It's May thirty first, fourteen days after my ninth birthday, and I'm sitting on a rock in the middle of a meadow, far away from my house because my mom just died.
"You're not saying anything," Edward says.
I'm paralyzed, my body harder than the stone we're laying on, unable to remember to breathe or swallow until I choke.
Edward sits me up and turns towards me.
"Say something, Bella."
I can't even force my eyes to look at him. I can feel blue oceans sink into me, crashing, pulling, taking my resolve.
"I can't," I tell him honestly.
He's been my friend since before my memories stuck, since before my we started school, since before my mom got cancer. His soft boy fingers, dirty from baseball practice, cover the outside of my own. They don't grip, or squeeze, or tell me everything-will-be-okay because we both know it won't.
This is a week that will go down in history.
The hurt radiates from deep in my tissue, the marrow in my bones, the mitochondria in my cells. I feel pain everywhere and so intensely that it's almost too easy for me to block out.
Why is she gone?
"Remember when your mom helped us with that lemonade stand at the hospital last summer? We made three hundred and seven dollars and made the news!"
I snort and nod. "Only because your dad made all the nurses buy a cup."
Edward doesn't push too much too fast. He's always been quiet, letting me lead, offering up whatever I wanted.
"Remember when she—"
"You don't have to do that, Eddie," I tell him, but my voice says please don't this. Finally turning my head to take him in, he nods in acceptance and understanding.
His eyes are bluer than I've ever seen. Pink stained cheeks are wet with feelings and emotion he wears too easily on his sleeve. His quiet crying makes me uncomfortable.
"I should go," I tell him, hopping off the rock. Purple, yellow, and white flowers scratch at the skin of my legs. "My dad's probably wondering where I went."
My best friend nods, jumping off the rock we sit on.
"Watch out for the weeds. There's a lot of prickly ones this year," he warns, picking and pulling and uprooting the purple ones.
Edward leads us away, out of the meadow. He offers to help me down the rocky terrain at the bottom of the hill. I'm in stupid black sandals and this stupid black dress and the reason hits me all over again.
Air catches in my lungs, choking out a sob from my throat, but I tell my best friend I can manage. His eyes look to mine for reassurance, but I have none to give.
At the edge of the woods, where tall, thick trees are traded for knee high weeds, Edward brushes debris from my knees and shins.
"I can't believe you're going away for the whole summer," I tell him, walking past him. When I need you most, I finish in my head. It's unfair and mean, but I can't help it.
"I know. It totally sucks. My mom wants to spend the summer at my aunt's beach house. I don't even like the beach. Who wants to be hot and sweaty and get sun burned all day long?"
I sort of smile. Edward's almost as fair skinned as I am. His milky complexion won't be able to handle the intensity of the sun's rays for too long, but I offer a supportive shrug.
"You'll be so tan when you come back," I say. "The girl's might actually like you then," I tease numbly.
Our steps fall in sync as we walk the few minutes back to our street. We reach his house first, the biggest house on the corner. He waves to me with a smile as his lanky legs carry him up the wide set of stairs leading him to his wrap around porch.
"I'll call you," he tells me.
"See you in August, Eddie," I say, giving him the most hopeful smile I can manage today.
My house is just six down on the left. Dad's car is parked behind mom's and numb-tingles start in the tips of my fingers, zinging all the way to my heart, my throat, my ears. I hear ringing and look around to the quiet expanse of the neighborhood. I want to run in the opposite direction. I don't want to go back in there without her. My head and my heart suddenly hurt so bad I want to explode. I feel like I just ran forever, my breath catches in my throat, my heart beats heavily.
When I walk into our house, the silence almost kills me and I wish it would. Mom's not dressed in an apron canning tomatoes in the kitchen, or dusting the plates in the dining room, or humming a tune in the living room.
She'll never ask, "can I braid your hair, Bells?" or "come, sit, and tell me about your day," or "is that Newton boy being nice to you?" again.
"Hungry?" dad asks gruffly, his voice hoarse, his eyes red, his cheeks puffy from the loss of his wife.
