Chapter One: Welcome to Forks
I spent the plane ride from Phoenix, Arizona to Forks, Washington alternating between reading a novel and sleeping. When my plane lands, a sweet flight attendant wakes me up, and now I am sitting in Charlie's police cruiser, my bags in the trunk. I observe the dull grey sky contrasting with the vast green forests. It appears as though Forks is split exactly in half; the horizon is a steady line between tall emerald trees and a color hovering between darkness and light. Rain is imminent.
I pull at the sleeve of my hooded parka with my fingers, and idly touch the ends of my brown hair. I had cut it to a medium length right before making the move. New school, new me - or so I had thought. But the town is feeling more familiar by the second - I had visited for many summers past, so it makes sense that I don't feel like a complete outsider at the moment. I lick my lips, tasting my typical cherry chapstick.
Charlie tapped his fingers on the steering wheel, drawing my attention. We make nervous eye contact. It has been awhile since we have ever really communicated beyond me asking if I could come live with him, which means he is probably just as uneasy as I am to start a conversation, but he courageously takes a deep breath and speaks."So, are you excited for school?"
I nod awkwardly, my head jerking a little too much. "Yeah, definitely," I say, licking my chapstick-y lips again. "I already talked to my counselor about transferring credits from h- Phoenix," I almost say 'home' instead, and internally I wince, but continue, "And there weren't any issues, so . . ." I trail off.
"Well, that's good to hear." Charlie rescues me from myself. "Forks High School offers Advanced Placement classes too, but not IB."
"That's ok," I already knew that because I had checked the school's website and emailed their AP Coordinator, but I don't have to tell Charlie that. "I never took IB classes at my old school." Because IB wasn't offered at my old school, either.
"Great." he smiles. I'm sure he's happy to hear that my academics are not going to be negatively impacted by this move.
"Yeah." I smile back and tuck my hair behind my ear. There had been one issue while transferring - mainly that gym is a requirement for all four years of high school in Forks instead of only the first two years like it was back in my old school, which meant that I had to drop a class. I had also been nervous that the classes I needed to be in were full already; that was a common problem in Phoenix, but the school administrator who I had talked to on the phone seemed surprised by my choice of schedule. I am taking three Advanced Placement classes: AP English Language, AP US History, and AP Chemistry, in addition to Trigonometry and Spanish. I chose to drop AP Psychology - it was the least necessary class.
"Have you taken up any sports?" Charlie is doing his best to continue the conversation, and I do my best to appease him.
"Kind of - I usually just stick with managing instead."
"Really?" Charlie seems surprised that I have done anything relatively close to doing a sport.
"Yup, I managed the girl's volleyball and boy's baseball teams every year. Hopefully if there's a spot open at Forks I can mange again."
"Wow, I didn't know you did any of that stuff," He says, glancing out his driver's side mirror. I study what part of Charlie's face I can see and notice his guilt.
"I haven't really told you about my extracurriculars, so you couldn't have known." I attempt to soothe him. It really is my fault, too. I can admit that I haven't been doing my best to keep in touch with Charlie these past few years.
"Well, I should've asked you a long time ago." Charlie mutters regretfully. His shoulders heave and fall in a silent sigh of remorse.
"Really, don't worry about it," I assure. "You can ask me and I'll tell you everything from now on." I force a smile, unsure of exactly how well I can stick to that promise, but I do vow to let Charlie know about my school life.
He smiles genuinely, and reaches over to pat my hand that's resting in my lap. "I know."
Later, I smile down from the window at my new truck that Charlie has given me. It might be considered a piece of junk from the outside, but I'm touched by Charlie's generosity and very grateful. I unpack slowly. My room is just as I remember it. I have a floral purple comforter, light turquoise walls, string lights hung up behind my bed and along the wall parallel to my large window, which is layered with matching white and purple gauzy curtains. I have an array of books and stationary along my my desk, dresser, and bedside table - all made of pine. A brown teddy bear lays on the floor next to my twin-sized bed. I lean to pick it up, glancing at my cork board, which is an assortment of old letters from Renee, pictures, and old report cards - straight A's except for a stubborn B in gym, which was a result of my own clumsiness.
