Those brown eyes are staring at me. They remind me of my mother's. She had the same deep, brown, soulful eyes. They are also the eyes of Jacob, my three years younger brother, only his are black. Yet somehow, those eyes that mimic my dead mother's so much do not belong to the family.
They belong to Bella Swan.
Bella is the seven year-old daughter of Daddy's best friend, Charlie. When I met her last year, I kind of liked her. It was true that she was a bit quiet for my liking, but she was nice enough.
That was before Christmas. That was before Mama died in a car crash. Before, those eyes that reminded me of her brought me only comfort. That was when I could play house with Bella and pretend she was family.
Now they bring me only pain.
She is the only one I know with Mama's eyes. Now, I am eight – too old to play house – and every time I look at her I am reminded of a time of happiness, a time of stories and love and laughter. They remind me of what I do not have.
I had begged Daddy not to make me play with her this year. He had refused. 'She and Charlie are practically family,' were his exact words. But even if that is the case, I still couldn't look at her and play with her as if her very presence didn't make my heart ache in loneliness.
So I ignored her.
I did just as much as Daddy wanted me too, but never more. I did whatever she wanted and I responded if she asked me something. But I didn't look her in the eye. I was no longer her friend, but her babysitter.
Rachel is the more outgoing twin. She refused outright to spend time with Bella. I wish I had that kind of bravery. The night after she yelled at Daddy in the kitchen, he tried to hide it from Bella. He told her Rachel was at a friend's house, or at soccer practice. But I am sure she saw right through his excuses. Another trait she shares with Mama.
I am also sure she knew that I was no longer the carefree young girl I was last year. That I was no longer willing to take off my stockings to play in the surf with her. However I tried to hide it, I was sure she noticed when I had to leave around noon to make Jake lunch. However I tried to hide it, I was sure she knew that I could no longer look at he without tearing up.
It wasn't as if she did absolutely nothing. She tried everything she could to get me to feel better. She picked flowers, offered to feed Jake, and tried to help me and Rachel out with the chores. Sadly, her pity just made everything worse. Bella is a year younger than I am. She can't do division and she has never watched a PG rated movie. I am the one that is supposed to be taking care of her, not the other way around.
I knew I was hurting her. The day she asked me if I wanted to bake cookies with her and I refused, I saw a flash of extreme hurt show on her face before she carefully masked it. I knew that she thought it was her fault and that I no longer liked her. She has always been like that.
The week after I first met her, I failed a math test. It was no big deal, but she cried for hours, convinced it was her fault because all the time I could have been studying I spent playing with her. It took Rachel and I an entire hour to convince her to come out of her room.
Finally, Bella gives up and scrambles upright. Her feet sink instantly in the fine sand, and the wind whips her light brown hair around her face. The wind and the sand combined make her unsteady, and she wobbles as she makes her way over to my little brother.
I am instantly jealous of the easy relationship Bella and Jacob seem to have. As she crouches next to the tide pool Jake is examining, he reaches out one hand and puts it on her leg. Such a simple gesture might have been overlooked, but Jake never did that to me. Typical, even my own little brother prefers Bella to me.
Perhaps this is a bit harsh of me. After all, Bella is closer to his age then I am, and she is still a naïve little child, able to play and have fun. As I watch, Jacob points to something in the water, and Bella reaches down and grabs it. It is a red starfish, almost as large as Bella's hand. Jake exclaims over it and Bella helps him to stroke it gently. It seems like only yesterday I was picking a large conch shell out of the ocean for Bella to hold.
Earlier this summer, while trying to cheer me up, Bella tried to pick me a sand dollar from the bottom of one of the deepest pools. She had taken her shoes off and the moss on the rocks was slippery. I looked away for a second, my focus only returning to her as she let out a bloodcurdling scream. I had spun around just in time to see her disappear over the edge on the rock she was standing on. Despite my newfound aversion to her, I had dashed over and dragged her out of the water. She coughed and spluttered for a few minutes, but seemed unhurt. That night as I was getting ready for dinner, Daddy came into my room.
"Bella left this for you," he said, and placed a sand dollar on my pillow. I cried that night, thinking of my mother's generous spirit. A different voice in my head, a cynical one, commented on my agony, saying that Bella was merely clumsy. Nothing special about that.
But there was. Everyone loves Bella; she is the perfect child. What was more, she represented everything I wanted. Of course, her parent's divorce had been hard on her, but she still got to see both of them; neither one was lost to her. She was happy with her life, unnaturally content. She was also me at that age.
That was the reason I couldn't be around her. She reminded me of what life was like before. When she is happy, her entire face shines with it. It is too real, too painful for me to stand.
Her hazel eyes belonged in my family, but she did not. Her happy personality no longer fit the mood around this house. She herself no longer fit in. And because of that, it was time for me to let her eyes go.