It wasn't easy being an only child. Having to go through things on your own all the time, no one to share the parental problems with, no one to confide in. Then again, why would I want to have a sibling around to suffer with me. My father, Charlie, recently finished a twenty year life sentence with the military, and decided to move my mom and I from our home in Everett, Washington to the small town of Cherry Valley, California. Let me state for the record that I felt my dad was slightly altered in the head, but he decided to fulfill some weird lifelong dream of wanting to live on a farm. My mom, Renee, tried to explain to me that he was trying to find his place back in the civilian world. I liked my idea better because no sane man would have chosen that life.
The worst part was that my dad tried to find himself my senior year of high school. Would it have been too much to ask to just wait till I went off to college? It was so aggravating I was going crazy. I should have spent the summer hanging out with my friends, wondering which state college to apply to, gossiping on who might be dating who when school starts. But no, I was stuck in some bum hick town in Southern California starting a whole new life.
The drive was almost unbearable. Not that I was complaining about the near complete silence the whole way there, it's just that no matter where we drove, the landscape never changed. The same worn down road signs passing by, with the beautiful wildflowers that surrounded them. The never ending golden mountains that seem to last forever, and once in awhile you would see a small memorial for some poor soul lying by the edge of the road. It got to the point where I couldn't even handle listening to my iPod anymore.
"Does the scenery ever change dad? I mean...there is no way in hell we're still in California. Are you sure we didn't pass a sign that said 'Welcome to Texas' or something?"
My dad acted as if he heard nothing. He was really good at that. He did this thousand yard stare when he's avoiding my mom and I. My mom slightly turned her head and pointed out the window. "Get used to this honey, this is our new life." Her tone was surprisingly sarcastic.
For the last seventeen years it had been just my mom and I. My dad was always away. It seemed that it was harder when he was home for long periods of time. They would get in some pretty heated discussions. I would normally take a walk around the neighborhood during their arguments, but looking around here I would have to take a flashlight at night or get lost. I think the reason my mom and I get along so well is because we always had each other. In a lot of ways we are like sisters but then sometimes we are on two different planets.
When I was little, I remember seeing my dad in his uniform and thinking how handsome he looked. His hair always neatly cut and face clean shaven. I remember thinking he was as tall as a giant, but to a five year old anything over six feet would be. Now, I wondered what my mom even saw in my dad. He was always so scruffy looking. Rough hands always covered in grease and he always smelled like oil. My mom on the other hand was a rare woman. She was so beautiful. I hated when some of my guy friends would come over just to salivate at her. She had dark brown hair that went just past her shoulders, but she always had it up. I was taller than her, which I always got a kick out of. And she could use some sun, but then again so could I. The one thing I was always thankful for was inheriting my dad's brown eyes. That was the one thing I never complained about when it came to my looks.
Once we got off the freeway, I started to wonder what the house was going to look like. I hoped it didn't look like one of those houses that seem one inspection away from being condemned. Knowing our luck it would be. We hadn't even seen the new house yet. Everything had been done through a realtor. Our old house in Everett was beautiful, and surrounded by gorgeous greenery from every direction. Around here it was just sad. The only green around was grass. There was a tree here and there, but it wasn't even close to my old neighborhood. Looking out the window was putting my heart in a slow depression. My body may be stuck here but my heart screams for me back in Washington. I looked at my watch and saw that it was way past lunch, and realized that I was starving.
"Are we going to stop and eat anytime soon before my stomach starts to eat itself?" I asked, trying to sound as annoyed as my stomach was.
My mom lifted her head from her book and stared at my dad who was still acting like we didn't exist. She waited a minute before talking. "Charlie, your daughter is talking to you. Are you ignoring us again?"
"No, I'm waiting to find a place to pull into." My dad adjusted himself in the driver's seat. It was almost as if he was uncomfortable talking to us. Suddenly without any warning he pulled the car off the street, and up a driveway where a sign reading 'Carl's Pizzeria' read on a huge white sign with bold black letters. My mom cursed softly as my dad put the truck in park. I was shocked to see my dad drive the truck so recklessly. It seemed at times that he loved his truck more than life itself. It was a black Ford F-250 Super Duty with matching black interior, and windows that were just as equally black as the rest of the truck. I wouldn't be surprised if he asked to be buried in his truck when he died.
We slowly crawled out of the car. I felt like I was all wet. I had to pull my shirt from my skin just to get some air circulating through my clothes. My mom stretched next to me, still complaining about the sudden stop, but my dad was already off to the side away from us lighting a cigarette. Another timeless tradition he picked up during his time in the military. I never really minded the smoking as much as I hated the fights that caused him to do it.
