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The Twilight Saga 2: New Moon: Page 15
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The rest of the day passed quickly, my thoughts focused on planning for tonight. I knew from experience that once I got Jessica talking, I would be able to get away with a few mumbled responses at the appropriate moments. Only minimal interaction would be required.
The thick haze that blurred my days now was sometimes confusing. I was surprised when I found myself in my room, not clearly remembering the drive home from school or even opening the front door. But that didn't matter. Losing track of time was the most I asked from life.
I didn't fight the haze as I turned to my closet. The numbness was more essential in some places than in others. I barely registered what I was looking at as I slid the door aside to reveal the pile of rubbish on the left side of my closet, under the clothes I never wore.
My eyes did not stray toward the black garbage bag that held my present from that last birthday, did not see the shape of the stereo where it strained against the black plastic; I didn't think of the bloody mess my nails had been when I'd finished clawing it out of the dashboard.
I yanked the old purse I rarely used off the nail it hung from, and shoved the door shut.
Just then I heard a horn honking. I swiftly traded my wallet from my schoolbag into the purse. I was in a
hurry, as if rushing would somehow make the night pass more quickly.
I glanced at myself in the hall mirror before I opened the door, arranging my features carefully into a smile and trying to hold them there.
"Thanks for coming with me tonight," I told Jess as I climbed into the passenger seat, trying to infuse my tone with gratitude. It had been a while since I'd really thought about what I was saying to anyone besides Charlie. Jess was harder. I wasn't sure which were the right emotions to fake.
"Sure. So, what brought this on?" Jess wondered as she drove down my street.
"Brought what on?"
"Why did you suddenly decide�� to go out?" It sounded like she changed her question halfway through.
I shrugged. "Just needed a change."
I recognized the song on the radio then, and quickly reached for the dial. "Do you mind?" I asked.
"No, go ahead."
I scanned through the stations until I found one that was harmless. I peeked at Jess's expression as the new music filled the car.
Her eyes squinted. "Since when do you listen to rap?"
"I don't know," I said. "A while."
"You like this?" she asked doubtfully.
It would be much too hard to interact with Jessica normally if I had to work to tune out the music, too. I nodded my head, hoping I was in time with the beat.
"Okay��" She stared out the windshield with wide eyes.
"So what's up with you and Mike these days?" I asked quickly.
"You see him more than I do."
The question hadn't started her talking like I'd hoped it would.
"It's hard to talk at work," I mumbled, and then I tried again. "Have you been out with anyone lately?"
"Not really. I go out with Conner sometimes. I went out with Eric two weeks ago." She rolled her eyes, and I sensed a long story. I clutched at the opportunity.
"Eric Yorkie? Who asked who?"
She groaned, getting more animated. "He did, of course! I couldn't think of a nice way to say no."
"Where did he take you?" I demanded, knowing she would interpret my eagerness as interest.
"Tell me all about it."
She launched into her tale, and I settled into my seat, more comfortable now. I paid strict attention,
murmuring in sympathy and gasping in horror as called for. When she was finished with her Eric story, she continued into a Conner comparison without any prodding.
The movie was playing early, so Jess thought we should hit the twilight showing and eat later. I was happy to go along with whatever she wanted; after all, I was getting what I wanted��Charlie off my back.
I kept Jess talking through the previews, so I could ignore them more easily. But I got nervous when the movie started. A young couple was walking along a beach, swinging hands and discussing their mutual affection with gooey falseness. I resisted the urge to cover my ears and start humming. I had not bargained for a romance.
"I thought we picked the zombie movie," I hissed to Jessica.
"This is the zombie movie."
"Then why isn't anyone getting eaten?" I asked desperately.
She looked at me with wide eyes that were almost alarmed. "I'm sure that part's coming," she whispered.
"I'm getting popcorn. Do you want any?"
Someone shushed us from behind.
I took my time at the concession counter, watching the clock and debating what percentage of a ninety-minute movie could be spent on romantic exposition. I decided ten minutes was more than enough, but I paused just inside the theater doors to be sure. I could hear horrified screams blaring from the speakers, so I knew I'd waited long enough.
"You missed everything," Jess murmured when I slid back into my seat. "Almost everyone is a zombie now."
"Long line." I offered her some popcorn. She took a handful.
The rest of the movie was comprised of gruesome zombie attacks and endless screaming from the handful of people left alive, their numbers dwindling quickly. I would have thought there was nothing in that to disturb me. But I felt uneasy, and I wasn't sure why at first.
It wasn't until almost the very end, as I watched a haggard zombie shambling after the last shrieking survivor, that I realized what the problem was. The scene kept cutting between the horrified face of the heroine, and the dead, emotionless face of her pursuer, back and forth as it closed the distance.
And I realized which one resembled me the most.
I stood up.
"Where are you going? There's, like, two minutes left," Jess hissed.
"I need a drink," I muttered as I raced for the exit.
I sat down on the bench outside the theater door and tried very hard not to think of the irony. But it was ironic, all things considered, that, in the end, I would wind up as a zombie. I hadn't seen that one coming.
Not that I hadn't dreamed of becoming a mythical monster once��just never a grotesque, animated corpse. I shook my head to dislodge that train of thought, feeling panicky. I couldn't afford to think about what I'd once dreamed of.
It was depressing to realize that I wasn't the heroine anymore, that my story was over.
Jessica came out of the theater doors and hesitated, probably wondering where the best place was to search for me. When she saw me, she looked relieved, but only for a moment. Then she looked irritated.
"Was the movie too scary for you?" she wondered.
"Yeah," I agreed. "I guess I'm just a coward."
"That's funny." She frowned. "I didn't think you were scared��I was screaming all the time, but I didn't hear you scream once. So I didn't know why you left."
I shrugged. "Just scared."
She relaxed a little. "That was the scariest movie I think I've ever seen. I'll bet we're going to have nightmares tonight."
"No doubt about that," I said, trying to keep my voice normal. It was inevitable that I would have nightmares, but they wouldn't be about zombies. Her eyes flashed to my face and away. Maybe I hadn't succeeded with the normal voice.
"Where do you want to eat?" Jess asked.
"I don't care."
Jess started talking about the male lead in the movie as we walked. I nodded as she gushed over his hotness, unable to remember seeing a non-zombie man at all.
I didn't watch where Jessica was leading me. I was only vaguely aware that it was dark and quieter now. It took me longer than it should have to realize why it was quiet. Jessica had stopped babbling. I looked at her apologetically, hoping I hadn't hurt her feelings.
Jessica wasn't looking at me. Her face was tense; she stared straight ahead and walked fast. As I watched, her eyes darted quickly to the right, across the road, and back again.
I glanced around myself for the first time.
We were on a short stretch of unlit sidewalk. The little shops lining the street were all locked up for the night, windows black. Half a block ahead, the streetlights started up again, and I could see, farther down, the bright golden arches of the McDonald's she was heading for.
Across the street there was one open business. The windows were covered from inside and there were neon signs, advertisements for different brands of beer, glowing in front of them. The biggest sign, in brilliant green, was the name of the bar��One-Eyed Pete's. I wondered if there was some pirate theme not visible from outside. The metal door was propped open; it was dimly lit inside, and the low murmur of many voices and the sound of ice clinking in glasses floated across the street. Lounging against the wall beside the door were four men.
I glanced back at Jessica. Her eyes were fixed on the path ahead and she moved briskly. She didn't look
frightened��just wary, trying to not attract attention to herself.
I paused without thinking, looking back at the four men with a strong sense of d��j�� vu.
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