A/N: This story takes place as if Bella left before she and Edward became friendly.
UPDATE: I've reposted these because I now have a beta (YAY!) There's just a few minor changes, but much thanks to wolfgrl04 for your help! :)
Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight; all of the respective characters belong to Stephenie Meyer.
The sense of déjà vu as I boarded the airplane was overwhelming. Just little less than two years ago I had done the same thing; heading to the same destination point. I sat, nervously picking at the hem of my tank top, thinking how my emotions could be so similar yet vastly different. My anxiety then was because I thought I was dooming myself to the boredom that was Forks Washington. My current anxiety was from the fact that I was headed to a well of emotions I didn't know if I was ready to face.
I only stayed in the small town for little more than two weeks, but the impression it seared into my life was lasting. Closing my eyes, I slumped down in my seat, breathing in heavily through my nose. The thoughts of that day immersed my brain - the day I got the news that sent my life into a proverbial tail spin.
It had been a Monday morning and I was up and getting dressed for school. I remembered looking out my window and thinking Charlie had left for the morning even though I'd gone to bed the night before without seeing him. I hadn't thought much about it, because it wouldn't have been the first time Charlie had come home late from a fishing trip and still gotten up early to go to work. As I was zipping up my backpack there was a knock at the door.
The rest of the day was a blur in my mind. As hard as I've tried, I can't remember much. I could force my brain to see images of Billy Black as he stood at my door; the sheer look of despair written in his features. I could see his mouth moving, but I could not remember the words that he spoke.
I remembered collapsing to the floor trying hard to breathe, but being unable to do so. I remembered Jacob Black, Billy's son, lifting me up and being taken to the hospital after I'd been hyperventilating. It was like trying to remember a dream, I could see flashes of images, but all the tangible things - the sounds, the smells, the texture of the hard floor as I pressed my face against it; they were all missing. I still couldn't remember the exact moment or what was said when I was told Charlie was dead.
Thinking about it, I still had a hard time believing it to be true. He couldn't be dead, he was my Dad, and I need my Dad. The dull ache that was ever present deep in my heart pulsed as I thought those words. My breathing hitched, and I rested my head on the seat in front of me. I can't loss it here, not yet. I thought coaching myself through the moment.
I knew going back to Forks would be difficult. I was fully expecting to have little episodes throughout my trip - but I needed to do it.
My mother had begged me to stay, but I was stubborn.
"We can just hire a service to pack up the house, you don't have to go all the way there just to torture yourself Bella," she said for the fourth time that week.
I could hear the edge of annoyance in her voice, although she tried not to show it. I understood, she didn't get why I had to do it, I barely got it myself. There was just something inside of me that knew it needed to be done my way.
"I'll be fine Mom, I promise," I mumbled, repeating my automatic statement.
"Well, at least let me come with you," she sighed in resignation.
"No," I said too quickly and then smiled weakly as I collected my thoughts.
"I just need to do this Mom, by myself, I'll be okay."
I knew the reason I didn't want Renee to come was because, out of the two of us, I would most likely fair better performing the task. Although I had taken it very rough when Charlie died, I knew my Mom would have an even tougher time weeding through his possessions. Sighing, I thought of all of the things I knew he had still kept from when they were married.
"Besides, I have to get my medical records so I can start school in the fall," I offered, hoping the practicality of the statement rang true.
The seatbelt light came on bringing me back to reality. The stewardess announced that we would be landing soon. I was a little surprised at how fast the flight had gone by. Taking in a deep breath, I readied myself for the reality that was about to come crashing down on my shoulders.
A chill ran up my spine as I stepped off the plane and headed to the rental car desk. I threw on my sweatshirt, thinking bitterly of the unseasonable cold and rain I knew was to come.
After procuring my car I went to baggage claim and found the only suitcase I'd brought. Tossing my suitcase in the back of the generic sedan, I pulled out my iPod for the drive ahead. I had thought about renting a hotel room and driving in the morning, but then decided against it. The need to get everything over with was greater, and the sooner I got there the sooner I could leave.
