THE PAINTER

By: Everleigh Allen

"I do believe in an everyday sort of magic - the inexplicable connectedness we sometimes experience with places, people, works of art and the like; the eerie appropriateness of moments of synchronicity; the whispered voice, the hidden presence, when we think we're alone..." ~ Charles de Lint

~O~

Peacock swirls moved with crimson, as her eyes widen and vibrations of the words fill her ears. They couldn't be erased. They were imbedded in the paint for all time.

A frown is hidden by long burgundy hair with carnelian sun kissed highlights as little dragon fly hairpins try to hold back the long strands that drape over her bare back and right shoulder. Her arm lifts to touch a bit of paint onto her canvas, but she thinks a few seconds too long and the moment is gone.

She hums, the sound fills her mind and ears and the voices below begin to ebb as the flow of her paintbrush finds the canvas once more.

This time with the brush loaded in azure and jade, it flows with the music in her mind.

She smiles.

"Tell me what you're painting?" A soft voice fills the room and Isabella looks around, but sees nothing.

She ignores the voice, thinking it is her own for a moment before she goes back to painting and the door closes softly, as if it was never opened.

The room is suddenly painfully still and silent, her house quiet and it's just like she liked it, which is discerning.

She finally looks at the door but there isn't anyone there.

Moving toward the door, she opens it just a crack and listens, but hears nothing but the ticking of the downstairs grandfather clock.

Quietly, careful not to creak the floorboards, Isabella moves back to her floor and sits down. She picks up the brush and dips it into the paint, paying no mind to the color.

It is a deep amber color with hints of gold leaf that she added into it just for fun, just to see… and she likes it.

It makes her feel light, light the morning sunrise when the sun crescents over the trees and bathes all in bright light.

Music starts from the downstairs and Isabella stills, listening.

The notes float up the stairs and under her door, but there isn't anything she can do, the notes move around her, tugging at her hair as she grunts, dabbing the brush over the canvas in topaz.

It moves around her and she's distracted, eyes wandering around the room as she sees the flecks of dust moving through the bright Charlies filtering through the windows. They dance with the fan in swirls and turns and she's instantly mesmerized, trying to figure out how she could put that into her painting.

But she knows she can't paint dust, that would be absurd, no matter how stunningly beautiful it is in the moment.

Old Johnny Cash moves into her space and Isabella glares at the door with the side of her eye. She could tell already her mother was in a mood and it wouldn't be long before the house was filled with the burning embers of sage and incense.

Frowning, she puts her paintbrush in the jar and moves toward her bed. Reaching under her pillow, she jots down several lines and closes it, clasping the lock of her journal.

It wouldn't be long now.

Isabella watches the door, counting down in her head the moment that her mother will open the door. She counts the steps she hears and her heart beats with each one.

Her mother doesn't disappoint.

She opens the door and it fills with the smell of white sage and it moves into her room in long streams of wispy smoke. It's beautiful and she's instantly, albeit temporarily, mesmerized.

"Clearing the space," Her mother grins and Isabella looks at the embers. She was the spark, burning low embers like the smudges clearing the space.

She was thought to be a misdeed and the reason her mother, Renee, ran away from home and never looked back.

Isabella nodded, knowing it was more for her mother's own comfort and sense of mind than her own. She didn't care for the smoke, other than to watch it dance for her.

Some days, Isabella would open a window after the smudging but it seemed that there was something more on Renee's mind.

"Hey Bella," she hedged, waving the smudge around as she coaxed the smoke into the closet with the long feathers.

"I know," Isabella sighed. And she did know. She could see the dark clothes her mother wore, shielded and protective, and smiled softly at her.

"What do you know?" Soft blue eyes watched carefully as the smudge stick in her hand burnt out. She turned her head to the side, trying to see whatever her daughter was trying to paint, but she couldn't tell. All the sudden, her eyes found her daughter's and they stared for mere seconds before Isabella averted her eyes. She looked at the painting and could see that the small flakes of gold had somehow breached into the jade. "You're leaving,"

Renee swallowed. She did have another date tonight but she didn't really want to leave her daughter alone or in her current state.

But she didn't want to break the date even more.

He could be "the one."

The one who set her heart on fire.

The one who would take her from Salem, but oh, so much more than that- a second chance for love.

But there was only one issue at hand.

Isabella.

"Go," Isabella whispered. It was both permission and a demand and she quickly dismissed her mother by turning back to her painting. Her eyes filling like the wells of her watercolor paint, but she wouldn't let them fall.

