New Moon's Christmas
The Christmas during those blank pages in New Moon. My entry for the Twilight Novel Novice Winter Competition. ~ Honorable Mention in the Nov-Dec, 09 Challenge ~
1. New moon's Christmas
Rating 3.7/5 Word Count 3734 Review this Chapter
I woke to the sound of my own screams. Another night had passed and I hadn’t escaped another nightmare. I buried my head in the pillows to try and smother my cries in hope of not waking Charlie. After a few minutes I managed to stop the tears from flowing. I took a deep breath and jumped when my alarm went off. I turned my head and stopped the loud beeping noise. The little calendar in the corner of the clock informed me that today was December twenty-fifth.
I stared at the little display, not really seeing anything. It was then that I heard the music creeping upstairs. It was easy to recognise. Christmas songs.
I mentally sighed. Today was going to be hard for me. It was my first Christmas with Charlie. Although it should be a happy occasion, I couldn’t help feeling the dread of what I was going to have to endure.
I had escaped some of the celebrations last night, but only because Charlie had gotten called away on duty. An accident had happened due to the snow and he was needed to close the road off. He told me he would make up for it tomorrow. Today.
I had made a rule stating we weren’t allowed to get each other presents this year. The idea of unwrapping something, especially presents, brought too many painful memories for reasons no one would understand. Particularly Charlie.
I made him believe that it was only because I hadn’t gotten anything for him, and that I didn’t want it to be awkward. He unwillingly agreed. I assumed mostly because it was one of the first things I had said in a while.
I knew Charlie would receive some presents from his work colleagues. Or at least he would be given something by anyone who would have if I wasn’t here. Although I knew this would probably be one of the worst Christmases for me, I didn’t want to spoil it for Charlie.
Reluctantly, I slowly shuffled my legs out of the warmth of my bed and into the cooler temperature of my room. I stood up and caught site of the outside through my window. I almost climbed back into bed when I saw that more snow had fallen through the night. Outside there was a complete blanket of snow covering every branch and blade of grass in sight. The sun was trying it’s best to make an appearance, but the ashy clouds made it harder by almost covering the whole sky. I had always thought of Forks being too green, an alien planet. Now it was too white, and I couldn’t help think it was a mirror of me. Plain. Blank. Empty.
I sighed and grabbed my wash bag and a clean pair of clothes, making my way towards the bathroom. I brushed my teeth, not bothering to look in the mirror. After I was done I changed clothes, putting my old sweats in the laundry basket. I quickly ran a brush through my hair, still refusing to look at myself in the mirror.
I dragged my feet down the hall and down stairs, where the music gradually got louder. I walked into the kitchen and looked towards where Charlie was pouring out two bowls of cereal. He had a wide grin on his face. I looked towards the radio which seemed to be the source of the music.
“Happy Christmas, Bells,” he greeted me. I tried to smile, but it probably came out a grimace.
“Happy Christmas,” I murmured, taking a seat in front of the cereal. I picked up a spoon and began eating. Charlie took the seat opposite me and did the same, cheerfully humming along to the tunes.
“Oh,” he said, swallowing his mouthful of cereal. He leaned back to pick something up from the counter behind him. I cringed slightly as he leaned over and placed it in front of me. The box was colourful with rainbow wrapping paper. A bright red ribbon sat on the top. My stomach turned.
“Dad, I told you...” I moaned, although my voice was barely above a whisper.
“It’s from your mother,” he clarified, holding out his hands defensively. The corners of his mouth tugged up into a smile.
I hadn’t spoken with Renée for a few weeks, long before I had noticed Christmas was going to be making an appearance. I guessed Charlie hasn’t informed her of my wishes. The tag on the present read it was from Mom and Phil. Using my finger I tore the edges carefully, not wanting recreate any memories. I felt Charlie’s eyes on me the entire time. I pulled out the box and lifted the lid, peering inside. The item seemed to be some sort of clothing. I picked it up from the top, holding it in front of me and letting the red blouse unroll itself. Charlie seemed to be waiting for me to say something.
“It’s nice...I’ll have to thank her,” I mumbled.
“Mmm...” he agreed, seeming disappointed at my unenthusiastic response. It truly was a nice blouse. It would probably become one of my favourite shirts if I gave it a chance, but I just wasn’t in the celebrating mood. I folded it up carefully and placed it in the box, setting it aside to finish my breakfast. I tried to ignore the too cheery music.
