For my big sister, Emily,
Without whose enthusiasm this story might still be unfinished.
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,
Thou shalt not eat of it:
For in the day that thou eatest thereof
Thou shalt surely die.
I’d never given much thought to how I would die – though I’d had reason enough in the last few months – but even if I had, I would not have imagined it like this.
I stared without breathing across the long room, into the dark eyes of the hunter, and he looked pleasantly back at me.
Surely it was a good way to die, in the place of someone else, someone I loved. Noble, even. That ought to count for something.
I knew that if I’d never gone to Forks, I wouldn’t be facing death now. But, terrified as I was, I couldn’t bring myself to regret the decision. When life offers you a dream so far beyond any of your expectations, it’s not reasonable to grieve when it comes to an end.
The hunter smiled in a friendly way as he sauntered forward to kill me.
1 FIRST SIGHT
My mother drove me to the airport with the windows rolled down. It was seventy-five degrees in Phoenix, the sky a perfect, cloudless blue. I was wearing my favorite shirt – sleeveless, white eyelet lace; I was wearing it as a farewell gesture. My carry-on item was a parka.
In the Olympic Peninsula of northwest Washington State, a small town named Forks exists under a near-constant cover of clouds. It rains on this inconsequential town more than any other place in the United States of America. It was from this town and its gloomy, omnipresent shade that my mother escaped with me when I was only a few months old. It was in this town that I’d been compelled to spend a month every summer until I was fourteen. That was the year I finally put my foot down; these past three summers,
my dad, Charlie, vacationed with me in California for two weeks instead.
It was to Forks that I now exiled myself – an action that I took with great horror. I detested Forks.
I loved Phoenix. I loved the sun and the blistering heat. I loved the vigorous, sprawling city.
“Bella,” my mom said to me – the last of a thousand times – before I got on the plane. “You don’t have to do this.”
My mom looks like me, except with short hair and laugh lines. I felt a spasm of panic as I stared at her wide, childlike eyes. How could I leave my loving, erratic, harebrained mother to fend for herself? Of course she had Phil now, so the bills would probably get paid, there would be food in the refrigerator, gas in her car, and someone to call when she got lost, but still…
“I want to go,” I lied. I’d always been a bad liar, but I’d been saying this lie so frequently lately that it sounded almost convincing now.
“Tell Charlie I said hi.”
“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 she was gone.
It’s a four-hour flight from Phoenix to Seattle, another hour in a small plane 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 was a little worried about.
Charlie had really been fairly nice about the whole thing.