Thank you to everyone at Project Team Beta. As always, I strongly suggest everyone to use their services. The link is still in my profile. My work is my own but without the beta's help, it would be worthless. They are looking for more betas if you are interested.
This is just a little O/S that hit me one day. I hope you enjoy it.
I do not own any of these characters, or the original plot to the Twilight Series. Everything publicly recognizable belongs to their owners. I am doing this only for the pleasure I gain from writing and I am not associated with anyone or anything to do with the Twilight Series. There is no financial benefit, whatsoever, though I may wish there were.
"Open this one next," my mom, Renee, said as she handed me an awkwardly wrapped, unusually cumbersome and squishy object. Her wide, child-like eyes were filled with both anticipation and anxiety; a small smile played upon her lips.
I warily unwrapped the package. My mom was sometimes flighty and this object brought with it an ominous feeling. I was right; it was not good. Once the paper was flattened, my eyes met a thick, black, bulky . . . parka? It was definitely not designed for use in Phoenix. This must be for after I moved in with Charlie, my dad. My heart tore at the prospect of leaving my erratic, harebrained mother.
It wasn't as though I could fault anyone else for my impending major life change, though. I alone had made the decision alone to relocate and live with my dad. Charlie was an eternal bachelor. He and my mom had been married once upon a time, but she had escaped from the dreary town of my birth with me when I was very young, less than two years old.
I had grown up many miles away in warm climates, spending time in California and Arizona. Throughout the years, I never hid my derision for the tiny town and its weather. In fact, I hadn't visited there since the summer before I turned fourteen. This was going to be a complete change of pace for me.
Charlie lived on the Olympic Peninsula in miniscule Forks, which was located in Northwestern Washington. Around three thousand people populated the one and a half square miles of the main town. Everything about Forks was the complete opposite of all I knew and loved in Phoenix.
Phoenix was warm, dry and welcoming; in one word, home. Forks was cold and wet – absolutely perfect for the parka, not so much for me. It was constantly sheltered in an all-encompassing cloud cover, leading to its dismal nature and my bleak outlook. How could anyone be happy in a place where the sun barely shone?
Not only was it dismal, but Forks was so "small town" that it was probable everyone had known each other since their grandparents were zygotes. I would be the oddity, the new girl from the "big city," the center of attention, not something to which I looked forward.
The entire population of Forks High School was about half the size of my junior class alone here. I knew I would miss the vigorous, sprawling city. I was not sure how I could bear it, but I would suppress those feelings for now. I could go on a crying binge when I was alone. My mom didn't need to see that. I was trying to be strong and it wasn't the time or place to cry, gathered in front of the evergreen tree on Christmas morning. Well, early afternoon. Even though I was used to getting up at a reasonable hour, my mom was practically impossible to rouse prior to noon. Since it was Christmas, I allowed her the opportunity to sleep late.
I forced myself back to the present and the offensive coat I was still holding in my hands.
"Great, Mom," I said, trying to infuse my voice with the right amount of excitement and happiness. "I love it. This will be just right for Forks." Towards the end, my voice wavered though I fought to keep it even.
"Bella, are you sure this is what you want?" Renee asked, her voice echoing my tremble slightly. "You don't have to do this." Phil, my mom's new husband, noticed her unsteadiness and wrapped his arm around her, pulling her into him. The love they felt was palpable and she relaxed instantly, melting into his embrace.
"Of course it is, Mom," I answered, plastering a smile on my face. "You and Phil need to be able to travel together. Having me around as a complication doesn't really help. And I need to spend some time with Charlie. I'm going to be going off to college soon; I really should get to know him better. Besides . . . I want to go." The lie did not sound convincing, especially to my own ears. I had always been a terrible liar; I was never convincing.
"If that's what you want," she said, her child-like eyes opening impossibly wider. "But remember, you can come home whenever you want. I'll be wherever you need me to be."
I knew that she meant what she said but the sacrifices she would have to make if I made that decision strengthened my resolve to go to Forks. Besides, she had Phil in her life. He would take care of the essentials and take care of her. I was rendered almost unnecessary. I brought myself back to the current conversation and nodded a confirmation in her direction, unable to trust my voice at that precise moment.
After regaining my composure, I picked up a silver-wrapped present.
"Here, Mom," I said as I thrust a small package toward her. "These are from me. I hope you like them." I smiled and she grabbed the gift from my hands.
