Broken Bells VI

"Bells, what are you doing?" I asked next morning when Bella came down.

"Honey, you don't have to go to school." Renée said as Bella started getting breakfast.

"I have to," she said quietly. "I'm behind."

"But baby, are you ready?" Renée asked with concern.

Bella had been very quiet since her breakdown. She didn't really speak much. She ate little. She was only down here for meals or if she was cleaning, though Renée tried to take that off her hands. Otherwise, she was in her room.

"There's no point staying at home. I should go back to school, catch up," She said flatly.

Renée looked at me worriedly.

"Bells, your Mom's right. You don't have to go back until you're ready." I put in.

She shrugged into her seat at the table and began eating her breakfast silently.

"You sure you want to go, Bella?" I asked, frowning.

"Yes, Dad," she sighed.

"Well, if you want to come home, I'll be here all day." Renée said, rubbing Bella's shoulder.

"I'd best get off to work myself," I said, scraping my chair back. "See you when I get home, girls." I patted Bella's shoulder before I left.

"Bye, Charlie," Renée called after me.

I left the house and got into my car. I thought Bella going back to school was little out of the blue. But if it helped her get back into routine, then she may as well. And as she'd pointed out, she was probably behind having missed that week. I hoped today didn't go wrong for her.

I called Renée several times during the day. Nothing had cropped up at school, so that was all good. But I was fidgeting in my seat, anxiously waiting to go home the whole day. I did try to find out where the Cullen's were but it was like they'd disappeared off the face of the earth.

When the time came to leave, I was out of the station faster than a mountain lion. I drove home faster than normal, itching with worry over Bella. I breathed with relief when I saw Bella's truck in the driveway, but that wasn't much of a promise, was it?

"Bells?" I called out when I got inside.

"She's upstairs," Renée supplied. I followed her voice into the kitchen.

"How is she?" I asked, not even having hanged my jacket up.

Renée's brows furrowed. She gazed at the floor, confusion plain across her thin face. "She was fine, in the sense she wasn't crying or screaming or anything. I think maybe she thought Edward would be at school." Renée sighed. "I guess she's just tired, poor thing."

"Well, I guess she's going to be moping around for a while?" I wondered. I had no idea how to handle a teenage breakup. I left this sort of thing to Renée.

Renée looked at me. "I hope it doesn't last long. It's so scary seeing her like this. I've never seen her go through anything like this."

"He—Edward was her first boyfriend, right?" I asked, trying not to growl the imbecile's name.

Renée nodded. "Yes, maybe that's why it's hit her so hard. It's her first break up."

It was silent for a while. I went and got myself some juice. "Has Bells eaten?" I asked.

"No, she's been in her room since she got back. I'll go ask her," Renée left the room.

When I'd finished my drink, I went back to the front room and hung my jacket up. I just sat down on the couch when a pair of footsteps sounded on the stairs. I turned to the sound and saw Renée come down, followed by Bella.

"Hey, Bells," I said. "You have a good day at school?"

Bella took a moment to answer and look at me. "Hi, Dad," she said quietly. "School was fine."

"Are you hungry? We could go up to the Lodge and eat if you want?"

"You still eat there?" Renée asked with a grin.

"It's the best food place in town," I defended myself, smiling back.

"I'll make dinner." Bella said, slipping past into the kitchen.

"Do you want some help?" Renée offered, heading for the kitchen.

"No, Mom," Bella called back. Even with volume in her voice it still sounded limp, a monotone. "You and Dad watch TV or something."

Renée sat down on the sofa with a sigh. I gave her the remote and let her choose something to watch. We ended up watching Friends as Bella's cooking wafted out of the kitchen. It seemed like she wasn't getting back to her normal self and routine but her face still seemed uninterested. But she had just broken up with Edward, so I'm sure in a few weeks she'd be as right as rain. I hope.

Renée went to go check on Bella after half an hour. There was some talk, mostly Renée. Bella didn't seem up for much conversation.

The phone rang a while later and I picked it up.

