Note from the translator: Save the frog is a fan fiction story originally written by Louise Malone, a very prolific and popular French author, and I'm only having a lot of pleasure translating it. Of course all things Twilight belong to Stephenie Meyer.
Also, it has to be said that the author is a school nurse, and although she doesn't condemn the behaviors depicted in her story, she doesn't endorse them either.
Save the frog
Chapter 1: First look
We are welcoming the juniors.
I'm the home room teacher for one of the eleventh grade classes, and I like it very much.
Teaching is my passion. I share it with my sister, and even though we live far away from each other now, we speak on the phone every day and we can't stop talking about our job. I miss Rosalie, but I know it's no accident that I found myself teaching here. I'm here for a reason; I just don't know yet what that reason is.
To me, each student is unique. I'm proud to know that I'm leading them toward success, though some of the students can be challenging.
I find the challenge even more motivating. I talk a lot with my friend Edward about this. He's teaching biology and we share the same philosophy about education. You guide but you don't force, you suggest but you let the student act. You instill the love and thirst for knowledge. Edward is in Seattle, but we call each other very often. I miss him; we went to college and roomed together. We laughed a lot, but we wanted to change the world, too.
He's single and feels lonely, the same way I do.
Going back to school is even more important to me than usual this year.
I need something new in my life.
I used to be in a long distance relationship with Maria, a young woman I met while visiting my family in Texas. I was with her for a year before I realized she was already in a relationship with another man.
I put an end to this fake romance six weeks ago and, though it hurt at first, mostly it was hard for my ego and not much else. I realize now that I wasn't really in love with her. It was more of a physical attraction and the need I had to not be alone. Now I see how I was searching for something that wasn't really there.
So I'm single again, but I'd rather stay alone than live that sort of lie. I'm 26 and I'm confident that one day I'll find the love of my life.
I'm not completely alone, anyway; I live with Seth, my dog, who is a wonderful companion.
But still, this year I want to throw myself, body and soul, into teaching.
I've been in the classroom for ten minutes and I've already spotted one of this year's challenge.
It's a girl, for a change - a tiny little thing, but she can't be missed.
She's sitting all by herself at the back of the room, dressed in a particularly eccentric way even by high school standards.
She's wearing a short, puffy black tutu-like skirt made of tulle, a black t-shirt with holes in it, and one long black and grey polka-dot sock and one with black and grey stripes. And, of course, she's wearing Doc Martens; they've been the symbol of disaffected youth since I was in high school. Her dark hair is tousled in all directions. She's wearing a huge silver skull and crossbones chain on her neck and gothic make up; her lips are painted black and her eyes are smoky with kohl. She reminds me of a raccoon, actually.
Despite all of this, she's beyond beautiful.
She sits in silence, arms crossed, a scowl on her face, but her eyes are betraying her. They are an utter chasm of anguish.
I watch her surreptitiously. She seems indifferent, and that's the worst sign.
Rebellious and angry students are still with us; it's easier to put them back on track.
But this girl is way past the stage of rebellion and anger.
At the end of this first lesson, she looks up and our eyes meet.
She holds my gaze for a few seconds before she looks down again, with an expression of displeasure on her face.
She's the first one to leave the classroom.
I don't even know her name yet.
But it's a small high school and a bunch of teachers are from Forks. I ask Tanya Denali. "Tanya, do you know who this kid is: gothic, very short and tiny with black spiky hair? Looks like a pixie?"
She wrinkles her nose. "Oh yes! She's here? She's wasting her time! Her name is Alice Brandon. Her mother's a whore – off the record, of course – and her step-father is a drug dealer. As you can imagine, she's got quite a reputation because of it. I don't know her personally, but I'm afraid she doesn't have much of a chance."
I frown. I don't believe in predetermined paths for these kids.
Take me for instance. My dad wanted me in the military, but I became a social studies teacher because that's what I wanted to do.
Tanya has a way of making me feel doubtful with her own convictions.
Looking at her, one could think she's a young, dynamic, kind teacher but in fact she's a real bitch.
But now that I know the name of my student, I'm going to take a look at her file.
She just turned 16 in June.
I feel a lump building in my throat as I read her file more carefully. Her mother, Victoria Brandon, is officially surviving on welfare, but rumor has it that she's actually working as a hostess, which is another way to say that she's a prostitute.
Alice was taken from her five times by social services between the age of three months and ten years, but given back every time after a few weeks or months. Every time she was removed from the home it was because social services suspected negligence.
Through it all, the girl never denounced her mother.
For the last 4 years, the mother has been living with James Tracker, a petty criminal with a shitty past as a drug addict who did 5 years for drug dealing. He moved with Alice's mother one month after he was out of jail; they live in a mobile home near the town limits.
