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Chapter 1 First Sight

      My mother drove me to the airport with the windows rolled down. It wasseventy-five degrees in Phoenix, the sky a perfect, cloudless blue. I waswearing my favorite shirt — sleeveless, white eyelet lace; I was wearingit as a farewell gesture. My carry-on item was a parka.

  In the Olympic Peninsula of northwest Washington State, a small townnamed Forks exists under a near-constant cover of clouds. It rains onthis inconsequential town more than any other place in the United Statesof America. It was from this town and its gloomy, omnipresent shade thatmy mother escaped with me when I was only a few months old. It was inthis town that I'd been compelled to spend a month every summer until Iwas fourteen. That was the year I finally put my foot down; these pastthree summers, my dad, Charlie, vacationed with me in California for twoweeks instead.

  It was to Forks that I now exiled myself— an action that I took withgreat horror. I detested Forks.

  I loved Phoenix. I loved the sun and the blistering heat. I loved thevigorous, sprawling city.

  "Bella," my mom said to me — the last of a thousand times — before I goton the plane. "You don't have to do this."My mom looks like me, except with short hair and laugh lines. I felt aspasm of panic as I stared at her wide, childlike eyes. How could I leavemy loving, erratic, harebrained mother to fend for herself? Of course shehad Phil now, so the bills would probably get paid, there would be foodin the refrigerator, gas in her car, and someone to call when she gotlost, but still…"I want to go," I lied. I'd always been a bad liar, but I'd been sayingthis lie so frequently lately that it sounded almost convincing now.

  "Tell Charlie I said hi.""I will.""I'll see you soon," she insisted. "You can come home whenever you want —I'll come right back as soon as you need me."But I could see the sacrifice in her eyes behind the promise.

  "Don't worry about me," I urged. "It'll be great. I love you, Mom."She hugged me tightly for a minute, and then I got on the plane, and shewas gone.

  It's a four-hour flight from Phoenix to Seattle, another hour in a smallplane up to Port Angeles, and then an hour drive back down to Forks.

  Flying doesn't bother me; the hour in the car with Charlie, though, I wasa little worried about.

  Charlie had really been fairly nice about the whole thing. He seemedgenuinely pleased that I was coming to live with him for the first timewith any degree of permanence. He'd already gotten me registered for highschool and was going to help me get a car.

  But it was sure to be awkward with Charlie. Neither of us was what anyonewould call verbose, and I didn't know what there was to say regardless. Iknew he was more than a little confused by my decision — like my motherbefore me, I hadn't made a secret of my distaste for Forks.

  When I landed in Port Angeles, it was raining. I didn't see it as an omen— just unavoidable. I'd already said my goodbyes to the sun.

  Charlie was waiting for me with the cruiser. This I was expecting, too.

  Charlie is Police Chief Swan to the good people of Forks. My primarymotivation behind buying a car, despite the scarcity of my funds, wasthat I refused to be driven around town in a car with red and blue lightson top. Nothing slows down traffic like a cop.

   Charlie gave me an awkward, one-armed hug when I stumbled my way off theplane.

  "It's good to see you, Bells," he said, smiling as he automaticallycaught and steadied me. "You haven't changed much. How's Renée?""Mom's fine. It's good to see you, too, Dad." I wasn't allowed to callhim Charlie to his face.

  I had only a few bags. Most of my Arizona clothes were too permeable forWashington. My mom and I had pooled our resources to supplement my winterwardrobe, but it was still scanty. It all fit easily into the trunk ofthe cruiser.

  "I found a good car for you, really cheap," he announced when we werestrapped in.

  "What kind of car?" I was suspicious of the way he said "good car foryou" as opposed to just "good car.""Well, it's a truck actually, a Chevy.""Where did you find it?""Do you remember Billy Black down at La Push?" La Push is the tiny Indianreservation on the coast.

  "No.""He used to go fishing with us during the summer," Charlie prompted.

  That would explain why I didn't remember him. I do a good job of blockingpainful, unnecessary things from my memory.

  "He's in a wheelchair now," Charlie continued when I didn't respond, "sohe can't drive anymore, and he offered to sell me his truck cheap.""What year is it?" I could see from his change of expression that thiswas the question he was hoping I wouldn't ask.

  "Well, Billy's done a lot of work on the engine — it's only a few yearsold, really."I hoped he didn't think so little of me as to believe I would give upthat easily. "When did he buy it?""He bought it in 1984, I think.""Did he buy it new?""Well, no. I think it was new in the early sixties — or late fifties atthe earliest," he admitted sheepishly.

  "Ch — Dad, I don't really know anything about cars. I wouldn't be able tofix it if anything went wrong, and I couldn't afford a mechanic…""Really, Bella, the thing runs great. They don't build them like thatanymore."The thing, I thought to myself… it had possibilities — as a nickname, atthe very least.

  "How cheap is cheap?" After all, that was the part I couldn't compromiseon.

  "Well, honey, I kind of already bought it for you. As a homecoming gift."Charlie peeked sideways at me with a hopeful expression.

  Wow. Free.

  "You didn't need to do that, Dad. I was going to buy myself a car." "I don't mind. I want you to be happy here." He was looking ahead at theroad when he said this. Charlie wasn't comfortable with expressing hisemotions out loud. I inherited that from him. So I was looking straightahead as I responded.

  "That's really nice, Dad. Thanks. I really appreciate it." No need to addthat my being happy in Forks is an impossibility. He didn't need tosuffer along with me. And I never looked a free truck in the mouth — orengine.

  "Well, now, you're welcome," he mumbled, embarrassed by my thanks.

  We exchanged a few more comments on the weather, which was wet, and thatwas pretty much it for Conversation. We stared out the windows in silence.

  It was beautiful, of course; I couldn't deny that. Everything was green:

  the trees, their trunks covered with moss, their branches hanging with acanopy of it, the ground covered with ferns. Even the air filtered downgreenly through the leaves.

  It was too green — an alien planet.

  Eventually we made it to Charlie's. He still lived in the small,two-bedroom house that he'd bought with my mother in the early days oftheir marriage. Those were the only kind of days their marriage had — theearly ones. There, parked on the street in front of the house that neverchanged, was my new — well, new to me — truck. It was a faded red color,with big, rounded fenders and a bulbous cab. To my intense surprise, Iloved it. I didn't know if it would run, but I could see myself in it.

  Plus, it was one of those solid iron affairs that never gets damaged —the kind you see at the scene of an accident, paint unscratched,surrounded by the pieces of the foreign car it had destroyed.

  "Wow, Dad, I love it! Thanks!" Now my horrific day tomorrow would be justthat much less dreadful. I wouldn't be faced with the choice of eitherwalking two miles in the rain to school or accepting a ride in theChief's cruiser.

  "I'm glad you like it," Charlie said gruffly, embarrassed again.

  It took only one trip to get all my stuff upstairs. I got the westbedroom that faced out over the front yard. The room was familiar; it hadbeen belonged to me since I was born. The wooden floor, the light bluewalls, the peaked ceiling, the yellowed lace curtains around the window —these were all a part of my childhood. The only changes Charlie had evermade were switching the crib for a bed and adding a desk as I grew. Thedesk now held a secondhand computer, with the phone line for the modemstapled along the floor to the nearest phone jack. This was a stipulationfrom my mother, so that we could stay in touch easily. The rocking chairfrom my baby days was still in the corner.

