The Law of Us
"Bella! Would you come down here, please?" Charlie yells up the stairs.
I sighed as his voice broke apart my daydream. I'd spent the last few weeks since I graduated doing nothing, and the boredom cracks were starting to show. I sat up in my bed, stretching and yawning. It was almost eleven and I had achieved nothing beyond searching the job sites on my phone. Still nothing. There's been nothing but call centre jobs for the last week. My degree had never felt more useless.
I called back, "Sure, I'll be down in one minute, Dad!"
Pulling a brush through my head, I resolved that today would be the day I found a job.
My feet pattered along the wooden floors as I wandered downstairs. When I looked at the kitchen table, I immediately saw three cups of coffee instead of our usual two. I stopped humming to myself and looked up. My father and the current Chief of Police, Jacob Black were looking back at me. I became instantly aware that I'm still dressed in pajamas, but then, it's just Jacob, so I didn't really mind.
"Hey Bells," Jacob said warmly, but there was something nervous in his eyes.
I smiled back at him as I took a seat, "Hey to you too... This is a nice morning surprise. Come to tease me about my motorcycling skills again?"
Jacob and I had been friends since infancy. Charlie has always liked him and pretty much took him under his wing as a second child when his father, Billy, died in a boating accident. He worshipped my dad and followed in his footsteps to the police force.
"Nah Bells, I've run out of ways I can mock you for falling off a bike. I think the stupidity of the act speaks for itself," Jacob replied, with a grin.
I was never going to live it down.
"Ha ha," I said dryly. "But seriously what is this about?"
"Already bored of my presence, Bells?" Jacob teased.
My dad grumbled then, his voice chastising. "Now's not the time to be fooling around guys, even if it warms my heart to see you so friendly."
Jacob and I groaned in unison at his lack of subtlety. Charlie had always hoped that us two would become more than friends but it was yet to happen and I didn't think it ever would.
I took a gulp of my coffee and rolled my eyes at Jacob. He stuck his tongue out in response but something seems amiss.
"So…?" I asked expectantly.
Charlie looked at me, "It's a sensitive issue, Bells…"
I looked deeper at his face; saw his eyes avoiding mine and my smile faded slightly, "What's going on? Who died?"
Charlie winced, "Nothing like that. You see, Isabella, it's a family... thing."
A family issue? As an only child this restricts the list of people who could be involved considerably. I worried for a moment that Charlie may be ill, but that wouldn't explain Jacob's presence.
I looked around bemused, "Will someone please tell me what's going on?"
Jacob cleared his throat, "An officer called me the other day, said he saw Renee at a drug store in Seattle – sorry – pharmacy, buying lots of painkillers. He recognised her and went up to talk to her, his mom and her were in the same natal after all, and he said she looked rough. Real rough. Like she hadn't slept for days or weeks."
emOh shit/em. Renee's at it again. I sighed, then glanced quickly to my dad.
Although he was clearly already in knowledge of this news, the words seems to make him look ten years older. Renee and him had got a divorce years ago when Renee started getting into drugs. I was around thirteen or fourteen at the time and dad didn't want that kind of influence on me. Dad gave her an ultimatum – rehabilitation or divorce. She made her choice. I had heard little from her over the years except for the occasional awful birthday present – usually arriving a few months late.
That was until last year, when she made a real effort to get her life together. She started calling regularly and she even got a job - working as a waitress in an Italian restaurant. I met up with her a couple of times and it seemed like I was going to have a solid mother figure back in my life. Charlie never forgave her for what she did to their marriage and to my childhood, but I couldn't cast her away forever. She became a sort of project for me, which I suppose isn't what a mother should be, but she was all I had in that department. From the sounds of it, all of that was going down the drain again.
I looked back at Jacob for clarification, "What does this mean? You think she's using again?"
Jacob took a long breath. "Yeah, that's what the signs point to. Either that or she's really ill. Don't want to be too hasty in guessing but I thought you should know."
"Yes of course, Jake, thanks for telling us. Must have been hard to hear," I responded, giving him a small smile.
Jacob coughed a little, his posture awkward. "This was part of my lunch break, so I better get back to the station. You guys gunna be okay?"
