Title: Silence Speaks the Loudest
Pen Name: Rosette-Cullen
Sense: Sight and sound with a pinch of touch
Genre: Friendship & Romance
Characters: Edward and Bella
The coffee pot was brewing, the scent of vanilla beans overpowering. The sink was turned on with low water pressure, sun shining through the window. The ritual of morning came through soundly, day after day, the same old thing.
My mother was humming under her breath and flipping a pancake. She smiled at me, the edge of her eyes wrinkled with crowsfeet that weren't supposed to be there. Her pupils danced around my face, waiting for something that would never come.
Every mother's dream was to hear their child say they loved them, or murmur a groggy hello, maybe even tell them to butt out of their business. My mother never expected that from me; she just prayed for my health and happiness. Maybe one day she would get her wish, but not any time soon.
"Edward," she said quietly. I looked up and smiled at her. "Bella called before. She wanted to know if you'd like to come over this afternoon."
I nodded my head vigorously, too excited for her speculative mind. She rolled her eyes and looked away.
My feet dragged against the carpet as I moved my way upstairs. I concentrated on the texture, every sensation. I felt, as an artist, that it was my duty to think of a response for everything I came across. In one way or another I needed to use a picture, sound, or word to define that object to feel useful.
Bella would have punched me for that thought.
I showered quickly, trying not to over think the way the water droplets felt against my skin. The water reminded me of a cool tub of ice left out on a hot summer day. The gradual change of ice to heat warmed me up and shocked me to the core, but in all the best ways.
An hour later I was driving my way through back roads and thick forests on gravel streets. Dim rays of sun peeked from behind the large cumulous clouds. In that moment I longed to fly, to feel the wind scream past my ears, making my eyes water. More than anything I wanted to scream in excitement at being able to do what no one else could. I sighed aloud through my nose and pushed back the nausea.
Bella was waiting for me on the porch. Her legs swung back and forth on the love seat rocker and she had a book perched on her lap. Eyes scanning over the page, she smiled and looked up as I approached her.
She stood from her seat and ran to me. My stomach did a fluttering thing that had been happening a lot more lately. I smiled back at her.
"Edward!" she yelled in greeting and her arms wrapped around my waist. "Two weeks is too long! Never again."
A silent chuckle shook my body and she looked up to glare at me. I put my hands up in a defensive manner. Rolling her eyes, she pulled herself closer to me.
"Come inside." She tugged on my hand and pulled me to the porch and I waved at Charlie as he held up his beer can in greeting.
Her skin was soft against mine. The lotions that she put against her burned flesh made her smell like a flower and look like a cherry. Her hair had a red tint to it and was slightly longer than I remembered. I wanted to familiarize myself with everything about her, to know what had changed while she was gone on vacation.
She flopped down on her bed and crossed her legs in the middle of it. I sat where she patted her hand and gave her a questioning look at the lobster skin.
"Pale people don't fair well in the heat." She frowned and held out her arm. "Florida is overrated. If you're not at an amusement park it's all retirement homes and crowded beaches."
I held out my hands and a smile lit up her face. I moved my fingers in quick succession and she watched them carefully.
How was your grandmother? I asked.
"She's doing better. My mom signed the deed for the house; Phil was at games most of the time I was there."
And the beaches?
Her nose wrinkled. "I fell asleep in the sun, that's why the globs of lotion didn't work."
I laughed so hard it shook the bed, but I was careful not make a sound. Bella glared but soon joined in with me. The lightheartedness of the moment broke into both of us and the heavy burden of separation was gone in an instant.
I managed to stop laughing and looked into her eyes, serious. I missed you, I signed with my hands.
"I missed you, too, Edward," she sighed. "You wouldn't believe how much. It's hard to have a deep conversation with my mom."
I rolled my eyes at her but she looked as serious as I had been. Her eyes never lied. The dark brown that was a shade heavier than her hair penetrated mine with her honesty.
"Just because you can't contribute in speech doesn't mean you're a wall."
I know that, but the irony gets to me every time.
She scoffed. "Edward, you're very well read in case you didn't know. I would choose talking to you over anyone else in this town, this state, or this country."
Alright. I'm sorry, Bella.
"I forgive you, Edward." She stuck up her chin and grinned. "You need to stay for dinner. I got a shrimp recipe that's so good you'll pass out."
I nodded eagerly for her cooking. She told me about the different sauces that would work well with different things and about the uses of lemons and limes in cooking. By the end of her rant my stomach was growling and the smile on her lips was enough to make everything in the world scream with beauty.
School was around the corner, taunting me with its nearness and the hardships that always seemed to pull me down. The one thing I was grateful for was that Bella and I were in most of the same classes. I convinced her to take drawing in exchange for culinary with her.
It was widely known around school that I was the 'mute kid' and therefore I was likened to Frankenstein and avoided. When I was a kid and my mother forced me to play with others who would taunt me for never speaking, and when I tried to do so nothing more than a garbled sound left my throat and I was mortified.
