Walking with the Ghost
I was staring at a changeling: enormous and angular, comprised of russet skin and heat. A blazing, glorious sun that washed over me in ways subtle and wise, burning away the shadows of twilight...
After jumping into the waves at First Beach, Bella comes out from beneath the overwhelming shadow of Edward Cullen. In that moment, she becomes a woman, finding the reasoning, intelligent person who existed pre-New Moon. And sees, truly sees, Jacob Black for the first time.
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4. Chapter 4 - The girl who ran with wolves [Leah]
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I was on fire.
My fingers knotted in the sweat dampened cotton of day old sheets as I writhed against the assault of my body. The nerves beneath my burning skin cried and shook against their confinement. Words leaked from my mouth tangled in childhood and dreams: In the great night my heart will go out. I will go out, I will go out.
“No talking, no talking. The snow is falling.” The hands at my forehead and throat smelled keenly of lavender Tide and Ivory soap. Beneath that lay the perfume of my mother who must have recognized some of the chaos of my dreamscape as she washed my dying song with a cold hand towel and her deep voice. “You are on fire, my love.” I could hear worry in the endearment, something that had been lost between us – as had her simple touch – for many years. “I think you have the same thing Seth has.”
“I h..hope not.” I bit out the words through the throbbing of my jaw, unable to focus in the dark room. I moved towards her sounds: the musical clink of her beaded necklace, the rustle of her pants on my sheets. The water dripping off the wash cloth beat an irregular tattoo against my shoulder, something I found increasingly unbearable. My eyes watered and I turned away from her, not wanting anyone to see the weakness. “How…h-how is he?” My voice was shaky and deeper than usual.
“Your father won’t let me call the doctor.” Her voice had dropped an octave. I could hear the pursing of her lips, the furrowing of her brow. “He had Sam Uley in there, if you can believe it.” The rancor in her voice surprised me. But I had not truly listened to my mother’s voice in a long time. “I wouldn’t have him in the house. After what he did to you… but your father insisted.” She didn’t say that he had asked about me, had stood in the doorway of my room with the hallway lights behind him watching me pretend to sleep, while I watched him through slitted eyelids.
We were always at somewhat of an impasse: I loved him and he loved Emily and pretended to care for me. Luckily for him, I was apparently dying. In the great night my heart will go out.
It hurt to hear Sam’s name. Hurt in ways that never seemed to heal, but just fueled my anger. Something in my knee tore as rage colored my vision red and the sound I made then was alien and feral. The pain was excruciating and even Sue could hear the splintering of bone. She jumped from the bed, frantic and buzzing around me. “Harry! Harry!”
I began to lose consciousness in degrees. The room lightened incrementally around me – posters becoming legible, the ticking of my bedside clock counting down the seconds. I could hear the scurry of something inside the walls, probably a mouse and the diluted sound of my father’s voice through the wall by my head. Don’t worry, Seth. Embry and Paul are here. Something fractured in my brain and my skin moved like taffy as the keening nerves beneath finally made their escape.
I hurt, I hurt, I hurt, I hurt.
It was both my mind and outside it.
This is worse than the poison ivy I had last year.
It was… Seth. I remembered the red welts that had climbed his legs and forearms, the pink calamine he had used. Sam’s laughter as he asked, What did you think would happen when you cut through Jack’s field? The night shirt tore beneath me as I pulsed with living anger, so tangible that I was sure it had forced my mother from the room.
Both names screamed simultaneously in my head. Seth’s brightness claiming the nickname I hated more than life itself. And Paul. Within the space of two heartbeats, everything Paul had ever thought about me - everything Sam had ever thought about me – flooded my head.
It’s a shame she’s such a harpy.
Why can’t I stop loving her?
It was too much. A raw sob tore through me as my skin was flayed from my living body. My father crossed the threshold at the same moment, his cheeks pink from exertion. “Leah…” I could smell the bitter tang of his fear; see the shock in his unnaturally dilated pupils. And I heard the furious canter of his heart stutter and stop as he dropped to his knees before me. Reaching towards me with a lifeless hand.
