The "AwkWard" Contest

Story Title: Fixation

Pen name: Feisty Y. Beden

Disclaimer: I own nothing.

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Fixation

"Edward? Are you awake yet?"

I buried my head deeper under the covers. It was that child's logic: If I can't see you, you can't see me. I knew that Mom would open the door in two seconds even if I didn't answer, and that she wouldn't approve of what I was doing right now. But would I stop? No.

Creak. On cue, she swung the door open. "Edward, you're going to be late for school."

"I'm not late," I mumbled from underneath the blanket. It was warm and dark in there, my private world, and no one could—

"Edward!" I was thrust into the cold and brightness as Mom ripped my blanket back, exposing me like a bug under a rock.

Fuck. Busted.

I moved my hand quickly out of the way and shoved it under the pillow, hoping she hadn't seen. But I knew she had; she always did.

"Edward, what were you doing?" Why was she even bothering to ask me? She knew as well as I did. Maybe she wanted me to admit it to her face.

"That's private," I said, staring at my knees as I sat up. I refused to look her in the eye, but I could feel her gaze burning on my exposed neck.

"Let me see your hand."

"No." I crossed my arms, clamping my fists under my armpits.

"Edward," she warned.

"No," I said, gritting my teeth and pushing my arms harder down by my sides. I knew what was coming.

For a small woman, she was surprisingly strong. She pulled on my arms, dug in with her long nails, until she extracted my right hand from under my armpit. She examined it with disgust. She touched my thumb, and I knew she'd notice it was still damp, the skin slightly swollen.

"You've been sucking your thumb again."

I refused to look at her. I tried to pretend she wasn't there. I tried to make her explode just from the power of my mind. With my eyes squeezed shut, I could imagine the pressure building inside her head. Kaboom. I smiled a little to myself.

"You're seventeen, Edward. You're going to go to college in a year. Don't you think it's time to stop?"

You'd think that after having this conversation nearly every day for the last twelve years or so would wear one of us down, but I was my mother's son, stubborn as a mule.

"It's better than smoking," I muttered, wrenching my hand out of her grasp.

Mom sighed. I was still examining my knees, but I knew what she would look like: lips tight, eyes narrowed, fingers tapping silently along her bony arm. "Honestly, I would rather you smoked." She turned and walked out of the room. "Your breakfast is getting cold," she added as she went downstairs.

"You'd rather have your only son die of cancer as long as you didn't have to be ashamed of him?" I called after her.

I wasn't sure if she heard me or not, but she didn't say anything either way.

I missed Dad. Things were easier when he was here. "He'll grow out of it when he's ready," he'd say about my "disgusting habit." I didn't enjoy that they would be discussing me as if I weren't in the room, but at least he was on my side. He was always so easygoing, always ready with a joke or a quick smile that could diffuse her worst mood.

Everyone loved Dad. Maybe that was the problem.

***

I drove one-handed to school. I could have made the drive blindfolded. There weren't too many places to go in Forks. There was the school, the diner, and the bowling alley. As soon as I had pulled out of view from the house, I crammed my thumb back into my mouth. With the tinted windows, no one could see what I was doing, and it was one of the few places where I could suck my thumb without anyone saying anything.

So, yeah. I sucked my thumb. So what? I'd sucked my thumb as long as I could remember, and it didn't seem wrong to me. I'd gotten in plenty of fistfights at school too, so it wasn't like I was some kind of pussy. It was just … when I didn't have my thumb in my mouth, something felt wrong. Missing, maybe. Like, not being able to feel your leg. That would upset anyone, wouldn't it? I could deal, but my hands would get sweaty, and my heart would start beating super fast. I wouldn't be able to stop my legs from jittering. I'd breathe shallowly and drum my fingers on any available surface, and when I couldn't stand it any longer, I'd find a way to excuse myself, go hide in the boys' room in a stall, and put my thumb back in my mouth. It was like a switch. Everything would slow down, and I'd wonder how I'd gotten myself so worked up in the first place. In the bathroom stall, life seemed tiny, manageable. I could see all the gears, how things fit together, how stuff worked. Everything was easy.

So how could that be wrong?