The long drive was much easier with music, and I only had to stop once for gas and to grab a quick bite to eat. While I sat outside the Subway, picking at the BMT in front of me, my phone chimed alerting me to an email. I withdraw it from my purse and touched the screen, bringing it to life. I couldn't stop the smile that spread across my face when I saw the email was from EM109. He and I had forged a strong friendship over the past year and a half; it was hard to believe I didn't even know his real name.
We had met through my blog site that I began writing as a way to dig myself from the depths of the depression I'd sunk to after Charlie's passing. I had been near comatose for several weeks after moving with Renee to Florida. When I was finally able to function for myself I was not the same person I was before moving to Forks. I was a shell of the real Bella Swan, and while I can say that now, nothing could have convinced me of it then. Renee tried for several months to bring me back to myself, yet I was unresponsive.
The problem was that I thought I was fooling everyone. I was under the impression by doing everything right - by going to school, getting good grades, cooking and cleaning around the house - they would think I was fine. They wouldn't know that I barely slept at night, for fear of nightmares. They wouldn't know that it was a struggle to breathe if I let myself think. If I kept my mind on homework and chores and didn't allow my mind to wander the stabbing ache in my heart would only be a sharp twinge, and that was more bearable.
It wasn't until Renee demanded I see my counselor at school for weekly sessions that cracks began to form in my armor. Even then, it took several weeks before I even heard what Mrs. Meyer was saying to me, and that's only because of my mother.
One morning while I sat barely chewing the mushy cornflakes in front of me, my mother sat across from me and was talking about her newest pet project. I was shocked when out of nowhere Renee's hands were on my shoulders and she was shaking me vigorously, her face inches from mine. I hadn't even noticed she'd gotten up from her seat.
"BELLA – wake up!"
"Mom?" I said with confusion and then there it was - for the first time I saw the concern in my mother's eyes. I craned my neck back, taking the opportunity to really look at her then. She looked weary and tired.
"S-sorry?" I said, still not completely sure why she had been shaking me.
"I'm sick of talking to a robot - you need to snap out of it Isabella!" She shrieked before releasing me and returning to her seat. We didn't speak the rest of the morning.
Later that day as I pulled my binder from my backpack, preparing to do homework, a slip of paper fell out and floated to the floor. I saw what looked like web addresses scrawled across the page and picked it up to inspect it closer.
It was the paper Mrs. Meyer had given me with suggested websites. She claimed that writing my feelings down might help me to recognize how I felt; as well as reading other people's stories that had been through traumatic experiences. She provided me the list of such places, but I hadn't given it a second thought at the time.
I sat at my computer that afternoon, the desperation in my mother's eyes fresh in my mind, and logged onto the internet. The first site I went to was a blog site and I read through some of the most popular entries. I made myself an account, the act of thinking of a screen name alone was excruciating enough. It caused me to have to contemplate things other than laundry, homework, and the dishes- something I hadn't done in months.
I settled on Eclipsedheart17 thinking it accurately described my feelings. Something in my head clicked into place as I laid my fingers gingerly on the keyboard. The thoughts poured out of my brain and through my fingers as they struggled to keep up. I posted the blog, not even reading it over. I couldn't bring myself to do so.
The Unspeakable Things I Can't Even Think
The darkness around me is staggering. The pain I feel is greater than any I've experienced in my short life on this earth.
My brain struggles to understand why my body, my heart is damaged so. How can someone who seemingly barely touched my life cause such destruction in his path?
Breathing is hard; thinking is hard, speaking is impossible.
With the passing of my father comes a void that seems hopeless to fill.
Will it ever not be?
I made concessions in my life, sacrifices and this man was there to help me do it. He was unselfish, loving and everything I would hope to be.
I keep waiting for the day that I will wake up and the incessant pain will be gone.
Today is not that day – maybe tomorrow.
