Author: Stephenie Meyer
Read In: 2022
Purchase: Bookshop.org (affiliate link)
I loved Phoenix. I loved the sun and the blistering heat. I loved the vigorous, sprawling city.
It was beautiful, of course; I couldn’t deny that. Everything was green: the trees, their trunks covered with moss, their branches hanging with a canopy of it, the ground covered with ferns. Even the air filtered down greenly through the leaves. It was too green—an alien planet.
It was nice to be alone, not to have to smile and look pleased; a relief to stare dejectedly out the window at the sheeting rain and let just a few tears escape. I wasn’t in the mood to go on a real crying jag. I would save that for bedtime, when I would have to think about the coming morning.
And if I couldn’t find a niche in a school with three thousand people, what were my chances here? I didn’t relate well to people my age. Maybe the truth was that I didn’t relate well to people, period. Even my mother, who I was closer to than anyone else on the planet, was never in harmony with me, never on exactly the same page. Sometimes I wondered if I was seeing the same things through my eyes that the rest of the world was seeing through theirs. Maybe there was a glitch in my brain.
We ate in silence for a few minutes. It wasn’t uncomfortable. Neither of us was bothered by the quiet. In some ways, we were well suited for living together.
I couldn’t fathom his interest, but he continued to stare at me with penetrating eyes, as if my dull life’s story was somehow vitally important.
Charlie had left for work before I got downstairs. In a lot of ways, living with Charlie was like having my own place, and I found myself reveling in the aloneness instead of being lonely.
“Aren’t you hungry?” he asked, distracted. “No.” I didn’t feel like mentioning that my stomach was already full—of butterflies.
It was relaxing to sit with Angela; she was a restful kind of person to be around—she didn’t feel the need to fill every silence with chatter. She left me free to think undisturbed while we ate.
That had always been my way, though. Making decisions was the painful part for me, the part I agonized over. But once the decision was made, I simply followed through—usually with relief that the choice was made. Sometimes the relief was tainted by despair, like my decision to come to Forks. But it was still better than wrestling with the alternatives.
“It’s a little like being in a huge hall filled with people, everyone talking at once. It’s just a hum—a buzzing of voices in the background. Until I focus on one voice, and then what they’re thinking is clear. “Most of the time I tune it all out—it can be very distracting. And then it’s easier to seem normal”—he frowned as he said the word—“ when I’m not accidentally answering someone’s thoughts rather than their words.” “Why do you think you can’t hear me?” I asked curiously. He looked at me, his eyes enigmatic. “I don’t know,” he murmured. “The only guess I have is that maybe your mind doesn’t work the same way the rest of theirs do. Like your thoughts are on the AM frequency and I’m only getting FM.” He grinned at me, suddenly amused. “My mind doesn’t work right? I’m a freak?” The words bothered me more than they should—probably because his speculation hit home. I’d always suspected as much, and it embarrassed me to have it confirmed. “I hear voices in my mind and you’re worried that you’re the freak,” he laughed.
Brown is warm. I miss brown. Everything that’s supposed to be brown—tree trunks, rocks, dirt—is all covered up with squashy green stuff here,” I complained.
I tried to describe impossible things like the scent of creosote—bitter, slightly resinous, but still pleasant—the high, keening sound of the cicadas in July, the feathery barrenness of the trees, the very size of the sky, extending white-blue from horizon to horizon, barely interrupted by the low mountains covered with purple volcanic rock. The hardest thing to explain was why it was so beautiful to me—to justify a beauty that didn’t depend on the sparse, spiny vegetation that often looked half dead, a beauty that had more to do with the exposed shape of the land, with the shallow bowls of valleys between the craggy hills, and the way they held on to the sun. I found myself using my hands as I tried to describe it to him.
My eyes wandered again to the beautiful instrument on the platform by the door. I suddenly remembered my childhood fantasy that, should I ever win a lottery, I would buy a grand piano for my mother. She wasn’t really good—she only played for herself on our secondhand upright—but I loved to watch her play. She was happy, absorbed—she seemed like a new, mysterious being to me then, someone outside the “mom” persona I took for granted.