"No," I tell him, shutting the front door quietly and walking to my room.
One week later, I wake up on a Thursday to a For Sale by Owner sign being hammered into the grass. Three weeks later, my bedroom is packed up into large boxes that dad and his friends carry into moving trucks.
"We can't afford to live here without your mo—" dad pauses and closes his eyes before continuing, "with only my salary."
When he first tells me, I just don't get it. I beg. I plead.
"But my friends live around here."
"You'll make new friends," he says, packing away mom's dresses, not meeting my eyes.
"I never liked that boy anyways," he tells me. "You'll be in the same school. It's not like you'll never see them again."
Anger boils inside, and it's so hard to contain. I walk over and rip her clothes from his fingers.
"First you take my mom, and then you take my house, and now you're taking my friends. I hate you!" I scream at him, tears fall blindly, heavily, like hard drops before a thunderstorm. "I hate you!"
My dad moves closer to try and console me, but I push him away. I don't want his comfort. It feels all wrong. He's cold and quiet.
"You're not mom!" I tell him. "You're not my mom!" My body falls to the floor in exhaustion and sadness, overwhelmed with the acceptance that she is gone forever. "I want my mommy," I cry so loudly it sounds foreign. I've never made these noises—wails of grief, whines of desperation, shrieks of heartache—and dad looks utterly lost.
The day we move, the last hour in our home, I knock on Edward's door.
"Isabella, honey, good to see you. You know Edward's with his mom this summer, though, right?" Mr. Cullen, Edward's dad, says when he opens the door.
"Yeah," I tell him, nervous, shifting from foot to foot. "But he never called me, and I don't have the number to where he's at, and...," I stutter off anxiously, "but I was hoping you'd give him this letter. It just has my new address and stuff in it so he knows where we moved to."
Mr. Cullen smiles gently and nods.
I hand him the envelope and awkwardly wave bye. My feet run as fast as I can back to the house as dad locks up one last time.
"I didn't get to say goodbye," I tell him as he puts the keys in his pocket.
"Nothing's left," he says blankly.
Mom's in there I want to tell him but don't because he won't get it. I shake my head and follow him to the truck. I don't even look out the window as the truck roars to life and we drive quickly out of the neighborhood I grew up in.
My dad's making us leave. He's making us move past the train tracks, by that run-down playground. Can you believe it? I wish I could swear at him and tell him I hate him. He probably knows already. Last night he had a lot of beers and then left! He's being such an idiot.
I miss my mom.
Why haven't you called? I hope you brought SPF 200.
I don't know what my new phone number is, so I can't give that to you, but my new address is 139 Skate St.
I miss you.
I don't know why I wrote my last name.
Edward returned at the end of the summer, but the only way I know that is because I saw him playing with Jess Stanley outside the grocery store when dad and I went to get food. I walked up and pushed him.
"What the heck?" he asks.
"You didn't call!" I say.
He looks away. Blue eyes won't hold my stare.
"I moved. Did you get my letter?"
"Yeah, I got it."
"Come over tomorrow?" I ask.
"I can't," he says.
"Ready, son?" his dad says, exiting the store with two bags in his hands. Mr. Cullen smiles tight lipped in my direction.
"Where's your mom?" I ask, looking around.
Edward doesn't respond. He grabs Jessica's hand and they walk with his dad to his car.
In fourth grade, just before Christmas, Edward and his new crowd of misfits leave coal inside my desk. The first Christmas without my mom, and my ex best friend leaves coal inside my desk. I know it was him. He's the only one who wouldn't look me in the eye at recess when I confronted them.
I didn't quite get it at this point. I didn't know why he was being so mean, but after this, I didn't care. Edward was a dumb boy, and I didn't need him. I told my dad but all he said was, "hmph," as he opened another beer can Christmas morning. He got me a coloring book and markers that I finished in two days.
I spent the rest of this year eating with Angela or Ben. Angela was shy and quiet, but I didn't mind. Ben was cute with a nice smile, and he was really nice. Once, when I dropped my backpack in a puddle after school, he helped me carry it to the bus so I wouldn't get my dress wet.
