A/N: YAY! doc uploader FINALLY works! This is a little something I started months ago, and only got around to finish now. Whenever I watch the film version of Mamma Mia, I always think of Renée and Bella when Slipping through My Fingers comes on. This little piece is titled after that ABBA song and is influenced by it (or at least, by its film version). Please review if you like it. Happy reading!
Disclaimer: nope, they're still not mine. Boo.
Slipping through My Fingers
Slipping through My Fingers
I remember the first time I heard of Edward Cullen.
It was a random weekend in March, and I thought I'd give Bella a call. We hardly talked since she had moved to live with Charlie. She was busy with school, adjusting to her new surroundings, making friends, and Phil and I were on the road a lot. We were exchanging emails every now and then, but not as often as I wished. It didn't have the benefits phone calls had, but getting emails from her was better than having no contact at all. It was difficult for me. I used to see her daily, and now all I had were those emails to rely on. It was strange not to be able to knock on her bedroom door and talk to her whenever I felt like it. The house was quiet in her absence, empty. I missed my little girl.
And then I called her, but she was out.
"She has a date," Charlie informed me.
"She has a what?" He didn't actually say what I think he'd said, did he? There had to be something wrong with the phone lines. I misheard him, that was all.
"She has a date," he repeated, sounding as if the words were forced out of him.
Oh, my God. "With whom?"
"A guy from school. He took her to play baseball."
His tone was astonished, reflecting my own thoughts. My Bella had a date? She hardly mentioned people she'd met at school, not in her emails, surely not over the phone. I thought back of the last email I received from her not a week ago. It showed no inclination of her meeting someone that might be more important than her other classmates. How long had this been going on? How come she'd never mentioned anything to me? She'd always been a private person, but it wasn't like her to hide something like this from me. "Do you know him?" What I really wanted to ask was, was he good enough for my baby?
"Yeah. Father's a doctor. They're all adopted, him and his siblings. He seems like a decent guy."
The resentment in his voice was impossible to miss. "But?"
"Spill it, Charlie," I laughed.
"Nothing," he grumbled. "I just wasn't expecting her to start dating any time soon."
"She is nearly eighteen, Charlie."
"What's his name?"
"Edward. Edward Cullen."
I remember liking it. It had a nice, solid sound to it. The rest of the conversation remains a blur. I remember hanging up in a daze. My mind had hard time wrapping around the concept of Bella, my Bella, dating some guy, and from Forks, no less. There were hundreds of students in her school in Phoenix, dozens of good-looking guys. Did she really have to go all the way up there to find someone? It seemed inconceivable.
It was silly of me, but I envied Charlie. Despite his obvious lack of enthusiasm on the matter, he was the one who'd get to see our daughter's first boyfriend. It was a huge leap at the time. It was only their first date, or so I gathered from the little Charlie had said. It wasn't exactly a long-termed relationship or anything remotely close. I knew I was overreacting, but I felt left out. I wanted to be there and share this with her, the magic of first love, and instead here I was, staring incredulously at the phone that was still in my hand, resenting her father.
The rest of that day was a torture. I struggled to distract myself so I wouldn't be tempted to turn the computer on and email her. I knew she wouldn't appreciate pressing questions and inquiries, that she would be furious with Charlie for telling me. I also knew, or hoped, she'd tell me all about it once she was back, if there was anything to tell. I tried to let Charlie's words reassure me. He seemed like a decent guy, Charlie had said. He wouldn't say it unless there was something to it. Noticing these things was part of his job. Besides, I knew my daughter. If Bella chose this guy, she knew what she was doing. I just had to sit still and trust her judgment for the time being.
I didn't imagine I'd meet Edward Cullen so soon, and under such circumstances.
His sister called me. Bella had been in an accident, she said. I was surprised to hear she was in Phoenix. I thought she was relatively happy in Forks. Why she would want to head back to Phoenix all of a sudden was beyond me. It wasn't like Bella to act so impulsively. I couldn't possibly see how that guy Edward fit into all this. Alice, his sister, said something about a misunderstanding between them, and that they'd come after her to set things right. Edward couldn't bear her leaving her father like that because of him, she said, so he came to talk sense into her.
I first saw him a few hours after that phone call, when I stormed into her hospital room. The nurse at the desk didn't mention there was someone already in there, and when I saw him standing there, I started and froze. He turned, and I gasped again, in surprise more than in fear this time. He was the most gorgeous guy I'd ever seen. I blinked once, thinking the light was playing tricks on me, but there he stayed, standing in front of me with this weary expression upon his handsome face.
"You must be Renée," he said. His voice was low yet pleasant, one of those that got right under your skin. I found myself nodding, transfixed. Like a teenager with a crush. I could feel my cheeks grow warm, and mentally kicked myself for acting so ridiculous. "I'm Edward Cullen. I'm terribly sorry about your daughter."
"How is she?" I asked once I found my voice again.
"The doctors are keeping her under. She'll be in too much pain if they don't." He winced, almost as if he was feeling her pain. He was standing right in front of her bed. I had to look over his shoulder to catch a glimpse of her. That seemed to snap him out of his reverie, and he shook his head apologetically as he sidled, and silently allowed me a closer look.