Charlie broke the uncomfortable silence. “Are you going to wear it today? It is red, after all.” He chuckled at the end.
“Sure,” I answered, scooping up the bowls and placing them in the sink. I started washing them up. I heard a chair as it screeched against the floor as Charlie got up. A minute later I heard the television being switched on.
When I finished washing up, I grabbed the box and made my way upstairs and into my bedroom, shutting the door behind me.
I lazily chucked the box on the foot of my bed. I laid my head on the pillow and stared up at the ceiling, not seeing anything. Letting my eyes glaze over.
I was greeted by the familiarity of my daily routine. I found it easier being by myself lately, away from people. Away from anything that might strike a chord with me of something I didn’t want to be reminded of.
It was when I was alone like this that I had to be careful of what I thought about. Sometimes my mind would wander to something that would make the hole in my chest tear even more at the edges and send me further into depression, sending me even lower than I already was. If there was any lower than this.
I didn’t know how long I had been lying down before I heard Charlie calling up the stairs.
“Bells, are you ready to go in five minutes?”
I suppressed a sigh when I sat up and rose to my feet. I called back a hushed “Yeah” hoping he would hear. I looked towards my clock and noticed I had been lying on my bed for a few hours, and that now it was late afternoon. Although to me, it seemed longer.
In the years before I came here, Charlie would often be found at the local diner on Christmas Eve. But since he was called away last night, he had postponed his – our Christmas meal to this afternoon. The diner wasn’t fancy, but it was the closest thing Forks had to a proper restaurant.
I turned around to straighten out my bed but the box at the end caught my eye. I lifted the lid and pulled out the red blouse, holding it out in front of me. Charlie had asked if I’d be wearing it today, and it was red. Red was traditionally Christmas-y. Maybe it would put me more in the holiday mood. I took off my existing top and replaced it with the blouse, probably knowing it was a wasted effort to make things a little more cheerful.
I replaced the lid to the box and kicked it under my bed. I walked, shuffling my feet as I went, and met Charlie at the bottom of the stairs, putting his jacket on. He met eyes with me and smiled.
“You look nice, Bells,” Charlie said, gesturing towards the new blouse. I muttered a “Thanks” while I donned my jacket. I heard Charlie utter a sigh as I walked through the front door.
Since Charlie was driving, we took the cruiser to the diner. The fifteen minute journey was filled with silence, except for the radio which blasted Christmas songs. I tried my hardest to block them out and resisted the urge to cover my ears.
Charlie had to drive slower than his usual speed. The snow rested several inches above the ground. And since there was a cop driving, everyone else on the road was being extra “careful” with their driving.
Charlie pulled up just outside the diner. The car park wasn’t full, but it wasn’t empty either. I silently hoped it wasn’t too busy inside, so at least there wouldn’t be an extended wait.
I opened the cruiser door and trudged through the snow towards the diner door, following Charlie. I watched my footing so I wouldn’t trip. The cold wind whistled through the air, causing me to wrap my arms around myself to hold my coat closer. The wind caught my hair, making it whip against my face. I pulled my hood up over my head. Charlie held the door open for me, and I walked inside.
The inside was completely decorated with red and green tinsel, and fairy lights were hung in every available space and border. A tacky decorated Christmas tree sat in the corner with a crystal star balanced on the top. The heater blasted from above, warming me up instantly. I let my hood down.
A waitress greeted us and showed us to a two-seat table which was nearer to the tree than I would have liked. I took a seat, hanging my coat on the back of the chair. The waitress handed us a menu each.
“Can I get you any drinks?” the waitress asked us. Charlie ordered a beer and a moment later I realised she wanted to know what I wanted to drink as well.
“I’ll have a coke?” I sounded as if I was asking for approval. Suddenly my words triggered a memory. I was in the restaurant Bella Italia in Port Angeles with- I had to stop my thoughts there. I shut my eyes to try and shake off the thought.
“I’ll be right back with those,” She sounded wary but left the table. I opened my eyes and stared at the table in front of me, watching the small circles engraved on the wood running into each other. I heard Charlie cough lightly, and I looked up.
“What would you like?” Charlie asked, gesturing towards the menu in front of me. I picked it up and tried to read what was on offer, but my mind wouldn’t cooperate, and I really wasn’t too hungry.
