"Jesus, Bella," Edward moaned, massaging his temples, "Why do you always scare me like that?" My eyes were barely open. Oh, crap. I was in the hospital again. Edward was sitting at the foot of the bed, his hand on my ankle.
"What happened?" I demanded, "Where's James?" There was a moment of silence. Edward stared at me as if I had lost my mind.
"Who the hell is James, Bella?" Edward inquired, probably doubting my sanity. I blinked twice, unsure of what was happening. Was this some sick joke? "Bella, who is this 'James' person? Did he hurt you?" I closed my eyes; Edward's voice had lost its velvet tone. It was harsh and desperate. And Edward's eyes... they were brown.
"Charlie?" I demanded. The man stood up abruptly.
"Who else would it be, Isabella?" my father snapped. I inhaled sharply, overcome with emotion. Where was he? Edward had been sitting at the foot of my bed one minute ago...
Just like it did every morning, realization hit. That was the only time that I thought the name- when I was in that eerie phase between slumber and awakening. And it was always a let-down when I realized who it was. It was Charlie, waking me up to tell me that I had slept until two o'clock in the afternoon. Sometimes it was Mr. Banner waking me to tell me that if I fell asleep one more time in class he would have to call home. It could have been Elvis Presley and I would have begun crying in disappointment.
I did cry. The tears welled over right there on the hospital bed. A couple of nurses cast me frenzied looks, but they were used to me here. I was just the manic depressed daughter of the sheriff who stopped in every other week.
The ER doctor was average. He was a joke, almost, compared to his predecessor. Normally I wasn't shallow enough to judge the appearance of others, but sometimes someone so miraculous existed that they shadowed everyone else.
"She's delusional," Charlie muttered to the ER doctor. I closed my eyes and shook my head.
"No, I am not delusional," I insisted, "I was sleeping." Charlie cast me a scathing look that I returned only half-heartedly.
"Has she ever suffered from chronic depression in the past?" Dr. Ackerman asked, holding a clipboard out in front of him. The question was for Charlie, but I butted in.
"No," I stated firmly. Dr. Ackerman glanced at me in surprise, but then recovered himself and continued with his inquiry.
"Have you ever seen a family therapist?" he asked, "I find that divorce is a trauma that can haunt somebody for years without them ever realizing it." I glanced up at Charlie, shaking my head in frustration. Even Charlie seemed to appreciate the fact that this doctor was not making any progress.
"The divorce was sixteen years ago, Dr.," Charlie sighed. Dr. Ackerman scratched his head in confusion, tossing his clipboard to the side.
"Any family abuse?" he asked, as a last resort. I sat up much too quickly, and all the blood in my body rushed to my head.
"Of course not," I snapped. I needed to get out of here. For the first time in my life, I wanted to run. I didn't even stop to consider the danger in moving that fast; I just threw the blankets off of me and flew out of the room before Charlie or the doctor could comprehend what was happening.
I didn't respond to the frenzied calls of people that knew me. I ignored their bemused states. I tripped over a heart catheter, but I kept running until I was safely out of the fire door. Somewhere behind me, a fire alarm sounded.
Had I reached my breaking point? These past months I had hovered somewhere around it, always threatening to touch it. But the concerned looks that I received from Charlie always kept things in perspective. I couldn't live like this anymore. My days of pretending were over. My efforts had been futile. I had lost. No matter what anybody said of it 'being for the better', I would never be how I was back in Phoenix. I couldn't exist like I had before I had met him, because he had made all of that seem like a boring prelude. He couldn't live with me, and I couldn't live without him.
The thought sent tremors up my body, so I resumed my run. I hurried through the misty rain of Forks until I was somewhere in the outskirts of the woods.
I loved the woods. Everything was the same. There was no distinction between the western forest and the eastern forest. It was all just there. He had left me in the woods. This was the last place that he had touched...
"Bella," a voice called in relief. I spun around, my eyes landing on Seth Clearwater. I blinked in confusion.
"What are you doing here, Seth?" I whispered, not sure why I was whispering. Seth furrowed his brow.
"Shouldn't I be asking you that?" he replied, gesturing towards a small wooden sign that I had not seen before. You Have Now Entered The Quileute Reservation. Comprehension hit. I had run further than I thought.
