Hi, friends. It's been a while, but I decided to start a new story with the help of my amazing beta and friend, Chicsarah. She is, without a doubt, one of the best people I have ever known, and I love her for always being supportive, excited for new stories, and amazing at making my work readable.
Disclaimer: The author does not own any publicly recognizable characters herein. No copyright infringement is intended.
"Hey kid, time to get up."
"Ugh," I groaned, having just turned my alarm off.
"I hear ya, but I don't make the rules. I'd hate to have to arrest you for truancy," my dad chuckled.
"I've dropped out," I said, muffled because my face was still tucked tight into my pillow.
Suddenly it got a bit brighter in my room, only just marginally. Dad had opened the blinds of the window.
I peeked out, laughing at his attempt.
"That'd have worked better if it was sunny out."
"Yeah, didn't see that through. Anyway, get up. Breakfast is ready," he said, walking from the room. I rolled over with a sigh and climbed out of the bed.
Today was my first day of my senior year. At a new school. To say I was nervous was an understatement.
I missed my friends and my school in Jacksonville. I missed familiarity.
I grabbed my phone, checking the couple of texts, Facebook notifications, and Snapchats I had from my friends back home. I smiled, wishing like anything I was starting school with them today.
But I couldn't be upset about my decision to move in with my dad. My mom and her new husband deserved their honeymoon phase. And my dad and I deserved more time together before I was on my own.
My dad, despite living so far away, and despite me only seeing him for a few weeks throughout the year, was my best friend. Ever since I could remember, he called me every evening to get his "daily dose of sunshine." (I joked that in a town like Forks, it was the only sunshine he got.) And even as a teenager, I told him about everything new in my life. So, other than having to move to a new town across the country, start a new school, and make new friends, I was happy that I was here.
I got ready quickly, brushing my long, straight brown hair and putting on a bit of mascara and blush. I put on some black jean leggings and a long, flowing cream shirt. I would have normally worn cute flats, but with the weather, I slipped on some low healed brown ankle boots instead. The difference in weather between sunny Jacksonville and rainy Forks could get old.
I grabbed my book bag, my phone, and my keys and made my way downstairs. I had an older red Honda that my dad and I had driven from Jacksonville. He flew down, we loaded it up, and we made the five day trip across the country.
When I got downstairs, there was a box of donuts on the table, a large iced coffee beside it.
"Happy first day, Bells," my dad said, nodding to the table over his opened paper. He was in his signature uniform with the shiny Chief's badge and standard issue gun prominent. I guess I was old enough now not to be scared that there were guns in the house.
"Thanks, dad," I said, walking to the cabinet above the microwave and pulling out the box of Splenda packets. I grabbed a few, and then went back to the table to stir them and some milk into my coffee. My dad had apparently gone out early to get an assortment of donuts, and I noticed he got two of my favorite, blueberry glazed.
"You want to ride with me today?" He asked.
"Naw, I'll take myself. I don't think the new kid showing up in a police car would win me many cool points," I said, breaking off a bite of donut and popping it into my mouth.
"Baby girl, being my daughter gets you all the cool points you could ever need," he said with a wink. I snorted around my straw.
"Alright, well I'm heading out. You remember how to get to the school from here?" He asked.
"Follow the one road in town for about ten minutes then turn left into the school parking lot?" I asked.
"Close enough. Call if you get lost," he winked. He stood up and pulled on his jacket, grabbed his keys, coffee, a donut for the road (I laughed to myself just imagining a cop going through the drive-thru at a donut shop), and walked out the front door.
I finished my own donut, washed my hands, and walked out to my car with my book bag slung over one shoulder. Surprisingly, it was only lightly misting, so I didn't need to cover up.
The drive to school was short, and I was on time enough to find a parking spot easily.
There were students crowded all around the front of the school, laughing and catching up from a summer off. I felt like the odd man out, envious of all of these people who had likely known each other all their lives. Despite having been born in Forks, I spent all of my life with my mother, traveling first to Phoenix and then to Jacksonville, so I didn't have any friends here. I was nervous about meeting people, finding friends that I would connect with, finding a rhythm here.
With a nervous sigh and an unwavering cluster of butterflies in my stomach, I walked into the school and turned into the front office.
When I walked in, there was only one lady behind the counter, shuffling papers.
"Hello..." I started, not wanting to be obtrusive.
"Oh, good morning. Welcome back!" She sang out cheerfully.
"Uh, I'm actually new here. This is my first year. At Forks, I mean. I think my dad registered me, but I need a schedule," I said.
"Oh, are you Isabella Swan? Yes, your dad came by for registration a few weeks ago. Let me just pull your file," she said, stepping back to open a large filing cabinet and shuffling through it. She pulled out a folder then, opening it and sorting the papers.
"Here is your schedule and a school map. You will need to go by the ID office sometime today to have your picture taken for your ID badge. It's just down the hall and to your right. Badges will be issued on Friday in homeroom," she explained.
"The first bell will ring shortly, so you are welcome to wait in here or step back outside with your friends," she said, slipping my folder back into the filing cabinet and sliding the drawer closed with a loud clank.
"Thanks. I'll just...yeah..." I said, turning and walking back into the hall. Before I could decide what to do, the first bell rang. I opened the paper with my schedule on it to find the room number for my first class, then turned to follow the students down the halls.
The morning moved quickly after that. The classes were shortened because we'd be starting the day with homeroom first this week. I met a few other people with a last name starting with S. A girl named Jessica Stanley sat beside me and introduced herself.