"Hello, Chief Swan speaking," I answered.

"Hey, Charlie, it's Phil." Renée's husband greeted me.

"Hello, Phil! How's it going?"

"Yeah, I'm good. How's it going over there?"

I refrained from sighing. "Its better, how's the game going?"

We spoke for a little about his position in The Suns, a minor-league baseball team. It was only when Renée called me to come and eat did I remember he'd called to talk to her.

"Phil's on the phone!" I called. "Speak to you later, Phil."

"Sure thing, bye Charlie," He said.

Renée came and took the phone and I went into the kitchen. Bella was putting a lasagne dish on the table. I wondered what she was thinking, or if she was at all. Her face was blank.

"Smells good, Bells." I complimented her.

"Thanks," she said a moment later.

I sat down at my chair as everything had already been set out. I was eager to have the food: it was the first decent meal I'd had since last week. Bella sat down opposite me and took a square of lasagne robotically.

"So did you get up to anything interesting at school?" I asked. I didn't usually feel the need for conversation with Bells, we were both fine with silence, but her silence was worrying.

Bella looked up at me. "No, it was just school." She looked back at her plate which she was more prodding at then eating.

"Got any assignments due?" I asked a few minutes later.

"Yes, a few," Bella answered. She then started eating properly, probably to avoid conversation.

Bella was very remote during dinner. I could tell she wasn't in the mood to talk so I didn't try poking her with any more questions. Renée came back in a while later, just as I was about to start on seconds.

"Phil says hi, Bella." Renée said cheerfully.

"How's he doing?" Bella asked quietly.

"Yeah, he's doing well." Renée said, smiling. "The food looks really good, sweetheart." She said, putting some on her plate.

"Thanks," Bella said as she got up. Her plate was barely finished.

"Aren't you gonna finish that?" I asked as she headed for the bin.

"I've got to do some homework," she said, dumping it in the bin.

"Why don't you take something up to your room?" Renée suggested.

"I'm not hungry," she replied.

Renée sat down uncertainly and started eating. When Bells was done washing her dishes, she dried her hands on the dishcloth and headed past us with a distant look on her face.

Dinner with Renée was quiet. No doubt she was worrying about Bella too. It was just so disturbing seeing Bella so upset, so blank. I thought going back to school had been a bad idea: it must've been hard going somewhere Edward had too. Why hadn't he called yet, or Alice even? I'd expected a call from Carlisle possibly, at least one of them explaining to me why the hell they'd done such a disappearing act.

I checked on Bella before I got my blankets from the cupboard again. The lights were off and she looked like she was asleep, curled up on her side, in a ball. I went in as quiet as a mouse and gently brushed the top of her head with my palm. I sighed and eased back out just as quietly and gathered the blankets and pillow and went and slept downstairs.

Sleeping on the floor wasn't as bad as last night. I got up earlier than normal and shoved everything back into its place. I found my room empty again and assumed Renée was in Bella's room again. When I was showered and changed, I peeked through Bella's room and found Renée sleeping in the bed alone. My brows furrowed and I headed down to the kitchen and found Bella making breakfast.

"You're up early," I said. Bella usually wasn't up till after I'd left for work, and there was half an hour left till I usually left.

"I had an early night." she replied vaguely. "What do you want for breakfast?"

"I'll just grab some toast," I mumbled, caught off-guard by her expressionless face.

Bella moved around the kitchen like a ghost. If I hadn't been watching her, I wouldn't have noticed her there at all. The circles under her eyes were no darker then last week.

"Haven't you been sleeping well?" I asked as my toast popped up.

"Yes," she said unconvincingly. Bella sat down at the table with her cereal and ate slowly.

"Got any plans for today?" I asked as I got juice from the fridge.

"Just school, Dad," She replied.

"Why don't you go out with your Mom today? Go to Port Angeles, go shopping or something?" It wasn't often—ok, more like once in a blue moon— Renée came to town and I knew very well this wasn't her favourite place on earth.

