Ode to My Family – Chapter 5
My body shook with fear as I waited for Charlie to open the front door, I tightened my grip on Antony's hand and looked down at him as I heard the tell-tale clicking of the latch.
The door swung open to reveal my dad- dressed in the same sweatpants and t-shirt that he always changed into when returning home from work- with a look of pure shock on his age worn face. "B...Bella?" he said, exhaling loudly.
"Hey Dad." I replied, hiding by fear of being turned away with a small smile. Charlie smiled back, then glanced at my left hand. I followed his gaze as he took in Antony's appearance, his smile growing bigger still.
Antony pulled his hand away from my grasp, "Grandpa Charlie!" he squealed as he ran forwards, wrapping his arms round Charlie's waist as best he could.
"Hey kiddo," Charlie said as his arms wrapped around Antony's small frame "Come on in Bella." He said to me as he picked Antony up and carried him into the living room. I grabbed my suitcase and follow him, shutting the front door behind me.
Charlie's living room, much like the exterior of the house and Charlie himself, hadn't changed at all. Everything in here was the same, right down to my school photo's in frames on all the surfaces of the room, even the old brown suede couch was still here, as warm and inviting as ever. I placed my suitcase and purse on the floor and sank slowly into the sofas many cushions.
"Bella," my dad said to me as he put Antony down on the sofa next to me, and took a seat on the armchair next to me, "what are you doing here?"
I gulped. "Well... I'm not gonna lie here dad, I'm flat broke, I cant even afford to eat lunch any more, and I had to take out a loan to fly here and talk to you. I have I new job, but I wont get a pay check till the end of next month and my rent is due really soon and I have bills to pay and I really don't wanna lose my apartment cos they'll take Antony away from me, and I cannot let them do that!" I said, as fast as I possibly could and some how managing not to stutter at all. I looked over at my Dad, the look of guilt on his face was almost unbelievable, almost.
"Gee Bells, I'm sorry. I guess this happening was kind of inevitable. Shutting you out like that, you have to understand. It seemed like the right thing to do." He replied, taking a deep but shaky breath after finishing his last sentence.
"Uh, Dad." I said glancing down to where Antony sat, his eyes whirling around the room.
"Oh yeah," He replied after catching what I meant. "Go and put him in your old room, it's just how you left it."
I smiled and picked up my bags. "Antony, come upstairs and you can play in Mommy's old bedroom." I told him.
Antony jumped up "Are there toys in there mommy?" He asked with an excited smile.
"No honey." I replied, "But you brought some toys with you, why don't you play with those instead?" Antony had bounded up the cramped staircase before I could even check if he'd been listening to me, I followed after him as fast as I could.
"Which door is it?" He asked me as I was reaching the last few steps.
"The one on the left sweetie."
When we got inside the room I placed my bag at the foot of the bed, Antony followed suit with his backpack, and then jumped up onto the bed excitedly.
"Now baby," I looked him straight in the eye, "you stay up here okay? The bathroom is the door on the other side of the stairs. Mommy's gotta go and talk to Grandpa Charlie about grown up things. Will you be okay?"
"Yes Mommy." He said as he began rummaging in his rucksack for his toys.
I headed back downstairs, Charlie was sitting on the couch with a beer in each hand.
"Is he okay Bella?" He asked as I lowered myself into the soft couch.
"Yeah, he's good," I replied "Can we please talk now?" I asked him.
"Sure." He nodded, passing me a can. "So, why are you here Bella? Do you need money?" Charlie asked, setting his face into that of a police chief, as if he were pulling on a mask.
"Well ermm, kinda." I replied, trying not to look my Dad in the eye, my embarrassment written all over my face.
"Kinda? Bella it's either yes or no. You either need money or you don't. Simple." He snapped.
"Fine then, I do. I need money- to any normal person it's not that much money- but I need it." I said.
Charlie gazed sternly at me, setting his beer on the floor. "How much do you need Bella?"
"Five hundred dollars."
"What for?" He questioned, the expression on his face unchanging.
"Rent, bills, repayment on the loan I had to take out a couple of months ago. Normally I'd be okay, but I wont see a paycheck from my new job until the middle of next month at least." I told him truthfully.
"How much do you have in your bank account?" Charlie's faced now held a rather concerned look.
"Dad, that's a bit of a personal question!" I cried as I placed my beer on the coffee table in front of me.
