Edgar couldn't sleep that night. He kept thinking of Mrs. Parker, sleeping soundly upstairs, completely unaware of the treachery he was about to committ. He had finally felt stable in his relationship with her, and now he was about to go behind her back.
When 3 am came he jumped out of bed, pulled on some shoes and went to wait downstairs for Shelley. She tiptoed down the stairs from her room, carrying a flashlight.
"Shelley, I not want to lie...Please, can we not do this?"he whispered softly as she led him outside, opening the back door so slowly even he couldn't hear a sound. Shelley waited until they were outside to speak.
"Edgar, it's totally fine. Mom and Dad want you to go outside, they're just scared of people seeing you. If nobody sees you, then there's no reason they wouldn't want you going outside. And no one will see you at this hour, so it's perfectly okay."
"Then can we tell them where we go first?"he pleaded, looking worried as Shelley stepped on a rock and lifted her leg on the surface of the fence that, though he hadn't noticed earlier, jutted out a bit and provided a decent sized footrest.
"Come on, Edgar. This is part of being a teenager. You have to do this at least once in your life,"she said, "Okay, see where my foot is? You're going to go first, just in case you need help. You just swing your leg over and let yourself fall down. It's not that steep on the other side." Edgar looked indecisively at the rock, torn between pleasing Shellley and respecting Mrs. Parker. This was part of being a normal teenager? Well, Mrs. Parker's mission was to make him more normal...
Shelley was surprised when Edgar hopped over the fence with surprising ease, his feet barely touching the notch in the fence. She struggled up and landed on the other side, landing easily only because Edgar caught her halfway and gentled her impact.
"Thanks,"she whispered, smiling now, "Come on! I'll show you my school!" She took him by the hand and pulled him toward the road. Edgar walked slowly, his mouth hanging silently open as Shelley pulled him along, urging him to walk faster. The landscape was like nothing Edgar could have ever imagined. The land seemed to roll out in an endless expanse of hills, going on for infinity. Suddenly the world wasn't just a square lot surrounded by a fence, or a small rectangle of a window. There were no borders.
Much like his first experience outdoors, Edgar had to beg Shelley to stop nearly every two seconds to get a closer look at something that piqued his interest. As the world seemed to lay itself out before him, Edgar felt a rush of adrenaline hit him like nothing else he had ever experienced. He felt the wind howl against his ears, and he suddenly wanted to follow it, to run as hard and far as he could.
"Edgar! Where are you going?"Shelley shouted as Edgar suddenly took off, following his instincts and simply running, arms stretched out. He barely heard her. He felt like he was flying, soaring above the hills and trees and becoming part of this divine beauty he beheld in front of him. Smiling radiantly, he turned his head back to Shelley, who was running confusedly behind him.
"This is amazing, Shelley!"he laughed, throwing his arms out as he slowed down to let her catch up.
"What's amazing?"she panted, trying to catch her breath.
"Everything! It more than I ever dream of! It so beautiful, Shelley! Do you really get to see all this every day?"he asked, looking intently at her.
"Well, yeah...,"she answered slowly. She looked around at the place they were standing, but all she saw were the usual green hills of West Virginia, the familiar woods, the long dirt roads. There was nothing exceptionally beautiful about it. It was what she saw everyday.
"You never tell me there so much here!"he continued, growing more and more excited by the minute, "It so big!"
"I didn't tell you because I never thought there was much here,"she laughed, amused by his excitement, "I guess to someone who's only seen the inside of a cave, this is a lot, huh?"
"It huge!"he said in reply, spinning a full circle as he looked around.
"We haven't even gotten to the school yet,"she laughed.
"There's more?"he asked incredulously, as if he had thought that this was school.
"We haven't even walked five minutes, Edgar. There's a lot more we could see, but I really think you'd like to see the school."
"Is school like this, too?"he asked.
"Um...no, not really, but I know you'd like it...,"she said, "Come on!" Edgar followed Shelley a little way longer down the road, observing his surroundings with utmost appreciation and curiosity. Shelley watched him as his face lit up with every new discovery, and she found after a while that his smile was contagious. She couldn't help but be happy with him, basking in this new discovery of the world that she could only see through his eyes.
The school was at least two miles away, but Edgar certainly wasn't complaining about the walk. He took every opportunity to stop and ask Shelley to explain something to him, or give him the name of something. The deserted road seemed to stretch on forever and ever. It wasn't until now that Edgar finally understood what Mrs. Parker and Shelley had meant when they taught him that the earth was round. Somehow he knew, without asking, that if he kept walking, he would never reach an end. He would keep going, seeing new things, discovering new places, but in the end he would end up right back here. The idea amazed him. There really was endless opportunity to discover new things.
