Chapter 1 March 13, 2006

"Dad come on, please, we're only two hours away from Forks, and I haven't seen Uncle Charlie in years." Dad as usual was checking his instruments. We were docked at Seattle to refill then go up to Alaska to observe more animals. I loved wildlife but it was frustrating that it held my dad's attention more than his own child.

"I don't have the time Marra I have to get to Alaska before the window of opportunity I have closes and I have to wait another four years."

"Please, I can drive myself, my car is ready, and I know the way, please You'll be back here in two months and I can rejoin you. Please dad, I have been helpful, I'm caught up on school, just please." I tried not to whine I really did but god was I tired of seeing nothing up open ocean everywhere.

"Meridian, I need your help, can't you see that? You can go for your birthday I promise." Hurt stabbed through me.

"My birthday was last month." I said quietly, I went below deck and to my room. I looked out the porthole longingly, it was at the waterline so I had a view both above and below. Tears pushed against my eyes as I restrained the sobs that were choking my throat. Why was he so great at remembering animal facts, but when it came to me he barely remembered my name. If my first name hadn't been a nautical term he probably would have forgotten that. I stewed on that for a while feeling an enormous amount of resentment and frustration. An hour later a soft knock came and I groaned.

"Dad, I don't want to talk." He opened the door deaf to what I had said. He stood in the entrance but didn't enter.

"I Called Charlie on the land phone, he's expecting you either today or tomorrow, since its only eleven you could go now. I glanced at my calendar, March stared at me mockingly the 13th not yet bearing an X. Then gratitude washed in as I raised an eyebrow and Dad nodded. I ran to him, he hugged me and held me.

"I'm sorry Mar I know I'm not the best Dad, I know I forget, I get so involved with things that sometimes I forget the most fascinating thing is right underneath my nose. I hope you enjoy your month again, I'm sorry." He had said that before but every time it made me feel bad for the resentment.

"I'm sorry Dad, I shouldn't be so, I don't know, so much like a teenager." He laughed and let me go.

"Its okay Marra, I love you and I hope you enjoy your time away, come see me before you leave please?" I nodded and hugged him then let him go. He left and I shut the door. I squeaked in happiness and went through my room like a tsunami. I packed two large suitcases full of clothes, makeup, and accessories. A backpack held laptop, iPad, external hard drives, and lots of chords. I went to the bathroom and collected all my toiletries. Then shoes were added along with three jackets of differing weights. In all it took about an hour for me to pack up everything. I went to my little powder blue Volkswagen Beatle convertible. Dad had given it to me last summer as an apology for missing another birthday. I checked the gas and filled it with a couple containers of gas. I found my Dad typing on his computer notes and papers scattered around him.

"I'm off, I have everything I nee, car is gassed up, is there anything you need?"

"No, is your phone charged?" He turned on his chair to face me.

"Yes, I have my car charger as well just in case. I'll text you and Uncle Charlie when I get out of Seattle." He stood and hugged me again still trying to make up for his mistake. I pulled away, and pecked him on the cheek.

"Love you Dad, be safe okay, and make sure to eat, and to take care of yourself."

"I will Marra, drive safe, let me know when you arrive even if you have to do it through your computer if I'm too far out. Now off, I love you." I smiled and turned.

"Bye Dad." I left backing out onto the dock slowly. It felt good, really good to get away from the only place I had known for most of my life. I had to drive slowly and carefully into I was out of Seattle. Then I sped up and since it was warm enough I had let the roof down. The wind blew my hair in its ponytail, little whips brushed against my cheeks. I slowed as I came up to a rest stop and quickly texted both uncle Charlie and Dad. Dad responded with a thumbs up, Charlie sent a can't wait to see you text. I drove out of the stop and maneuvered my way back onto the highway.

I fiddled with the radio until I found an oldies station. I sang along to My girl feeling better than I had in a long while. Forks was two an a half hour away so I had a long time to appreciate the wind, and the music that surrounded me. Western Washington was very beautiful and green. I had seen almost every type of water the sea with dad. Tropical island paradises, snow and oceans so dark they almost looked like black water. I had missed the green though, this green in particular, and land. I loved land when I was on it, the scent, the sheer mass of it. I was excited I would be spending a whole two months with my Uncle Charlie. Though he wasn't technically my uncle, him and my Dad and grown up together. Then my Dad had left for college and bought his boat. He had never gone back for more than a month or more. He had met my mother while sailing the fiords, they fell in love and had me. She had unfortunately died in childbirth and dad had barely known what to do with me.

