DISCLAIMER: Everything belongs to Joss Whedon and Stephanie Meyer, I'm just having some fun with their creations. I do not profit from any of my original text and even my own, original characters wouldn't exist without the creators.
It felt as if the hole in my stomach was growing, with each hour that passed. For every phone call gone unanswered, I could almost hear the tear running through my body. For every day with no more news than the one before, another shred of my being was torn, never to be put back together. How was I expected to go on like this?
Although the people surrounding me would tell you differently, I knew exactly what was going on around me. I just didn't respond. I knew that my friends had long since given up on me, even after I showed signs of coming back. I knew my mother hadn't called since Christmas. I knew that Charlies once bright eyes were growing dimmer for each moment he saw me in pain. But more than anything, I knew that I could not go on like this much longer. Especially now that my sun was gone.
Like those before, whose names are forbidden to even think of, Jacob has abandoned me in my own misery. I knew it was coming though. As amazing a friend as he had been to me, I could unfortunately not say the same. Using him to keep myself safe and sane, knowing all the while that his feelings for me were shifting, drifting away from friendship and into a dangerous territory. One I could not return. And yet I let it go on, for my own selfish needs. I am the true monster.
As I lay in my small bed, contemplating the existence I now lead, one unwilling thought keeps returning to me. It's as if someone who sounds like me, but isn't me, is telling me off. The stronger, more independent part of me is apparently sick and tired of letting me take the lead. The more I think about it, the more I agree. Wow, agreeing with myself. If I didn't think hearing voices did it, it's now official. I'm going insane.
For once I decide to accept the agonizing pain of the hole and allow myself to think about last year. Those months I always looked at as the happiest time of my life and I still did, I just developed a brand new insight. I let everyone but me take charge on my own life. I let Alice drag me shopping even though she knew I would never learn to enjoy it. I let Rosalie speak rudely to my face and glare all day long, although she never took the chance to actually get to know me. And don't even get me started on Edw.... him.
I could never regret what we had had, and a part of me would always be waiting for him to return. Hell, I doubt I could ever fully recover from the blow of the heartbreak I had received. But maybe, just maybe, one of the voices in my head was right. I didn't have to move on, I just had to move forward.
“Are you sure about this, honey?”
I could hear the thick undertones of worry in Renee's voice, even over the phone. As good as it felt to speak to her again, after all this time, the topic we were on were bound to get emotional. I had decided to break the news to her first, knowing that Charlie wouldn't be able to keep it to himself.
“Yes Mom, this is what I need to do. I know it seems huge and very out of the blue, but just trust me on this.”
I knew I didn't actually have to convince her of anything, seeing as I was an adult now, but I couldn't help it. I wanted her approval, like I always had. She was my best friend, after all. Even with all this time and distance between us, that would never change.
I heard a deep sigh over the line and knew that she was conceding. It made me sad to cause her so much worry but only time would show her that I was right to do this.
“Of course I trust you honey, I just worry. It was bad enough when you moved to Forks, but at least then I knew your Dad was there to take care of you. Thinking of you in a strange town, so far from anything or anyone familiar...”
My internal, independent Bella wanted me to roll my eyes at her explanation. At least I got the hard part out of the way. Charlie had been bugging me for months to go back to Renee in Jacksonville, reasoning that a change of scenery could be just the thing to help me, so he can't possibly argue with me. Even if my move does take me to unknown places. Wherever that may be, I have yet to decide. Somewhere sunny though. The point is to get away from the memory of them and the sun is just the trick to help me do that.
I got off the phone with my mom, after a few more convincing explanations, just as I heard Charlie return from another successful fishing trip. At least that's what it sounded like by his footsteps. During these months of living with a man as silent as myself, I had learned a lot from body language and sounds. The lighter the footsteps, the happier the man, oddly enough.
Sure enough he walked in with an armful, which I hurried to grab and stuff into the already bulging freezer. If he kept this up he would have to invest in a life-size freezer for the garage.
“Was that your mother on the phone Bells?”
Charlie wasn't usually the type to ask such questions, always letting me be me, but ever since the whole Jake thing he's been so frightened of me returning to my previous haze, that he's gotten a lot more involved in my life. Something I realized that I'm actually appreciating.
“Yeah, I just had to talk to her about something. Actually, I have to have a similar conversation with you. Let me just get started on dinner first though.”
He looked slightly worried, but at the mention of food he relaxed. I guess he thought that it couldn't really be anything serious, if it could be postponed.
I walked back into the kitchen, from where I was doing homework earlier today and began to pack away my books. After that was done, I pulled the door of the fridge open and took out some ingredients. Within a half hour I had a decent meal lined up on our tiny table. By then Charlie had gotten comfortable in his lounger and as usual a game was on. I couldn't help but wonder how many sports he followed, since he always seemed to be watching some kind of athletic activity.
“Dad, foods ready.”
“So, you wanted to talk about something?”
Charlie looks very constipated and his cheeks are extremely red and in that moment only one thought comes to mind. I really hope that's not what I look like when I blush. And of course the thought triggers that very thing.
I've just finished the dishes and put everything in it's rightful place. I'm standing in the entryway to the living room and I suppose it's my presence that reminds Charlie of my earlier words. One day I'd sure like to see what he was like before I moved here. How he could find his own head on his shoulders and even remember to go to work every day, is beyond me.
“Yeah, I did.” I sit down on the couch and I guess he heard something in my voice, as he turns off the TV and turns in my direction. “I've been thinking about a lot of things lately. About my life and about everything that has happened since I moved here. First, I want you to know that I really enjoy living with you. The fact that we seem to be so alike only adds to the joy. But with that said, I'd like to also agree with you on something you've been saying since last September. I really do need to get out of this town and away from the... reminders.”