I carefully fold my clothes as I unpack, meticulously putting everything in its proper place. I decide to clear off my entire desk, since there are books and study guides I haven't used since my middle school days. It is replaced by SAT test prep books, notebooks, pencils, and other assorted bits of stationary. I brought very few non-school related books with me, and those I place upon a hanging bookshelf on the wall. My toiletries go in the bathroom where they belong, and I set my new car keys on the shelf next to a fake potted leafy plant.
My room is now cleaned and organized, and I decide to study for my SATs to kill time. I manage this for about two hours before Charlie comes in to knock on my door.
"You hungry?" he asks gruffly, glancing around my room.
"Um, yeah, sure," I reply, setting my pencil in the test prep book to mark my place as I stand up to accompany Charlie into the kitchen.
"Looks good," Charlie says approvingly. "It's clean." I'm sure he is surprised that a teenager is capable of being tidy.
"Yeah, I don't like a lot of mess," I say in agreement. Changing the subject, I question, "What's for dinner?"
He shifted awkwardly. "I have pasta." It looks like I would have to do some grocery shopping in the very near future.
"Sounds great." I smile politely and stand to follow him into the kitchen. Pasta turns out to be microwavable fettuccini alfredo, and it's better than I expect it to be. Later, I shower and pick out my clothes for the coming school day, and I decide on rain boots, jeans, and a white blouse with pale pink flowers. Most of my clothes were not made for the dreary cold of Seattle, so I will have to go shopping soon. Then, I brush my teeth and slip into my pajamas. Before bed, I call out a goodnight to Charlie and unzip my backpack, where I put in a half used spiral notebook that had previously been for AP Psychology, a folder to hold papers, a couple of pencils, and an equally used planner from my old school.
I couldn't sleep well that night, even after I was done crying. The constant whooshing of the rain refused to fade into the background. I pull my comforter over my head, and later added the pillow, too. Even still, I didn't fall asleep until after midnight, when the rain had settled into a quieter drizzle.
Thick fog was all I could see when I woke up that morning. I felt a sense of claustrophobia; the sky was always impossible to see here, and I felt trapped.
Breakfast with Charlie was a quiet event. He wished me good luck at school. I thanked him, knowing his hope was wasted. Good luck tended to avoid me - unless you counted tests. Charlie left first, off to the police station that was his wife and family. After he left, I sat at the old square oak table and planned my day out in my head. Get ready for school, grab my bag, drive to school, get my new schedule, go to classes, leave school, find an office supply store, come home, do my homework, make dinner, eat, study, shower, and go to bed. That's it. That's what my day will look like, I tell myself. I have nothing to stress about. Today will be just like any other day - easy.
I cross the first three things off of my mental list quickly and drive to school, which I almost end up missing. since there's a lack of metal detectors and metal wire fences. My truck has a loud engine, but I'm relieved to see that the other cars in the parking lot were similar to mine, albeit much quieter. I quickly turn off the engine to avoid drawing attention and slide out of my seat. My feet slosh on the wet ground, and although the rain is only a drizzle, I tug my hood down and quickly walk into the front office so I can get my schedule and directions.
Inside, the office is brightly lit and smells strongly of cinnamon. A large bulletin board has a few lonely flyers tacked onto it. Maybe it only seems bigger because it was so empty. A counter cuts the room in half, and the lady behind it is wearing a plain purple t-shirt. I immediately feel overdressed. I walk up, careful to avoid bumping a large potted plant or knocking off the loose papers scattered all over the surface of the counter.
"Can I help you?" the lady asks sweetly.
I look her in the eye, attempting to appear more confident than I feel. "I'm Isabella Swan." I assert. She seems surprised, but I suspect it has more to do with who I am rather than my fake self-assurance. I was expected, a topic of gossip, no doubt. Daughter of the Chief's flighty ex-wife, come home at last.
"Of course. I have your schedule right here." she nods and turns around to a rifle through a filing cabinet. I wait patiently until she finds the right document, and then as she places it on the desk in front of me she slides her hand underneath the counter and pulls out a map of the school.
