Ok loyal readers! I thought up this story while I spent an endless amount of time in the dentist's chair…nothin' but time baby! I am incorporating some more of my experiences, but mostly its based off of the twilight story. So if you see a lot of similarities its because Twilight is perfect and no one can write better than Stephenie Meyer.
That being said:
Disclaimer….I DO NOT OWN TWILIGHT OR THE CHARACTERS. I am just borrowing them for my own amusement.
Backstory: Bella has been coming back to Forks every summer, even through her teens. She doesn't just stay for two weeks she stays for the whole summer. During that time she hesitantly made friends with local Forks teenagers and at the end of each summer they would all do some sort of trip together.
I was back in Forks, this time for good.
I had spent most of my life in Phoenix, Arizona and couldn't imagine living anywhere else besides the big, sunny city. That dream has ended, at least for the foreseeable future. It's my own fault really. I made the choice to move back with my father in Washington, a state known for its perpetually overcast days. My mother had recently remarried to someone who had to travel a lot. Instead of making her miserable by staying with me, I told her I wanted to finish out high school living with Charlie.
I just hoped it wasn't the biggest mistake of my life.
I didn't mind spending summers here. I had a group of people I guess you could call my friends, although I think I am only friends with them because Charlie is the chief of police. They wanted to get on good terms with the Chief's daughter and Charlie knew their families and encouraged me to get out of the house with kids my own age. I admit, we did have fun a lot of the time, even though I still feel like I speak a different language than the rest of them. There were sometimes I felt like they had never met me before.
This was one of those times.
I was sitting at the local café with the whole group. Bubbly, blonde-haired Jessica sat next to me, always gushing about the boys in Forks. Usually the object of her affection was Mike, who was seated across from us. Mike had spiky blonde hair and intense blue eyes. I think they got real close when I wasn't here, but Mike seemed to give me a little too much attention during the summers. Trust me, I wasn't any more happy about that than Jessica was. Next to mike sat Eric and Ben, one very quirky and always animated and one very quiet and reserved. Ben's attention was usually focused on his long-time girlfriend, Angela, who was sitting on my other side. Angela was probably the one I connected the most with. She was quiet and kept her opinions to herself, which I appreciated more than anything. I liked for my time in Forks to pass quickly and without much fuss.
At the end of every summer, before I left to return to Phoenix, we all did some sort of big activity together. We had to keep it pretty local since we are all underage, but it was usually a good time. We would talk our parents into driving us to Seattle for a week or spend the weekend at the nearest theme park. But this year was different. This year we were almost adults. Apparently, my friends decided to break out the big guns.
"So," Mike began speaking to the table, "our annual summer blow-out will be in a few weeks and I think we have decided on what to do."
I waited, curious, because I wasn't let in on this decision.
He clapped his hands together excitedly, "We're going backpacking!"
Jessica shrieked and clapped her hands. Everyone else just grinned or voiced their approval…except for me.
I raised my hand slowly. "By backpacking, you mean camping right? Like we did the year before last?"
Eric scoffed at me, "No Bella! This is much cooler! This is EXTREME camping!"
Angela leaned over to me in order to be heard better, "Yeah, this is hiking into the mountains and camping out along the way. We will be away from everything for days! Doesn't that sound exciting?"
I shook my head slowly. No, it sounded scary to me; bad-luck and clumsy Bella. But I tried not to freak out. I just had to find a way to get out of it. "Umm, guys….I don't think me and backpacking is such a great idea."
Jessica cut off my protest. "Bella! You HAVE to come! We do a trip every year!"
Mike, of course, agreed with her. "We planned this trip to be the best since you are staying here for the rest of high school. It's a big deal!"
They all pleaded and begged for a little while I scrambled for another excuse. I couldn't say that Charlie would say no, because he is a big outdoors kind of guy. He would only be sad he couldn't come too.
Though I doubted they planned this trip especially for me, I felt guilty anyways. They knew that I was going to go before I did. Mike started planning out what supplies he would be able to get us from his parent's store and what we should pack. I told them just to hand me a list.
I knew this was going to be a disaster. As accident prone as I was…it would be nothing short of a miracle if I made it out alive, let alone uninjured.
The day of our trip arrived. I was wearing plenty of layers, despite the mild weather. I looked around at the rest of the group and saw we all dressed similar. Everyone knew how they weather could change in an instant in Washington, especially in the mountains. We wore long sleeved shirts under t-shirts and each had a thick jacket with us. I had my jacket tied around my waist.
Charlie had helped me pack, very excited to see me doing something outdoors. I tried not to grumble too much about it since he was being so good about letting a group of teenagers go off alone for a few days. "Just stick with the group," he told me before I left, "Most of these kids have been out in the mountains plenty of times. Just do what they do and for God's sake…stay on the trail!"
Mike did seem to know what he was doing. He had supplied us with almost everything we needed and made himself the unofficial leader of the group. I watched how the others secured their packs onto their body and mirrored their actions. I couldn't believe how much stuff was packed in my bag, but it didn't feel very heavy when I put it on. I checked to make sure my water bottle was within reach while Mike gave one last gear check.
