When Bella opened her eyes the next morning, she noticed that something was different in Forks. There was no fog outside her window, which she considered a blessing until she saw the fine layer of snow covering the yard. All of the rain from the day before had frozen solid, coating the pine needles in delicate patterns and making the driveway into a dangerous ice slick. She had enough trouble staying upright when the ground was dry. Briefly, she considered that it might be safer for her to just go back to bed.
Charlie was already eating breakfast as she came downstairs. In a lot of ways, living with Charlie was like living alone. They didn't talk much and if he didn't drive her to school every day, Bella wasn't sure that she would ever see him. As she ate her cereal, she reveled in the aloneness of their home, rather than feeling lonely.
She felt excited to go to school and that scared her. Bella knew that her excitement wasn't due to the stimulating learning environment that she was anticipating or seeing her one friend. She was eager to go to school because she wanted to see Edward Cullen and his everchanging eyes. She thought that was so incredibly stupid of her. Yesterday she had babbled and told him her recent life story. Why was he so interested in her? Why had he lied about his eyes? She was beyond aware that their leagues did not intersect on the Venn diagram of high school social spheres. Yet, she was so anxious to see him.
As she and Charlie wordlessly departed to school, she considered why Edward Cullen was so intriguing to her. Was it his inhuman perfectness? His fluctuating attitude towards her? The fact that he seemed to suddenly know perfect sign language?
Still ashamed of being dropped off at school in the cruiser, Bella exited and ran towards the school entrance. Sensing something wrong, she looked up, startled.
She saw several things simultaneously. The movies lie, by the way, nothing moves in slow motion. Instead, the adrenaline rush seemed to make her brain work much faster, and she was able to process several clear details at once.
She saw Edward Cullen standing four cars down from her, staring in a way that could only be described as horror. His face stood out in a sea of people, all frozen in the same mask of shock. But, of more immediate importance was the dark blue van that was skidding all too quickly towards her. It was spinning wildly across the fresh ice of the parking lot. Somehow, in some part of her brain, she knew that it was going to hit the back corner of the cruiser, and she was standing between them. She didn't have time to close her eyes and pray.
Her brain couldn't process that something hit her hard from the opposite direction of the van. Her head cracked sharply against the blacktop and she felt something solid pinning her to the ground. She didn't have a chance to notice anything else because the van was still coming. It curled against the end of the truck, still spinning and sliding, about to collide with her again. Two alabaster hands shot out protectively in front of her and the van came to a stop a mere foot from her face. There was a palm-shaped dent in the side of the van's body.
The hands moved so fast they blurred. One was suddenly gripping under the body of the van, and something was dragging her, swinging her around like a doll's. From the crevice between the vehicles, Bella felt the van settle onto the asphalt—exactly where her legs had just been. She could smell the heat of the warped metal and saw the shattered glass all around her. For a second, she felt nothing.
Then, Bella noticed Edward Cullen right beside her.
"#OK #OK?" he signed quickly to her.
"FINE," she told him, hands shaking. She tried to sit up and realized that he was holding her against the side of his body in a tight grasp.
"CAREFUL" he warned. "HEAD HIT."
She suddenly became aware of a throbbing migraine above her left ear. She grimaced.
"YOU ARRIVE FAST HOW?"
"I CLOSE-TO YOU."
She tried to sit up, looking at his concerned, innocent expression, and was disoriented by the force of his golden eyes.
And then she saw Charlie's panicked face in between the two ruined vehicles. He was absolutely ashen. Bella could swear she saw new gray hairs on his head. There were tears streaming down his face and he was shouting at the people around him. He kept signing "MOVE" to her and shaking his head, telling her to stay still. In some weird part of her brain, she was surprised Charlie remembered that sign. There was a flurry of activity around them. Bella tried to get up, but Edward's hand pushed her shoulder down.
"STAY," he told her.
"COLD" she complained. She saw him give a small chuckle.
"YOU WAY-OVER THERE" she remembers, "CLOSE-TO CAR YOUR."
He shook his head.
Bella could only look at him in disbelief. She knew what she saw.
