She was an afterthought.
It was the only thought pounding through Bella's head as she ran through the twisting path. She ran through trees that towered above her, slender branches entangling together to form archways, leading her through the forest. The air was thick with the smell of wildflowers, and salt. The ocean glinting to the left, as she ran parallel to the shining waters. Her brown hair was sweaty, the thick chestnut hair pulled up in a messy bun that bounced as she ran.
Everyone would eventually move on without her.
She ran until her lungs were aching, her legs were burning and her mind wouldn't turn off. She veered left, onto a small trail overlooking the water and made her way to the giant rocks, choosing one to scramble up and sat for a moment.
There was something about the stillness, the peacefulness that wouldn't let Bella's brain stop torturing her. Her best friend had called her earlier that afternoon while she was making lunch. Words like soulmate, and best friend, and love of her life had tumbled out of Alice's mouth so quickly that Bella could barely catch a breath. Alice had met someone, a him, in particular. His name was Jasper, and they had met in one of her science labs. And Bella was honestly thrilled. She couldn't be happier for Alice, but there was a tiny part of her that burned up with jealousy. With a loneliness that seemed to eat her alive. Why was it that she was always alone? Why did it seem like her two best friends could attract partners in life at every turn and she never quite managed to?
Her whole life she was always after. Never before.
She wasn't the kid that raced down the hill, headfirst on a toboggan. She was the girl standing there in the back, gnawing on her lip anxiously hoping everyone was alright. She was never the kid that scored the goal, but the one in defence, quietly stopping goals from being scored but never scoring them herself.
She was never last, far from it actually. Yet, she was never first, she was never in the centre of attention and she liked it that way. It's easy to hide in the shadows, in the background. There's a familiarity that spoke to her and enveloped her in its comfort. She thrived hidden in plain sight.
But she had hidden her whole life. She never threw herself into the centre of attention, but quietly excelled at everything she did. She was an excellent soccer player, an un-penetrable defensive player, but she hadn't scored a goal in years. She was an artist, not the best in her class- she didn't possess the talent or technical skill of Angela or Jessica, but while her pieces lacked in technique, they more than made up for in meaning. And while Edward was burning up the one night stands in his Volvo, and Alice was dating her way through the football team, she had never dated. All the way through high school and now she was in her senior year of college and she had never dated anyone. Hell, she was 22 years old and she had never been kissed. Edward and Alice knew, but it was a long time secret that seemed to slowly fade into time. Over the years she assumed that they had just forgotten, or were too polite to bring up.
Bella constantly wondered if there was something wrong with her. Maybe it was her curvy, athletic figure that was so far from thin? Or her plain, attention lacking face? Or maybe it was just her in general, her quiet ability to fade into the background. Whatever it was, had plagued her for 22 years and she didn't see that changing in the foreseeable future.
It wasn't that she hated being alone. It was quite the opposite actually. While Alice couldn't even take a walk by herself because she got bored, Bella was quite happy to be alone. She thrived in the stillness of being alone. She constantly did things alone, movies, dinners, runs, theatre shows… She did it all by herself. And she liked being alone. She liked the solitude. She was good at being alone. She excelled at it.
But maybe that's the problem. Maybe she was so good at being alone, that she forgot to look for somebody else.