I don't own. Obvi.
I mostly just want to say thank you. To my own Maya. Chapter One: The Powerlessness
Nothing lasts forever,
except you and me.
Love will last forever,
between you and me.I am a mountain,
I am the sea,
you can't take that away from me.
I am a mountain,
I am the sea.
I am a mountain,
I am the sea
"Bella!" Alice's scream and laugh still sounded the same, even after the two years we'd spent apart. Even after everything I'd heard. "God, Bella, I can't believe you're here!" I searched the concourse for my short, spiky-haired best friend, clutching the sleeping two-year old to my chest.
The faint breathing on my neck reminded me of the humid air back in Guatemala, and for a second I almost lost my resolve not to cry. But sometimes all you can have is resolve.
"Bella!" I heard her voice again, even over all of the commotion swirling beside us. She appeared out of nowhere, and as much as she changed, I knew it was her. Even with her hair, long and wavy now, her clothes, mellowed more than I was used to before, and her smile, fading at the sight of the luggage that clutched me just as tightly as I did it, it was my best friend in front of me.
"Alice," I sighed, staring at her as if she were a mirage. For so long she'd belonged to a dream world, a place that I somehow came to forget as I worked in the orphanage in Rio Dulce, a past I was convinced didn't exist anymore, not since La Quema del Diablo.
"Come here," she whispered, hugging me tightly, her arms wrapping around my smaller frame and eclipsing the little girl. Her touch felt foreign, her skin soft, her hair still lingering with the smell of her shampoo and soap, luxuries I'd long since forgotten and understood. I'm sure I smelled hideous, looked worse, because I know I felt it. "I've been so worried. I thought I'd never see you again," she sighed, never easing her grip on me. I melted into her until we were like a bag of popcorn at the movies, hours old and one big clump, as people swirled around us and the world mashed itself into pulp.
"I told you I'd be back," I scolded, smiling instead of allowing the tears to fall. I wouldn't cry; I couldn't.
"You can't blame me for not believing you," Alice smiled back, her eyes still warm and bright. "You didn't tell me you were bringing someone back with you." Alice ran her hand along the little girl's back, tucking the giant sweatshirt around her tighter, causing her to stir in her sleep. She just clung to my shirt even more, bunching it in her tiny hands.
I hadn't really had time to tell Alice much of anything on my phone call, explaining my exodus. I had a gun to my back, a soldier hissing in Spanish in my ear, ready to shoot me at any given notice.
"She stole my heart," I explained, kissing the top of her head. "I would have brought them all back, if I could, but she needs me." Alice nodded, her face still soft. Soft felt foreign as well.
"Let's go get your luggage, and we'll talk at home."
I hitched the backpack on my shoulder and looked at her sheepishly.
"I don't have any luggage," I muttered.
I was twenty-three years old, a college graduate, former volunteer at an orphanage in Guatemala, and I had a backpac that held not just my only other change of clothes, but also the only other change of clothes for my little girl. My little girl. That was all I possessed. The sweatshirt that acted as a blanket to Maya wasn't even my own.
"She's pretty," a man's voice startled me as I absently ran my fingers through Maya's long black hair and gazed out the window, exhausted, an outcast, a failure. There were a lot of emotions bearing down on me. "How old is she?"
"She's three," I mumbled a response, peaking at the child in my lap. Her doe-like eyes gazed up at me, brimming with innocence, her finger firmly planted in her mouth, the other hand rooted in my own hair. Maya shivered slightly as I adjusted the air conditioning. It was foreign to our skin that had grown hot-blooded in the humidity of the last two years. I didn't even miss it anymore. I hugged her tighter, knowing full well I didn't have any warmer clothes for her.
"Here," the stranger nudged, handing me a giant, dark blue sweatshirt. I was sinfully proud, but the sight of Maya shivering easily swept that out the window. I tucked it around her and hummed gently as we crossed the continent towards Seattle. I mouthed a 'thank you' once her breathing evened against my collarbone. I had to have her near me, for fear that if I let her go, she'd be gone forever. I was irrationality, personified.
For the first time, I looked at the kind stranger. He gave me a genuine smile before nodding and turning back to his stack of papers. He looked young, maybe around my age, with burnt pumpkin colored hair, forest green eyes, a strong jaw, and nose that could be perfect from the front, although from the side had a small crook in it. The Bella from before would have been blushing, stuttering, and gawking, but that was in the past. He got one second glance, and that was all.
I'd become a woman who had a kid, and had grow tired under a year of revolution, so much to a point that I didn't care about the gorgeous man beside me who offered the tiny girl in my lap his sweatshirt.
I watched the hairs on his forearms rise and gooseflesh appear against the cold. I smiled.
I dug in my bag at my feet for the journal Alice had given me as a going away present. It was littered with photographs, letters, leafs, flowers, bubble gum wrappers, all from different people, each piece of trash reminding me of the people left behind. I opened to the last available page, the other filled with writing and memories. I wrote down one phrase to finish my journey to find myself:
I am unrecognizable.