Disclaimer: All recognizable characters and such belong to the renowned Stephenie Meyer, please give credit to whom it is due. Also, consider this the disclaimer for the rest of this story. My lazy bum side will kick in and I won't want to type this for twenty more chapters.
Chapter 1: Trees
The sky outside my window was insufferably gray. Large, billowy clouds created patterns of fluffy bunnies and Q-tips; but, I wasn't paying attention to this. No, I quite positively had my eyes fixated on the sheet of college rule paper in front of me.
My pen scrawled across the paper trying to keep up with the dizzying speed of my history professor's rant. My ears processed enough to make my pen move; but, not enough to hold my entire attention so, I let my eyes wander across the classroom, over the bowed heads of my classmates, and finally to the window and its cotton, fluff clouds.
I hadn't realized that class had ended until my classmates' bustle awakened me from my trance.
I jammed my book into my bag and shouldered it, quickly making my way out of the classroom and into the chaos of the hallway. I sucked in a breath and pushed my way through the hoard of people. I swear I could already feel the carbon dioxide these people were excreting. I knew it was messing with my lungs. I wondered—not for the first time—if I should wear a surgical mask. It would be convenient, albeit a crime of fashion. Better to be a fashion victim than an invalid.
Once outside in the cool, early autumn air, finally able to breath oxygen again, my head cleared.
Those inoffensive cumuli had now turned a frightful shade of dark purple. I sighed, cursing myself for believing the local weatherman this morning. How was I supposed to know that this would be the first time the local meteorological authorities actually called for a sunny day, they'd be wrong? After all, Washington was notorious for its rainfall…
The sky rumbled ominously and I cringed. Why did I choose this morning to be a skeptic? At the very least I could have been a skeptic with an umbrella. I sighed and shifted my backpack over my shoulder, if all else failed, I could use it as a makeshift umbrella.
The campus was all but empty, save for the stupid few who were attempting to thwart Mother Nature. I frowned realized I fell into this category.
At least, I had some shelter for when the sky started vomiting torrents of rain upon my head. My book bag-umbrella theory failed magnificently; within the first minute I realized that this setup was not going to work. But, thank the Lord; there was a rather inviting looking tree in my peripheral vision.
I glanced around to make sure no one else had claimed that wonderful tree. No need to start a mindless spat with someone over a solitary patch of dryness. Fate must have been smiling—or frowning as I would later find out—on me; because it appeared everyone else had had the presence of mind to duck into the sparse buildings on campus. The fact that I wasn't one of those 'someone's' irked me a little; but, the more I stood out in the rain pondering this, the closer I was to catching pneumonia. So, I graciously perched myself under the canopy of the large oak.
Having nothing better to do with my wasted minutes, I examined the tree. This slightly bothered me, because some part of me thought I could find some better way to occupy my time; and then some other part was morbidly curious. The morbidly curious part fought with the rational part and won by a landslide. So I looked at the tree's trunk, feeling like a total dork.
The regular teenaged staples were there: carved initials and hearts. I snorted, how cliché…? It was pathetic. I briefly wrestled with the idea of defacing the tree myself, but decided against the vandalism.
"So, you're not going to put your mark on this old thing?"
I jumped; the tree was talking to me. Tree talking to me. That was it; I was most definitely losing my mind.
The tree then proceeded to laugh at me. A small coherent part of my brain decided that this tree was being very rude. I decided to ignore it, and focus on the present issue of the rain.
"Oh, don't pout," it said again, and I had to bite my cheek from giggling; the tree sound petulant. I continued to ignore it. Giving a tree the cold-shoulder: something I though I'd never do.
"Fine," it replied to my silence, "ignore me; see if I care."
"Maybe I will," I muttered back; probably a little too loud for my own good because it was at this precise moment that the tree decided to make a go at friendship.
"So," it began amiably, "what's your name?"
I shrugged, already doubting my sanity as I was; there really was nothing to lose in answering the tree.
"My name is Bella," I told it begrudgingly.