When we walked into the restaurant I was surprised how festive it was. There were pictures all over the walls that seemed to date back to the early nineteen fifties. Pictures of high school sports teams, houses and stores being built, even festivals. Some of the pictures looked so old you couldn't even make out faces. The newer ones looked like they were mainly taken here in the restaurant. Just local kids having fun. It reminded me of some of the pictures I have of my friends. To my right there was a little arcade. You could hear the soft noise of buzzing coming from the machines. I sat at one of the round tables with my mom, and laid my forehead on the table. I wasn't sure which I felt more, hungry or tired.
My dad was at the counter ordering the food. He was talking with an older lady who was there. She looked my way and gave a soft smile. I tucked my hair behind my ear and gave a quick nod. My mom got up and walked to my dad, and started talking to the lady. Knowing my mom, she was more than likely telling our whole life story to this poor stranger. My mom suffered from the problem of over sharing. I always hated when my mom's friends would come over. They always seemed to know way too much about my life. Like these people really cared what band I was into or what guy I had a crush on. A lot of these ladies had kids that I went to school with, and if they cared half as much about their own kids than their friend's kids . . . well they wouldn't have anything to talk about. My dad squeezed his way out of the conversation and sat next to me.
"That's Mrs. Turner," He said softly. If we weren't the only ones there I wouldn't have heard him. "Her husband is the owner. She said that if you wanted a job she would talk to you about it." A job! Now I have to have a job and live here.
"Why would I want a job?" I said it loud enough so that my mom would stop to listen in. She came over and sat down between us.
"Don't you think it would be fun to have a job and earn a little spending money?" She asked cheerfully.
I couldn't believe this. "Spending money for what mom? There isn't a real shopping center anywhere near here."
"It's time you started having a little more responsibility, Bells. When you get out into the real world and want to be on your own I don't want you to be clueless. I've seen it way too often during my time in the military." Gee, like I haven't heard this line before. My dad had a way of incorporating the military into every conversation.
"And you two think I'm going to learn about the real world here?" I looked around, surprised not to see a tumble weed blowing by. "You've got to be joking."
"It's a good starting off point. It wouldn't hurt to just try. And there are a few of the local kids that work here too. You might make some friends before school starts." I know my mom was trying to make it sound fun, and it would be nice to be away from my parents. Mom reached for my hand and gave a slight smile, "Just think about it please, for me?"
"Fine, I'll think about it. But, how about we unpack first before you start volunteering me for anything else? Okay?" I tried to sound as sincere as possible. I would think about it, but at this moment a job was the last thing on my mind. Just as it looked like my dad was going to argue with me, Mrs. Turner came with the pizza.
"Here's your pie folks. I'll be back with your drinks. Is there anything else I can get you guys?" My dad and I just sat in silence. Thank god my mom spoke up.
"Some more napkins would be nice."
Mrs. Turner smiled and gave a small wink, "No problem. I'll be back in two seconds."
For the rest of the time there, we sat in silence. It was almost deafening. My mom stacked all the dirty dishes into a neat pile on the center of the table. She's done this for as long as I can remember. My dad left the tip and we headed out the door. Mrs. Turner yelled out from behind the counter, "Hey little one, take this with you." She walked over and handed me a sheet of paper. I looked and saw it was an application. "Just in case you change your mind." I looked up at her. She had such a warm sincere smile on her face. "You never know, you might just end up liking it here."
I smiled back at her, "Thanks."
She turned and walked back to the counter, and at the same time a young kid walked past her holding a busboy tray. He slowly picked up the dishes and sat them inside. He looked up at me and then quickly looked back down. He couldn't have been and more than fourteen, maybe fifteen. My mom opened the door and called out to me. "Bella, sweetie, we've got to go." The kid picked up the tray and looked at me again and smiled.
"You guys moving into the old Cullen house off Oak Street?" He asked hesitantly.
My mom answered before I could. "Yes, we're supposed to be there in fifteen minutes to meet the owner." My mom gestured for me to walk out the door.
"Oh, don't worry about that. My dad is never on time for anything." He sat down the tray and wiped his hands on his shirt. He took a step towards us and extended his hand. "Hi, I'm Jasper Cullen." My mom took his hand with way too much enthusiasm.
"Hello, I'm Renee Swan. This is my daughter Isabella, and that man sitting in the truck is my husband Charlie. So are we moving into your old house?"
