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I would love to proudly announce that this story has been nominated for Top 10 fanfics completed in May 2021. :)
"The book and movie adaptations of Bella's story never made much sense," she began softly. "That wasn't how the story went at all."
"You realize that it's only fiction," called a student from the back. The teacher gazed up towards the back row, seeking the face of the voice she knew well.
"Oh, but it isn't," She said, chuckling. Half of the class snickered while the other half stared in disbelief. "Every story is inspired by the truth of something. Every writer has to have inspiration," she claimed.
"You speak of Bella as though you knew her personally, though. She's a character," That same rich voice called out.
"You're quite the character yourself," She joked, enticing more laughter from her class. "That doesn't mean that someone out there doesn't know your true story. We are all a character in someone's story." She smirked at him as he rolled his eyes.
"Tell us the true story, then," another voice called out.
The teacher smiled warmly at her students and sat on the back of her desk, crossing her ankles.
"Let's start at the beginning, shall we?"
The writers gave Bella such a loving, close relationship with her mother. As a teenager, it certainly was far from that. The role reversal between mother and daughter was there. However, Renee wasn't just hare-brained. She was an alcoholic.
Renee chose to make a life on the move. Failed relationship after failed relationship left her often moody, depressed, and eventually, she turned to alcohol instead of therapy. Their apartment in Phoenix was tiny, hot, and sparsely decorated. Anything that made Renee feel like she was tied down had to go. She had no problem packing a bag of clothes, walking away, and never looking back. In hindsight, Bella found herself surprised that she didn't get sent to live with Charlie permanently much, much sooner.
A little taller and more pear-shaped than the Bella you all know and love. Junk food, depression, and insomnia are hell on the metabolism. Bella's multiple attempts at getting Renee to switch to a healthier lifestyle for both of their sakes were futile. The one thing that probably kept her from becoming a human balloon was that walking everywhere in a city with heat like Phoenix burns the calories. It also made her legs and butt muscles large and firm. She did have an old bike at her disposal when she needed it. Transportation fares were out of the question. Luckily, the apartment was only a few blocks from a grocery store. What little they could buy, Bella could get home with pretty quickly. At one point, the bike had a large metal basket on the back. It had disappeared while Bella was in the grocery store one afternoon. Her mother made the assumption that it was probably stolen and scrapped for drug money or some hooch. Bella was surprised that Renee hadn't thought of it first and secretly hoped she didn't get any ideas. Riding home with bags of groceries hanging from your arms was exactly the disaster it sounds like. The scars from landing on her right elbow that day still streak her skin with an ugly, purple scar anytime she bends her arm. Renee spent an hour trying to pick gravel out of the wound, rinsed it with peroxide, dried the area with paper towels, and superglued it shut. Hospitals were for the dying. They couldn't afford the costs, even with Charlie's insurance.
Renee usually found cash-paying bartending jobs as they moved around. Phoenix was no exception. Their apartment was one of four located above her most recent place of employment. They occupied the smallest of these in the front left corner, directly over the main door. It was a far cry better from the last apartment they had occupied, though the noise was worse. Bartending is not a profitable career for an alcoholic. While she snuck a shot or seven behind the bar, she still managed to blow her tips on drinks most nights. Renee also had plenty of opportunities to bring a few losers upstairs. Bella often wished she had girlfriends to go and stay the night with, just to get a decent night of sleep. Instead, she went to bed with noise-canceling headphones, a knife on her bedside table, and never quite at ease. It left her sleep time broken and frequented with nightmares, often prophetic. Renee once told Bella that she thought the dreams would protect them as if Bella could make sure they would be safe all the time. Somehow, the conversation became an argument about Renee's alcoholism. A hard slap to the cheek later, and Bella decided not to bring it up again. Her immediate urge had been to strike Renee back. Instead, she stood, shaking with silent rage. Bella dug her fingernails into her outer thighs until she could feel the sting of her nails piercing the skin. Renee stared at her after, full of regret for hitting her daughter in the face. Again.
"Baby, I'm sorry," Renee said, reaching her other hand towards Bella's face to cup her cheek lovingly. Bella dodged her attempt and walked to the other side of the room. She backed her way down the hall to her bedroom, glaring at her mother the whole way. Renee began to sob pitifully. Renee's tears were never for Bella. They were always for her shame and selfishness. No, Bella thought. She would not unleash the flood of rage that Renee had slowly built inside of her. She would instead bite her tongue and bide her time until she was old enough to leave. Bella never wanted to be her mother with her hysterical outbursts and flying hands. She knew deep down in her soul that one day Renee would drink herself into the grave. She had long since promised herself that she wasn't going to watch it.
After that day, Bella didn't have two words to say to her mother that wasn't necessary. Before long, Renee started whining that Bella acted just like Charlie. He was an infuriatingly silent man who rarely spoke unless he had to or had a good beer buzz. Bella ignored her mother's attempt at goading, as usual.
If you talked to Charlie the way you do to me, I understand why he was silent, she would think.
Meanwhile, Renee glared as if she could hear every offensive thought Bella had.
Renee had her share of relationships. However, the last man she brought home was Phil. He probably saved Renee's life despite entirely disrupting Bella's. He was a minor league baseball player, the son of a very well-to-do lawyer with political ties, nearly ten years younger than Renee, and had plenty of money to spare. The couple immediately functioned as if they had been together for years rather than weeks. Renee may have been a barfly, but she was never one for trouble with the law. She had a clean police record, and while she barely scraped by, she somehow kept a decent credit score. She was still young enough for multiple possible life choices, including more children if sobriety could be attained. She was also an attractive woman despite the premature wrinkles around her eyes and mouth from her lifestyle. Bella was almost old enough to move out. Things seemed all too perfect for Renee. Despite the way Bella often despised her, she was happy to see her mother happy. With Renee's feeling so satisfied with this new relationship, Bella got the first taste of what it was like to have a little peace.