I take a look at her report cards. They're not bad at all. Clearly, Alice is far from stupid, though she has a very high absentee rate. And the teachers' comments make me wince:
"Alice is always exhausted; she sleeps during class. She must not sleep well at night!"
"Alice still doesn't have a calculator."
"Alice can't participate in gym with her worn-out sneakers."
Reports from the school nurse and social worker describe Alice as abnormally small and skinny. They suspect she's suffering from malnutrition. In other words, she's not being fed enough.
But there's nothing in the records that implies delinquency.
I clench my fists. No, Ms. Denali, Alice Brandon isn't condemned to become a whore like her mother, and I'll do all that's in my power to prevent it.
Anger is igniting my resolve. Based on the little information I have, Alice is intelligent. If she's willing, there's no reason she can't succeed and have a bright future.
Forks' high school.
It's not really different from my former school, except I don't know the students. And I don't know the teachers either.
I hope to find the anonymity I'm craving.
The school bus makes a last stop where I get off.
My backpack's not that heavy, but the straps are hurting my shoulders.
I start walking down the road to my house and sigh when I see the mobile home.
There's an unfamiliar car parked in front of the door, which means my mom must be working.
James' car is nowhere to be found, though.
With a little luck, my mother will be done before he comes back and she'll give me the money from the trick so I can buy the stuff I need most for school.
So I sit on a plastic chair and wait for the guy to leave.
I muse about my social studies teacher.
He's yet another one who believes that he can change the world. He's so transparent in that regard.
He's going to annoy me, I'm pretty sure of it.
He's handsome, kind, brilliant. He's the whole package. And his Southern accent makes him even sexier. He must be from Texas or a nearby state. His drawl is funny; it gives him an almost old-fashioned edge.
I wonder if he's married. He probably has kids with blue eyes and blond curls just like him.
I'm sure he's got a perfect life - the kind I'll never have, with a real house, a dog, good meals at regular hours, books, and everything he needs to make life easier.
I get to live in a crappy mobile home with a crazy mom and a despicable step-dad.
I just want to get away. I want to go to L.A. When I'm 18, I'm out of here.
I'll become a costume designer in Hollywood. I already have tons of sketches, and billions more ideas.
I learned how to sew years ago. I had to do it all by myself but I did it nonetheless. That's what matters.
I recycle the material where I can find it, so for now I make clothes only for me and my teddy bear.
But one day - one day I'll design costumes, and perhaps I'll even work for Angelina Jolie.
Then I'll send money to my mom so she can stop turning tricks, and kick James' ass out of our lives.
The door opens and I jump. I know the guy who's coming out of the place; he comes here from time to time. But he changed his car.
He smiles at me. He's not mean. I'm pretty sure he's got a wife and kids waiting for him somewhere.
I smile back; I learned to never upset my mother's clients.
He must be in a good mood because he asks me how I'm doing.
"I'm good, thank you. I started my junior year today."
He pats me on the cheeks and makes sure that my mom is not watching, "This is for you, but don't tell anyone. I guess it's not always easy for you." And he hands me a $20 bill.
I'm kind of stunned.
I thank him, almost expecting that he wants something from me in return. But no, he's leaving.
I go inside our mobile home.
My mom is smoking a cigarette, uncaring. But she finally asks, "So, you had a good day?"
"Yeah, I did. I have a list of things I need to buy…"
"A lot of things?" It seems catastrophic to her.
"Well yeah, you could say that…"
I hand her the list.
"Pfff, all that? What's wrong with those people? They think money grows on trees?"
I say nothing.
My mom learned the hard way that she can't win against the school. So now she does everything she can to keep a low profile.
She sighs and hands me some bills. "Take this and go buy what you need."
I grab the 50 dollars that she's offering, put my backpack down on my bed, and take a honey bun from the cupboard.
I run all the way down the road, hoping not to see James. But it's my lucky day and I get to the main road without any fuss.
I have half an hour of walking ahead of me to get to the supermarket, but still I'm elated.
I've got $70 to spend on my school supplies! For once I might have all I need to start the school year.
I jump upon hearing a horn.
It's the town's police chief. He parks his car on the roadside and I get in. We know each other quite well.
"Hi Alice, are you doing well?"
"Yes, and you?"
"Fine. Where are you headed?"
"To the supermarket to buy my school supplies"
"It's exciting when everything is brand new, isn't it?"
He stops in front of the store and, without looking at me, hands me a bill.
"Take this, Alice. You're a good kid. Come on, you deserve it!"