It was part of who I was. It would be like trying to change the color of my hair. Sure, I could dye it or shave it all off, but that wouldn't change what color was coded into my follicles. I could not suck my thumb, but it wouldn't change the fact that I was, and always would be, a thumbsucker. On one level, of course I knew it was unacceptable. Mom was so ashamed of me, and I knew that I had to hide it from the kids in my class if I didn't want to end up stuffed in a locker every day. But at the same time, I hated having to pretend I was someone I wasn't.

I knew what I needed to do to fit in, and I could play the role. I just felt like I was a big fake. Like I was letting myself down, somehow.

I put the car in park and took a deep breath. I could get through this day.

Kids were milling around before first bell. I jammed my hands in my jeans pockets to stop my fingers from twitching. My thumb was still soft, a little wrinkled as if I'd been soaking in a bath. I closed my eyes and pretended it was still in my mouth.

"Cullen!" My eyes snapped open. Lauren Mallory called me over to her. She actually did that thing where you wiggle your index finger in the universal "c'mere" gesture. I thought they did that only in cartoons. She had a wicked smile on her face, and that never meant good things.

"Mallory," I nodded as I got to her.

"I know your secret," she said, smirking.

I could feel the blood draining from my face. How did she know? What had she seen? I tried to sound casual as I said, "What secret?" Maybe she was just messing with me.

"Your dirty secret," she said. I swallowed hard. "And I'm going to tell everyone unless you take me to prom."

Her words were so strange that I shook my head, certain I'd misheard her. I coughed out, "What?"

"Do I stutter?" she asked. God, I hated when she quoted Hughes films.

"Surely a skank like you can find a date to prom without resorting to blackmail. Just spread your legs wider and flip on the 'Vacancy' sign."

"Funny, Cullen." She adjusted her rack absentmindedly. "Maybe I should be more specific. When I say, 'Take me to prom,' I mean you'll buy the prom tickets, my dress, shoes, and accessories, pay for a fancy dinner, rent a limo, pick me up at my dad's house, and then get the fuck out of my way when my boyfriend meets me at the dance."

"Why can't he just take you?"

"Daddy's not so keen on me dating guys who've been in juvie."

"But why me?"

"Because everyone knows you're loaded and also the school virgin. Even my dad knows that. So what'll it be? Yes, or should I tell the whole school your secret at the next assembly?"

I coughed again and pushed up the nonexistent glasses on the edge of my nose. Even though I'd gotten contacts a year ago during one of my mom's attempts to make me more socially acceptable, I still forgot. I missed my glasses. It was nice having something to hide behind. I knew there was still a film of plastic on my eyes, but it did not provide the same kind of protection. Life was a little less real when viewed through plastic lenses, like looking at something through a 3-D View-Master.

"Well, Cullen?"

"Okay," I whispered, and she nodded smugly, finally stepping aside so I could squeeze past her.

I rushed to my locker, sweaty and panicked. Now that I was away from Lauren, the conversation played over and over in my head. The money wasn't the issue—it was true; I was loaded—Dad felt so guilty that he'd send way more a month than was legally required according to the settlement. What exactly did she know? And how? And what would be next? First the prom, then …?

"You shouldn't have done that, you know," someone said.

Oh, it was That Girl. I didn't even know what her face looked like. She always hid behind her unbrushed hair. Her sweater had holes worn through the elbows, and the sleeves were too long for her. She picked at a loose thread.

"Shouldn't have done what?"

"Agreed to that skank's demands. You don't negotiate with terrorists. That's, like, rule number one."

"H-how do you know about—"

"I'm invisible. People have whole conversations around me. No one ever sees me."

"I see you," I said.

"Oh yeah?" she countered, shoving some of the hair out of her face. "What's my name?"

"Um." Shit. What was her name?

"The school's not that big, Cullen."

"It's … umm … Isadora?"

She snorted. "That's pathetic."

"What is, you or me?"

"I'm not sure," she admitted. She held out a hand half-hidden by the dirty sleeve of her sweater. "Isabella. My friends call me Bella. Granted, they're all imaginary, but I assure you, they're very charming. Except for Marcus. He's kind of an asshole."

I'd never heard her say so many words. I had kind of thought she was mute or permanently sullen. No, she was just crazy. "Hi, Bella," I said, taking her hand.

"Geez, what's wrong with your thumb?" She'd turned my hand over when our hands had touched. "That's disgusting. Do you have psoriasis or something? I think there's some powder you can get."

I yanked my hand from her grip, shoving it back in my pocket. I stared into my locker, trying to remember what class I had. What day of the week is it, anyway?