He shook his head softly. "No, it was my grandparents' house. They died a few years back. My dad and brothers have been fixing it up to sell for a while now. It's really nice now that they've updated a lot of the fixtures and cabinets and stuff." He was kinda goofy looking, but strangely adorable. My mother looked more than excited to hear about the house. My father on the other hand was getting really irritated. He hit a few short honks on the horn and tapped his finger on his watch. My mom threw him a nasty look and mouthed the word 'fine' at him and then looked at Jasper with a smile.
"I'm so sorry but we have to go. But I'm sure we'll be running into you again."
"Sure. It was nice talking to you," He turned and got his tray, and started heading for what I guess was the kitchen.
When my mom and I got into the car we could both tell my father was upset. He hated being late. He always said that if you're on time your late, but if you're there early then you're on time. I wasn't worried about it. In ten minutes, he'd forget it ever happened.
When we finally pulled into the drive way of our new house I was a little impressed. Of course I wasn't going to say it out loud, but the house looked almost picturesque. It was a white two story house with sage green shutters at every window. The grass was so green it almost didn't look real. You could see at each side of the front door the old owners had small little flower beds were they planted yellow flowers. And around the house was a newly painted white fence. My mom could hardly contain herself.
"Oh my god, do you see this? This couldn't be any more perfect." She quickly turned her head and gave me a stern look. Like she knew I was going to make an inappropriate comment. Oh how well my poor mother knew me. There was a man standing at the front of the house. It must be Jasper's dad. I could see somewhat of a resemblance. He was very handsome, not goofy looking like his son. My dad quickly turned off the car and turned to look at my mom and I.
"I don't want any arguments from either of you." He looked at my mom. "If anything is wrong we can fix it." Then he glared at me. "And I don't want to hear how much it sucks down here." Then he looked at Mr. Cullen who smiled and waved. My dad put on a fake smile and waved back while talking through his teeth. "Let's just get through the rest of the day so he can be on his way." And in one swift motion he was out the door walking toward Mr. Cullen.
"Go team," I whispered as I opened the door. My mom on the other hand snatched her camera out of her purse and swiftly walked toward my dad. Her smile was so big she looked like that psycho cat from Alice in Wonderland.
My dad and Mr. Cullen looked like they were already in deep discussion about the house. I leaned against the truck and watched my mom become an instant Stepford Wife. Mr. Cullen extended his hand toward my mom.
"Hello, I'm Carlisle Cullen. It's nice to finally meet you."
My mom shook his hand. "Likewise, I must say this house is beautiful. Your son did not give it justice."
"Really, which one of my son's did you run into?"
My mom looked like a deer in headlights. She quickly turned her head at me and gave me such a questioning look I couldn't help but to smile.
"Jasper," I said with almost a slight laugh.
"Yes, Jasper. Very sweet young man," commenting quickly at Mr. Cullen. "You must be proud."
"Well, he's the lesser of four evils. Now, how would you like to see your new home?" Mr. Cullen moved to the side, and gestured toward the already open front door. "Right this way." My mom walked quickly up the stairs, and into the house. My dad, Mr. Cullen, and I walked slowly behind. When they went in I stopped at the bottom of the steps and watched as the talkative group walked in the house. I started to survey the area. It was a beautiful piece of land, but that was just it. Land. No noise, no children playing in the streets, no honking horns, no sirens, nothing. A person could be deaf around here and never know.
To the right of our new house, a small distance away, was another home. It almost looked like a cookie cutter copy of our home. I took a few steps closer to get a better look. You could see sheets hanging on close lines, and a large dog lying near the front porch, and then the front door suddenly opened. I was so surprised that I took a step back. I thought at first it was Jasper. It was a young man with darker hair and very tanned skinned. I quickly realized it couldn't have been Jasper. His hair was neater, and he stood a lot straighter. He must be one of the older brothers. I wanted to walk a little closer to get a better look, but my mom's loud outburst stopped me.
"Bella, come on. Don't you want to pick your room?" My mother yelled from the front door. I turned and nodded at her, and looked back to see if the young man was still standing on his porch. But not only was he still there, now he was staring at me. I couldn't help but to stare back. I felt really awkward just standing there looking at him. Why are you still staring at me? "Earth to Bella," My mom yelled. "Get in here before your father comes out after you."
I tucked my hair behind my ear and walked to the front door. I paused at the doorway to see if he was still there. And he was, gawking at me like I was some exotic animal at the zoo. Why don't you take a picture? I laughed at myself as I walked in and shut the door behind me. I looked up at my mom who was walking upstairs. Pick my room huh? Doubt it.