Wow, I think that's the longest speech I've ever made, especially to my dad. It reminds me of his words last year, when we discussed them for the first time. Okay stop, no going to the bad place.
“What are you saying Bells? Are you going to Jacksonville?” He finally says, after recovering from the shock. He wasn't used to these long speeches either.
“Well no. I'm not sure about the where yet, just that I have to do this.”
I let him chew over my words for a few minutes, as I too thought about all of this. Where would I go? I knew the basics. It had to be sunny, but not your average, no it had to be one of those places where it hardly ever rained, the complete polar opposite of Forks. As much as I had loved Phoenix, I had gotten used to this town so I didn't want it to be a big city, but not too tiny either. It had to have a college near by, if I decided to go that is, because I didn't want to move, again, just to move another year from now. And most of all, more important than all the others combined, it had to be far away. I didn't want to risk meeting someone I know. This was all about starting over, from scratch.
Finally I realized that enough time had passed and Charlie still hadn't said a word. In fact, he hadn't moved an inch. I was really beginning to worry about him, when he finally seemed to snap out of his trance and once more turned to look at me. I couldn't read his eyes, so I had no idea what his response was going to be.
“Bella, I really don't know what to say. Of course you're an adult and I know I said that this would be good for you, but... you really don't have even an idea of where you want to go?”
I shook my head and then went into all the details I had just gone over in my own mind. Of course I left out the details, like why I insisted on going somewhere sunny, but I think he jumped to an acceptable conclusion, all on his own, without me having to jump through hoops, protecting the secret of someone who didn't even have the decency to leave me in one piece.
Oops, independent Bella seemed to be peeking her head out. Better shove her back in before I lose all control of myself.
Charlie seemed to really be considering the points I had laid out for him and it warmed me to witness him treating me as an adult. I was worried that my behavior this past year had made him lose trust in me, but that thankfully didn't seem to be the case. That was the difference between him and Renee. While my mother had always seen me as an adult, it was in a completely other way. I was the one she came to with her troubles, the one she sought advice from. I was the oldest one, so to speak, in our relationship. With Charlie I was still his daughter, but at the same time an equal.
“I understand where you're coming from Bells and I'll do all I can to help. Maybe we can figure out a place for you, together?”
Charlie had never been a very pro-active father, loving as he is, so this was a big deal coming from him. I was beginning to realize the changes my previous state had brought out in him. He was suddenly a bit more outspoken, more authoritative and very protective. And I found myself loving every second of it. It was one of the only downfalls to this plan of mine to leave Forks. I would really miss Charlie.
With those words from him, we both went upstairs to my room and the only computer in the house. It was time to find my new home.
“So, you're not graduating?”
Angela and I had taken a trip down to Port Angeles for dinner and some friend time. It had been awhile. I decided to tell her about my plan and the one thing that stood out for her, was the school issue. So typical Ang, I thought with a smile.
“I'd have to do my Senior year over anyway, since I don't have enough points to graduate. This way I'll just do it over in another town.”
Although I had done all my homework and gotten straight A's during my zombie period, I couldn't actually remember anything I had learned, so I knew that I would never be able to succeed on my tests, unless I did the year over. And as much as I was not looking forward to another year of school and another try at being the new girl, I wanted to make Charlie proud and that meant finishing High School and moving on immediately to college.
“Okay, well I guess that's understandable. It's just so weird. I mean, I'll be off with Ben at college and you'll still be in High School.” She finished with a smile, showing that she was really just kidding.
I understood what she meant though, I hadn't begun to feel weird just yet, but it was sure to come sometime, at the very least around the time I start my new school. The thought alone made the nerves crawl through my stomach, but I pushed them back down and focused on my friend. Soon I wouldn't be able to see her so easily again and I wanted to get the most out of it. After all, not counting a certain sister and a werewolf who shall remain nameless, Angela was my first real friend. Before Forks there had only always been my mother.
“Speaking of Ben, how are things going with you two?”
She adopted a nice, soft smile at my question and where before I would feel pain, knowing that I used to have that look, now all I could feel was happiness. I was happy for her, for them and it made me feel better with my decision to leave. Before this choice I was supposed to have gone off to the same college as Angela, so I was glad she had someone and I wouldn't feel like I was deserting her.
“Things are going... well.” Her smile widened just a tad. “Ben is really exited about starting classes. He's always known that he wanted to major in Computer Science and ever since he can remember it's been Northwestern he wanted to study at. I'm just glad they've got a good Art History program.”
“I just can't believe that you're going to be an Art major.” I told her with a smile. She was so smart that she could be whatever she wanted and yet she still went for her dream.
“I know, I can't wait. I'm gonna take some Business classes as well, so that I can open up my own gallery when I graduate.”
“Wow, that sounds great. You're gonna have to tell me when the opening is, so I can come.”
We talked for a while longer, when the sky darkened and I had to get home to cook for Charlie. I only had one more week left, before I left for my new town. I wanted to get there as quick as I could, even if school wasn't starting for another three months. I still had to find a place to live and an after school job to pay for the bills and rent. I also wanted to get to know my new home, before I became stressed with schoolwork.
As I drove home in my soon-to-be ex-truck, I ran through making dinner in my mind, while I wondered how it would be to live somewhere new. What would the people be like? Would the kids treat me nice? Would the teachers be fair or strict? And finally I wondered if I would make any new friends. Only time would tell and I found myself excited for the day I would finally arrive in Sunnydale.