  There was only one small bathroom at the top of the stairs, which I wouldhave to share with Charlie. I was trying not to dwell too much on thatfact.

  One of the best things about Charlie is he doesn't hover. He left mealone to unpack and get settled, a feat that would have been altogetherimpossible for my mother. It was nice to be alone, not to have to smileand look pleased; a relief to stare dejectedly out the window at thesheeting rain and let just a few tears escape. I wasn't in the mood to goon a real crying jag. I would save that for bedtime, when I would have tothink about the coming morning.

  Forks High School had a frightening total of only three hundred andfifty-seven — now fifty-eight — students; there were more than sevenhundred people in my junior class alone back home. All of the kids herehad grown up together — their grandparents had been toddlers together.

  I would be the new girl from the big city, a curiosity, a freak.

  Maybe, if I looked like a girl from Phoenix should, I could work this to my advantage. But physically, I'd never fit in anywhere. I should be tan,sporty, blond — a volleyball player, or a cheerleader, perhaps — all thethings that go with living in the valley of the sun.

  Instead, I was ivory-skinned, without even the excuse of blue eyes or redhair, despite the constant sunshine. I had always been slender, but softsomehow, obviously not an athlete; I didn't have the necessary hand-eyecoordination to play sports without humiliating myself — and harming bothmyself and anyone else who stood too close.

  When I finished putting my clothes in the old pine dresser, I took my bagof bathroom necessities and went to the communal bathroom to clean myselfup after the day of travel. I looked at my face in the mirror as Ibrushed through my tangled, damp hair. Maybe it was the light, butalready I looked sallower, unhealthy. My skin could be pretty — it wasvery clear, almost translucent-looking — but it all depended on color. Ihad no color here.

  Facing my pallid reflection in the mirror, I was forced to admit that Iwas lying to myself. It wasn't just physically that I'd never fit in. Andif I couldn't find a niche in a school with three thousand people, whatwere my chances here?

  I didn't relate well to people my age. Maybe the truth was that I didn'trelate well to people, period. Even my mother, who I was closer to thananyone else on the planet, was never in harmony with me, never on exactlythe same page. Sometimes I wondered if I was seeing the same thingsthrough my eyes that the rest of the world was seeing through theirs.

  Maybe there was a glitch in my brain. But the cause didn't matter. Allthat mattered was the effect. And tomorrow would be just the beginning.

  I didn't sleep well that night, even after I was done crying. Theconstant whooshing of the rain and wind across the roof wouldn't fadeinto the background. I pulled the faded old quilt over my head, and lateradded the pillow, too. But I couldn't fall asleep until after midnight,when the rain finally settled into a quieter drizzle.

  Thick fog was all I could see out my window in the morning, and I couldfeel the claustrophobia creeping up on me. You could never see the skyhere; it was like a cage.

  Breakfast with Charlie was a quiet event. He wished me good luck atschool. I thanked him, knowing his hope was wasted. Good luck tended toavoid me. Charlie left first, off to the police station that was his wifeand family. After he left, I sat at the old square oak table in one ofthe three unmatching chairs and examined his small kitchen, with its darkpaneled walls, bright yellow cabinets, and white linoleum floor. Nothingwas changed. My mother had painted the cabinets eighteen years ago in anattempt to bring some sunshine into the house. Over the small fireplacein the adjoining handkerchief-sized family room was a row of pictures.

  First a wedding picture of Charlie and my mom in Las Vegas, then one ofthe three of us in the hospital after I was born, taken by a helpfulnurse, followed by the procession of my school pictures up to lastyear's. Those were embarrassing to look at — I would have to see what Icould do to get Charlie to put them somewhere else, at least while I wasliving here.

  It was impossible, being in this house, not to realize that Charlie hadnever gotten over my mom. It made me uncomfortable.

  I didn't want to be too early to school, but I couldn't stay in the houseanymore. I donned my jacket — which had the feel of a biohazard suit —and headed out into the rain.

  It was just drizzling still, not enough to soak me through immediately asI reached for the house key that was always hidden under the eaves by thedoor, and locked up. The sloshing of my new waterproof boots wasunnerving. I missed the normal crunch of gravel as I walked. I couldn'tpause and admire my truck again as I wanted; I was in a hurry to get outof the misty wet that swirled around my head and clung to my hair under my hood.

  Inside the truck, it was nice and dry. Either Billy or Charlie hadobviously cleaned it up, but the tan upholstered seats still smelledfaintly of tobacco, gasoline, and peppermint. The engine started quickly,to my relief, but loudly, roaring to life and then idling at top volume.

  Well, a truck this old was bound to have a flaw. The antique radioworked, a plus that I hadn't expected.

  Finding the school wasn't difficult, though I'd never been there before.

  The school was, like most other things, just off the highway. It was notobvious that it was a school; only the sign, which declared it to be theForks High School, made me stop. It looked like a collection of matchinghouses, built with maroon-colored bricks. There were so many trees andshrubs I couldn't see its size at first. Where was the feel of theinstitution? I wondered nostalgically. Where were the chain-link fences,the metal detectors?

  I parked in front of the first building, which had a small sign over thedoor reading front office. No one else was parked there, so I was sure itwas off limits, but I decided I would get directions inside instead ofcircling around in the rain like an idiot. I stepped unwillingly out ofthe toasty truck cab and walked down a little stone path lined with darkhedges. I took a deep breath before opening the door.

  Inside, it was brightly lit, and warmer than I'd hoped. The office wassmall; a little waiting area with padded folding chairs, orange-fleckedcommercial carpet, notices and awards cluttering the walls, a big clockticking loudly. Plants grew everywhere in large plastic pots, as if therewasn't enough greenery outside. The room was cut in half by a longcounter, cluttered with wire baskets full of papers and brightly coloredflyers taped to its front. There were three desks behind the counter, oneof which was manned by a large, red-haired woman wearing glasses. She waswearing a purple t-shirt, which immediately made me feel overdressed.

  The red-haired woman looked up. "Can I help you?""I'm Isabella Swan," I informed her, and saw the immediate awarenesslight her eyes. I was expected, a topic of gossip no doubt. Daughter ofthe Chief's flighty ex-wife, come home at last.

  "Of course," she said. She dug through a precariously stacked pile ofdocuments on her desk till she found the ones she was looking for. "Ihave your schedule right here, and a map of the school." She broughtseveral sheets to the counter to show roe.

  She went through my classes for me, highlighting the best route to eachon the map, and gave me a slip to have each teacher sign, which I was tobring back at the end of the day. She smiled at me and hoped, likeCharlie, that I would like it here in Forks. I smiled back asconvincingly as I could.

  When I went back out to my truck, other students were starting to arrive.

