The characters and story of Twilight lived in Stephenie Meyer's head long before I came along and read it. They belong to her. This story however, has lived in my head long before you read it and it belongs to me. I don't intend any copyright infringement and you better not either.
Handing out thank yous to KatieTv and SugarTits who have held my hand and stroked me ego through this little endeavor. Thanks for pre-reading and lending me your balls to post it. Muchas gracias also to vanessarae who patiently answered my questions about this whole fan fic business (and who has now gone back and beta-ed my early chapters for me!)
Life goes by so fast
You only want to do what you think is right
Close your eyes and it's past
Story of my life
~Story of My Life, Social Distortion
For once, I'd like to wake up to something other than crying. It must be so peaceful to let your eyes slide open when they are ready to, hearing nothing but silence. Instead, I awoke each morning to the sounds of tears, shrieks, and my name being called.
It's not even my name but it might as well have been.
It's all I heard, all day long. My three-year-old started every sentence with it. "Mommy, get me this..." or "Mommy, I want that..." and "Mommy, I need..." My one-year-old couldn't say much else besides, "Mommy. Mommy. Mommy." I can remember a time when I'd begged them to say it; when I stood over their cribs smiling and cooing "ma-ma."
Harder to remember was the time before Mommy, when I was just Bella; when I had my own needs and wants. Every day it seemed those days grew further and further away. It was hard to be Bella when Mommy was elbow deep in dishes, cleaning smashed crayons out of the carpet, wiping snotty noses, and brushing away tears.
"Mommeeeeee," the little voices called out in the dark.
I turned over and looked at the clock; it wasn't even six a.m. I rolled back over to the wide shoulders I'd been facing and poked them. He moved a little but didn't budge. I poked harder.
"Already? It's not even light out. I'm tired."
He's tired. Of course he's tired. We're all tired.
"It's Saturday…." my voice trailed off. I knew, once again, that meant nothing.
"Shit Bella, after the week I've had? Come on. Besides, they want you."
Of course they wanted me. They always wanted me; that was the point. I said nothing as I slid out of bed, defeated. I pushed my feet into the waiting slippers as he yawned and flopped over sprawling across my side of the bed, nestling into the blankets like he'd been waiting all night for me to get out of his way. I pulled a flannel robe from the back of the door, cursing the damp coolness in the air.
Our small cabin was too old to be insulated properly and even now, in spring, I still couldn't shake the chill from my bones. I'd start a fire but the rest of them would protest. My girls were hot-blooded like their father. I knew that my chapped, blue fingers would lift sweaty, hot bodies from their beds.
"Mommy, mommy, mommy!" was the war cry I heard as I flipped the switch in their room. My littlest sprang in her crib as though she was on a trampoline.
"Mommy, I'm thirsty, get me some water. Mommy, can I watch Gabba-Gabba?" My oldest begged for her favorite show, Yo Gabba Gabba- which to me was ripped from the diary of a drug addict tripping on acid.
"Gabba, Gabba, Gabba!" the little jumping bean cried.
"Honey you woke up too early, Gabba-Gabba isn't on yet," I said, addressing the ball of hair on the twin bed who was rubbing her eyes and yawning.
"Yes it is! It is time for Gabba-Gabba. Make it time, Mommy. I want it!"
It was way too early for this level of whining. "Sarah, it's not on right now. And I do not have magical powers that control television broadcasting. You are going to have to wait."
She pouted and crossed her arms over her chest; she got that from her father, too. Stubborn. We padded into the kitchen and I reminded them to keep shrieking to a minimum since Daddy was still sleeping. I passed out heated-up frozen waffles and yogurt tubes before sitting at my laptop with a steaming cup of tea. I clicked open my email, browsed Facebook updates and peeked in on some of my favorite blogs.
Even with the obnoxious characters shouting from the television and my children hollering back at them, I was able to tune out and immerse myself in a world far away from Forks and the reservation. So much so, I didn't look up when Jake wandered in the kitchen later, scratching at his bare belly and looking to the stove for breakfast.
"Is there food?" He asked over his shoulder.
"Oh sorry! Not yet, got caught up here. I can whip something up fast."
I lifted my eyes from the screen and paused on my husband's washboard abs. There was a time that the mere sight of them made me weak. I guess I was desensitized now, because he still had the rock-hard body of a teenager, but I couldn't be bothered to notice. I sighed, looked back to the screen to close the open browser windows, and pushed the computer aside.
Jake took a step toward me and kissed the top of my messy hair before running into the living room shouting, "Who's ready to get tickled?" The girls squealed and jumped on his back. He swept an arm up to steady them while bucking like a wild bronco. They laughed and cried for more.
I resigned myself at the stove cooking yet another meal that would result in another sink of dirty dishes.
There was a time when I liked cooking, the time I was just Bella. When we first married, I was so eager to try out new recipes on my doting and insatiable husband. He was more adventurous than my dad had been. Charlie would just poke at something that smelled too flavorful or had ingredients he couldn't pronounce. Jake would shovel anything into his mouth, forgetting to chew before telling me how good it was.