He, too, gave me a $20 bill. He does that on a regular basis because he knows my mother and James. But Chief Swan is careful not to upset me. When he gives me money, I don't get the feeling he's pitying me and giving me charity. No, it pleases him as much as it pleases me and he doesn't hide it.
Time and again he has told me about his own daughter, who he sees only once a year. She's my age and her name is Bella. I can't deny that I envy that girl… Chief Swan spoke about her during interrogations, when he was trying to get me to give evidence that James or my mom were not suitable parents. But still.
I know he loves his daughter, and he has a sweet spot for me too, somehow. I don't have a father, but if I had one, I'd like it be Chief Swan. When I'm out of here, he's the only one to whom I'll tell my whereabouts.
I take my time to choose my school supplies. I get plain notebooks because I intend to customize them with nice pictures cut out from magazines.
I can't resist a beautiful fountain pen. And I can buy a pair of sneakers!
I wince as I exit the store. I spent a lot of time in there; now it's late and I still have a long way to walk home.
I start down the main road, constantly switching hands to hold my bag because it's damn heavy.
A car pulls up beside me; I turn my head, positive I'm going to see Chief Swan again.
But it's not him.
Stunned, I recognize my social studies teacher!
He gets out of his car and looks me straight in the eyes. I remain on guard, though I only read honesty and patience in his stare.
"Hello, Alice, you know who I am, don't you?"
"Do you want a ride? You have too much to carry all by yourself."
I want to say no, because I don't want him to see that thing I live in. But my bag is so heavy.
Then again I have my pride.
But my bag is really heavy, and I do have a long way to go. And my bag is killing me…
So I shrug, "Yeah, thanks."
I get in his car. It's a black BMW and it's very clean. It's a nice change from James' wreck which reeks of the wet dog and is filled with trash.
The social studies teacher is a very good driver. He steers and shifts gears gracefully.
It smells good in his car; I'm sure it's his cologne. It's a masculine and bewitching scent.
"Where do you live, Alice?"
I come back from my thoughts. "Oh… about two miles down the road there's an intersection. You can just take me there."
I stay silent.
"Did you have a good time, shopping in town?"
"Yes, very good."
My heart starts beating faster; I don't know why. I glance at the car's interior. Luxury is a beautiful thing, and I feel envious.
I hate dirt and disorder, so I add this to my list. When I'm a costume designer in Hollywood, I'm going to buy myself a black BMW. Exactly like this one.
A quick glance behind allows me to see there's no child's car seat installed.
I brush the leather of the seat with the tip of my finger.
He turns on the radio and the interior is filled with a jazzy melody. I don't feel well, and I can't wait to be home.
I can't help watching his hands. He's got beautiful hands: large, strong, but with long thin fingers. His hands are smooth and his nails are neat and clean.
I shake myself when he slows down. "Here, Alice?"
I get out in haste and I turn to look at him straight in the eyes. "Thanks again."
He smiles at me and I feel my mouth go dry.
"You're welcome. See you tomorrow."
I make my way to the mobile home. James is there but, fortunately, he doesn't notice me when I come in.
I put the bag of supplies under my bed.
I stay in my room, and I take my notebooks and other things out one by one. I decorate my notebooks. I paste pictures on them - some funny, some not.
The prettiest notebook is green and red and decorated with pictures of trees and a huge red heart in the center.
I'm going to use it for social studies.
My mom and James are yelling at each other, but I pay no attention.
When everything is quiet again, around 11p.m., I go quietly to the kitchen and open the cabinet. I take what I can find: bread, grape preserve, a banana, and some chocolate.
I eat sitting cross-legged on my bed, then I take a shower, as quietly as possible.
I pick my clothes out for tomorrow. Very tight black pants, a long t-shirt with red and grey stripes. My Doc Martens and my skull and crossbones necklace.
I load my backpack, then I lie down. It's been my lucky day.
Mom gave me money, and so did her client and Chief Swan. I had enough to buy everything I needed for school.
I barely saw James, and he slapped me only once this morning. I didn't have to walk home.
My heart races and I try to stop thinking about my ride home.
But when I close my eyes, waiting to fall asleep, the picture of my social studies teacher resurfaces in my mind.
His blond curls, his blue eyes - so bright, so kind. His well-shaped mouth. And his fingers, his gorgeous hands.
I can't hold it anymore and I slide my hand between my thighs.
I caress myself slowly, single-mindedly, and when the orgasm sets me free, I bite my pillow, imagining my teacher's long fingers instead of mine on my burning core.
Tears are burning my eyes, but I don't cry.
I never cry.
Tell me what you think of this fiction/translation so far; I like to hear from you, and I'm sure miss malone will be happy too.
Thank you Starking for beta-ing on such short notice. A huge thanks to Ms. Del Vechio too. Better late than never.