Focus on the yellow lines, focus on the yellow lines. I keep running those five little words through my head as my car pushed it's way down the highway. The sun was just starting to set beyond the flat plains that were laid out before me. A tumble weed rolled across the road before getting stuck on the barbwire fence across the way.
The music coming out of the radio was starting to break up so I reached down and hit the scan button on the deck next to the clock that read half past eight. The stations scanned but didn't lock on anything. Sighing, I flicked the radio off, letting the silence fill the car. Now all I had were my thoughts and memories to keep me company. Neither of which were exactly pleasant right now.
Picking up the cold cup of coffee from the cup holder, I grimaced and took a big swig. It tasted like shit but at least it was better than nothing. I replaced the cup and flicked on my headlights as I passed the green sign on the side of the road. Three miles to go till I get to Clarendon, Texas. I shook my head. How desperate I must be to come back to this shit hole of a town after so many years away.
Three minutes later, my car sped past the local junior college that we had jokingly called 'Harvard on the Hill.' I drove through the small town, noticing the new Subway they had added to the Taylor's food mart and the new do it yourself carwash. I turned my car onto the small country road and flipped on my high beams.
A few minutes later, I pulled past the gate that lead to my father's house. I parked my car behind his old, beat up Chevy and cut the engine. The house still looked the same, a little worn around the edges but still just as amazing. I climbed out of the car, grimacing as my body ached from spending the last eighteen plus hours in the car.
The porch light came on just as the front door opened. I could see my father's silhouette in the door way as he reached out and pushed open the screen door.
"You coming in or are you just going to let the mesquites eat you?" he asked, hoarsely.
"I'm coming," I grumbled.
I popped the trunk of my car and pulled out the two suitcases I had stuffed in there. Slamming the trunk, I turned and headed up to the porch. My father, Charlie, stepped back and let me in. He hadn't changed much over the last ten years. Much like the house, he was a little rough around the edges but he still looked amazing. He had dark brown hair that was just starting to turn grey. His most amazing feature were his eyes. They were the color of dark melted chocolate.
"Well, let me look at you," he said, shutting the front door.
Charlie flipped on the light in the entry way and I fought the urge to hide my face. He titled my face up so he could get a better look at the bruising around my eyes, jaw, and mouth. Clenching his jaw tightly, he let go of my face. I automatically ducked my head.
"Yep, he got you pretty good," muttered Charlie.
I wasn't sure what to say to him. What do you tell your father when he just found out that your husband has been beating you for years?
"Have you eaten?" he asked, softly.
"Not hungry," I whispered.
"Not what I asked," said Charlie, titling my face back up to meet his eyes. "When did you last eat?"
"When I left Chicago," I whispered. Charlie sighed and pulled the suitcases from my hands.
"I'll going to put these in your room and then I'll make you a grill cheese and some soup," he muttered.
"I'm not really hungry," I said.
"Still need to eat," he sighed, walking past me.
Charlie headed upstairs to my old bedroom. I just stood there until he came back trotting down the stairs. He headed into the kitchen so I followed him in. I sat down in my old chair while he pulled out the butter and cheese from the fridge. Pulling my knees up to my chest, I laid my head on them while I watched my father make me a grill cheese sandwich and a cup of chicken noodle soup. He placed them in front of me and took the seat across from me. Without saying a word, I picked up my spoon and slowly began eating.
"Has this been going on for a while?" asked Charlie.
"Yes," I whispered, not looking up at him. I focused on the sandwich in front of me.
"How long?" he asked, a moment later.
"A few years," I mumbled.
"Like three?" he asked.
"A few more than that," I whispered, pushing the half eaten food away. I folded my arms and ducked them inside my legs.
"Six years?" he asked. His voice was thick, heavy with emotions.
"Around that," I whispered.
"I see," he murmured, standing up and grabbing the dishes from in front of me.
Charlie didn't say anything as he went over and quickly washed them. I kept my eyes on the floor, my body pulled tightly together. After a moment the water shut off and I heard Charlie sigh.
"Why…" he trailed off. "Why didn't you tell me? Why did you stay?"
"I couldn't tell you," I said, softly. "He would have killed me."
"I would have killed him first," whispered Charlie. I stood up and looked over at my father.
"You weren't there, though," I said.
I turned and walked out of the kitchen, leaving him there staring at me. I made my way upstairs to my old bedroom and shut the door behind me. I slid to the floor as I looked around the room. When I was a teenager, I loved this room. Charlie and I spent two days painting it from the god awful pink that my mother had insisted I have to a dark mauve. Where most teenagers has posters of their favorite rock stars, movie stars, and TV shows on their walls, I had pictures of all the places I wanted to go. Africa, Australia, New Zealand, France, England. The list went on and on. I planned on leaving this town and never looking back. I certainly never planned on coming back here.