Bella simply shrugged and spooned some cereal into her mouth.

The rest of breakfast was silent. Bella didn't even look like she was here. Her brown eyes were almost clouded over. She didn't even look bored or upset. She looked sort of…hollow.

"See you, later, honey." I called as I left for work.

Bella's goodbye was a moment late.

I hoped when I came back from work that there would be some improvement. I came home to find the girls in the living room. I expected chatter, maybe laughter but there was nothing. The TV was off too.

"Hey, Charlie," Renée greeted me. "Good day at work?"

"Quiet more-like. I played poker with a couple of the guys, won a few hands too." I said smugly.

She rolled her eyes at me.

"How was your day Bella?" I asked.

"It was ok," she said, briefly looking at me.

I sighed and hung my stuff up and went upstairs to get changed.

When I came back, the scene was still the same. Bella was the same silent girl, sat in the living room doing homework. Renée was sat on the couch, reading a book, but her eyes were darting to Bella too often to make it seem like she was actually taking in what she was reading.

"So, Bells, did you tell your Mom about shopping?"

Bella looked at me, confusion across her pale face. "Shopping?" she repeated in a flat voice.

"Remember, at breakfast I said maybe you and your Mom could go out shopping?"

Bella wasn't a good liar but she genuinely looked confused.

"Well, how about it, Bella?" Renée asked enthusiastically.

Bella grimaced. "I can't Mom, I've got homework." And she picked up her things and bolted from the room.

Renée's eyes watered but she dabbed them quickly. I went over to her and patted her shoulder comfortingly.

"She's just not in the mood for company," I reassured her.

"I hate seeing her like this." Renée said helplessly, shaking her head.

"I know," I sighed. "I know."

Renée didn't want to leave tomorrow. Personally, I didn't want her to go either: it would make living with Bella even more worrying. But Bella didn't seem to be getting worse in the sense that she was eating and sleeping, however little. She was just so miserable.

Renée ended up getting her Wednesday evening flight, after Bella reassured her a lot that she'd be fine without her. Bella's persuasion seemed a little flat but Renée decided to go.

"Promise to e-mail me and call, everyday ok?" She said sternly to Bella.

"I promise, Mom," Bella said, giving her Mom a hug.

"I love you, honey," Renée whispered, tears leaking into Bella's hair.

"Hey, don't cry," Bella said, wiping Renée's eyes. "I love you, too, Mom."

"Thanks for having me Charlie," Renée said, hugging me.

"You're welcome anytime, Phil too." I said. "Have a safe flight."

We waved her off until she disappeared in one of the terminals. We'd come to the airport in my cruiser and the trip back was even more quiet without Renée.

"You can turn the radio on, if you want." I said.

"No, thanks," Bella murmured. "I don't want to listen to music."

The rest of the journey passed without much conversation. When we got home, Bella said she had to get something from her truck so I headed into the house without her. We'd had dinner before we'd gone to the airport so I went straight up to my room. It was nearly midnight.

I sank into bed gratefully, feeling my body loosen up with the mattress. I bundled up with the duvet, happy to be reunited with my bed.

I heard Bella come in as I was slipping into sleep. She was in the shower for a long while and I could've sworn she was… crying. The pit of my stomach tightened and I wished I was able to offer her advice, give her a comforting hug. But hugging her seemed impossible these days: she looked so breakable.

The shower eventually stopped but Bella was still sobbing as she went into her room. The house went quiet then and I wondered how long it would take Bella to get over Edward. It was so unreal seeing her like this…

I was woken too early. The sound of a scream had me scrambling out of bed and into Bella's room. Just as I remembered my gun downstairs, I was already opening the door to Bella's room. I'd just have to use my hands to ward off whoever was in Bella's room—

I stopped short in Bella's room. There was no-one there. But she was still screaming.

Vaguely remembering Renée telling me Bella had screamed in her nightmares for the past few nights, I hurried to her side.

"Bells, you're ok! You're ok, honey!"