When they approached the school, Edgar stared up at the chain link fence in awe and fascination. It reminded him of the fence in the backyard, but he could see through this fence.
"...Am I allowed to touch it?"he asked, turning to Shelley.
"Of course. It's just metal. It's dark, but you should be able to see into the yard at least a little bit." Edgar had no problem seeing into the yard, but he didn't tell Shelley this.
"That's where we eat lunch everyday. And over there's the classrooms,"she said, pointing. Edgar stared in wide-eyed fascination, listening intently as Shelley showed him every possible angle. It wasn't difficult for Edgar to get a glimpse of what the school looked like from the outside; the campus itself was tiny, only big enough to accomodate for its 182 students.
"What's that, Shelley?"Edgar suddenly asked, pointing somewhere in the distance, past the school.
"Oh...that's Mr. Ned's cattle ranch. We can't go over there, that's his and his family's property."
"Property? What that mean?"he asked.
"It means he owns that land, and it's not our place to go walking there without his permission. It's like...how you're not supposed to go in people's rooms before asking. It's disrespectful."
"Oh, okay,"he said, nodding his understanding.
"So what else do you want to see?"she asked, changing the subject.
"The river!"he said excitedly, "Or the mountains!"
"It's actually just a creek. Rivers are way bigger, like about as far from here to the other side of the school. And these aren't mountains, they're just little hills,"she explained, laughing at his bewilderment, as if he truly couldn't fathom the idea that there could be anything bigger than what he saw now, "I don't think we can go there, though, it's too close to people's houses. A lot of people get up really early to go to work. We could get in trouble." Edgar looked disappointed to hear this. He stood there for a moment, thinking of what he wanted to do, then suddenly looked up at the sky.
"Look, Shelley, the sky is changing colors!"he exclaimed, pointing to the brightening horizon line as dusk crept over them.
"The sun's coming up pretty early today. I know this really cool place to watch the sunrise, if you want to go,"she said, turning to him.
"Okay!" She began walking down the road again, keeping to the side in case any cars came by. None did.
"I having so much fun, Shelley!"Edgar told her, beaming as they walked, "Everything so beautiful!, I wish we can stay..."
"This was pretty fun,"she said, suprised that she didn't have to lie, "Just wait until you see this view. My friends and I come here sometimes to watch the sunset. Hope you don't mind climbing, though."
"I not mind."
"It's not that far away, but if we don't hurry, we'll miss it. Want to race?" Edgar looked at her like she had just told him to swallow a dynamite.
"What?"he asked, perplexed.
"You know, race. Run as fast as we both can to see who gets their first."
"Okay...,"he said unsurely.
"Ready...set...GO!"she shouted, and she took off, leaving him behind to try and figure out for himself. Once he saw what she was doing, he began running as well, easily overtaking her. He stopped when they reached the top of the hill, letting her catch up.
"Whoa...you're...fast,"she gasped, leaning her upper body weight on her knees, "You're unbelievable. Is there anything you can't do?" He smiled, beaming from her compliment.
"Thank you,"he said, smiling.
"You can sit down,"she said, crossing her legs on the cold, damp grass. He sat down beside her and turned to the sky, now brightening.
Edgar stared at Shelley, watching the glowing sun bathe her skin in a warm, orange light, illuminating her soft brown eyes. He couldn't tear his eyes away from her, she was so beautiful. He felt his stomach do a flip-flop as his heart pounded in his chest, and suddenly evey nerve in his body was tingling with excitement. He wanted to touch her. He didn't know why, but he knew he wanted to reach out and touch her and see if she would let him. He looked down where her hand was, right next to his, so easily attainable, just within his reach. But he couldn't do it. No matter how hard he willed himself, he always stopped. What if what he was feeling wasn't normal? What if he was too much of an animal to even have correct human instincts?
"...Edgar?" He nearly jumped in surprise when she suddenly turned to him, and immediately he shrunk his hand back, embarrassed, even though she couldn't have possibly known what he was thinking.
"Y-yes?"he stammered, his heart racing.
"Have you ever seen a sunrise before?"she asked.
"I see...from window,"he replied, looking down, "But not this way." Shelley was quiet when he said this.
"I don't know why, but...I was just thinking how sad that was. I mean...I guess I've always taken them for granted. But it's different with you here..."
"What you mean?"
"I don't know. It's just pretty cool, isn't it?"
"It beautiful...,"he murmered.
They sat in silence for a while, and this time Edgar made sure to keep his eyes on the sky. They sat watching as the sun rose higher and higher, not yet touching the horizon line but quickly approaching, illuminating the sky with warm pinks and purples.
"...Thank you for showing me everyting today, Shelley,"he suddenly said, turning to her. Shelley smiled at him.
