“Goodbye, Bella.” He whispered, before closing his eyes again. His hand began to lose its grip on mine, and I held it tightly to me like it could somehow stop him from leaving me. Bella has always known this day would come, but that hasn't prepared her any better for it. Can she handle saying a final goodbye to someone so important in her human life, whilst she lives on forever? And why is Edward absent in her hour of need?
5. Not Yours
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I’d never seen anything like her. The girl who stood in front of me was without a doubt the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. She was short with conker brown hair, like the ones that grew on the tree out the front of my school in Autumn. Her face was just perfect- she had full, blood red lips and a tiny nose that was just the right shape. Her cheeks didn’t hold any colour, though the cold of this morning should have made them a sore red like mine. Her eyes were huge pools of white, but where you expected them to be a safe shade of brown to match her hair they were a shocking liquid gold. I’d never seen anything like them.
She held my gaze, this strange girl. Somehow she seemed just as curious about me. Her thick, dark lashes brushed her cheeks a number of times, like she was trying to convince herself that she was really seeing me. In a second, she had looked at everything from my hairline to my short nails, blackened by motor oil. I felt almost embarrassed by the intensity of her gaze. I looked down at the sand for a minute and stuck my hands in my pockets, unsure what to say.
I didn’t expect her to speak first- or for her to say the words that came out of her mouth.
“J-Jake?” She stammered, in a light and openly confused tone. “Is that you?”
I understood why she’d been so rapt to see me. She though my dad hadn’t aged at all in the past ten years, or something just as stupid. Thinking she was a bit slow in the head, I spoke the next sentence slowly.
“No.” I replied evenly, “I’m Billy. His son. I live with him.” I continued, taking a fist out of my coat to wave up in the direction of the house.
A flash of realisation flitted across her face, closely followed by a spasm of something a lot like shock. She ducked her head and tried to cover it with a smile of embarrassment, but I’d already seen. While she laughed at herself, I wondered how she knew my dad. She couldn’t be older than twenty- was my dad hitting on college girls now?
“I’m sorry. You look… so much like him.” She told me, shaking her head as she examined me again. “It’s hard to believe how much.”
I scowled. I didn’t like being compared to him. He didn’t have any photos of himself as a teenager, so I just had to trust all my relatives and dad’s old friends when they told me this. Every time I saw them.
“It’s fine.” I mumbled, annoyed at her. “You still haven’t told me who you are, by the way.”
She ducked her head again. When she resurfaced from the cover of her wet hair, I noticed that her face was still as pale as ever. The blood never reached her cheeks. There was something funny about her smile as her lips formed the next sentence.
“My name,” The strange girl whispered, somehow managing to sound hesitant and forceful at the same time, “Is Bella Swan.”
* * *
We started walking along the beach, away from the house. Bella had an odd look on her face. She’d been glancing at me repeatedly, looking for some sign of recognition.
“So your… dad never mentioned me?” Bella asked, peeking through the strands of her rapidly darkening hair to look at me as we walked.
“Not that I can remember. He doesn’t talk about the past much.” I told her, trying to make her feel a bit better. She seemed to think that she’d been a pretty big part of my dad’s life somehow. Perhaps it was better that I let her down easy.
Bella just nodded, her golden irises settling on the shifting waves. The silence between us was easy, despite all the questions I wanted to ask her. She obviously wasn’t from around here, but the rain didn’t seem to bother her like it would most girls. For the first time, I checked out her outfit. She was just wearing a navy raincoat, one of the cheap ones you could buy in outdoors shop in town. Her jeans looked too clean to be casual and her boots didn’t look like they were used to the wet. Definitely not from around here.
“So how do you know him? My dad?” I tried, pulling her away from whatever thoughts were troubling her. “You don’t look old enough to have gone to school with him or anything.”
She didn’t seem to hear me. Either that or she really didn’t want to answer. She closed her eyes for a long time but didn’t stumble once on the wet clumps of sand that littered the edge of the water. I waited a bit longer. When she didn’t say anything, I sighed and stuck my hands further in my pockets. When it came to questions, she was as bad as dad.
