She says she ran away from the sun,
Only to find it where it couldn't be,
But during her brief flight and the run,
She brought the sun right back to me.
I turned the disc around in my hands, admiring the shiny silver surface.
The thick words were scribbled with black marker across the up-side of the disc, and I recognized Bella's careless handwriting immediately, which only added to my overwhelming curiosity. What secrets did this CD hold within?
As I listened to the sounds of splashing water coming from the bathroom and reveled in Bella's intensified, wet scent, I inserted the disc into her aged computer.
Bella greeted me on the screen. With her shorter hair, untroubled eyes, and vaguely more childlike features, she looked younger, more immature. Some of that innocence had been lost during the last two years, and I sighed as I grasped the reason – I had disturbed Bella's simple and peaceful life with my appearance, and sent her whole reality tumbling down to ash.
The young Bella stands on the beach, gazing out into the ocean as she spreads her arms. Accompanied with a deep sigh, she closes her eyes.
The camera approaches her, shaking a little in the holder's hands.
"Bella! What are you doing?"
She does not open her eyes, but begins to spin on the spot. Her neck bends back, leaving her face fully exposed to the sun. The rays of sunlight fall on her beautiful, yet naïve features, and seem to bounce off her pale skin.
"Saying goodbye to the sun."
Bella twirls around and around. Twirling, twirling, twirling in a never-ending spiral, she gains speed with each new spin. Soon she is almost flying.
The woman behind the camera laughs. "Figures. You never know when you'll see it again in Forks."
Bella decelerates and her arms drop down to her sides. When she opens her eyes, her face is still looking up at the sky.
"Exactly. I have to enjoy it while I still have it."
The camera centers on her face, and soon the latter fills the entire screen, displaying every detail of Bella's delicate skin. She lowers her eyes to just above the lens, focusing on a person beyond the limits of the recorded picture. In the background, a chuckle is distinguishable.
"Nobody owns the sun, Bella. You can only follow it."
Bella smiles, tilting her head to the side. She looks back up at the sky again.
"Or run away from it."
The smile vanishes little by little, and a sorrowful expression takes its place. The woman behind the camera sighs.
"You don't have to run away from it. What can I say to make you stay?"
A breath is drawn outside of the picture, indicating that there was more to follow, but Bella looks back down sharply. Her eyes are firm, but her true feelings are perceivable from the way her lips are set.
She raises a finger, and speaks with a definite voice. "No, Mom. You're unhappy. Phil resents me for holding you from him. Charlie misses me. If I move to Forks, I can avoid all that."
A hand reaches out from beyond the screen, and links with Bella's. "But if the price is your own discontent, you shouldn't pay it. I'm not unhappy. We were doing just fine this way."
"We were doing fine, yes, but were we doing great? No, Mom. I'm leaving to Forks. Think of how happy Charlie will be. He must be lonely, with no one but him in the house. I can fix that."
Bella smiles another smile, though this one is more halfhearted than the last. She draws the linked hands closer, laying them against her chest. "This is the best solution."
The picture blurs for a moment, then focuses again. The two women had hugged each other, I could guess. Tears are now forming in Bella's eyes.
I felt the familiar urge to reach out for her, to cradle her in my arms, to take the sorrow away. An irrational wish, seeing as the Bella on the screen was nothing but pixels, and the real one was only a few feet away from me, not daring to move entirely into the room. I could smell her wet hair, her natural perfume mixed with soap and shampoo; she had finished her shower, and was now wondering what I was doing.
I ignore her for the time being, though, and concentrate on the small computer screen again.
The younger Bella is furiously fighting back the tears, with little success. One droplet of liquid escapes the rim of her eye and rolls down her cheek. Before it can fall to the ground, however, a finger has wiped it away, and is now drying the wet trail it left behind.
Bella's eyebrows pucker and she draws a ragged breath. Her quiet voice breaks twice as she speaks. "But I'll still miss you. Terribly."
