The Adventures of Silly Bella
A/N: This is a more somber chapter. WARNING: MENTIONS OF CHILD ABUSE. This chapter is named after a touching song by country singer Jason Michael Carroll, Alyssa Lies. I typed out the lyrics to the song in the chapter. Songs about child abuse really make me tear up - it's just a really horrible thing.
I hope I'm not offending anyone with this chapter, as I know this is a very sensitive topic. I've never experienced child abuse and everything I'm writing is merely based on my imagination.
Please tell me what you think of this chapter with a review. Thank you so much.
My little girl met a new friend just the other day
On the playground at school
Between the tires and the swings
I looked around the school grounds for a sign of the brunette beauty that had graced our lives. I had taken a few days off to spend with the family and had volunteered to pick Bella up after school today. Esme had enough on her plate as it was and I missed the menial task of picking up my daughter.
I spotted her running towards me from the school. I grinned and waved at her as she came closer. Her smile grew wider as she spotted me. Typical of her, she tripped a few times before reaching me. I reached down and swung her up into my arms to prevent her from tripping yet again. I knew she was standing still but that has never stopped her before.
I reveled in the warmth of her presence and the happiness radiating off of her. "Hello, sweetheart," I greeted her with a kiss to the forehead. "How was your day?"
I buckled her in in the backseat, listening to her chatter on and on about how there was a new girl in class. It seemed that Bella had made instant friends with her. "Her name's Alyssa, daddy. She's the sweetest, most prettiest girl ever! She's real shy and it's her first day so she didn't have any friends so I told her that I'd sit with her during recess…"
I smiled. "That was really nice of you, Bella," I commented, getting into the driver's seat and buckling in before pressing on the gas pedal.
She threw me a huge, toothy grin. "Thanks, daddy," she blushed. "Alyssa's the smartest girl ever. I told her I wasn't all that good at math, but if she ever needed help in English, I could help her. She said she'd help me with math. I think she's really nice. Do you want to meet her, daddy? She's really pretty…She has long blonde hair, like mommy's! Only, it's not curly…It's straight. And it's not golden like mommy's, but it's still nice. And she has blue eyes and her skin is almost as pale as mine!"
We continued chatting about her newfound friend all the way back home. I deliberately drove at a human pace just so I could have more time to talk to my daughter, just me and her.
When we reached home, she was impatient to get inside to tell the others about Alyssa. I smiled at her childlike enthusiasm. It was good that she still had that innocence, even after knowing the horrors of our world. I was thankful for that.
But she came home with tear-filled eyes
And she said to me, "Daddy, Alyssa lies."
It has been a few months since Bella met Alyssa. They had become pretty close friends and I was glad. Though Alyssa never came over, I'd met her a few times when I'd gone to pick Bella up from school and she seemed like a sweet girl. Bella always talked of her and I knew she loved her new friend.
Edward had jokingly moped and asked if Alyssa had taken his place as her 'bestest friend ever!' He himself had never met the girl - Alyssa normally took her bike home quickly after the last bell rang and only one or two of us had actually met her for brief moments.
Bella had been quick to assure him though she'd later asked shyly if he'd be offended if it was a tie. Edward - and the rest of us, really - had simply been happy for her.
I heard the soft footfalls that I'd come to relate to Bella and looked up just in time to see her entering my office. She'd been taking a bath when I came home and Rosalie had made sure she'd gotten her dinner right after.
Alice had mentioned that Bella wanted to talk to me but she changed her mind too much for Alice to determine what was bothering her.
I saw her linger in the doorway, biting her lip in anxiety, and shuffling her feet. Her pajamas were a matching set, with an adorable animated bunny on the front. "Bella?" I prompted, calling out her name when she continued to linger.
She started, then blushed when she looked up. She'd been thinking too hard about something and hadn't even realized that I'd noticed her there. She tentatively stepped into my office. I waved her over and she ran up to me. I lifted her off the floor and settled her on my lap. "What is it, sweetheart?" I asked soothingly.
Her eyes immediately filled up with tears and I panicked, imagining the worst case scenarios. "Daddy," she said. "Alyssa lies."
