Bella sighed gently as she felt the bump of the police cruiser enter the driveway. The entire ride from the airport was silent. She hadn't expected anything less; she wasn't exactly close with her father, Charlie. She had not seen him face to face in years and while he was well-intentioned, Bella knew that his communicative skills were lacking. She felt a tap on the shoulder as Charlie turned to face her, he gave a soft smile that crinkled his eyes and signed "HOME" to a house Bella had not seen in nearly a decade.

She curtly nodded and exited the cruiser, pulling her thin jacket towards as meager protection from the ever-present rain. Charlie grabbed her suitcases, filled with clothes useless to the Forks weather, and followed behind. He carried them into a childhood bedroom she vaguely remembered. Charlie quickly left her to her own devices. The good thing about Charlie was that he didn't hover.

Bella took in the wooden floor, the light blue walls, the peaked ceiling, the yellowed lace curtains around the window. The desk held an ancient desktop computer, with the phone line for the modem stapled along the floor to the nearest phone jack. Of course, Forks was too small for good Wi-Fi. Bella laid down on an outdated comforter and stared out her window at the rain. She couldn't think of a time when she'd seen so much wetness. Growing up in Phoenix left her wanting for the kind of heat that wrapped around you like a warm hug. Though she had only been in Washington for a couple of hours, she left a seeping coldness drain the heat out of her, leaving her shivering under her jacket. Bella wished just for a moment that she had not been selfless, that she had demanded that Renee stay in Phoenix with her where it all felt normal. She sent a quick text to her mom saying she was "home". Gently she closed her eyes and let the thought of the sun lull her to sleep.

There is very little that can wake up a deaf person, so Bella was not exactly surprised to see Charlie standing over her bed the next morning. He frowned, his deep brown eyes taking in her fully dressed form; he did not have the words to ask why, so he let her be. "SCHOOL" he told her. Bella nodded, running her hands gently through her rustled hair.

"SERIOUSLY? INTERPRET-ER REQUEST-YOU?" Bella asked incredulously, sitting up on her bed. She was not ready to be Fork's High School's weird Deaf girl. It'd been so long since she'd set foot in a hearing school, but she remembered the stares just the same. Isolation was second nature to her, and it was about to become her life. Though she had not been popular at the Phoenix Day School for the Deaf, she was never alone. She got to see her language every day, take part in every conversation. Communication was never an issue.

"INTERPRET-ER HAVE" He told her, lacking the words to argue with his daughter otherwise. "SCHOOL READY" he signed as he shooed her towards the shower. Bella didn't bother to correct his signing, she merely gathered up her shower items and headed to the house's only bathroom. As she shampooed her hair under the scalding rinse, Bella wondered what the other students would think of her. Forks was the kind of town that people lived in for generations and never left. And yet, here she was, the deaf prodigal daughter of Chief Swan, returning to her birthplace. She washed her body and turned the water off. Slowly, Bella wiped the steam off the mirror and stared at herself. She hoped her alabaster pale skin and plain features would help her blend into the crowd of her new school.

Charlie drove her to school in his police cruiser, only adding to her growing embarrassment. Bella exited the car quickly and refused to meet the eye of any Forks High student. She wanted nothing more than to disappear into one of the potholes in the parking lot. Bella followed the sign towards the office and braced herself as she pulled the door open. Inside, it was brightly lit, and warm, and welcome relief from the ever-present drizzle. The office was merely a little waiting area with some folding chairs, an outdated carpet, and scattered awards. Behind the only desk stood a large, red-haired woman wearing glasses. Her t-shirt made Bella's fuzzy cardigan overtop a button-up feel overdressed.

The woman stared at her and a flash of realization appeared in her eyes. Her mouth began moving, forming syllables Bella couldn't recognize. Bella tapped her ear and shook her head, pulling out her phone to type a simple "I'm Bella Swan".

The woman picked up her office phone and made a call as she gestured for Bella to sit. Bella obeyed, and a few minutes later a stout blonde woman walked through the office. "MY NAME S-A-R-A-H" she signed, followed by her sign name, a smile with an S shape.