"I STAND NEXT-TO YOU." He insisted, unleashing the full devastating power of his eyes.
It was her turn to shake her head.
The gold in his eyes blazed as if trying to communicate something crucial.
"FOR-FOR?" she demanded.
"BELIEVE ME," he pleaded.
She could see the flashing of emergency vehicles from above their trapped alcove.
"LATER EXPLAIN?" she asked, eyes begging.
"FINE," he agreed, looking
Fine," I repeated angrily. exasperated.
It took six EMTs and two teachers - Mr. Varner and Coach Clapp - to shift the van far enough away from them to bring the stretchers in. From where Bella was trapped in her neck brace, she could see Edward refusing a stretcher. Bella had tried to do the same, but her protests yielded nothing. She knew Edward had ratted her out. It looked like the entire school was there, watching as she was loaded in the back of the ambulance.
To make matters worse, Charlie was barking out orders to the crowd.
"FINE FINE," She insisted to him. "WRONG ZERO."
Bella closed her eyes to consider the jumble of inexplicable images churning chaotically in her head. When they'd lifted her away from the car, she had seen the dent in the side of the van's body. It was as if Edward had braced himself against the car with enough force to damage the metal frame.
Though the neck brace restricted her view, she could see the Cullens looking on from the distance, with expressions that ranged from disapproval to fury but held no hint of concern for their brother's safety.
She tried to think of an explanation for what she has just seen.
Of course, the ambulance got a police escort to the county hospital. The back end of Charlie's cruiser had been heavily damaged, so he rode along with a friend on the force. Bella felt ridiculous the whole time the EMTs unloaded her, and even worse, she had to watch Edward walk through the hospital doors under his own volition.
Bella was put in the emergency room. A triage nurse put a pressure cuff on her arm and a thermometer under her tongue. As soon as she saw that no one was watching, Bella ripped off her neck brace.
There was a rush of people in scrubs and another stretcher was brought to the next to her. She vaguely recognized a boy from her government class beneath the bloodstained gauze wrapped around his head. He stared anxiously at her, unsure of what to say or how to say it.
Bella sighed, avoiding his sorrow-filled eyes. She stared at the ceiling tiles above them. This wasn't her first trip to the ER, and despite the size difference between Phoenix and Forks, each experience was the same.
She felt a little relief when she was wheeled away for a head CT. She was glad to be away from the pathetic look of the boy who drove the van. Still, though, she hated being at the hospital. She wanted to ask the nurse if she could leave but she didn't have a medical interpreter or her phone. Bella was resigned to her fate of tests.
When Bella returned, the boy who almost hit her was still staring. He looked like he desperately wanted to apologize. Once again, she was stuck trying to avoid his gaze. Finally, she closed her eyes and ignored him. She felt a tap on her shoulder and her eyes flew open.
Edward was standing at the foot of her bed, smirking. Bella glared at him. Despite the bad hospital lighting, Edward still looked angelic. He took a seat on the other boy's bed.
The other boy must have started talking because Edward turned to Bella and signed, "HE SORRY SORRY SORRY."
Bella rolled her eyes, "TELL-HIM I FINE. BLEED ZERO, HEAD #OK. YOU BED NO STUCK WHY?"
"I KNOW PEOPLE. WORRY ZERO, FREEDOM ARRIVE."
As he finished his sentence, a doctor walked around the corner and Bella's mouth fell open. He was young, he was blond... and he was more handsome than any movie star she'd ever seen. He was pale, though, and tired-looking, with circles under his eyes. He could be nobody but Edward's father.
"WAIT," Bella started before the doctor could speak "MY INTERPRET-ER WHERE?"
"F-O-R-K-S ONE INTERPRET-ER HAVE. S-A-R-A-H SICK. I INTERPRET CAN, IF COMFORTABLE YOU."
Bella nodded her assent. What a shitty day for Sarah to get sick.
"YOU FEEL HOW?" Edward interpreted for his father.
"FINE!" Bella insisted.
The doctor walked to the lightboard on the wall over her head and turned it on.
"X-RAY FINE. HEAD HURT? E-D-W-A-R-D TELL ME HIT."
