Table of Contents
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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
reat-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 reached up and swiped the last pair from the bench. And then, looking straight at Mallory with recognition and a sorrow she felt in her chest like a bruise, it pulled its lips back from its teeth and yowled like a soul in pain. Mallory heard the sound Grandpa Walker could never describe, the sound no Brynn had heard for two hundred years. And she knew it was meant for her.
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.
ulling 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 her
on 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
as 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
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.