A sniff from beyond the camera view indicates that Renée is crying, as well, and the picture blurs once more as the two women fall into an embrace. Though no clear image is perceptible, the sounds of their continued conversation are still transmitted to my ears.
Both voices are near hysterical, and break often on their way out.
"I'll miss you, too. I don't know what I'll do without you, Bella."
"Phil will take care of you."
"Not as well as you! But that was not what I meant. How can I say goodbye to my beloved daughter?"
Bella's sobs grow more pronounced at her mother's words. "And how can I say goodbye to my best friend who just happens to be my mother?"
The laughs that follow are shaky and escorted by tears.
Eventually, both calm down, and the camera is focused, once again, on the beautiful, young girl's face. Her cheeks are glistening with tears, but her smile is genuine and true.
Renée's voice emerges from behind the picture. "I love you, Bella. Don't ever change."
Her smile widens, and she drops her gaze to the sandy ground. A rosy color stains her cheeks.
"So, what's your life plan?"
Bella giggles. "Life plan?"
Renée returns the chuckle. "Yes, life plan. What are your goals in life?"
Bella's eyes move from one side to the other, a clear sign of the many – though silent – thoughts that flash through her mind. Renée lets her think in piece, and sets the camera on a platform – a rock, perhaps? Now both women are visible on the screen.
Renée wraps her arm around Bella's shoulders, and Bella leans against her chest, still looking at the ground. Half lost in thought, she answers, "Graduation is my very first goal."
"And then?" Renée pulls her down to the ground. When they are both sitting in the sand, Bella lets her free hand run through the small pebbles and lets out a content sigh.
"And then… I'm going to college. Somewhere exotic. Hawaii sounds nice right now, you know. But then again, any place with even the smallest portion of sunlight in a year will be heaven compared to Forks."
Bella now looks up again, and gazes intently at her mother. The latter is smiling, and takes her daughter's chin in her hand as she speaks. "You don't have to leave."
But Bella only shakes her head in the stubborn way I both adore and detest. Her mother sighs and continues her interrogation. "And then? What do you want to do? It's important to think about it, even when you're so young."
Bella lets her thoughts drift away again, and by the concentrated look in her eyes and the manner in which her brows furrow, I can tell she is thinking hard. "I don't know. I honestly don't have any dream job right now. It's still so far away."
"You know what you could become? A clown! Imagine – You could make money from your natural talent in tripping."
I chuckled at Renée's small joke, but the younger Bella only rolls her eyes.
"Tell me, then. You want to be a housewife?"
"No!" Bella's mouth pulls down in a comical grimace. "Besides, who would want me? I was rather under the impression you needed a husband to be a housewife."
Renée's eyes suddenly lose their good humor. A solemn feeling overcomes the joking atmosphere as she speaks. "But if you really must leave, Bella, promise me one thing – Be responsible, all right? Don't run off with some biker gang dude. I want my daughter back in one piece."
"And no ring on her finger?" Bella wiggles her left fingers in front of her face, pretending to observe the part just above the knuckles. Her obvious attempt to ease her mother's tense posture fails.
"No ring. Please, please just remain mature when you arrive at Forks. Small towns can sometimes be deceiving."
Bella rolls her eyes again, and gives up trying to preserve the peaceful ambiance. "I'm not going to run off with anyone. Really, Mom. You know me better than that. Like I said before – No man would even endure me."
Renée looks disapproving of Bella's words. "Don't be like that, Bella. You have such a negative impression of yourself. I'll tell you exactly why every man on earth should drool after you – You are lovable, smart, witty, caring, good-natured… Should I continue?"
A furious blush embellishes Bella's gentle face, and she lowers her eyes to the ground again. The slowly setting run sends rays of red to her bare arms, illuminating the pale skin to colors I had never seen them lightened up with before. I made a mental note to myself to bring Bella to the ocean once more before her change, preferably on a sunny afternoon. The reddish light was something I had to experience with my love before I plunged her into darkness.
"Don't forget clumsy, naïve, uninteresting…" Bella's voice was faint as she continued Renée's list with her own adjectives.
"That may or may not be true, but either way, they just make you even more lovable."