  I drove around the school, following the line of traffic. I was glad tosee that most of the cars were older like mine, nothing flashy. At homeI'd lived in one of the few lower-income neighborhoods that were includedin the Paradise Valley District. It was a common thing to see a newMercedes or Porsche in the student lot. The nicest car here was a shinyVolvo, and it stood out. Still, I cut the engine as soon as I was in aspot, so that the thunderous volume wouldn't draw attention to me.

  I looked at the map in the truck, trying to memorize it now; hopefully Iwouldn't have to walk around with it stuck in front of my nose all day. Istuffed everything in my bag, slung the strap over my shoulder, andsucked in a huge breath. I can do this, I lied to myself feebly. No onewas going to bite me. I finally exhaled and stepped out of the truck.

  I kept my face pulled back into my hood as I walked to the sidewalk,crowded with teenagers. My plain black jacket didn't stand out, I noticedwith relief.

  Once I got around the cafeteria, building three was easy to spot. A large black "3" was painted on a white square on the east corner. I felt mybreathing gradually creeping toward hyperventilation as I approached thedoor. I tried holding my breath as I followed two unisex raincoatsthrough the door.

  The classroom was small. The people in front of me stopped just insidethe door to hang up their coats on a long row of hooks. I copied them.

  They were two girls, one a porcelain-colored blonde, the other also pale,with light brown hair. At least my skin wouldn't be a standout here.

  I took the slip up to the teacher, a tall, balding man whose desk had anameplate identifying him as Mr. Mason. He gawked at me when he saw myname — not an encouraging response — and of course I flushed tomato red.

  But at least he sent me to an empty desk at the back without introducingme to the class. It was harder for my new classmates to stare at me inthe back, but somehow, they managed. I kept my eyes down on the readinglist the teacher had given me. It was fairly basic: Bronte, Shakespeare,Chaucer, Faulkner. I'd already read everything. That was comforting… andboring. I wondered if my mom would send me my folder of old essays, or ifshe would think that was cheating. I went through different argumentswith her in my head while the teacher droned on.

  When the bell rang, a nasal buzzing sound, a gangly boy with skinproblems and hair black as an oil slick leaned across the aisle to talkto me.

  "You're Isabella Swan, aren't you?" He looked like the overly helpful,chess club type.

  "Bella," I corrected. Everyone within a three-seat radius turned to lookat me.

  "Where's your next class?" he asked.

  I had to check in my bag. "Um, Government, with Jefferson, in buildingsix."There was nowhere to look without meeting curious eyes.

  "I'm headed toward building four, I could show you the way…" Definitelyover-helpful. "I'm Eric," he added.

  I smiled tentatively. "Thanks."We got our jackets and headed out into the rain, which had picked up. Icould have sworn several people behind us were walking close enough toeavesdrop. I hoped I wasn't getting paranoid.

  "So, this is a lot different than Phoenix, huh?" he asked.

  "Very.""It doesn't rain much there, does it?""Three or four times a year.""Wow, what must that be like?" he wondered.

  "Sunny," I told him.

  "You don't look very tan.""My mother is part albino."He studied my face apprehensively, and I sighed. It looked like cloudsand a sense of humor didn't mix. A few months of this and I'd forget howto use sarcasm.

  We walked back around the cafeteria, to the south buildings by the gym.

  Eric walked me right to the door, though it was clearly marked.

  "Well, good luck," he said as I touched the handle. "Maybe we'll have some other classes together." He sounded hopeful.

  I smiled at him vaguely and went inside.

  The rest of the morning passed in about the same fashion. My Trigonometryteacher, Mr. Varner, who I would have hated anyway just because of thesubject he taught, was the only one who made me stand in front of theclass and introduce myself. I stammered, blushed, and tripped over my ownboots on the way to my seat.

  After two classes, I started to recognize several of the faces in eachclass. There was always someone braver than the others who wouldintroduce themselves and ask me questions about how I was liking Forks. Itried to be diplomatic, but mostly I just lied a lot. At least I neverneeded the map.

  One girl sat next to me in both Trig and Spanish, and she walked with meto the cafeteria for lunch. She was tiny, several inches shorter than myfive feet four inches, but her wildly curly dark hair made up a lot ofthe difference between our heights. I couldn't remember her name, so Ismiled and nodded as she prattled about teachers and classes. I didn'ttry to keep up.

  We sat at the end of a full table with several of her friends, who sheintroduced to me. I forgot all their names as soon as she spoke them.

  They seemed impressed by her bravery in speaking to me. The boy fromEnglish, Eric, waved at me from across the room.

  It was there, sitting in the lunchroom, trying to make conversation withseven curious strangers, that I first saw them.

  They were sitting in the corner of the cafeteria, as far away from whereI sat as possible in the long room. There were five of them. They weren'ttalking, and they weren't eating, though they each had a tray ofuntouched food in front of them. They weren't gawking at me, unlike mostof the other students, so it was safe to stare at them without fear ofmeeting an excessively interested pair of eyes. But it was none of thesethings that caught, and held, my attention.

  They didn't look anything alike. Of the three boys, one was big — muscledlike a serious weight lifter, with dark, curly hair. Another was taller,leaner, but still muscular, and honey blond. The last was lanky, lessbulky, with untidy, bronze-colored hair. He was more boyish than theothers, who looked like they could be in college, or even teachers hererather than students.

  The girls were opposites. The tall one was statuesque. She had abeautiful figure, the kind you saw on the cover of the Sports Illustratedswimsuit issue, the kind that made every girl around her take a hit onher self-esteem just by being in the same room. Her hair was golden,gently waving to the middle of her back. The short girl was pixielike,thin in the extreme, with small features. Her hair was a deep black,cropped short and pointing in every direction.

  And yet, they were all exactly alike. Every one of them was chalky pale,the palest of all the students living in this sunless town. Paler thanme, the albino. They all had very dark eyes despite the range in hairtones. They also had dark shadows under those eyes — purplish, bruiselikeshadows. As if they were all suffering from a sleepless night, or almostdone recovering from a broken nose. Though their noses, all theirfeatures, were straight, perfect, angular.

  But all this is not why I couldn't look away.

  I stared because their faces, so different, so similar, were alldevastatingly, inhumanly beautiful. They were faces you never expected tosee except perhaps on the airbrushed pages of a fashion magazine. Orpainted by an old master as the face of an angel. It was hard to decidewho was the most beautiful — maybe the perfect blond girl, or thebronze-haired boy.

  They were all looking away — away from each other, away from the other students, away from anything in particular as far as I could tell. As Iwatched, the small girl rose with her tray — unopened soda, unbittenapple — and walked away with a quick, graceful lope that belonged on arunway. I watched, amazed at her lithe dancer's step, till she dumped hertray and glided through the back door, faster than I would have thoughtpossible. My eyes darted back to the others, who sat unchanging.

  "Who are they?" I asked the girl from my Spanish class, whose name I'dforgotten.

  As she looked up to see who I meant — though already knowing, probably,from my tone — suddenly he looked at her, the thinner one, the boyishone, the youngest, perhaps. He looked at my neighbor for just a fractionof a second, and then his dark eyes flickered to mine.

  He looked away quickly, more quickly than I could, though in a flush ofembarrassment I dropped my eyes at once. In that brief flash of a glance,his face held nothing of interest — it was as if she had called his name,and he'd looked up in involuntary response, already having decided not toanswer.

