Isabella Swan, or Bella woke to the morning sounds of the Bronx. Sirens, traffic and the mob of stores opening up shop could be heard from the tiny window of Bella's bedroom-, if you could call it that.
Bella and her mother lived in a small one- bedroom apartment in the Bronx. The building was in such disarray and so run down that it should have been condemned years ago. Then again, most of the buildings in this neck of the woods should have had the same fate centuries ago.
The one bedroom- Bella's- was so small, that it could have been mistaken for a closest, if it were not for the small mattress crammed in the corner. The few clothing items that Bella owned were folded neatly, and placed in piles because there was not enough space for any cabinets. Bella did not mind. As long as her room had a door with a lock, she was happy.
Opening her eyes, Bella let the smog filtered light blind her. With her eyes adjusted, they scanned the bare cracked walls, and the piles of clothes- looking for anything out of place; nothing was. Finally, Bella's boring brown coloured eyes rested on her door with fear and uncertainty.
Bella held her breath as she looked at the small space between the door, and the barren floor. No lights were on- Bella let out the breath that she had been holding. The warmth of her breath clouded the air with a white foggy mist. With chattering teeth, and shivers wracking her tiny frame, Bella rolled out of the bed and onto the wood floor. Quickly and quietly, Bella moved her mattress down, so it was closer to the window. With trembling hands, and shifting eyes she pulled up a lose floorboard revealing her secret, prized possessions. It was here that Bella kept her money, her favourite books and her diary. After counting her money and feeling positive that nothing had been touched Bella's frame visibly relaxed.
She still was not in the clear; it could be false security, so stealth was the key. Grabbing a towel and a change of clothes, Bella stood and faced the door. She placed her things on her mattress, and unfastened the long chain that hung around her neck. Without her control, Bella's hands began to shake as they trailed down the chain, reaching the key attached to it. The rusted metal of the key felt cold and heavy in her hand. The key was the one thing that protected her from the monster perched outside. Bella was a damsel in distress who did not have the luxury of having a prince charming to rescue her. People, as she had learned her entire life, were not reliable; locks always locked.
Bella took deep breaths as she stepped closer towards the door. With one last ragged breath in attempt to calm her racing heartbeat, Bella put the rusted key into the lock and turned. With a click, it was unlocked. Her left hand grasped the cold metal of the doorknob, and her right hand pressed firmly on the dented wood. Slowly, so she could deter any sound, she opened the door: No sound. Bella almost smiled. With the door halfway open and no sound, Bella thought she was in the home clear. Her thoughts were shattered and her breath caught as the hinges of the door let out a high-pitched creak that could wake the dead.
Bella stopped. She could feel her pulse pound in her ears steadily. Fear froze her insides and every movement became laboured. She held her breath, so she could hear any movement from behind the door. Today she was lucky.
The door, now all the way open, created a clear path for Bella to walk across the narrow hallway and into the bathroom. She gathered her clothes and tiptoed into the bathroom placing her clothes and towel on the small vanity- All the while ignoring the reflection in the mirror. Then she tip-toed out of the bathroom and down the one and only hallway that led to the living room.
For anyone else, the sight that greeted Bella would have been troublesome; to her it was a relief. Inconsequently, Bella let out another breath that she did not know she had been holding once again. You would think after years of experience Bella would be able to control the adrenaline pumping in her veins, or her erratic heart or stubborn lungs. On the threadbare couch was her mother Victoria, with a bottle of vodka balanced precariously in her hand- passed out.
Knowing her mother, she was probably out all night- with God only knows who. Ever since Bella could remember- life was like this. She did not know any other way of life. She read about families and lives that were not ruled by the contents of a glass bottle; a life where kind words, hugs and kisses dominated the screaming, broken glass and the colour red. That was a fairytale though, and Bella was too old to still believe or wish on shooting stars. Hope only led to despair in the end.
Bella reined her racing thoughts in and settled into her usual routine. This routine took years of fine-tuning and discovery, but she had it down pat. Whenever Bella could make it safely out of her room, she would go to the living room where her mother would inevitably be passed out. Bella would then take the half- empty, always half empty, vodka bottle and dump half the contents into the mildew stained sink and fill it up again with water. She would then put it back into home position: mom's hand.
It was a matter of self-preservation and Bella was not a masochist. Bella's muscles, bones and skin could tell how much her mother had drank; it took her entire life to fine tune. It was Bella's special gift. Some were gifted with music, art, literature, math, or science- Bella could forecast the severity of her injuries.
