AN: Hello to my lovely Readers,
I have been playing around with this idea in my head and I hope my fans of TSIPWR will give this a chance as well. It is a bit different then what I am used to writing which makes it all the more exciting.
I do want to forewarn that this story will be extremely angsty and will deal with heavy topics such as death, sex and substance abuse. I hope this doesn't stray you away as I hope to write it in the most honorable way that I can.
This first chapter is Beta'd by yours truly. If it goes the way I want it to, I am hoping to get a beta here soon. I do, however, feel that I have grown a lot since TSIPWR and am not anticipating the same amount of mistakes that I did in that story, however I am still human!
So, without further ado, please enjoy the first chapter!
My name is Bella.
Short for Isabella.
Full name: Isabella Marie Swan.
It was a rainy Friday the thirteenth in Forks, Washington. My mother was nine months pregnant with her first and only child, and as prepared as she could be to bring me into this world. There wasn't anything in my life I had been more ready for, she told me despite the fact that she was battling demons within herself.
My mother, Renee, grew up in one of those white-picket fence homes you see in TV shows. The ones with a whole family plus a golden retriever or two. She made it through High School with one of the highest GPA's and was provided a full ride to UW for Political Science. She was the captain of the cheerleading team and the debate team. She volunteered on her weekends off and tutored underprivileged kids after school.
She was one of those people you see and second guess what you are doing with your life.
Her future was aligned and planned accordingly. Go to college, get a good paying job, fall in love and marry someone as equally smart and talented, have lots of babies and grow old together...
However, as planned as she was, she could have never planned for my father.
He came twisting and turning into her life like a tornado, one that would inevitably be the downfall of her future - one she planned so methodically for. All those hours and days spent preparing for her adult life - gone in the snap of a finger by none other than Charlie Swan.
She was sure it was that head over heels, can't breathe, can't think, can't function in love.
Whatever that meant.
My parents married quickly after they met my mother's freshman year at UW. They married at the end of her sophomore year and soon after that was when she dropped out of college. A few months later, she was staring down at her at home pregnancy test at a small, but visible, plus sign.
And that's where we circle back to that rainy September 13th, 1990. My mother said she was prepared... But no matter how many hours she spent reciting the labor plan to not only herself but to my father... He knew how to screw it up. I know a short cut, he said to her on the way to hospital as he turned off of the highway despite my mothers screaming.
If two words could be a motto, then those would be my fathers - short cut.
Charlie "Short cut" Swan is what they call him.
While his intentions may have been... decent... my father's short cuts typically bit him in the ass by the end of the night. So, it was no surprise that on that Friday the 13th he had ran out of gas and found himself delivering me from my mother in the back seat of their 1982 Toyota Corolla. The road they had pulled over on? Isabella Lane. The song playing on the radio while my mother screamed at him for being such a fucking idiot? Witch Queen of New Orleans by Redbone, a song about a witch named Marie.
Yeah, I didn't say they were creative in the name department, but the irony of it was that no matter how prepared they thought they were for my birth - they didn't even think of what to call me. So instead, they settled for the street they delivered me on and the song playing on the radio.
Once the police arrived with the ambulance to take us to the hospital, my father had stumbled over his own two feet and into one of the policemen. It didn't take much for them to smell the whiskey on his breath and then soon following after that... The unsubscribed oxy in his car. But, my father had an ace up his sleeve. My father was a cop. My father was the Chief. How could that have happened? When he was just a deputy, he hid is addiction easily. The Chief at the time had been a long time family friend and when he retired, passed the badge to my father. Once Charlie was the Chief, it was easier for him to get away with things. No one would pull over the his cruiser, even if he was driving down the wrong lane. But his deputies decided it was best to take him to the station so he could sober up, avoid anyone at the hospital getting suspicious.
Oh - I forgot to mention - I was born to addicts. My father is an alcoholic. And the pills? Well, he enjoyed the high but they were my mothers. My mom swears she didn't touch a pill bottle until after I was born but I had my doubts. Not that it mattered much anymore...
I wish I could tell you that when my father didn't get to spend the first few days of my life with me that he would have dried up... But if you have ever loved someone who was addicted to the bottle, you know that their love for you will always come second to a few drops of their poison.
That was just the first of many unfortunate stories of my life as a child. My parents loved me unconditionally, especially my mother. We were so close when I was younger, even through the induced haze of her pills. But no matter how close you are, being the child of an addict is like an ongoing battle between your love for your parent and the hate of who they are.