She had been accident-prone all her life, but I'd never seen my daughter so wounded and broken as I had that moment. And then again, I'd never seen someone as devoted as Edward had been to her in those days she'd been unconscious. He wouldn't leave her side, only when the nurses insisted, and even then, not without protesting. He'd spend nights by her bedside. Whenever I had to leave her room for whichever reason, I always found him next to her when I returned, holding her hand and just… gazing at her, as if daring her to wake up with nothing more than a look. At first I thought that whatever argument they had and had driven her away, he was simply trying to make amends now by tending her. I'm not sure at which point I began to realize it wasn't quite the case.
When Bella regained consciousness a few days later, I confronted her about it. By then I was certain he was in love with her, but I feared it would scare her. To be honest, it scared me, because I wasn't sure how to handle it. I mentioned it lightly, matter-of-factly, as if it was nothing but harmless suspicion. She brushed off my concerns. It's just a crush, she said. Believing her was reassuring, so I did. I saw no reason to doubt my child. She'd always known better. And it was safer to hang on hope that it really was a crush than start worrying about her once she was back at Forks.
When they came to visit us in Florida, I knew I'd been a fool to believe her. This was no crush. This was what Charlie had been trying to warn me against for weeks, I then realized. I'd always dismissed his concerns, thinking he was simply overprotective. I had always known that Bella wasn't an ordinary child. From a very young age, she had this grownup quality about her. My middle-aged child, I used to tease her. She found her equal in Edward. Watching the two of them together was like watching my grandparents, years back. Even as a little girl, I was able to perceive that unique intensity between them. But they'd been married for nearly four decades. Bella and Edward were together for merely a year, and yet that same intensity was there. I didn't know why exactly, but it was alarming.
Despite Charlie's paranoia, I knew Edward loved her. It was there in his every movement, every word. It was as if his every breath was for her. Then again, I couldn't blame Charlie in being so suspicious. Edward had betrayed his trust twice in the past, first with the accident in Phoenix, and then when he broke up with her. I didn't know the particulars of that incident. Charlie wasn't thrilled to discuss it at any given time, and I didn't dare to confront Bella about it, not with the way she'd reacted when I'd flown up there to check on her at the time. When I heard they were back together, I still had my doubts, but I let it go because Bella was okay again, in spite of Charlie's reluctance to admit it.
I look at them now, and for a moment I'm not sure how we got there.
He's repeating the minister's words, but he's not taking his eyes off her. His expression is solemn. He looks as cool as if he's talking a walk in the park, as if he's done it dozens of times before. The way he looks at her delights me and frightens me at the same time. Watching the two of them always induces that same reaction in me, this combination of joy and fear. I'm happy they've found one another, but at the same time I'm afraid for them. They're so young. Do they really know what they're doing, tying themselves to one another, still in their teens?
I watch my daughter through a veil of tears. It feels like I haven't stopped crying since we got to Forks. I've never seen her more beautiful. The only descriptions I come up with are clichés. Breathtaking, astounding, a vision in white. She's crying too, but I don't think she's aware of it. She seems aware of nothing but him. I'm sitting there searching her face, trying to find something beyond bliss, anything to make me doubt this, but I find myself unable to. Phil is squeezing my hand. I squeeze back, slightly more reassured. They're doing the right thing, I tell myself.
He slips the ring on her finger, and in a few more words, it's sealed and done. My little girl is now his wife. I can't shake this feeling that I'm going to lose her today. It's faint at first, but then it comes crushing at me as they kiss, and I cry harder at this realization. It catches me off-guard, although it really shouldn't. This is how it's supposed to happen. I think I just wasn't counting on it to happen so soon. Of course, I anticipated it ever since that weekend I've seen them together. It's almost as if my mind has been repressing this realization, until Bella called me with the news. I wasn't much older than her when I married Charlie. I guess I wanted so much more for her.
I watch them as they dance, wrapped in their own private bubble, as if nothing else exists. They dance to their own rhythm, their own music. He whispers something in her ear. She smiles and shakes her head in reply. She lays her head against his chest. He rests his chin on the top of her head. There's something so intimate about it, as if it wasn't meant for anyone's eyes. I force my gaze away.
A warning bell goes off in my head, and for a moment I panic. This is the last time I'm going to see her, I think. For a moment, I don't understand where it has come from. But the realization is so lucid, like an epiphany, and impossible to shake off. I try to calm myself. This is what marriage vows are all about, I tell myself, a symbolic separation, a never-ending chain. But something within me, a primal maternal instinct maybe, tells me it's more than that. I don't want to question it, or why I can see it so clearly. I tell myself I'm overwhelmed by the enormity of the day, and that it will all make more sense to me the next morning.
Try as I might, I'm unable to shake it off. My heart breaks as it dawns on me. My daughter is slipping through my fingers. Maybe she already has. Maybe she has already sealed her fate with his that day at the hospital, when she has first confessed her feelings for him. Maybe there was a way to prevent this if I've taken her more seriously back then. I should have seen it coming and in a way I have, but I kept denying it. And now, when it hits me full-force, hopelessness is overpowering. There's nothing I can do to alter things. Somehow, I just know I've already lost her forever.