"FINE!" she signed once again, scowling towards Edward.
The doctor's cold fingers probed lightly along with her skull. He noticed when she couldn't hold in a wince.
"HURT?" Edward asked her.
"NO," Bella fibbed. She'd had worse. She looked over to see Edward's patronizing smile and narrowed her eyes.
"YOUR DAD WAITING ROOM SIT. HOME GO-TO CAN. UNDERSTAND, RETURN IF DIZZY FEEL OR EYE SEE BLURRY."
"SCHOOL GO-TO CAN'T?" Bella asked. She'd never thought she would want to return to Forks High.
"NO. REST NEED," Edward told her.
"YOU SCHOOL GO-TO CAN?" She asked glancing at him.
"I TELL PEOPLE TWO-OF-US LIVE," now that was eye-roll worthy.
"CROWD WAITING ROOM. WRECK PEOPLE INTERESTED HAVE," Edward interpreted for his father.
Bella's jaw fell open. Was she a freak show for the school to observe? Did someone send around a message of 'hey come see the weird deaf girl who didn't die?'. "SERIOUSLY?"
"YOU STAY WANT?"
"NO NO!" She insisted, throwing her legs over the side of the bed and hopping down quickly. It was too quick- she staggered and the doctor caught her, looking concerned.
"FINE FINE!" She assured him again. He didn't need to know that her balance problem had nothing to do with hitting her head.
"MEDICINE PAIN TAKE."
"HURT BAD NO," Bella insisted.
"LUCKY YOU," Edward interpreted as his father signed Bella's chart with a flourish.
"LUCKY EDWARD STAND-CLOSE-TO-ME," she replied with a hard glance at the subject of her statement.
The doctor nodded quickly, suddenly occupied with the papers in front of him. Then he looked away, at the other boy, and walked to the next bed. Bella's intuition flickered; the doctor was in on it.
As soon as the doctor's back was turned, Bella moved to Edward's side.
"DISCUSS CAN?" She asked. Edward took a step back from her, his jaw was suddenly tight.
"DAD YOUR WAITING," He signed, teeth clenched.
Bella glanced at the hurt boy next to her and the doctor.
"DISCUSS ALONE WANT," she insisted.
Edward glared and turned his back and strode down the long room. Bella had to nearly run to keep up. As soon as they turned the corner into a short hallway, he spun around to face her.
"RUDE YOU. TURN AROUND ON ME."
"WANT WHAT?" Edward asked annoyed. His eyes were as cold as they were on the first day they had met.
His unfriendliness was intimidating.
"EXPLANATION WANT," she demanded.
"OWE YOU ZERO. YOUR LIFE I SAVED."
"HEAD HIT YOURS. TALK ABOUT YOU DON'T-KNOW," his eyes were cutting.
"HEAD WRONG ZERO."
"WANT WHAT?" he glared.
"TRUTH WANT. I LIE FOR YOU WHY?"
"THINK HAPPEN WHAT?" he snapped.
"YOU FAR-FROM-ME I KNOW THAT. CAR CRUSH WOULD, HAPPEN DIDN'T. HANDSHAPE DENT SAW. YOU HURT NO. CAR MY LEGS BREAK SHOULD. HAPPEN DIDN'T," she felt crazy and couldn't continue. She felt tears appearing in her eyes. She tried to force them back by sheer will alone.
Edward was staring at her incredulously. But his face was tense, defensive.
"YOU THINK I CAR LIFT-OFF YOU?" His face questioned her sanity but it only made her mode suspicious. It felt like a perfectly delivered line by a skilled actor.
She nodded, jaw tight.
"NO PERSON BELIEVE THAT WILL."
"I TELL PERSON ZERO WILL," she signed slowly, trying to control her anger.
Surprise appeared across his face. "MEANING HAVE WHY?"
"I CARE. LIE DON'T-LIKE. WANT REASON."
"WHY YOU NO THANK-YOU AND GET-OVER-IT?"
"THANK YOU!" She signed, fuming, and expectant.
"LET-GO NO WILL YOU?"