  My neighbor giggled in embarrassment, looking at the table like I did.

  "That's Edward and Emmett Cullen, and Rosalie and Jasper Hale. The onewho left was Alice Cullen; they all live together with Dr. Cullen and hiswife." She said this under her breath.

  I glanced sideways at the beautiful boy, who was looking at his tray now,picking a bagel to pieces with long, pale fingers. His mouth was movingvery quickly, his perfect lips barely opening. The other three stilllooked away, and yet I felt he was speaking quietly to them.

  Strange, unpopular names, I thought. The kinds of names grandparents had.

  But maybe that was in vogue here — small town names? I finally rememberedthat my neighbor was called Jessica, a perfectly common name. There weretwo girls named Jessica in my History class back home.

  "They are… very nice-looking." I struggled with the conspicuousunderstatement.

  "Yes!" Jessica agreed with another giggle. "They're all together though —Emmett and Rosalie, and Jasper and Alice, I mean. And they livetogether." Her voice held all the shock and condemnation of the smalltown, I thought critically. But, if I was being honest, I had to admitthat even in Phoenix, it would cause gossip.

  "Which ones are the Cullens?" I asked. "They don't look related…""Oh, they're not. Dr. Cullen is really young, in his twenties or earlythirties. They're all adopted. The Hales are brother and sister, twins —the blondes — and they're foster children.""They look a little old for foster children.""They are now, Jasper and Rosalie are both eighteen, but they've beenwith Mrs. Cullen since they were eight. She's their aunt or somethinglike that.""That's really kind of nice — for them to take care of all those kidslike that, when they're so young and everything.""I guess so," Jessica admitted reluctantly, and I got the impression thatshe didn't like the doctor and his wife for some reason. With the glancesshe was throwing at their adopted children, I would presume the reasonwas jealousy. "I think that Mrs. Cullen can't have any kids, though," sheadded, as if that lessened their kindness.

  Throughout all this conversation, my eyes flickered again and again tothe table where the strange family sat. They continued to look at thewalls and not eat.

  "Have they always lived in Forks?" I asked. Surely I would have noticed them on one of my summers here.

  "No," she said in a voice that implied it should be obvious, even to anew arrival like me. "They just moved down two years ago from somewherein Alaska."I felt a surge of pity, and relief. Pity because, as beautiful as theywere, they were outsiders, clearly not accepted. Relief that I wasn't theonly newcomer here, and certainly not the most interesting by anystandard.

  As I examined them, the youngest, one of the Cullens, looked up and metmy gaze, this time with evident curiosity in his expression. As I lookedswiftly away, it seemed to me that his glance held some kind of unmetexpectation.

  "Which one is the boy with the reddish brown hair?" I asked. I peeked athim from the corner of my eye, and he was still staring at me, but notgawking like the other students had today — he had a slightly frustratedexpression. I looked down again.

  "That's Edward. He's gorgeous, of course, but don't waste your time. Hedoesn't date. Apparently none of the girls here are good-looking enoughfor him." She sniffed, a clear case of sour grapes. I wondered when he'dturned her down.

  I bit my lip to hide my smile. Then I glanced at him again. His face wasturned away, but I thought his cheek appeared lifted, as if he weresmiling, too.

  After a few more minutes, the four of them left the table together. Theyall were noticeably graceful — even the big, brawny one. It wasunsettling to watch. The one named Edward didn't look at me again.

  I sat at the table with Jessica and her friends longer than I would haveif I'd been sitting alone. I was anxious not to be late for class on myfirst day. One of my new acquaintances, who considerately reminded methat her name was Angela, had Biology II with me the next hour. We walkedto class together in silence. She was shy, too.

  When we entered the classroom, Angela went to sit at a black-topped labtable exactly like the ones I was used to. She already had a neighbor. Infact, all the tables were filled but one. Next to the center aisle, Irecognized Edward Cullen by his unusual hair, sitting next to that singleopen seat.

  As I walked down the aisle to introduce myself to the teacher and get myslip signed, I was watching him surreptitiously. Just as I passed, hesuddenly went rigid in his seat. He stared at me again, meeting my eyeswith the strangest expression on his face — it was hostile, furious. Ilooked away quickly, shocked, going red again. I stumbled over a book inthe walkway and had to catch myself on the edge of a table. The girlsitting there giggled.

  I'd noticed that his eyes were black — coal black.

  Mr. Banner signed my slip and handed me a book with no nonsense aboutintroductions. I could tell we were going to get along. Of course, he hadno choice but to send me to the one open seat in the middle of the room.

  I kept my eyes down as I went to sit by him, bewildered by theantagonistic stare he'd given me.

  I didn't look up as I set my book on the table and took my seat, but Isaw his posture change from the corner of my eye. He was leaning awayfrom me, sitting on the extreme edge of his chair and averting his facelike he smelled something bad. Inconspicuously, I sniffed my hair. Itsmelled like strawberries, the scent of my favorite shampoo. It seemed aninnocent enough odor. I let my hair fall over my right shoulder, making adark curtain between us, and tried to pay attention to the teacher.

  Unfortunately the lecture was on cellular anatomy, something I'd alreadystudied. I took notes carefully anyway, always looking down.

   I couldn't stop myself from peeking occasionally through the screen of myhair at the strange boy next to me. During the whole class, he neverrelaxed his stiff position on the edge of his chair, sitting as far fromme as possible. I could see his hand on his left leg was clenched into afist, tendons standing out under his pale skin. This, too, he neverrelaxed. He had the long sleeves of his white shirt pushed up to hiselbows, and his forearm was surprisingly hard and muscular beneath hislight skin. He wasn't nearly as slight as he'd looked next to his burlybrother.

  The class seemed to drag on longer than the others. Was it because theday was finally coming to a close, or because I was waiting for his tightfist to loosen? It never did; he continued to sit so still it looked likehe wasn't breathing. What was wrong with him? Was this his normalbehavior? I questioned my judgment on Jessica's bitterness at lunchtoday. Maybe she was not as resentful as I'd thought.

  It couldn't have anything to do with me. He didn't know me from Eve.

  I peeked up at him one more time, and regretted it. He was glaring downat me again, his black eyes full of revulsion. As I flinched away fromhim, shrinking against my chair, the phrase if looks could kill suddenlyran through my mind.

  At that moment, the bell rang loudly, making me jump, and Edward Cullenwas out of his seat. Fluidly he rose — he was much taller than I'dthought — his back to me, and he was out the door before anyone else wasout of their seat.

  I sat frozen in my seat, staring blankly after him. He was so mean. Itwasn't fair. I began gathering up my things slowly, trying to block theanger that filled me, for fear my eyes would tear up. For some reason, mytemper was hardwired to my tear ducts. I usually cried when I was angry,a humiliating tendency.

  "Aren't you Isabella Swan?" a male voice asked.

  I looked up to see a cute, baby-faced boy, his pale blond hair carefullygelled into orderly spikes, smiling at me in a friendly way. He obviouslydidn't think I smelled bad.

  "Bella," I corrected him, with a smile.