Paul came through the front door in nothing but a pair of black shorts, the screen banging behind him, pulled off its hinges with the force of his entrance.
In the next room, the liquid sound of my brother’s scream raised the hair at my spine as he caught my rage and amplified it. I heard the sound of Embry Call’s voice filter in the hallway, making nonsense sounds attempting to reassure Seth.
Paul interpreted my forward movement as aggression, shaking off his own skin as he turned into a wolf before my eyes. His snarl was deep and echoed in the room as he advanced, my mother screaming behind him, “Harry! Ohmigod, Harry! Leah!” My body was awkward around me, caught now on four limbs. I stumbled slightly as Paul pounced, taking the extra skin at my neck in a bite that brought tears to my eyes and me to my knees. Submit, Leah. It didn’t have the authority of an alpha and I strained against his hold, my father’s inert body lying between us.
Get off me you motherfucker. I turned my body slightly, bending in ways I didn’t think were possible and took a swipe at the sheath of his sex. I missed but was close enough to the mark to gain my freedom. But now there were two wolves, the second spotted like a leopard, leaner and cannier in its movements.
Go to Seth. You’re just pissing her off, you jackass.
You try dealing with this bitch.
Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, Daddy… My mind was a litany onto itself, Paul backing up enough so that I could nuzzle the warmth of my father’s still form.
Jared, where the hell are you?
I’m coming. Why are there four voices?
Do you KNOW another Leah?
Embry latched on the ruff still wet from Paul’s saliva, tugging me towards the door. We can’t stay here. Must go. Now.Seth, too.Leah, I’m so sorry. I felt the passing of Seth and Paul as they moved past me, the hallway barely big enough for one of us.
I looked towards my mother, the line of her mouth hard, phone still in hand. “Leah, go.” She directed towards me, reading the indecision in my body language and eyes. I tried to explain, but my words – growls and yips – were unintelligible to her. I didn’t mean to… I don’t know what is happening, but I didn’t mean to… Daddy!
Surprising both Embry and I – Embry irritating me by moving to keep himself between her and I, just in case, as if I would hurt her, as if he believed I had hurt my father – she came towards us, shakily extending a hand towards me as one would greeting a dog. I could smell her fear; hear the stuttering thrum of her heart. Her indrawn breath was for fortification and she came to her knees between myself and my father, running her palm against his pale face, the other very lightly through the rough fur of my left flank. “I never believed…” Her voice broke off in wonder, her fingers moving the damp hair from my father’s forehead. “Oh, Harry,” she exhaled my father’s name on a sigh, “My poor Leah. I love you so much, but you must go with…” she stared at Embry, not recognizing him in wolf form, “them.”
I nuzzled my mother’s hair as I moved past her, drinking in the scent of her shampoo, the scent of my mother.
We fled like thieves in the early morning light, keeping to the woods and thick places. Seth, a sandy colored form, came beside me, our bodies touching each other as physically as our minds. I wanted to cry, but the only sound that broke from my throat was a whine so bright and feral that I swallowed the inclination.
Jared joined us as we ran through the morning, snippets of thought racing through my brain as Jacob and then, finally, Sam Shifted and linked with us. Go back to the Clearwater’s, Sam’s voice rang with the clarity of a leader, bringing us around and back to town. Harry is on life support. We are following the Leech. I will meet you there.
Oh, Le-Le, I would never have wished this on you, this last on a visceral sigh. My abdomen clenched in response and I felt my anger leech from me as if a tangible plug had been pulled. Exhausted, bruised, I fell in the long grass along the road as my body involuntarily returned to the lean, brown shape of a girl.
I could no longer hear their voices, the voices of the Pack.
But Seth and Embry lay down beside me, still in the shape of wolves, their sun touched fur warm against the curve of my spine and stomach as I fell nearly catatonic.
When I woke, sunburned and textured in the dirt and grass that clung to my drying skin, Embry’s arm curled over the bow of my waist, his fist beneath my small breasts.
When Leah Clearwater awoke one morning from uneasy dreams she found herself transformed in her bed into a monster.
In the guise of a girl, this thought was my own for the keeping.
Somewhere, my father was dying.