"Cut the crap Bella. Do you want me to help you or not? Just answer the question."
I gulped in a breath of air and answered "20 dollars." as I looked intently at the floor.
"20 dollars! You expect to look after your self and your six year old son for a month with 20 dollars." He shouted.
"I have before! But I had paychecks on the way then."
Charlie looked at me, his face softening with every passing second, "Why didn't you ask for help before?" He asked, his voice barely above a whisper.
"Because you hate me." I told him, my gaze still fixed firmly at my shoes.
Charlie's face sunk, hurt flashing across his features. "Bells, look at me," he whispered "I have never hated you."
I felt tears begin to flood to my eyes. "Then why didn't you answer my calls? Why didn't you come and see me?" I all but shouted at him as fat tears began to roll down my cheeks.
"I...I was disappointed in you Bella. Fuck, what father wouldn't have been. Getting pregnant in college, did your mother and I teach you nothing? And then you left that boy you were with, Antony's farther, and I didn't know what to think. By the time I realized just what I was missing out on you were gone. No one knew where you were." Charlie was on the brink of tear now. "Even when you asked me to send you the rocking chair, you didn't give an address, just a P.O box."
"I'm sorry Dad." Really I was, I hadn't realized that in all my pain and struggling, my dad had been hurting as well. Great my inner monologue told me now your a crappy daughter andmother. I slid closer to Charlie. "I thought you hated me."
Charlie pulled me into a hug, "Bells," he whispered into my hair. "I could never hate you. Thank you for coming home."
My tears overtook me, an age seemed to pass before Charlie asked, "How long do you want to stay here Bells?"
"10 days, if that's alright with you." I replied through puffy eyes.
I saw Charlie smile out of the corner of my eye. "That's fine Bells, don't you worry."
I smiled back and sipped the last few drops of my beer.
"It's getting late Bells, you want me to get you the spare mattress out?" My dad asked, getting up from the couch and taking my can from my hand.
"No it's fine Dad. We can get it tomorrow, I'll just put some blankets on the floor tonight, I'm really tired."
"Kay Bells, see you in the morning." My dad said as he started towards the kitchen.
I stood slowly, "Night Dad." I called as I headed out the room.
When I entered my room, Antony was sitting cross-legged on the mat playing with an action figure.
"Time to get ready for bed now sweetie," I said as I took his pajamas out of his bag. "Put your toys away now."
"Okay Mommy." He said, putting the action figure in his bag and pulling his pajamas towards him.
I went to the airing cupboard and got out a sleeping bag, pillow and duvet, it wouldn't be 100% comfortable, but it was better than trying to share a single bed with Antony. I walked back into the room, and arranged my bedding on the floor, spreading out in the miniscule section of floor spare that my tiny bedroom held.
"Lets go brush our teeth." I said to Antony when he had his pajamas on, I grabbing our toothbrushes from our bags and ushering him towards the bathroom.
The rest of the evening passed in a similar fashion, the last I was aware of was my head hitting the pillow.
The next two days at my Dad's passed in a blur, Dad took the week off work, and we took Antony to First beach, to clamber about in the rock pools and play football with Dad. Yesterday we spent the day in Port Angeles, it was raining so we spent most of the day indoors. I felt bad, Dad insisted on paying for everything: bowling, movie tickets, popcorn, dinner. He told me not to worry about it, that 'I know you'd pay if you could Bells' and 'this is me making up for all the Christmas' and birthdays I've missed'; but this just made me feel worse. One day I'll pay him back I told myself, I just didn't know when that day would be.
Today Dad had taken Antony fishing with Billy and himself, I stayed at home; if I was there – knowing my luck – I'd end up getting tangled in the fishing line, falling in the river and waking up with amnesia. So, I stayed at home. I had spent the morning cleaning the downstairs of the home and was just readying myself for a trip to the grocery store when my cellphone started to ring.
"Hello?" I answered as I took the spare change jar out of one of the kitchen cupboards.
"Miss Swan. Hi there, it's Charlotte from Evolutionary Marketing here, I'm calling to inform you that you are required to start work tomorrow morning at 8am, and not next Monday as was previously arranged." The voice on the other end spoke quickly, an air of panic evident in their voice. Tomorrow! My head was screaming How can I possibly be back in New York by tomorrow?
"Miss Swan, are you there?"
"Yes, sorry. It's just, I'm in Washington State right now, how am I going to get back to New York by tomorrow?" I said, visibly distressed.