They scowled at each other in silence. She was in danger of being distracted by his gloriously livid face. It was like trying to stare down a fallen angel.
"BOTHER WHY?" Bella asked frigidly.
He paused and for a moment his face was vulnerable.
"DON'T-KNOW," he admitted.
And then he turned his back on her and walked away.
She was so angry that it took her a few minutes to move. When she could walk, she made her way slowly to the exit at the end of the hallway.
The waiting room was more unpleasant than she'd feared. It seemed like every face she'd seen in Forks was there, staring at her. Charlie rushed to her side; I put up my hands.
"I'M FINE," she assured him. She was aggravated, not in the mood for discussion.
"DOCTOR TELL-YOU WHAT?" her father asked slowly. He might've been practiced the phrase while he waiting.
"FINE. HOME GO NOW," she sighed. Angela was waiting for her. Bella turned briefly to smile at her friend. "I GO HOME NOW," she told her. Bella appreciated her presence but she wanted so desperately to lay down in her bed.
Charlie put one arm behind Bella's back, not quite touching her as if she was ready to break under his grip. He led her to the glass doors of the exit where another officer was waiting for them. 'the cruiser got hit," Bella recalled. She'd been so caught up in her argument with Edward that she forgot the damage done to her dad's vehicle.
They drove in silence. Bella was so wrapped up in her thoughts that she barely knew Charlie was in the seat in front of her. She was positive that Edward's defensive behavior was a confirmation of the bizarre things she'd witnessed.
When they got home Charlie handed Bella her the phone she'd lost in all the craziness and admitted, "I TOLD YOUR MOM."
Bella was appalled, "WHY?" she asked.
She slammed the door to her room harder than she had intended.
Her mom was in hysterics when they finally facetimed. Bella had to tell her that she felt fine at least twenty times before she would calm down. Renee begged her to come home to Phoenix, forgetting that the house was unoccupied at the moment. When they hung up, Bella was consumed by the mystery that Edward had presented. She was more than a little obsessed with the boy, and she felt stupid for it.
Bella decided to go to bed early that night. She took two Tylenol from the bathroom and tried to avoid her father's eyes in the hallway. The pills helped and as the pain eased, she drifted off to sleep.
This was the first night she dreamed of Edward Cullen.
AN: If you have not noticed, I only write this story drunk. If there are typos, that's why. That's also why I don't update consistently.
I have received several reviews about my choice to write dialogue in an ASL structure and I ask those people to refer to the AN on the first chapter. In writing this way, I am trying to make a more accurate representation of ASL as a language and rather than simply writing out signed English. I'm not deaf so I do have a bachelor's degree in ASL and Deaf Studies, as well as state and national interpreting certifications.
I started writing this story because I had seen so many "deaf" fanfictions that I felt were not accurate to the Deaf community or to Deaf culture. I wanted to create something accurate to my own experiences and knowledge with a strong and independent Bella who just so happens to not be able to hear. I am proud of this decision, and though it may make people decide not to read this story, I will stick with it.
That being said, I deeply appreciate all of the reviews that I receive! I'm thankful that I am able to expose more people to Deaf culture and ASL! Just as a disclaimer (as is stated in my bio) I am not deaf, nor do I claim to be. I may make mistakes regarding ASL and its grammar and am responsible for such. If a deaf person corrects me on ASL or the deaf experience, I will fix my writing.
#OK #OK, SORRY SORRY, FINE FINE: Repeating phrases is a means of creating emphasis.
FOR-FOR: A way of saying, what is the meaning of this, what for?
WRONG ZERO: ZERO is a way of saying none or nothing. In this, she's saying that nothing is wrong with her.
"X-RAY FINE. HEAD HURT? E-D-W-A-R-D TELL ME HIT,": Edward is interpreting for his father so he will refer to himself in the third person. When someone interprets, they are the other person's voice. If they have to talk about themselves while interpreting, they will use third person.
"RUDE YOU. TURN AROUND ON ME,": It's incredibly rude to turn your back on a deaf person if they are signing to you. ASL relies heavily on communication and by turning your back on a deaf person, you are cutting off their view of your face and hands, effectively cutting off communication.