"No problem. I'm sorry you didn't get to see more."
"It okay. I happy with things I did see,"he replied, smiling back at her.
"You want to go home already?"she laughed.
"No!"he said quickly, making her laugh, "I just...I worry about Mrs. Parker."
"She sleeps in on Saturdays, don't worry. We should probably head back, though, just in case. We took a lot of time walking to school since we were going so slow..."
"Wait, please? One more minute?"he pleaded, looking up at her, "I not know when I see another one again..." Shelley hesitated, staring at him for a moment, then slowly seated herself back down.
"You'll see another one,"she said after a moment of silence, "You will. I promise." Edgar broke his gaze away from the sky for a moment to look at her.
"But...Mrs. Parker say I have to stay in house..."
"That's not forever, though. Someday you'll get to go outside whenever you like, and you won't have to have somebody watch you all the time. And then we can do this whenever we want to."
"...Really?"he asked, wide-eyed.
"Yeah. It won't be too long from now. You just have to be patient." Edgar smiled at this, beaming at the prospect of getting to do this again with Shelley.
"Okay,"he said with an affirming nod.
"So...ready to go?"she asked, reaching out her hand to help him up. He stared at her hand quizzically, not really understanding what she wanted him to do with her hand.
"I don't understand,"he finally said, glancing up at her.
"Take my hand so I can help you get up,"she explained.
"But I can get up by myself,"he said, thinking she meant that he didn't know how to get himself up. He stood up on his feet to show her.
"Okay, fine, it was just a friendly jesture,"she said with a slightly annoyed tone.
"I'm sorry, Shelley...,"he said, holding out his hand, "I take your hand now if you want." Shelley stared at his outstretched hand for a moment, then suddenly started laughing. Edgar just stood there as she laughed, extremely confused now.
"You're really funny, Edgar,"she said, still smiling, "Don't worry about it. You'll get it later."
"Oh...okay,"he said, laughing nervously though he still didn't get it.
"Shelley?"he suddenly asked, glancing up at her, "Thank you again...for doing this for me."
"You already thanked me before,"she teased.
"It...bad to say two time?"
"No, it just means you're twice as grateful!"
"I am grateful. I see sunrise and trees and flowers and lot of beautiful things."
"And I spend time with you."
"I'm flattered,"she said, laughing a little, "You make me feel so special." She meant it half-sarcastically, but Edgar's reply surprised her.
"You is. You special to me." She blushed a little and looked down at her hands. Edgar felt that strange urge rush through him once more: he wanted to do something to close the distance, say something or touch her.
"Can I hold your hand, Shelley?"he asked suddenly. She turned to him in surprise, unsure if she heard him right for a moment. He looked at her with a look of genuine sweet innocence, and she suddenly realized that he had no idea he had even made a move on her. She looked down at her shoes for a moment, knowing that she had the option to tell him what exactly that meant, explain to him that that wasn't what "just friends" did.
"Okay,"she said instead. He smiled innocently and gently slipped his hand into hers. His hands were rough and calloused against hers, a testament of the life he had lived before he came here. He didn't grip her too tightly or forcefully like Rick often did. Edgar was gentle and careful, or maybe just shy. Either way, she liked the feeling of his hand in hers.
"Why we not taking the road, Shelley?"Edgar asked.
"The neighbors. Most people around here are cattle ranchers. That means they have to get up early in the morning to start working, and we're in trouble if they see us."
"Why we have to hide from them?"he asked.
"Because, one, they'll tell my mom and dad, and two, they'd flip if they saw you walking around." Edgar stared at her, a perplexed expression on his face.
"Well...because they don't know you can talk and everything now. They don't understand that you're safe to be around."
"But I thought I better now. Why they not want to see me?"
"Because they're afraid of you." Edgar looked at her, confused.
"Why they afraid?"he asked softly.
"Well...because you bit Ruthie. They're afraid you'll bite one of them, too." He looked down, quiet for a moment.
"I didn't...mean to,"he mumbled quietly.
"I know you didn't."
"Can I go see her someday? The girl?"he asked suddenly.
"I want to say I sorry,"he replied, straight-forwardly.
"Edgar, she's in the hospital. She'd tear you to pieces if she saw you, or at least her mom would. Mrs. Taylor's psycho, like seriously. You don't want to go near her." Edgar frowned.
"But...if I say sorry, then she not be mad at me,"he said.
"She'll be mad no matter what you do, Edgar. Some people don't care if people are nice like you. They don't want to forgive you. There's no point trying. Everyone's just still too worked up about it all." She didn't look at him as she spoke. She didn't know how to tell him that the situation was more serious than he was thinking.
"I didn't know, Shelley. I scared...I didn't know what to do. She scare me with bright light. I thought she want hurt me..."
