, but I knew it scared the hell out of me: I liked everything ordered and predictable. But Rosalie was saying a 'yes' that promised a future than had absolutely nothing I could control nor expect, it promised a wide-open future, and that terrified me, because that meant I could say anything, and then anything would go, and how do you anchor that? You couldn't, unless ...
If Rosalie's 'yes' meant 'yes,' then that was the one sure thing in this world I could hold onto.
I locked eyes with hers, and said quietly, hopefully, "Okay."
She smiled faintly.
"Good girl," she said the words so free of care. "Now pick up the flower buds, and let's go."
I obeyed. I felt guilty for just following along. Was I being servile? But I suppose I dropped the blossoms, so I should pick them up, right?
I crouched down to the ground, and, forming a cradle with the crook of my arm, arranged each stem, one-by-one, into a small bunch in my arm.
When I stood, Rosalie was in front of me, my mittens in her hand, and on top of the mittens, the solitaire flower in full bloom.
I reached for it at the same time she delicately picked it up by the stem and laid it on top of my bundle in my arm.
I started to reach for the mittens, careful, so as not to upset the arrangement, but again Rosalie was anticipating me, and put my mittens on my hands for me, making sure my cold hands were now nice and cosy with a firm shove against my extended hands.
She surveyed me. "Ready?" she asked.
She hosted me up so effortlessly, Bel-... I mean, Lizzie-the-flower-bud, cradling me in her arms just as I cradled the buds and the one in bloom. I hunched my shoulder protectively over the flowers, so that I was chest-to-chest with Rosalie, forming a shield from the wind with my body.
She said, "And, ..."
And we were off, the trees whipping past us in a blur, the clearing and the bush disappearing into the distance of the forest as if it had never existed.