Nana Georgina always called me her Mayflower. She was a proper Southern Belle, Alabama born and raised, something she took great pride in. My late Pops Ulysses and her got married right after high school. Where Pops went to work and provided for his family, Nana became a proud albeit vain housewife. Till this day she never left the house without curled hair and mauve-pink lipstick. I remember when I was younger, she sat me next to her on the velvet couch, tooth-rotting sweet tea on the kidney-table. There she would show me her photo album. Pictures dated too far gone for me to realize; her and Pops as Prom Queen and King. Her at different beauty pageants. Dressed up in frilly Southern attire, the pictures black and white although she insisted they were the most amazing shades of pink and lilac, catching everyone's eye. Nana delighted in playing dress up with me, lending me her lipsticks and eyeshadow, teaching me how to cook and bake and showing me off to her cluster of friends. All older ladies of the same standing, who complimented me on my cute chubby cheeks and pretty green eyes. A darling, they called me, she'd dwell well in the south, they'd said. And Nana always heartily agreed.
If there was one thing she haughtily detested, it was my mother's decision to leave The Heart of Dixie and move north, into the core of all evil, upstate New York. That alone made her turn her nose but it was a far greater crime which blacklisted her from the family. Where Nana was a dutiful wife and mother, always dressed to the nines with a meal ready and a smile on her lips, mom had filed in for divorce. Married too young, to a 'controlling' man, as she claimed, she took me with her. My dad harboured a lot of ill feelings for her, the love of his life, leaving him, embarassing him in front of family and friends. As if her working-woman attitude wasn't bad enough. When I was younger I never really understood their arguments, grown-ups argued over the silliest stuff. Now at the tender age of sixteen I claimed to be a tad bit wiser and once mom let me in on some family secrets, I began to understand that life just wasn't all sunshine and rainbows.
That was meant to be taken quite literally.
The arguments had taken place over the phone, dad ringing more and more often, claiming one thing or another. Mom never told me what exactly. I only ever saw dad during the summer. The Alabama heat the first thing hitting me at the airport, before dad hugged me tightly to his chest, thick accent welcoming me back home.
I was greatly surprised one day when I returned from school and found dad in our kitchen. Head in his hands, tears of anger and worry on his face. I don't know what argument had taken place or what dad was doing all the way up in Syracuse. The only thing I knew was that mom needed several stitches and the bruise wouldn't go away for a few weeks. A few weeks were all it took for mom to high tail out of there, me in tow.
And this is the part where the lack of sunshine and rainbows starts to make sense.
Forks, Washington was a dreary and cold town in the middle of East Nowhere. Unlike many coming-of-age stories will tell you, there was nothing quaint and charming about it. The roads were old, the families in it stuck together like glue and whisper and gossip couldn't even be called that. The town so small, you could stand in the same cirle with people talking over your head. For the most part I retreated into my room. It was still about six weeks till the summer break but due to circumstances I was allowed to not attend.
Of course there were whispers about mom's healing scar, the abrupt move into a town like Forks, no husband at her side with a daughter hanging on her skirt. Again, it was a small town and the people, albeit kind were pressing in their stares and gestures.
So no, I was not having a main-character moment. To the demise of my mother apparantly who thought I would flourish under the attention of the small town, make friends left and right. She herself was huddled in the local church, Pastor Weber grateful for the help in accounting. When I wasn't at home, I was with her.
I lifted my head from the stack of hymns. Pastor Weber smiled at the sight of me, his age lines crinkling. "I was wondering if you'd like some tea or coffee?"
"Are you taking a break?", he nodded. "Your mother as well, I thought we could sit together." I cringed internally. Sat between two adults, pretending to be a part of a conversation wasn't exactly my strong suit.
"Eh, I still wanted to finish dusting and organizing.", I evaded, waving a battered book. Pastor Weber's smile fell a bit but he made no motion to press further. "Alright, but please feel free to join if you want to." "Will do.", I muttered and turned back to the cabinett. The smell of citrus and alcohol burning my nostrils. I was neither paid nor forced to help around the church but I might as well made myself useful while being here. Pastor Weber had welcomed us with open arms, giving my mom a much needed job and me a place to escape. According to him, sundays were slow and rather dull. I'd imagine, Forks wasn't exactly Woodstock. Pastor Weber had laughed and ruffled my hair, much to my chargrain. But I saw the way he looked at me sometimes. A sliver of pity in his eyes, no doubt mom had spilled her heart during confessial.