"Oh," was all I could say. Seth grinned. I did not know the boy very well, but Charlie was friends with his parents. He had been a newborn on those fishing trips that Charlie had forced me to endure years back.
"Are you lost, Bella?" he muttered, his light brown eyes full of concern. I considered his question, unsure if I was or not.
"I don't know," I answered truthfully. I didn't care if I was lost or not. Seth took a seat on a tree stump to ponder my answer. I collapsed right onto the wet leaves that coated the forest floor.
"Does your father know that you're here?" Seth asked curiously. I shook my head. Seth bit his lip and leaned his head back. "Does anybody know that you're here?" My response was the same, and Seth moaned in light-hearted frustration. "Jeez, Bella, you're a walking deathtrap." I should have blushed. The old me would have. How many times had I heard that before?
"Um, would you mind bringing me to the reservation?" I asked, feeling utterly ashamed of myself, "I can get back to town from there." Seth stared at me in wonder.
"It's almost ten miles, Bella," he said in awe, probably doubting my sanity. I shrugged.
"I know," I muttered, "I don't feel like calling my father." Seth and I stood up simultaneously.
"How 'bout this? I'll show you back to the rez and I'll give you a ride," he offered. There was a trace of pride in his voice. I faked a laugh.
"You're fourteen," I snapped bluntly. Seth blushed a little bit but shrugged.
"I won't tell your dad if you won't," he joked. He jerked his head and began walking at a pace that had me slipping on the leaves.
He had a car. It was an old and rusty Ford, but Seth revved the engine as if it was a new Volvo. Volvo. I didn't let myself remember why that stupid word sent flutters down my throat.
"Can you drive?" I asked nervously. Seth nodded.
"I've known since I was a toddler," he joked. I scoffed skeptically and took my seat belt off. Maybe if he crashed, I would die instantly. It wouldn't be as heartbreaking as if I had taken my own life. Car accidents happened all of the time.
And then I heard it. The soft, velvety voice that I had restricted to the back of my mind. It was beautiful in my mind, ringing like church bells.
"Don't do that, Bella," Edward whispered dangerously. I jerked forward in my seat in shock, clinging to the dashboard. Seth spun around, his hand flying to the door. He was obviously debating whether or not I was a safe person to be around.
"Are you all right?" Seth asked tentatively, his eyes full of regret. I didn't respond; I merely leaned back and closed my eyes. What a beautiful voice... I wanted to preserve it forever. How could I make it last?
I rolled down the window all of the way and leaned my head out as Seth put the car in reverse. He seemed frazzled, as if he wished that he had just let me spend the night in the woods.
Seth Clearwater drove fast. Not as fast as I would have liked, but fast enough to send my adrenaline rushing. I needed to do something else. Something reckless, to make the voice return. I needed that voice like a heroinatic needed a hit.
"So, you're a senior?" he muttered, when we were halfway to my house. I nodded, barely acknowledging his question. From my peripheral vision, I could've sworn I saw Seth smirk and roll his eyes. He pulled up to my house in silence, and I jumped out immediately.
"Thank you," I called, waving. He waved back, clearly concerned for my mental health. Luckily for us, I wasn't. I was in my room five minutes later; Charlie still hadn't come home. I called him quickly and told him where I was, hanging up before he could respond. He wouldn't be home for at least fifteen minutes. I wanted that voice.
Closing my eyes, I slid my leg out of the open window. The roof wasn't very steep. It was just perfect to sit on. My other leg followed, and I exhaled. It wasn't as risky as skydiving, but it was enough.
"Are you trying to kill yourself, Isabella?" the voice whispered delicately. It was not angry- it was concerned. I only smirked in response, overcome with joy at hearing the voice. "Bella, get in the house. You'll fall." Fall. Yes, that was something that I did. I glanced into my room, debating whether or not to give up on my newfound daredevil habits. One more short sentence, I decided. All that I needed was to hear a couple more words in that silky tone.
On shaky legs, I stood up, clutching the windowsill for support. I got my wish.
"Isabella Marie Swan, sit down and go back inside. You're going to fall. You always do." If anybody else had said it, I would have gotten defensive. But this was the world's most beautiful voice. Coming from the world's most beautiful person.
For the first time in several months, my dormant heart purred.