  "I'm Mike.""Hi, Mike.""Do you need any help finding your next class?""I'm headed to the gym, actually. I think I can find it.""That's my next class, too." He seemed thrilled, though it wasn't thatbig of a coincidence in a school this small.

  We walked to class together; he was a chatterer — he supplied most of theconversation, which made it easy for me. He'd lived in California till hewas ten, so he knew how I felt about the sun. It turned out he was in myEnglish class also. He was the nicest person I'd met today.

  But as we were entering the gym, he asked, "So, did you stab EdwardCullen with a pencil or what? I've never seen him act like that."I cringed. So I wasn't the only one who had noticed. And, apparently,that wasn't Edward Cullen's usual behavior. I decided to play dumb.

  "Was that the boy I sat next to in Biology?" I asked artlessly.

  "Yes," he said. "He looked like he was in pain or something.""I don't know," I responded. "I never spoke to him." "He's a weird guy." Mike lingered by me instead of heading to thedressing room. "If I were lucky enough to sit by you, I would have talkedto you."I smiled at him before walking through the girls' locker room door. Hewas friendly and clearly admiring. But it wasn't enough to ease myirritation.

  The Gym teacher, Coach Clapp, found me a uniform but didn't make me dressdown for today's class. At home, only two years of RE. were required.

  Here, P.E. was mandatory all four years. Forks was literally my personalhell on Earth.

  I watched four volleyball games running simultaneously. Remembering howmany injuries I had sustained — and inflicted — playing volleyball, Ifelt faintly nauseated.

  The final bell rang at last. I walked slowly to the office to return mypaperwork. The rain had drifted away, but the wind was strong, andcolder. I wrapped my arms around myself.

  When I walked into the warm office, I almost turned around and walkedback out.

  Edward Cullen stood at the desk in front of me. I recognized again thattousled bronze hair. He didn't appear to notice the sound of my entrance.

  I stood pressed against the back wall, waiting for the receptionist to befree.

  He was arguing with her in a low, attractive voice. I quickly picked upthe gist of the argument. He was trying to trade from sixth-hour Biologyto another time — any other time.

  I just couldn't believe that this was about me. It had to be somethingelse, something that happened before I entered the Biology room. The lookon his face must have been about another aggravation entirely. It wasimpossible that this stranger could take such a sudden, intense disliketo me.

  The door opened again, and the cold wind suddenly gusted through theroom, rustling the papers on the desk, swirling my hair around my face.

  The girl who came in merely stepped to the desk, placed a note in thewire basket, and walked out again. But Edward Cullen's back stiffened,and he turned slowly to glare at me — his face was absurdly handsome —with piercing, hate-filled eyes. For an instant, I felt a thrill ofgenuine fear, raising the hair on my arms. The look only lasted a second,but it chilled me more than the freezing wind. He turned back to thereceptionist.

  "Never mind, then," he said hastily in a voice like velvet. "I can seethat it's impossible. Thank you so much for your help." And he turned onhis heel without another look at me, and disappeared out the door.

  I went meekly to the desk, my face white for once instead of red, andhanded her the signed slip.

  "How did your first day go, dear?" the receptionist asked maternally.

  "Fine," I lied, my voice weak. She didn't look convinced.

  When I got to the truck, it was almost the last car in the lot. It seemedlike a haven, already the closest thing to home I had in this damp greenhole. I sat inside for a while, just staring out the windshield blankly.

  But soon I was cold enough to need the heater, so I turned the key andthe engine roared to life. I headed back to Charlie's house, fightingtears the whole way there.

第一章 初见

我母亲开车载我去机场,车窗开着。七十五华氏度,凤凰城,天空是澄澈的,不带一丝云影的湛蓝。我穿着我最喜欢的衬衫——无袖,带着白色的网眼蕾丝。我穿着它,作为一种告别的仪式。我随身携带的物品只是一件皮夹克。

在华盛顿州西北部的奥林匹亚山脉,有个永远笼罩在阴霾里的名叫福克斯的小镇。这里的雨水多得不可思议,比美利坚合众国的其他任何地方都要多。就是从这个小镇,我母亲带着我逃出来,逃离那里充斥着的压抑的阴霾,那时我才几个月大。就在这个小镇,每个夏天我都被逼着去那里过上一个月,直到我十四岁那年。那年我终于坚定表明了我并不想去。而后的几个夏天,我的父亲,查理,只好带我去加利福尼亚度过两周的假期作为替代。

现在,我把自己放逐到了福克斯——这是一个我自认为十分崇高的举动。我讨厌福克斯。

我热爱凤凰城。我热爱这里的阳光和热浪。我热爱这个生气勃勃,不断扩张着的城市。

“贝拉,”在我上飞机前,我母亲第一千遍地对我说,“你真的不必这样做。”

我母亲和我长得很像,除了短短的头发和笑纹。当我注视着她大大的,孩童般的双眼时,我感到一阵突如其来的痉挛。我怎能离开我挚爱的、稳定性极差的、粗心大意的母亲,让她自己照顾自己呢?当然现在她有菲尔,账单有人付,冰箱有人补充食物,车有人加油,当她迷路时也有可打电话求助的人,但是……

“我真的想去。”我撒谎道。我通常是个蹩脚的说谎者,但我如此频繁地重复这个谎言,以至于它现在听起来很有说服力。

“替我向查理问好。”

“我会的。”

“我很快就会来看你的,”她强调。“不管任何时候,只要你想回家,你就只管回来——只要你需要,我会立刻赶过来。”

但我能从她的双眼里看出她会为此作出的牺牲。

“不用担心我,”我竭力劝说。“一切都会顺利的。我爱你,妈妈。”

她紧紧地拥抱了我一分钟,然后我上飞机,她离去。

从凤凰城飞到西雅图要四个小时,然后转到一架小飞机飞一个小时到天使港,最后还要开一个小时车才能到达福克斯。飞行对我没什么影响,但我却有些害怕和查理待在一辆车里的那一个小时。

查理对整件事相当的接受。他真的很高兴,因为这是我第一次,也几乎是永久性的搬来和他住在一起。他甚至为我办好了高中入学手续,还打算帮我弄辆车。

但和查理相处仍毫无疑问地是件尴尬事。我们都不擅长谈话,我也不知道有什么事情可以让我们毫无顾忌地谈论。我知道他对我的决定仍有些困惑,就像我母亲在我面前表现的那样,因为我从未掩饰过我对福克斯的厌恶。

当我抵达天使港时,天下着雨。我不打算把这视为某种征兆——这只是不可避免的现实。我已经和阳光作别了。

查理在一辆巡逻车旁等着我,这也是我预料之中的事。查理是福克斯镇的良好市民的史温警长。我虽然囊中羞涩也要买辆车的主要动机,就是不想坐着顶上有红蓝色灯的车在镇里乱晃。警察可是造成交通堵塞的万恶之首。

我跌跌绊绊地从飞机上下来以后,查理只伸出一只手有些尴尬地拥抱了我一下。

“很高兴见到你,贝拉。”他微笑着说,不假思索地抓住我让我稳住。“你没多大变化。蕾妮好吗?”