Not that it bothered me too much, the pity, the stares. It was what it was and it didn't matter whether we rode in in a clown car or on black stallions, we were the talk of the town regardless. I was fine with it because I knew it would die down eventually. The spark and spice would fade and soon we'd be the typical neighbors across the street. I'd sit in Forks for two years, wrestle my way through high school and swing myself to some college. I suppose everyone my age had sort of the same plan, so I did not feel interested in making long lasting friendships with locals I would never see again.
How insanely wrong the universe would proof me.
For some, life turns plans upside down. My life burried every single one I've had and danced on their grave. My future was no longer my own, I was no longer the captain of my own soul, in poet's words. Everything that should've been mine at its very core now belonged to another.
My future, my life, my soul. All of it was gently cradled in the hands of a boy named Seth Clearwater.
A name that would sear my heart and singe my entire being. Bringing me equal parts of pain and relief. Quite an introduction to a boy whose smile could disarm even the most hardened heart. He was the sunshine my new home lacked, and like the earth revolves around the sun, I'd learn that he felt the same about me. It was romantic at best and scarily deranged at worst.
Because this was not the high school sweetheart story most teenagers yearned for. It was brutal, binding, and worst of all; inevitable.
Which had me questioning whether anything was truly in my power, or if everything I've felt and thought so far was the result of a predestined force.
Nevertheless I could not escape it, now that I was in the thick of it. And it all began with a lost phone, a wedding celebration and young woman named Bella Swan.
Because it was Bella Swan who pulled up to the church, her cherry-red chevy roaring loudly as she turned of the motor. I was still in the middle of polishing the cabinett, making sure not a single speck of dust remained for the holy scriptures, when the slim woman stepped into the church. I don't know why but when I looked up to her and took in her form, I immediately felt like she was out of place. And it wasn't just her awkward stance or her crossing and uncrossing her arms. There was something extremely off about her, something I couldn't point my finger on. She must've noticed my staring because she met my gaze head on, and we both kind of froze. A second of a stare-down before she averted her eyes but stepped towards me.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt but eh..is Pastor Weber here?"
I stood in the meanwhile. She was a bit taller than me but not by much.
"Eh, yeah. In the back. Do you have an appointment or something?" She looked young enough not to be too formal. Her face fell slightly and her brown eyes darted from side to side.
"Eh, no. Sorry I thought you could just come to talk to him."
"I'm sure he's not busy at the moment, I'll ask him." She gave me a relieved smile. "Thanks."
Wiping my hands on my jeans, I walked towards the bureau. A few feet away I could hear the low voices of Pastor Weber and mom. I knocked two times before entering.
"Ah, Maribelle! I knew you'd get enough of dusting. Here have some tea." He was already on his feet, searching for a cup before I could stop him. "Eh, thanks...I...eh. There is a woman in the front who wants to speak with you."
"A woman?" My mother put her own cup down as Pastor Weber all but thrusted the warm tea in my hands. "I was sure, nobody had made an appointment today." Wildly she skimmed through the pages of her planner.
"No, she said she thought she could drop by."
"Oh.", mom halted in her movement and threw me a relieved smile. "Goodness I already thought my synapses stopped working." She shared a laugh with Pastor Weber, who nodded thoughtfully. "Well, let me quickly clean up a bit. The needy shall never be turned away.", he exclaimed with a wink and I smiled awkwardly. "I'll tell her you'll be ready in a bit."
Walking back with my cup, I stepped back into the hall.
The woman was fixated on a painting. The Pietà by some local artist, I've been told. The depiction of a mourning Mary holding her son Jesus after his crucification and death.
"Admiring the artwork?"
The woman twitched and turned to me with wide eyes. "Sorry, didn't mean to scare you." She shook her head. "It's alright I was just startled."
"Pastor Weber will be out shortly, he's just organizing some things.", I white lied. She didn't buy it completely by her glance at my cup of tea but didn't question it. She turned her gaze briefly back to the painting.
"...I, sorry, I didn't catch your name." There was a question somewhere in there and if I was a mean person I could've simply told her, I hadn't given one.
I shook her hand and she sent me another half-smile. "Bella Swan."
I nodded. And for a few seconds, awkwardness reigned. It was apparent we both had no idea how to properly socialize and after that brief realization, the silence became somewhat understanding. Bella rolled back and forth on her feet, waiting for Pastor Weber while I mentally shrugged my shoulders and returned to the cabinett.
"I've never seen you...I mean sorry," I looked up again. Bella was watching me from a few feet away. "I just, I've never seen you at school before."
"I just moved here.", I answered plainly. Her eyes briefly lit up with recognition before the light disappeared. Probably not to antagonize me. Like I said, small gossiping town and a bruised face.