In pieces trying to find myself whole again,
I'd been shocked the following day when my email was full of responses from my blog. There was a mixture of empathetic responses, and people craving to tell their story as well. I was amazed by it, sitting stupefied staring at the screen.
I wrote another blog that night, much in the same fashion; laying my fingers on the keys I willed the words to come.
The following weeks I found myself engrossed in my thoughts and feelings, wanting nothing more than to express them with the glorious anonymity garnered by that virtual world. For the first time in months I was waking up, all of my senses seemed to come alive.
Sounds seemed louder, smells stronger and colors brighter. It was as if I had been walking around with my head under water, all things dulled to me, then suddenly I could breathe deep and just – think. I made friends with several people that followed my blog loyally. One person, in particular, I connected with and even had extensive online chats with was EM109.
He had responded to my first blog saying that I had an "old soul". That he could feel my pain through my words, and that he was sorry for my loss. He was the only person that had apologized to me in a manner that had unnerved me in its sincerity. Those were the things that helped lift me from despair.
A car passed by and honked its horn at teenagers leaving the Subway. I stood, throwing out my trash, and stepped off the curb toward my car. Once inside, I opened EM109's email, a small thrill of anticipation slithered through my stomach.
I hope your trip is going well. I know this is not going to be easy for you, and I am in awe of your courage. Perhaps in another life I could have been there with you, holding your hand through this troubling task. As I cannot do that, I am sending you a message of luck and strength. I hope they both find you on your journey, and you find what it is that you are searching for.
I sighed, putting away my phone, and made a mental note to write back once I was settled in for the night. My shoulders relaxed into the seat, and I realized there was less tension in them. Something about EM109's words always seemed to calm me. He was eloquent in his speech, always knowing just what to say.
As I turned back onto the highway I glanced at the clock, thinking it should be no more than twenty minutes to Charlie's house. When that realization hit my chest tightened slightly, I winced at the pain.
It seemed like less then that time before I was parked in the driveway, staring up at my old bedroom window. I took deep, controlled breaths and willed my legs to move from the car. Keeping my head down, I watched my feet fall over the gravel driveway, then the cold slab of cement of the front step.
Without lifting my head, I reached my hand up and found the house key under the eve by the front door. My heart sank impossibly deeper, tears filling my eyes as I thought of Charlie doing just that action every day he arrived home from work. When I opened the door fat tears were pouring from my eyes relentlessly but I made no attempt to hold them back.
I closed the door behind me, sliding my body down the hard wooden surface. My brain went right to the place I tried desperately to keep it from.
Charlie - alone.
He was alone for so long. He would come home everyday to an empty house and sit by himself, maybe watch a game and then go to bed alone. I should have been there more, I should have taken care of him better - the way I took care of Renee. I should have demanded that I spend two weeks out of every month with him and split my time more evenly.
I was his daughter, and all he ever did was love me. I did nothing for him - just took him for granted. I thought back to when I was fourteen and threw the biggest fit about having to go to Forks for two weeks in the summer. And what did Charlie do? My dad took me to California for those two weeks so that I would be happy. It became our ritual from that time on. All that my father got was two measly weeks out of the year with me, but I was too much of a brat to even spend it with him in his home.
My chest was heaving deeply as I struggled to catch my breath between sobs. The weight of the guilt I felt was what truly kept the pain harbored in my heart. When it was unleashed, it was impossible to reign in. Sitting in that house, his house, made it even worse.
I tore my body up off the floor and threw my legs into motion. Exhausted from my trip, clearly my brain was beyond its capacity to handle those intense emotions. I fled to the only part of the house that held any hope of not having remnants of Charlie. I was up the stairs and to my room in a blur of movement. Throwing myself onto my bed I inhaled the musty old bed spread. A fresh round of tears poured from my eyes. Charlie had promised to take me to get new sheets and comforter for my bed after I'd come back home. He never got the chance. How I had dreaded it then, the thought of shopping with Charlie. And now I sat begging the heavens for just one day, one hour, one minute of shopping with my dad.
