For my dad, Stephen Morgan –
No one has ever been given more loving and unconditional
Support than I have been given by you.
I love you, too.
These violent delights have violent ends And in their triumph die, like fire and powder, Which, as they kiss, consume.
Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene VI
I FELT LIKE I WAS TRAPPED IN ONE OF THOSE TERRIFYING nightmares, the one where you have to run, run till your lungs burst, but you can’t make your body move fast enough. My legs seemed to move slower and slower as I fought my way through the callous crowd, but the hands on the huge clock tower didn’t slow. With relentless, uncaring force, they turned inexorably toward the end – the end of everything.
But this was no dream, and, unlike the nightmare, I wasn’t running for my life; I was racing to save something infinitely more precious. My own life meant little to me
Alice had said there was a good chance we would both die here. Perhaps the outcome would be different if she weren’t trapped by the brilliant sunlight; only I was free to run across this bright, crowded square.
And I couldn’t run fast enough.
So it didn’t matter to me that we were surrounded by our extraordinarily dangerous enemies. As the clock began to toll out the hour, vibrating under the soles of my sluggish feet, I knew I was too late – and I was glad something bloodthirsty waited in the wings. For in failing at this, I forfeited any desire to live.
The clock tolled again, and the sun beat down from the exact center point of the sky.
I WAS NINETY-NINE POINT NINE PERCENT SURE I WAS dreaming.
The reasons I was so certain were that, first, I was standing in a bright shaft of sunlight – the kind of blinding clear sun that never shone on my drizzly new hometown in Forks, Washington – and second, I was looking at my Grandma Marie. Gran had been dead for six years now, so that was solid evidence toward the dream theory.
Gran hadn’t changed much; her face looked just the same as I remembered it. The skin was soft and withered, bent into a thousand tiny creases that clung gently to the bone underneath. Like a dried apricot, but with a puff of thick white hair standing out in a cloud around it.
Our mouths – hers a wizened picker – spread into the same surprised half-smile at just the same time. Apparently, she hadn’t been expecting to see me, either.
I was about to ask her a question; I had so many – What was she doing here in my cream? What had she been up to in the past six years? Was Pop okay, and had they found each other, wherever they were? – but she opened her mouth when I did, so I stopped to let her go first. She paused, too, and then we Goth smiled at the little awkwardness.
It wasn’t Gran who called my name, and we both turned to see the addition to our small reunion. I didn’t have to look to know who it was; this was a voice I would know anywhere – know, and respond to, whether I was awake or asleep… or even dead, I’d bet. The voice I’d walk through fire for – or, less dramatically, slosh every day through the cold and endless rain for.
Even though I was always thrilled to see him – conscious or otherwise – and even though I was almost positive that I was dreaming, I panicked as Edward walked toward us through the glaring sunlight.