Renée's words were sincere, and I found myself sympathizing with her sweet-tempered character immediately. Renée Dwyer was more intelligent than Bella gave her credit for.
Bella only shakes her head, clearly mistrusting her mother's words.
"Promise me, Bella." Renée's voice is desperate, pleading.
"I promise. I won't run off with anyone, and I definitely won't get married until I'm at least as old as you are now. Unless I fall down and break my neck before I get that far."
"Who knows, you might meet someone you like at Forks"
The young girl laughs unenthusiastically. "Yeah. Sure. If I ever see the sun again, I'll marry it instead. Who needs a man?"
"No one dangerous, though. Promise. If you do like someone, at least make a sensible pick. A young man who wants to study medicine or something. A smart person. Someone safe and kind-hearted."
Now Bella's smile is more genuine. "No one dangerous. Got it."
The two women embrace, chuckling at the silly theme and the relief of finally leaving the melancholic subjects.
The enlightening film rolls to an end.
I turned around slowly, only to meet Bella's horrorstruck eyes. Her still damp hair fell over her shoulders to her waist, and her arms were slightly raised – A simply irresistible invitation to scoop her up in my embrace.
But instead, I slowly stepped forward, and placed my hands on her delicate waist. Her heat radiated through the thick layer of clothing.
Bella's mouth fell open after standing there for a minute, and her horrified expression gradually turned to one of rage. "You… were snooping around my things?"
"I found the disc by accident, and couldn't resist watching it. I apologize. It was very rude of me."
She didn't answer, but the rapid beating of her heart warned me that the worst may not be over just yet. Crossing her arms over her chest, Bella dropped her gaze to the floor before the fiery blush had time to consume her entire face.
The perfume of her blood swam through the air, tickling my nostrils as I slowly breathed in.
"Are you angry?"
"A little." She had closed her eyes, now, and was recoiling slightly from my touch.
Not being able to bear my love in that tense stance, I pulled her closer to my chest and kissed her wet hair. "I'm sorry. I truly am."
Bella nodded into my chest, but the scorching blush never left her cheeks.
"I shouldn't have."
"No, no. It's all right. I'm only a little… embarrassed. You shouldn't have seen that particular movie."
I took a step back to evaluate her face. To my great relief, all traces of anger seemed to have vanished, and only the blazing embarrassment remained. Lifting my fingers to her scarlet face, I traced Bella's features with my hand as I formed my words of consolation.
"You look very beautiful in the sun. Very warm."
I earned a tiny smile for my efforts.
"You and Renée were very close. Of course I knew that, but only now do I see just how earnest you were when you told me. You two looked inseparable."
"We were best friends." Bella sank onto the bed behind her, and turned to face me. Only a fracture of her previous blush still lingered on her face.
I seated myself beside my greatest love, and took her hand in mine. When would she understand that she should never feel ashamed for anything she had ever done?
But the warmth of her hand reminds me of my own sorrow. "You promised – Nobody dangerous."
As I'd expected, Bella immediately knew where I was heading. "You don't count into that category."
"Don't I?" I raised my eyebrow, and stared at Bella incredulously. I was the most dangerous creature on the face of the earth, and every feature I had was designed for the kill. Even her insane mind should have grasped that fact by now.
I sighed, and moved my hand away from hers. "In what category do you count me in, then?"
Instead of answering, Bella kissed me on the cheek, surprising me with her sudden confidence.
The kiss was all the answer I needed.
I gathered her hand in mine again, this time entwining our fingers to make sure it never escaped. "You're always so warm. You said you moved away from the sun, but you're wrong. You brought it to Forks."
"No, now you're wrong," Bella contradicted, and slid closer to me on the mattress. "I found it again."
I smiled, and let her words sink in.
Sometimes, Bella could make even a vampire as myself feel exceptionally warm.
"I didn't move away from the sun. I chased after it."
I would have challenged her words, but I knew it was no use. Instead, I added my argument in the closure of my mind.
No you didn't, my love. You brought it back to me.