I pulled her closer and cupped the back of her head, pressing her into my shoulder. ‘Let it out’ I thought desperately ‘Please, just let it go.’ Once that happened, once I gave in, there would be no going back….there would be no more fighting it. I had to keep fighting. Giving up was too terrifying….the uncertainty of what would come after had me frozen in fear. Charlie and Bella's POV at the end of that first week in New Moon after Edward leaves.
1. "I'm Staying"
Rating 5/5 Word Count 3421 Review this Chapter
~Remember that pain has this most excellent quality. If prolonged it cannot be severe, and if severe it cannot be prolonged~
“And for all that…I’d have fared better if I had exposed us all that first moment, than if now, here—with no witnesses and nothing to stop me—I were to hurt you”
I was human enough to ask.
“Isabella.” He pronounced my full name carefully, then playfully ruffled my hair with his free hand.
“Bella, I couldn’t live with myself if I ever hurt you. You don’t know how it’s tortured me.”
“You are the most important thing to me now. The most important thing to me ever.”
“Be very still”
Slowly, never moving his eyes from mine, he leaned toward me.
The abruptly, but very gently, he rested his cold cheek against the hollow at the base of my throat.
His face drifted to the side, his nose skimming across my collarbone. He came to rest with the side of his face pressed tenderly against my chest.
Listening to my heart.
“Here” He took my hand and placed it against his cheek “Do you feel how warm it is?”
“I don’t know how to be close to you” he admitted. “I don’t know if I can”
I leaned forward slowly, cautioning him with my eyes.
I placed my cheek against his stone chest.
I could hear his breath and nothing else.
“This is enough”
In a very human gesture, he put his arms around me and pressed his face against my hair.
I smiled softly.
It was a strange feeling and right at the beginning I felt a dangerous sliver of hope….it was small, easily blown away by the slightest of breaths, but still there.
The slight movement proved that I had muscles even if they no longer worked, it proved that I did indeed have a mouth even if it no longer spoke…. which in the end proved that I did possess a face, even if it no longer mattered.
But as I cracked open my dry eyes…eyes I knew existed on the face I still couldn’t quite feel…that millisecond of hope was thrown away in crushing pain of reality.
Because it was not bright green grass, wild spring flowers, or shinning bronze hair that I saw…it was the same thing that was always there when I opened my eyes: Curved wooden legs of an old rocking chair, the brown fabric of a sweater sleeve dangling over the side, and the same four blocks of light splayed on a wooden floor.
Something in the back of my mind told me the shapes of light had to be formed by some kind of window….but I never saw the window so I couldn’t be sure. Every time I opened my eyes though, the colors would be different….bright white, silver blue, deep orange, and sometimes…..sometimes it would be black…empty.
I like those times the best, the times when my eyes could make out nothing. Because they were tired eyes, eyes that had seen too much and didn’t want to look anymore. After all what was the point of looking when there was nothing to see?
Yes the eyes….my eyes, preferred the blackness.
“Bella?” A voice came from the nothingness around me. This voice was different from the one I was use too. It called the same name as always though, a name I didn’t know.
Who was Bella?
Who was that woman speaking?
I could feel a familiarity rising inside me. My dead mind was trying to tell my numb body that I knew this voice and that the voice knew me. But how could I place the voice when I couldn’t even place myself?
Who was I?
Where was I?
Who’s face was it that just broke up my normal view? It wasn’t the brown-eyed man I was use to.
I realized these questions should bother me in some way. It didn’t seem right not knowing….it seemed wrong to see a familiar face and not know who she was.
But it didn’t matter because nothing mattered anymore.
Not her face, not the name, not even the question of who I was. It was of no consequence….completely irrelevant because all meaning had already left the world….and everything left behind was wrong.
The face leaning towards me was not the right face, the words were not the right words.
The eyes were not suppose to be blue, the hair not suppose to be a light brown.
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
Therefore it was all meaningless.
Why wasn’t the face right?
Why could I see lips moving and hear no words?
Why was I here?
Where was here?
Something touched my face, lightly running across what I supposed was my cheek.
DON’T TOUCH ME!
In that second a message finally made it from my brain to my body. And as my mind screamed in protest at the wrong touch my eyes squeezed shut.
Safe darkness again.
“….leave this place.”
Those words triggered something inside me. Those three words were more wrong than anything else combined. I didn’t know who I was or where I was, but I knew that I could not leave this place….Where ever this place may be, though I couldn’t pinpoint the exact reason just yet.
All I knew was that I must stay….that leaving was absolutely impossible.
