Chapter 1, revised
I do not own Twilight
I stared at the large, legal-sized, white envelope in my hands, my eyes fixed on the seal in the upper left corner and the return address underneath it. It was addressed to me. This couldn't be possible. They must have sent this to the wrong Isabella Swan. I couldn't be the only one in Phoenix, Arizona. I couldn't be the only one in my neighborhood. But I was the only one with this house number and street name. This envelope should not feel this bulky. This had to be a mistake.
I shut the mailbox and turned to walk back into the house wanting to get out of the sun. I love Phoenix, I love the city, and I love the heat. But not the sun. I was more content to sit under the umbrella on my back deck on a dry, sunny day and read than lay out on a towel half naked and bake and turn into a lobster. It was my aversion of the sun that led to my appearance. Pale, creamy skin and not a single freckle. So unlike my mom who was perfectly tan, but not leathery. She takes good care of her skin, she doesn't want to look prematurely old, although she is pushing forty.
She still looks the same as she did when she graduated high school. The same brownish hair, now streaked with natural gold from her years in the sun. The same smooth face, plus a wrinkle here and there on her forehead. But they were laugh lines, or so she says. I am blessed with her skin. But mine is just much, much paler. I have the same hair, too. Rich, dark, chocolate brown, like my eyes. But my eyes, however, come from my father.
He lives up in Washington State, in this tiny town called Forks where he's the police chief. I've only been there a handful of times since I was five-years-old. Mostly in the summer, and only for a week or a two at a time. My parents married right out of high school and I came along a year later. My parents split up when I was three, hoping to make the separation easy for me since I wouldn't be able to remember to it. That's probably why I don't have any of that drama in my life when it comes to divorced parents. I don't remember their split. As my mom always puts it, the passion faded before it had a chance to bloom. I think they stayed married for so long just because I was around.
Neither one of them regrets me, I'm the most important thing in their worlds. But they barely talk now. I think it'll take me getting married and reproducing to bring them back together. Ha, like that's ever going to happen. I'm not marriage material. And my mom has put this fear in my head of marrying before you're thirty. But they wouldn't get back together. My mom remarried a couple years ago, and she's blissfully happy with her new husband, and I have to admit I like my stepfather. He makes my mother happy, keeps her grounded.
Three words to describe my mother, let me think. Unpredictable, unbalanced, and unfocused. For years I played the role as the parent as she went from pastime to pastime, boyfriend to boyfriend. I kept the house clean, cooked the meals, and did the laundry. My mother was never an irresponsible parent, she loves me with all her heart and was always there for me when I fell and I had a kiss for every scratch and cut, but she's always been a child at heart. I think that's what attracted her to Phil, her husband.
He's younger than her, but you would never be able to guess it. They both act the same age and have the same personality and characteristics. Except that Phil is a little more on the mature side. That's one less thing I have to worry about when I go away in the fall. At least someone will be here to take care of my mother. She's always told me I'm eighteen going on thirty. Of course, the first number has changed over the years as I go from birthday to birthday.
I stepped into the cool house and kicked the front door shut behind me. "Mom!" I called. Renee turned from where she sat on the couch in the living room to look at me over her shoulder. She eyed the large white envelope in my hand and smiled at me.
"Which one?" she asked placing her book next to her. I walked over to the couch and dropped the envelope on the coffee table in front of her collapsing onto an empty cushion.
"Don't ask me how, I don't know." I said clutching a pillow over my face, more so over my ears in preparation. I heard Renee grab up the envelope and tear it open followed by the flutter of a sheet of paper and then she screamed.
"Phil!" She called through the house. "Phil, guess what?"
Phil walked out into the living room pulling a t-shirt on. "What?" he yawned. Renee must have woken him up from his afternoon siesta.
"Bella's ivy league! She got in!" Renee yelled throwing her arms around me. It was a little difficult with the throw pillow in the way. Right now it was serving a triple purpose, sound barrier, mom barrier, and embarrassment barrier. I could feel the heat in my cheeks as my blood pooled beneath the surface. I heard her hand the acceptance letter to Phil and then she started hugging me all over again. "Oh, I'm so proud of you, honey!" she cried. "I told you, you could do it!"
I threw the pillow down onto my lap, my cheeks finally cooling. "Ok, mom, seriously calm down. You're giving me a headache." I said pushing her off. She didn't notice. She was still too busy bouncing up and down beside me.
"But why aren't you excited? Ivy League, Bella. Come on, you need to celebrate!"
I sighed, exasperated, and got up from the couch beginning to pace around the living room. Phil took my place next to my mother, most likely to get her to calm down. I would thank him later. "You know I'm not one to feel a celebratory mood, mom."
"You should at least be excited." Phil said as he handed the letter back to Renee. She started reading it again. "Ivy league, kiddo. That's a big deal."
"I'm aware of that." I said sitting myself down in the armchair in the corner. Phil and Renee were quiet for a moment while I thought. They perused the letter several more times while allowing me to grasp the moment.
