Fat, wet snowflakes fell from a steel gray sky as a young woman trudged her way up the apartment stairs to the second floor, slipping once on the fourth step. With a deep sigh and a muttered curse, she caught her balance without dropping the day's mail or her messenger bag. Seattle in February. Cold and wet. Lovely.
With a sigh, she kicked the door shut behind her and slid out of her wet coat before dropping the mail and bag on the bar. It could wait until after a cup of hot tea and maybe…yes! She happily pulled an unopened tube of Bahlsen Hit cookies from the pantry. Carefully opening the package, she placed three cookies on a saucer and prepared her tea before climbing onto a worn but oh-so-comfy brown sofa.
She cautiously glanced over at the answering machine to see it insistently blinking a single message. A quick poke filled her living room with the second most grating noise in the world—her classmate Lauren's voice.
"Bellllllllaaaa! I need the notes to Tuesday's Creative Lit class. Please!" A few fake coughs punctuated the message. "I was sick and couldn't make it. You're a doll. Thanks!"
Bella sighed. The blonde bimbo could not even remember that Tuesday had been the day the class had shared from their work. There were no notes. With another sigh, she turned toward her mail. And her cookies.
Bill. Bill. Junk. Bella tossed aside the advertisement for the latest and greatest land deal before turning her attention to a large white envelope with a rather official seal in place of a return address. The snow had smudged it beyond recognition so she carefully tore into it, only to be rewarded with a paper cut on her right pointer finger.
With a few muttered "ow!"s, she carefully sucked on her finger until the bleeding stopped. Grabbing a cookie, she absent-mindedly dipped it into her tea before finishing opening the envelope, paying no attention to the silver letter opener her father had given her years ago that sat unused and neglected on the coffee table. Bella extricated a small sheaf of papers and laid them in her lap as she sipped her tea. Once satisfied, she set the cup down and picked up the top sheet.
23 February, 2010
Dear Ms. Swan,
It is with great pleasure that we inform you that your application to the Evermore Experience has been accepted.
Evermore Experience? What was that, she wondered, taking another bite of her cookie.
Dr. Banner has highly recommended you for this one of a kind immersion into the world of early nineteenth century England.
Really? Immersion into the world of Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights and all of her other favorite works? How very exciting! Bella sat a little straighter on the sofa. And how much does this experience cost, she wondered once reality quickly returned to her.
In order to make this unique learning experience as fulfilling as possible, please complete the enclosed surveys and releases and return in the attached envelope within the next two weeks.
We look forward to you joining us in May.
Esme Cullen, Evermore Experience
Bella quickly flipped through the papers until she found the brochure advertising the program and was thrilled to see that the Evermore Experience was not only the "premiere one of a kind immersion experience into nineteenth century England" was first and foremost, entirely free and would provide her with six hours of graduate school credits in exchange for six weeks of her time.
And that was how Bella Swan, second year graduate student in Creative Writing at the University of Washington, found herself on an evening flight across the Atlantic Ocean.