Tropic of Virgo
Chapter 1: Nocturnal Prelude
1:00am, and the suburbs of Phoenix were still scorching hot, with that shimmering mirage thatfloats off the surface of everything in the distance, and I was determined to soak it in, one lastnight before I left for good. Mom and Phil sensibly went to bed hours ago; the house was silent. Itiptoed through the dark rooms, carrying my tumbler full of iced tea and my battered old laptopto the back patio. I set both down on the umbrella table, next to my little pet cactus. A dry windruffled my hair and wandered off, listless and bored, looking for more interesting prey to teasewith its breeze. The heat settled back in, joining the night noises of distant traffic. I felt exposed,raw, and in a dangerous mood, but I had no outlet for the frustration that raked under my skin.Perhaps that was part of why I was leaving tomorrow; not just to spend the last two years of highschool with my father, but for the fresh start it might let me have. I needed more than thissolitary chaste existence I had boxed myself into; I was tired of being the shy one, withoutfriends to laugh with, my days filled with watching but never participating.At night, I ached for touch, for hands on my skin that were rougher than my own, and a mouthagainst mine. I wanted to experience more than I even knew how to dream about.Dreams. They had gotten more explicit lately, even painfully so. Sometimes, like tonight, I knewthey were coming, and avoided sleep altogether. How could my subconscious pull me into suchcrazed images of flesh and skin and thirst? These pathetic lips had never even been kissed; howcould I want what I'd never had so badly?I traced the drops of moisture that slid down the glass, but only sipped. Renee always mixed thetea too sweet and too strong, and I could not swallow the huge gulps that I wanted, until the icemelted enough to dilute it. I caught the cool drops on my fingertips and touched my neck, and letthe water run down into my cleavage.I wanted to be someone else, someone bold: someone who didn't reek of inexperience and need,someone who could look at a boy without blushing, or who relished attention and didn't run fromthe spotlight. I wanted to be graceful and flirty, not stumbling and shy; somebody who couldspeak sexy words aloud, rather than hide her longings in awkward written phrases.Sighing, I crossed my sticky legs lotus style, and flipped open the laptop.
2:00 am, and rain splashed down on Forks, beating a soothing white noise against my window. Itonly muffled the noise of the party raging downstairs, but every little bit helped. I was exhausted,slightly drunk, and wide awake. I was always like this when we had a good rehearsal; like anathletic workout, one was left tired and exhilarated. Emmett and Rose would drink after, Jasper and Alice would get high. I did either, or both, but usually preferred a more intimate release.