We Used to Wait, Ch.1
A ceiling fan on low woke me with its distant and rounding whooshes of air.
The heat here—I noted after the first two days of culture shock—was entirely incomparable to what my body was accustomed to in the burning city of Phoenix, Arizona. I felt as if the humidity on the big island would drown me if the surrounding ocean didn't. There was also the issue of rain, the unpredictable rain that had kept me up for hours the first night I spent in my new home and thus trapped inside during the downpours that came and went, leaving rainbows and my tiredness behind.
For now, as summer neared, it was the humidity I fought against with the spinning six bladed wooden fan staring back at me and the sheets kicked down to my feet. My eyes followed one blade on the fan in particular, the thought of my across the sea move dangling a feeling of homesickness so that it settled like a weight on my chest. I hated that perception when I was so completely filled and sure that this was what I wanted. I shouldn't be having these reflections proceeded by labored breaths if I was so sure of my decision. So as to separate these feelings, I concluded, that it wasn't home I missed, but rather all that I was used to in my daily routines which now needed to be reconstructed.
Reconstructed. I can do reconstructed.
The time change of two hours behind in Honolulu had me awake well before my alarm, and when the beeping finally started, it caused me to jump out of my skin and my heart to very alertly thump with more conviction, so much so that startled butterflies were freed within my stomach. Reposing myself, I flapped my hand around until it caught and found the silence button to the alarm, a movement on the right side of the bed catching my attention as a small head appeared followed by chocolate eyes, the face coming to rest on my belly.
My voice sounded a bit congested and scratchy as I greeted the staring lump with a, "Hi, Beau."
I was met with a soft bark and a sloppy lick to my arm.
Instinctively I wrinkled my nose, choosing to instead scratch his belly as he rolled onto his back with his four legs in the air and tail wagging. Beau had been Phil's idea (Renee was partial to it, I was exhilarated and only—only—slightly parallel to a kid on Christmas Day) to get my own lab as a source of protection from a robber or whatever else so that I wasn't entirely helpless in my new home. My far, far away home.
I once had a pet hamster when I was nine but that was as far as things like that went with Renee who worshipped her upholstery and 'crème blu' carpet far too much to own any pets. She also may have mentioned something about allergies. So it was obvious in my mind she only agreed to buy Beau with Phil as a surprise parting gift because that same dog would be two states and an ocean away with me. It wasn't until I brought Beau home that I discovered he wasn't necessarily the best guard dog when he frequently hid under my bed during thunderstorms, head under paws. The most I got out of him was company and having someone to talk to and follow me around.
"How the heck can you put up with this humidity, Beau?" I whined, fingers splaying against his thin dark coat. "You—" I must've been on pins in needles due to the pre-anxiety of starting my new job, because much like before when the alarm sounded, my heart jumped to my throat when the shrill of a ringing phone started with no warning, causing me to yelp. Beau's ear shot up.
After a string of curses, I searched under my pillows for the rather complex yet tiny piece of metal that I answered with a click of a button. "Hello?"
I inspected my nails with no enthusiasm at whose voice greeted me, chewing off the corners of one before replying tediously, "Hey, mom."
"Did you get the rest of the boxes I sent you?"
"Sure did." Three decently sized boxes, boxes that were practically my size, sat cramped in my room, filled with all else I hadn't already shipped over from my childhood home and college-life apartment.
"All unpacked, then?"
My eyes steadily surveyed those same boxes, and the open flaps filled with clothes and books and curtains and wires overflowing from them suggested that I wasn't even close. Shrugging, I replied, "Sure am," as a lie for the sake of appeasing her. I would get around to it.
"Well… good. Miss you, Bella."
"Call me and tell me how your first day goes."
"Sure, mom. Bye."
Not long after the slightly ephemeral and always short phone call did I remove myself from bed to get started on the day I'd practically been burning with pleasure over for the past month. That burning pleasure, once full of newness and exhilaration, now hit me with the high anxiety I wore myself over whenever I was in such an extreme state of nervousness.
First day of my life-long career, it could only go so bad.
The shower and the clothes all passed far too quickly and no matter how long I stared at the creamed bagel in my hand, my stomach still protested against it and would only accept orange juice.
It was sunny when I finally left, and sprinkling rain when I got to the bus stop down the street from my condominium.
The office was a quick ten minute drive into the city from where I lived. For the past few days I explored the town to get a feel of it so that I wouldn't look more out of place than I already did with my pale skin—which was exceptionally a lot. I only took to exploring Honolulu and not the surrounding cities outside of it. A girl could only pay so much for bus fare. At least the beach was close. I could hear the waves at night and see those same waves from the twenty first floor of the shorefront building my office was on.
Walking into a job on the first day with a high-ranked position made me feel small and insecure. My major had been decided ever since I was a child and my dream job was being lived now, at only twenty three, and it was hard for me to accept that reality. It was a year ago—almost an exact year ago—that I graduated from Arizona State with an English degree with the ideal goal of working for a publishing company as a book editor.
Surprisingly, Charlie had gotten me this job. And appropriately enough Rebecca Black was the one who started that same publishing company with a partner three years ago. Who knew it could thrive so well in the urban city of Honolulu? It was a small and tight knit company, she had told me over the phone, and was still in the stages off transitioning into a business. She had faith and apparently so did I.
I risked moving my whole life out here to be an editor. And a part of me needed to get away. The opportunity was too good not to pass up.
The secretary greeted me by name after I stepped out of the elevator and proceeded to lead me through the many desks and meeting rooms surrounded by large glass windows and wooden paned panels, inside those rooms long tables with people in them, papers covering those tables, to Rebecca's office in the back.
Many people rushed passed us until my name was called out.