So he had stayed with Charlie and Renee for a year getting help with me. After that we visited at most once every two yeas or so. I hadn't seen him since before his daughter Isabella came to stay with him. I had only met Bella, as she was called, once. We had gotten along okay but you can't really know much about a person in one week. The two hours flew by as I drove and thought about life and sang oldies songs.

Forks was as usual under a cloudburst. Rain drummed on the hood of my Beatle since I had been sensible and put it up. The main drag was only populated with the single pedestrian or two. I turned onto a side street and within five minutes was at Charlie's house and put the car into park. Charlie's police car was parked in the driveway probably home for lunch. I hopped out and ran up to the door. Hesitating then I knocked and waited. I heard steps then Charlie opened the door his face curious.

"Marra, I was wondering when you would be here." He opened his arms somewhat awkwardly. I flung myself into them and hugged him tight. He stiffened a little but then wrapped his arms around me and held me.

"Uncle Charlie, I've missed you." He chuckled and gave me another squeeze then put me at arms length to look at me.

"You look good Marra, how's your father, he didn't say too much over the phone." As he said this last bit he pulls me inside with one arm.

"He's doing good, he's very involved with his sea life." Charlie laughed a little.

"Yes, you know he was the one who really got me into fishing? Every time we'd go to fish he would name all the water life he saw." I laughed because that sounded like Dad alright.

"I didn't know that, oh, where is Bella?" Charlie tensed a little.

"She's out at La Push, she should be back tonight, I need to go soon, no rest for the weary." He made a little lame joke but I laughed.

"I get it, is there anything I can make for you so that you have some kind of lunch?" He shook his head.

"No its alright I have a standing order at Carver Cafe for lunch. I was just coming home to make sure you got here safe and to get some papers I forgot. There should be food in the upstairs kitchen. The basement apartment kitchen is empty though, I don't know if you want to stock it, but if you do you know where the store is. I have one of the local teens come in and clean it every now and then since that's what your dad wanted." He was shuffling slightly now wanting to go.

"Thanks Uncle Charlie I can manage something since I have my own money. The person who comes to clean the apartment can stop I'll take it over." He nodded then took up his weapons belt and headed towards the door.

"Your welcome Marra, I'll see you tonight, do you want me to get dinner?" I shook my head smiling.

"Nope not necessary I'll make dinner tonight, do you like curry? I make a pretty good curry, or I can make a shepherds pie, or I could do a roast? What would you like Uncle?" Charlie looks astonished.

"You know, I haven't had shepherd's pie in a while, could we do that?" He sounded a little tentative.

"Sure I can do that, I'll get my stuff downstairs then I'll go shopping."

"Okay, well I got to go see you tonight Marra." I smiled and shewed him out ahead of me. He got in his car as I went to mine. I pulled out both suitcases and waited for Charlie to pull out so I could roll them up to the basement door. He did and waved at me as he drove away. I pulled out my set of keys and unlocked the basement door.

Memories of the times I had come here echoed as I opened the door. That year my Dad and come here Charlie and Renea were going through trouble. He had just been promoted in the force but he wasn't getting paid much. Renea was a stay at home mom with Bella and bills were piling up. My Dad had made a deal with the Swans, he would help them and have the house renovated and the bills paid if they helped him with me. To them it had seemed like an uneven deal but my Dad was desperate. So they agreed and the basement portion of the house was turned into a little apartment where we stayed for the year and any time we came to visit. Dad had made sure that someone would keep it clean and ready anytime incase we dropped in unannounced.

If there was an place on land I could call home it was here in this basement. Large egress windows were built into the side with deep window ledges that would double as seats. The floor was hardwood with rugs liberally spread about it. The space was open containing the kitchen living room and dining area. Towards the back there was a set of stairs. Two doors were on the left and one on the right hand of the door. The one on the left closer to the kitchen was the master bedroom while the other two were bathroom and bedroom respectively. I went to the left and opened my bedroom door. The bed was freshly made in hues of blue and lavender which matched the light blue and lavender colors of the walls. The floor was hardwood and covered in a silvery gray rug. I had my own walk in closet to the right of the bed. I dropped my bags and went back for my backpack.