I raised a brow. "Well, not as recently as you but I moved here like a year ago. So semi recently. I meant to say, I know what it's like to be the new one in this town.", Bella rambled and it was clear she wanted to fill the silence.
"Yeah, it's kinda...quiet. Haven't felt the small town charm yet to be honest.", I indulged and saw her smile. "It took me a while to find it." At this her eyes glazed over, thoughts miles away. "Where are you from?"
"Arizona." I whistled. "And you?"
"Big Apple? Must've been some change."
"Nah, it was upstate. But still." Bella nodded and silence took over again.
"So, I guess I'll see you at school next year? It'll be cool to know at least someone."
At this she looked apologetic. "I eh, I graduated this year. Sorry."
"It's okay...guess I'll have to navigate these waters by myself.", I smiled thinly.
"If it's any consolation the people are actually pretty nice here. I made friends pretty easily."
For some reason I knew she was referring to our social ineptness. We were talking just fine but even a blind person could've seen the nervous energy between us. It was actually consoling hearing Bella say that. If the nervous wrack could handle high school in a new town, so could its inheritor. Meaning me.
"Miss Swan! I didn't expect you here."
We both turned towards Pastor Weber who made his way down the hall. Bella send me a smiling glance before she walked towards him, ending our brief conversation.
He ushered her into the office, leaving me to my thoughts. It was somewhat strange to see a young woman like her in church. Maybe it was my own prejudical mind but young people tended to stay away from all things holy. Not necessarily out of defiance but more out of boredom. Not that I could blame them. Mom made me attend every single service every Sunday ever since I could think. The only exception being when I was five and uncomfortably itchy with chickenpox. Nowadays I didn't mind as much, but my thoughts tended to drift away from mass.
The big question. Did I believe in god? I believed in some higher power, maybe some force who watched over us in one way or another if only to make everything make sense. I simply cared little for the institution around it. Nana would slap my butt if she'd heard my thoughts, herself always dressed in her sunday best at church, the envy of town. Then again, vanity was a sin as well, right? She'd harrumph right now and chase me with her haircurler. I chuckled at the thought. It was strange how often I thought of Nana. Something about her just constantly stuck with me and I couldn't shake the feeling that she was with me, watching over my shoulder. Judging my every action with gentle dismay, a correction on her lips, a solution already in mind. The world has always been her oyster. And she'd crack as many as she wanted as long as she got her pearl.
Mom emerged from the office, smiling giddily, cradling her jacket. "I'm finished for the day, Pastor Weber has some longer discussion with Miss Swan." I nodded, rushing to but the books in orderly. Mom stored the cleaner and rag for me, while I finished up. Soon enough we walked quietly across the parking lot, settling into our car before mom bursted with veiled excitement.
"You saw the young girl right?" She started the motor. "Bella Swan. Apparantly she's getting married! So young!" Mom turned to me like a gossipping best friend.
Just graduating and getting married was somewhat strange. I could not deny that. But still. "Didn't you get married young as well?" Her face fell.
"Yeah, and look were it got me." My eyes switched to her pink scar. One could still see the fine stitching. I scolded myself for asking.
"Regardless, I think it's going to be quite exciting."
"You make it sound like we're invited."
Mom frowned. "I mean, we're not but you know..."
No, I didn't know. I gathered mom simply wanted to distract herself. I turned my gaze back to the window, letting the small houses pass us by. Mom pulled into the corner-store, fiddling with her bag. "I'm gonna buy some snacks for this evening, you want something?" I shook my head no, lost to my own thoughts. Absentmindely I watched mom continue fiddling with her bag as she walked inside the store.
She bought banana chips for me, saying she knew I couldn't resist them. I thanked her, despite having no appetite. They were my favorite but seeing another bottle of red in her hand put a stone in my stomach. She was an adult wasn't she? Perfectly fine for her to enjoy a glass of wine in the evening. It was the frequency which got to me. And mom knew I knew something was amiss. Though she played the innocent part well and no matter how many treats and little gifts she bought, I couldn't help myself but worry.
Worry was such a broad word if one bothered to give it more than a second though. It was an inevitable feeling, something that makes you second-guess your entire life, weighing on your mind, destroying you from the inside. Worry for friend and family, worry for material things, worry for love and life. Like most feelings it wasn't something one could simply turn off.
