Jobless Bella is in desperate search for an occupation; she finds one at Forks' Mental Institution and soon enough becomes acquainted with the inmates. How will she get on with the patients there? "We need to feel inflamed, but what sets us alight is what restricts us." Twilight/Cosmopolis crossover. Bella x Eric x cryptic dialogue.
4. Chapter 4
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When Bella arrives back at her flat that evening, she is exhausted and energised; exhausted because even though physically she had done very little, the mental strain of being around people she doesn't understand but must fix has drained her. Though this clashes for her reason for being energised; there's a thrill she feels at helping them solve their problems, a thrill she has previously been deprived of – she is, for the first time in a very long while, stimulated.
She collapses onto her small, second-hand couch with a sigh. As she fiddles with the fraying edge of her skirt she realises with a jolt that once more, she had forgotten to ask Jasper about the pay. She furrows her brow as she contemplates why he wouldn't have brought it up, and then concedes that he may have, like her, simply forgot.
She leans forward, her elbows on her knees and she looks to the desk that resides a little bit away. On it still lays the bills that she hadn't put away in her haste, but as she looks around the small space now, she wonders where she'd have put them anyway.
Just then, the violent pounding on the door shakes her out of her reverie. She starts lightly, and feels her heart pick up tempo in her chest.
"Girlie, I know you're in there, and I also know that ya rent's late," The voice slurs from behind the wood. "So open up."
Bella's heart stutters in her chest as her breath stutters in her throat. Her eyes shoot over to the calendar that hangs on the wall, and with shaking legs she stands and walks over to it. She bites back a curse as she sees the date, and more specifically, the bright red ink underneath it.
"Goddamnit," She hisses to herself as she lays her forehead onto her palm; it's cold – freezing. She's annoyed at herself for forgetting, knowing that she can't afford to forget at all.
"I said," the voice calls drunkenly from the other side, "open the fucking door!"
Bella can only stand and stare for many moments before finally, her frozen limbs are forced into action. She walks calmly, but very quietly, over toward the front door. She flinches when there's a forceful bang that pounds through the small space; makes her bones rattle. She breathes slowly as her hand reaches up and so slowly, she lets the latch go.
The lock clicks in place.
Deadly silence until the banging continues and increases; his foul language growing harsher, his tone more bitter each time his fist flies against the door. Bella backs away until she hits the wall and then she slowly slides down. She brings her knees to her chest and curls her arms around them; locks her fingers in place. Her stare never leaves the door and her body never leaves its place in the cold room, but her mind drifts long and so very, very far away.
Bella doesn't sleep a wink that night.
It's not the insistent pounding from her landlord that keeps her up through the cool night, though perhaps it may not help, it is not the source of her insomnia. As she rocks back on forth that night the floorboards squeak underneath her weight, but she barely notices it as her mind is cast back to that fateful moment.
She remembers watching a movie with Eli cuddled close between her and the arm of the sofa – he liked nestling himself in between small spaces for some reason, Bella thought maybe the encasement made him feel safe; a constant enclosement of arms. He was drifting in and out of fits of sleep, and so was Bella, until a sudden news flash on the television caught her attention.
She sat up, careful not to disturb Eli, blinking her eyes blearily at the brightly lit screen. There was a tightening in the pit of her stomach that made her face pale, and she didn't understand it at the time.
The face of the newscaster appeared on the screen, and then it cut to shots of a completely broken down plane. Its windows were smashed in, the wings were severely deformed and the very nose of the plane was utterly squashed into itself – as if it had landed on it straight on, and the force of it had been enough to crush it so.
Bella's heart beat was in her ears and the words the newscaster were saying didn't make sense – didn't register – for a moment. But then they did, and it felt as if all the blood had rushed out from her body, leaving her cold, pale and immobile.
She remembers looking down at Eli, half awake, half asleep, and feeling an abrupt sense of terror, so saturated was it that she couldn't contain the sharp cry that tore through her lips. Numb until she started to cry, and then wasn't able to stop. Eli woke up fully, his eyes frightened, but she couldn't say anything of comfort. Bella just took him in my arms and held him so tightly, and sobbed and wept and cried for their family that was now dead.
And he didn't even realise it.
Bella peaks out through the peep hole when the sun has risen. She sees no sign of the landlord anywhere, but she knows better than to trust the limited vision which the peep hole provides. Still, she dresses and washes the best she can in her half-zombie state. She has work today and she can't miss it because it's only her second day, and perhaps the most important, because she needs the money – desperately.
She preps herself, throws quiet words at herself which are meant to encourage. She picks up her coat, slips into her shoes and slowly, carefully and quietly, opens the front door.
Her breath is caught and held; she makes not a sound as she waits for an assault – through which she will eventually escape because her landlord is more drunk than not, which also makes him semi-easy to escape from.
But nothing, and when she looks down the hallway both ways, she sees that it's all clear. This is her incentive to hurry up, but when she does her hands are shaking so hard that it takes her a minute to twist the lock into place. Then she high tails it out of there as fast as she can; when she slams the door to her truck she doesn't think there's ever been a better sound.
The space inside is small, and she's cramped but she's comfortable.
She thinks of Eli and his love of small spaces. She thinks, safe.
"Good morning, Dr. Swan," Janine greets her as she enters – the secretary for the fourth floor Bella had been introduced to yesterday. "Di d you sleep well?"
Bella fixes a smile onto her face, though she's sure it looks more like a grimace. "Not really," She admits. "The storm last night . . . kept me awake."
Janine nods sympathetically while Bella's stomach is churning over the real reason for her fatigue. "Yeah, I heard that. Vile weather, isn't it?"
Bella pushes her lips together. "Yes," She responds, "vile." She's thinking of her landlord and his slurring words; the way he smacks his lips together and how his eyes trail up and down her form without shame when he sees her. Yes, she thinks, truly vile.
Janine hands a piece of paper to Bella. "Your schedule of appointments for the day," She explains in a very matter-of-fact kind of way. Bella scans over the list quickly, she ticks them off in her head as she reads.
Leah: 9:00 – 10:00
Alice: 10:30 – 11:30
(Lunch and medication: 11:40 – 12:40)
Micahel: 1:00 – 2:00
Eric: 2:30 – 3:30
3:35 and onwards – free time
"What's free time?" Bella enquires without looking up.
"Oh," Janine says, "That's where you explore the grounds, get to know the patients and so forth." Bella looks up from the paper when she doesn't continue. "Trust," Janine says, looking right into her eyes. "This is where you build up trust." Jasper's words come back to her at that, " . . . but I would advise it – at least for the first few weeks – so you're able to build up some kind of stability, trust if you will."
Trust, she thinks, is important.
"Okay," Bella nods, "I understand."
As Bella walks away, she thinks she might hear Janine mutter, I hope so.