She goes through all my classes for me, highlighting the best routes to take to each class on the map, and gives me a slip to have each teacher to sign, which I am to bring back at the end of the day. She smiles at me and hopes, like Charlie, that I will like it here in Forks. I thank her to the best of my ability, even though it feels like a lie. But then she also adds:
"I just feel like I should warn you - those classes are really difficult. Are you sure you can handle them all? No one ever takes this many APs at once." She cautions. At my old school, it was common for students to be taking up to six at once. Three is almost nothing.
"I've been doing okay so far," I smile reassuringly. "Thank you so much for your help." her concern doesn't fade.
She adds, "It's going to be a tough year for you, sweetie." and I nod goodbye because I don't know what else to say and leave.
When I walk back out, the rain has stopped and I join a throng of students into school. My first class starts at 8 am and it is 7:45. I walked through the halls, carefully following the room numbers and taking the stairs as had been recommended to me. The halls are plain and the fluorescent lighting keeps flickering. The ceiling sports ugly brown and yellow stains, which is most likely mold - a result of constant rain on a flat roof with a poor drainage system.
My first stop is my locker. It's near the cafeteria, which is a bonus. If I ever get lost trying to find my locker again, I can just ask someone to point me towards the cafeteria. My AP English Language class is a little further away, and it's near the music hall. I follow a gangly boy with black, greased back hair down a hall with the English hallways, and almost go into the wrong classroom, but luckily I spot the room number and quickly move one door down.
A bit early, I walk into a small classroom. I take the slip up to the teacher, a tall, severe looking woman with her graying hair in a low ponytail and dark red lipstick on. She is wearing simple black slacks and a grey cardigan over a plain white button up. The nameplate on her desk identifies her as Mrs. Polk. She looks at me critically through rhinestone studded glasses when she sees my name, and while signing the slip, she speaks.
"I assume you have already been in this class last semester?" Mrs. Polk squinted at me.
"Yes." I nod. I fiddle with the sleeve of my blouse nervously.
"Good." she responds curtly. She opens a drawer and hands me two papers - the class syllabus and a reading list. "What have you completed so far?"
Quickly, I scan the syllabus and the reading list. "We've done synthesis essays. I've already read Shakespeare, Bronte, and Faulkner, but . . . " I trail off - those books are the only ones on the reading list. "But I've never done a rhetorical analysis essay, or read Of Mice and Men." I add. That was the only essay type I've never written in class, and the only book on the list that I hadn't read.
"The class had already learned how to write rhetorical analysis essays, and we read Of Mice and Men " She states, frowning.
"Oh." I mumble. Then the rest of the semester would be smooth sailing for me, but I'm concerned about my lack of ability to write a rhetorical analysis essay.
"You will stay after school on Mondays." she says factually. There is no room for me to protest. I'm not impartial to the idea, but I feel like I'm being held against my will. "I have a copy of the book somewhere. You may borrow it. Read it by next week and I will teach you how to write the essay on Monday. In addition, you will keep up with the current assignments. It will be good practice for the AP exam this coming May."
Again, I am left without the ability to argue, and I can only nod meekly. "Okay." is all I can muster. She hands the signed slip to me and I take it. When I turn around, around fifteen students are staring at me and I freeze. Most are plain, average looking like me. But there are two stand outs: a girl with a perfect figure, and golden hair cascading in perfect waves down her back. She is the palest I have ever seen, but her eyes are dark and there are bruise-like circles underneath. She has the kind of body you see on the cover of Sports Illustrated. The bell rings in that instant, and hastily I take a seat next to a different girl with long, dirty blonde hair. She has a light tan, bright blue eyes, and a smattering of faint freckles across her cheeks and along the bridge of her nose. She is the normal kind of pretty.
She smiles at me. "Hey." she whispers, glancing at Mrs. Polk, who has stood and is now writing on the chalkboard. I reach into my backpack and take out my battered notebook and the folder. The papers for the class go into the folder, and I am ready to take notes.
"Hi." I smile politely back. She is pretty - skinny but athletic. She is everything I should be, being from Arizona and all. She introduces herself as Brittany Ross. We diligently take notes from Mrs. Polk's lecture, and while we're supposed to be practicing writing thesis statements for the last reading assignment - a chapter from one of Bronte' works, we continue our whispered conversation.