“Billy,” She said, opening her eyes quickly only to stare straight ahead.
“Yep?” I replied, giving her a sidelong glance. Her face was still deathly pale and the muscles in her jaw were tight. I wondered what was giving her such a brain haemorrhage, but her question kind of gave it away.
“What’s your mother’s name?” She asked so fast I almost missed what she’d said. “I know you’ve never met me before and it might seem really weird that I’m here but…”
I cut off her babbling the second I opened my mouth to speak. Her golden eyes were wide and waiting, her lips were pursed and hesitant. I was beginning to think that there was more to this question than she was letting on.
“Her name’s Leah. It used to be Clearwater, but it’s Chaine now. She knew my dad when they were growing up. She was going to go to college, but then they found she was pregnant.” I swallowed, not sure why I was telling so much private stuff to this odd girl with honeycomb eyes. “My mom always makes it sound like that’s the only reason they got married. It didn’t even last six months.”
I’d never told anyone this before. It wasn’t the sort of thing you said to your mates at school and my parents never wanted to talk about it. I had to look down, hoping that the rain would cover the stupid tears that were growing at the bottom of my eyes.
“He’s been through enough girlfriends, but they all say the same thing when they leave.” I continued, my voice beginning to shake. “I’m not her, I’m not her… I never get who they’re on about. He never even loved my mom, not really.”
Bella just nodded, giving nothing away. We kept on walking in silence, the rain the only sound passing between us. I wanted to ask her more, but I didn’t want to sound too keen. If I had any sense, I’d just walk in the opposite direction. Why did I have to answer to her anyway?
“How old are you?” She threw out suddenly, looking round at me so fast I didn’t see her head move. The speed threw me, so I spoke without another thought.
“Fifteen.” I said. A spasm of pain flickered across her face so fast that I wasn’t really sure that it’d happened. Her face was perfectly neutral for a second, but then she ruined it by biting her bottom lip with worry.
We stopped walking and just faced out to sea now. The mist was beginning to recede into the ocean; the cliffs were clear and looming. Bella looked like she was going to say something, but her mouth just opened and closed. She rubbed her arms like she was cold and I automatically moved a step closer. I never really felt the cold and was thinking about offering her my jacket when she suddenly stepped under my arm.
She was shaking slightly. I expected her to be frail and light, but all I felt under my arm was solid rock. She suddenly leant her head sideways so it rested on my shoulder and it just felt right. The smell was overpowering now. The burning was still there but I realised I was getting used to it. The sweet was beginning to overpower the sharp as I breathed in the scent from her chestnut hair.
Bella turned her head away from the morning horizon on which pinks and blues were beginning to mix like a second grader’s paint palette. Her eyes were questioning when they met mine and without thinking I leant towards her.
Our lips only met for a second, but hers were icy sweet. I had never done this before, randomly kissing a girl I’d just met. I expected her to pull away instantly. Her lips did nothing and her expression stayed blank. It wasn’t until I closed my eyes and reached my hand up so that my fingers were entwined through her hair that she kissed me back. She seemed to be saying something with her movements but it was a language I didn’t speak. Her lips were hard and strong where mine were hesitant; her touch was greedy where mine was unsure. My shock soon turned to pleasure as I tried to put my hand around her waist. All too soon, it was over. She was suddenly a few steps away from me, breathing deeply.
I was dazed. I grinned like an idiot until she turned and gave me a look that was so full of poison the expression slid off my face with the rain. It took me a few attempts, but eventually my features reached apologetic.
“I’m sorry, Bella,” I tried, moving closer so I could see her eyes. They were staring off into the horizon again. She sighed deeply, but suddenly a half-smile illuminated her tired features.
“No you’re not,” She breathed, more to the ocean than to me.
“I know, but it was worth it.” I joked, trying to get her to laugh. It worked, but only for a second. She twirled to face me, but when her eyes settled on me the laugh died. I knew who she was expecting to be there.
This time it was me who turned away.
I felt her move rather than seeing it. I realised she was trying to give me something and turned to find an envelope in her hand. I reached out to take it but she jerked it away from me, like she hadn’t quite decided whether she should be giving it at all. Her other hand fidgeted around her wrist for a second, and then the letter was in my hand. I checked the front. It had one word scrawled in messy black ink in the centre.