Bella greeted her with a "NICE MEET-YOU. MY NAME B-E-L-L-A" and her sign name, hand open, thumb pointing at her chin and fingers pointing up. She rolled her fingers across her face, BEAUTIFUL.

Her interpreter chuckled at the cruel pun of a sign name she had been given in middle school. "BEAUTIFUL SERIOUSLY? HEAD-CHA? JOKING". Sarah's green eyes lit up joyfully and Bella felt more at ease. In a small town like Forks, she had expected to have an interpreter who had just barely passed a few ASL classes. At least with Sarah, she would be able to understand her courses and maybe have a friend. Though Sarah seemed to be in her mid-thirties, she seemed far younger; this was a stark contrast to the barely seventeen Bella who perpetually felt forty-five.

The secretary spoke directly to Sarah and even-handed her Bella's schedule. Bella felt a little bit miffed—she was deaf, not incapacitated, and could fully manage to carry around a single piece of paper. But, like being sent a wheelchair at the airport gate, she smiled and simply left. As they exited the warm office, Sarah handed Bella the paper and apologized. "SORRY. BEFORE F-O-R-K-S #HS DEAF ZERO HAVE. SHE UNDERSTAND NOT." Bella stared out onto the parking lot, full of old beaters, and nodded distantly.

Sarah pointed her towards her first class of the day, English. Her teacher, Mr. Mason stared as she entered with her interpreter following behind but said nothing. He merely pointed towards an open seat in the front row and began teaching a lesson on Wuthering Heights with Sarah standing to his side. It was comforting and boring. The minutes slipped away as she allowed her eyes to hazily focus on the clock above Sarah's head. She knew that the other students were watching her, silently making judgments. Bella had interrupted their status quo without explanation, and she knew that by the end of the day there would be plenty of rumors about her.

Her government class flew by without incident. Her trigonometry teacher made her stand up and introduce herself in front of the class. He wouldn't take Bella's bright red face as a no. She fell as she walked the five feet back to her desk. A blonde girl in the middle aisle laughed at her blunder and Bella once again wished to disappear.

Luckily, she had a free period next, having waivered her world language on thanks to her knowledge of sign language. She spent that period in the library, the only place in the world where silence was encouraged, if not mandated. Sarah sat alongside her, playing a game on her phone as Bella devoured Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried. As her free period ended, Sarah tapped her shoulder "BREAK TIME. LUNCH OKAY WILL-BE RIGHT?" Bella nodded her assent; she hadn't brought any food and she wasn't quite ready for the cafeteria yet. She would stay here with her book where it was safe.

Bella continued reading undisturbed throughout the lunch break. She had been right in counting on the students to avoid the small library at all costs. They would rather socialize with their best friends since kindergarten than sit in a room full of musty books. All too soon, Sarah returned and Bella followed her to her next class.

The teacher, Mr. Banner greeted her with only a nod and pointed her towards a blacktopped table in the front row. She slid into the only available seat, next to a boy with reddish-brown hair. He was rigid in his seat, staring at Bella with a strange hostile expression in his coal-black eyes. As Mr. Banner taught, the boy leaned further and further away from her, sitting on the edge of his chair and averting his face like he smelled something bad. Bella sniffed her hair. It smelled of her strawberry shampoo.

Throughout the class she would slowly pull her eyes away from Sarah, only to see that the boy was tenser. Not once did he relax his posture, his hand on his left leg clenched into a fist and she could see his tendons through his pale hand. Bella wanted to scream at him that he couldn't catch deafness, that she wasn't a freak. He didn't know her from Eve. She clenched her jaw in frustration; coming to a hearing school was a bad idea. She hadn't even introduced herself to this boy, and yet here he was tensed up as if she had threatened him. The class drug on, uneasiness almost palatable between the two of them.

She risked one more peek at the boy and regretted it. He glared at her again, his dark eyes full of revulsion. She flinched away from him and shrunk against her hard-plastic chair. If looks could kill, she'd have died a thousand deaths.