Brittany is easy to talk to - she asks the necessary questions: where are you from? Do you like it here? But surprisingly, I don't mind and the conversation flows back and forth. I answer her questions and respond with my own: how long have you lived here? Do you know where the AP US History classroom is? She laughs and says she's going there next, too, and as I smile I show her my schedule in the hopes that we may have more classes together. But when she looks at it, her brow furrows in confusion.
"Are you a junior?" Brittany asks.
"Yeah," I say uncertainly. "Aren't you?" She shakes her head and my heart wilts. "Oh." my disappointment is obvious. "Wait, then why are you in a class with juniors? What grade are you in?"
She giggles. "Silly, I'm not in a class with juniors. You're in a class with seniors, like me." My eyes widen and I examine the people near me. The oldest looking here could pass for twenty something - he is big, muscled like a serious weight lifter, with dark, curly hair. Except for him, they all look around the same age as me - but how would I know? "AP Lang, AP US, and AP Chem are all senior classes." she explains.
"It's the opposite at my old school," I tell her. she laughs again, and it seems like this newfound friendship may continue after all. I resist the urge to ask her if we can still be friends like a stupid first grader and just hope that things will work out. But it seems she has read my mind.
"Don't worry - I won't ditch you." she jokes, but it is reassuring to me. "We have all our AP classes together, so you're definitely going to need a friend and a study buddy."
I smile gratefully, but inside I am dreading the rest of the year. How would I survive in a classroom filled with seniors? They'd want nothing to do with me. I knew that logically, there's not really that much of a difference between a senior and a junior, but even if I did make more friends, they'd only end up leaving for college within a year.
The bell rings and Brittany walks with me to our next class: AP US History. It's across from the Government classroom, where I see a tall boy with spiky blond hair walk in, laughing loudly with his friend. I almost bump into another boy. He reminds me of the Sports Illustrated looking girl and the weight lifter - devastatingly beautiful and freakishly pale. He is lanky with messy, bronze colored hair. I am following Brittany into my classroom, but my eyes are following his beautiful back all the way into his government class, and instead of walking through the door of my US class, I smack into the wall right beside the door frame instead.
I snap out of my haze and flush crimson with humiliation. Brittany snickers at me, but it is not with malice. She assures me that no one really saw it happen and I relax as we walk into the classroom together.
Brittany grins at me and says, "I'll save you a seat!" and she strides over to the back corner of the room. I hand the slip to my new teacher, Mr. Jackson. He is tall and burly, and his tie is tied too tightly around his neck, giving his head the appearance of a red tomato. The fluorescent lighting reflects off his shiny, mostly bald head. With tired green eyes, he snatches the slip out of my hand and scribbles his signature.
"It's nice to meet you, Isabella." Mr. Jackson sighs. It's an obvious lie, and he scoots his swivel chair out so that he, like Mrs. Polk, can open a drawer and pull out a syllabus, which he slaps on top of what I assume is the textbook for the class. He tosses the large book at me.
"It's nice to meet you too, sir. I'm Bella." I squeak, nearly dropping it on my foot. I adjust my grip quickly. The bell rings again and I turn to face my class, which appears to be a measly group of ten or twelve. Instead, I rush to the seat Brittany has saved me.
As Mr. Jackson opens up a powerpoint presentation on his computer, I ask Brittany: "Are people usually this absent?" I am aware that the student population is around only three hundred students, but the class sizes are ridiculously tiny.
She shrugs. "Not a lot of people take APs here, and the student population is already small anyway. This is about as big as it gets."
I wince. "Things are really different here than they are in Phoenix."
The rest of the class goes by fairly quickly; Mr. Jackson drones on about the Civil War. My old class had just started Industrialization when I left, so this is mostly review for me. When the bells signals that the class is over, Mr. Jackson lays his head on the desk to sleep, and Brittany gives me directions to my next class: Trigonometry.
"Mr. Varner can be kind of a dick," she warns me. I sigh. I already hate math, so I figure I was bound to dislike him.
