Look both ways, p.1
Look Both Ways, p.1Jacquelyn Mitchard
Table of Contents
ONCE MORE INTO THE DREAM
BACK TO THE FUTURE
THE END OF INNOCENCE
THE CHEER NOT SPOKEN
ALL FALL DOWN
PAST OR FUTURE?
THE NEELY FACTOR
LAP BABY MOON
LOOK BOTH WAYS
TWO FOR THE SHOW
AT THE VERGE
UNDER A WING
SONG OF JOY, SONG OF SORROW
RECKONING AND RECOGNITION
ON THE NIGHT THEY WERE BORN
INTO THE LIGHT
LITTLE SISTER OF THE DARK
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All rights reserved. Copyright © 2009 Jacquelyn Mitchard
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Mitchard, Jacquelyn. Look both ways / by Jacquelyn Mitchard. p. cm. Summary: When psychic twin Mallory Brynn starts seeing imges of a white wildcat in her dreams, she tries to figure out the connection of her images to an injured cheerleader and her Native American friend Eden.
eISBN : 978-1-101-16286-6
Fiction. 4. Cheerleading--Fiction. 5. Native Americans--Fiction.] I. Title. PZ7.M6848Lo 2009
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For Pamela English
What hearts your heart has touched
ONCE MORE INTO THE DREAM
Great-grandpa Walker, ninety-two years old, always picked the darkest night to tell the stories. He rested his chin on the tent poles of his long fingers and said, “These hills have seen strange sights, you know. . . .”
Even the twins, teenagers Mallory and Meredith, the oldest of the Brynn grandchildren and technically past the days of campfire stories, couldn’t help but shiver. As their father or Uncle Kevin piled the night’s last dry logs onto the coals, the littlest cousins sat on their parents’ laps and the older ones huddled in the blankets from the family cabins—blankets that would have felt stiff and scratchy at home but were somehow comforting up at the camp on Crying Woman Ridge. The fire painted Grandpa’s strong, thin face with weird streaks of color as he painted word pictures of his own grandfather, Ellery, toiling up Canada Road with his wife and two children, his cooking pots and wooden roof shingles on the backs of five Welsh ponies. Before that, they’d sailed to New York in a packet boat off the wild coast of Wales, determined to scrape a living from the rich veins of copper beneath this rough land. They were Welsh miners, used to deprivation and harsh conditions, and so they prospered.
Ellery Brynn’s first home was the many-times-updated cabin that still stood in the middle of the cabin camp—a house only a few hundred feet from the mine shaft he helped to build. But with his son and grandson, he helped found Ridgeline, the little town in the valley. There, he built five of the big brick foursquare houses on Pilgrim Road, and a Brynn son or daughter once lived in every one. Now, only Meredith and Mallory’s father, Tim and his family lived in the house where Tim had grown up. Three of the other houses had been torn down, and one housed the town library. Still, their family’s place in the town’s past wasn’t just a story; it was history.
But the tales Grandpa Walker told weren’t written down in historical pamphlets or old documents.
They were ancient and strange. Long before carjackers or thieves who “picked your pockets clean,” as Grandpa Walker put it, there were good reasons for children to nip up their heels and head home before dark. Black bears and mountain lions roamed the trails in these provinces just below Canada. Three times, a child had come up missing. His father’s best friend was called Oberlin Bent Tree, a Cree Indian, and Oberlin’s French wife, Regine, swore that one of those children was adopted by the lions—that she ran wild, brown and agile as the cubs, her long, long dark hair streaming. On cold spring moonlit nights, children would wake and rush through the partitions of cotton wool that served as walls to leap into their parents’ beds when the mountain lions howled for their mates. It was a sound that seemed to pass through the walls of the sturdy log houses—so nearly human but also unearthly that Grandpa Walker said language couldn’t quite describe it. And sometimes—or so Regine told the children—there was another sound too, a soft, musical voice that sang in time with the lions’ chorus. Legend said too that once a white panther came to steal a settler’s horse and rode away sitting upward on its back like a man.
Grandpa Walker’s stories were written on the children’s oldest memories. If they felt real, it was because they were as much a part of being a Brynn as were gray eyes and freckles.
That was why, when Mallory Brynn saw the white lion, she never doubted that it was real.
It was walking in long, languid strides down the halls of Mallory’s school, but even the sight of a wild creature in school didn’t make Mallory doubt that she was seeing something real. The animal was beautiful, a living snow statue, muscles bulging and rippling under a stainless soft pelt. It was beautiful except for the fact that the eyes in its great, triangular head were. . . somehow human.
