Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight or the characters. The title is from an incredible book by Wally Lamb (though the story will not reflect Lamb's story, I felt the title was fitting)
A/N: I know this chapter is pretty short, but I stopped at what I felt was a natural stopping point. This story is very different from the other one I have posted, so I just wanted to see what people thought. Eventually, it will be a Jasper/Bella story, but for now it's more about Charlie and Bella. Reviews are appreciated because like I said, I'm curious what everyone thinks. Thanks =)
She's Come Undone
chapter 1: requiem for my mother
It was blisteringly hot inside the single-wide, one bedroom trailer I shared with my pops. Especially during the summer. I would lay on the couch, which served as my bed, in the living room, which served as my bedroom, wearing naught but a thin t-shirt and a pair of cotton panties, trying desperately not to move. The more you moved, the hotter you got.
It was a trade-off though, because sometimes when you moved around, you could create your own supplemental breeze, limbs pushing through static air, stirring up non-existent relief. I'd lived in this muggy tin box long enough to know, however, that the relief was only short lived, and you were better off just trying not to move. When you kicked your limbs around too much, the energy you exerted eventually turned to heat, heat that hung around your body like an extra blanket in the already-stifling environment of the trailer. So I learned to remain painfully still, cursing every heart beat that sent warm blood flowing throughout my body. I wondered desperately, and pointlessly, what it would like to be infinitely cold. These were the subjects of my dreams most nights.
I was not always stuck in this perpetual bubble of heat, praying for death by nuclear winter. As a child growing up, I couldn't have been happier to live in the bilstering heat of Phoenix. How naive that seemed now.. But back then, before my mother left, we had been happy.
We had lived across town from where we did now, in suburb heaven. Our three bedroom, two bath home had been modest and comfortable, though certainly nothing to brag about. We'd had a beautiful green lawn, which was somewhat rare in Arizona. It was a product of my mother's meticulous nature and our constant supply of running water. It was average.. ordinary.. wonderful.
And it had central air.
I sighed blissfully at the memory, and the ghost of a smile played upon my lips. I couldn't think of that time without feeling momentarily happy... But the happiness was always short-lived, a fleeting thing, as flighty and restless as my mother. Unfortunately for me, it was the misery which followed that kept me company long after the happiness had gone. These were the hazards of remembering my former life.
Renee took off when I was twelve. She woke me up early the morning that she left, while it was still dark out. The purple sky was just beginning to lighten, warm shades of orange tinging the horizon. We had gone out front, and I remember noticing that the lawn was beginning to yellow. It struck me as odd, because Renee had always kept it up. She loved seeing the dark green squares of grass in that world taupe and orange, patches of life amidst the dry and barren desert landscape. She said it reminded her of her childhood in California. She'd always promised to take me there, but we had never gone.
We sat in the driveway, hand in hand, neither of us speaking, me still rubbing the sleep from my eyes. Looking back, I guess I should have known that something was up, but it never even occurred to me to be alarmed. Renee was always doing strange things like this. She was impetuous, fun-loving, daring, and somewhat child-like. Charlie always joked that I was the one who took care of her. She would smile when he said it, and laugh along with us, at our running familial joke, but the smile didn't reached her eyes. Charlie never noticed, but that memory still plagues me, taunting me, making me wonder if things could have been different.
The sun was well into its daily ascent, the rays kissing my forearms and hinting coyly at the heat of the day to come, when Renee finally spoke.
"I love you, Rapunzel," she told me, using my childhood nickname. When I was a toddler, I refused to let her cut my hair. Since then I went in for trims, acknowledging the need to take care of split ends, but my hair would always be long. It was the bane of my existence in the hot summer months, and Charlie was always threatening to cut it off in the middle of the night, so I would stop whining about how it clung to my sweaty shoulders. But I knew he never would.
I wore it long like she wore it long.
It brushed against the waistband of my pajama bottoms as I swung it slightly back and forth. I hugged my legs to my chest and rested my chin thoughtfully on my knees. I wanted to tell her that I loved her, but it felt like there was something more she needed to say, so I stayed quiet and waited.
Whatever she had wanted to say, she never said it.
When the sun had climbed high enough into the sky that I knew it was time for me to go and get ready for school, I stood up wordlessly and turned to head back inside. My mother reached out and grabbed my hand rather roughly. I looked down at her, surprised, and pulled back involuntarily. Her face fell, and I recognized that there was pain reflected in her eyes, and for just a moment, a little bit of something else..
What that something was, I could never be sure. Longing, perhaps. Guilt. A glimmer of hope. And maybe, just maybe, a touch of anticipation.. But my twelve-year-old eyes simply couldn't see it. And a moment later, it was gone. She smiled at me as she stood up and brushed off the seat of my pjs.
"Go get ready for school, baby," she said brightly, "And Esme will be by to drive you." I started off toward the house again, and she stopped me one last time. "And Bella?" she added. I turned back around to face her, annoyed. I didn't want to be late for school.
"Yes, mom," I answered dutifully, trying to hide my restlessness. My body language gave me away as I shifted my weight back and forth impatiently.
"Take care of your father,"she said. When I looked at her quizzically, cocking my head to one side in a silent question, she added, almost as an afterthought,
"I'll be home late tonight."
It was the last thing she ever said to me. And it was a lie.