I flipped the omelet over, watching the escaping cheese sizzle in the skillet. I wondered if I lost my zest for cooking, or gave it up since the girls would eat nothing but chicken nuggets, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Cheerios, and the like. At any rate, I made whatever I could scrounge up for Jake and often just found a bowl of cereal for myself.
"Hey Belly, if that's done, why don't you go take a bath? I think I can handle things from here," he said from the living room.
Oh God, I hated it when he called me that. It had started when I was pregnant with Sarah, an all-too-obvious play on my name and the basketball I was smuggling under my shirt. He said I was "all belly" and from there it stuck. I felt like such a bitch, finding a term of endearment so irritating that it made me want to smack him every time he said it.
"Belly?" He asked again, coming into the kitchen. "I'm sorry about earlier, you know me, I just couldn't get out of bed. But hey, go relax now, I'll eat and take the girls out to play." He reached out to the hand not holding a spatula, brought it to his lips, and kissed my fingertips.
It pained me how much force it took to smile. It wasn't his fault I felt this way. It wasn't his fault I spent the days imagining I was somewhere else. Somewhere alone, where nobody asked anything of me. He tried. In moments like this, he tried. He saw me weary before the day had even begun, and he was encouraging me to find solace in my most favorite place.
I pulled his hand to my mouth and kissed the cracked knuckles. "Thank you, I will, I'm in the middle of such a great book right now I could use the time to read."
I ignored his eyes rolling heavenward with my last statement. Jake didn't read, he found it boring, and I was appalled when I realized this only after we married. Aside from him, books were my best friend and the idea that they didn't get along was upsetting. I didn't know how I managed to miss that before. But I guess when you're barely an adult and you've fallen in love with your best buddy, you don't notice his flaws. I thought I knew him so well. I had thought when we got together after graduation, that there wasn't much point in dating since I knew everything about him. I think he rushed to propose, fearing that if he didn't, he'd lose the chance to make me his.
I stepped into the hot water, removing the book mark and setting it aside. I piled my hair high atop my head so as not to get it wet. The steam curled around my face as I sank deeper in the water. This claw foot tub was the entire reason I'd agreed to live here. Jake had brought me out here, thrilled at his discovery of a tiny, old cabin tucked into the woods. I had wandered each cramped room ingesting the dampness, the mold in the air. I had liked the pot-bellied stove in the main room and the thick, heavy glass of the windows but I wasn't sold until I found the large, deep, cast-iron tub in the bathroom. It was so deep and long that I could sit in total submersion, but for my head.
In those days, the 'just Bella' days, he'd clamber in with me and I'd laugh as his overgrown body filled the tub. His knees poked out with just half of his shins and thighs beneath the water as he struggled to sit, hunching forward. He'd wash my back, fondle my bare, slippery breasts and leave tiny trails of kisses down my neck. I had loved how much he wanted to be with me. How he'd pout every time I left the room. I loved how big he was and how safe I felt enveloped in his arms. Back then, his need for me was so satisfying, so gratifying.
But now, now he knew that I came here to be alone. That this was the one place I could shut the door and not be disturbed. This was a place free from sticky fingers, sippy cups, dirty laundry, and cartoons. I hadn't told him he wasn't welcome, he'd just inferred that since I came here to take a break from everything that needed me, I was also taking a break from him.
I opened the book where I'd left off last and began to read. It wasn't long before I was crying and then laughing through my tears. The story was that good. I kept turning page after page until I noticed the water had gone cold. I listened for signs that Jake was tiring of the girls, but heard nothing. I lifted the drain with my eyes on the door and then dropped it back down after I'd let out a few cold inches. I turned the faucet as far as it would go, and scalding hot water finished filling the tub. I mixed the waters, hot and cold, above my stomach until it was swirling all around me. I stared at the tornado I'd created until I felt dizzy and returned to the story. I burned through the pages in record speed, saddened when I closed the back cover.
I hated it when it was time for the story to end. Even when an author had wrapped it up well, and this one had, I was never ready to let go of the characters. I often kept them living with me for a while, thinking about their story and wondering about those questions left unanswered, days after I'd finish a book. This one had left me breathless. It was the third book I'd read by the same author in as many months, and she was rising to the top of my contemporary favorites list. I rubbed the bar of soap along the length of my slender legs and wondered if she had any other titles I missed.
"Mommy?" A curled head peeked in the cracked-open door. "Daddy says it's time for nap and to give kisses? Is it okay?"
I smiled at Sarah and nodded. She ran over to me and wrapped her skinny brown arms around my head, obstructing my vision. Nap time, already? I'd been in here much longer than I thought.
"Loves you Mommy! Loves you soooo much!"
I kissed her pursed lips and pinched her nose, echoing her sentiment. Yes, I felt discontent. There were days where just the sound of my children had me reaching for the aspirin. But that didn't change the fact that I loved them. I loved them more than anything I could ever imagine loving. And when it came right down to it, while I didn't always love the job, I loved the honor of being their mother.
Jacob stood in the doorway with the baby in his arms. He watched the exchange between me and Sarah with pride and then crossed over to us, lowering Charlotte so I could kiss her plump little cheeks.