“….she has….can’t be…..one….seeing that….”
More words, scrambled and broken up, as if they were being said through a thick blanket or deep waters. But this voice was not the women, it was the deep voice of a man….the same man I heard all the time, always asking for a Bella.
A small part of me always wondered when the man would learn that no Bella existed here.
Another name. A name I seemed to know from somewhere.... it went with the blue eyed face, went with the wrong touch. I was sure of that.
Before anything else could be placed together though I heard a strange noise.
It was the woman. Renee.
What was that? My clouded ears continued to listen. “I’m sorry….it’s just, I’ve never seen her like this….”
Sobbing, that’s what I was hearing. She was crying….why?
She should not cry because for some reason the sound hurt my ears. It pulled at my mental processes and made something inside my hollow chest constrict.
I needed to help her.
It was my responsibility. She needed me....she needed me because I was me….I was….
“….Bella will love Florida….”
I was Bella.
It clicked then and my eyes opened.
The puzzled pieces were sucked towards me violently.
I knew who I was and where I was.
Renee, my mom….my friend.
She was here?
But why?....She hated here.
My eyes moved slowly, the unused muscles making the simple gesture seem very foreign. I blinked a few times until the scene came into focus. I felt another movement….my forehead tightening. I tried to find the right muscles that would move my lips.
Movement but no sound.
I swallowed thickly and looked more closely at what I was actually seeing.
Before the surprise of seeing my mom in Charlie’s arms could fully sink in something else caught my eye. Something else wrong with the picture.
Some drawers in my dresser were open and a suit case lay on top full of my old T-shirts.
They did not belong there.
This time there was noise. It was a hoarse, dry sound that was quiet and unfamiliar. It hurt my throat on its way out, but it seemed to be enough. Renee jerked away from Charlie and spun around….her wet, blue eyes wide.
“Bella?....Oh you’re….you’re awake.” She rushed to my side and knelt down. Her fingers….warm and soft ran through my hair.
The contact made my empty stomach churn and tighten.
My eyes flickered quickly to my father’s pale face and back. I was confused.
“What are you doing here?” More words cracked painfully up my throat before I thought them through completely.
“Charlie called and told me what happened,” Renee answered with a small sniff.
Another quick glance at Charlie. He looked shocked and …..and scared….why?
“I’m so sorry baby.”
I didn’t understand….she hadn’t answered my question yet.
Did I say that out loud?
“I’m here bring you home sweetie….It’s going to be okay….I’m….”
“I am home.”
I blinked a few times, trying to make sense of everything. Why were my thoughts being spoken?
“Bella look at me.”
I obeyed, just now realizing I was looking at my dresser.
“I think it’s time you come home so I can take care of you.”
I continued to look into my mother’s eyes….she wasn’t making any sense.
I felt the bed shift and a light pressure on my knee. Looking down I saw Charlie sitting on the edge of the mattress with his hand resting on my curled up leg.
“She’s right Bells,” Charlie’s voice was rough and quite. This was not Charlie….I didn’t understand. “I think it would be better for you to be with your mother right now.”
“You don’t want me?”
Pain stabbed through my chest and I felt the air gush painfully down my throat. My lungs filled and froze, as if waiting to be sucked beneath water.
I was somewhere else.... looking, not at my father, but....
Hearing the word again, laced with the smoothness of memory made me jerk away in self preservation. My mind began to recede again…I could feel myself slipping.
I quickly squeezed my eyes shut before it was too late….blocking the blurred and yet still beautiful face.
When I finally managed to open my eyes I was back. Charlie was still speaking. “….But I want you to be happy Bells, and I don’t think that’s going to happen if you stay here.”
“What do you mean?....I….”
A warm hand touched my face again.
I jerked away.
Enough was enough.
Didn’t they know by now that it was wrong?
I looked back at my mother. She had frozen, her hand still raised in the air. Her eyes were shocked and hurt as they flickered from Charlie, to me, and back again.
After a few seconds she composed herself and dropped her hand. “Bella I’m taking you back with me….back to Florida.”
‘I’m surprised. I thought Florida….and your mother….well, I thought that’s what you would want.’
“No.” My mind wanted to shout the word but my body still wasn’t functioning properly and all that came out was a hoarse whisper. I wasn’t even sure who I was talking to anymore….but it seemed nobody had heard anyway because Renee got back to her feet and walked back to my dresser.
“Phil’s getting your room ready for us….” She grabbed another shirt. My shirt.
‘But you’d be stuck inside all day in Florida. You’d only be able to come out at night, just like a real vampire.’