She recklessly ripped into the paper and opened the packet. Inside, I had gathered a small group of books. One was about overcoming your fear of heights to make air travel more acceptable. I briefly pondered telling her that was not an invitation for skydiving, but I didn't think she'd be crazy enough to try that. The next described interesting destinations in the Olympic Peninsula. The last two dealt with coping with "Empty Nest Syndrome."
I hoped my mom would see the first two as my attempt at both humor and an invitation for her to visit me. That latter two were to help her with my departure. For so long, it had been just the two of us and now I was leaving. Sure, she had Phil, but nothing would ever be the same.
We had always been exceptionally close. I had grown up taking care of her, watching out for her. I was sure that Phil would never be able to do as good a job as I had, but you have to let them go sometimes. I knew that my leaving would be difficult for her, though I expected it to be more so for me. She was all I knew; it seemed my life revolved around her and keeping her from injuring herself with her off the wall, weekly obsessions – sometimes I didn't even know she had started one before she moved onto another. Watching after her gave me purpose.
More often than not, her zealous undertakings involved me. First there were the piano lessons when I had no musical talent whatsoever. It took months of pleading to end those horrendous things. Then, there were the ballet lessons, even worse than the piano – these involved music, rhythm and balance. I was clumsy, almost disabled due to it, there was no question about that; I often found staying upright while standing still an arduous task. How my mother could have thought that dance lessons would work for me was beyond my understanding. Another time, my mother was going through some fitness obsession and she dragged me along to lift weights, mentioning how soft I was. After forced lunges while holding two ten pound weights, I couldn't move the next day.
My mother was as unpredictable as I was stable. We evened each other out perfectly. Though I had spent some time with Charlie in the past, he was a relative unknown. He seemed reserved, like me, but it was hard to tell from the small amount I had seen him throughout the years. This was one of my greatest worries; that life would be stressed or strained living with Charlie. I wasn't sure whether he'd want to play the overbearing father role, or if he'd allow me the same freedoms I'd had here. I had pretty much lived my lived as the adult and I didn't think that I could take someone else trying to take a parental role.
The decision to move to Forks had been agonizing. I deliberated for an eternity whether I could actually be happy there. Since the answer to that question was always a negative, the debate turned to whether I could be not . . . miserable. I realized that I could suck it up for a year and a half and then maybe go to some school in a warm place that would accept me – hopefully offer me a scholarship – and I could leave that damp hole forever. That was enough; it would have to be. Who needs to be happy all the time, anyway? And that was that . . . decision made, though it was a decision tainted with despair.
I repressed the bad feelings and tried to enjoy my last Christmas in Phoenix. It would probably be my last Christmas with my mom for a long time. I wouldn't be around for the next one, and who knew where I'd be in after that. Maybe I'd be in college, somewhere like Hawaii.
I wouldn't wallow. Phil and my mom deserved to be happy and I would make that possible. Besides, my time in Forks wouldn't be all bad. There were some positives. For one, I was hoping to get a vehicle. I wouldn't want to have to travel in my dad's cruiser everywhere – Charlie was the chief of police for Forks. I figured it would be nice to have the freedom that a car of my own entailed.
I would get through my self-imposed purgatory just fine. Maybe I would even make some good friends up there. The fact was that I didn't relate well to my peers. I had never really clicked with them; it was possible that might change in Forks. Though nothing exciting or different to me ever happened to me in Phoenix – I was boring Bella Swan here, but I would be something out of the ordinary there. Not that I necessarily wanted that. I liked flying under the radar, being just normal enough not to stick out.
Maybe I needed to look at it as a new adventure – a safe, somewhat innocent adventure. At least, my life would not be dangerous there; that factor would not vary. Phoenix had a high homicide rate, not that I'd ever come close to being a murder victim, but it was more probable to happen in a city the size of Phoenix than in a town the size of Forks.
I was not a terribly reckless person – I had no desire to be – so everything would eventually be fine wherever I was.
On that note, I again tore myself from my self-pitying thoughts. The three of us sat around the decorated tree on the dark, patterned carpet in my mother's too-tiny, outdated family room, not using the aged sectional sofa. Even though it was warm, there was a small fire burning in the large tan stone fireplace that opened on both sides. The large window on the south wall let in enough light that electric ones were rendered unnecessary.
We stayed this way and talked about the past and the future for what seemed like hours as we slowly unwrapped our gifts. My mom and Phil had been generous this year in everything they gave. They had really gone all out buying me things that would come in handy for where I was going, mosty supplementing my winter wardrobe.
After we had been chatting for a while, I looked at the clock; it was getting late. Just as I was about to get up to start on dinner, my mom grabbed my arm and stopped me.