"Edward," she said, touching my elbow. I froze, closing my eyes. It was like the blanket over my head this morning with my mom. She wasn't here. She wasn't here. She couldn't see me.

"I'm just messing with you," she cackled. "You're pretty cute, you know." She turned and ran just as the first bell rang.

"What the fuck was that?" I muttered, digging through my locker for my pre-calculus book.

I was so distracted by the random encounter with Isadora—no, Bella, I corrected myself—that I didn't feel the walls closing in on me like usual. I made it through the class without having to run to the bathroom for a quick fix. When the bell rang, I jumped in my seat and shook the cobwebs out of my head. Well, that's a first, I thought, walking dazed to my next class.

***

At lunch, Bella was sitting alone, like she always did. I brought my tray over to her and hovered, waiting for her to notice me.

"What?" she asked, not looking up from the notebook she was scribbling in.

"Can I sit down?"

"Can you? Only you can answer that, buddy," she said, pressing down extra hard with her ballpoint pen. The cap was in her mouth, and she talked around the plastic.

"I am capable of sitting down, thank you," I said.

"Well then stop yammering and do it already." She kicked out the chair next to me without looking up. I guessed that was as good of an invitation as any. I set down my tray and sat down.

"So, um, why is Marcus an asshole?" I asked after we'd been sitting in silence, listening to the other chew and scribble.

"He steals ketchup packets and loosens the caps on the salt shakers in the caf," she said, never taking her eyes off her notebook.

I laughed, but she glared at me. She slammed her notebook shut. "Do not mock me, Cullen."

"I-I'm not mocking," I stammered. "I thought you were joking," I said in a small voice. "I'm sorry."

"Apologize to Marcus, not me," she said, gesturing vaguely to the chair on the other side of her.

"What?"

She made a move to get up.

"Okay, okay," I relented, feeling a fool. I addressed the air beside her as sincerely as I could. "I'm … sorry I laughed at you, Marcus."

Bella burst out laughing. "Jesus, Cullen, you're too easy to fuck with."

"Well, okay," I said in a business-like manner. "I'm going to get going now." I patted my pockets as if trying to remember if I'd forgotten something.

She grabbed my wrist. "Don't go." Her eyes were big, glittering. She was actually quite pretty, when her hair wasn't all in her face. There was a strange birthmark on her forehead. My eyes lingered a little too long, and she let her hair fall again.

"Um, okay," I said, sitting down. It was hard keeping up with her.

"So," she said, changing moods again. "What are we going to do about this Mallory situation?"

"We?" I squeaked. "And it's not a situation," I added. "I've got it under control."

"Right," she said, unconvinced.

***

I was hiding in a stall at the end of lunch, trying to process the day with the comfort of my thumb in my mouth.

I was grateful for the few moments I had alone, just me in my happy place, thumb in mouth, the cool metal of the stall against my cheek. The bell announcing the end of lunch was jarring, and I nearly bit down from surprise. I wiped my thumb on my jeans and rushed to my next class.

"You spend a lot of time in there," someone said as I ran out of the bathroom. I spun on my heel and turned. Bella again. Now that I'd spoken to her this morning, it was like she was everywhere.

"Do you spy on me?" I asked.

"Maybe," she shrugged.

"Don't you ever have class?"

"I do."

"Shouldn't you be in one of those classes now?"

"Like I said, Cullen, I'm invisible. They don't notice if I'm there or not."

I found, yet again, that I had no idea what to say. I wished I still wore glasses.

"I don't think you should let her," she said.

"What?"

"She's taking advantage of you." I pretended not to understand. "Mallory?" she clarified as I just looked at her blankly.

"That's none of your business," I said, hoping she'd just let the subject drop. I guessed I could just turn around and go to class, and I felt twitchy knowing that the second bell was due to ring any second. Suddenly I wanted to be back in the bathroom stall. I looked toward the door longingly.

"I know Mallory well. We used to be best friends. She's a conniving little bitch."

"I thought that part was obvious," I said.

"I've got lots of dirt on her," Bella continued as if I hadn't spoken at all. "You can fight back. You don't have to let her win."

"Not everything is a game," I said.

"To her it is."

"I don't care. It's just money." God, I missed Dad. I would rather have him around than receive his guilt payments every month. I felt sick. "I gotta go," I said, running for the bathroom again.