The lion passed the alcove that led to the Little Theatre, where letters on an arch edged in green and white proclaimed, LOVE ART—FOR EVERYONE’S SAKE! It swung its great head side to side as if listening for a cue, then headed down the narrow corridor to the girls’ locker room. There, in the dressing room, the cheerleaders’ outfits were lined up as the coach insisted, their shoes, some as little as a fourth grader’s, with pom-poms threaded onto the laces, were lined up below on a bench. Suddenly, with a flick of its paw, the lion reache
Mallory screamed, jerking her body up in her bed, nearly knocking herself cold on the slanted roof of the attic bedroom she shared with Meredith.
Busy doing what she did best, staring into the mirror, Meredith froze. Then she went up like a rocket, screaming in stereo, a whole octave higher than her sister. It was pure Meredith super-drama, complete with a gasp and a threat: “Shut up! You almost gave me a heart attack!”
But something dark and old bloomed in Merry’s chest too. She’d heard an echo of what had so frightened her sister, a terrible sound from the past. Merry and Mallory were mirror-image twins, as alike and unlike each other as two human beings could be. But since their birthday, nearly ten months before, and everything that came after that, they knew that whether she wanted to or not, Mallory could and would see into the future. Meredith could, and would, see into the past.
So whatever had screamed for Mallory wanted Merry too.
Pulling her comforter around her with a shiver, Mallory sat up and gave in to the slightest moment of ordinary sisterly irritability. Screaming was just so. . .second nature for Meredith: She screamed into her cell phone when one of her duh friends told her that her new crush had actually looked directlyat heron the bus. She screamed when another of the band of genius girls Merry hung around with called to tell her that Uggs were on sale for 20 percent off at the Shoe Barn.
Both girls heard a muffled shout from their mother, Campbell. “What’s going on? It’s six in the morning!”
Merry called, “I’m sorry! I . . . I saw a mouse!”
“Smart move,” Mallory whispered. “She’ll be up here with a trap and peanut butter in fifteen seconds.”
But Campbell only called back, “There’s no mouse. It’s too cold up here for mice!” Merry could hear their father Tim’s muffled oomphas Campbell elbowed him in the side. “Tim, what did you use to insulate this side of the addition? Cotton balls?”
“Will everybody shut up?” Adam, the twins’ younger brother, shouted. “I don’t have to get up for half an hour!”
Mallory examined her ankles and wrists, rubbed her palms, pressed her cheekbones: They were as icy to the touch as if she’d just come off a ski slope, and it had nothing to do with the morning chill on the third story of the ancient house. Mallory felt as exhausted as though she had crawled into her bed after a long journey, climbing foot by foot over boulders, narrowly sliding away from each terrifying crevasse. She might as well not have slept at all.
Abruptly, she looked up at Merry and started to cry.
In a flash, Merry was on her knees, instantly forgetting the crisis that was ruining her life. She had been staring into the mirror for the past hour trying to figure out a way to camouflage the aftermath of an overnight miracle cure for zits given to her by Caitlin’s older sister. “You put toothpaste on the pimples, and they will be gone by morning,” Jackie told Meredith. Jackie was right: The zits were gone, replaced by huge, red, rough, dry patches. Meredith had gone from looking like a ‘Before’ ad for Oxy 10 to a page from a medical book on rare skin diseases.
But none of this mattered now, though, because Mallory was crying.
Mally cried about as often as she bought new clothes—once a year, if she was forced. The last time Merry had seen her twin cry was last summer, at the moment when their grandmother told them that their so-called “gift” would never go away. The terrifying, unwanted visions were to haunt their lives, forever—a fact like the fact that, although they were identical twins, they would never have the same birth year because Merry was born a minute before midnight on New Year’s Eve and Mally a minute after. After the awful visions of last year, it was too much even for Mallory, who was so tough that when she gashed her knee on the soccer field, she did little more than wince. But just a few gentle words from their grandmother about the twins’ legacy and Mally fell apart.
That was reason enough to interrupt Meredith’s crisis.
“Ster,” she asked, using their baby name for each other, “what’s wrong? What happened?”
“I saw a cat.” Mallory gulped, trying to swallow, hiccoughing and rubbing her eyes with the palms of her hands. “In a dream.”
“You . . . saw a cat?” Merry gasped. “That’s all?”
For this she had interrupted her perfectly justified breakdown over the fact that she was going to look like pond scum on the only day of her life she really needed to look good?
Today, the freshmen got the chance—their only chance—to try out for two spots on varsity . . . in front of the varsity cheerleaders, the senior football and basketball players, and the ultra-sexy girls from the pom-pom squad. Sometimes only one was chosen, and there were years when no one was good enough. Merry’s stress over competing against her best friends (or worse, losing out to her best friends) had seeded a pimple plantation and prompted the extreme toothpaste cure.