“妈妈很好。我也很高兴见到你,爸爸。”他们不让我当面叫他查理。
我只带了几袋行李,我在亚利桑那州的大部分衣物对华盛顿州的气候来说都太薄了。我母亲和我把钱凑起来给我添置了一些冬装,但这仍远远不够。这几袋行李很容易就塞进了巡逻车的后备箱。

“我弄了辆适合你的好车,相当便宜。”当我们系上安全带时,他宣布道。

“什么样的车?”我对他放着简简单单的“好车”不说,却故意说是“适合你的好车”这点很是怀疑。

“嗯,确切地说是辆卡车,一辆雪佛兰。”

“你在哪儿弄到的?”

“你还记得拉普什的黑仔比利吧?”拉普什是在海岸线上的一个小小的印第安人保留区。

“不记得。”

“夏天时他曾经跟我们一起去钓鱼。”查理提示我。

这解释了我为什么不记得他。把那些充满痛苦的,不必要的回忆抹去是我的拿手好戏。

“他现在坐轮椅了,”我不作声,查理只得继续说道:“所以他再也不能开车了,他主动把他的卡车便宜卖我了。”

“哪年的车?”我可以从他骤变的神色看出,这是一个他不希望我提起的问题。

“嗯,比利在引擎上下了不少力气——才几年的车,真的。”

我希望他不要这样小看我,认为我会轻易放弃。“他哪年买的?”

“我想,他是在1984年买的。”

“他买的时候是辆新车吗?”

“嗯,不,我想它是六十年代早期的车——最早也是五十年代的。”他爽快地承认了。

“查——爸爸,我对汽车一无所知。如果它坏了我没办法自己去修理它,我也没有钱请个修理工……”

“真的,贝拉。这家伙跑得棒极了。他们再也没有生产过像这样的好车。”

这家伙,我暗自思索着……这可能是——是个昵称,极有可能。

“好了,宝贝,作为欢迎你回家的礼物,我几乎已经算是买下来了。”查理满怀希望地偷看着我。

哈,免费。

“你不必这样做的,爸爸。我打算自己买辆车的。”

“我不介意。我只想让你在这里过得快乐。”他说这些时直视着前方的路面。查理不擅长坦白地表达自己的感受。在这方面我受他的遗传。于是作为回应我也直直地向前看着。

“真的太棒了,爸爸。谢谢。我真的很感激。”不必补充我在福克斯感到快乐是个不可能事件。他本不必忍受与我相处的漫长时光。更何况,馈赠之马不看牙——或者引擎。

“嗯,现在,欢迎回来。”他喃喃道,对我的感谢尴尬不已。

我们交换了一点对天气的看法,包括今天是否有些潮湿。在没有更多的话题可供讨论以后,我们都沉默地看着窗外。

当然,这里很美。我不能否认这一点。一切都是绿色的:那些树,树干上长满了苔藓,枝干上挂着的绿叶宛如穹庐,地面覆盖着蕨科植物。就连空气都像被叶子过滤了一样弥漫着绿意。

这里太绿了——对我来说像外星球一样。

最终我们抵达了查理的房子。他依然住在那栋小小的、只有两个卧室的房子里。那是他和我母亲新婚燕尔时他买下来的房子。他们的婚姻也只持续了那些日子——较早的那些。在那儿,停靠在房子前的街道上的,确凿无疑,是我的新——嗯,对我来说是新的——卡车。它是辆褪色的红色卡车,有着巨大的圆形的挡泥板,还有一个灯泡状的驾驶室。让我十分吃惊的是,我喜欢这辆车。我不知道它还能不能动,但我从它身上看到了我自己。它是那种永远也撞不坏坚硬的铁家伙——就是那种你在事故现场看到的车,漆都没蹭掉半块,周围全是它毁坏的外国汽车的碎片。

“哇,爸爸。我喜欢它!谢谢!”现在我恐怖的明天将不会那么吓人了。我不必再面对是在雨中步行两英里去学校还是坐着警长开的巡逻车去学校的两难选择了。

只一趟我的全部行李就被全部搬上了楼。我住在西面正对着前院的卧室。这个卧室对我来说毫不陌生,从我出生时起它就属于我了。原木地板,淡蓝色的壁纸,尖尖的天花板,窗上淡黄色的蕾丝窗帘——这些都是我童年的一部分。唯一的变化是随着我天天长大查理把摇篮换成了床铺还添了一个写字桌。写字桌上现在摆着一台二手电脑,连着长长的拖过地板的电话线接着调制解调器到最近的电话接口。这是与我母亲的约定,这样我们就可以更方便地联系了。我孩提时的摇椅依然放在角落里。
福克斯中学有着惊人的学生数目,357——现在是358——名学生;在我家那边仅初中部就有超过700名学生。所有的孩子都是在一块儿长大的——他们的爷爷奶奶在蹒跚学步时就在一起了。

我将成为从大城市里转来的女孩,一个新鲜的,古怪的存在。

也许,如果我看起来像是个来自凤凰城的女孩,我能更占些优势。但事实上,我和任何地方都格格不入。我应当是棕褐色的,运动型的,发色发浅的——一个排球运动员,或者一个拉拉队队长,也许——拥有一些看起来像是生活在日光城的特征。

但相反的,我拥有着象牙白色的肌肤——不是因为蓝眼睛或者红头发的反衬——持续充足的阳光对我毫无作用。我身材纤细,但有些单薄,显然不是个运动家的身材;我也没有足够的平衡感来参与运动而不让自己蒙羞——不伤到自己或者任何离我太近的人。

把所有的衣服都塞进那口老旧的松木衣橱后,我拿上洗漱包到与查理共用的浴室里,洗去身上的一路风尘。在我洗那一团纠结的、潮湿的头发时,我盯着镜中自己的脸。也许是光线的缘故,我看上去脸色发黄,形容憔悴。我的肌肤本可以很美的——它原是明亮的,近乎透明的雪白——但它需要好气色。我现在毫无神采。(这段翻译得很烂。。。我对外表描述最没辙了。。。)

看着镜子里我黯淡的身影,我被迫承认我一直在对自己撒谎。我只是不能接受现实。如果我在一个三千人的学校里都找不到自己的位置,我在这里又有什么机遇可言?