I spent many times fending for myself, making my own breakfast, packing my own lunch, singing myself to sleep as my parents danced to their music in the living room high on whatever it was they could get their hands on. I also spent times cleaning after them as they passed out in a pile of their own vomit. I even spent time cleaning up blood from the carpet from one of their heated arguments in which my mother slapped my father hard that one of his back molars popped right out.
But there were goods times - times where it got so bad that my parents hit a wall and vowed they would quit the alcohol, pills and even the cocaine they picked up. And they would be attentive, caring and nurturing. My father would cook us breakfast in our run down home on the edge of the small town of Forks as my mother would sing off key to whatever was playing on our radio, twirling me in a circle as we danced in the middle of our kitchen.
And my parents had an intimacy when they were clean that I had never seen before. When the high was there - it was all that mattered. But take that away, they relied on each other. There was a sense of trust and was probably the only redeeming quality in their marriage.
But despite how good it was, they never lasted.
Again, if you know what it is like to love an addict - it doesn't take much to send them back over the edge.
For my parents, it could have been a number of things. A bad day at work, traffic on the turnpike, bills piling up... I still wished every time it was good, it would stay good - even though I knew better.
My wish eventually came true - at least for my mother. But it took me almost dying for it to happen. I was ten years old when I contracted the flu from school. When I told them I didn't feel good, they provided me over the counter medication as they were too high to drive me to the doctors. But it wasn't until my mother walked in on me in my bed, ghostly pale and nearly non-responsive that kicked her into gear to get me to the hospital.
I should have died. That's what the doctors told her.
I will never forget the scream she made when they said it. The agony in her bloodshot, oxy induced eyes as she ran to me, pleading for my forgiveness and promising she will never touch another pill again.
My mother was true on her words. When we left the hospital, she sent me to my Grandparents in Phoenix as she checked into rehab. She had wanted my father to come along, but he hadn't been seen for days. She was there for four months before she felt comfortable enough to leave. And when I saw her again - I saw a new woman. My mother had always been beautiful, but the pills made her eyes look black, her skin sickly pale against her brown-red hair.
But after her rehab, she had grown a tan - freckles appeared that I had never known to exist peeking around her nose as her hazel eyes were bright. Not one sign of her addiction.
And she stayed clean several years following. My father tried to follow suit, my near death experience rendering him clean for a few weeks. But he fell off the wagon when he was stripped of his Chief badge at the station. He screwed up, left the city of Forks one night and hit a semi. The cops in the next town breathalyzed him and that was all it took. He was put on leave while an investigation went through but ultimately he lost his job. He went back to his old ways, but instead of having to stop because he had to function at work - he had no job to stop for.
He was constantly high, a bottle of whiskey never far as he moved around the house in a drunken stupor. My mother had to get another job to keep up with the bills and eventually it became too much for her when my father showed no signs of stopping.
So, in a desperate attempt to get me out of that life and her away from the chances of a relapse - she left him.
She fled us to Phoenix, Arizona where my Grandparents lived.
And that started a new chapter of our life together. She enrolled me into a new school, she went back to college to complete her bachelors and found herself a decent paying job where she could afford to move us out of my grandparents basement and into our own home. And she was there through everything - my first middle school dance, my first day of High School, my angsty teenage years, my first relationship and then my first heartbreak.
"It's you and me, kid." She would tell me. And it was true. It was her and I taking on the world.
And it was as if everything in the past was non-existent. As if life started in Phoenix.
But it didn't stay just her and I. Eventually, my mother met Phil. She ran into him, and I mean literally ran into him, one morning on the way to dropping me off to school. She wasn't paying attention, didn't see the light turn red and rear ended the back of his truck. I remember watching her ramble as she apologized to him, throwing her insurance information and promising she will pay for the damage, though our car seemed to get the brunt of it. And while she rambled on and on, Phil was completely enamored with her. I always thought back to that time they first met, the look in his eyes as if he didn't even care that she hit his vehicle.
They ended up married exactly a year after they met.
Phil was a great guy, coach of the High School varsity team and played in a minor league team in Phoenix. He was polar opposite then what we were used to - he was warm, carefree, full of life and never took a sip of alcohol as he came from a family of addicts. And he treated me like a daughter. He cheered me on at every sport I attempted and failed, came to any extra curricular events I was apart of and lifted me up when I felt less of myself. He moved me into my first College dorm room and kissed my forehead to tell me how proud he was of me and that he loved me more than anything. He was the father I never had.
As for my real father? I received a birthday card every year after we left Forks, the same message scrawled in the middle. Happy Birthday, B. Miss you. Love always, Dad. This was the only contact we had. This was the only communication I received to know that at least he was still alive. He made no other attempt and neither did I. And I preferred it this way. Charlie would always be Charlie. Cutting edges for short cuts, drinking bottles dry and taking medication to numb himself of the life he had created. My life had moved on. My life was Phoenix. My life was finishing my degree in English and becoming a writer. My life was my mother...