Well I just brushed it off at first
'Cause I didn't know how much my little girl had been hurt
Or the things she had seen
I wasn't ready when I said "You can tell me."
And she said
Alyssa lies to the classroom
Alyssa lies everyday at school
Alyssa lies to the teachers
As she tries to cover every bruise
I was momentarily relieved. I knew it was wrong of me, but I was. It was just a case of two friends coming to some sort of misunderstanding. Alyssa had lied and Bella was feeling hurt. It was a sad thing, really, but it was better than the horrible things that had run through my mind the moment I saw her tearing up.
So I brushed my hand through her silken mahogany hair and smiled comfortingly at her, the way a father did for his child. "You can tell me, sweet pea."
What she said next painted an ugly picture in my head. I understood immediately what my naïve, innocent baby didn't, and I hated it. If it was possible, it felt like my long dead heart was pounding against my chest once again.
How was I supposed to approach this subject? How was I supposed to tell this girl that her beloved friend was going through something so painful that she'd never even knew existed. To a child like her, parents were meant to protect their kids. We were supposed to love them and cherish them.
Muttering a quick prayer under my breath, I managed to force out a smile. Ever perceptive, Bella frowned at it. "Bella, honey…I don't know why Alyssa didn't tell the truth," I lied. "I think… That Alyssa is having her own, personal problems that is very hurtful. I think she's afraid and embarrassed to talk about it to anyone. Would you like me to ask her? I promise I'll try my best to help."
Bella gave me a watery smile. "Thank you, daddy," she whispered, leaning forward to wrap her arms around my neck. I hugged her back as tightly as I could without actually bruising her. I was thankful that my family and I had taken her in, instead of a family we didn't know who could hurt her.
My little girl laid her head down that night to go to sleep
As I stepped out the room I heard her say
A prayer so soft and sweet
"God bless my mom and my dad
And my new friend Alyssa"
Oh I know she needs you bad because
Alyssa lies to the classroom
Alyssa lies everyday at school
Alyssa lies to the teachers
As she tries to cover every bruise
I had tucked Bella in for the night, her curiosity about her friend's tendency to lie and her worry for her tiring her out earlier than usual. I'd kissed her forehead, re-stated my promise to talk to Alyssa (and her teacher) the next day, and turned off the lights.
I stepped out of the room, swinging the door shut. I sighed heavily at the turn of events things had taken, shaking my head. I wanted, more than anything, for Bella not to know what her friend was going through.
I was going to help Alyssa out as much as I could - which was a lot. I knew I would be able to get the authorities to do something about it. It was such a horrible thing for any child to go through. I couldn't imagine sweet Alyssa having an abusive home.
I was about to move down the hallway. The entire family had heard, of course, of Bella's confession to me. They, too, had understood what the bruises Alyssa kept covering up must have meant. I was going to tell Esme that I would call in sick on Monday to talk to Alyssa and her teacher.
Before I could move two steps, I heard Bella's sweet voice whispering. Curious, I listened.
"Dear God. Thank you very much for everything you've given me and my family. Even though they're vampires, they're all very good people and they like you. My daddy takes me to church a lot… Please bless my mom and my dad, and my new friend Alyssa. I know she needs you real bad because she's sad all the time though she tries to hide it. And I know she's hurting because bruises can be very painful. I fall down lots so I know. My daddy said Alyssa is afraid. I'm praying, God, so that you would help her and not make her afraid anymore. I want her to be happy forever and ever. Thank you. Amen."
My breathing hitched in my throat as I heard her prayer. I had never tried implementing religion onto the other kids. Despite the fact that I felt they were my children, they were grown adults who had lived for far longer than what the humans think. They were entitled to their own beliefs. Not to mention, it was already strange enough for a vampire to believe in God.
Bella, however, was different. I'd retained my belief in God, after the twenty years my father had taken to instill religious faith in me. I never really went to church much until Bella came along. I thought it was very important for her to have faith and taught her everything my father taught me.
Blinking away the venom in my eyes that would never fall, I moved swiftly down the hallway. Descending the stairs, I smiled sadly at my wife who was sitting on the couch. She returned it with one of her own.
