------------| Type O Negative, continued |------------
The road trip back to Forks—to home—is longer than the first road trip. We stop at various scenic outlooks to work on desensitizing Edward.
If you know what I mean.
I repeat: Keep it PG, kiddos.
The road trip also takes longer because Edward tries to teach me how to drive the stick shift on his fancy foreign car. I'm vaguely familiar with the concept of a clutch; Nellie has a clutch, but it's mostly for show. I rarely drive faster than 10 mph around town anyway.
Like its owner, the Silver Bullet is fiendish. Its clutch requires just the right application of pressure at exactly the right time. If you don't do exactly what the Silver Bullet needs, you're rewarded with an engine fail.
As I find out.
I've dubbed Edward's car the Silver Bullet because the name smacks of speed and the mystical. When I announce the name to Edward, he frowns.
"Do we really have to go with a werewolf reference?"
"Do you have something against werewolves?"
"Well, they're kinda my mortal enemies."
I blink as I digest the fact that werewolves actually exist.
"And they smell bad."
I wonder if wizards exist and, if so, what they smell like.
"Would you prefer 'Hi, Ho, Silver'?" I say.
"That's probably good. You wouldn't want to give my dad the impression you're driving around in a drug-dealing pimpmobile."
Edward agrees to the werewolf reference when I remind him that silver bullets kill werewolves. He continues teaching me how to shoot his own Silver Bullet. An hour later, I've finally gotten the Volvo consistently over 30 mph. Luckily, I'm with the world's most patient creature. He's got all the time in the world, and then some.
Two hours later, Edward's looking at the speedometer out of the corner of his eye.
"You might want to slow down."
When a vampire asks you to slow down, you know that's something. I've never driven over 60 mph (Nellie's limit) and so have never previously seen the appeal.
Now I understand.
There's something very liberating about speeding away from your past and toward your future.
The next week, we're back in Forks. The usual.
We're in Spanish, and Mrs. Goff is late. You know what that means: spirit animal roll call. I'd started this in eighth grade as a joke. We girls like animals and all that. But it really caught on. Through the years, we'd come up with some really great animals. If we had a zoology class at this school, we'd all ace.
I clear my throat.
"Roll call," I say loudly.
All non-essential conversation ceases.
Without looking, I can name each person by the animal they choose.
"Zebu." Mike Newton. He always goes first. He is my biggest roll call groupie.
"Kitty cat." Jessica. She's always some sort of cat, usually one of the following: kitty cat, cutie cat, or cuddly cat.
"Unicorn." Freshman girl who is ridiculously good at Spanish.
"Penguin." Freshman boy who is ridiculously good at Spanish.
"Thestral." Band nerd with a Harry Potter fetish.
"Ewok." Star Wars geek.
"Tribble." Star Trek geek.
"Rock." A little slow.
"Mountain lion." Edward. My heart skips a beat at his voice. He still does this to me. I can just see his deliciously imperfect grin.
My turn. "Pigmy goat."
And we finish out strong: "Go team!"
Despite appearances, this exercise is not pointless.
High school changes people, pushes them apart into their little groups, and generally does whatever else necessary to ensure that a group of spirit animals who have been roll-calling since middle school end up alone and miserable.
But when you're down, a good roll call is often the cure. It reassures you you're not alone. That you're part of a team working toward the same goal. That you have a sense of humor. That you can, in fact, use it to laugh. And that no, you're not the only crazy one out there.
Crazy people unite. Roll call loud and proud.
As Mrs. Goff walks in the room, flustered because she's late, someone leans forward in the chair behind me. I hear the creak of the chair and feel a presence uncomfortably close to my left ear. Like my ear is burning with the pressure of it.
"I eat pigmy goats for breakfast."
Rats. So much for my schpiel about team work. It's counterproductive if one of the spirit animals goes on a killing spree. Not, of course, that Edward would ever do such a thing.
As I'm sure I've demonstrated.
It's Monday—the first Monday of the rest of my life—and Edward and I are in a meadow near Forks, bathed in sunlight. We must have bottled some of it up in the Silver Bullet and brought it with us from Jacksonville.
School's out now. Charlie has finally released me from my month-long house arrest after he found out that I'd gone on a two-week road trip with a boy.
I think: If this Monday were a person, the first thing it would do is kick off its shoes and dance barefoot through the summer grass.
I think: If this Monday were a feeling, it would be joy. Like the way I'm feeling now in Edward's arms.
I'm sitting with my back against his solid chest. Our bare feet tangle in the grass in front of us. I may have finally confirmed something to him about pinky toes. He's taking full advantage of my, um, interest.
I could get used to these Mondays. I would call them Meadow Mondays and ensure that they happen at least once a week.
"You know what would make this Monday even more perfect?" I say.
Edward doesn't respond immediately. This is okay because it feels like a slow kind of day.
Oddly, Edward is chewing on a piece of grass. I think he's trying to get in the moment.
"Bite me. No way you get to play Angel Gabriel without me."
Edward just laughs. He plucks a dandelion from the grass and twirls it around. Little dandelion fronds dance off in the breeze. He laughs, but I can see he's seriously considering my request.
Helpfully, I lean my head back. I raise my throat to the atypically blue sky. Edward growls at the sight of my exposed jugular. His growl vibrates across my back.
But, being the sneaky—and romantic—boy he is, he merely leans down and kisses my neck. Carefully and chastely.
I can see he's going to take some convincing.
I can see he's going to take some persuading.
Not to worry.
Knowing me, I'm sure I can arrange a near-fatal accident or two that will hasten my conversion. Perhaps something involving a motorcycle. Or cliff diving into water an absurdly far distance below. Or—and this is my best idea yet—perhaps I could impregnate myself with a half-vampire baby who will bite its way out of my belly and sever my spine in the process.
Nah, scratch that last one. It sounds morbid. And painful.
Edward is leery of the gleam in my eye. As usual, he doesn't know what it means. As usual, the gleam is suspect. Smart boy. If I've learned anything through all this, it's that gleams in eyes are not to be trusted. That eyes themselves can be deceiving.
That eyes can signify golden-eyed superheroes or ruby-eyed villains. That vampires are nothing more than glorified caterpillars. And that you, too, young caterpillar, have a choice to make. If you're smart, you'll choose life.
"Can you kill me now?" I say in my best imitation of the Verizon commercial dude. "Good."
Edward just throws back his sparkling head and laughs into the sun.
Author's note:How amazingly appropriate that the final chapter is 13—an excellent homage to Bella's birthday...and the fact that the real meadow scene happens in Chapter 13 as well. Just wanted you all to know that I popped your reviews like pills in attempt to get all these chapters finalized in a single weekend. Any time I was feeling discouraged because something wasn't coming out quite right, your kind words kept me going like none other. So thank you!