"Yeah thanks Jacob. We'll handle it from here," Charlie said gruffly. I could tell he was hiding his emotions, and Jacob could too.
Jacob nodded, embracing me in a quick hug before leaving. After he let himself out, a moment of silence ensued. I took a sip from my coffee.
A few seconds pass.
"I need to go see her, Dad."
Charlie looked up at me, a resigned edge to his eyes. "Bells, she's too dangerous. You can't see her when she's all – not herself. You don't know what she'll do –how she'll act!"
"I can't just ditch her," I said quietly.
"She could hurt you, Bells. Or someone else could. From my guesses, she's got involved with some pretty scary people over the last few years."
"She wouldn't hurt me," I said with conviction, before considering his words, "Like who? Who is she involved with?"
He ignored my question, looking around as if whoever it was could be outside our window right now - watching us. "You weren't around when she was at her worst. She'll throw things, yell at you, and deceive you – anything – to get a fix of that stuff!"
"I can't give up on her." I reiterated.
"Please, Bells? She isn't worth it."
I just stared at my father.
My dad sighed deeply, pulling his hands across his face. He studied my face, maybe checking to see if I was resolved on this decision. He couldn't sway me. I'd just gotten my mother back and there was no way I was letting her go without a fight.
He must have seen something of this in my eyes, because he whined, "You've sure got my stubbornness, Bells. emIf/em you agree to call me twice a day with updates, I emmay/em let you go. Not for long though!"
I smiled at him gratefully. "Thanks Dad. I'm sorry to put you in this position. I know she was an awful wife and a bit of a pathetic mother. I just can't lose her for good, you know?"
"Yeah I know, baby."
I hugged him and he clutched me tightly, as if he is worried I will leave forever. I don't know how long I'll be gone, and I knew this wouldn't be a pleasurable trip for either party. But in my heart I knew I had to go. Maybe I just needed to get out of the house and feel like I was doing something. Maybe this was my new job after all.
As I went to leave Charlie tapped me on the shoulder.
"One more thing. Remember to pack your pepper spray!"
The journey from Forks to Seattle took around four hours, but the drive wasn't unpleasant. It gave me time to think whilst cruising the highways in my old Vauxhall. It was hardly a nice car, but it got me from A to B, and practicality was all I could really afford at this point.
I wasn't sure what I expected when I arrived at Renee's flat. I walked up to the door and pressed the third floor buzzer. No response. The porch area smelt faintly of urine, and the afternoon sun did little to soften the harsh urban landscape of this area of Seattle. I love the city, but each place has its nasty areas, and these areas seem to be where Renee finds herself time and time again.
I rang the buzzer again, and heard nothing. Maybe she's out buying groceries or at work, I think. Ringing the buzzer below her flat, I explain who I am to the slightly confused elderly person. After some repetitive explanations of why she should buzz me in, I hear a resounding click of the front door and open it with a sigh of relief.
When I reached Renee's door I noticed two things that had changed from the only other time I had been here. The first, there were old flyers and newspapers by the door, dating a week ago. That did not bode well. I prayed to myself that Renee had actually left the house to do more than pick up painkillers since I saw her last. The second, she appeared to have drilled a hole in her door at eye level. Maybe she was truly crazy.
I rang her doorbell. It didn't seem to work - no surprise there - so I knocked firmly on her door. Then I waited.
After a few minutes, I waggled her door handle in exasperation. The door gave way immediately. I pushed it open and instantly saw Renee lying face down on the faded and frayed carpet, probably unconscious.
Running over, I knelt beside her, frantically flipping her over onto her side.
Suddenly she moved, groaning loudly. She swerved from me and tried to stand up. Whirling around, she looked at me with wild bloodshot eyes, almost feral looking.
Her voice was haggard, as if she hadn't used it in weeks.
"I nodded, reaching out to stroke her cheek. Her eyes softened slightly.
"Thank God, I thought –"
But she cut off at that point, as she leaned over and threw up. All over my shoes. I guess I'll never know what she thought.
I sighed. There is not going to be a quick fix to this one. I slipped off my shoes and crouched over her protectively as she continued to ruin the already frayed carpet. Who had she thought was going to come in? And why was she so afraid?