It turns out, Brittany was right, and he makes me introduce myself in front of the entire class. I stammer, blush, and trip over my own boots on the way to my seat. This is a class full of juniors, and they are more interested in me than the seniors were earlier.
I spot the blond boy with spiky blond hair again, but I sit next to a tiny girl with curly brown hair. She is very fair skinned, and has bright blue eyes. She chatters on while we practice math problems, and talks all the way into my next class, Spanish, which I also share with her.
After these four classes, I was starting to recognize some faces. There is always someone braver than the others who will introduce themselves and ask me questions about how I was liking Forks. I try to be diplomatic, but mostly I just lie a lot. At least I haven't had to use the map.
She prattles on about the people here as we walk to the cafeteria, and we sit at the end of a full lunch table with several of her friends, who she introduced to me. I learn that the greasy boy I almost followed into the wrong English class is Eric Yorkie, and the boy with the spiky blond hair is Mike Newton. Eric is practically a greasy stick, but Mike has a baby face, although it is countered by his tall and athletic build. He wears his letterman jacket over a plain t-shirt and jeans. I finally remember that my curly haired neighbor is Jessica, and she appears to be infatuated by Mike.
Brittany isn't in the cafeteria, even though she asked me to eat with her. It stings a little, but out of the corner of my eye, I see some of the same beautiful people from my other class - the model and the muscle, but also the bronze haired boy. Accompanying them are two other unfamiliar people. One was a lean, honey-blond male and the other was a short, pixie-haired girl who was thin in the extreme. But I noticed something I hadn't before: they were all freakishly pale, with dark eyes and bruises underneath, despite their range in hair color and body type.
"Who are they?" I ask Jessica. She explains that they are the Cullens, dating each other and adopted by Dr. Cullen and his wife. They had moved here two years ago from Alaska, so it seems that I wasn't the only newcomer in Forks. They are also a source of gossip around here, and while I pity them, I know that there's nowhere they could go where they wouldn't be.
I stare as the pixie girl - who I now know as Alice, dumps her untouched lunch tray into the trash bin. I examine them carefully, their clothes, their hair. How can a group of teenagers like them be so stunning, so similar and yet so different?
Edward looks at Jessica for a split second, but then his eyes focus on me. His face shifts from curiosity to confusion, and I look away with a flush of embarrassment. After a few more minutes, they all leave the table together.
Finally, Brittany comes in through the door that the Cullens have left clutching her textbook. Her long hair has been tied in a ponytail and she is holding an apple in her free hand. She waves at me and I wave back. Looking at the clock, I know that the lunch is almost over, so I grab my uneaten apple and dump the rest of my tray and politely excuse myself.
"Where'd you go for lunch?" I ask Brittany as we walk out the lunchroom.
"Sorry, Bella," she says in apology. "Um," she flushes in embarrassment. "It's just that . . ."
I cringe. Of course she didn't want to eat lunch with me; she probably thinks she's too cool to eat with a junior.
"It's ok," I force a smile, but on the inside I am disappointed.
"No! I wanted you to sit with me. It's just that I usually eat in the library." Brittany mumbles. "So I can study while I eat," she looks away, clearly ashamed.
"I've done that before." I say in surprise. Why is she hiding it?
"Really?" she says, shocked.
"Yeah, I did that all the time in Phoenix." And it's true; I didn't really click with that many of my old classmates, so I found solace in studying in the library instead. "Can I still eat with you tomorrow?"
She laughs. "Of course!" she says in excitement. We eat our apples together on the way to AP Chemistry. On the way there, I pass by one of the Cullens - Edward. His eyes are pitch black and menacing. Hate is searing off of his beautiful face is in waves. He is stunning even at his most furious, and I am acutely terrified. I lock eyes with him, and I realize that his hatred it directed toward me. There's no doubt about it.
"Yikes," Brittany says, crunching into her apple. "What do you think happened to him?"
My lips part to speak but no words come out. I have nothing to say, no explanation. He is walking stiffly, his hands are clenching into tight fists and his back is ramrod straight. Maybe it's not me, I think to myself. Just as he is about to enter a Biology classroom, he sends one more hateful glare at me. Brittany walks into chemistry to save me a seat just as she had before, and I follow her in to attend the class, which goes by quickly.