“What are you having?” I asked, my voice flat. Charlie picked up the menu again and scanned it before his eyes landed on something.
“The roast turkey sounds good,” he murmured. He flipped the page, probably looking at the desserts. “And then the pumpkin pie.” He smiled to himself, placing the menu back on the table.
“I’ll have the same,” I mumbled, placing my menu back on the table as well. The waitress returned with our drinks, placing them in front of us.
“Have you decided what you would like?” She asked politely. When I didn’t say anything, Charlie gave her his order.
“And for you miss?” She shifted herself so she was facing me.
“The same,” I murmured, forcing a smile. She took out her notebook and quickly scribbled down our order and left.
Charlie started talking about past Christmas’s and what he had to eat here in years gone by. I was thankful that I could get away with minimal responses, such as “U-huh” and “M-hmm.”
Sometime later the main course arrived. A slice of turkey breast was laid on the plate along with stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn, squash, and green beans. A little gravy pot was on the side of the plate. I looked up and noticed Charlie had begun eating.
I picked up my knife and fork and also began eating. I dug the knife into the turkey and tore it off with the fork, popping it into my mouth. I didn’t really taste anything. I only felt the texture of the meat and the sensation of it travelling down my throat. The same happened until I slowly finished most of the plate. I pushed the remainder of the food to the side and pulled out the napkin, which was under the plate, to wipe my mouth. I crumpled it up into a ball and placed it on the plate.
I looked up and saw Charlie taking a big swig of his drink. His plate was completely empty, and his cup was nearing that way. He placed his cup back on the table, making a low “thud” when it met with the surface. He patted his stomach and said, “Still a little bit of room for dessert, I think.” He chuckled. I forced another smile.
The waitress came back and collected our plates. The inevitable silence returned since there was no meal to keep us occupied. Or Charlie occupied.
I looked out the window, which was closest to us, to see the sun making its way down the sky. The light pierced through a small gap in the clouds and it shone into the diner, making me squint a little. I turned my head, and caught sight of the tree. The light reflected off the crystal star at the top, making it throw countless rainbows around the diner. I gasped when I caught site of the room, and shut my eyes. Too many memories flooded my mind, making my head clouded. The hole ripped open in my chest, making it hard to breathe. I wrapped both of my arms around my torso, and tried to breathe deep to force oxygen into my lungs. I knew I was close to breaking down, and I didn’t want to do that in front of Charlie. I opened my eyes into slits, but did not meet Charlie’s curious gaze.
“Just going to the bathroom,” I gasped, quickly standing up. I caught my foot on the chair, and stumbled over but luckily caught myself by clutching the wall in front of me. I looked up and saw the “Restroom” sign above my head. I slammed into the door, pushing it forward into the bathroom. I found a cubical and locked the door, pulling down the seat so I could sit down.
I put my head in my hands, and felt the tears that had already escaped. I didn’t realize I was sobbing before I had to take a ragged, shaky breath.
My cheeks were starting to sting from my salty tears. I opened my eyes, but my vision was blurry. Using the back of my hand, I wiped my eyes. A few minutes later I managed to stifle my cries, and I opened the cubical door. The hole in my chest was still gaping, but I could just manage to breathe without having to wrap my arms around myself.
I crossed the room and was about to pull open the door to the dining area before my thoughts caught up to me. My eyes were still stinging, and I probably looked a mess.
I turned around and caught my reflection in the mirror on top of the basin.
My eyes were what I expected. They were slightly bloodshot with red rings around them. The chocolate brown that my eyes once were was now a dull muddy brown colour. Lifeless.
I walked over to the sink, and turned on the tap. I cupped my hands underneath to catch the water as it flowed into my hands. I splashed it on my face, and rubbed my eyes with the water. I turned off the tap and pulled out some of the tissues from the dispenser. I dried my face and put the damp tissues in the bin.
I glanced in the mirror again. I looked better than I did, but I still looked a mess. The red rings under my eyes weren’t gone, but they had improved. Hopefully, Charlie wouldn’t ask any questions.
I pulled the door open and met eyes with the worried ones of Charlie, still sitting at the table. Two servings of pumpkin pie were on the table, and I could see that Charlie hadn’t touched his yet.
I crossed the short distance and took my seat opposite Charlie. The sun was now behind the safe barrier of the clouds. And hopefully that would be its last appearance today. The thought seemed slightly odd for me. Wishing the sun would disappear.
