暮光之城 02

暮光之城 02

 

“What kind of car?” I was suspicious of 懷疑 the way he said “good car for you” as opposed to 相對於 just “good car.”

 

“Well, it’s a truck actually, a Chevy.”

“Where did you find it?”

 

“Do you remember Billy Black down at La Push?” La Push is the tiny Indian reservation 保留區 on the coast.

 

“No.”

“He used to go fishing with us during the summer,” Charlie prompted 提示 .

 

That would explain why I didn’t remember him. I do a good job of blocking 阻擋 painful, unnecessary things from my memory.

 

“He’s in a wheelchair 輪椅 now,” Charlie continued when I didn’t respond, “so he can’t drive anymore, and he offered 提議 to sell me his truck cheap.”

 

“What year is it?” I could see from his change of expression that this was the question he was hoping I wouldn’t ask.

 

“Well, Billy’s done a lot of work on the engine 引擎 — it’s only a few years old, really.”

 

I hoped he didn’t think so little of 看輕 me as to believe I would give up that easily. “When did he buy it?”

 

“He bought it in 1984, I think.”

“Did he buy it new?”

 

“Well, no. I think it was new in the early sixties — or late fifties at the earliest,” he admitted sheepishly 靦腆地.

 

“Ch — Dad, I don’t really know anything about cars. I wouldn’t be able to fix it if anything went wrong, and I couldn’t afford a mechanic 技師…”

 

“Really, Bella, the thing runs great. They don’t build them like that anymore.”

 

The thing, I thought to myself… it had possibilities — as a nickname, at the very least.

 

“How cheap is cheap?” After all, that was the part I couldn’t compromise on 妥協.

 

“Well, honey, I kind of already bought it for you. As a homecoming 回家的gift.”

 

Charlie peeked sideways 斜視 at me with a hopeful expression.

Wow. Free.

 

“You didn’t need to do that, Dad. I was going to buy myself a car.”

 

“I don’t mind. I want you to be happy here.” He was looking ahead at the road when he said this. Charlie wasn’t comfortable with expressing his emotions out loud. I inherited 遺傳 that from him. So I was looking straight ahead as I responded.

 

“That’s really nice, Dad. Thanks. I really appreciate it.”

 

There is no need to add that my being happy in Forks is an impossibility. He didn’t need to suffer along with me. And I never looked a free truck in the mouth — or engine.

 

“Well, now, you’re welcome,” he mumbled 咕嚕地說, embarrassed by my thanks. We exchanged a few more comments on the weather, which was wet, and that was pretty much it for Conversation. We stared out the windows in silence.

 

It was beautiful, of course; I couldn’t deny that. Everything was green: the trees, their trunks covered with moss 苔蘚 , their branches hanging with a canopy 樹頂 of it, the ground covered with fern 蕨類植物. Even the air filtered 過濾 down greenly through the leaves. It was too green — an alien 外來 planet 行星.

 

Eventually we made it to Charlie’s. He still lived in the small, two-bedroom house that he’d bought with my mother in the early days of their marriage. Those were the only kind of days their marriage had — the early ones. There, parked on the street in front of the house that never changed, was my new — well, new to me — truck. It was a faded 褪色的 red color, with big, rounded fenders 防護板 and a bulbous 球形的 cab. To my intense 強烈的surprise, Iloved it. I didn’t know if it would run, but I could see myself in it.

 

Plus 而且, it was one of those solid 堅固的iron affairs that never gets damaged —the kind you see at the scene of an accident, paint unscratched 未被刮傷, surrounded by the pieces of the foreign car it had destroyed.

 

“Wow, Dad, I love it! Thanks!” Now my horrific day tomorrow would be just that much less dreadful. I wouldn’t be faced with the choice of either walking two miles in the rain to school or accepting a ride in the Chief’s cruiser 巡邏車.

 

“I’m glad you like it,” Charlie said gruffly 嚴肅地說, embarrassed again. It took only one trip to get all my stuff upstairs. I got the west bedroom that faced out over the front yard. The room was familiar; it had been belonged to me since I was born. The wooden floor, the light blue walls, the peaked 尖頂 ceiling 天花板, the yellowed lace curtains 窗簾 around the window —these were all a part of my childhood. The only changes Charlie had ever made were switching the crib 嬰兒床 for a bed and adding a desk as I grew. The desk now held a secondhand computer, with the phone line for the modem 數據機 stapled 釘住along the floor to the nearest phone jack 插座. This was a stipulation 規定 from my mother, so that we could stay in touch easily. The rocking chair 搖椅 from my baby days was still in the corner.

 

There was only one small bathroom at the top of the stairs, which I would have to share with Charlie. I was trying not to dwell too much on 詳述 that fact.