"I'm afraid Miss Swan you're just gonna have to work that out yourself. I can personally recommend American Airlines for good late deals."
"Thanks. Do you know why I am so desperately required tomorrow and not on Monday?" I asked.
"Strictly speaking I'm not allowed to disclose that information." Charlotte said, her voice then dropping to a whisper as she then told me, "We lost a really important deal with a huge manufacturer to a rival company. It's pandemonium here right now, we need all the help we can get."
"Thank you." I told her sincerely, "I guess I'll see you tomorrow then." I mumbled, still doubtful that I'd be able to get back by then.
"See you." Charlotte said before I heard her hang up. She seemed nice, and now I'd have one less person to meet at work.
I typed my Dad's number into the phone hurriedly and waited anxiously for him to pick up.
"Hey Bells, what's up?" he answered my cheerily, clearly oblivious as to why I was calling.
"Dad, I have to to go. The company wants me to start work tomorrow. I have to book tickets to fly home tonight. Oh god, I don't have anyone to look after Antony. And where am I gonna find 2 tickets of a flight to New York tonight?" I was panicking, no, I was way beyond panicking.
"Bella, calm down. We're coming home, we'll talk about it went we get back. Pour yourself a coffee and go and watch the flat screen. See you in 30 minuets." Charlie told me, I could hear him slowly gathering together his things already.
"Kay Dad, bye." I told him, not waiting for him to say goodbye before I ended the call.
45 minutes later I was sitting on the sofa, coffee in hand, just as my Dad had instructed me.
"Your late." I half shouted as he stepped through the front door.
"Sorry Bella, we got stuck behind a logging truck, couldn't get past. I'll just go put our stuff in the garage, then we can talk." He said, walking straight back outside. I drew in a shaky breath and waited for him to return.
Dad was back pretty quickly, he sat down opposite me on the sofa and said "I have an idea Bella."
"What?" I asked, hoping he'd hurry so I could call an airline.
"Why don't you leave Antony here with me, not for ever, just until Christmas, you'll be back on your feet by then, and you guys can spend the holidays here, then you can take Antony back home. This way you can get on with your new job, and get back on track, without having to worry about him. What do you say Bella?" He said, gazing hopefully up at me.
I was, shocked to say the least. "Really dad, you'd do that for me?" I questioned.
"You bet, Forks Elementary could do with a few more pupils." He joked.
"Oh Dad," I leaned over and hugged him "That would be fantastic!"
Dad just smiled back at me, his smile sticking to his cheeks long after I pulled out of our hug. "I'm gonna go call the airline now."
By some strange yet wonderful miracle I had found a spare seat on the red eye to New York, and, because I had just switched the date of my previous booking and canceled Antony's ticket, I hadn't had to pay for it. As soon as my ticket was booked I was upstairs gathering my things, I was out of the house and in the cruiser with Dad and Antony in less the half an hour. We had explained our plan to Antony during the drive, he hadn't been to keen, he's never been away from me for more than an evening, but we managed to convince him that he'd be okay- it'll only be til Christmas and he can call me anytime of the day.
In what seemed like no time at all we were pulling into the airport in Seattle, our goodbyes were said in the car, I kept them brief, I needed to run to find my gate and get through security.
"Bye Dad, thanks for everything." I muttered to my dad, then turned to Antony, who had fallen asleep in the back of the car, I kissed his forehead and whispered, "I love you baby, be good for Grandpa.". I then jumped out of the car, grabbed my bag, and headed for the airport.
My gate was easy to find, as it was one of the last few that were open, I didn't bother checking in my bag, I needed to be out of JFK as swiftly as possible. Checking in and getting through security seemed to take an eternity, I could feel my energy slowly depleting as I stood there. Finally, I made it through security just as my flight was being called and rushed to join my last line of the evening, eager to find my seat and get as much sleep as possible. My flight would be landing in New York at a little before 5am, giving me enough time to run back to my apartment, shower, change and head to Manhattan for my first day of 'office work'.
I settled into my seat, after placing my bag in the overhead locker, the next thing I remembered we were touching down in New York.
Stepping through the doors of my new place of work at 7:45 that morning my nerves hit me like a freight train. I'd never had this kind of job before, I was severely out of my comfort zone. I lingered momentarily underneath the air vent above the door while I gathered the courage to approach the reception desk.