"What a queer name," it replied a tone of mirth in its voice. By now, I was thoroughly annoyed with this tree's poor sense of humor; so I settled back into my 'ignoring-the-tree' routine.
"My name is Edward," it said obviously sensing the change in my mood.
"A tree with a name, now that's queer," I told it.
"But, I'm not a tree," Edward the Tree replied, thoroughly confused.
"Oh," was all I could say. I was talking to a tree in denial. Something in this scenario didn't fit. I closed my eyes and prayed that the rain would let up enough for me to get away from this tree, and then perhaps seek mental help.
Edward laughed again and I lost my train of though, because the laughter seemed so much closer than before—it was not longer in the canopy, but right by my left ear. I opened my eyes and turned my head sharply.
There he was, all six feet, one-hundred and forty pounds of Edward the Tree. He smiled and I had a sudden urge to punch those pearly whites.
"Startled you, did I?" He asked. I, still quite peeved with this boy, glowered at him and nothing more. He smiled, which only seemed to fuel my anger.
"Mind if I share your shelter?" He asked; I, begrudgingly, nodded. Lightning flashed in the distance and he pursed his lips, "Being under this big tree probably isn't the best idea; it's practically a lighting magnet."
I sighed, he was right. All laws of meteorology pointed to the fact that lightning is attracted to tall things. The tree was a tall thing. Out of being soaked in the downpour or being electrocuted to death, I would choose being soaked.
Edward watched me as I rose and grabbed my book bag. There really was no point in using it was an umbrella. I sighed, my books were probably ruined.
"You want my umbrella?" Edward asked happily.
I stared at him. I mean really stared at him. I meant to glare but the expression on his too handsome face caught me off guard so my death glare turned more into a gawk. Thankfully I reclaimed my wit quickly and stopped my unabashed staring.
"You had an umbrella this whole time?" I accused.
His dark eyebrows drew over his narrow nose, and he shrugged holding up his parasol and waving it like a battle standard.
"If you had an umbrella, then why were you up in this tree?" I asked.
He thought for a moment, "Well, I was passing by here yesterday and thought this looked like a good climbing tree, so I hatched a plan to come here today and climb this tree. I knew it would rain, so I figured I should bring this along. The storm hit while I was still in the tree; so instead of coming down I decided to wait for it to stop up there," he indicated to the branches overhead. He looked back and me and smiled winningly.
I was astonished. He came here for the sole purpose of climbing this stupid, old tree. My inner sadist wanted to sneer at him. Wait. How did he know it was going to rain? Sure, the morning new had predicted it; but, he said it so 'matter-of-fact'. No one could know for sure how the weather would act. Well, God did. But He controls those things. If He wanted it to rain cats and dogs in the middle of the Sahara, it would rain cats and dogs right on top of all that sand.
I gathered my thoughts and looked at Edward.
"How did you know for sure it would rain?" I asked, trying—and failing—to keep a curious edge from my voice.
He looked at me, tilting his head to the side sending cascades of unkempt dark hair across his face. I got the feeling he didn't want to answer me. But, he eventually opened his mouth and stated, "I knew because all the birds flew away."
The birds flew away. I probably could have gotten a more coherent answer if I'd asked a potato.
He shrugged, "You don't believe me?"
I didn't think 'the birds flew away' was a logical answer for predicting weather patterns. I was not, however, going to disagree with this boy to his face; because if nothing else I really didn't want to shatter his ego.
Something in my expression must have given me away, because he just nodded and said nothing more.
I stood for who knows how long looking at him. His clothes were torn and looked like they hadn't been washed in months. He was handsome, though. He had very long, narrow features. Straight nose, wide lips, and deep eyes surrounded by long lashes that made me envious. His copper hair was matted and stuck out in all angles making him resemble Albert Einstein.
"The rain's letting up," he observed, gesturing with his umbrella.
I realized, belatedly, that I'd been staring at him, and I blushed. I quickly transferred my gaze over my shoulder to the outside.