Until a few days ago.
I sat alone at the marble counter, my thumb tapping alongside my coffee mug as my other hand was preoccupied twirling brown hair around my pointer finger. I looked down to my black coffee as it grew cold from neglect and I stilled my thumb. I could hear the chattering of the crowd outside the kitchen, my fingers immediately untwisting my hair, afraid someone would be able to read what I was thinking. Mom used to say that was my tell... Tapping my thumb, twirling my hair, the look on my face deep in thought... That was how she knew something was wrong and apparently I had been doing it as long as she could remember.
"I know you are upset, Isabella." My mothers voice filtered from a memory, one that made me frown at my coffee. "You're twirling your hair... And you are tapping your thumb... Is that the beat to Smells Like Teen Spirit?"
That one made me laugh. I was an angsty teen, there was no doubt about that.
In the midst of my memory, I had missed the fact that Phil had walked into the room, rummaging through the fridge muttering something about a goddamn fruit tray.
I took in Phil's appearance, the black slacks he wore loose on the sides even when accompanied by his leather belt. It was clear he had lost weight and I wasn't sure if it was due to exercise or depression.
"Gram?" I asked as he turned, setting the untouched fruit tray on the marble counter in front of me. He looked at me with a annoyed expression and I offered him a slight smile of empathy in return.
Gram had been sticking around the house for awhile since mom passed, helping with the funeral arrangements and last minute touch ups before people began strolling in from out of town. While she meant well, my Grandmother was persistent on making sure everything went according to plan, even if she wasn't the one in charge. Her attitude made it difficult to complete even the simplest tasks.
"How are you doing, kiddo?" Phil asked, his gaze lingering a bit longer on mine and I knew he was inspecting the dark rings under my eyes.
"I'm fine." I said, looking down to my cold cup of coffee. "I'm just ready for this to be over with."
"Yeah..." He was quiet for a moment, but I knew he was contemplating on saying something - but too afraid to cross a line. "You hungry?" He offered the unopened fruit tray and I quickly shook my head as my stomach twisted in knots. "When's the last time you ate?"
"This morning." I lied.
"Slept?" He challenged.
"A few hours last night." Two to be exact. "How about you?"
"Enough to get me by." He shrugged, but I knew he was in the same boat as I was. I could hear him walking around upstairs in the early hours of the morning, plagued with the unanswered questions that were forcing me awake as well. "She would have hated this." A sad chuckle left his lips as he fingered the plastic over the assorted fruit in front of him.
I was silent, absorbing his words as I thought of her critiquing the somber cloud over the house today.
"She would have wanted us to celebrate her, not mourn for her. This whole thing is so... Morbid." He continued, filling in the silence.
But I had to smile at his words because he couldn't have been more right. My mother was always the center of attention, always wanted the spotlight and danced whenever she could. She had even told me on her fortieth birthday that when she goes, she wants us to have a waxing moon celebration of her life. Complete with crystals, spell books and Stevie Nicks playing in the background.
The celebration of my soul leaving my body and becoming one with the universe.
This was also during the time she had discovered Wicca and heavily practiced it for several weeks afterwards. Our house smelled like sage for months.
"I remember that. The smell stuck to the furniture." His face contorted into disgust as he thought about it. I hadn't even realized I said anything out loud... Shit, I am so tired.
"Phil, the fruit tray! Now, please!" My grandmother had popped around the corner, her voice like nails on a chalk board as she snapped her fingers at him before bolting out of sight again.
"I think she's trying to kill me, I know it." He rubbed at his temples, his voice scratchy and worn.
"Hopefully it is quick and painless." I said the words through a chuckle that turned into an almost strangled sob as I realized what I was saying. I cleared my throat, staring down at my cup of coffee as my own reflection through it mocked me. Luckily, I kept my tears at back because I didn't think I could cry anymore than I already have.
"I'm going to go back out there..." He grabbed the tray, walking around the island as he hesitated next to me. "Please take care of yourself, Bella."
"You too." I shot back, knowing that he was neglecting his health just as much as I was.
"Thank you all for joining us today. I know Renee is smiling down at us, feeling the love and compassion in this room." Father Marcus began as he stood at the podium in the front of the living room. Gram sat next to me, holding my hand tightly as she held a tissue in the other, bringing it up occasionally to dab at her eyes. She offered me her tissue but I shook my head - I didn't know if I could cry anymore than I had in the past forty eight hours. "I think we can all agree that whenever Renee walked into a room, people took notice. The light of her soul carried with her everyday and people naturally gravitated towards her. Her warm energy is what drew people. That and her quick tongue of hers."