I shook Bella out of her screams and she awoke, gasping for air.

"It's all right, Bells," I brushed her forehead. "It was just a dream."

She slumped back onto her pillow, breathing heavily.

"Sorry," she mumbled, wiping her wet eyes.

"It's all right," I said soothingly. "Do you want some water or anything?"

"No, no," she whispered, sniffing.

I sat with her for a few minutes, smoothing her hair back, patting her arm.

"Dad, go back to sleep," she mumbled, still sniffing.

I hesitated. "All right, goodnight, honey."

The following morning was quiet.

"What happened to your fingers?" I demanded when Bella sat down.

Bella's fingers looked sore. There were cuts where here nails were, some even looked shorter then normal.

She winced. "I had an accident,"

"What did you do?"

"I gotta go; I'm going to be late for school." She said quickly, hurrying out of her seat. "Bye, Dad."

School didn't start for another half-hour.

The following afternoon and night were the same as the days before them. Days stretched into weeks, weeks turned into months and still my daughter was screaming at the top of her lungs every night. I stopped checking on her after a while—she stopped screaming when she heard me get out of bed. I asked her about her dreams but she told me it was nothing and that she was sorry she woke me.

Her sleep was ruined. Her diet was ruined: she only ate for the sake of it. I made sure she had eaten a full plate before she dumped anything in the bin. She had permanent dark circles beneath her eyes, proof that even in sleep she was suffering.

Renée couldn't get much out of her either. I don't think Bella even had friends anymore: nobody called for her anymore. The phone-calls stopped a few weeks after Edward left and Bella never called them back. It was like she'd lost the will to care about anything. She just carried on like a robot.

I thought she'd have gotten better by now—she had been at first. She'd fallen back into her old routine pretty quick but her steps were light, limp. I thought the nightmares would've stopped by now but they haven't. It's been nearly four months but she hasn't changed. She wakes up, makes breakfast, goes to school, goes to work, comes home, makes dinner, does her school work and goes to bed. I don't think I'd even seen her smile, not since he left.

She wouldn't let me mention Edward either. She would cut in quickly; change the subject, refusing to let his name come up. There was no mentioning of the Cullen's, of her life with them before the break up. So I stopped mentioning them. I've seen what it does to her. She winces and her arms wind around her body, like she's going to fall apart. She usually makes her exit then. She tries so hard to cover herself up. She's become so detached from everyone, so lost in her own body that she's empty. Most of the time, she's alone, up in her room. She doesn't talk anymore: she just responds if you ask her something. Half the time when you talk to her, she answers back too late.

I never would've imagined she'd end up like this. She's always been the one quick to recover, to carry on. But she's carrying on so hard, trying not to let the pain show that she's letting herself turn into a ghost. She's lost so much weight and those dark circles beneath her eyes never lighten.

I look at her sometimes and wonder what she's actually going through. What did she actually lose? She should've been over the break up by now. It was worrying me like hell. It's like she's got some bubble around her, sealing her off from the rest of the world. She's been grieving for months now. It's like someone died around here.

I think she's hiding something, something that's causing her to stay closed up. But I don't have a clue how to get it out of her. I'm scared to say anything that might hurt her: she flinches at the smallest things.

She doesn't listen to music anymore: I found all her CDs in the trash a couple of weeks after he'd left. She won't stay in the room if the TV is on. She usually had a few books on the go but I haven't seen her with one, unless it's school-related. She was a real bookworm but not anymore. Now, everything she does is simply done for school, work or me. It took me a while to realise Bella was avoiding anything that'll remind her of Edward.

My baby girl's lost her spark. She's far worse off than I was when Renée and I ended, when my parents died. I'm glad that she's breathing, eating, sleeping and moving but I miss her talking. I want to see my daughtersmile. It used to be easy to make Bella blush but now she's just pale, unnaturally pale. I just want to see her whole again. I want her to stop having nightmares. 'Cause right now she's in pieces. She's alive but only in body. My daughter is shattered: my broken Bells.