"How is she?" she asked me softly.
I shrugged half-heartedly. "Confused and worried. I'm taking the day off on Monday, Esme. I want to talk to Bella's teacher and Alyssa."
Esme nodded. "Alice told me," she informed me. "Would you like me to go with you?"
I brightened up slightly. "Would you, darling? I know you're busy with reconstruction on that new house you'd bought in Canada…"
She shook her head, taking my hand in hers. "Nonsense, love. I'm there for you." I sighed in relief and shot her a grateful smile, pulling her to my side.
I had the worst night of sleep in years
As I tried to think of a way to calm her fears
I knew exactly what I had to do
But when we got to school on Monday I heard the news
Nothing could've made my night any worse. Normally, laying with Esme in my arms, all my problems, my responsibilities, would fade away. This time, however, my mind was plagued with the 'what ifs' of Monday.
Esme would've tried to placate me but I knew she, too, was worried.
I knew, of course, what I had to do. I had to talk to Bella's and Alyssa's teacher and see if she'd noticed anything strange about Alyssa and her parents. Then I had to tell her what Bella had mentioned to me before voicing my concerns.
I sincerely hoped Alyssa wouldn't clam up and not talk to us. I wanted to help her but if she was too afraid to admit anything, to seek help, there was nothing I could do about that.
Bella would be devastated if that were the case. Her friend would still be in trouble, she would not get any answers and Alyssa would probably be mad at Bella for getting us involved.
I sent a prayer and hoped that everything would work out well before closing my eyes and wrapping my arms tighter around Esme.
Before I knew it, morning had rolled around again.
Esme kissed my cheek gently, gave me a reassuring smile before climbing out of bed, most probably to make Bella breakfast. I laid still in bed for a little while, hearing the rousing voices in the house.
Edward was already in Bella's room, waiting for her to get out of the shower. Rosalie was trying to persuade Bella to take a bubble bath, something the little girl normally enjoyed immensely. From what I was hearing, Bella was refusing. She wasn't 'in the mood' for it.
I sighed heavily.
By the time I went down to the kitchen, Bella was already there, sitting on Edward's lap at the kitchen isle as she played around with her oatmeal. She wore a frown on her face and her eyes were unfocused.
I went up to her, brushed my hand through her curly locks and pressed a kiss to the top of her head. Her scent hit me like a ton of bricks but I was used to it already, just like everyone in the house. While she smelled sweet, I'd never felt the need to drink from her. Then again, it's been a long time since I'd wanted to drink from a human.
I smiled slightly against her hair before pulling back. She looked up, blinking blearily at me. "Daddy…What's Alyssa afraid of?" she asked sweetly.
I stared at her for a moment, wondering how I should continue. "Sweetheart…I think whatever problems Alyssa is having is pretty bad," I said cautiously. "I think she's afraid that she will never solve her problem."
Esme walked over from the stove, taking Bella's small hand in hers and squeezing gently. "But we'll help her, honey," she promised Bella. "We'll do everything we can, okay?"
Bella bit her lip and nodded. "What if everything isn't enough?" she asked quietly.
I kept my silence this time around - I couldn't have answered if I tried.
Bella was withdrawn the whole weekend. She refused to play games with Emmett, she shrugged off Jasper's offer to play chess and she stayed in her room the whole time. Edward was the only one whose company she didn't dismiss quickly. She stayed curled in his arms and I knew she was pondering about Alyssa's problems.
Edward hadn't wanted to but all five of the other kids went hunting on Sunday night, right after Bella fell asleep. He'd kissed her forehead goodbye and left with the others, sulking. They'd gone without hunting for far too long and they needed it for school the next day. Besides, no matter what arguments Edward brought to the table, I knew he couldn't come with us on Monday. It would make too much of a spectacle if so many of us were to go.
Bella was anxious when she woke up, an hour earlier than she needed to. I supposed it was the nerves. She showered quickly, dressed and bounced around the living room like a miniature Alice. Esme tried to get her to eat something but she couldn't stomach more than a glass of milk and half a piece of toast.
We got into my Mercedes and drove off towards Bella's school. Like Esme, I always drove slower with Bella in the car. I think, this time, I drove slower because I was dreading the talk with her teacher and with Alyssa.
