"Are you okay? Stupid question," she continued without giving me time to answer, "I can see that you're not. You haven't been for a while." "Is is that obvious?" I sighed. "Yes," she answered, "to someone who's seen it before." Bella needed some help to come to the decision that she almost made in Ch 16 of New Moon. Help arrives at Newton's in the form of a strange girl with her own tragic story to tell...
This story takes place during Ch. 15 - Pressure, the night before Bella's cliff dive.
1. Phantom Voice
Rating 5/5 Word Count 803 Review this Chapter
La Push used to be my sanctuary. Now it felt more like a prison. I was sick of the beach, sick of Jacob's house, sick of being on my own. Being on my own gave me time to think, and that was dangerous, now that I had woken up from my self-imposed numbness, especially since I had a new batch of worries (namely a batch of immature werewolves and Victoria) to fret over.
Working at Newton's was almost a relief, the monotonous work a welcome change from doing nothing at La Push all day. Jacob tailed me the whole way there on his bike again. I knew it was necessary, just until they caught Victoria. Part of me wished that they would catch her soon, while another part of me recoiled from the thought of my Quileute friends facing her, challenging my lethal, brutal enemy...
I shook my head to rid myself of the disturbing thought and got back to work. It was almost closing time, and I was mopping the aisles of the store.
"Hey Bella, I'm watching the game tonight with Tyler, so I'm gonna head off. You okay to lock up?"
Mike's grin turned hopeful. "‘Course, you could always join us, shut up shop early. Mom'll blame me, not you. We could grab something to eat after..."
"No thanks Mike. I'm not really into football."
I winced mentally as forbidden memories flooded my mind.
"I rest my case." I forced my tone to be casual, flippant. It worked - Mike laughed.
"Okay. See you Saturday."
He left me alone with my mopping and, unfortunately, baseball memories that I was desperately trying to repress. Victoria's reappearance had forced too many of these painful memories to the surface lately. Part of me wished for the mind-numbing stupor of the months after he left.
I barely noticed when I heard the door open. There were fifteen minutes left till closing, and the store was otherwise empty.
A beautiful female voice was humming a familiar, sad tune that I couldn't place. The sound was haunting, and for some reason sent ripples of pain through my chest. The humming morphed into singing, and I recognised the song.
I had never really cared for the band who originally performed this song; they had always seemed rather morose and melodramatic. But I had liked this song, and the lead singer had sung it so beautifully.
The phantom voice wandering the aisles at Newton's made that woman sound like a drunken karaoke singer. She started out low and quiet, caressing the lyrics as she described how her love had captivated her, how she had loved him with every fibre of her being, but now he was gone, whether through death or abandonment, she did not elaborate. The voice became high and piercing, keening beautifully as she moved into the chorus, describing her pain, declaring that she still belongs to her departed love.
Why this damn song?
Why was this voice torturing me, reminding me of my pain? Was someone being malicious? My thoughts sprang to Lauren, but I was quite sure that she was unable to produce anything as lovely as this voice.
The voice swelled tumultuously as it entered the song's bridge, followed by a passionate rendition of the chorus, before slipping into a sad, almost whispered declaration of undying, unconditional, unrequited love.
I was barely conscious of the fact that I was curled up on the floor, shaking uncontrollably as I clasped my arms across the hole in my chest. I could dimly hear a quite normal, if strangely accented, voice nearby, but couldn't make out the words. I was too lost in the pain. Then I heard my name.
"Bella?" It was a voice that I vaguely recognised, but did not know very well. It came closer. "Mike? Hellooo, is there anyone here? Sorry if my singing scared you off. I don't even realise I'm doing...Oh, Bella! Are you okay?"
I couldn't answer the voice, but I felt gentle hands pull me into a curled seated position on the hard linoleum.
"Shh, calm down, it's okay." Okay?! The love of my life had left me forever, and some weird singer had just brought that fact crashing through my chest again like a wrecking ball. How was that okay?
I heard the shop door click as the mystery girl locked it. Then she put her arms around me, and surprisingly that seemed to help. I'm not sure how long I sat there, shaking and gasping, while she held me. The pain eventually subsided back to the slightly more bearable level where it usually stayed, and I finally turned to face my companion.