Since then I hadn't tried to speak. The pains of childhood, those years of elementary school and mocking made my stomach burn in disgust and embarrassment.
Only in middle school did Bella come along. She moved in with her father and was as shy as I was. And then, the thing that sealed my fate to Bella Swan was when she came up to me and started to speak, actually speak. And when I was looking at her like she was crazy, she held up her hands in sign language and said the words that made the most sense to me.
Would you like to be friends?
My cell phone rang in the corner of the room and I picked it up, tapping the speaker gently with my finger.
"Edward you need to come over, Charlie's opening up the pool in the back. If you help me net the leaves and dead bugs out we can go swimming."
I hung up quickly and grabbed my swim trunks from the bottom drawer of my dresser. Two months out of a year I was allowed the privilege of seeing Bella in a swim suit, and I never denied the opportunity when it arose. There were all different shades of beauty in the world, but most didn't have a pretty girl in a bikini.
As it turned out, when Charlie and I pried the protective covering off the pool, there wasn't any protection at all. Black little beans were floating inside the murky water and Bella had screamed for a couple of seconds. I cursed in my head at the fact that I wouldn't be able to have my wicked way with her in a pool, at least not until it was chlorinated and every last bug was out.
Bella and I quickly got to work, fishing dead bugs while she spoke about her vacation and her mother. I listened to her voice as the smooth tenor wrapped around my ears and I breathed in every sentence and devoured every detail she gave me.
I made her describe the sun since I so rarely saw it; the bright glowing rays that touched down upon sandy beaches. The crashing waves roared over hermit crabs and children screamed when the tide came in. By the time she finished describing the beach in every little detail we had mostly scooped out the bugs.
Once the rain started to fall we headed back inside to get the muck and grime scrubbed from our skin. The dirt from the water was sunken into my pores and I couldn't help but think of cigarette smoke, black and clouded.
"What are you thinking about?" Bella asked.
I tore my fingers away from my skin. Nothing really.
She frowned. "I wish my brain worked like yours."
"I don't know. I read books and I can always picture myself living in that world, but if I ever try to compare things, or try to make sense of something, it falls flat. You always have your mind open."
It helps to be stuck inside your head all day and have no other way to release it except for transferring it through your fingers.
"See, like that!" she accused. "You meant it as more than just sign language."
Bella, you don't want a mind like mine. I signed grimly. Maybe the left side of my brain is working, but the right doesn't allow me to understand speech. Honestly, I wish I had a mind like yours.
Her eyes narrowed. "Shut up!"
No, Bella, it's the truth. You're always denying it.
"No I'm not. You think you're some freak of nature, but you're not." She stomped up the stairs without waiting for a reply and I listened to her seventeen steps as she sprinted away.
I followed behind her. Without Bella there was no beauty in the world.
The pressure of school was sneaking up on me. In little more than a week I would be back inside those white and red walls, in the gymnasium for the welcome back speeches, and handed a personal planner with 'Go Spartans!' at the top. I tried to focus on the good more than the bad, but it was difficult.
I felt like the scared little boy I'd always been. It was like I was coming back the day after I was first beaten up. I was shaking with fear of it happening again. The anxiousness was eating away at my stomach and tearing at my lungs.
I'd invested so much trust in Bella that it became ridiculous. She represented normalcy to me. She was a safe place, someone I could always turn to, but I'd been having dreams lately where her back was turned and she was walking away. I would try to grab onto her arm but once I made contact she would vanish and I would wake up panting and shaking. I felt pathetic for it.
I'd been avoiding Bella since the dreams began to seem more vivid. Since our fight we had made up, said our apologies and moved on as always. But it still wasn't right.
Ever since then I'd been having more of those dreams. Recently she would look at me with dead eyes and shove me away before she turned away and I'd make to grab for her. It was repetitive and every time I became more afraid.
The pitch black nights where I would stay awake, staring at the ceiling and watching the rifts that seemed to move. Some black spots littered the walls and I stared at them for hours trying to see if they were spiders. Finally I would throw something at the wall and determine if it was or not.
Three days before school the crushing weight of it all was berating me. I was a few thoughts away from having a full blown panic attack.
Being trapped inside my mind was awful. I wanted to talk to someone, using my voice to scream out the feelings that were ripping through my chest. The crushing grief was leading me to believe that I had some sort of adolescent depression. I wanted to tell my father but we had never been very close. I felt in some ways that he was disappointed by his only child. He wanted a son since he was my age, someone to follow in his footsteps of being a doctor and carrying on the legacy of the Cullen name.
When I was smaller, a toddler who didn't know that I was different, he would pick me up and try to coerce me into calling him dad. When I could do nothing more than open my mouth and make strangled noises he would look at me with a desperate expression and sigh.
My mother had the burden of replacing my father's love. She was overly accepting in everything I did. As I got older my father retreated more from my life. He had holed himself up in his office and tried to figure out what made me incapable of speech. He had narrowed it down to brain function since my vocal chords were in tact.