I was back in my stall, sucking my thumb, closing my eyes. I was thinking of when I'd come home from school to find all of Dad's things had been thrown out the second story windows onto the lawn below.

"You can get the hell out of here," Mom yelled at him. "I'm not stupid, you know."

"I never said you were," Dad had said, picking up his better dress shirts and draping them over an arm. He didn't seem surprised to see all his possessions strewn on our grass.

"Then you know why I don't want you back in the house," she'd said.

He got really quiet and still, which scared me a little. "Okay," was all he said. Just that. Okay. He didn't even fight it. He packed his stuff into his car and left. They ironed out the legal bits later.

He never even said goodbye to me.

I banged my head against the cool metal.

"Jesus, Cullen, don't do that."

I'd been so lost in my thoughts that I hadn't noticed I wasn't alone. "Bella? What are you doing in the boys' room?"

"I know your secret," she said.

"Good for you," I mumbled. "Are you going to blackmail me now too?"

"No, you shit," she said, peeping under the stall. "So you suck your thumb. Big fucking deal."

My face burned. "Get out of here, Bella—Isabella!" I corrected myself. We weren't friends.

"Whatevs, home slice," she said. "You missed second bell," she added as the door swung shut. I waited as long as I dared, hoping she'd be gone, but when I finally ran out, she was still sitting on the floor by the bathroom, drawing something on the knee that poked out of her worn jeans. She didn't say anything as I dashed past her.

***

When I slipped into English class, the teacher gave me the hairy eyeball. I cringed, worrying she'd give me detention, but she never stopped talking about Great Expectations. I slowly allowed myself to exhale once I realized I was safe. My head began to spin—the day had been colossally bad and just strange. I laid my head on the desk, taking slow, lazy notes on the notebook under my cheek. I was so exhausted that I didn't notice when the pen rolled out of my fingers.

I was dreaming an escaped convict had cornered me in a graveyard as a voice droned in the background. I was using a file to cut through his leg shackles, when a curtain lifted, revealing a hidden audience. Immediately they were laughing, and I heard someone calling me sharply. "Mr. Cullen! Mr. Cullen!"

"M'name's Pip," I mumbled as best I could around the comforting, familiar shape of … my thumb. Oh no. Oh, fuck no.

I bolted upright, wiping the drool from my cheek, folding my hands on my lap as if my thumb hadn't been in my mouth a second before.

"Thumbsucker!" one kid shouted, pointing at me. "Edward's a wee baby!" Everyone in the class was staring, some of them doubled over in laughter. I should have run out of there, but I kept hoping I'd woken up into a nightmare. I was waiting to wake up again into a world where my secrets were still mine, but this reality kept spinning out, expanding, growing louder and harder to dismiss as dreams.

The faces around me grew cartoonish, twisted cruelly with laughter. This was the point where I'd normally make a break for it, but I was frozen in horror. My life was over.

I was trying to think of the best way to die when I heard singing over the laughter. It was quiet at first, but grew louder as the classroom door opened.

"Not gonna get you a diamond ring/That sort of gift don't mean anything/Not gonna get you a fancy car/Girl, ya gotta know you're my shining star." Bella was in the class now, singing at the top of her lungs, doing some crazy swaying dance. This song was … familiar, but I couldn't quite place it.

She began walking toward me. The laughter waned a bit, the kids stunned into silence by Bella's bizarre behavior.

"Miss Swan!" chided Mrs. Samuels. "Go back to class!"

Nonplussed, she continued to sing, "Not gonna get you a house in the hills/A girl like you needs somethin' real/Wanna get you somethin' from the heart/Somethin' special, girl/It's my dick in a box."

Oh my god.

The class didn't know how to react. "Bella?" I hissed. "What the fuck are you doing?"

She held out her hand, ignoring my questions, wailing, "My dick in a box, girl!"

Because I couldn't think of anything else to do, I put my hand in hers and let her lead me out of the room. Vaguely I heard Mrs. Samuels calling after me, but I just followed the pull of Bella's hand and the sound of her voice.

And to think that until this morning, I hadn't even heard her speak.

She didn't stop singing until we got to the parking lot. We sat on the bumper of my car. "We're going to get detention for sure," I said.

"So?"

"My mom's going to kill me."

"I doubt that," she said, still humming "Dick in a Box" when she wasn't talking.

"You're crazy, you know," I said, but deep down, I was grateful.

