A bright yellow taxi pulled up to the curb. It was bright—too bright—against the dark gray sky and the sheeting rain. It was hard to believe anything could be so bright after the dark depression Bella had been in the fast few months. Her sadness had tainted the house. Everything had seemed to have lost its color—drained off its happiness in her passing.
The doorbell caused me to jump in the otherwise silent house. It was nearly two o' clock in the afternoon. It was much a change to the night-time, filled with Bella's shrieking.
Quickly, I rushed to answer it.
Renee stood outside, clearly uncomfortable. She had her bag slung over her shoulder, and her mahogany hair was tied back in a low ponytail. Pieces fell around her face. Her blue eyes pierced mine.
Even under the grim circumstances to why she was here, I felt my heart stutter in my chest. It had been awhile since we'd seen each other, and the ring on her finger weighed heavily on my heart.
"Renee," I greeted, stepping aside to let her.
Hesitantly, she stepped inside the house. She was stiff, and I could tell she hated to be here.
"Hi," she said distantly. Her eyes grazed the foyer. Bella's coat hung on one of the pegs and her gaze fixed on that. "Where is she?"
"Upstairs," I replied, starting toward the staircase. I heard the jingling of her necklace as she started after me. Slowly, I made my way down the hall, afraid of what Bella's appearance would do to Renee. Surely, she would blame this whole thing on herself—she had always been selfless.
"She's been like this since Friday, when she got home from school," I warned Renee.
She nodded absently, eyes now fixed on Bella's door. I wondered what she was thinking.
We stood in solidarity outside of Bella's room for a long moment before I raised my fist to knock gently on the wood.
"Bells?" I called through the door, even though I knew she wouldn't answer me, "can we come in?"
Silence greeted me.
I glanced to Renee, before pushing the door open.
Bella's shades were drawn, and it draped a dark shadow over the room. The light from the hallway lit a pathway toward her bed.
A vague shape disrupted the covers, and a lock of hair spilled over the coverlet.
"Bells, your mother's here," I spoke, my voice so much quieter in the confined space.
There was no reply.
"Baby?" Renee spoke, venturing further into the room.
I hung back by the door.
There was a shift in the sheets as Renee lowered herself onto the bed, beside Bella. Her hand rested to her covered shoulder.
"Bella," she whispered, and her voice was thick with pained sadness.
She looked back at me with panicked eyes. Obviously, she didn't know it would be this bad. I lowered my eyes to the carpet.
"Bella, it's mom." She probed.
"Hi." Bella's tone was flat and emotionless. I doubted she was hearing anything but someone talking to her.
"I'm sorry," Renee murmured in her ear, pressing her lips to Bella's cheek. "I'm so sorry, baby. I never should have let you come to live here. This boy has hurt you so much, hasn't he?"
Bella blinked in response, still not meeting Renee's eyes.
"Come home," Renee now begged. "It's bright in Jacksonville. You'll be happy there."
"It's okay," Bella whispered, voice still dead.
"No, no it isn't," Renee whispered. "C'mon, sweetheart," she said, attempting to pull Bella up, "we've already bought your ticket. It will be nice, I promise. I'll stay with you at home until you feel well enough to go back to school. It won't rain there, and the sun will shine all the time."
Instead of standing there like an idiot as they—well, Renee—talked, I moved to her closet to grab a suitcase, ignoring the strained plastic of a garbage bag.
I set it atop the dresser and began to pack some of her clothes.
Renee joined me after pulling the shades aside to let some of the weak light filter in through the dense clouds above.
"No," Bella mumbled from her bed.
We ignored her.
"No." she said more firmly—with some life in her voice.
I stopped pawing through the drawers, turning to her in surprise. She was sitting up, hair a slight mess about her gaunt, paled face.
"Stop," she said, throwing her legs over the side of the bed. She rose shakily to her feet, eyes fixed only on Renee.
"It'll be okay," Renee assured her, throwing more articles into the suitcase, smiling flittingly at Bella.
"No!" Bella shrieked, bringing Renee's working hands to an instantaneous halt. She stared at her, startled.
"Stop it!" she screamed, rushing past her to pull the clothes from the suitcase. She hurtled them across the room, and Renee stumbled back. She looked… almost afraid of her daughter. "I can't leave!" she screamed, knotting her fingers into her own hair. "Don't you know that? I can't leave him! I'm staying here, and you can't make me go! You can't, you can't, you can't!" she screamed, scattering clothes about the room. "You can't make me leave!" Her cheeks were rosy with anger, and she kept running her hands continuously through her hair, leaving it a wretched mess. "You… just… can't make me." She mumbled, covering her face with her hands.
She sank to the floor and pulled her knees to her chest. She locked her arms so tight around her shins that I saw her knuckles turn white where they met.
And then her shoulders began to wrack with her sobs.
"Oh, sweetheart," Renee moaned, dropping to her knees beside Bella. She gathered her slight frame into her arms. Bella hopelessly dropped her head to her mother's shoulder, seeming to let the tears take her away. "Oh, baby, I never knew. I'm so sorry. I won't make you go," she promised her, and Bella's fingers knotted into Renee's powder-blue shirt.
Bella said something through her sobs, but it was incomprehensible.
Renee stroked her hair, shushing soothing words into her hair over and over again, and I just helplessly watched.
Renee pulled the door shut behind her, after tucking Bella back into bed. It was dark now, and the moonlight which sliced through the window at the end of the hall shattered across her delicate features.
"I can't make her go," she said to me quietly.
"I know," I agreed, nodding.
She closed her eyes, hands beginning to shake. When she opened them, they were brimming with tears. "What happened to her?" she whimpered, "Why is she in so much pain?"
"I wish I knew," I murmured, watching the tears slip down her cheeks. Then I pulled her close.
She sobbed in my arms.