"This isn't fair!" I screamed into my pillow, but my voice came out a strangled cry. I can't do this, I thought bitterly. I thought I could but I am too weak. I should have brought Renee. When I thought her name, as if magically, my phone rang and I jumped at the sound. Sure enough, it was my mother calling. The sight of her name snapped me from my turmoil, I heaved in a deep breath. Whipping the tears from my eyes I answered the phone.
"Hello?" I tried to speak as normally as possible, but was sure the tremor in my voice would give me away.
"Bella, honey! How was your flight? Did you get there okay? Are you okay? Do you need me to come, I can take a red eye and be there in the morning-"
"Mom!" I cut her off. Her quirky ramblings had inadvertently brought a small smile to my face.
"Fine, yes I got here okay, I am fine and NO I don't need you to come," I checked off, answering her slew of questions.
"Oh, Bella, I'm so glad you're doing okay. You are so strong. I would be a bawling mess right now if I were you." I rolled my eyes, thankful she couldn't see me then.
"Thanks Mom, I appreciate that."
"Did they turn the power on? I called yesterday and they said they had so everything should be working…"
It was then that I realized the room I sat in was pitch black. In my breakdown I hadn't even noticed all the lights were off.
"Uh- I don't know – I just walked through the door and haven't turned any on, hang on." I stood, stepping over to the wall by the door a flicked the switch. The small lamp by my bed lit up and the room seemed to warm slightly.
"Yeah, it's working, thanks Mom."
"No problem hon. Well please call me if you need anything. I love you Bella."
"Love you too Mom… Mom?"
"You know that I really do love you and I appreciate everything you do for me, right?" I said, feeling the urge to let her know that.
"Yes Bella," she chuckled. "I know that sweetheart. It is nice to hear though, thank you. Love you too, goodnight baby girl."
"Night Mom." I pushed my phone into my pocket and allowed my eyes to wander the room. It really hadn't changed since I was little, just another reminder of how Charlie wasn't big on change. The conversation with my Mom, albeit it a short one, helped give me a renewed sense of purpose.
I will not let myself loose it like that again. I thought determinedly. Then I raised my eyes to the ceiling and smiled, another urge washing over me.
"Love you too Dad," I whispered, feeling as if he might hear me since I was in his home.
I realized I hadn't yet responded to EM109's email. I pulled my phone out again and typed a quick response.
Your kind words invigorate me as this is much harder then I even imagined. How do you escape the depths of your despair when you make the choice to dive into the darkest part of its abyss? There is a lighthouse blinking in the distance, shining a beacon, guiding me to my luck and strength. Thank you my friend, my lighthouse.
After I had brought my bags up I climbed into bed, only bothering to pull off my shoes and jeans. Tomorrow was going to be a big day and I needed to get some sleep. I felt the exhaustion in my body as my bones settled into the old mattress.
My conscious mind drifted heavily towards sleep just as my phone chimed. I scrolled to my emails, finding a new one from EM109.
That was fast, I thought. It usually took a while because of the time difference between us. Our schedules were always off; a strange feeling hovered in the pit of my stomach at the thought of being in the same time zone as him.
I don't even know his name. I internally scolded myself.
The beacon is burning bright, but perhaps these things are closer then you think. Things that seem fleeting and abstract can often times be found within. Don't forget how far you've come already to overcome your despair.
In a world with so many people I feel isolated, alone. Your words alone provide me with kinship. You make me feel warmth in the likes that has not coursed through this marble heart in ages. I will gladly be your lighthouse in return.
Blinking brightly for you,
I smiled, snuggling into my pillow; his words flittered around in my head. My eyes fell closed, and once more I invited sleep to wash over me.
A/N: This is my first fanfiction so please be kind! Reviews would be much appreciated, I'm just taking a stab at this, if you like it I will continue. Thanks!