 

One of the best things about Charlie is he doesn’t hover 俳徊. He left me alone to unpack 打開行李 and get settled, a feat 技巧that would have been altogether 完全 impossible for my mother. It was nice to be alone, not to have to smile and look pleased; a relief to stare dejectedly 沮喪地 out the window at the sheeting 一大片 rain and let just a few tears escape. I wasn’t in the mood to go on a real crying jag 一陣哭. I would save that for bedtime, when I would have to think about the coming morning.

 

Forks High School had a frightening total of only three hundred and fifty-seven — now fifty-eight — students; there were more than seven hundred people in my junior class alone back home. All of the kids here had grown up together — their grandparents had been toddlers 幼童 together.

 

I would be the new girl from the big city, a curiosity, a freak 怪人

 

Maybe, if I looked like a girl from Phoenix should, I could work this to my advantage. But physically, I’d never fit in anywhere. I should be tan 皮膚曬黑, sporty 運動型, blond — a volleyball 排球 player, or a cheerleader, perhaps — all the things that go with living in the valley of the sun.

 

Instead, I was ivory-skinned 乳白皮膚, without even the excuse of blue eyes or red hair, despite the constant sunshine. I had always been slender, but soft somehow, obviously not an athlete; I didn’t have the necessary hand-eye coordination 協調 to play sports without humiliating 羞辱 myself — and harming both myself and anyone else who stood too close.

 

When I finished putting my clothes in the old pine dresser 松木衣櫃, I took my bag of bathroom necessities and went to the communal bathroom to clean myself up after the day of travel. I looked at my face in the mirror as I brushed through my tangled 糾纏, damp hair. Maybe it was the light, but already I looked sallower 氣色不好, unhealthy. My skin could be pretty — it was very clear, almost translucent-looking 清澈 — but it all depended on color. I had no color here.

 

 

Facing my pallid 蒼白的 reflection in the mirror, I was forced to admit that I was lying to myself. It wasn’t just physically that I’d never fit in. And if I couldn’t find a niche 適當地位 in a school with three thousand people, what were my chances here?

 

I didn’t relate well to 相處得好 people my age. Maybe the truth was that I didn’t relate well to people, period. Even my mother, who I was closer to than anyone else on the planet, was never in harmony 和諧 with me, never on exactly the same page. Sometimes I wondered if I was seeing the same things through my eyes that the rest of the world was seeing through theirs. Maybe there was a glitch 毛病 in my brain. But the cause didn’t matter. All that mattered was the effect. And tomorrow would be just the beginning.

 

I didn’t sleep well that night, even after I was done crying. The constant whooshing 淅瀝聲 of the rain and wind across the roof wouldn’t fade into the background. I pulled the faded old quilt 棉被 over my head, and later added the pillow, too. But I couldn’t fall asleep until after midnight, when the rain finally settled into a quieter drizzle毛毛雨. Thick fog was all I could see out my window in the morning, and I could feel the claustrophobia  幽閉恐怖症 creeping 爬上 up on me. You could never see the sky here; it was like a cage.

 

Breakfast with Charlie was a quiet event. He wished me good luck at school. I thanked him, knowing his hope was wasted. Good luck tended to avoid me. Charlie left first, off to the police station that was his wife and family. After he left, I sat at the old square oak 橡木 table in one of the three unmatching 不相配 chairs and examined his small kitchen, with its dark paneled walls, bright yellow cabinets, and white linoleum floor. Nothing was changed. My mother had painted the cabinets 櫥櫃eighteen years ago in an

attempt to bring some sunshine into the house. Over the small fireplace in the adjoining 鄰近的 handkerchief-sized family room was a row of pictures.

 

First a wedding picture of Charlie and my mom in Las Vegas, then one of the three of us in the hospital after I was born, taken by a helpful nurse, followed by the procession 一大排 of my school pictures up to last year’s. Those were embarrassing to look at — I would have to see what I could do to get Charlie to put them somewhere else, at least while I was living here..

 

It was impossible, being in this house, not to realize that Charlie had never gotten over my mom. It made me uncomfortable. I didn’t want to be too early to school, but I couldn’t stay in the house anymore. I donned 穿上 my jacket — which had the feel of a biohazard 防菌裝 suit —and headed out into the rain.

 

It was just drizzling 毛毛雨 still, not enough to soak me through immediately as I reached for the house key that was always hidden under the eaves 屋簷 by the door, and locked up. The sloshing 潑濺 of my new waterproof 防水 boots 長筒鞋 was unnerving 嚇人的. I missed the normal crunch 嘎吱聲of gravel 碎石 as I walked. I couldn’t pause and admire my truck again as I wanted; I was in a hurry to get out of the misty wet 迷霧的溼氣that swirled 旋轉 around my head and clung to my hair under my hood.

 

32hsiung@pchome.com.tw

雄伯

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