"Okay, everyone have their map and compass? Knife, iodine tablets, first aid kits?"
We all nodded. We each had our own single person tent, sleeping bags, and a few days worth of dehydrated food. I knew there were several more things stuffed in my pack, but I was leaving most of that up to more capable hands.
"I have one emergency two way radio and Jessica has the other, so make sure that you stay within sight of one of us. We will take a lot of breaks and when we do be sure to eat something. Drink your water often and we can stop and refill it almost anywhere along the way since we are following a trail that runs a long a stream."
With those words and one group photo we headed out into the trail. Somehow I started off in the middle of the group and managed to keep up. I couldn't help but be a little excited. Washington was too wet and green for me, but I couldn't deny how beautiful it was. After an hour, we stopped along the trail and took off our packs for a break. I felt pretty energized and I could tell the rest of the group felt the same way. We were all cutting up and laughing at dumb stories from school. I felt myself relax for the first time since this trip was mentioned. The group broke up momentarily for bathroom breaks and then it was back on the trail.
A few more hours passed by and I began to feel the strain from the hike. The elevation changes were gradual, but grueling if you had an extra fifty pounds strapped to your back. I drank water as often as I could and tried to keep my weight balanced out. Of course I tripped a few times, but I was proud not to have seriously fallen or injured myself…yet.
We came around a bend in the trail and suddenly the group stopped. I thought it was another break already and gladly dropped my pack, rolling my aching shoulders. I stepped around the rest of my friends and gasped at what they were all staring at. A break in the tree line gave us the most magnificent view of the mountain range and valley. We had gone a lot higher than I thought and I took in the stunning view. The sun was low over the mountain tops, with predictable clouds moving in.
A few of us took some pictures of the scenery while debating on how much farther to keep going for the night. Mike checked his watch, "We only have about an hour and half of daylight and that's if we aren't really deep in the forest. I say we move up the trail a little ways and then set up camp for the night."
"Sounds good to me," I spoke in relief. The others laughed, but didn't disagree with me. We found a marked campsite a few hundred feet away and a safe distance from the edge of the mountain. A small branch of the stream we were following trickled nearby and we split up the camp duties. While the guys were out collecting firewood the girls began to refill and sterilize the water bottles. We also collected some in a small pot for re-hydrating some soup. When there was a small fire going, we each set up our tents and sleeping bags and settled around the fire just as the last rays of the sun left the thick trees.
I looked around nervously. Beyond the campfire it was complete darkness. I had been camping before, but never this far away from civilization. I didn't think sleep would come to me very easily tonight even though I was exhausted. I looked warily at my tent, illuminated by a green glow-stick, and thought about dragging it closer to the campfire. As soon as the sun set, the air cooled significantly and we all pulled our thick jackets on and huddled around the campfire.
Angela moved to sit next to me on a fallen tree. "Geez, I wish I would have brought a thicker coat!"
I nodded in agreement. Jessica overheard Angela's comment, "Yeah, but then we would have to carry our coats up the mountain during the day, and that would have been a pain."
Mike bounced over to the fire, "No worries…I have a feast for us!" He reached into his food sack and brought out a package triumphantly. "Hotdogs!"
I groaned in appreciation. I never thought a hotdog would sound as good as it did right at that moment. As he passed the bag around Jessica winked at me, "Well I think I might have that one beat." She pulled a bag of marshmallows out of her food bag. I think we scared the wildlife away with our cheers.
I was contently full with soup, hot dogs and marshmallows…the best meal I thought I had ever had. I stretched out in my small tent, rotating my tired ankles. We still had three more days before we completed the looped trail. I was actually really glad I had come on this trip, not that they gave me a lot of choice. I felt like I was getting closer to the people I had come to think of as friends. I needed all the friends I could get if I was going to survive Forks as a permanent resident. School started next week and I was trying not to think too much about it.
Despite what I had originally thought, I drifted off into a deep sleep almost right away.
The next morning came too early. I knew I was probably the only one awake but I couldn't contain my bladder for another minute. I was relieved to see light filtering through the trees…I wasn't looking forward to trying to find a place for the bathroom in the dark.
The camp was quiet as I pulled on my boots and jacket and moved to a cluster of bushes within sight of the tents. I glanced around and did my business quickly, and then decided to get a campfire going for everyone else.
Not long after I had clean water heated, the other hikers started stumbling out of their tents. Everyone looked about as tired as I felt, except for Mike. Mike jumped up and down to jump-start himself and then sank down beside of me. I didn't look at him or Jessica when he put his arm around me, "Did you sleep alright Bella?"
I smiled and nodded, "Not too bad actually, you?"
"I slept great! The thunder didn't keep me up long at all. I must have been really tired!"
I looked at him in confusion. "Thunder?"
Eric came and poured himself a cup of hot water to mix with some apple-cider powder. "Yeah, just after dawn. You didn't hear that?"
I shook my head. I must have slept better than I thought. Ben had his arms around Angela, "I thought we were going to have to delay our plans for while, but I guess the storm went right by us."