But there was nothing he could do. I had a perfectly functioning brain, and to go in and do surgery would do nothing more than mess me up.
Now, he couldn't even look at me.
I curled my legs to my chest and lay fetal against my scratchy sheets. All I wanted from life was my father's acceptation and love.
I clenched my teeth together as sobs erupted from my throat.
I had tried so desperately to make him proud of me, and no matter what I did nothing could. Bella had listened, she understood, she knew how a distant relationship with a father felt.
I reached with shaky fingers for my phone and opened a new text message. I managed a short I need you before it was sent and I was back in my desperate world with a hole ripping through my chest. It all came on so quickly that everything in the world was blacked out and I was thinking about all the moments in my life that I'd been trying to forget.
My body broke out into goose bumps as each sob screamed from my throat in silent mutiny. I'd experienced crushing defeat before, but it had never been this bad or brought on so quickly.
I had no concept of time when Bella ran through my door and flung herself at me. Small arms wrapped around my neck as she sidled up to me and held me as agony wracked my bones.
"Oh, Edward," Bella breathed. "I'm here, I'm with you now."
I clutched onto her like a child to its mother. I was lost in the scent of strawberries and remembered the best moments of my life with that smell. Visions flashed before my eyes of running through backyards and swimming in lakes, splashing water at each other with grins plastered across our faces.
The first time I'd had one of these breakdowns she had been there, allowed me to frustratedly explain to her what I was feeling. Her eyes never judged me even when I told her about how ashamed I felt for not being what my father wanted me to be—what everyone wanted me to be.
My jaw shuttered as the worst receded back into my chest. The monster that was lashing out and coiling through my veins with its heated anger was going back to lying dormant. I pulled away from Bella, feeling the onslaught of embarrassment.
Her hand grabbed my arm and kept me still. Her eyes met mine and the judgmental eyes that should have been there were only wide and honest in her concern for me. Irrational anger smoked through me. She released my arm and scooted away to give me my space like a temperamental lunatic.
I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. How could I lash out at the one person who was there for me?
I held up my hands. I'm sorry.
Don't be, she signed back to me. Her hands held onto mine and she kissed my knuckles.
You always get the brunt of my storms, I replied once my hands were free.
I don't mind, Edward. You're worth the world to me.
I shook my head, ready to reply with something sarcastic when she grabbed my hand and pulled her body against mine. The soothing warmth enveloped me into silence, physically and mentally.
Soft morning light filtered through the floor length windows on the east side of my room. Clouds slowly made their way over and it was dark again.
Bella was folded into my side; her arm was curled over my stomach and a leg thrown over my thigh in her attempt to keep me in bed. Every muscle in my body felt rickety and unused while I tried to stretch them out without waking her.
My eyes closed tightly as I ran through last night. All I could think about was blubbering in her arms while she tried to calm me down enough to explain what was going on. I remembered thinking if I could speak that I'd have sobbed it into her shoulder.
There was a sketch book on my nightstand and I carefully reached my hand out to grab it. Quickly flipping through it I found a blank page with some charcoal marks, but I grabbed a pencil and started to lightly trace some lines. Small swells grew into grey shades of white skin, supple and soft. I concentrated carefully on every line of the face on my page, shading from the nose to the right eye which lay closed and peaceful.
What seemed like hours later I had a perfect replica of the sleeping girl in my arms. The picture did not do her justice, but I felt pleased with it nonetheless. My fingers trailed over her hair and I smudged the graphite sleeping beauty's locks until it held the perfect glare of morning light. My stomach knotted up and I set the book down beside me.
I carefully ran my palm over the back of her warm head, sighing as the soft hair tangled between my fingers. Bella stirred and pressed her face further into my chest. The feeling that that movement gave me spiked through my limbs and the heavy fastening of sleep and depression lifted and a sense of awe swam through.
If I was a fish in an ever expanding sea, Bella was my home and protector. I was a small guppy who was lucky enough to have a shark by my side.
She sighed, her whole body lifting with the motion, and pulled back slowly. Chocolate brown eyes looked up at me and she blinked slowly and yawned. I smiled to myself.
"What time is it?" she mumbled.
I grabbed the alarm clock and showed her that it was little after seven. She stared at it blankly and rolled back into my chest. I chuckled silently and she laughed back.
"I had a dream about you," she said. "We were on the beach in Florida and you were saving me from a sea monster."
My palm pressed between her shoulder blades and I pushed her closer to me. Her body heat forced a sigh from my chest and I smiled against her hair.
We were quiet for a long time. No words needed to be spoken to see how important this moment was. We were communicating silently with our body language, reveling in the sense of fulfillment and peace. Even with the storm that was my mind in the background, it didn't seem to matter when I had the peace of the girl I loved in my arms.
A/N: Exploration of the Senses Contest inspired me to write this. A lemon didn't seem right, so thank God they allow in any rating.
Thank you to Kitschisme for the Beta'ing this baby.
I sincerecly hope everyone enjoyed this, I had a wonderful time writing it.
Don't forget to review!