Suddenly the other students got up from their seats. The bell must've rung. She hadn't taken any notes. She didn't even know what the lecture was over.

Sarah met her at the door with concerned eyes. "YOU #OK?"

Bella nodded as they began walking "WEIRD THAT. THINK HE DON'T-LIKE ME" she shook her head as she tried to understand. She knew that Forks High had never had a deaf student before and that she was interrupting the status quo simply by being there, but she didn't think it warranted that big of a reaction.

In her gym class, she watched as the other students played volleyball. The teacher, Coach Clapp felt that "her condition would make playing the sport too difficult". It was probably for the better, as Bella remembered how many injuries she had sustained—and inflicted—playing volleyball.

Not soon enough the day was done. She waved goodbye to Sarah as she returned to the front office to finish some paperwork. Hopefully the secretary thought that she could manage to do that without her interpreter. As she entered, she saw the bronze haired boy from biology standing in front of the secretary's desk. He seemed to be arguing with her. Bella knew instinctively that this was about her. It would only be a coincidence that he would react like as he had in class and then cause this scene. The door opened again, and the cold wind gusted through the room, swirling Bella's hair around her face. The girl who came in merely placed a note in a wire basket and walked out again. But the boy stiffened and turned to glare at Bella. His handsome face was marred by his piercing, hate-filled eyes. Briefly, she felt genuine fear and was chilled. He said something else to the secretary, turned on his heel, and left without another look towards Bella.

Meekly she approached the desk and turned in the signature slip. She turned and left, refusing to meet the secretary's eyes as her own filled with tears. She prayed that Charlie was already waiting in his police cruiser to get her. Miraculously he was. If he saw how upset he was, he didn't say anything. When they pulled into the driveway, Bella ran up the stairs towards her new room. She let the tears escape her eyes as she tried to conjure up one of her mother's many speeches on self-acceptance. Bella knew that some people would always see her as different but years at a deaf school had sheltered her from this hate. She had spent every day since middle school with people like her. People who knew her language and her struggles. She didn't know what that boy's problem was: if he was a neo-Nazi who thought she wasn't worth educating, or if he was just a dick. She tried to drown out the thoughts of unworthiness and hoped that tomorrow would be better.

AN: While I do have Bachelor's degrees in Deaf Studies and American Sign Language, my day job is teaching preschool. I know ASL fluently but GLOSSing is hell and I'm trying to make the ASL dialogue as accessible as possible to those who don't know ASL.

Additionally, I write Bella as big D Deaf because I could only imagine Renee teaching her pride in herself and her language. In this, Bella did attend a hearing school briefly before transferring to a deaf school. It isn't uncommon for a deaf child to only attend a hearing school (a practice called mainstreaming), but it can cause issues with isolation and communication (but not in every case)

Charlie isn't exactly proficient in ASL because he and Bella have a text/ email relationship. Bella got his quiet loner personality, so he doesn't practice ASL with her often. It's easy to forget a second language if you don't use it enough.

The ASL dialogue is written as it is because ASL is not a written language. ASL relies heavily on body language and facial features as well as the signs used, thus it is interpreted rather than translated. The grammatical structure of ASL differs heavily from that of English in that the word order is time-subject-verb-object or time-subject-verb. Additionally, it does not use be verbs like am, is, are, was, or were, or anything to indicate a state of being. It does not use articles like a, an, or the.

ASL is not signed English, it is a completely different language with a completely different grammatical structure. It is hard to write ASL dialogue that can be easily understood by everyone, but I'm trying my best.

ASL info:

CHA: mouth movement used with a sign to state that something is very large.

Sign name: a special sign that is used to identify a person, just like a name. Only given by a deaf person and you cannot give yourself a sign name. Bella's sign name is the sign for beautiful, a play on her name. Sarah jokes that she must have a big head to have a name like that.

#: used to indicate a spelling that has been accepted as a sign. HS for high school, OK for okay.