"There's one more," she said, handing me a small clothing box shaped package. "This is the last one. It's for you, Bella. Open it."
I sat back down again and unwrapped this last present. Just as I had assumed, it was a thin white clothing box. I gingerly removed the tape on the sides – I did not want to cut myself on the edge of the box. Who wants a paper – well, cardboard – cut? Then I opened the white box. Inside, wrapped in white tissue paper, was a deep blue v-neck blouse. It would be something that I'd wear in the dead of winter here. So, I could get to wear it at least once before I left.
"Wow, Mom!" I exclaimed, truly thankful; could actually use it here. "It's great. I love it. I'll wear it tonight, if that's okay."
Tears welled in her eyes. Who knew that liking a silly blouse would affect her in such a way? She had always said that shade of blue set off my pale skin beautifully, so I was glad for the gift. I walked over and gave her a huge hug.
"Thanks, Mom, for everything." I squeezed my arms tighter around her and then released her. "Thanks, Phil." I offered him a small wave and head nod.
I made my way into the kitchen and started the process for a not so elaborate meal of steak and potatoes. I didn't feel like being courageous or going all out. I was going to make a relatively calm meal – this was a bittersweet day.
I spent my time preparing the meal, pondering what my future would bring. What would I be doing in ten years? Twenty? Maybe I would be a teacher. Maybe I would have found a man that interested me, someone unlike the boys in Phoenix, a more mature man. Maybe I'd be married with kids. That thought made me shiver – that was something I'd never wanted. Renee had made me terrified of marriage and the thought of kids kind of disgusted me. They were noisy little things that always seemed to have some kind of goo dripping from them.
Those thoughts were all fantasy, anyway. It wasn't like boys were ever interested in me. I wasn't interesting. I was plain and boring, and that was okay with me. I'd learned to accept that fact. Besides, I hadn't ever been attracted to any of the boys in my school anyway. Sometimes, I wondered if my brain worked differently, if maybe there was something wrong with me that kept me from acting the way normal teenagers did.
I took my time preparing dinner. Even though it was a simple meal, I wanted to make sure it tasted extraordinary. I carefully placed each portion on its plate and arranged the sides appetizingly, then carried the dishes out to the table.
I walked back to the family room to tell my mom and Phil that dinner was ready. When I turned the corner, they were too close to one another in an embrace that embarrassed me; they were wrapped around each other in a way that was publicly unacceptable. I felt my cheeks burn as I pulled back behind the wall.
The attraction between them was lost on me. I couldn't understand what my mom saw in a man almost ten years her junior, and more importantly, I couldn't fathom the draw Phil felt for a woman that much older. The differences in their age were insurmountable to me. They had grown up in such different times – the disparity between the seventies and the eighties was drastic; what could they possibly have in common?
I wondered what the maximum age difference I could stomach was, and I settled on three years. That seemed like a good maximum, not too different, close enough to have shared most of the same things. Besides, I reasoned, I would feel inadequate with someone who was so much older than I. All the experiences they had would add up so much more than mine; I was so green to most of the world's possibilities.
I walked back to the table where dinner waited, not wanting my mom and Phil to know I had caught them at an inopportune moment.
"Mom, Phil, dinner's ready," I called. "It's in the dining room."
They entered the room, chuckling and giggling, their arms wrapped around each other. I fought back the urge to gag at the outward display of affection in front of me – I had never been a PDA kind of girl. I walked to my seat and sat down. My mom and Phil followed.
The rest of the night passed uneventfully as we spent a pleasant meal at the table. We enjoyed our supper, conversing more about what I planned to do after high school and what they would do during the upcoming baseball season – Phil was a player in the minor leagues. We didn't mention the upcoming move again. I enjoyed the conversation and their company. I knew I would miss this, but hoped good things lurked just over the horizon.
Even with my brooding, it was a pleasant Christmas spent with loving family members. As I cleaned up after dinner, I hummed tunelessly, enjoying the solitude living with newlyweds often caused. I reveled in the aloneness rather than feeling alone. From the family room, I could hear the dulcet tones of Silent Night begin to echo from the ancient speakers. Then I heard my mother's variation of the classic. Her "singing," for lack of a better word, brought tears of humor to my eyes. I was so lucky to have had her in my life. I feared that after my move we would never be as close as we had before. Then and there I decided that no matter what this or any future change might bring, I would always be thankful for what I had, even if it had never been much. We had never been rich, but we had always had each other and I decided that I would do everything in my power to not lose that.
Thanks for Reading.