I dearly, dearly wish I could. A few short weeks passed and half of Forks attended the spectacle of the century – or so mom had tried to sell it. Pastor Weber was particulal in his preparations with Bella Swan and her to-be husband Edward Cullen. A tall, pale looking young man with defined features and a mellow voice. He looked, otherworldy. There was no other way to describe his scarily perfect face. I had caught a glimpse of him just days before the wedding. Lounging in the pews, pretending to busy myself with the polish. Edward had caught my staring and like knowing something I had no clue about had grinned slighty. That was that and I did not see him again.
Mom had enjoyed her weekend off, and while she slept in, I found myself with nothing to do. I was sure Pastor Weber would take the day of as well which is why I was colored surprised when he stepped through the doors, carrying his bag and a small box, a warm smile on his face.
"Maribelle?", he exclaimed, stopping right in his tracks at the sight of me, "Goodness, you're going to make me feel guilty for not paying you."
True that the free labor was the best thing this church had seen in a while. But hey, old candle wax needed removal and I needed a distraction.
"Don't feel too bad about. I'm sure once school starts again, you won't see hair or hide of me.", I joked half-heartedly. Pastor Weber chuckled. "Coffee?" I nodded.
He returned in a matter of a few minutes and sat next to me, polishing the wax of some golden candle holder.
"I must admit I'm surprised to find you here, not that I'm complaining.", he added after I threw him a glance, "Most young people your age...Not to make you feel bad, I am just a bit worried for you."
"I'll make plenty of friends at school.", I answered plainly, knowing that was a stretch. I was never the popular girl and my friends in New York were friendly aquaintances more than anything. The kind of people you enjoy spending time during classes and recess but once the bell rings, you have nothing in common. Pastor Weber nodded thoughtfully, leaving me to my scrapping.
"How was the wedding?" I asked to fill the silence.
"Oh it was wonderful!", he lit up with memories, "It was at the Cullen's house, marvelous setting in the forrest. Right out of a fairytale. And the food was to die for." He chuckled quietly. "They looked very happy, Bella and Edward I mean. My daughter Angela told me bits and pieces about their relationship. They're such a young couple to go through such ups and downs already. But I suppose that is life. It holds surprises and tests at every corner and it isn't our place to question it. For the price of determination is often wondrous."
I kept quiet, as he drifted into preacher mode. I wasn't bored, in fact I very much enjoyed his sermons but I had a lot on my mind.
"Before I forget", he fiddled with the box he brought, "These are a few lost items, from yesterday." He opened the box and I spotted, a necklace, a pair of glasses, car keys and a slightly outdated phone.
"I took it upon myself to keep them safe for now, so keep an eye out if someone comes in for something alright?"
I nodded quietly. Guess the champagne hit too hard for some people. We finished our coffee, making small talk and Pastor Weber told me some more bits of the wedding and how beautiful and fantastical it was. If you got the money to blow why shouldn't it be? And no, there was no hidden envy in that statement because what girl didn't dream of an absolute fantasy wedding? I'm sure there were some but I felt like anyone was lying if they never imagined themselves at their own wedding. When I was little and still spending every summer with Nana, I envisioned a summer wedding. A big beautiful gown of a wedding dress, hundreds of mirabelle flowers because of course; and the sound of a live band playing in the background. My entire family, friends and aquaintances from all over fawning over me and my big day. This was before mom filed in for divorce and I learned love was fake.
Well not fake but unstable. Uncertain and not truly what you make it out to be. A pretty fantasy and nothing more. Like anything in life really, something that needed constant working on. It sounded exhausting and quite frankly not worth the time. I was aware of how jaded I sounded but life sometimes creates a view for you before you even have a chance to experience it.
The clock kept ticking that day and what I didn't know was that it was an invisible countdown. Who knows, maybe if things were different I would've stayed at home. Maybe our paths would've never ever crossed and we'd be damned to mediocrity. I would've left Forks in well over a year and he would've played the role of lone wolf until his last day. Then again this was fate, or the universe or some higher force I had no influence over.
I had just finished with the wax, not a single candle holder dirty anymore when a young man walked into the church. The first thing I noticed was that he was not from here. And by that I didn't mean that he did not belong, just that I knew he wasn't from Forks. He had dark skin, black shiny hair and was pretty tall for such a youthful face. Probably my age if I had to guess. Still, he stood tall and broad, a lanky sort of strenght in him. He must be from the Reservation, one of Indians my mom told me about. She would've taken me to La Push beach but apparantly she didn't know if it was okay to go to their place. I had trouble categorizing her words, since I knew she wasn't outright against other people but she was guarded and reserved.
"Hello?" My voice echoed through the church as I stood next to the altar having just returned from the back. The guy turned to me and I was met with a sudden slack face and the deepest dark eyes, I was doomed to drown in.
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoy the ride.