With one last glance at her mother on the sofa, Bella tiptoed back into the bathroom- ready to face her reflection. bella knew she was not pretty. She did not long to be either. What she craved was normalcy. That unfortunately was impossibility and Bella did not believe in miracles.
It was with dejection that Bella looked at her reflection in the mirror. Her long, tangled brown hair looked like the end of a dirty frayed mop, her brown eyes were framed with dark circles and long eyelashes. Bruises, all in different stages of healing, were painted on her transparent skin to a point where you could not tell what her normal skin tone was. Her lips were cracked and chapped. Luckily, there were no scratches on her face.
Bruises could be concealed with cover-up, chapped lips fixed with Chap Stick, and hair could be pulled into a ponytail. Scratches on the other hand were harder- only lies could hide them. Bella was a self- accomplished klutz. No one at her school actually knew her by name- but the klutz. Ever since she had tripped on her way into an assembly, fell through the bass drum and into the unwilling arms of the football team captain- Bella's high school career had gone downhill and with it her name. For months after the incident, the cheerleaders mocked her, and tormented her. They told her how ugly she was, and dumb she was and what a klutz she was. Eventually, the lies became biblical truth to Bella, and life carried on.
With a sigh, Bella double-checked the lock on the bathroom door. Satisfied, she jumped into the shower to endure ice cold water spaying her like a thousand knives- it didn't bother her too much because she had a high tolerance for pain.
To save money, Bella never used hot water, or the heat. Her mother spent every penny to finance her finer "education" of vintage drinks and nothing else. That was only when her mom had a job, which was rare. It always irked Bella that her mother no matter what could find money somewhere for her favourite vodka, but when it was time to pay the rent, or buy groceries- there was none. Bella was forced to work to pay the rent and provide for herself. She was grateful for work- it kept her out of the house.
Bella shivered as she got out of the shower, her shivers soon turned into violent shaking. She dressed quickly into a long sleeved t-shirt, ratty second hand jeans and a baggy sweatshirt. The dull brown curls of her hair were fastened into an untidy bun by a pencil- she always lost her hair elastics. Bella then pulled out her dollar store cover-up from the vanity drawer and started to cake it on. Pleased that her bruises were disguised, Bella prepared herself for the treacherous journey that would take her across then narrow hallway and then to her room- where she would exit via fire escape. It was always better to be safe than sorry.
Key and chain in hand, Bella took another deep breath and opened the bathroom door. With trained ears, she strained to hear her mother. The only sound she heard were the faint snores only produced from excessive alcohol consumption.
Desperate to be back to the safety of her bedroom, Bella tiptoed back to her bedroom franticly, locking the door behind her. With the door closed, Bella put her weight on it and slid herself down the door to the floor into a kneeling position.
Slow and deliberate tears slid down her face as she uttered a simple prayer.
"Dear God, help me." Bella whispered fervently, not expecting an answer. Bella wiped away her tears, and crawled to her window. A calendar was taped to the wall by the window, and as Bella passed it, she pulled out a red sharpie and crossed out a day.
It was part of rescuing herself plan. Bella was going to run away as soon as she turned 17. Her birthday was October 31, and it was September 7. Bella was running away to an unknown destination. Some would call it an adventure, but Bella thought it was a suicide mission. It was not like her to just do things without planning every aspect. All she knew about this plan was when, why, and how- she was missing the where and who. Bella had been saving money from her paycheck for months now, and had a total of $600. It was not enough for rent, but it was enough to get as far away as possible.
Bella looked at the second hand clock in her room. It was 7:00AM now. Begrudgingly, she arose from her kneeling position and pulled out a pair of socks, and old worn boots that she had found in a dumpster while throwing out the trash at work. Bella worked at what she believed to be the best diner in all of New York. It featured a classic vinals, audio cassettes, and Cds as well as the best burgers, fries and malts in town. Her boss was a kind hearted man-, Vinny. He was from the age of gentlemen it would seem- and treated Bella as his own Daughter. His hair, grey with age contrasted with his dark skin and made his brown eyes twinkle with kindness.
With one last look at the old worn door protecting her from the consuming flames of her own personal hell, Bella opened the small window and squeezed through- her goal being the fire escape. She wanted to escape, and she would. Bella would have no one, and no money but she would gain freedom.