Chapter 19: Evening Snow
Edie paused just long enough to grab her coat, which was hung on a hook in the theater lobby, before rushing out of the building. She wanted to put as much space as possible between her and Chris. Her hands were still shaking.
Halfway across campus toward the woods, she had started to warm up despite the icy air, and her mind wasn’t racing quite so much. She started to wonder why she had been so upset about the way Chris was acting. Corrie and Dawn—especially Corrie—were quite physically affectionate; it had made Edie uncomfortable at first, wondering if they were trying to flirt with her, but she’d never freaked out like that. And now she was used to them taking her hand, or putting their arms around her, or sitting close to her. If it had been Corrie doing what Chris was doing, Edie would have been totally comfortable.
But of course, it hadn’t been Corrie. She didn’t know Chris nearly so well, despite having spent so many evenings hanging out with that group. And—she slowed down as she thought of it—she’d never noticed Chris being so physical with any of the others. She’d never so much as touched Edie before. Not in front of Leila.
Yes, Chris had definitely been flirting. Edie felt sick to her stomach realizing it. But why? She shook her head, reprimanding herself as she reached the edge of the woods and walked in to the light shelter of the trees. A few snowflakes had begun to fall. She had no reason to feel guilty. It had been all Chris.
She looked around, located a convenient root, and sat down with her back to a tree, tucking her knees up in front of herself. Her reaction had probably been excessive, she realized now. True, it had gotten the message through that she was really not interested in Chris, but a lot of other things would have done the job just as well. Like saying “I’m not interested in you.” Edie sighed, watching the breath turn white as it froze in the air. She’d screwed up social interactions once again.
She stood—she was getting cold sitting on that tree root anyway—and was indecisive for a moment. She could go back and apologize for her overreaction. But that might embarrass Chris even more; the other girls probably didn’t know what had happened, absorbed in their conversation as they had been. Besides, she’d meant it when she talked about going to look for Leila. She had said she’d be there. She must have forgotten.
Edie took a deep breath and started walking. But she realized after a moment that she was walking deeper into the woods, not out to her dorm where she’d thought Leila might be looking for her. She frowned, then decided to keep on her path. She was headed toward Leila’s tree. That was where she was more likely to be, anyway.
As she walked, the snow started to fall more heavily, and the light changed; the moon was out brightly—it had been full the night before—and now it was reflecting off the snow that was falling on the ground and the tree branches. The night was silent, all the animals presumably hibernating or at least in hiding, and the snow was lovely. Now that she was moving, it wasn’t even that cold. Edie smiled. If nothing else, at least she was having a nice walk.
She wasn’t prepared for the stab of disappointment she felt when she reached Leila’s tree and there was no one there. She paused to swallow the lump in her throat, then started walking around the tree, checking its entire circumference though she didn’t have much hope. When she’d looked all around, she sighed and sat down on a root, with her back to the tree’s trunk again. It was surprisingly warm—much warmer than the other tree. But the snow, she saw as she leaned her head back, was landing on the branches just like the trees around it, and not melting. It was a strange tree… but hadn’t Leila said as much? She settled in more snugly against the tree, starting to feel sleepy.
Suddenly there was movement in the corner of her eye. She jumped up, looking around wildly. Her heart was racing. Had she been sleeping? Maybe she had dreamed that? But there was another flicker—she took a step towards it—and it resolved into Leila. Edie sagged against the tree, feeling a smile spreading across her face. “Leila! I was just looking for you. You forgot we were supposed to hang out with your friends tonight.”
“Did I?” Leila said, coming towards her. “I’m sorry, dear. What are you doing out here? You’ll catch your death. Let’s get you inside.” Leila put her arm around Edie’s shoulders and led her out of the woods.