I hadn’t realized I was on my feet and moving until I was standing in front of Renee.
“I already talked to the school and they said all of your grades can be transferred….”
‘I would stay in Forks Bella. Or somewhere like it.’
“I even found out that there’s a few advanced courses that Forks doesn’t….”
My hand shot out and ripped the shirt from my mother’s grasp before she could place it with the others.
‘Someplace where I couldn’t hurt you anymore.’
“What are you doing?”
Mechanically and with shaking hands I folded my shirt back up. When I went to place it in the right drawer I saw that it was empty. I glanced at the other….empty.
As my eyes took in the bare bottoms something inside of me snapped….broke open and released something I did not want to face, but something that couldn’t be stopped.
It was disorienting, feeling the rush of anger….the emotion. I had been frozen and numb for so long….I had built a damn blocking out anything and everything.
Heat….burning raw heat filled my body. I could feel it searing my face as my hands moved faster and faster….grabbing and shoving my clothes back where they belonged. I was shaking so hard all I could mange was a sloppy roll up before I shoved them into the drawers. I didn’t care….as long as they were still in this room….my room.
A hand came out of nowhere, stopping my progress and reminding me that I was not alone.
“Bella….Bella stop! What are you doing?”
This time my voice was loud….clear and strong. It ripped open my dry throat and I welcomed the pain.
‘But the younger we pretend to be, the longer we can stay in any given place.’
“No!....I’m staying….I’m staying!”
‘Forks seemed perfect, so we all enrolled in high school.’
“Bells calm down….let’s just talk about....”
My shaking hands reached out and grabbed hand-full’s of my clothes. I flung them behind me….one after the other.
They landed on the floor, my bed….everywhere. Mine. This was my room, my clothes….me. They couldn’t make me leave….I lived here….in Forks.
“YOU CAN’T MAKE ME LEAVE!”
Forks is my home….I lived here….he lived here….Forks was his home.
“FORKS IS MY HOME….my….my….!”
I couldn’t breathe, it hurt. A boulder was lodged in my chest….huge and unyielding. It seemed to be gaining pressure with each passing second….weighing me down and cutting off my oxygen.
I couldn’t see. My vision had turned to blurred colors and my face felt wet….and I still couldn’t breathe.
My hands searched blindly for more of my clothes.
I found none.
This only made me angrier.
I could hear my parents but the words they shouted at me meant nothing.
There was nothing but nothing.
I grabbed the suitcase and spun around, flinging it with all the strength I could manage.
I was glad when I heard the loud crash as it connected with the wall.
“Isabella!” Both voices shouted at the same time.
Someone grabbed my arm and I wrenched away, stumbling back into my desk.
Something crashed nosily to the floor but I didn’t care.
“You can’t make me….I won’t ….I can’t….NO!….”
Hands. Strong warm hands grabbed my shoulders and pulled me forward roughly.
I fought….twisting and thrashing….Incoherent words and screams ripped from my throat.
But I wasn’t strong enough.
I couldn’t break free.
“Let me go!....I’m staying!....I’M STAYING!”
‘Did you have your eyes open this afternoon? Do you think I could walk down the street without causing traffic accidents?’
“It’s not real….I’m staying….I….Forks….NO!”
‘There’s a reason we chose the Olympic Peninsula, one of the most sunless places in the world.’
I was trapped. Locked tight against a warm chest.
Wrong. The warmth….the smell.
I didn’t want to feel it, but I couldn’t move. My struggles were pointless.
‘It’s nice to be able to go outside in the day. You won’t believe how tired you can get of nighttime in 80 odd years.’
“Let GO!” My fists beat weakly against the warmth, but the arms just held me tighter. A hand cupped the back of my head and I was pressed into my father’s shoulder.
I didn’t want these arm to hold me. I didn’t want to be comforted….not by him.
It was wrong….so wrong. All of it.
But then I realized, as my body became more alive, that without these arms around me now I would fall apart….shatter to pieces.
A part of me wanted to shatter, wanted to give in....but a larger part realized why I couldn’t.
Once that happened, once I gave in, there would be no going back…there would be no more fighting it.
I would have to face the fact that these warm arm were the only ones I was going to get...
I had to keep fighting.
Giving up was too terrifying….the uncertainty of what would come after had me frozen in fear.
But I was tired….so very tired.
I was too drained to fight it off anymore.
The boulder in my chest exploded and my mind and body reconnected. Sharp shards of pain extended throughout my body, attacking every muscle….every nerve.
As the agonized sob tore up my throat the rest of my strength went with it.
