It's Bella Swan's second time volunteering at a Crisis Intervention Centre hotline, and so far, it hasn't exactly gone the way she'd envisioned it. But this time will be different. This time she'll receive a call that will change her life more than she could have ever realized. This call will test her limits beyond her wildest expectations, it'll play on her emotions, it'll change her forever.
For now I'll rate this story for 'everyone', I might change it later though as there will be descriptions of abuse, it depends on how elaborate those descriptions will be. This will be another emotional story, it will be a story about discovery, friendship, and yes, love. I hope you like it.
1. Chapter 1: First Call
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Chapter 1: First Call
It was my second time volunteering at the Seattle Crisis Intervention Centre, and so far it wasn't exactly going as planned. Before I chose to volunteer here, I used to think that I'd be able to help people that were struggling, that I'd be able to make a difference in someone's life. But I wasn't so sure about that anymore. Half of the phone calls I received were prank calls, and the other half weren't real emergencies; unless you think that a burnt dinner is an emergency.
But I wasn't going to quit; I didn't give up that easily. I knew there was someone out there, waiting for my help, and I was determined to get that one meaningful call. It only took one call. Just one.
"Crisis Intervention, How can I help you?" I said for what had to be the tenth time in as many minutes, not expecting very much. The line was silent; the person calling was breathing softly into the phone, but wasn't saying a word. I figured this was just another prank call, and was somewhat irritated.
"Look, I can't help you if you don't speak," I grumbled my short, abrasive reply. I immediately knew that I shouldn't have lost my temper like that; volunteers at this centre had to remain professional at all time. I'd slipped.
"I-I'm sorry. I shouldn't have called." It was a soft, male voice - young, teenager like - on the line. I briefly associated the voice with that of an angel - well, what I thought an angel would sound like. But this voice sounded so broken, so desperate; it was heartbreaking and I didn't want him to hang up.
"No, wait! I'm sorry for earlier. I was rude and it was uncalled for. Please, don't go," I quickly pleaded my reply, hoping he was still listening, hoping I hadn't scared him away.
"What's your name?" He asked after a brief silence. I smiled - he'd stayed on the line.
"Bella. What's yours?" I responded as softly as he asked, trying to convey through my voice that I was gentle.
"I'd rather not say, if that's okay," He mumbled. I suppressed a sigh; yes, I wanted to place a name with the angelic voice, but I couldn't and wouldn't force him.
"That's okay. Do you want to tell me what's wrong?"
"Everything," His voice cracked with this one small word and a tear escaped me; I'd never heard anyone or -thing so saddened.
"Tell me about it," I urged on, waiting for him to speak. I already knew he'd speak again; that's why he called, after all. So, he'd speak, and I'd listen.
"My parents died, when I was little. I hardly remember them, but I can't get them out of my head. I want to remember them with joy, but I'm angry with them. They left me and I hate them for it, and I know that's wrong, isn't it?"
He didn't wait for me to respond. He took a deep breath, and quickly continued. I listened, wiping away a tear every now and then.
"After they died, everything was ruined. It's like someone was out to get me because I couldn't get a fucking break. I, god, I'm so fucking messed up," He growled in frustration, cursing a bit. I was ashamed to admit that hearing him curse was a bit of a turn on. I shouldn't have been thinking that, especially not in this situation, but I couldn't help myself. There was something about this voice that enthralled me.
"You are not messed up. You're hurting, there's nothing messed up about that," I said, not realizing that he was indeed right. He was messed up, more than I could've ever guessed.
"Yeah, you have to say that. I have to go now anyway, it doesn't matter," He said with great sadness in his voice. It sounded like he'd already given up, and I knew right then that I wanted to do everything within my power to lighten that darkness in his heart. But I also knew I couldn't push him.
"It does matter. It matters to me. Will you call back?"
"We'll see." He hung up then. I hoped he would call back soon. I already knew I wouldn't be able to stop thinking about him until he did.