“Bells...?” Charlie’s voice was deep with concern.
“I’m fine,” I said abruptly, hoping to move to a different topic. “Pumpkin pie good?” I gestured with my hand towards the two bowls in front of us. A rather large piece of pie was in the bowl with a sizeable amount of clotted cream dotted on top.
“Don’t know yet. I was waiting for you.” I looked up and he had a sympathetic smile on his face. I tried to return it.
I could tell Charlie knew I had gotten upset, but Charlie was always uncomfortable when tears were involved. He would rather brush it off and try to pretend it never happened.
He picked up his spoon and dug into the pumpkin pie. I looked down at my bowl and suppressed a sigh. After my latest upset I had completely lost any appetite that I had. I picked up the spoon and pierced it into the pie, spreading it about the bowl a little. But even though I had scattered the pie around the bowl, anyone could still tell I hadn’t eaten anything. I didn’t want any unnecessary questions about why I wasn’t eating the dessert. I had to eat at least a little bit.
I scooped up some of the pastry and popped it into my mouth. I tried my hardest to chew and swallow and not act like a little girl by pushing the plate away. I had managed to eat about half of the pie, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to manage anymore. I placed the spoon in the half empty bowl and sat back, feeling uncomfortable from the amount of food I had consumed. Charlie had eaten all of his, as I expected.
“I could do that all again,” he chuckled, patting his stomach. I took a long sip of my coke to try and wash the food down.
The waitress made an appearance and collected the bowls. “Was everything okay with your meals?” she asked, obviously seeing my half-full plate. I could sense her eyes on me.
“Delicious, thank you,” Charlie said as he pulled out his wallet from his pocket. The waitress, balancing our two bowls in one hand, pulled out the bill and laid it on the table. Charlie leaned over and read the amount due before putting a few notes down on the table.
“Keep the remaining as a tip,” he said as he stood up and pulled his coat on. I did the same.
“Thank you. Happy Christmas.” The waitress collected the tray with the money, and left the table.
“Ready to go, Bells?” Charlie asked me, zipping up his jacket. I gave a hushed “M-hmm.”
Charlie led the way out the door and to the cruiser. It had darkened outside since the sun was nearly set, and it was colder. The icy wind nipped at my face, causing my teeth to chatter.
The drive home was very similar to the drive to the diner. It was filled with silence, except for the radio and my silent hopes that Charlie wouldn’t bring up the subject of what happened at the restaurant.
Halfway through the journey, I realised I should thank him for the meal, although I would have preferred to stay at home and have the normal daily routine.
“Thanks for the meal.”
“You’re welcome, Bells.”
When we arrived back home and Charlie opened the door, the phone was ringing. He ran to grab the phone and caught it on the last ring.
“Hello?” he said breathlessly. It was probably one of his friends, wishing him a Happy Christmas. I started heading for the stairs.
“Yep – okay, hang on,” He said into the phone, and away from the phone, “It’s your mom, Bells.”
My mom? Of course, it was my mom. I reminded myself that she probably wanted to know what I thought of the blouse. I walked over to where Charlie was holding out the phone.
“Oh, Bella. Happy Christmas, sweetie.”
“Umm...yeah. Happy Christmas, mom....Thank you for the blouse.”
“Do you like it?”
“Yeah, I do mom. I’m wearing it now. Thank you.”
“Oh, I’m so pleased you like it, honey.”
“Say hello to Phil for me.” I hoped that was an appropriate closing line.
“I will, sweetie.”
“I’ll talk to you soon. Bye, mom. I love you.”
“Love you too, baby.” I hung up the phone, and started for the stairs. I caught Charlie out of the corner of my eye, leaning against the wall.
“I’m tired, so I’m going to go to bed.” Charlie frowned a little.
“Okay, I’ve got Billy coming around soon anyway – game to watch. Happy Christmas, Bells.”
“Happy Christmas...” I urged the corners of my mouth to pull up into a smile. I turned and headed up the stairs and made my way towards my bedroom and shut the door behind me.
I found a new pair of sweats in my wardrobe and changed into them, laying my old clothes on the chair in the corner of my room.
I walked over towards my bed and pulled the covers back. I climbed in and pulled the covers back over me. Pulling a pillow over my head, I made myself ready to greet the nightmares which I was certain I would find.