I was graduating high school in a month, and then I was spending a few days up in Forks with Charlie before I left for college. We had yet to iron out when exactly over the summer I would fly up and visit, and possibly even stay longer. I have a friend up there that lives on the Quileute Indian Reservation, La Push. We had sort of grown up together in a sense over the years that I visited Charlie when I was kid. We would hang out by the river together and throw worms at each other. His dad and my dad were best friends. No doubt Charlie would try and talk me into staying a little longer than a few days, just for an excuse to have all four of us hang out and fish. But I knew Jacob and I would more likely just talk and catch up rather than fish. Neither one of us was very good at it.
"So?" Renee asked, snapping me from my reverie.
"What?" I asked, glancing at them.
"It says here that they're offering you a partial scholarship. They want you, Bella. This is such an opportunity. Take it." Renee pleaded. No doubt she was pushing this on me just to have a few bragging rights among the other moms in the neighborhood.
"Mom, look, I don't know, ok?" I said getting up and pinching the bridge of my nose. "I've heard from three other colleges and I need to consider them all. I wasn't expecting a letter back from this one, let alone an acceptance letter. I need to weigh my options."
"But ivy league, Bella." Renee said emphasizing the words. "It's such an honor. The first in the family."
"Don't play that card, mom. It won't work." I started to walk past her and grabbed up the envelope and its contents stuffing them back inside. I held my hand out for the acceptance letter, but Renee cradled it against her chest.
"No, I want to frame it for you." She said.
I sighed, loudly, frustrated, and started tapping my foot. "Mom, the letter please. It's standard eleven by eight inch, get the frame. I just want to keep everything together for now, ok?"
"Fine. You win." Renee handed the letter over and I snatched it slipping it into the envelope. "But you have to make a decision soon, all right."
"Yes, mom." I called as I walked toward my room.
"This weekend, Bella. They'll want to hear from you as soon as possible. And call your father!"
I slammed my door shut loud enough so that she got the message to leave me alone. I threw the envelope down on my laptop and grabbed my cell phone off my desk before flopping down on my bed and sighing. I punched Charlie's number on my speed dial and leaned back against my pillows.
"Hey, dad." I said mockingly happy when his voicemail picked up. "It's me. Uh… Good news. Apparently I'm Ivy League material. I got the acceptance letter today. I'll be around tonight if you want to call me. Love you, bye." I hung up my phone and tossed it to the end of my bed then let my head fall back against the pillows again. The throbbing pain between my eyes was threatening a repeat performance, so I shut them and let myself fall into an uneasy rest.
"Are you going to do it?" Jacob's voice asked.
I shifted my cell phone between my ear and shoulder as I moved more dishes from the sink to the dishwasher. "Yeah, I sent back my confirmation and a check yesterday. The scholarship covers my tuition and cost of books, but room and board are on me. I need to take out loans."
"Wow, this is so great, Bella. I'm so happy for you. I would have never expected you to apply to an Ivy League college. Let alone get into one."
"Yeah, tell me about it, Jake. My mom hasn't shut up. She's been calling all her friends and bragging. I can't blame her though, and actually, I have to thank her. It was her who pushed me into applying anyway." I poured some soap into the machine and kicked it shut before turning the dial to wash mode and hit the start button.
"Renee pushed you into applying?"
"Yeah." I grabbed my soda can off the counter and leaned my back against holding my cell phone in my other hand. "Because my grades in high school have been so good, and I did exceptional on my SATs, both times. So… She said, 'what the hell, Bella. Just do it. You never know'." I sipped my Coke. "So, yeah… I'm moving to the east coast."
"But not before you come up here and let me throw you in the river." Jacob teased.
"Oh, no of course not." I said sarcastically. "Cause, would just be the highlight of my last summer on this side of the country. I can't pass that up."
Jacob chuckled. "You think I'm kidding, Bells? I'm six feet two inches now, and you're what?"
"Exactly, you couldn't fight me off if you tried."
I chuckled this time. "Probably not. All right, Jake, I need to go, I have studying for finals to do."
"Shut up. I'll talk to you later."
"Yup, see you in a month, Bella. Bye."
I folded my phone shut and shoved it in my pocket then let my head fall into my hands and ran them down my face slowly, moaning in exhaustion and frustration. Tomorrow was going to suck. I had three finals in one day, but that only meant that the rest of my tests were spread out evenly over the rest of the week. I trudged back to my room and opened the door to see my mother hanging my acceptance letter, now framed, over my low dresser.
"Oh, come on, mom!" I whined.
"Humor me, honey." Renee said climbing down from the short stepladder. "There, that looks very nice in that frame. Very Ivy League."
"Ugh." I threw myself down on my bed and covered my face with a pillow. "Can you go? I have studying to finish." I said, my voice muffled.
"Yup." I heard Renee walk over and she pulled the pillow from my face. "I'm so proud of you, Bella. I know, I know, you're sick of hearing it, but honestly, sweetheart." She placed her hand over her heart. "I am so very proud of you."
Renee bent down and kissed my forehead. "Don't stay up too late." She said as she walked out, shutting my door quietly. I sat up once she left and grabbed the calculus textbook off my desk along with my notebook. Math, my second least favorite subject. The first was PE. I sighed and turned to where I had left off in my notes.
At least that wasn't going to be a required course on the east coast.