The receptionist from the day of my interview was no where in sight, I approached instead a plain looking woman with an expression of pure boredom on her face.
"Err, hi, my name's Isabella Swan, I believe you have a swipe card waiting for me." I stated, trying to appear confident.
"Ah yes Miss Swan. Here's your card. You swipe in over there just in front of the elevators." She pulled out a plastic case with the building address written on it. "There's a spare in this pack in case your card get lost or damaged. If you ever need to access the building between 11pm and 5am then please use the back entrance, the code for the door is in there. Call back here if you ever need any help in the future." And with that she returned to whatever it was she had been doing before I had arrived. I mumbled a quick 'thanks' before walking towards the barriers and swiping in, catching the next elevator to the 7th floor of the vast building.
Trapped in the small metallic confines of the elevator my nerves increased tenfold. My fingers grasped hard onto the handrail, willing for emotional support that a metal bar could not supply as I forced my mind not to dwell upon the what if's. All too soon the elevator pinged its arrival on the 7th floor, and I stepped out into the bedlam that was my new place of work.
While the reception area was relatively quiet, the office floor- which was clearly visible through the thin glass wall – was anything but. My eyes scanned the eons of people working at such a frantic pace that they could have been on fast forward, while my feet took tentative steps towards the desk.
"How can I help?" asked the receptionist, her eyes not leaving the paper she was writing on.
"Hi, Isabella Swan, we spoke on the phone yesterday?" I asked, hoping that this was indeed the same person.
"Oh thank god you're here!" She exclaimed as she jumped up from her seat, "With all the panic round here I've been doing your job as well as mine."
I half smiled at her, "It's no problem."
"Right," she said, grabbing a file off her desk and walking round to greet me, "I'll give you a quick tour then I'll show you where you'll be working and get you started" She walked towards the entrance to the office floor and motioned for me to follow, I stumbled after her, catching one foot on the other but somehow saving myself from falling flat on my face.
"Careful Isabella, we don't need a lawsuit on your first day."
I blushed, my cheeks flaring with embarrassment, "Don't worry, lets get to work."
After being whisked through the office at breakneck speed, we reached a small empty desk in the secluded area just across from the main copy room.
"Right," Charlotte said "here's where you'll be working, please take a seat." I sat quickly on the battered swivel chair provided. "You'll be doing standard data entry 9-4 Monday through Friday. You'll be given handwritten reports and expected to simply type them up, correcting any spelling mistakes. All pages must be stapled together, and copies made of everything unless otherwise stated. Pending work will be placed in the blue tray for your completion, completed documents will be placed in the red. Don't worry about taking the work to the departments, someone will be by hourly to collect any work and distribute it accordingly. You have thirty minutes for lunch and a five minute break every two hours. This file contains your log in details, salary details and company policies for things like holiday. I'm sorry this was so rushed, but I really have to get back to my desk. Have a nice first day, I'm extension 247 if you need anything." She smiled lightly at me.
"Thanks Charlotte, I guess I'll see you later." I replied, waiting for her to leave before turning to the file she had given me and starting work.
The work dragged on, who knew that data entry could be so monotonous? By one thirty I was more than ready to begin my lunch break. From the map of the building I could see that the nearest dining hall was down on the 5th floor, with thirty minutes I doubted I'd have enough time to leave the building, find a place to eat and return. I grabbed my hand bag and headed towards the elevators.
The level of chaos the employees were working at seemed to have not dimmed in the hours I had been sat working at my desk, the frantic murmur of voices, shuffling of paper and tapping of computer keys filled my ears as I walked towards the reception area. I was glad for the busyness of the work force, as no one really had the time to notice the shabbily dressed new girl as she walked by to begin her lunch break. I wasn't all that comfortable with being the center of attention.
Reaching the reception, Charlotte was not at her desk, so I pushed for the elevator, my foot lightly tapping to an imaginary beat. After what seemed like an eternity I heard the familiar ping of the elevator and watched the doors slowly open. The sight I was faced with caused my heart rate to increase rapidly, my eyes to flare wide open, and my stomach to contract, giving me the feeling of being punched in the gut. I had hoped never to see him again, no, I had expected it.
"Bella?" I heard him exclaim as I watched the elevator doors slide to a close, trapping Edward behind them.
Yes yes yes, hugely ridiculous wait. I am sorry, but I did have GCSE's to pass, hopefully I did.
I will update again, eventually... I feel its just gotten a tiny bit interesting.