"I don't think I know you," she said. "I'm Jessica," she smiled kindly.
"I'm Bella. It's nice to meet you," I told her honestly. Just having someone take the initiative to tell me hello was putting my jumbled nerves more at ease.
"Well, welcome to Forks High," she said.
I ended up having math with Jessica second period, and she introduced me to two other girls, Lauren and Angela. They were both sweet, if not a little bit shy like me. They invited me to sit with them at lunch, for which I was grateful.
They introduced me to a few other kids at the table. All of them were polite and friendly. Some were in band, some played sports, some were in NJROTC. It was like a melting pot of cliques, and I appreciated that people around here didn't seem to be judged so harshly for their extracurriculars.
When the bell rang, I gathered my things and pulled out my map.
"Where you headed?" Angela, the girl with the soft voice, shiny black hair, and dark framed glasses asked me.
"Advanced Composition," I replied, pointing to the map. Because I had taken all of the English honors classes at my old school, and because Forks didn't offer any AP classes, this was the highest English class I could take. It was focused on writing, both professionally and creatively.
"Me, too! I'll walk with you!" She exclaimed. "If...that's okay?" She asked more hesitantly.
"Of course," I smiled.
The classroom was on other side of the campus, so when we reached it, most of the students were already in there. Only two seats remained, and Angela slipped into the one in the front, which left me with one on the far left of the back of the room. A girl I didn't recognize sat in front, and a boy I thought I had noticed at lunch was in the desk behind. I quickly sat in my desk and took out my notebook and a pen, waiting for the final bell to ring.
"Good afternoon, class! And happy first day of school! As my senior level Advanced Composition class, I hope you know that I'm proud to have each and every one of your gifted young minds in here this year. I'm Ms. Moore," she said.
Ms. Moore called the roll and let us know that, if it was okay with us, the seats we were in now would become our assigned seats, so that she could more easily remember who we each were.
She passed around the syllabus for the year, which outlined what we'd be studying and working on during each quarter.
"For each quarter of the year, you will be doing a project with a classmate or group of classmates. Today, I would like for you to go ahead and pair up with someone around you. Projects will formally begin next Monday, but this way you can go ahead and get acquainted with your partner."
I wished Angela and I had been sitting closer, but she immediately turned around to ask the guy behind her to be her partner. I couldn't remember, but I thought that was Ben, one of the guys from lunch that was in the band. Angela looked like an actual heart-eye emoji when she turned to look at him, and I sighed, knowing she'd had never picked me over her apparent crush.
I leaned forward, ready to tap the girl in front of me on the shoulder, but she turned to her right and asked the girl beside her.
I looked around, but quickly, all these kids who'd known each other for years were pairing off, and I was the new girl, the faceless among friends.
Finally, I heard a throat clear behind me and I turned to the boy.
"Would you like to be my partner?" He asked, not shyly but almost hesitantly, like he was used to hearing "no." Like there was a reason I'd be put off by his asking.
"Yes, please. Thank you," I answered, and his shoulders visibly relaxed. "I'm Bella," I said, and like a dork, I held out my hand to him.
"Edward," he replied and took my hand. He was wearing a fingerless glove on his hand like he was about to go lift weights. I thought it odd but didn't mention it. His handshake wasn't at all firm like I anticipated when I saw the well formed muscles of his arms under his t-shirt.
"So, are you new to Forks?" He asked politely, and I was happy that he was making conversation rather than just sitting quietly, awkwardly.
"Is it that obvious?" I asked with a chuckle. "Odd one out over here," I said, pointing to myself dramatically.
"I know the feeling," he said with a grimace.
"Were you once the new kid, too?" I asked, hopeful that I wasn't the first intruder this tiny town had ever seen.
"No..." he trailed off. His eyes, light greenish blue, looked incredibly sad in that moment. But he forced a smile on his face, and I noticed how handsome he was. His hair was brown with a tinge of red, cut close at the sides and gelled over neatly on top. His complexion was fair and smooth.
"Alright class," Ms. Moore started. "You will get the full instructions for this project next Monday, but for now, go ahead and exchange emails, numbers, add each other on Facebook, whatever it is you need to be able to contact your partner and stay abreast of the project," she said. If she heard one of the guys in the back chuckle at 'abreast', she ignored it.
"So, Bella, can I have your number?" Edward asked when I turned back to him. He winked and I laughed. His eyes and smile were brighter, more genuine.
I rattled off my cellphone number for him and plugged his into my phone.
"The bell will be ringing soon, folks. Go ahead and pack your belongings," Ms. Moore said. The classroom was loud with chatter as we all shuffled our things back into our bags.
I stood when the bell rang, turning back to Edward to bid him goodbye.
"Have a good rest of the day, Bella. I'll see you tomorrow," Edward smiled.
"Bye, Edward..." I trailed off, and suddenly, as he moved to leave the classroom and towards the second door at the back of the room, things started to make sense. Why there were ramps in all of the areas where there were also stairs, why there was an actual car parked in the one handicapped space at the front of the student parking lot, why Edward was wearing gloves on his hands.
Students gave him room but didn't gawk at him. He moved fluidly, rolling himself out of the room, the armless wheelchair carrying him with as much grace as if he were walking. And then I remembered my dad telling me about the football player at Forks High who, in the very first game of the season the year before, had suffered a catastrophic injury. Edward moved with the grace of someone who walked because, up until a year ago, he had been someone who walked.
Thank you all for reading. Please let me know what you think.