My knees buckled and the body holding me went down too.
“Ple….please….please….” I was left to begging, the words somehow making it out between the sobs.
“It’s alright….I’m here Bells….I’m here.”
‘Bella I’m not going anywhere, I’ll be here as long as you need me.’
The pain was too much. I tried to push it out of chest…physically remove the hole I could feel ripping its way from the inside out.
The sobs only seemed to grow louder and harder at the effort….only seemed to make the pain worse.
There was no removing it….no escaping.
I had lost my fight and there was no going back now.
Something between a scream and growl escaped my mouth. “He pro-omised….he….he sa-said….he….”
‘I told you I’m not going anywhere. Don’t be afraid.’
I was afraid. Never in my entire life had I been more frightened than in this moment.
As I choked on my tears and tried to breathe with no air, I knew my life was over. I wasn’t going to survive.
After all one needed a heart to live.
I had no heart.
There was nothing in my chest now….no heart to keep me living and no boulder to protect me.
All that was left in their absence was a hole. A deep excruciating hole that seemed to be growing with each second. It throbbed and tore through me….consuming. The only thing that kept me from being sucked into its depths….the only thing that held me forcibly to this world, was Charlie’s arms.
The only arms I had.
‘As long as it makes you happy I’ll be here.’
“Forever!....I….I told….hi-im….I sa-aid….”
‘Oh, you’ll get over it it’s just a crush.’
My head shook frantically against Charlie’s chest. “No!....I can’t….I….I ca-an’t…”
‘That’s the beautiful thing about being human, things change.’
“No…n-no…” My trembling arms wrapped around my father and my hands grabbed fistfuls of his shirt. It was the only anchor I had, the only thing I had left to hold on to. It was the one thing in this unbelievable storm that could be considered real. It was the only thing I had left now and I wasn’t going to let it go.
There would be no change….ever. I wouldn't allow it.
Charlie would never leave his job, never leave his friends.
He would never leave Forks.
Neither would I.
As long as I held Charlie to me they couldn’t make me leave.
The green forests, misty rain, thick clouds, and murky fog….those things were real. They existed. And as long as they existed so did he….and as long as he existed so did I.
‘It will be as if I never existed.’
“I can’t….I can’t do this….It’s not re-eal…He’s…he’s real….he li-ied to me….he LIED!”
“I know Bells, I know….”
“Please Daddy….please….I do-on’t want to le-leave….I don’t….I….I can’t….if I….if….”
I couldn’t get the words out. I was too dizzy from lack of air and the pain was too strong. I couldn’t say the most important thing: That if I left Forks I wouldn’t survive.
“Alright Bells, okay….It’s okay. You can stay….It will be alright. We’ll get through this baby….we’ll get through it.”
I wanted to tell him no, that it was impossible. But the sobs that continued to shake every bone in my body wouldn’t allow air into my lungs, much less allow words out.
There was just too much pain.
My eyes ached, my throat burned, and my chest felt like it was ripping apart….tearing, and each new sob only made the pain intensify. They cut right through me, making the muscles in my back lock and spasm, made my stomach burn and tighten.
But I couldn’t stop….I didn’t know how.
Because there was something infinitely worse than the physical pain. It ate at me from the inside, slowly gnawing it’s way to the surface.
It was something that I had blocked off, the reason I had been shut down for so long.
It wasn’t so much the reality as it was the truth behind the reality.
It was a truth I had been hiding from.
But seeing my mother pack my things with the intention of removing me from the one place I had a chance of existing in….the desolate thought of being forced to leave had made me understand. Made me face the truth.
A very small, hidden part of myself had been counting on my savior….hoping.
He had been there to rescue me from numerous dangers, had been there to erase my pain and wash away my fear. So surely he would have come. It had made perfect sense that as long as I laid in the same spot, drowning in the worse pain I had ever felt and been frozen with the worse fear, he would show up to save me from it all. That small but strong part of my dead mind had had no doubt that he would come back.
In that dark and endless time where I had shut down my mind I had not been hiding from the truth…. I had been waiting.
But right now, feeling the pain ten-fold, feeling the broken air bubbling up and down my sore throat, I realized why I hurt so very much….why I couldn’t stop the sobs, couldn’t stop the agonized shaking.
That small part of me I had buried, with the desperate hope of keeping alive, was no longer there.
I had been thrown into reality, forced to see the truth and in so doing that small part of me was now dead. Gone.
There was nothing left now but the truth.
The agonizing reality that he was gone and no amount of waiting or hoping would bring him back to me.