"And you're a thumbsucker," she said, like it was a completely normal thing to do.

"I guess so."

"It's a nice thumb," she offered, examining my hand.

"Thanks?"

Suddenly her mouth was around my thumb, hot and wet, and her tongue swirled quickly around it. Before I could form words, she had taken my thumb out of her mouth. "Definitely a nice thumb," she said. "I can see the appeal." She climbed up onto the hood of the car. "Here, try mine," she said, shoving her thumb in my mouth.

I pulled away, shocked, but let my lips rest against the pad of her thumb. "It's, uh, very nice," I said, my heart skittering erratically.

"So you're going to tell Mallory to fuck off, right?"

"I guess so."

"Good," she nodded. "My work here is done."

"Your birthmark is pretty," I said. "It looks like a bird about to take flight." I pushed her hair aside and traced it lightly with my finger. I didn't know how long we'd been sitting out there when I heard the final bell ring and kids began streaming out of the school. Shit. Real life.

"Let's get out of here before the shitstorm hits," I said, and she grinned and slid off the hood.

"I've never been in a car with a leather interior," she said, appreciatively running her hands along her seat.

"Really?"

"It's like sitting on a really smooth cow."

"Yes, I'm sure that's the effect they were going for," I said as I pulled out of the school lot.

My phone started to ring on the way home. Bella found my phone. "It's your mom," she said after she glanced at the screen. I rolled my eyes and reached out, but before I could get my phone, she'd already picked up the call.

"Edward's phone," she answered cheerily.

"Bella, what are you doing?" I whispered, trying to take the phone from her, but she slid as far from me as possible, slapping my hand away.

"He's right here, Mrs. Cullen. He's just fine. No, I'm afraid he can't come to the ph—"

I snatched the phone out of her hand. "Mom?" I said, bracing myself for the wailing banshee I knew so well.

"Edward Anthony Cullen, I just got a call from school. You left class? You caused a disruption? I don't know what I'm going to do with you. You are a disgrace."

I felt buoyed by Bella's presence by me. "I'm not going to let you talk that way to me anymore," I said. "God, even if you hadn't thrown Dad out, he would have left you. Who could live with you?" I said. "You're just a bitter old harpy."

"Oh," she said, and hung up the phone.

I probably shouldn't have said that.

"Dude, that was harsh," said Bella by me. "She's your mom, man."

"You don't know her," I said, shaking my head and trying to concentrate on the road.

"They love us even when they don't like us," she said. In my peripheral vision, I could see her fogging up the window with her breath and making some sort of pattern in the film left behind.

"What are you doing?" I finally asked.

"Making baby footprints," she said, as if it were the most natural thing in the world. She used the side of her fist as a little stamp for the main part of the print, and then her fingertip to make tiny toes.

We drove in silence for a while until Bella whistled low. "This is your house? Shit, I should have blackmailed you when I had a chance."

I cut the ignition and just sat for a while. "Aren't you going in?" she asked.

"I don't know," I said, my hands hanging limply in my lap. "She's in there." I knew she must have heard the car pull up, and I expected her to come flying out of the house in a fury any second now. But there was no movement.

"I'm going to grab some things, and maybe we can go away," I said.

"I have a curfew," she said.

"Can I go to your house?"

"My dad has a shotgun," she said as if it were an answer, and it rather was, I supposed, if I thought about it.

"I'd better go in," I said.

"I'll wait here," she said, undoing her seatbelt and fiddling with the radio.

The short walk from my car to the front door was a kind of agony, and I popped my thumb back into my mouth. She might be so angry she'd have my thumbs amputated in punishment. Might as well get my last hit while I could.

I cringed as I opened the door, waiting for the shrieking, but the house was quiet, save for some ruffling and sniffling.

"Mom?" I tried to say, but my voice wasn't working. I followed the sounds and found her on the floor of the family room, surrounded by stacks of shoeboxes and papers.

"He used to love me, you know," she said, knowing, as all mothers somehow do, when their child enters a room. "He said he'd love me forever, that I was the only one."

I got on the floor next to her, handing her a new tissue from the box by her feet. She dabbed at her eyes. "I never was the only one, not one day of our sham of a marriage." She seemed so small and sad that I jumped back when she threw a shoebox past my head, knocking a vase off the table.

"All fucking lies," she said.