"It's okay, Edgar. You didn't know,"she said softly, "You don't have to defend yourself to me."
"But now I feel bad... I want tell her, and everybody that I know now. I never do that now."
"Don't worry about it, Edgar. Hopefully they'll know that someday."
"...Is that why Mrs. Parker and Dr. Parker not want me outside?"he asked, just realizing this. Shelley nodded slowly. Neither of them said anything for a long time. They walked back slowly in silence. It was only 5:00 am by the time they reached the backyard fence.
"Ready?"she asked, realizing then that she was still holding his hand. She squeezed it a little tighter, trying to encourage him, but she could see that he was upset by everything she had said.
"Hey, don't worry, Edgar. She'll get better, and then everyone will forget about it,"she said, smiling for him, "Don't be sad, okay? It wasn't your fault. You don't have anything to feel sorry for."
"...Okay,"he mumbled, though it was clear he didn't believe her, "Shelley?"
"Yeah?" He hesitated for a moment, debating what he wanted to say.
"Are people only afraid of me...because I not normal?"he asked softly. Shelley was about to retort immediately and tell him of course that wasn't true, but she stopped. That was exactly the reason they were afraid of him, she realized.
"You're totally normal, Edgar,"she said finally, "You're just different - in a good way. I really wouldn't worry about it."
How could different possibly be good, he thought?
He wanted to tell her what he was thinking, but he didn't know how to put it into words. He wanted her to understand what he was really saying. He wanted her to be able to understand how much he hated being a monster, how he hated always being different from everyone. But Shelley didn't seem to understand him. She didn't see the monster in him because nobody except Dr. Parker knew his secret. If Shelley knew he drank blood, she would be scared of him, too, just like the town. She would run away from him, because he wasn't normal.
Shelley turned back to the fence, looking around, and his opportunity was lost.
"Getting back up's always harder,"she said, turning her head around, looking for something, "There used to be this really big rock somewhere, but I guess my dad moved it..."
"I can help you up...,"he suggested slowly, "...If...that okay."
"If you can do it quietly."
"I have to carry you, though."
"Um...okay,"she said nervously. He gently pulled her closer to him, motioning for her to get on his back. He could sense her fear, her distrust. He looked back up the fence, examining it. He had climbed rock walls much taller than this in his cave, but he had never carried a passenger before. He was confident he could still do it, but he wanted to be safe. He stepped up on a rock close by. Shelley would be safe if he jumped from here.
Shelley didn't have time to scream in fright. In one moment Edgar had jumped and hit the fence only once, only to kick off immediately and somehow land perfectly balanced, crouching on the top of the fence.
"What the heck? You're like Tarzan!"she whispered incredulously, looking over her shoulder at the bottom, "You could probably make that in one jump, couldn't you?"
"Not with you,"he said quietly, somehow managing to turn himself around so he was facing backwards. Shelley wrapped her arms around his neck tighter and shut her eyes, preparing herself for this one.
He didn't try to make the entire jump. Instead he carefully hung himself over the ledge with one arm and told her to jump from there. She let go and hit the ground with a thud, and he followed soon after, landing on his toes and hands.
"You...amaze me,"she whispered, laughing, "What can't you do?" Edgar felt his heart swell with happiness when he heard this, knowing he had finally done something to win her attention and praise.
"Did I hurt you, Shelley?"he asked, concerned, seeing that she hadn't landed as gracefully as he had hoped she would.
"No, no, I'm fine,"she said quickly, smiling, "Thank you." He looked down, feeling his cheeks blush a faint pink.
"You welcome...,"he mumbled embarrassedly.
"I think we made it in time,"she said, taking his hand without asking and walking quietly to the door. Edgar wanted to say something to her, to thank her for all that she had done, but his words were lost when she opened the back door into the house. They stayed perfectly silent as they snuck in the house, their ears straining for any sound at all. They made it to the living room and stopped, knowing by now if anyone would be awake, they would at least hear them from here. Shelley turned to Edgar and mouthed the words "bed" to him, then slowly let go of his hand, turned one last time to smile at him, and tiptoed up the stairs as quietly as possible. Edgar watched her go, feeling his heart melt with love for her and his stomach flutter with words he so wished he could say to her. He felt like he had awakened from a dream, a wonderful dream he still, even now, didn't want to end. All he could think about was Shelley's smile, Shelley's laugh, Shelley's warm, soft hand in his.
And that's when Edgar knew, without a doubt, that he was in love with Shelley Parker.
AN: On a side note, I'm really tired of making all these intentional grammatical mistakes. They're driving me crazy. But I still have a hard time believing even the smartest genius could be speaking perfect English in 6 weeks. Thus, I will suck it up.