The rain had become a light drizzle. I sighed in relief, and fixated my eyes on the sky. It wasn't as foreboding looking as before, thankfully. Some traitorous part of me wanted to continue studying Edward's face. It was maddening how intrigued I was by him. He was just some random teenager who had come here to climb this old tree. A very captivating random teenager. I mentally berated myself for being even remotely interested in him. He didn't attend this school that much I knew. If he did then he must have been a new student.
I knew this, because I was a seasoned people-watcher. I knew everyone's face if not their name. I've found that I have a rather photographic memory, so once I see a face, I never forget it this would be a useful talent if ever I witnessed a crime. Though, with my luck I'd wind up in Witness Protection.
I'd rather not change my identity, though it might do me some good. I'm too stereotyped. In the plot of a murder mystery, I'd probably be the person a serial killer would knock off to throw the cops off his trial. Fairly unremarkable, college freshman who had the uncanny ability of being a human chameleon. Always lost in the background. White noise.
And then, I made the grave mistake of comparing myself to Edward. I was dressed marginally better than him; the hems of my jeans were covered in mud, but that was as close to dirty as I got. My shirt was pressed, and buttoned all the way to the collar revealing nothing. I had left my hair down this morning and due to the downpour it left a trial of wetness down my back.
"So are you going to make a run for it, or not?" Edward asked the back of my head, seeing as I was still trying not to make eye contact with him
That loathsome inner part of me was screaming at me to stay. This boy was the most interesting thing to happen to me in weeks! Why not revel in this break up of the monotony?
The other half of my psyche was screaming, too, but for a different reason. It wanted me to get out of their as quickly as my stubby legs could carry me. I didn't know who this boy was, where he came from; and more importantly, did he have a criminal record?
My two halves began to argue relentlessly, and I stood there two feet from him most likely looking like a total moron.
He must have seen the indecision on my face; he patted a dry patch of mulch beside him and smiled invitingly.
I sighed as the fearless side of my personality claimed victory. I lower myself next to him; far enough away to satiate my wimpy part yet close enough to still be personable. My heart started beating a fretful rhythm as I realized I actually had to talk to him now.
He turned his head to meet my eyes and my heart stopped all together.
"I have a question," he said eyes alight. I groaned mentally as he continued, obviously ignoring the slightly fearful look on my face, "Why is your name Bella?"
Well, how was I supposed to know that? I could have fathomed a more intelligible answer if he'd asked me why the sky was blue.
My first instinct was to say something witty about my parents' lack of creativity with my name; but, I decided for the more friendly approach.
"It's short for Isabella," I informed him. This startled me for two reasons. One, I hated my full name. In my rather jaundiced opinion it sounded like the name of an ill-fated soap star. The second reason being I'd never, ever told anyone my full name. No matter how many people bugged me about it, I never gave in and told them my name. I'd thrown enough of a temper tantrum before I started kindergarten to get my parents to tell my teacher I was to be referred to as 'Bella' and nothing else. No one knew my name. No one except Edward.
Edward, this boy I barely knew. Edward, this random vagabond who was in desperate need of a good bath now knew one of my many secrets.
There went my security blanket. So much for being anonymous.
"But," he said slowly, and I once again had a crazy urge to punch him and run away, "you prefer to be called Bella."
Gee, he caught on fast…
"Why don't you like Isabella?"
I wasn't going to give him my corny 'soap star' excuse; so I combed through the recesses of my mind for something a little more evasive.
"Because I don't like the name Isabella," I replied. There that was nondescript; he couldn't possibly twist my words this way. I was saved from another awkward conversation.
"What about it don't you like?"
I choked. I was wrong, horribly wrong. He could, as a matter of fact, turn my words around and make me regret that I'd even opened my mouth in the first place.
"It sounds too preppy," I replied without thinking, automatically scrunching up my nose. Even the word 'preppy' gave me chills. I didn't consider myself to have any category whether it be skater, prep, or whatever else there is. Stereotypes will be stereotypes and I tried to avoid them at all costs; it was just that 'prep' seemed to be the least desirable to me.