Dipping her brush into a smoky, mudded ash Isabella pushed the paint into the canvas and used her fingers to smear the paint to look like tufts of billowing smoke.

Renee frowned and shut the door and set her phone to dial Philip Dwyer's number.

Three rings and with a winded chuckle, Philip's disembodied voice filtered through the room.

"Hey," he groaned with his sexy, raspy voice as if he was turning in the bed to answer the phone. She could tell he was smiling and it caused her to mirror the smile but it didn't portCharlie in her voice.

"Hey,"

"Uh, oh," he chuckled dubiously.

"What?" Renee sighed, knowing. She played at her crystal necklace that had soft oval amethyst beads.

"I can tell when something's up with you," His voice didn't mask his concern.

"Isabella's painting," Renee said as if that explained everything.

Maybe it did.

"Ah, and you don't want to leave her," He deduced. There was a sudden clicking in the background as if he was messing with a ball point pen.

Philip was a pen clicker.

"No… I don't want to leave her and I shouldn't leave her- I'm her mother but I feel like I am always gone with work as it is and now I want to go out with you."

"Stop. You're a wonderful, doting mother." It was Philip's turn to sigh, knowing Renee was stuck between guilt and apprehension. "I can come over there. It's fine. I've been there before."

"No… Ugh. Just… let me talk to her, I guess." Renee was pacing. Always talking and pacing and clenching her stomach Kegels. She once heard it would save her bladder and help her muscles, but now she did it without even noticing.

"Will she be okay alone? I mean…" She's eighteen. He doesn't say the rest, but Renee knows what he's thinking because she's thinking the same thing.

"I think she should be," Renee hedges, biting her lip, but she knows her daughter and she knows the answer.

No. She won't.

Isabella will most likely spend the entire night in her room and painting the same thing, always the same thing, only with slight deviations. But if she were to leave her room, the quiet solitude, she may become anxious, especially if she found that Renee wasn't there.

Isabella's anxiety seemed to control all actions within the home.

"You say that, but don't think she'll be okay," Philip whispered and paused for several moments. "I'll come over, problem solved." The clicking stopped… waiting.

"Philip-"

"Don't-" He interrupted. "Don't make excuses. I want to see you. I'll bring dinner, but you do need to call her father. You need to tell him."

Renee gasped and then took in a long wisp of air. "Oh, no Philip-"

"I know you don't want to, but she's not getting any better," here, he means but he doesn't say it. He doesn't have to, but the next words sting like failure, "and you know it."

"I don't think Charlie won't be any better for her." Renee whispered.

"He's got to be better than the situation now. You said he's barely home, so she'll have her quiet and no one will mess with her, he'd make sure of that… he's single, where you aren't, really."

"I'm not…" She smiled on the phone. Renee's heart flutter, knowing this man wanted her enough to try to comfort her and be with her.

Renee knew Philip was right, but she couldn't help but think his words were laced with the selfishness of someone who wasn't a parent for the past 18 years.

But she also couldn't disagree and Forks was much more quiet and calmer.

If Isabella were to agree with moving with her father it would also give Renee and Philip the time they needed to build this relationship without the constant worry about Isabella.

"You're not. So call him, now." Philip reiterated and then said a kind goodbye.

Renee hung up and stared at the phone.

Just staring and wondering where everything went wrong.

But maybe it was always wrong?

Night terrors.

Irrational fears.

Countless conferences with school psychologists, family therapists- who thought they knew her daughter.

But they didn't.

Not like she did.

Renee got Isabella.

Renee was once Isabella.

And there was that one boy who changed everything and nothing and yet left her in ruins.

She pushed the thought away quickly.

But then there was Charlie.

To Renee, Charlie was a rock where James was the wind.

Renee was water.

And she used to paint them, just as Isabella paints.

But also different.

More.

Renee was still water.

Charlie was still the rock.

But she didn't know the rest.

She didn't know who else it was that Isabella painted.

Who was the earth?

Who the golden Sun?

Who were the trees… the life given to each picture?

Who was the darkness?

A/N: Welcome back.

I originally pulled to publish but it's so close to Twilight, I felt it's best to stay here.

Thank you for all of you who went on this journey with me originally and those who will be going on it from here. It's one of my favorite stories and close to my heart.

I'm an artist, if you can't tell, and if you want to follow my work, send a PM and I will send you the name.

This story isn't edited.

Thank you for reading.