I began to remember more, things my child-self had packed away, not quite understanding. How my dad was always taking late night calls in the kitchen when he thought everyone else in the house had gone to bed, his many business trips, the occasional drunken singing interrupted by … something—High-pitched giggling? Throaty sighs? Sloppy kisses?—as he fumbled with his keys at the front door. With a dropping feeling in my stomach, I realized he'd brought those women all the way to the front door of our house. Had they ever come inside?

"I'm sorry," I said, awkwardly trying to pat my mom's shoulder.

"I shouldn't take it out on you. It's not your fault," she said. "You can't help looking just like him."

I was hoping she'd add, "… just like you can't help sucking your thumb," but she didn't.

"Mrs. Cullen?" We both turned our heads. That girl knew how to sneak up on a person. "Everything okay here?"

"No," she said, but she began to laugh. "Nothing is okay here. Come on in. Join the crazy."

"Do you want me to sing you a song?" Bella asked, crouching down beside us.

"Say no, Mom," I said. "Trust me on this."

"Oh, you're no fun," Bella pouted, and my mom surprised me by laughing more.

"I know, right?" she said. "The dourest kid in Dourtown." She ruffled my hair. "Good thing you're cute."

I jerked my head away and patted my hair back into place.

"Vain little fucker, isn't he?" she asked to Bella, who nodded solemnly. My mom fumbled with her purse and pulled out a couple of twenties. "Get out of here," she said to me. "Take the lady bowling. Or to the diner. Or to the diner and then to bowling."

"Love you, Mom," I said, kissing her on the forehead before leaving again.

"You too, you nutter," she said, pinching my cheek between her fingers as if she were a doting grandmother.

***

Bella at the bowling alley was … well, I'd never seen anything quite like it. She was enamored of her bowling shoes. "I think I'm going to keep these," she said.

"Doesn't it bother you, all the feet that were in there before yours?"

"This from the thumbsucker," she said, heaving a ball up to her chest. "How often do you disinfect that thing?" She did a model walk down the glossy wooden floor, then unceremoniously dropped the ball. It took about five minutes for it to roll slowly down the alley, nicking one corner pin before falling in the gutter.

"Yes!" she said, raising her fist in the air.

"I don't know why you're so happy," I said. "You're totally losing."

"Au contraire, mon frère," she said, and I thought, Did she just call me her brother? "I score bowling as if I'm playing golf. So I'm doing amazingly. I'm, like, LPGA awesome."

"They're probably shitty bowlers," I said, getting up for my turn. It kind of killed me inside to stick my thumb into those unsanitary bowling ball holes.

"I know what you're thinking," she said, coming up behind me.

"What? What am I thinking?"

"You're thinking, 'Step one, cut a hole in the bowling ball.'"

"You're sick," I said. "No way I'm sticking my Johnson in that."

"A shame," she said. "Dick bowling is so amazing. It's kind of like pool, but more nude, and with several kinds of balls, some of them adorably wrinkly."

"People do that?" I asked, incredulous.

"No," she laughed. And she wrapped her arms around my neck and stood on her tiptoes to kiss me on the mouth. I was so surprised that I dropped the ball, and she kicked it vaguely in the direction of the pins. I disappeared in her kiss, barely aware of the sound, many moments later, of the ball hitting the pins.

"Cullen, you are so losing," she said, pulling away and glancing down the lane. "You knocked all the pins down. Poor man," she said, patting my hand. "Next time, use your penis. You'll see. Much better."

We stayed until Biff, the bowling alley owner, told us he was shutting down for the night. Bella stood on her toes again and kissed Biff on the cheek. "Thanks for a lovely evening. Can I keep these?" she asked, holding out a foot. "You can keep my other shoes if you want."

Biff smiled, patting his cheek. "You can do whatever you want," he said. "Just come back and visit Biff."

We walked into the night, and as I unlocked the car, Bella said, "Are you aware you didn't suck your thumb once tonight?"

I scoured my memory, realizing she was right. "How about that," I said in quiet wonder.

"These shoes are freaking awesome," she said, twirling once under my arm before slipping back into the "smooth cow" interior of my car.

On and off during the drive home I'd dread returning to school the next day, but then I'd catch sight of Bella out of the corner of my eye, watching her hands make twisty shadows in the dim light from passing cars, and I'd forget for a minute why it mattered at all.


A/N: Ah, Kristi_28, you didn't think I'd take your "Dick in a Box" suggestion seriously, did you?