Edward laughed, of course. Apparently everything I said was funny enough to send the boy into hysterics. I exhaled loudly showing my distaste and turned away from him, crossing my arms over my chest. I wanted to stick my tongue out at him; but, that would've been extremely childish…and he probably would laughed even harder.
I suddenly had a dark and amusing thought. So, I acted upon it; not even worrying about the repercussions, "Edward," I said trying to keep my voice mischief-free, "don't you like your name? It's fairly uncommon."
He laughed again, and my skin crawled. Apparently my go at wiping that smirk off his face had failed. "That's what I like about it," he replied lightly, "it makes me unique."
I laughed under my breath, like he needed any help being unique.
"So, you came here to climb this tree?" I asked looking up into the spread of the branches over my head.
He nodded, "I did, indeed."
"Why?" See, that was proof I could pose unanswerable questions, too. I was sure that he would not be able to answer me on this one. If he had, in fact, acted on a whim to come here today; then he wouldn't be able to answer me very well, now would he?
"Because it looked big enough for a good climb," he said tilting his head back and matching my gaze into the canopy.
Well, there it was. He really could answer every single random question I threw at him.
His answer had been innocent. A child's answer. Wasn't that every little boy's dream? To find the ultimate tree to climb? And then, in glory, conquer it. That was exactly what he had done, found his mountain then he became the Edmund Hillary to its Everest.
"Seems kind of stupid in retrospect," he smiled sadly, and my heart went into knots, "I mean, why come here just to climb a dumb, old tree?" He scoffed at himself and looking down.
I was suddenly hyperaware of my repentance at the sour thoughts I'd had about him. I was so preoccupied with feeling so boring next to him; I forgot to actually pay attention to who he was.
That was so me. Thinking too much about the person I failed to be and forgetting to look at the world around me. If I had been paying attention I probably would have noticed him walking around campus this morning, mapping out his quest. If I had even opened my eyes I would have seen him pulling himself into the first, lower branches. If I wasn't so blinded, then I could have seen his handsome, triumphant smile as he finally perched atop his leafy foe.
I frowned and wrapped my arms around my chest, hoping not to fall apart. I knew tears at my own naiveté would soon be forthcoming.
"You look like your about to cry," he observed quietly. Why, oh why did he have to be so observant? And why, did he have to be the first person to ever notice me when I was feeling this way? Wasn't I invisible, or was I losing my ability to fade away.
I didn't answer. I didn't really think I had to.
"You aren't going to cry are you?"
Apparently I had to.
"No," I replied, proud that my voice didn't crack.
"That sounds more like a 'yes'," he said. I'd known him for a total of twenty minutes, and he was already able to see through every single façade I'd cultivated. This was a problem. I needed cover, and I needed it fast.
And as soon as my mind decided for the 'flight' part of the adrenaline 'fight or flight' reaction; my only escape was closed off. It started to rain. Yes, it had been raining before. But whatever the sky had been doing before could hardly be classified as rain in comparison to this.
It was almost like all the angels decided to have a water balloon fight. Or something else ridiculous like that. Rain was coming down in sheets, and adding the additional factor of the wind, it was now raining sideways. And, of course, my reason to leave the shelter: lighting, had decided to dissipate.
"Was it a 'yes'?" He pressed. I really didn't want him to know that it was a 'yes'. But, what the heck, he already knew my name!
"So what if it was a 'yes'?" I whispered.
"It's not like I'm that worried," he told me at a normal volume apparently having his fill of hushed voices, "besides, even with a little waterworks, it's not like we aren't tempting Fate already with the whole getting-wet thing."
I nodded, "I won't cry," I vowed to both him and myself.
"Crying isn't so bad," he said stretching his long legs, he smiled and his green eyes crinkled at the edges.
I noticed, in passing, that his eyes were a startling shade of green. Even in the dim light of the storm and the shadows of the tree, they glowed. It was vaguely creepy.
"Yes, it is," I replied. Crying, in my book equated weakness. I had a zero tolerance for weakness.
"No it's not," he argued lightly, tapping my nose with his index finger. A warning flashed in my mind: Personal Space. I shifted away, and he laughed. Again.