People began chuckling through sniffles, but I stayed motionless. He continued with his speech, speaking of what my mother had accomplished in her life - what she had created here in Phoenix. Finishing school, working up to a higher position at her job, volunteering for charities with Phil in their down time. He continued on for a few more minutes but after awhile, I felt myself tuning out. If it wasn't for Gram's grip on me, I am sure I would have had no recollection of his speech at all. I noticed a pause and turned to look up as Father Marcus stopped, gripping his podium as he stared at the paper in front of him. He cleared his throat before continuing.
"Death is never easy. It's hard for us to process it - to overcome it. Especially deaths that are not expected. But it is Matthew 5:4 that says 'Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.'" Gram swallowed a strangle sob as she squeezed my hand. I winced from the pain and the passage. "Renee had her demons, her sins she indulged in just as much as any of us. But she had put that life behind her, had created something beautiful in her marriage and her family." It's just too bad her demons caught up to her.
"While she rejoices with God, she leaves behind pieces for us to put together. Her mother, her husband and her daughter." I squirmed in my seat as I felt eyes on me, Gram reaching up to kiss the back of my hand. "If there is anything that Renee was most proud of, it was of her daughter - Isabella Swan. I remember her volunteering at our Church, packing school bags for children in need. She would always praise her daughter, speak of her in such high regards to the children in hopes it inspires them to reach for the stars."
I felt sick.
"We come here today to not only celebrate Renee's life, but to let who she left behind know that we are here - and we will help you along the way." Father Marcus looked at me as I felt my stomach flip a dozen times. "Let's end this with a passage of healing, For this is what the LORD says: "I will extend peace to her like a river, and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream; you will nurse and be carried on her arm and dandled on her knees. As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem."
Gram laced our fingers together, sobs erupting from her chest and Phil reached over and draped his arm along my shoulder. I couldn't help but feel suffocated... I knew they were trying to comfort me, to comfort each other but I just couldn't do it. I glanced around the room, noticing eyes on us as Father Marcus continue his passage. I felt the bile in my stomach, my throat burning as my heart began to race. I can't do it. I can't do it. I can't do it. I stood quickly in the middle of the prayer and headed to the hallway, flying up the stairs as quickly as I could to reach the bathroom. I shut the door behind me as I let out a loud gasp of air, my knees buckling but my mind numbing the pain of the tile against my bones.
I can't breathe...
My chest ached with a pain that seared so deeply that I didn't know how to extinguish it. My mind flashed to the images of my mother on the floor of her bedroom, the bottle of pills in her hand as foam coated her lips...
Mom! Mom, wake up! Oh my God, wake up! Phil, call 911! Mom... Mom, you gotta open your eyes, please open your eyes...
"Please open your eyes." I cried against the tiles of the floor, my body shivering at the memory as I tried to perform CPR on a corpse. "Fuck!" I screamed, sitting upright against the tub as I kicked the hamper across from me. I rubbed my eyes fiercely, trying to scrub the memory of that night from my brain but it was as if it was on a constant replay and I had no off switch.
Here is where I typically threw more things, had a full on melt down complete with shattering something nearby and screaming at the top of my lungs. Here is where I repeated the same things over and over again...
It's not fair... Why were you so selfish? I hate you... Why did you leave me?
The questions would always be left unanswered, my brain trying to conjure up her response to everything I said but even after just a few days I found it difficult to hear her voice...
I know it's not fair. I know I was being selfish. I love you. I won't ever leave you.
I turned on my knees and climbed into the safety of the tub, pulling the curtain to shield me in my misery. Curled up in the fetal position, my eyes felt like a ton of weights. I tried to keep myself awake, but the pressure of this day, the lack of sleep, the stress and anxiety intertwining with the sadness I felt in my heart forced me into a reckless slumber.
The weeks following the funeral were rough. I had spiraled deeper into depression, concerning my family and friends who tried to reach out for help. But I was too far gone - too far into my head to even think of climbing out of the hole I was nearly buried in. My lack of sleep was causing me to go stir-crazy, but when I did get rest I was invaded with nightmares of the memories of finding my mother on the bathroom floor. I hate my brain for making me relive it every night and I swore off sleep as much as could, only getting enough to be able to function. If you call this functioning... Phil voiced his concern early on, but I knew he was handling the loss in a different way. He threw himself into his work and even picked up another small league Baseball team to join. This was how he coped and I applauded him for it. If only I were that strong.
