It was 7:08 a.m. and I needed iced coffee immediately. I was so groggy I'd almost forgotten what day it was.
“Hell’s Bell!” Dad said, handing me a brightly colored gift bag, festooned with ribbons.
“Daa—aad,” I groaned, after gulping my can of coffee. “You said you wouldn’t make a big deal out of it.”
“Yeah, but no, I changed my mind,” he said, “Happy Birthday. Come on, open it!”
I took out the contents of a bag: a pretty nice digital camera (the battery already charged up) and a $50 gift card for the local gas station.
“Wow, this is pretty cool,” I said, examining the camera. “Thanks, Dad.”
“Now that card is for gas, not for buying slurpees for your friends,” Dad said, trying and failing to sound stern.
“I don’t even like slurpees,” I laughed, “but my friends are coming over tonight and we’re ordering pizza.”
“Oh God, a house full of hormonal teenagers, that’ll be great,” Dad said, biting into an Eggo waffle.
“Whatever, take a selfie with me,” I said, playing with my new camera. Dad leaned over and we both smiled for the picture.
“Happy 18th, kid,” he said wistfully. “I wish I could slow down time, sometimes.”
“Well, that's why we take pictures,” I said, showing him our photo on the display screen.
Not every high school does morning homeroom sessions, but Forks High did, and the school was small enough that I had homeroom with all of my friends for senior year.
I had just sat down at my desk, when Jessica produced a package of Chips Ahoy with a single candle unceremoniously jabbed in the middle of it.
“I can’t bake, but happy birthday anyway, B!” she said.
“Hell yeah, cookies!” said Mike, reaching to grab one.
Jessica lightly slapped Mike’s hand away, scolding him: “Birthday girl gets the first cookie, neanderthal.”
“Now that you’re eighteen, can you legally buy us cigarettes?” Mike asked with hope in his eyes while rubbing his knuckles.
“Not in Washington state, dumbass,” Eric said.
“But she can vote now!” Angela pointed out.
“Dork,” said Jessica with affection, then to me, "Are we gonna see Jayyy-cob tonight?"
"Um, yeah," I said, fidgeting and blushing, "He said he'll come by around eight." I had been seeing Jacob for most of the summer. I don't know if you'd call it dating necessarily, we hadn't even kissed yet, but did frequently hold hands which always made me giddy in an embarrassing sort of way. Jacob wouldn't be my first kiss (that would be Jamie Dohrman back in 9th grade) but with any luck, he would be the first kiss from my first boyfriend.
After last period, I was walking through the lot to my truck when I saw an unfamiliar car parked next to mine: a Porsche. A slight figure exited the Porsche and hovered next to my truck. My heart seized in my chest and my lungs felt like they were full of glass shards: I recognized her even though I didn't know her name. One of the golden-eyed Cullen kids. And she was waiting for me.
"Please," she said, extending her hands out to me. "Please. I just want to talk. Will you talk to me?"
My fight-or-flight reaction had kicked in; I was so close to punching her.
"I'm so sorry, you were right about us, you were right about everything," the girl said in a rush, "I need your help, please. I'm Alice. Please talk to me?"