As I was lying in bed that night, I couldn't sleep, my mind completely with the Crisis Intervention Centre. After that boy had called, it seemed like a shift had occurred and I suddenly got a lot of serious calls, from people with real problems that needed a helping hand. I helped as best I could, knowing that what I said in reply would make a world of difference, either good or bad.
But I couldn't get that boy out of my head. That distressed, torn voice that was so soft, yet had seemed to be screaming at the same time. Screaming at me to help him, to save him. I was longing for the day I would hear it again. I'd never be able to forget it if I didn't.
I was distracted all day at school the next day. Alice, my best friend, noticed.
"What's going on, Bella? You look like hell," She commented suddenly during lunch. I glared at her for her bluntness, but replied nonetheless.
"Long night, last night. I don't really feel like talking about it," I said, my thoughts going back to that boy.
"Long nights. Yep, been there, done that. It's not an excuse to look like hell, though. If I can manage to look good, so can you," She said and I immediately felt guilty for not seeing the sadness in her eyes sooner. Normally, I'd see it right away, no matter how good she was at hiding it from others. But today I had been so absorbed with thoughts that I hadn't even noticed.
"Edward?" I asked softly, knowing I was right on track before she even nodded.
Edward was Alice' adopted brother; her father, Dr. Carlisle Cullen, had brought him home from the hospital 5 years ago and never took him back. He was older than Alice by a couple of months and younger than Emmett (her older brother), who was 9 months older than him and a freshman at the Seattle Community college. He was in my biology class - had been since freshman year - but I'd never spoken to him. Nobody had ever spoken to him. As far as anyone knew, he couldn't speak. Or wouldn't. Alice worried about him a lot.
"Yeah. I don't know, it just feels like he's slipping away from us, even more so than usual. I worry about him," She sighed, not meeting my eyes.
I didn't know what Edward's story was, or why Alice lost so much sleep over him - especially since she, to my recollection, had never even spoken to him either - but I knew she loved him. She always said he was very sweet, despite his weird demeanour, and that she knew he loved her as well. He was her brother and she loved him since day one, it was that simple for her.
"He'll be okay, Alice. I know I don't know everything, but sometimes I think you might worry about him just a bit too much." She shrugged, but didn't reply. Our conversations around the middle Cullen always went like this, so I was used to it.
But for some reason, Alice' words hit me harder than they ever had. So, when biology came, I decided to pay attention to Edward for once, and see what had Alice so worried. It wasn't exactly an easy task, because he was sitting next to me, and could see me looking at him, though he ignored me as usual.
When I looked at him, really looked at him for the first time since he'd moved here, I could understand why Alice worried so much. He had bags under his eyes, as if he hadn't slept in days. His entire body seemed exhausted and his eyes were the worst. His eyes were dead, as if there was nothing there. As if he wasn't even there. It was rather unsettling so I had to look away quickly. I didn't like seeing him like that, even though I didn't even know him.
After school, as soon as I'd eaten and prepared dinner for Charlie, I drove the long drive to Seattle. To most people it probably sounded crazy to drive that far each day - except Sundays, which were reserved for schoolwork only - to talk to a bunch of strangers on the phone, but it was what I wanted. I wanted to be a counsellor later, so this was basically good practice for me.
Though ever since that boy had called, it had become much more to me. It had become bigger than myself. So, each time the phone rang that night, I hoped it would be him. But it never was. He didn't call back that day. Or the day after. Or the next day.
But he did call back. Five days later - Saturday night - he called back.
"Is this Bella?" He asked as soon as I'd answered the phone. I didn't need to ask who I was speaking with, I knew the moment he spoke. If I wouldn't have recognized him by his voice, I would have recognized him by the way his voice sent tingles through my entire body. It was as if his voice set me on fire each time I heard it.
"Yes, it's me. I was hoping you'd call back." I couldn't keep myself from saying it. I wanted him to know that I remembered. That I cared.
"I don't know how to do this. How to talk about it all. It's not what I usually do," He confessed, and I understood. It couldn't be easy talking about your most intimate feelings to a complete and total stranger.
"I understand that this is hard for you, but I want you to know that you can speak to me, about anything. I'm here and I'm not going anywhere."