My best friend Angela tried to pull me out of bed but we only got as far as the stairs until I crumbled. I tried not to look so weak, tried to keep the emotions as far away as I could but it was this house - it was filled with the memories of her that haunted me everyday. I had even found myself sneaking into their bedroom to find the perfume on her vanity, something Phil hadn't packed up yet. I kept it in my drawer next to my bed and would spray it on my pillow every other night, just to be able to feel her.
In addition to her perfume, I had raided her jewelry and took what was most important to me. A gold necklace with a pendant of a bird in mid-flight. She had bought it for herself shortly after we moved to Phoenix. She never told me why - but if I were a betting woman, I would bet that she bought it to symbolize the freedom she felt leaving Forks. And because of that, it was so much more important to be with me then packed away in a box to never be seen again. And just like the perfume, I wore the necklace almost everyday and only removed it to shower. Seeing it in the reflection of the mirror made up for how horrible I looked. I knew I was slipping, but I didn't know how to stop.
A few days after discovering the necklace I had contemplated with myself on calling my father. He had no idea what had transpired in the last few weeks and honestly - I didn't know how he would take it. I didn't know how he would react. I debated back and fourth over whether or not to call him until I finally gave up and decided it was best for me not to involve him right now.
It wasn't until awhile later that I was helping Phil pack her things that I had stumbled over my baby book. I tucked it under my arms and went upstairs as I flipped through the very few pictures of my mother and father and me. I couldn't tell if either of my parents were inebriated but I suppose it was better if I didn't. I had come across a photo of my parents, before I was born - they were on a campus in the middle of a quad, plush grass around them as they stared longingly into each others eyes. It was hard to believe that at one time, they did actually love each other. I pulled the picture out, flipping it over to see handwriting scrawled on the stained paper.
You are everything to me. My heart. My soul. It is all yours. Be mine, forever.
I felt a pain in my chest that I absentmindedly began to rub with my palm. My father, despite his flaws, had loved my mother so fiercely at one point. How was he going to take this news? How was he going to live with himself knowing that she died, relapsing into the very same demons that he had created so many years ago? I hope he feels guilty. My subconscious growled at me, willing myself to not feel an ounce of sorrow for my father. He had drugged her into this life and put me in the middle of it when I was just an infant - did he even deserve to know?
For a few days following, I fought with myself over this topic. It wasn't until one hot morning I had finally made up a decision on what to do.
"Are you sure about this?" Phil asked as he loaded the trunk of my car with my suitcase. I looked at him, my eyes pleading to not argue over this topic again. "I know, I'm a broken record... But I feel like if you just listen to what I have to say..."
"Phil, I get it. Trust me when I say this has been something I have been fighting back and fourth with since the funeral." I said, feeling the ache in my chest at hearing him plead. I appreciated Phil's concern and honestly apart of me was wishing to cave into him. But I needed to do this. I needed to go.
"If you are still fighting about it, then why don't you just stay for a few more days and think it over? Does he even know you are coming? Have you even called him?" He asked and gripped my shoulders, forcing me to look at him.
I felt like shit leaving Phil when I knew he needed me most. And truthfully, I needed him. But I needed to go - I needed to do this. It was no longer up for debate.
"Please." I begged, grabbing onto his arms that held me firm in my place. "I need you to trust me."
I noticed his eyes misting over and for a second I felt myself faltering. But instead of fighting me on it, he pulled me into the tightest hug. I could hear him sniffling - a side I rarely saw of him as he stroked the back of my hair. I held onto him just as tightly, trying to bite back the tears as we rocked back and fourth. My resolve felt like it was chipping away but the tug in my stomach was just building it back up.
"Please be safe. Call me everyday. Let me know what's going on." He pulled away to regain eye level with me. "I mean it, Bella. If you need me - I will be the -"
"First flight there. I know." I reminded him as his hand came up and cupped my cheek. "Please don't worry about me. Just know I need to do this. And the sooner I get it done, the sooner I can come back."
This time a tear really did escape my eyes, his thumb grabbing it immediately as he leaned down to kiss my forehead. We hugged one last time before I finally pulled away, giving him a soft smile as I opened my car door and sat inside. Phil lingered, only stepping back onto the porch to watch me. From my mirror, I could see tears running down his cheeks and I felt my heart break all over again. I contained a sob and grabbed my phone, typing in a few coordinates before I shifted my car into drive and sped down the dusty driveway.
"Destination," My GPS began, "Forks, Washington."
AN: Thank you for reading, I'd love your feedback. See you next chapter...