“Jacob,” Bella whispered at the same time as the letters pierced me somewhere in my chest.
With an air of finality, she took a step back but I wasn’t letting her get away that easily. I grabbed her anorak glad arm to stop her, but she pulled it effortlessly from my grasp as if I was no stronger than a child.
“It was nice meeting you, Billy.” She hinted, refusing to look at me. I opened my mouth, there was still so much to say- but before I could get a word out she was shaking her head.
“Just give it to him, please.” Bella begged, her eyes liquid gold. For a second, I was dazzled by the sheer of her beauty- and that was all it took. I blinked and she was gone. I was sure I had imagined her until I clenched my fist and felt the smooth, cool paper in it. There was something else, too. Something small and hard in there. I didn’t let myself care- Bella had only been here to see him. This had nothing to do with me.
By the time I got back to the house, the rain had stopped. The front door was still open, but the hall was empty. The mat was wet where the rain had gotten in. I stepped over it and threw my wet jacket on the floor, moving into the living room.
My dad was leant against the far wall, holding the calendar to his chest like a trophy. When he heard the door open, he looked up. He scowled as soon as he realised it was me and threw the calendar carelessly across the room.
“What do you want?” He muttered, closing his eyes and breathing through his nose.
“I live here, don’t I?” I replied, stung by anger. All I did was walk in the door, what was with him?
He snorted, muttering something I didn’t quite hear. His eyes opened into slits, suddenly focused on the envelope in my hand.
“What’s that?” He demanded, “Who gave you that?”
I didn’t say anything, just shrugged and stared at him. He stood up to his full height and walked across the room so that he was right in front of me. He opened his mouth again and then flinched, like I’d hit him. I realised that some of the scent must have rubbed off on me. I recognised the reaction; it was exactly what I’d done on the beach minutes before. I just didn’t recognise what came next.
The smell must have meant something to him. He snatched the envelope from my hands and retreated a few steps, so he was in the light of the window. His hands trembled as his eyes flickered across the single word emblazoned across the front.
“Jacob.” My dad muttered, like it was a different person he was speaking of.
The envelope opened so fast I didn’t see him tear out the letter. Something else fell out, small with a glint of silver. Dad didn’t even look at it. He was too busy unfolding the folded piece of paper that had been inside.
His face blanched as the words travelled from the paper to his mind. I imagined her earnest voice tormenting him, whispering things to him that I couldn’t hear.
The paper seemed to float away from him as he dropped to the floor. For a second, I thought he had collapsed and I cried out. He didn’t even look up. He was too busy scrabbling across the floor, desperately searching for something with clawed hands.
He picked up the thing and dropped the thing into his palm. With a moan of pain, he cupped his other hand around it so it lay in the middle. I stared at the bit of wood in his hand- it seemed to be a charm, the exact shade of dad’s skin, carved into the shape of a tiny, roaring wolf. I recognised the handiwork, dad had tried to teach me how to whittle a few times. He cupped the little charm in the palm of his hand like it was the most precious thing in the world.
It was then I realised he was shaking. I took a step back, waiting for him to run for the door and disappear into the woods. Instead, he stayed put. He stroked the little wolf with his huge, grown up hands and shook like it was uncontrollable. Like he had no control over this physical action that almost caused him to drop the little wooden wolf and fall into the foetal position.
The paper was only a foot away from me, writing side up. I turned my head slightly so I could read the short message scrawled with messy black ink. I couldn’t stop myself reading the words that had torn my dad in two.‘Jake, You have to let me go. I know it hurts. It still hurts me, Jake, it does- but I can live with that. I just can’t live with you doing the same. I’m not coming back again. It was wrong for me to be here, to do this… Us seeing each other would be a bad idea. I’m done hurting you. It’s not fair on anyone. Be strong- if not for me, then for your son. Yours Love Bella’
He let out another low moan and shut his eyes, his head dropping into his hands. It wasn’t until then that I noticed the small, silver beads collecting in his palms, drowning that little wolf alive.