Phil was appalled at the lack of sustenance in their home and surprised both the women with a fully stocked kitchen before the end of the first week. It was a luxury Bella hadn't seen since her last visit to Charlie's. New clothes followed, and then a new bed and couch for Renee.
After a couple of months, Phil's infatuation eventually began to ease. It had taken much longer than it should have for him to realize that Renee had a problem. For a while, Phil saw what Renee wanted him to see; a moody teenager with a misunderstood and loving mother. Over time, the facade began to slip, and the erratic alcoholic that Renee was began to shine through. With that realization came suspicion, jealousy, doubt, and Bella's being horrifyingly subjected to the noise of drunken make-up sex when the frequent fights were over. Bella generally tried to give them space when he was home, avoiding Renee as much as possible. Eventually, Phil shocked them both and demanded that it was time for Renee to get sober. He had decided it was time for Bella to go live with the father she hadn't seen in four years and spend what time she had left as a teenager living like one. Instead of the anger that Bella assumed she should have felt at the sudden ruling over her future, her heart leaped with joy. Bella would be seventeen in just a few weeks. Moving to Charlie's would be the best getaway she would probably ever find from Renee.
Renee proceeded to throw the biggest tantrum of her life, leaving both Phil and Bella embarrassed, hurt, and angry. When she realized that she wasn't going to win the battle, Renee's tune changed quickly, and she gave in to Phil's requests.
Bella finally understood two things about her mother that night.
First was that Renee was capable of performing her way into or out of anything.
The second was that Bella's narcissistic mother wanted to keep Phil more than she wanted to finish "parenting" Bella.
What little care she had left for Renee crumbled that day. Phil was a dream come true for Renee, and she was willing to pay the price for it. Despite the relief of Bella's impending escape, the rejection stung. Three weeks later, Bella spent her seventeenth birthday with Renee and Phil before her mother went to rehab. With a one-way plane ticket provided by Phil, Bella packed her scant belongings and moved to Washington to live with Charlie.
There is no way to correct the impression of her hometown from the books and movies. It's miserably wet, gray, and dreary. The difference in temperature and atmosphere in comparison to Arizona was profound. Nothing but green and gray as far as the eye could see. Despite so many summers there as a child, it was just as startling every single time Bella came back.
Charlie met her at the airport in Port Angeles. To Bella's mortification, he also met her at the airport in his police cruiser. Charlie saw her leaving the building and squawked the siren. It was something he had done since she was a kid. While she had loved it back then, it was embarrassing as hell now. After all, what teenager wants attention while climbing into a cop car?
Bella tried to ignore those who stared as she stumbled along and tripped over a curbstone. She caught herself on the taillight and tossed her luggage into the popped trunk. She hopped into the front seat of the cruiser as quickly as she could, hoping no one had witnessed her almost fall on her face. Charlie yanked Bella towards him in a tight embrace that had her draped across the console with her feet still hanging out of the door. When he finally let go, Bella tucked her feet in, pulled the door shut, and reached for her seatbelt. Charlie grinned at her obvious embarrassment and shook his head.
"Same old Bells," he chuckled. His face was scrunched a bit from the huge smile he wore.
Doesn't his nose itch with his heavy mustache all pushed up against it like that?
"Glad to see me, Ch- Dad?" Bella stumbled across the question, chuckling.
"Of course, I'm glad to see you, Bells! It's been four years.." He looked away quickly, attempting to mask any unhappy emotion. Bella felt her heart breaking for her inner child. Memories of listening to Renee lie about Bella not wanting to come for visits hit with a familiar wave of guilt. Bella leaned in to give him a more enthusiastic hug before Charlie maneuvered the car out of the lot and headed for Forks. She didn't have to worry about too much small talk on the drive home. He wasn't any better at it than she was, and so they rode in mostly comfortable silence.
Charlie's little house on the outskirts of Forks was matched closely in the movies. True to the story, Bella's room was the same as she had left it at twelve. Charlie offered to buy whatever necessary to update it if she wanted. Unbeknownst to Bella, Phil had had a new bed delivered for her to Charlie's house, one he had promised the week he had bought Renee one. It was queen-sized with a cast iron frame, already set up and ready to go. Charlie had even washed the new bedclothes for it and made the bed to the best of his ability. He wasn't exactly what you would call a decorator. The rest of the house looked the same as Renee had left it the day she walked out on him, dragging Bella along with her. The one exception was the yellowed kitchen after years of cigar smoke from poker night between Charlie, Billy, and Harry.
Charlie was a prisoner of routine. Because of this, Bella decided to try to adapt around his schedule rather than Charlie adjusting to hers. Over the next few days, Bella kept track of his work schedule and habits. Renee had taught Bella how to be productive and helpful while remaining more or less invisible and Bella was good at it. She was thrilled to realize her routines wouldn't be much different than what she was already used to doing. For the first time in what she could remember, Bella slept without being awakened by rock music and yelling patrons. It was the best night of sleep she'd had in four years.
Despite being the daughter of an officer, Bella had a great deal of freedom at her father's house. In just a few days, numerous stresses and worries that plagued her for years began to melt away. Bella was looking forward to starting a new school. Living with Charlie made her feel safe for the first time in her short life. Just maybe, she hoped, she would be somewhere long enough to make a few friends worth keeping.
**Disclaimer** I do not own any rights to anything Twilight-related. Those belong to S.M.
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