"I guess I shouldn't laugh," he amended, tilting his head to the side like a dejected puppy, "we were, after all discussing the issue of you beginning to cry; so my laughing probably wouldn't be the nicest thing, ever. Right?"
"Right," I agreed.
"So," he said and puffed air into his cheeks before letting it out with a pop of the lips, "change of topic, do you think we'll ever be able to get out of here?"
"Knowing my luck," I retorted, "probably not."
He laughed, I got the feeling he liked to laugh, and then he did something I didn't expect. He pulled himself into the lower branches of the tree. And then scampered up the rest of the trunk, before settling his weight on a thick branch and swinging down so that his knees locked around the wood and his head bobbed upside down, three inches from mine. He extended one arm down and grabbed one of my arms, and pulled it up. There he went with the touching again; but, he held me tightly and I knew I wouldn't be able to pull away. At least not without taking him out of the tree in doing so.
"Come up here with me," he said and winked.
Now, climbing trees was not my forte. I wasn't necessarily a clumsy person; but the combination of the height and the not-so-sturdy branches practically screamed 'broken ankle' at me.
My fearless side resurrected itself and told me to take his hand and climb the tree. So what if I got a couple weeks in a cast?! Fearless Bella took Edward's hand and pulled herself up; while I watched in horror.
She was already half way up the tree when the inevitable happened. I, watching this all in a sort of detached state, had no time to scream, think of throwing my arms out to catch myself or to even brace myself for the fall.
I did close my eyes, which was stupid, I knew. If I was going to plummet to the ground I didn't particularly want to watch.
The ground didn't hurt as much as I anticipated. Much to my surprise, it didn't hurt at all. It was then that I realized I had yet to even touch the ground. I opened one eye, curious to see if I was falling in slow motion.
I wasn't even falling at all.
I was hanging by my waist. Wait. What was holding me by the waist? It was kind of hard as it pressed against my diaphragm, and it was a rather unpleasant feeling. I was willing to put up with this unpleasant feeling, considering it was highly better than the really unpleasant feeling of falling to my death.
"Grab, onto a branch," Edward panted; as I realized, belatedly, the thing around my waist was his arm. I looked up and realized he was hanging out of the tree holding onto me, distinct pain on his face. I gasped. He was holding all my weight with one arm. All one hundred and something pounds of me.
"Oh, crap!" I swung my arms around to grab onto a branch, any branch. I finally swung my legs over one and gave him some breathing room.
"You ok?" He asked leaning over a branch to peer into my eyes. I had a feeling they were why he seemed to know my thoughts. Eyes are the window to the soul; I guess no one else wanted to look into my soul.
"I'm fine," I lied. Really I wasn't fine.
I had never really been fine. And I definitely wasn't now that I knew Edward.
I was in trouble.
Up a creek without a paddle.
Up a tree, actually.
This started out as an original story that I started writing around this time last year. I changed the names of the original characters after I realized how Twilight-like the story was. If I slip up and occasionally call one character by their non-Twilight name, just tell me and I'll change it. Just so you know, I adore this story. I love it with all my heart. I cried while writing it. There are nineteen more chapters, all of which are written, so we don't have to worry about this story not being finished. The characters are very out of character, and I've made people related who aren't normally related. Deal with it. If you don't like it, don't read. If you do happen to like it, review and tell me so!!
Updates for this story should come on Tuesdays and Fridays, perhaps Sundays if my lovely reviewers can convince me to do so. ;)
Also, if you like my stuff go check out my other fanfiction Seven Brides for Seven Brothers!
Next time on The Great Bird Migration:
"Ok," she replied taking a breath, "ok, so where are you exactly?"
"I'm in a tree," I said.
Uh-oh, wrong answer.
Alice started to hyperventilate. I groaned, calming her down was going to be a feat, "Ali, don't freak out; I just wanted to get some shelter from the rain."
"So you climbed a tree?" She asked sarcasm heavy in her voice.
"Yes, I did," I said, and she groaned.