"Have you ever read the book Speak? The one by Laurie Halse Anderson?" He suddenly asked. His question threw me for a loop. He wanted to talk about books now? That seemed strange to me, but I answered.
"Yes, I have. It's a wonderful book."
"I guess I feel like that sometimes. It's like everyone expects me to open my mouth, but the words just don't come out. They never come out," He said and I now understood why he brought up the book. It was his way of opening up to me. He was letting me in.
"But at the end of the book the words do come out. And your words are coming out too, aren't they? It doesn't matter that you're saying them to me and not to the people that know you. You're saying them. You're speaking about it. That's what counts."
"Yeah, I guess. I wish I could speak about it to my family, but I just don't think they'd understand. I get the feeling that they just want me to move on and get better without having to speak about it, but I can't. I can't talk about it to them and I can't move on. I know I'm a disappointment to them. I keep trying to be what I know they want me to be, but all I seem to be is a failure. I can't seem to do anything right. All I do is hurt them. They deny that I do, but I see it in their eyes. I cause them pain. I cause everyone pain."
"I don't think that's true, any of that. They're probably just worried about you. They probably just want to see you happy, but don't know what to do to get you there. Nobody thinks you're a failure or a disappointment. I can't imagine that," I said, only half aware of what I was saying.
"You don't know me. You don't know what's happened in my life. All you know is my parents died and I hate them for it. You don't know anything," He said, anger in his tone. But I didn't mind. Anger was good; anger was better than the eternal sadness that seemed to reside in his tone. I'd take anger over that sadness any day.
"I'm sorry, you're right. But you called to talk, right? So talk to me. Tell me what happened that made you feel the way you do," I said, hoping I said the right thing.
"I can't. It's too hard." It was a moan; the anger had faded away already.
"Do you believe in karma? Do you believe that bad things happen to bad people?" He asked, and I was seriously doubting whether or not to answer honestly. I couldn't lie. Not to this boy.
"That's what happened to me. Karma. I hate my parents for dying; I've hated them since the moment I heard about the accident. That makes me a bad person. That's why all the bad things happened.
"Everything I got, I deserved. I'm evil. They told me I was evil. They told me everyday. They punished me for my sins. I don't know if there is a god, but if there is, he punished me for my sins, for my thoughts."
This conversation was draining, and it was taking a direction I wasn't sure I was ready for. But I couldn't turn back now. I promised I was here for him, that I wouldn't go anywhere.
"Who told you those things? Who punished you?" I asked, holding my breath in wait for his reply.
"It doesn't matter, they just did." I wasn't satisfied with his answer. He kept avoiding what he was really calling for, the things he really wanted to talk about. I didn't want to push him, but it seemed he wouldn't start talking until I did, just a little.
"It does matter. Tell me who they are."
"My foster parents." Oh no, were they abusing him? Was that what was causing the sadness? If that was the case, I had to figure out a way to get him safe, to help him. But I couldn't jump to conclusions. These were dangerous waters I was treading on. Besides, when I thought about it, it didn't make a lot of sense. Not with the way he talked about his family before.
"The family you're with now?" I had to ask. I needed to know.
"No. I'm adopted now. They were from before." I nodded. Then, I realized he was on the phone with me. He couldn't see me.
"I can't stand to think about them. They're always on my mind. They're haunting me."
"Maybe talking about them will get them out of your mind," I suggested, subtly I hoped.
"They were cruel." He sounded like he was on the verge of tears. Maybe he was crying, I didn't know, I couldn't see. I couldn't even reply. I waited for him to say more.
"They hurt me." I didn't know if he meant mentally or physically, or both.
"I can't... I have to go now." And before I even had the chance to beg him, he hung up, leaving my thoughts and emotions in a whirlwind because of this entire conversation. I didn't know what to make of it. All I knew was whatever happened, it went deep, very deep.
I dreamed of a faceless boy crying that night, all night long. I woke up screaming, terrified. Not for myself, but for the boy. It was the first of many nightmare filled nights...