我和同龄人相处得并不好。也许事实是我无法与人相处。甚至是我的母亲,她是我在这个星球上最亲近的人,她也从未与我和谐相处过,至少从未步调一致过。有时我会怀疑透过我眼睛所看到的世界是否和他们所看到的一致。也许是我的脑子有问题。但这都无关紧要。重要的是结果。而明天即将开始。

那天晚上我睡得不好,即便在我大哭一场以后也没睡好。连绵的风雨声穿透屋顶,丝毫没有减弱为背景音乐的迹象。我扯过褪色的旧棉被蒙住头,最后连枕头也压上了。但我直到午夜才能入睡,那时侯降雨终于变为比较安静的毛毛细雨。

清晨,当我向窗外望去时,我只能看到浓重的雾霾。我可以感到幽闭恐惧症正在向我袭来。你不会有机会看到这里的天空。这像个笼子。

和查理共进早餐是件安静的事。他祝我在学校过得愉快。我感谢他,但知道他的希望只是白费。好运总是躲着我。查理先走了,去了警署,那里更像是他的家。在他离开后,我坐进靠着那张老旧的橡木方桌放着的三张不配对的椅子的其中一张,审视着他小小的厨房。灰暗的墙壁嵌板,明黄色的壁橱,白色的油毯地面。什么都没变。壁橱是我母亲十八年前粉刷的,她想给这座房子引些阳光进来。小小的壁炉上方,紧挨着只有手帕大小的家庭活动室,是一组照片。第一张是查理和我母亲在拉斯维加斯拍的结婚照,然后是我们三个在医院的合照,是一位好心的护士帮忙拍的。紧接着的是一系列之后我在学校里的照片。看到这些实在让人尴尬——我希望我能说服查理把这些照片放到别处去,至少在我住在这里的时候。

呆在这所房子里,很难让人不意识到查理根本从未真正忘掉我母亲。这让我感到不自在。

我不想太早去学校,但我在这房子里再也呆不下去了。我穿上我的夹克——感觉更像是生化防护服——一头冲进雨中。

天仍然下着蒙蒙细雨,但不足以在我拿藏在门檐下的钥匙并锁门时把我淋透。我新买的防水靴溅起泥水的声音让人烦躁。当我走动时我怀念着踏在碎石上的应该有的吱嘎声。我无法像我期望的那样停下来确认我的卡车。我急于离开这种雾蒙蒙的潮湿,它让我的头一阵阵眩晕,让我的头发紧贴着我的兜帽。

卡车里舒适而干燥。不是比利就是查理把这里清理得干干净净。但皮制软垫座椅上依然散发着淡淡的烟草,汽油和薄荷的味道。引擎发动得很快,这让我感到宽慰,但噪声很大,响得要命,在空转时到达最高声量。好吧,这把年纪的卡车不可避免地会有一点瑕疵。那台老古董收音机居然还能用,这可是个意外收获。 
 找到学校并不困难,尽管我此前从未去过那里。这所学校,像其他大多数建筑一样,就建在高速公路旁。但作为一所学校它太不显眼了;除了那个标志,声明它就是福克斯中学,才让我停下车来。它看上去像是由一组一模一样的,用红砖砌成的楼房组成的。这里有太多的大树和灌木,让我无法一眼看清它的校园大小。教育机构的感觉在哪里?我怀着满腹乡愁思索着。插着铁藜的高墙在哪里?金属探测器在哪里?

我把车停在了第一栋建筑物前面,这里的门上有个小小的牌子写着总务处。没有人把车停在这儿,所以我确定这里是不许停车的。但我决定不管它,径直走进去,而不是像个白痴一样在雨里兜圈子。我不情愿地离开暖和舒适的驾驶室,走过一段小石子砌成的、围着暗色树篱的小径。我深深吸了一口气,然后推开门。

屋子里比我希望的还要明亮和温暖。这间办公室很小,有一个摆着折叠椅的小小的等待区,地上铺着橘黄色斑点的商用地毯,布告和奖状混杂着贴满墙壁,墙上的钟滴答滴答,声音响亮。养在大大的塑料容器里的绿色植物随处可见,就好像外头还不够绿一样。这间屋子被一张长长的柜台切成两半,柜台上杂乱地摆了装满了文件的、前端绑着亮彩丝带的铁丝筐。柜台后有三张办公桌,其中一张属于一位身躯庞大戴眼镜的红发女士。她只穿着一件粉色T恤衫,这立刻让我感到自己穿得太多了。

那位红发女士抬头看过来:“有什么事吗?”

“我是伊莎贝拉?史温。”我告诉她,却见她眼睛一亮。毫无疑问,我是期待已久的八卦头条。警长轻浮的前妻的女儿终于回家了。

“当然。”她说。她在桌上摇摇欲坠的文件堆里翻找着,直到找到她想要找的那些文件。“这是你的课程表,还有一张校园地图。”她拿着几份表格到柜台给我看。

她和我一起讨论了我的课程,在地图上标出上课的最佳路线,然后给我一张纸条让各科老师在上面签名,一天结束以后我再把纸条带回来给她。她对我微笑,像查理一样,希望我将会喜欢这里。我也向她微笑,尽可能笑得更让人信服一些。

当我回到车上时,别的一些学生也陆续到校了。我开车穿过校园,紧跟着大部队。我很高兴看到大多数的车都像我的车老旧,一点儿也不浮华。在凤凰城我住在少数几个由天堂谷区辖管的低收入区里。但在学生堆里看到一辆奔驰或是保时捷是件寻常事。而在这里,最好的车是一辆闪闪发光的沃尔沃,它显得格外突出。我在陷入窘境以前迅速地关掉了引擎,防止它雷鸣般的轰鸣给我招来太多关注。

我在车里看着地图,力求现在就记住它的内容。我可不想一整天都把它展在鼻子底下走路。我把所有东西都塞进书包里,把书包带甩到肩后,然后深吸一口气。我能做到的,我对自己说着苍白无力的谎言。没有人正等着咬我一口。(我喜欢这句话,草蛇伏灰,线在千里之外,呵呵)最终我呼了口气,走下车来。

我把脸隐藏在兜帽下,走向挤满了少男少女的人行道。我式样简洁的黑夹克在人群里一点儿也不突出,这让我感到欣慰。

在我绕过自助餐厅后,很容易就找到了三号楼。一个大大的黑色的“3”写在楼东角一处白色方块里。在走到门前时,我能感到我的呼吸越来越用力,快透不过气来了。我试图稳住自己的呼吸,跟着两个穿着不分男女的雨衣的人走进大门。

这间教室很小。走在我前面的两个人一进门就停住了,把他们的雨衣挂在长长的一排挂钩上。我学着他们的样子做。原来那是两个女孩,一个有着瓷器般的肌肤和明亮的金发,另一个肤色也很浅,头发是浅褐色的。至少我的肤色在这里不是那么突兀的存在了。

我把纸条拿给老师,那是一个高大的、有些谢顶的男人,桌上的名牌写着他是梅森老师。当他看到我的名字时他目瞪口呆地看着我——对我来说这不是个令人鼓舞的举动——当然我立刻满脸通红。但最终他把我领到一张空桌子旁,没让我向全班自我介绍。这样我的新同班同学们就很难从后面偷偷瞄我了,但无论如何,他们还是办到了。我埋头看老师开给我的阅读清单。都是些很基本的内容:布朗蒂,莎士比亚,乔叟,福克纳。这些我都读过。这让人感到宽慰……也感到无聊。我思索着能不能让我母亲把我装着旧论文的文件夹给寄过来,或者说她会不会认为这是作弊。老师讲课的时候,我在脑海里和母亲不停着作着各种争论。

铃声响了起来,一个嗓音尖细,身材瘦长,满脸粉刺的黑发男孩像油一样滑行冲过过道来和我说话。

“你是伊莎贝拉?史温,对吧?”他看上去像是过分热情的象棋俱乐部成员。

“贝拉,”我更正。距我半径三排以内的每一个人都转过头来看我。

“你下一堂课是什么?”他问道。

我不得不在我书包里翻找着。“嗯,gover-nment课,杰斐逊的课,在六号楼。”

无论我向哪个方向看,都无法避开一双双好奇的眼睛。

“我要去四号楼,我可以给你带路……”显然是热情过头了。“我是埃里克。”他补充到。

我尝试着微笑:“谢谢。”
我们穿上夹克,冲进如影随行的雨幕中。我可以发誓有好几个人紧跟在我们后面,近得都能偷听到我们对话。我希望我不要变得这样多疑。

“嗯,这里跟凤凰城很不一样,嗯?”他问道。

“很不一样。”

“那里不常下雨,对吧?”