After that, he started hanging out with Edward and stopped sitting with me at lunch.
Fifth grade was beyond horrible. Every day, Edward teased me relentlessly. He'd call me chubby or dumb or poor. I didn't really care, but when I overheard him talking about my dead mom, I walked right up to him and stomped on his toe with my wedge sandals. I half expected him to tell the teacher, but he never did.
"Don't you ever," I start, but I can't finish because the tears rim my eyes like a tsunami.
I cry quietly behind the slide at recess.
Alice moves to town at the beginning of sixth grade. I tell her all about stupid Edward Cullen on her first day.
"Okay, don't be mad at me or anything, but that's my cousin," she admits, and I feel suddenly sick.
I thought I got a new best friend until she drops this bombshell. I'm about to pick up my lunch and move to a different table, but then Alice says, "well, he's like my second cousin or something. I haven't seen him since his parents divorced."
My heart stabilizes and I'm able to finish the rest of my chocolate milk. She tells me her dad moved here to work with his dad, but I stop her after that. I don't want to know anything about that side of her family.
Seventh, eighth, and ninth grades pass much the same. Edward still hates me for some unknown reason. He never directly looks at me, but I know he's mean.
"Fatty," I hear boys call as I pass through the lunch line. The boys who snicker come from Edward's table.
Once, when I was giving a presentation in science, someone in the back of the room moo-ed.
I don't really get it. I know I'm chunkier, but it's not like I have my own TV show on TLC or anything.
The more I'm teased, the more I pick up drawing. Once, in art class, I draw a picture of the meadow we used to play in all the time. Purple and orange flowers spread wildly across the page. My teacher likes it so much she hangs it on the wall outside the classroom. The next day, it's gone.
I know it was him.
Tenth grade, everything changes. Just after my fifteenth birthday, the anniversary of my mom's death, Edward gets his newest girlfriend to trip me in the hall.
I'm unshowered, unclean, unloved today.
My heart beats like shattered glass.
Everything hurts today.
I lay on the cold linoleum floor as Alice rushes to me, pulling me up quickly. Someone helps. Jasper and Edward stand idly by looking bored.
"What the fuck is your problem?" potty mouthed Alice asks the girl.
"I don't have one anymore," a blonde replies. I can't stop the tears. They're not loud, but they're there. "Oh, go cry about it to your mommy," the blonde teases.
Edward steps up and it's like I can see what's happening before it does. It's slow motion but so fast. The words are out of his mouth before I can stop them.
"She doesn't have one," Edward retorts, throwing his arm over the girls shoulders.
I look to him slowly, tears fall hot out of my eyes.
His stormy eyes cloud over. This isn't him. I don't know who this boy is or what happened to the Edward who cried when his pet lizard died, or who used to hold my hand when we crossed the bridge in the forest, or who would watch me walk to my old house, making sure I got in okay, before going into his.
This boy went to the beach with his mom and came back a whole new person.
My fingernails dig into my palm so deeply I draw blood. It feels good.
And then I say what I can never unsay.
"You're right. I have no mom, but neither do you. My mom died. She didn't willingly abandon me like yours did."
I wish so badly I didn't say it. Even to this day, it hurts me knowing those words came from my mouth. I run away immediately.
Alice meets me outside and I cry into her shoulder.
I have to apologize to her, too, because her mom also abandoned her.
"Fuck her," she jokes. "I'm over it. Didn't hurt me… Edward on the other hand?"
"What happened?" I ask.
Alice grimaces. "He punched a locker like a caveman."
I nod, drying the tears that irritate my cheeks.
Alice holds my hand all the way to her house. She knows I can't go home. The anniversary of my mom's death is never a good day for any living Swan.
Alice lets me pick where we order dinner. She draws me a bubble bath. She washes my hair.
Alice, my knight in shining armor, picks up the pieces of my very broken, very shattered heart.
There's the prologue. This is MUCH different than my first story, but it WILL have a HEA. What does everyone think? Please leave a comment!