All three of us were silent in the car and I was grateful. I wasn't sure I could keep up a light conversation.
Halfway to the school, my phone rang. Since I was driving, Esme took it out of my pocket and answered. I listened from where I was sitting.
It was Alice. "Esme? Oh, God. Esme…I didn't see it…I've never met Alyssa before…When I saw the three of you going to her school just now…Oh, God, this is going to kill her!" Alice was hysterical.
Esme spoke quickly, too softly for Bella to hear, and tried to calm Alice down. When she finally managed to calm her enough to know what was going on, she reached over and gripped my forearm.
I was already pulling up at Bella's school. I could practically taste the sadness in the atmosphere. I climbed out of the car and waited for Esme to take Bella's hand, all three of us walking into the school together. Esme stayed with Bella a little ways outside her classroom while I knocked on the door.
Her teacher, Ms. Anne, greeted me at the door, her eyes rimmed red and puffy. "Dr. Cullen," she said, her voice a little stuffed. "I didn't expect to see you today…Is something wrong?" I noticed she choked up a little at the end.
I shook my head, keeping my voice low so that Bella nor the other students could hear. "No, Ms. Anne. My wife and I," I gestured towards Esme behind me, who was distracting Bella with a game. "Wanted to speak with you. It's regarding Bella's new friend - she was worried about her and I thought I'd come by and…" I trailed off when Ms. Anne started crying.
"Oh, God," she whispered. "Do you mean Alyssa?" the tears kept streaming down her face. When I nodded, a look of pure grief passed through her eyes. "I don't know how to break this to Bella. She was the closest to little Alyssa…Dr. Cullen, Alyssa passed on this morning. Her father was arrested for her murder."
I heard Esme gasping in the distance, too softly for Ms. Anne to hear. Bella had, however, and was asking her if she was alright. Esme was too shocked to reply.
I was stumped. I couldn't have made out Alice's words - she had been too hysterical. Jasper had had to take the phone away from her and told us that he'd call us back. I hadn't thought it was anything like this…
I ran a hand down my face. "Bella's going to be devastated," I murmured. "How…? I…Ms. Anne, is there anything you need Esme and I to help you with?" I finally managed a proper sentence.
Ms. Anne nodded her head. "If it's alright with you and Mrs. Cullen, could you help with the other kids? They weren't as close to Alyssa as Bella was but she was a nice girl. Everybody loved her."
She broke down again and Esme came forward, passing Bella on to me before engulfing the young woman in a comforting embrace.
Bella frowned, seeing her teacher's distress. "Daddy, why is Ms. Anne so sad?" she whispered in my ear, still looking at her sobbing mentor.
I heaved a heavy sigh. "Bella…"
"Did you tell her about Alyssa lying?"
"Honey, we have to talk…"
"Is that why she's so sad, daddy? Is that why she's crying? You have to tell her, I don't think Lyss meant to lie. I know you said that lying is very bad and no one should ever do it but I think Lyss had a good reason."
She ripped herself from my arms and darted forward to the classroom, pushing open the door and stepping inside. She looked around and my heart broke when I realized she was looking for Alyssa.
When she didn't find her friend, she ran back outside, her wide eyes confused. "Daddy, Lyss isn't in there," her lower lip trembled. "Is she in trouble for lying?"
I crouched down in front of her, taking both her hands in mine. "Bella, sweetheart…Ms. Anne and everyone in your class are upset because something very bad happened," I said slowly. Words kept shifting around in my mind but the truth was, there was no delicate way to say this.
"Honey, Alyssa won't be coming to school today…"
My little girl asked me why everybody looked so sad
The lump in my throat grew bigger
With every question that she asked
Until I felt the tears run down my face
And I told her that Alyssa wouldn't be at school today
The cemetery was filled with people. Alyssa's casket was all the way in front, a podium next to it as Alyssa's mother spoke. It was disconcerting seeing a coffin that small, and it made my heart clench at the thought of a small, innocent little girl with her life brutally taken away from her. I didn't know what I would do if that little girl was mine.