“一年三四次。”

“哇,那会是什么样的感觉?”他疑惑地问。

“阳光灿烂。”我告诉他。

“你看上不太黑。”

“我母亲是半个白化病人。”

他担心地审视着我的脸。我叹了口气。这里看上去乌云密布,和幽默感格格不入。几个月以后我就会忘记怎么说反讽话了。

我们往回走,绕过自助餐厅,走到南边体育馆旁的建筑物那里。埃里克让我直走到门口,尽管门上标得清清楚楚。

“好了,祝你好运,”当我摸到门把手时他说。“也许我们还会有别的课一起上。”他听上去满心期待。

我对他敷衍地一笑,走了进去。

这个上午的余下时间都在同样的模式中度过。教我三角函数的瓦尔纳老师——我本该只因为他教的科目而讨厌他——是唯一一个让我站在全班面前做自我介绍的人。我红着脸,结结巴巴地说完,然后在回到座位的路上还绊到了我自己。

两堂课后,我开始认得每堂课上的一些面孔。总有一些人比别人更勇敢地过来介绍他自己,问我是否喜欢福克斯等诸如此类的问题。我试图回答得更老练些,但大多数情况下我只是在不停地说谎。至少我用不着那张地图了。

有个女孩在三角函数课和西班牙语课上都坐在我旁边,午餐时间她和我一起去自助餐厅。她个子娇小,比我五英尺四英寸的身高矮几英寸,但她蓬松的黑色卷发填补了一些我们身高上的差距。我没记住她的名字,所以当她喋喋不休地谈论着老师和课程时我只能微笑和点头。我不打算跟进她的话题。

我们坐在一张坐满她的朋友的长桌尽头,她向她的几个朋友介绍我。她一说完我就忘掉了他们的名字。他们看上去对她敢于和我说话这点印象深刻。那个来自英国的男孩,埃里克,从房间的另一头向我招手。

就在这里,坐在餐厅里,尝试着和七个好奇的陌生人对话的时候,我第一次见到他们。

他们坐在自助餐厅的一角,与我坐的地方隔着长长的房间。他们五个人,既不交谈,也不吃东西,尽管他们每个人面前都摆着一盘不曾动过的食物。他们不像大多数学生那样呆呆地盯着我看,因此盯着他们看很安全,不必担心遇上一双太过感兴趣的眼睛。但这些都不是吸引我注意力的原因。

他们的长相并不相似。三个男孩中的一个体格健硕——浑身的肌肉像个专业举重运动员——长着一头卷曲的黑发。另一个男孩更高些,瘦削些,但还是很健壮,头发是蜜色的。最后一个男孩身材瘦长,更纤细些,有着慵懒凌乱的红发。他比另外两个显得更孩子气些,那两个看上去更像是大学生,或者说,更像这里的老师而不像是学生。

两个女孩刚好是相反的类型。高个子的女孩长得像雕像一样。她有着美丽的轮廓,就是你会在运动画报游泳版封面上看到的那种,只是和她呆在一个房间,就能让她周围的每个女孩子自尊都深受打击的美丽。她的头发是金黄色的,轻轻地飘拂在她的后背中间。那个矮个子女孩看上去像个精灵,身材极其纤细,有着小巧精致的五官。她黝黑的头发剪得很短,向各个方向张扬着。

但是,他们也有相似之处。他们都像粉笔一样苍白,比生活在这个缺乏阳光的小镇里的任何学生都要苍白。比我这个白化病人还要白。无论发色深浅,他们都有着黑色的眸子。在他们的眼睛下都有着黑色的阴影——略带紫色的,瘀伤一样的阴影。就好像他们经历了一个无眠之夜,又或者是鼻子折断了还没好。尽管他们的鼻子,他们的五官,都既笔挺又完美,棱角分明。

但这都不是我无法收回视线的缘故。
我盯着看是因为他们的脸,如此不同而又如此相似的,近乎嘲讽的,超越常人的美丽。他们的面孔,你不会有机会在时尚杂志的彩页以外的任何地方看到这样的面孔。就像是古老的画家所画出的天使的面孔。很难判断谁长得最美——也许是那个完美的金发女孩,又或者是那个红发男孩。

他们都看着别处——没有看着彼此,也没有看着别的学生,没有看着任何我能确定他们在看的东西。在我这样看着的时候,那个小个子女孩端着盘子站起来——盘子上的苏打水没有开封,苹果也没被咬过——用一种敏捷优雅的,只属于T型台的步子走起来。我惊异地看着她柔美的舞者般的步子,直到她把盘子倒掉,行云流水般地从后门走出去,速度超乎我想象的快。我重新把目光投向剩下的几个人,他们仍一动不动地坐着。

“他们是谁?”我询问和我一起上西班牙语课,名字我忘了的女孩。

当她抬头看向我所指的人时——也许从我的声音里就已经听出来了——忽然,他看着她,那个最瘦的,最孩子气的,也许是最年轻的男孩。他只盯着我的邻座看了几分之一秒,然后,他深邃的双眼对上了我的眼睛。

他很快收回了目光,比我还快,尽管我立刻就红着脸尴尬得垂下了眼。在那惊鸿一瞥中,他脸上没有任何感兴趣的神情。也许只是因为她说了他的名字,他本能的看了过来,但决定了不作回应。

我的邻座局促不安地傻笑着,跟我一样盯着桌子看。

“那是爱德华和艾密特?卡伦兄弟,还有罗莎莉和贾斯帕?黑尔姐弟。走了的那个是爱丽丝?卡伦,他们都和卡伦博士夫妇住在一起。”她低声说道。

我从一旁瞥了一眼那个俊美的男孩,他现在盯着自己的盘子看,用纤长苍白的手指拿起一个面包圈撕成一片片。他的嘴动得很快,他漂亮的嘴唇只是微微张开。其余三个依然看着别处,但我可以感觉到他是在小声跟他们说话。

奇怪的,复古的名字,我这样想着。这样的名字是祖父母辈才用的名字。但也许在这里很时髦?——小镇里的名字?我最终想起来坐我旁边的女孩叫杰西卡,一个相当普通的名字。在我家那边我的历史课上就有两个叫杰西卡的女生。

“他们……很好看。”我努力但又太过明显地掩饰着。

“没错!”杰西卡表示赞成,又是一阵傻笑。“但他们都成双成对——我是指,艾密特和罗莎莉,贾斯帕和爱丽丝。而且他们都住在一起



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