1. First Sight
This was the time of day when I wished I were able to sleep.
Or was purgatory the right word? If there was any way to atone for my sins, this ought to count toward the tally in some measure. The tedium was not something I grew used to; every day seemed more impossibly monotonous than the last.
I suppose this was my form of sleep – if sleep was defined as the inert state between active periods.
I stared at the cracks running through the plaster in the far corner of the cafeteria, imagining patterns into them that were not there. It was one way to tune out the voices that babbled like the gush of a river inside my head.
Several hundred of these voices I ignored out of boredom.
When it came to the human mind, I’d heard it all before and then some. Today, all thoughts were consumed with the trivial drama of a new addition to the small student body here. It took so little to work them all up. I’d
seen the new face repeated in thought after thought from every angle. Just an ordinary human girl. The excitement over her arrival was tiresomely predictable – like flashing a shiny object at a child. Half the sheep-like males were already imagining themselves in love with her, just because she was something new to look at. I tried harder to tune them out.
Only four voices did I block out of courtesy rather than distaste: my family, my two brothers and two sisters, who were so used to the lack of privacy in my presence that they rarely gave it a thought. I gave them what privacy I could. I tried not to listen if I could help it.
Try as I may, still…I knew.
Rosalie was thinking, as usual, about herself. She’d caught sight of her profile in the reflection off someone’s glasses, and she was mulling over her own perfection. Rosalie’s mind was a shallow pool with few surprises.
Emmett was fuming over a wrestling match he’d lost to Jasper during the night. It would take all his limited patience to make it to the end of the school day to orchestrate a rematch. I never really felt intrusive hearing Emmett’s thoughts, because he never thought one thing that he would not say aloud or put into action. Perhaps I only felt guilty reading the others’ minds because I knew there were things there that they wouldn’t want me to know. If Rosalie’s mind was a shallow pool, then Emmett’s was a lake with no shadows, glass clear.
And Jasper was…suffering. I suppressed a sigh.
Edward. Alice called my name in her head, and had my attention at once.
It was just the same as having my name called aloud. I was glad my given name had fallen out of style lately – it had been annoying; anytime anyone thought of any Edward, my head would turn automatically…
My head didn’t turn now. Alice and I were good at these private conversations. It was rare that anyone caught us. I kept my eyes on the lines in the plaster.
How is he holding up? she asked me.
I frowned, just a small change in the set of my mouth. Nothing that would tip the others off. I could easily be frowning out of boredom.
Alice’s mental tone was alarmed now, and I saw in her mind that she was watching Jasper in her peripheral vision. Is there any danger? She searched ahead, into the immediate future, skimming through visions of monotony for the source behind my frown.
I turned my head slowly to the left, as if looking at the bricks of the wall, sighed, and then to the right, back to the cracks in the ceiling. Only Alice knew I was shaking my head.