After unpacking a little I got back into my car and went to the grocery store. I picked up dinner ingredients and a lot of stuff for the basement kitchen. I went by the movie rental area and saw the devil wears Prada. I had wanted to see that for a while so I rented it and took everything back home. It was five thirty by that point so I got cooking. I put on some more music and sang about being sixteen from the sound of music. I decided to make dessert as well and quickly threw together a peach cobbler. I set the table remembering the Charlie got home between six thirty and seven. I was just pulling the cobbler from the oven went the door opened and a girl's voice I recognized called out a hello. I turned down my music which was now playing a song from Rent.

"In the kitchen." I called back. She came in a and I got my first glimpse of her, I had seen her last when she was seven. She was short, pale, and had dark hair, she seemed like she was frail, like spun glass. I put out my hand and spoke first.

"Hi I"m Meridian, I don't know if you remember me but my Dad and I would visit every now and then, I met you when you were seven." She looked slightly less confused at that and I smiled.

"Oh yeah, I mean my, Charlie's told me about you, and there's the apartment downstairs and all." She looked slightly jealous at this but it cleared away in a moment.

"Awesome I'm glade you remember. I'm going to be here for the next month or so. My Dad is off in Alaska doing research. I'm making dinner if you want some, its shepherd's pie with peach cobbler for dessert." Emotions flickered on her face but to fast for me to figure them out

"Sure once Charlie gets home, I'll be in my bedroom until then." She was soft voiced and seemed somewhat tense or upset, I wasn't sure.

"Okay, I'll call you down." She left and I cranked my music back up and sang I dreamed a dream. I washed my dishes and finished setting the table. I cleaned up the last bits of my mess while listening to I am the very model of a modern major general since it was way to complicated to sing. Then I heard the door open again and Charlie putting his weapons belt up. I turned down my music and turned as he came to the kitchen.

"Smells good, saw that Bells is home." I smiled as I conveyed the pie to the table.

"Yup she's upstairs, I'll go get her." I went up the stairs and heard Bella talking on the phone I assumed.

"Jake I'm just really frustrated that she picked this time to visit. I just don't want Charlie to get more suspicious then he already is. Can't I come over tomorrow and stay the day? Thanks, well I should go it sounded like Charlie's home." I quickly made loud stomping sounds feeling ridiculous and curious. I tapped on Bella's door, she opened tucking her cell into her jeans.

"Dinner's ready and your Dad's here."

"Okay." I turned and went back down the stairs and over to the table. Charlie was sitting and waiting for us. I had made up a salad to go with the shepherd's pie and a pitcher of cider was beaded with moisture. I gestured to Charlie to take a slice of pie which he did, Bella took a sliver and I served myself a generous portion. I wasn't a bird when it came to eating, I was more like the strongish athletic types who enjoy large portions and burned them off like it was nothing. Though the most athletically include I got was when it come to swimming, or other water sports. Silence fell as we ate, Charlie seemed most appreciative of the food. He had told me the Bella cooked for him but if so then why did he have a standing order at that cafe? After we were finished with the pie I brought out cobbler which Bella had a bit of. Charlie had a large piece as did I and enjoyed it to. I burned calories like fire burned coal. It had started about two years ago and had slowly increased to where I had to eat three hearty meals a day along with snacks.

"This was a meal to remember, thank you Marra, I'll do the dishes-" I shook my head.

"I'm not going to say this every time but today I'll do dishes and clean up, you go watch TV or whatever you do to relax." I took the dishes, put food away, washed, and dried in record time. It was now eight and I was tired. Charlie was in the living room watching a basketball game drinking a beer.

"Off to bed Marra?" He paused the game and turned to me.

"Yeah its been a day and I'm tired." She smiled fondly at me.

"Okay well, sleep well, see you in the morning. I leave around seven thirty unless I'm called out. If you need anything let me know." I bent down gave him a small hug which made him a little uncomfortable but he patted my back.

"Night." I walked to the door that led downstairs and made my way to my bedroom. A few lights were left on in the main room so I turned them off. I made sure the door was locked then gathered my stuff to take a long hot shower. After that in my pj's I went to my bed and picked up the book I had been reading since last week. War and Peace was one of the books I had to read for my homeschooling. Each chapter I had to write a summary and list the main points that were covered in said chapter. I would graduate this June and this was one of my last classes along with calculus, anatomy, and Swedish which was my language requirement.

I read a chapter and typed the summary blinking back sleep. I turned of the main light but let the bedside lamp stay on as I got into bed. I hoped dad was enjoying himself wherever he was and was just grateful I was here. I turned the light off, snuggled into the covers and fell asleep happy to not feel the rocking of the boat.