"I was a coward for not stopping this sooner…Alyssa was a beautiful girl. She had a lot of talent, a lot of bright hope for the future. The thing with her was that nothing could bring her down. Even at the worst of times, she'd find something to be happy about. I loved her with all of my heart…"
Bella sat quietly next to me, her hand constantly shooting up to her eyes to wipe away stray drops of tears. Breaking the news to her about her friend had been the hardest thing I'd ever had to do. The memory of her heartbroken expression, the way she'd screamed in sorrow and pounded her fist against my legs as she denied my words…It was the most horrible thing I'd ever witnessed in all my life.
After the eulogy and the speeches, I stood up and took Bella's hand. In her arms, clasped to her little body, was a bouquet of beautiful roses. I lifted Bella up when we reached the casket so she place the flowers on top of it.
She bent down and kissed the wood lightly. "Bye, Lyss," she whispered. "I hope you're loads happier in Heaven. I miss you."
'Cause she doesn't lie in the classroom
She doesn't lie anymore at school
Alyssa lies with Jesus
Because there's nothing anyone would do
Bella had changed out of her black dress that she'd worn to the funeral immediately after reaching home. She'd gone straight to the shower and washed up for over an hour before Rosalie called her to come out. It was as if she was trying to scrub away the sorrow of losing her friend.
She sat on her bed, cradling Coco in one hand and running her fingers through Lilly's fur as the cat sat in her lap. She was wearing strawberry-patterned pajamas, tears falling onto her paler-than-usual cheeks.
Edward had stayed with her the entire day but she'd asked him to leave when night fell, saying that she wanted to cry alone for a little while.
I knocked lightly on her door. I smiled sadly when she looked up at me. "May I come in?" I asked quietly. She raised a shoulder slightly before dropping it limply in a half-hearted shrug. I shuffled in and sat down on the edge of her bed. "How are you holding up, Bella?"
She sniffled a little. "I just don't understand," she admitted softly. "Lyss…Was the nicest person ever. She was so kind to everyone. I don't understand…" she trailed off.
I shook my head. "Honey, there are a lot of things in this world that don't make any sense. I'm so sorry, Bella, that this happened to Alyssa. You're right, she was a nice person, and she didn't deserve this. I'm sorry that your friendship was cut short," I reached out for her.
She climbed onto my lap willingly, pushing Lilly to the side gently and dropping her bear on the bed. "I know what happened to her," she said after a while. I was shocked. I didn't think anyone in the family told her - and it wasn't directly mentioned at the funeral because of all the children present. Esme didn't allow anyone to turn on the news or show her the paper.
Seeing my stunned expression, Bella elaborated. "Jimmy from my class told me. His dad watched the news. They said that Alyssa was hurt by her daddy. That he was the one who k-killed her," she teared up again, choking on the word. "Why, daddy? Why would he do that? She was his own daughter. I mean, you would never-"
I cut her off before she even finished that sentence. I hugged her to me as tightly as I could. "No, Bella, sweetheart. No. I'd never ever hurt you," I said fiercely. "I love you. You don't hurt the ones you love." I sighed, releasing her from my hug long enough to run a hand through my hair. "Alyssa's father had a lot of problems, Bella. He wasn't in his right state of mind. That doesn't excuse what he did and he's getting punished for it very severely."
She nodded though I knew she still didn't understand. Nothing like this would ever make sense, especially not to a child. Especially not to a loved one.
Tears filled my eyes
When my little girl asked me why
Oh daddy, oh daddy tell me why
We stayed that way, hugging each other, for the longest time. When she pulled away, I still felt like it wasn't enough. A sad little smile made it's way on the edges of Bella's mouth. "At least she's happy in Heaven now. Right, daddy?"
I managed a small smile and nodded. "Right," I kissed her forehead.
I know I didn't do this piece enough justice, and am very disappointed by that, but I don't think anyone who hasn't gone through abuse, or witnessed abuse or had loved ones go through abuse could really give a realistic portrayal. But I was listening to the song on my playlist and I felt like I needed to do this piece. I did my best, and I'm sorry if it wasn't enough.
Please leave me a line or two to tell me what you think. Thank you.