Thank heaven for small favors. On the other hand, I really could have used the rest. My shoulders, back and feet were killing me already.
We had our re-hydrated instant breakfast meals, cleaned ourselves up the best we could and packed up camp. I groaned as I tried to put the pack back on and ended up having Mike lift the pack onto my back for me as I secured the straps. "Try lifting it with your knee next time."
"Sure, sure." I mumbled.
We had only hiked about six miles yesterday, even though it felt like twenty. Eric looked at his map, "We need to keep a pretty steady pace today if we are going to stick to the schedule."
Today I had been moved to the rear, which suited me just fine. I felt bad for slowing down the group and frequently told them to keep going and I would catch up. That worked for a while. They would stop for a break and eventually I would come stumbling around the corner. I tried to appreciate the scenery like they did, but could only come up with half-hearted commentary. There was a lot of excitement when our path took us over foot bridges or rock paths through the streams. I wasn't excited to cross the stream, because almost every time we did I ended up soaked up to my knees from slipping on the wet stones. My knees were going to be black and blue by then end of this trip.
At one particular point when I had caught up with the group, Ben looked at me with an excited smile, "Hey Bella! Check out what I found!"
I unlatched my pack and let it slam to the dirt. Somehow I made it over to him before slamming myself down on the dirt as well. I looked up at him from where I sat and saw he had a baseball in his hands. "You found that? Way out here?" I asked, surprised.
He nodded, "Weird, huh? Who would bring a baseball on a hiking trip?"
I was beginning to think that no one in their right mind would ever want to go hiking…period.
I sat and tried to munch on my Snickers bar. I wasn't in the mood for chocolate at that moment, but I desperately needed the energy. After another water refill we readied for the last part of our hike that day. I needed help to get my pack again, and I trudged along behind them slow enough to be left behind…again. I was appreciative of this because I could take in some of the beautiful trees and wildlife alone, and I really hated the constant need for them to look behind them and ask if I was okay. Being in the back suited me just fine.
A flash of color out of the corner of my left eye brought me to a halt. I looked to the left and searched the thick forest. I listened carefully and only heard the rustle of leaves settling. After reassuring myself that there wasn't anything big, like a bear or wild boar, anywhere near me I continued on the trail. I heard the others talking up ahead and prayed that they had decided to stop to make camp for the night.
The guys and girls swapped jobs that night and I set out with Jessica and Angela to look for firewood. Angela and I tried to keep up with Jessica's chatter as we collected armfuls of sticks and fallen branches. "Hey Bella!" Jessica called over to me. "Don't forget to cut yourself a stick for marshmallows!" I waved back to let her know I heard her and set my firewood down to do what she reminded me. I looked around and saw a low-lying branch off a live tree and stepped over to it. I grabbed a small part of it and took out my pocket knife and began sawing at it. I had just gotten through the last part of it when my knife slipped and cut my palm. "Ouch!" I cried out and grabbed my hand. I heard leaves rustle behind me and turned, expecting Jessica or Angela. When I looked I saw nothing there. More rustling came from my right and I turned quickly, catching a flash of color…red? Maybe a red-gold? I thought of bears and sucked in my breath. My heart pounded in my ears as I gripped my pocket knife defensively. When I heard footsteps behind me I whirled and gasped. Jessica shrieked, "Jesus Bella! What's your problem? You almost stabbed me!"
I struggled to control my breathing. I looked back at where I last saw the flash of red-gold, but there was nothing there. I folded my knife and put it back into my pocket, "I'm sorry Jessica, you startled me"
"Oh my God! You're bleeding!" She grabbed my injured hand. I looked down and saw a thin line of blood dripping off my hand. I saw black spots in front of my eyes and quickly averted my gaze. Oh boy…
"Jessica, I might pass out."
Jessica called out for Angela and the girls each took my arm and put it around their shoulders. Somehow I managed to stay conscious as they sat me down at the newly-started campfire. The boys came over and hovered in concern. Mike, ever the leader, took out his first aid kit. "It's not bad at all Bella. I am going to clean it up and wrap it for you."
I couldn't answer. I just breathed slowly in and out of my mouth. If I smelled blood, I knew I was done. Thankfully, Angela brought me a cool, damp cloth to hold against my forehead and Eric made me some sugar-packed cider. By the time Mike was done I was feeling almost normal. "Thanks guys." I smiled sheepishly at them.
Jessica laughed, "It wouldn't have been a complete trip without something happening to you Bella, we were all just waiting for it." I burned bright with embarrassment, but knew they were right.
"Well at least we can all stop waiting for it, right?" I said jokingly.
We had another feast, this time with Ramen Noodles. I ate like I never had anything better in my life. My hand twinged every now and then, and I was reminded about what I saw, or didn't see, in the forest earlier. I looked around me every time I heard a rustling in the woods. It was pitch black again and I couldn't see anything past the glow of the campfire. Whatever was making that noise was staying hidden in the darkness. Sleep did not come to me easily that night.
So? What do you think? Should I run with it or scrap the idea and go with something else? Let me know and I will try to update soon if ya'll like it.
Hmmm blood…baseballs…something in the woods…..