It's not that I had any bad feelings about this place. I wasn't the tortured soul who everyone picked on while in school. Quite the opposite, actually. I was the popular girl. The head cheerleader, the homecoming queen, the class valedictorian. I was excepted to leave this place and make something of myself, not become someone's punching bag.
I shook my head as I stood up and made my way over to my bed. I popped open my suitcases and unpacked my clothes, the few things I managed to pack anyway. I stuffed them into the old, oak dresser before heading into the bathroom. I stripped off my clothes and took a look at myself in the mirror.
I wasn't very tall, average height for a woman, I suppose, at five foot five. My skin was so pale it was practically translucent. My eyes were the same color as Charlie's but they don't have the same sparkle, the same light that his do. No, instead they had dark bruises and heavy bags under them. My arms had huge hand prints wrapped around the tops of them. Turning away from the mirror, I started the shower and stepped inside.
I had lived in Clarendon all my life. I was born in Amarillo, the closest hospital, but was brought back to this house just days after I was born. Being a country girl, I spent most days out in the pastures with Charlie, tending to the cattle, making sure they were eating properly. I hated every minute I was out here. I wanted to live in town where I could play with my friends.
My mother, Renee, passed away when I was eight, leaving just me and my father. Charlie did the best he could but he didn't know how to be both my mother and my father. He was so busy splitting his time between the ranch and his position as county sheriff, that there were often days that I barely saw him at all. On those days, I was usually at the home of my best friend, Alice Cullen.
She and her two older brothers, Edward and Emmett, lived in town with their parents Carlisle and Esme. Carlisle was the towns one and only doctor. He had a small clinic opened but often made house calls to some of the older folks who couldn't get out of their houses. Esme was a teacher up at the high school. She taught English Literature and Spanish. Esme and I used to spend hours talking about the greatest books of all time. It pissed Alice off.
Alice was the best friend a girl could ask for. She was furiously protective and loyal but she didn't always have patience for the fact that my interest laid outside of multiple shopping trips, makeovers, and drooling over the latest TV heartthrob. We fought about this quite often but five minutes later, we were usually sitting on the couch while she applied a new facial mask onto me or painted my toe nails the wildest color she could imagine. I had the hardest time telling her no.
Her brothers, Edward and Emmett, thought it was hilarious that Alice pushed me around so much. Edward and Emmett were both older than us. Emmett was three years older and Edward was two. Emmett tried to pull the 'I'm the oldest so I get to kick your ass' spiel around us but both Alice and I knew how to manipulate him. Under it all, he was just a teddy bear.
Edward was the quietest of the three, the more reserved. He usually tried to stop Alice from ripping her oldest brother to shreds while trying to keep Emmett from deserving it. Most of the time, he would be able to calm Alice down but a few times Emmett would say something really stupid and Alice would take him down. As much as the three of them fought, they were closest set of siblings I had ever met.
There wasn't anything they wouldn't do for each other. Emmett and Edward proved that when they came home from school the weekend of our senior prom and kicked David Andrews' ass for standing Alice up. The four of us ended up spending the whole weekend hanging out in front of the TV, stuffing our faces with ice cream, cookies, frosting, and anything else we could do to make Alice feel better. As an only child, I was jealous of the connection that the three of them had.
I finished my shower and dried off. I pulled on the flannel pants and t-shirt before I headed back out into my room. Charlie was sitting on my bed, elbows on his knees, hands clenched together. I stopped in the doorway, not sure what to do. He looked up at me and frowned.
"You know I would have been there, right?" he asked. "If I had known that he was… I would have been on the first flight out."
"I know," I muttered, looking at my feet.
"Well, all that matters is that you are here now," said Charlie, standing up. He came over and kissed the top of my head. "I'm glad you are finally home, Bells."
"Me too, Daddy," I whispered, letting a tear slip down my face.
"Get some sleep," he said, walking out of my room. "You look like shit."
I chuckled softly. Same old Charlie Swan. He shut the door behind him and I crawled onto my bed, flipping the lamp off. The only light coming into the large room was the light from the moon that flittered through the window. There were no sounds of cars driving down the street, the train coming by all night. There was nothing but the sound of peaceful bliss. I hated it already.
I've had this story line running through my head for a few days. Once it's there I have to write it out or I can't sleep. Since I am getting close to finishing up another story, I thought I would go ahead and start this one. Let me know what you think.