She approached us from behind, a stack of papers cradle in her arms. "Rebecca, hi." I didn't remember much about her, but that beautiful russet skin I could pick up anywhere, and the two dark freckles above her right eye I could remember remarkably from childhood visits. A child's face from memory now blurred into what it had been transformed to as her more adult one the longer I stared. "It's great to finally see you."
"You, too! You look so different." She smiled as her eyes lit up, almost as if she was remembering my younger, much awkward self. I hoped there was at least some change a decade later. She dismissed the secretary with a polite Thank you and then reached for my arm and took over leading me through the people and messes once more. "Let me take you to your office and then we can catch up over lunch? Things are hectic on Mondays and I don't have much time to chat"—on cue someone yelled her name—"but meet me back in my office at noon and I'll take you to the best venue in town."
I nodded, hoping my stomach would be nerves and butterfly free by then. Rebecca's kindness was already helping.
"Here's your office." She led me into a quiet room in the back, another woman already seated at one of the two computers. "And here's your desk." It was the empty, desolate desk opposite the other occupant. "This is Laney, she's an agent who will be bringing in the books for you by your request of which ones you choose to edit. For now just get acquainted. There's a meeting later at three, Laney will show you the way. Nice to see you again, Bella, sorry I have to rush out of here. Thanks for coming out."
With that she was gone and I was calling out unsurely, "Right. Sure. Thanks. Bye."
I sank into the chair, setting my purse aside and noticing that my feet dangled above the ground. Soft sounds of voices drifted in as I greeted Laney with a "Hi" and noticed upon further findings that she was Hawaiian, her hair long and wavy just like Rebecca's but her skin a much different—yet still beautiful—darker, deeper color.
"Hi," she responded in a strong voice, much unlike my small one. Her smile was the friendliest I'd seen. "Looks like it's just us two, huh? So…where are you from?"
The smell of fresh seafood was tremendously nauseating.
The venue Rebecca spoke of was a mix of seafood and Hawaiian barbequed vegetables, chickens, and rice. The rice and vegetables were all I could handle. Rebecca warned me more than once that I'd have to accept the seafood. It was a big delicacy here. I didn't mind the crab or shrimp. It was the other things in shells I would have to adjust to.
"Do you remember the last time we saw each other? It had to be almost a decade ago." Rebecca started the conversation after the rush to eat had died down. We both leaned back into our seats, I was uncomfortably full now. My appetite had come back with revenge for forgoing breakfast.
I thought back to my limited days spent with Charlie in Forks and the even fewer days spent in La Push. I tapped my fingers against the table until I stumbled upon the answer. "Hmm…I think it was the summer before I was thirteen. You were there for Billy's birthday and I was visiting Charlie for a week. That's the last time I went up there to visit him."
"Right, right. You were at the bonfire that night weren't you?" She laughed at something. I just remembered the whole evening as being awkward and cold.
"Yeah, we were there for a little."
"How come you never visited again?" she asked gently, catching on to my previous slip of tongue.
"I had actually planned to move up there." I diverted my gaze to fingers toying with the straw of my drink. "But that didn't end up not working out."
Rebecca frowned. "That's a shame. Why not?"
"My mom's husband Phil was really big in baseball at the time and was trying to go pro. He traveled a lot, and I always kept my mom behind when she wanted to go with him but she had to take care of me so that prevented her from going. I could see how much she wanted to be with him so I made the decision to go live with Charlie and get out of her hair. About a week before my flight to Forks, Phil shattered both his knees in an accident… So that pretty much ended his career. I had to help take care of him when Renee couldn't, so that changed my plans. Things were tough for them. Still are."
"Is he able to walk?"
"Sometimes. It's tough on his knees. He's still going to physical therapy."
"I remember going through that same struggle with my dad. It was…difficult." Her frown changed to something sadder. "And it was the reason I left home."
Charlie once told me about Rachel and Rebecca leaving home the day they turned eighteen. At first I had judged them, but now I could understand how they felt. And by the look on her face, that feeling now weighed down as guilt. "How's he been doing lately?" I asked as a way to stay away from such a sensitive topic that I wasn't quite sure how to handle.
"Oh, he's great. He's actually trying to plan out a trip to come visit me. Rachel and her husband are up there taking care of him. Our whole family hasn't been together for awhile. We may end up going to visit him instead, it's easier."
"My husband"—I caught sight of the impressive diamond ring on her finger for the first time today—"and my daughter. He hasn't seen her since she was born three years ago. A visit is long overdue."
"How long have you been married?"
"Five years in July."
"Wow… congrats. I had no idea. What's your daughter's name?"
"Lila. You'll have to meet her. She's so precious. Are you free for dinner anytime this week?"
"Uh, yeah…I am. I don't have plans. Actually, I don'tknow anyone to have plans with," I pointed out before we both shared a laugh.
"I know how that feels," she reassured, reminding me that she had moved here on her own too. "Well, you'll just have to come on over one of these nights then. You're practically like family. You remember my brother Jacob right? He and his friend Embry live in my guest house. You three are about the same age, I'm sure they can introduce you to some people. God, I feel old…"
Brother? Jacob? Right. Okay. I remembered him. "Yeah, sure. That'd be…great."
"Friday nights at my house is barbeque and grill nights. How about you drop by then, maybe around five? You have my number if you need to get a hold of me. A few of our neighbors and friends will be there as well, so don't be a stranger."
I stared at the piece of paper she handed me after writing her address on it. I nodded off handedly, my mind stuck on the prospect of Friday night with my lips pulled back in a smile.
"We should head back. Even though I'm the boss I still have to maintain my supremacy and what little of it I have left."
On the walk back to the building it started raining. Rebecca almost toppled over with giggles at the look on my face, took my hand to pull me quickly along, her breathless voice telling me One more thing you'll have to get used to, Bella.