"You almost ready to get out? I'll get them in bed if you're not."
"I'm almost done, thanks. Could you get them in? I wanted to shave my legs."
Jacob grinned and raised his eyebrows. "Absolutely. Oh and hey, I forgot to tell you, Sam and Emily invited us over tonight, fish fry. I told them yes. Figured you'd welcome the break."
"Sure, sounds good." I nodded while running the razor over my legs.
Sam Uley was Jacob's boss, but he and his wife, Emily, were also our friends. Their preteen daughters loved playing with our girls, so whenever we went there it was a nice break to sit back and actually have an adult conversation that lasted more than five or so syllables.
A fish fry meant all our mutual friends would be there. Guys that Jake had grown up with on the reservation and their wives, mostly Quileute and a few "pale faces" like me. It was a good group of people, honest and hardworking. They'd become my second family since I didn't have much of a first one to begin with. A mother and a father, separate, not together. The former I saw so sporadically over the past seven years, I'm not even sure it counted. I don't think she ever got over my choice to stay in Forks rather than move to Jacksonville with her. And then I married Jake, when I was just shy of no longer being a teenager. It was the life she didn't want for me. The life she tried to avoid by leaving Forks with me in the first place. My only redemption was giving her the girls, whom she loved more than anything else. If it wasn't for them, I wondered if we'd even talk at all.
"What are you doing Bella? Don't you need to get dressed?" Jake reached in the fridge for another beer while I sat damp in my robe at my laptop.
"Just a sec, I wanted to look something up. Since we're headed near town, I might want to pop into the library."
"Finish your book already? That good?"
I smiled up at him, pleased he'd taken-or at the very least feigned-an interest. "It was great, so good. I'd give my right foot to write like that."
Jake chugged at the beer and then spoke, "From what I remember you weren't a half bad writer yourself. Didn't you win some prize senior year? Some literary something or another?"
"Uh-huh. Yeah, but God, that was ages ago." Yet another memory from when I was just Bella. I was racking them up today.
"Yeah, when you had nothing better to do, right? Speaking of, did you remember to wash those whites? I'm down to my last pair of underwear." He stepped back out of the kitchen without waiting for my answer as the sound of the game returning called to him.
I stuck out my tongue at the empty room and typed the author's name into Google. I was pretty sure I'd read all the copies of her work they had at the local library, but if I was lucky I might find something used on Amazon. Her website popped up and I pushed the mouse past 'Appearances' to 'Novels', and clicked. I scrolled through the list and realized I'd read everything she'd written, but I was giddy at the heading announcing a new work this summer. I hit the rest of the tabs, reading her bio, her blog postings, the links to other authors. The website was so personal, so intimate, I felt like I knew her, like she was inviting me in. Glancing up at the clock and realizing how little time I had to get dressed now, I clicked on 'Appearances', half-hoping, half-knowing there was no way in hell that she'd be at a bookstore near me soon.
Just as I suspected, she wouldn't be touring until just after her book release in a few months and the closest she'd come to here was hours away. I was about to hit the red 'x' in the corner but I hesitated over a hotlink for a Writer's Conference. Her name was listed alongside with the designation "Key Note Speaker." I clicked the link, and when the page opened up, I felt my heart flutter.
The conference was being held near Monterey, California next month. The words leaped off the screen as my eyes scanned them. I'd never heard of something like this before. Where someone could go and spend their days in workshops learning like this, from people like this. She wasn't the only well-known name I saw as I scanned the list of presenters. I glanced over my shoulder and clicked 'registration information', the flashing banner appearing made butterflies rise in my chest.
'Last Minute Registration Discount! Workshop roulette allows an amazing discount! Great option for novices. Space extremely limited, register now!'
I chewed at my thumb nail and slid it between my teeth. I could not believe I was considering this. There was no way I could consider this. The money, the girls, how could this work? But I knew that even with my rational mind drowning out the overwhelming desire of my heart that I would still do this. That I needed to do this. This was what I was looking for, without even knowing it.
I reached across the table and into my purse that had tumbled over on top. I dug for my phone and my fingers flew across the keys shooting a text to Renee.
Any chance you might want to come watch your favorite granddaughters for me? For a week? Next month?
I held my breath and pushed the buttons along the side of the phone to vibrate. It buzzed in my hands not a minute later.
Of course! When? Where are you going?
I dropped the phone on the table and rubbed my face in my hands. I was doing this. I picked it up and answered.
A writing conference in Monterey. Just found out about it. Really, really want to go.
What does Jake think?
Oh. I think it's great, Bella, really great. Send me dates I'll book tickets.
Oh shit. I was doing this. I answered Renee and reached into my purse again. I slid my hand in my wallet and pulled out the credit card that was within an inch of its life as it was. My fingers trembled as I hunched over the laptop, henpecking the keys to avoid Jake's awareness with my usual rapid-fire typing. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and clicked 'send'.
~ I'd love reviews more than my kids would love Yo Gabba Gabba playing on a continous feed all day long~