Meredith didn’t know whether to hug Mallory or push her off the bed. “You’re crying because you dreamed you saw a cat? What’s wrong with you?”
This was the part where Mallory would usually scowl and tell Meredith to get out of her face: forget it, stuff a sock in it, let her alone, no big deal. But this time, pleading with her eyes, Mallory said, “It wasn’t a cat like a kitty cat, Mer. It was a lion. A white mountain lion.”
“A white. Mountain. Lion.” Merry tossed her hair. “Please.”
“It was in school. . . . ”
“Yes, in school.”
“Okay. This concerns me, why? I know! Not at all! Mallory, come on. Make sense.”
Merry got up and went back to the mirror and the array of fifteen jars of foundation spread out on the twins’ dressing table.
Then Mallory said softly, “Merry, it was in school, and in the girls’ locker room, where the cheerleaders’ outfits were. There was a row of shoes. . . .”
Merry sat down again.
If it had to do with the cheerleaders, it had to do with Merry. Along with Crystal Fish, she was JV co captain. Meredith tried to ignore the fact that what Mallory was saying was giving her the telltale swizzle of tiny electrical shocks along her arms that usually signaled a real vision. How could it be? The past visions were strange and fragmentary but had some slight connection with reality. A lion in the locker room? Mallory wouldn’t have cried if an actual lion had walked into the locker room. She’d have climbed up onto a bench and started throwing field hockey sticks at it.
Carefully, Merry said, “Ster, it’s weird and I know it scared you and it probably means something, but I don’t think it means an escaped lion from the circus is going to get into our school and eat somebody. I don’t think it’s that kind of dream. And so now, I have to figure out how I can go to school today without looking like I have leprosy.” More gently, she added, “Stop crying, Mallory. It was just . . . a symbol of your disgust for cheerleaders or something.”
“Merry. I . . . knew her. It. The cat. Personally.”
Merry was giving herself a headache standing up and sitting back down. She could feel a vein in her forehead start to throb.
“You knew the cat,” she said. “Mallory, you sound like . . . me! You mean, the cat was a person in costume? Like a team mascot?”
“No, it wasn’t that.”
“You mean you knew the cat the way you know Sunny’s puppy, Pippen? It was a regular cat in real life but giant-sized in your dream?”
When Mallory looked up, anger in her brimming eyes, Merry quickly recognized her mistake.
“No!” Mally said grimly.
Immediately Meredith said, “I’m sorry! Okay? I’m sorry!”
But the mere mention of Sunny Scavo’s dog brought so much dark dust whirling back at them from the past—dust with, in its depths, half-visible things that neither wanted ever to see again. Everyone thought Sunny’s dog had run away. But Mallory’s vision of the dog, tortured by handsome David Jellico, had confirmed their suspicions about David’s “cemetery” for so-called road-killed animals. And the truth about David’s “cemetery” led to so much that the twins had to live with forever, but never tell. Kim Jellico, David’s younger sister, had been Merry’s best friend—at least until last spring. Merry had even had a schoolgirl crush on David.
But as their visions about David escalated into nightmares when he began stalking bigger game than cats and dogs, the twins were pushed into an elaborate game of cat-and-mouse. Scared out of their minds, they interrupted David’s dates and showed up where they learned he would be, trying to make sure that David was never alone with a girl. And at last, he got wise. When they showed up in the muddy rubble of a new housing development where David had trapped some poor girl, no one knew what would have happened if Mallory hadn’t found a nail gun left behind by one of the builders and used it to threaten David if he didn’t stop.
But David didn’t stop.
He stopped only when he fell to his death from Crying Woman Ridge, in a face-off with Merry, who he had cornered on the empty road up into the hills. As Merry stumbled with her bloody knees, some sight or sound had frightened David a moment before he would have shoved Merry to the rocks far below.
The whole mess was proof that what began the previous New Year’s Eve was no passing mischief.
Still, they would never know everything that David had done in his hilltop garden. Yes, if some poor girl was buried up there, her parents should know. But David and Kim’s mom, Bonnie Jellico, an operating-room nurse, had been their mother’s closest friend forever. The twins couldn’t turn to their own parents. With what proof? As it was, Campbell had them evaluated for everything from seizures to hormone imbalances. After the death, all they wanted was blessed ignorance. All they wanted was their own lives. As if they could ever have them again.
Look Both Ways by Jacquelyn Mitchard / Young Adult / Fantasy / Mystery & Detective have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes