The Twilight Saga is owned by Stephenie Meyer. I'm just playing with her story a bit, and I'm blaming my obsession that happens to be called Carlisle Cullen. I don't own him, either; Stephenie Meyer enjoys the bliss of owning him. I have huge respect for her writing and all the wonderful characters she created.
English is not my native language, and I apologize in advance for any possible mistakes in the grammar. I do my best to keep them at minimum.
Without any further ramblings, here's the summary: The story takes place approximately eight years after Bella's birthday party in New Moon. Bella hasn't heard anything about any of the Cullens since then, and she's moved on with her life, now living in the city of Buffalo in the state of New York. At the age of twenty-six, she's more than content with her life, spending her days doing what she loves the most. A bookstore of her own added to a suitably calm and comfortable life equals a pattern she's completely satisfied with. Until one day...
Rating: M for later chapters
We are what our thoughts have made us; so take care about what you think.
Words are secondary.
Thoughts live; they travel far.
- Swami Vivekananda -
What The Day Brings
My eyes danced along the black letters printed on the page. Those letters became words; words became sentences; sentences became stories. And almost unexpectedly, images, dreams and feelings were brought into being. Words had the tendency to do that. There was almost something magical about it. It was strange how a simple sentence could make shivers dance up your spine and conjure up emotions you didn't even know existed. But words did that. They had the power to leave an impression. They had a way to influence your way of thinking. They had the propensity to linger in your mind even to the point where it became nearly impossible to forget them.
Words left behind scars, impressions, images – but more importantly, they left behind feelings. Emotions that had no way to be born without hearing the words first. Or without reading them. Or writing them. Or remembering them.
I closed the cover of the book with a smile, brushing my finger along the spine. After glancing at the name of the book once more, I placed it on the small holder in front of me. Glancing up, I looked out of the wide display window of the store, watching the flow of people passing by. One or two of them stopped to look ar the books more closely, but eventually they continued on their way without bothering to step inside the small bookstore.
I suppressed a sigh, allowing a wave of disappointment to wash over me. Then I left the feeling behind, crouching beside the large cardboard box close to me. It was full of copies of the new book that had gotten my interest a few weeks ago. The batch I had ordered had arrived today. The novel had gotten great reviews, and that's why I hoped I wasn't the only one interested in reading it. Maybe someone equally enchanted by words was on their way right now. Maybe that someone would buy a copy.
And if not, well... I suppose I had to sell them at a discount price. Again.
I kept on with my work, replacing the books that had been sitting behind the display window for the past month. I couldn't help but be a little biased when it came to the ones that adorned the window and lured in the customers; I sometimes tended to put my favorites on display. Opening a new box, I pulled out a thin book with dark blue covers. What The Day Brings was its name. After realizing that I hadn't read this one yet, I put one of the copies aside, deciding to delve into it as soon as I had extra time, and placed another copy on the last empty holder. Silently beginning to hum, I quickly read the names of the books before turning them to face the street behind the display window.
Endings and Beginnings... Returning Past...
After placing the last copy on the holder, I exited the store to make sure that the row looked nice and orderly from the outside. I tried to see the window from a customer's point of view, wondering if the store looked inviting enough. Looking through the window, my eyes studied the towering bookshelves filling the space. The store wasn't huge, and it didn't have an unlimited collection of literature like some bigger places did. This store could be described with words like small and intimate – homelike.
And I loved it. I loved every single thing about the small store. I loved every old wooden shelf, every single book resting on them – even the ones I hadn't had the chance to read yet – and I even loved the huge spider under the counter that I was still too afraid to kill. I loved it all, and it was mine to love.
It hadn't always been that way, though. Getting to this point, to be able to call the place my own, hadn't happened overnight. It was strange, though, that when I had set my foot into the store for the very first time, I had known that I wanted to spend all of my days in a place like this. Already then there had been a certain feel to the place, and as a person who lived and breathed literature, it had been almost too easy to imagine myself working in a place like this. Back then, I hadn't believed that the wish would come true someday, and certainly not this way. If someone had come up to me and said that one day I'd actually get to own the place, I wouldn't have believed it. Even the thought of working there had sounded too good to be true.
I had always lived rather sparingly – it was a trait that I now found myself grateful of, because it eventually made it possible for this dream to come true. Not that I had been planning on buying a bookstore when I had started saving up. After high school and college and earning a little money on the side by working through evenings and weekends, I had decided to pack my bags and take a year or two off to travel.
Charlie had been against it – he had insisted that I either study more or get a proper job, but luckily I hadn't listened. Renée had been more positive about my little plans – I hadn't expected any less from her because of the adventurous nature she possessed - and she had even agreed to support me financially. I suppose she remembered better than Charlie what it was like to be young and thirsty for experiences. Her gesture had been very sweet, but I had refused to take her money, telling her that this was something I wanted to do on my own.
I still didn't quite know why it had felt so important. I suppose after years of living under certain rules and expectations, I had just wanted to be on my own for a while, to be able to decide where to go and what to do. It might have been some sort of pursuit of independence, although it had taken a while for me to admit it, even to myself.
"You can be on your own without traveling around the world," Charlie had said to me on the phone, still disagreeing with my plans. I hadn't felt the need to get upset with him. I knew he had been just worried, probably maddening himself with all the possible dangers I could get into.
"I'm not traveling around the world," I had answered with a laugh. "Just around the US."
It had been easy to imagine the way Charlie had shaken his head in a frustrated manner. Then he had enumerated twenty other reasons why I shouldn't go, but none of them had been good enough for me.
"Fine," he had eventually consented with a deep sigh. Even through the phone, I had been able to sense his awkwardness as the next words of affection had left his lips. Charlie had never been too good with anything that had to do with feelings, let alone voicing them. "Just be careful, Bells," he had told me with a gruff voice. "Love you."
I had hung up the phone with a smile on my lips. And the next morning, I had said goodbye to Renée and Phil and to the beautiful house on the beach that had become my home during my years in college.
The world hadn't disappointed me, and it certainly hadn't forced me to wander very long. It hadn't taken me many weeks to come to the conclusion that maybe experiences were something you shouldn't search – that they'd come along when they did. After a couple of months of traveling, sleeping in cheap motels and working temporary jobs that didn't pay nearly as much as they should have, I had suddenly found myself in the city of Buffalo in the state of New York.
I still remembered that day with perfect clarity. It had been pouring rain, and I had searched for a motel or some other shelter from the rain when the lights of the small bookstore had reached my eyes. At first I hadn't been aware that it was a bookstore I was going to set my foot into. I had thought it to be a pharmacy or a small convenience store or something like that. I had been in such a hurry to get out of the rain that I hadn't bothered to glance at the sign hanging above the door.
The smell had been the first thing I had noticed after shaking the water off my clothes and wiping the raindrops from my face. The smell of paper and ink – it was always something that made the endorphins in my body to begin their dance towards the blood vessels. I had looked around me in the small, quaint store, and had instantly felt enchanted.
And a few days later after talking to the owner, I had started working there, not knowing how many wonderful years awaited me, how many wonderful moments I'd spend navigating between the old bookshelves. I hadn't had a clue that that's where I'd find myself several years later. It was strange how one single rainy day could have such an impact on someone's life. But I guess life tended to be that way sometimes. Unpredictable.
I had managed to get along with very little money, only spending it on necessities like food and rent. I had put aside most of my paychecks, saving as much as I had been able to. I still didn't know what had made me do that. Maybe I had possibly thought about studying or traveling some more in the future. But almost without noticing, I had begun to like the old city by the huge lake. And more importantly, I had begun to like the small, idyllic bookstore I was spending all my days in. The thought of traveling and even studying had begun to disappear from my mind as the months had passed by. And then the moment had arrived when I had realized that I really didn't want to leave anymore.
The realization had surprised me at first. Mostly because I hadn't thought myself to be able to settle down that easily. After all, I had left home so I could travel as much as I wanted and do the things I had always wanted to do. So that I could test my own wings and live in a constant state of change and find out that there was nothing better than not knowing where I would be tomorrow. I hadn't certainly left home because I had been searching for another one. This is what I had told myself, but later when I had thought about it, I had idly wondered if I had unconsciously craved just that. Something to call my own.
Therefore, I suppose I could say that my unconscious pursuit of independence had somewhat succeeded. It became much more than a pursuit, after all. It became a life.
And so I had stayed. It was something I'd never find myself regretting. The years had gone by in a rush, and eventually the day had come when the owner of the bookstore had decided to retire. I had nearly fallen off the ladder I had been balancing on when she had offered to sell me the place. The owner didn't have children of her own, but she did have other relatives. That's why it had surprised me that she had come to me first instead of offering her business to her numerous nieces and nephews. Maybe she had wanted to be certain that a genuine book fanatic continued her work.
It had been my one last step, the one missing piece of the puzzle, when I had given her a positive response without a moment's thought. I'd had all my savings to support my decision, and even though they hadn't been nearly enough to pay for the entire value of the store at once, I knew I had done the right thing for myself. It had been a scary decision to make, yes, but at the same time nothing had ever felt so right. And I knew myself; I knew what made me happy. This was definitely something that did, and I had decided to hold onto it.
I had never found myself regretting my decision, even though the money was sometimes tight. My income was just enough to get by after the scheduled payments I made to the previous owner a few times a year. Amortizing my debt had been a long process, but luckily it would be completed in a few months. All in all, everything was well in my life. Everything was more than well – I felt lucky to be able to wake up everyday and know that I got to do something I loved more than anything. Books and reading had always been my passion, but I had never thought they'd someday earn me my living.
Returning from the memories back to the present, I made my way back inside. The small bell above the door jingled as I stepped in – I was very fond of the sound. It added its own nice feel to the store.
After arranging the rest of the books on the shelves and taking the empty boxes to the recycling container at the back of the store, I sat down behind the counter, flipping open one of the books I hadn't had the time to finish. Sometimes the days were so busy that I barely had any time to sit down, but on days like these when books didn't seem to interest anyone, I usually made my time pass with reading if there was nothing else to take care of. I had to know what I was selling to people, after all. Or that's what I usually liked to tell myself as an excuse if I began to feel lazy.
The bell above the door jingled suddenly. I glanced up from the text and expected to see a customer entering.
But it wasn't a customer stepping inside – it was someone else. I'd bet the meager money I had on the fact that he wasn't here to buy a book. Because if I ever I saw him voluntarily take a book in his hand, I'd dance around the block naked and sing Jingle Bells as loud as I could. That's how sure I was of it. If it didn't have pictures on it, it was too boring to look at.
I gave a wry grin at the man who had entered, setting my book aside.
"Adrian," I greeted.
The young man standing by the door had short brown hair and eyes that were the same shade of deep brown. He let the door bang closed behind him, then stomped across the floor with a grin on his face. I knew that expression – he had something cheeky to say, as always. I estimated that at least half of the things that came out of his mouth were either jokes or otherwise spoken with a tongue in cheek.
Adrian stalked closer, shoving his glove-covered hands in his pockets. "You know," he began, "I'd very much like to talk to you and ask you how your day's been and so on, but the line of customers you have in here is so long that I don't know if my turn ever comes."
Tapping my fingers against the counter, I threw him a sour smile. "Very funny," I answered, glancing around me in the hopelessly empty store. "It's just one of those days. A little more quiet than usually."
Adrian leaned his elbows against the counter, glancing at the bookshelves and the empty spaces between them. "Quiet, you say?" he asked sarcastically. "Bella, this place is deserted."
"It won't be tomorrow," I insisted, walking to the backroom of the store to pour him a cup of coffee.
"Just sayin'," I heard him mumbling. "Maybe it's time you rethink this whole bookstore thing."
"I'm not going to rethink anything," I sighed, walking back to him with the coffee. Adrian took it, groaning a small thanks. He looked a bit more tired than usually; I wondered if he had a long day behind him. He was working at a construction site somewhere in the city, and he had probably been awake twice as long as I had today.
"And besides," I continued and searched for the floor brush out of habit. After finding it, I swept the floors of the store quickly, but there wasn't much to sweep. It really had been a quiet day. "You're just jealous because I have a permanent job and you don't."
Adrian began to cough, apparently choking on his coffee. I didn't know if it happened because he was so surprised by my comment or because he was laughing so hard. I guessed it was the latter – I knew it from experience.
Casting a bored look at his direction, I abandoned the brush and sat behind the counter again, waiting for him to recover from his coughing spell. Smiling sweetly at him all the while he tried to get some air into his lungs, I leaned my chin to my palm, watching his red face and quirking my brow expectanty.
We had a strange relationship, Adrian and I. I had known him for a couple of years, and I felt like he had been my friend from the first day I had met him. He was twenty-seven, which made him one year older than me. There had once been a time we had been so alike, but not anymore. Most of the time we were like day and night, always bickering and bantering about everything but still getting along very well. We'd had our storms, there was no doubt of that – I still remembered the insane crush I'd had on him soon after I had gotten to know him. The feeling had been mutual, and what had started out as a friendship had become something more as the time had passed. But we had our differences, and later we had learned that the one only thing we really had in common was our stubbornness. It wasn't exactly a good thing. Two persons with the same amount of obstinacy and fiercely different personalities was a doomed match from the start.
And so the strangers had become friends, friends had become lovers, and eventually lovers had become friends again after realizing that friendship was a much easier thing to accomplish. It was the better option for the both of us. Of course I still cared about Adrian, but anything romatic I had felt for him had disappeared a long time ago. It was strange how life kept us learning, constantly throwing something in our way – people, occurences, a bookstore – and that way taught us things about ourselves we hadn't even been aware of. Something was constantly guiding us to the right direction, but we just failed to see it at first. And also, some things just weren't meant to be. No one had told me that at the beginning. No one had given me a straight advice. I'd been forced to learn it, just like everything else.
Adrian pushed the coffee cup away, still gasping for breath. "Jealous?" he managed to wheeze. "You think I'm jealous of this? Sitting inside a bookstore from day to day and denying myself fresh air – forever?"
I rolled my eyes at his comment, knowing he was only teasing me. While he might not be able to understand the passion I had for my work, I knew that deep down he respected me and my bold decision to buy the store. Adrian was one of those people who strove for making things and dreams happen. I didn't know anyone else with that kind of an ability to live in the moment.
Smiling, I nodded at the gloves he had taken off and layed out on the counter. They were nearly worn through. "Look at you," I teased him. "You must have been actually working today to make those scuff up like that. And I thought you're just running your mouth out there."
Adrian bridled, shaking his head. "Nah," he said. "I would, but it's too noisy for any mouth running. No one would hear me. That's why I need to discharge all this pent-up sarcasm on you."
"Lucky me," I smiled, taking the other glove and gently throwing it at him. It hit his face with a satisfying sound. "How many weeks do you have left?"
"Only two or three," Adrian smiled, shrugging. "And then..." he paused for effect, "these gloves are coming off for the last time."
"You do realize you sound like you're going to beat someone up instead of just celebrating the ending of your job?"
"It's not my job," Adrian said, stressing the last word. "This was only temporary. You know, one last little suffering before the actual fun begins. You gotta pay your dues."
I smiled at his choice of words, suddenly a little sad. "I can't believe you're really leaving."
Adrian quirked his brow. "If you really miss me that much, why don't you come with me?"
Laughing, I took the empty coffee cup from him, going to the backroom to rinse it. "Yeah, right," I murmured. "You don't even know where you're going yet."
"I don't. That's the best part."
I shook my head, smiling. Turning to look at him, I realized he hadn't changed a bit from the day I had first met him all that time ago. He was still that same bundle of energy he had been even then, never able to stay still. He never accepted a job that lasted longer than two months, claiming that he'd die out of boredom if he did. He needed constant changes in his life, and the thought of settling down simply horrified him. These past three or so years he had been spending here, in the uneventful city of Buffalo, was probably his personal record when it came to living somewhere. It was a wonder he had been able to stay so long in one place – and it was even a bigger wonder he hadn't gone out of his mind.
I suppose that's why I had liked him so much when I had first met him. I had seen a lot of myself in him back then. But if Adrian had stayed the same all these years, I hadn't. Had I been like him by my nature – or hadn't I gone through that mysterious process of changing and growing – who knows. I might still be together with him, and we'd be probably be traveling God knows where, even right now.
The thought didn't make me awfully melancholy. I knew the path I must walk, and I knew it wasn't the same path Adrian had in front of him.
"Of course I'll miss you," I answered, walking back to him. I began to put out the lights and prepared to close the store. "But I know that this is where I'm supposed to be. And you know it, too."
Suddenly Adrian didn't even try to crack a joke. It was very unlike him. "Yeah," he murmured quietly. "I know."
We stood there for a while, two persons who had once been so alike, but had found that the years had changed only the other. It made me realize that Adrian hadn't changed because he didn't have to. The man I had met over three years ago had already been the person who he was supposed to be. He hadn't changed and grown, because he had already been there. It had been me who had lacked that certain knowledge about myself; it had been me who had needed to grow and change, to become the person I was supposed to be.
And I had. I thought about the girl who had packed her bags after graduating college, only with her mother's encouragements and her father's warnings in her ears. Smiling at the memory, I wondered how different my life would be now if I hadn't stubbornly decided to leave that day.
Would I have continued studying, started up a career and maybe met someone down the road? Would I be living somewhere else, far away from this city I had grown such a liking to? Would I have a house and a family instead of the small, cheap apartment and the old bookstore? Would I fall asleep every night next to someone instead of chasing dreams all alone?
I didn't know. But not having an answer to all those questions didn't really bother me. I couldn't imagine my life to be any different from this. I was happy, despite all those things that were missing from my life. Family, love – those things were something that just felt so faraway at the moment. I had never dreamed about having children, but I had never denied the possibility of having them if the time happened to come some day. My feelings were rather neutral about the whole matter.
And what came to love... I sometimes felt like I simply had poor luck with it. Eventually it was easy to accept that maybe love was something that wasn't meant for me. It didn't sadden me – not really. And it certainly didn't make me feel like I was missing out on something.
Because I felt like I was living my own ideal. It wasn't a carefully thought out and precisely defined life; it was my own, and I had made it. Not planned it, because you shouldn't plan your life. You just had to live it without making it feel like a task. Because life wasn't a performance or an exam you had to pass with straight A's.
Putting out the rest of the lights but leaving on the ones lighting up the display window, I turned to Adrian, checking my pockets for my keys. At the last minute I remembered to lock up the cash register and put aside the receipts. It didn't take long; the day had been very quiet. I liked to keep a precise record of my incomes and expenses, even though the numbers were sometimes depressing and didn't look as good as they should have. But I had learned not to stress about it too much. Things always had the tendency to work out on their own. This week might be quiet, but the next one would be better. It always was. People would never stop reading books – it was one of those things that simply never changed.
"Are you ready to go?" Adrian asked, making his way to the door. I nodded, grabbing my coat and following him outside. The air was getting cooler, and I lifted up my collars after I shut the door behind me. I tried the handle twice to make sure it was locked.
Before continuing down the sidewalk, I glanced one more time at the brightly-lit display window, once more looking over the books I had earlier arranged behind the glass. What the day brings, Endings and Beginnings, Returning Past and...
"Destined," Adrian whispered with a dramatic tone, tapping the window with his forefinger.
I smacked his arm, otherwise ignoring his teasing. There was something about the names of those books that made shivers run up my spine. That's why I had chosen to put them up. I couldn't grasp the strange feeling, however, and I couldn't explain it even if I had wanted. Maybe I wasn't supposed to; they were words, after all. They conjured up images, impressions, feelings... things that weren't supposed to be described verbally.
I turned away from the window, trying to shake away the peculiar feeling. But when I noticed that I couldn't get rid of it, I simply carried it with me, allowing the shivers to dance up and down my spine.
AN: It was so much fun to write this chapter. I've always wanted to write Bella like this, as a person with self-confidence and integrity. There's some information in this chapter about Bella's life before she came to Buffalo, and I'm sure some of you wondered why there was no mention of Edward or the other Cullens. The reason is that Bella simply didn't feel need to include any of them in her inner rambling. I wanted the reader to know that she's rarely thinking about the Cullens; the time she spent with them in Forks is simply something she's left behind. There will be some self-reflection in the upcoming chapters that deals with this topic and her feelings concerning the Cullens' abrupt departure from her life.
Adrian was someone I absolutely wanted to add to the story to let the reader know that what happened with Edward didn't traumatize Bella in any way. Despite what happened after she fell in love for the first time, she doesn't feel the need to guard her heart and be afraid of relationships. Her luck with the love department hasn't been too good so far, but she doesn't let it chain her in any way.
Let me know what you think!