"You're Isabella Swan, right? Jess introduced us during lunch, I think."
Brittany has already left to attend her physics class, and I was standing in the hall outside the biology classroom. I look up to see a cute, baby-faced boy, his pale blond hair carefully gelled up into orderly spikes, smiling at me in a friendly way. He obviously didn't hate me for no reason like Edward did.
"Bella," I correct him, with a smile.
"I'm Mike." he grins at me.
"Do you need any help finding your next class?"
"I'm headed to the gym, actually. I think I can find it."
"That's my next class, too." he seems thrilled, tough I'm sure it's not that big a coincidence in a school this small. Edwards quickly strides by in the same stiff manner as he had before, but he looks at me strangely this time instead. Mike turns to see what I'm looking at, and he frowns.
"So, did you stab Edward Cullen with a pencil or what? I've never seen him act like that." I cringe. I am not the only one who had noticed. And, apparently, that wasn't Edward's normal behavior. I can feel my eyes beginning to water. For some reason, my temper is hardwired to my tear ducts. I usually cry when I'm angry, a humiliating tendency.
"Is that who he was?" I swallow weakly, deciding to play dumb.
"Yeah, he looked like he was in pain or something all through bio. But he's a weird guy," Mike replies.
"I don't know what's wrong with him," I say honestly. "I've never talked to him."
Mike must have noticed my distress, for he changes the conversation. He's a chatterer - he supplies most of the conversation on the way to the gym, which makes it easier for me. He'd lived in California until he was ten, so he knows how I feel about the sun. He is the nicest person I've met all day. But my thoughts linger on Edward. What did I do to him? I'm not stupid, but maybe I was too ugly for his eyes? Did I smell bad? Have I said something?
"Anyways, if I was lucky enough to sit by you, I'm sure I would've found something better to talk about than shopping." Mike laughs, and I do too at his jab at Jessica during trig.
I smile at him before walking into the locker rooms. He is friendly and clearly admiring. But it isn't enough to ease my irritation.
Coach Clapp finds me a spare uniform, but he doesn't make me dress down for today's class. I watch four volleyball games running simultaneously. I have been manager for the volleyball team before, so I am used to sitting aside and watching, but I am dreading actually playing it next class.
The final bell rings as last, and I slowly walk back to the front office to return my paperwork. The rain had stopped, but the wind was colder, stronger. I wrap my arms tighter around myself.
When I enter the office, I almost turn around and walk right back out. Edward Cullen is standing at the desk in front of me; I recognize his tousled bronze hair. I pressed my back against the wall, waiting for the receptionist to be free. He was persuading her in low, attractive choice to be switched out of biology and into - AP Chemistry?
My jaw drops a little. Does he know that I'm in that class? How could he possibly catch up anyway - I'm certain he would fail if he transferred halfway through the semester. Also, it's a class filled with seniors. Who would choose to be in a class with strangers and a girl they despise?
To my horror, the receptionist is easily convinced. "Well, as long as you can catch up with the curriculum, I don't see why not. That class has plenty of space."
The door opens again, and the cold wind suddenly gusts through the room, rustling papers on the desk, swirling my hair around my face. The girl who comes in places a note on the desk and walks back out. But Edward Cullen's back stiffens, and he slowly turns around to stare at me, his expression stoic and unreadable. He turns back to the receptionist, who is in the midst of rearranging his schedule, and says, "Thank you so much for your help, but I must be going." And he turns around on his heel without looking at me again and departs.
I meekly go to the desk, my face white instead of red for once, and hand the receptionist the signed slip.
"How did your first day go, dear?" she asks maternally.
I take a deep breath. "It's going to be a tough year for me."
End Chapter One: Welcome to Forks
Thanks for reading the first chapter! Just a quick note, Rosalie and Emmett are seniors and Alice, Jasper, and Edward are supposed to be juniors. Also, just know that I don't like having too many OCs, so Brittany and the teachers will probably be the only ones. I'm definitely going to expand on the humans, so you'll be seeing more of Jess, Lauren, Tyler, Eric, and Mike for sure! Please let me know all your thoughts! I love constructive criticism.