So when we last left off, Melanie had just bombarded Wanderer with tons of memories of Jared and Jamie to make her feel guilty. For about five minutes, Wanderer is determined to leave the body and start a new life.
As she continues to drive, Wanderer sees on her map that she’s nearing a place called Picacho Peak which gets a bit of a reaction from Melanie. Every time she thinks the name, Melanie seems to react, but she puts up a wall so wanderer can’t figure out what the deal is.
Melanie tactfully employs another one of her plot device/distraction flashbacks. Distraction backs, if you will. Melanie is standing outside at an unfamiliar and undetermined location, and Jared comes up to her.
“You look like a dryad hidden here in the trees,” he whispers in my ear. “One of them. So beautiful that you must be fictional.”
“We should plant more trees around the cabin.”
He chuckles, and the sound makes my eyes close and my lips stretch into a grin.
“Not necessary,” he says. “You always look that way.”
“Says the last man on Earth to the last woman on Earth, on the eve of their separation.”
My smile fades as I speak. Smiles cannot last today.
He sighs. His breath on my cheek is warm compared to the chill forest air. “Jamie might resent that implication.”
“Jamie’s still a boy. Please, please keep him safe.”
This whole interaction baffles me. Melanie’s response to Jared’s compliment seems really random and just as a way for Meyer to throw in the fact that for some reason they’re about to be separated. What’s even weirder, though, is Jared’s reaction to “the last man on Earth” comment. Obviously Melanie meant that more in a sexual way, and since Jamie is her brother, I highly doubt he’d resent her comment given the “Last man on Earth who is not related to me” was sort of implied given the context of the comment (flirtation). Even fucking weirder is that instead of being like, “Ha ha, you know what I meant,” Melanie is like, “He’s just a boy.”
Melanie/Wanderer try to explain where she’s going off to and why she and Jared will be separated but she does a shitty job.
Why am I leaving him? It’s such a long shot that Sharon is still human.
But when I saw her face on the news, I was so sure.
It was just a normal raid, one of a thousand. As usual when we felt isolated enough, safe enough, we had the TV on as we cleaned out the pantry and fridge…It was the hair that caught my eye— the flash of deep, almost pink red that I’d only ever seen on one person. I can still see the look on her face as she peeked at the camera from the corner of one eye. The look that said, I’m trying to be invisible; don’t see me. She walked not quite slowly enough, working too hard at keeping a casual pace. Trying desperately to blend in. No body snatcher would feel that need.
I finally figured out that Jared and Melanie were the ones raiding a house, not someone on television. But I’m still not sure what this Sharon was actually doing on there. The only clue Melanie gives is that they turned on the news to get the weather forecast…so is Sharon the one doing it? Instead of explaining any of this, Melanie starts wondering why she’s out and about with all the souls instead of in hiding. She also doesn’t bother to tell us who the fuck Sharon is even though that would probably take a minute.
Jared says mushy shit like, “Neither heaven nor hell could keep us apart.” In another flashback, Melanie promises Jamie she’ll come back safe. This emotional manipulation both from Melanie to Wanderer and from Meyer to us is ridiculous. You guys, don’t you get how sad it is that Melanie didn’t return to Jared and Jamie?!?! No, dummies, it’s not just because she can’t be with her love or her brother, her family if you will, it’s because THEY ALL SAID THEY WOULD BE TOGETHER AGAIN AND THINGS WOULD BE OKAY! It wouldn’t be like when dad left and then came back with a soul inside of him (ha! that actually sounds like a good thing). Without those promises, the fact that Melanie didn’t return wouldn’t be heart-wrenching for anyone at all!
Wanderer gets fed up with the memories, and I’m right there with her. Except she’s like, “Fine! I can’t live without them either! But now I have to leave your body!” Unlike Wanderer, I can live without ever reading about Jared or Jamie ever again.
Melanie’s jumps in and says there’s another option. Instead of suggesting that they work together to find them, Melanie fucking shows Wanderer the map she’s been hiding all along that will lead her to Jared and Jamie. That seems like the last thing you would do to a creature who has invaded your body. I get that she’s trying to break Wanderer down and she sees that she’s actually pretty sympathetic as far as souls go to their hosts, but still. Maybe leading with the negotiation would have been good. I would love it if Wanderer turned around and was like, “Yeah…I’m gonna call the Seeker now.”
What follows next is an even more convoluted flashback about how Sharon is her cousin, though she never actually tells us this. Instead we get this,
If Sharon is still alive, it will be because her mother, loony Aunt Maggie, could give loony Uncle Jeb a run for the title of Craziest of the Crazy Stryder Siblings. My father had been only slightly touched by the Stryder madness…
So yeah, it seems like Sharon is her cousin, and because these people are more paranoid then others, they probably figured out there were aliens taking over bodies and went into hiding. So (in the distraction back) Melanie tells Jared a story of Uncle Jeb trying to draw lines into the back of their photo album rambling about how they need to go (somewhere undetermined) before it’s too late. He also says it’s suspicious that Melanie’s grandmother wanted the whole family to come for a visit and got annoyed when only her daughter (Melanie’s mother) went.
Let’s pause from this convoluted mess for a second to discuss how fucking ridiculous this logic is. This seems like a very normal thing for a grandmother to do! I mean, maybe if Jeb had clarified that after ten years of not speaking this occurred, I’d be like, “Yes, I do see his point,” but it sounds like Jeb is from Melanie’s dad’s side of the family and also gives no explanation as to why this is supposed to be a weird thing to happen!
Melanie has figured out, based on even earlier memoires, that the lines lead to the old Ranch her family used to own. In the shadow of Picacho Peak! Omg! For some reason she thinks that Jared has already figured this out. Melanie is basically like, “Okay, are you ready to be on my side? Did my manipulation work?” After five seconds of inward deliberation, Wanderer tells us there’s only one thing to do…
We open with a strange scene in a convenience store. Our girl'(s) are buying supplies they’ll need while searching for Jared and Jamie. However, Wanderer thinks to herself (and Melanie) that she’s not really going along with this…she just wants more information. But then tells us (and Melanie?) that the thought is clearly a lie and Melanie basically loled at it. So what the fuck was the point of even thinking that? If Melanie believed the “lie” then she probably would just shut back down and not give any coordinates to you, Wander. Fucking idiot.
We learn that souls don’t believe in using money, apparently.
I can’t get used to not paying for things, she said, changing the subject. What’s the point of scanning them?
Inventory, of course. Is he supposed to remember everything we took when he needs to order more? Besides, what’s the point of money when everyone is perfectly honest? I paused, feeling the guilt again so strongly that it was an actual pain. Everyone but me, of course.
I…what? We only use money because people aren’t perfectly honest…? Is it that they’re all perfectly honest about how much they’re contributing, how much they actually need, and how much they believe they deserve? I don’t get it.
Thankfully, this chapter is much shorter. It’s mainly just Wanderer driving towards wherever the hell they’re meant to be going. Eventually they will have to walk, and she’s not thrilled about it. Melanie is very paranoid about a lot of things. Same old same old. No cliffhanger, just them going to sleep in the car.