Silence is golden.
The thing that makes us humans different from animals is, among other things, our communication skills. Humans communicate and interact in a manner of different ways. Scientists all acknowledge the importance of body language, facial expressions, and expressions of happiness, sadness or anger. We have developed a way of communication through writing, texting, emailing, even singing. But the one thing that all academics and scientists agree on as the most important type of interaction that is integral to a stable and normal life is through the medium of speech. It has been estimated that there is at least 250,000 words in use in the English language allowing us to construct an infinite amount of sentences through which we can express a variety of feelings thoughts and ideas. Children are encouraged to speak their mind, psychologists swear by the art of talking about ones feelings. Talking must therefore be vital correct?
Why then would one not speak? How would one exist in a life of silence of isolation and frustration? Maybe no one would choose such an existence. Maybe it was simply thrust upon them. A defence mechanism to protect themselves. Possibly? I can't say for sure if I even have the ability to speak, I don't remember ever uttering a word in my life. Most around me voiced only necessities. But that's expected when a word could cause your life to come to an abrupt and painfully early end. It sounds extreme but I've seen in happen too many times during my existence to be tempted to speak. When your life is not your own, and your master can end your life at his discretion, it's best to stay quiet and keep out of the way. That's what my mother used to whisper to me every morning before we left the slave quarters "Isabella, just stay quiet and keep out of the way". And that's what I do – stayed silent and as keep out of the way as much as I could whilst still performing my duties. I'd learnt to acknowledge my superiors with a small, polite curtsy or a nod or shake of my head if a response was necessary. It was safer. But no amount of silence could protect me from my clumsiness. The other slaves had learnt early on to not let me carry a lot of things, expensive things...pretty much anything in front of the masters because I was likely to drop it, cause a mess and cause myself and another one or two of the slaves a good beating.
I was very used to my life, I embraced and accepted my fate. I know others that didn't, and they died. I worked for a very powerful man named Aro. I would explain his profession, but I'm not entirely sure, we weren't really allowed to know – an informed and educated slave is a dangerous one – they get ideas of a different life. And eventually die. I was the youngest slave in the compound born into this life rather than captured, bought or tricked, like all others. My mother had been a purchased slave and as a pretty and weak woman, she was often raped by a guard. I was a by-product of one of my mother's horrific encounters and for a reason unbeknown to myself or my mother, I was allowed to keep my life, the guard was not. My mother said she'd thought of killing me herself on several occasions to save me from what master had planned. She'd tell me of her ideas of infanticide but wouldn't tell me what Aro had planned for me. Maybe she didn't know. She died before she had a chance to tell me. The master's lover, Jayne caught my mother eating and she was killed that evening as an example. She should have known better. Slaves were not allowed to eat in front of the masters. It was disrespectful and disobedient, the food was not ours. We could eat if there were left-overs available in our commune before daylight, and at night once our work was complete there's always be a watery tasteless stew. I'd accepted the monotony of the terrified feeling and the silence, I day dreamed of the moment my suffering would end and I could join my mother in heaven.
I thought that day had come recently when as I was carrying the dried washing back into the huge manor house and my master yelled my name, his gruff voice echoing through the house. "Isabella" he screamed, his harsh indicating to me that he was not going to patiently await my arrival. I'd have to run. I dropped the washing in the doorway to the pantry, and ran to the spacious living room, where I guessed he'd be as he always read at this hour on one of the comfortable looking sofas. I slowed as I grew closer heart pumping a million miles an hour. Stepping into the room carefully watching my feet so that I wouldn't fall I held my breath, kept my head bowed and hands clasped together in front of me. "This is the girl Carlisle" Aro said once I stepped inside the room, to what a presumed was another man in the room, but I daren't look up to confirm my suspicions.
"She's awfully small" A smooth male voice commented, sounding unimpressed. I fidgeted slightly, uncomfortable at such attention. "How old is she?"
"Nearly sixteen" Aro replied, surprising me at his knowledge.
"Well I'll need an ID card saying she's sixteen, in case anyone asks. It wouldn't be good for business if people knew I had a minor in my house." The other man replied stepping closer to me, I could see his feet now, he was wearing expensive looking black Italian shoes that squeaked on my clean floor. He took another step closer to me and instinctively I took one step away. He laughed and repeated the action until my back pressed up against the wall and I held my breath keeping my eyes downcast. "This will be fun. As always, a pleasure doing business with you Aro!" Carlisle said.
"I expect your cheque to clear no problem?" Aro prompted. Carlisle grunted his approval. "Are you going to take her now? Or come back for her"
Taking me? Taking me where I wondered in my head, panicking that my master was disposing of me...was he paying this Carlisle man to kill me? I looked up at my master, confused about what was going on, and momentarily forgot my place. I soon remembered when I saw Aro's face contort in anger. My eyes widened as he marched across the room towards me. He pushed his rough hand to my throat, slamming me against the wall and lifting me so my feet were off the floor thus cutting off my oxygen supply. "Did you just dare to look at me girl?" He demanded as a struggled to breathe. "How dare you, you insolent child!" he dropped me to the floor and my own hands flew to my neck gasping painfully for air, making sure to keep my eyes downcast. "Don't do it again" he demanded whacking me across the head. "Your new master might not be so lenient!" He said laughing. My heart beat quickened once more. He was getting rid of me? And my new master couldn't be worse could he?
"I wouldn't count on it" Carlisle said laughing, confirming my mental question. Aro joined him in the laughter. I swallowed, hard. Aro exchanged more words with this new man whilst I tried to not hyperventilate in the corner.
Soon it appeared that their business was complete and they bid one another farewell. Aro headed towards the door by which I was stood and took one big, intimidating step towards me to make me jump and squeak (one of my other annoying traits). He laughed and left the room wishing me luck, ironically the only decent sentiment he's ever wished upon me.
There was a long period of silence. I was breathing more naturally now and waited, twisting the hem of my once-white, now more greyish dress in my fingers nervously. I heard Carlisle take a seat, "So, Isabella is it?" He asked. I nodded. "Do you know who I am?" I looked up quickly to make sure I didn't before looking back down again, and shook my head, no. "I am Dr. Carlisle Cullen, I have just purchased you from Aro and therefore you will answer to me and my family from now on. I will be taking you back with me to Fawkes to my home where you will work until such time that I no longer find a use as a slave for you. Do you have belongings to collect?" he asked. I restrained from snorting at the ridiculousness of the question and simply shook my head. "Good, we can go."
And with that he stood from the couch and headed out the door. I hesitated, not knowing whether to leave or not, after all he hadn't specifically say to follow him. The sound of Dr Cullen clicking his fingers signalled to me that I should indeed go with him. I ran quickly to catch up, falling into step a respectful distance behind him. We left the warmth of the manor house and stepped into the chilly night air. I threw my arms around me to protect my bear arms from the harsh wind – the simple cotton dress I wore was not ideal for these winter months. Carlisle stepped towards a fancy looking, very shiny car and opened the door. I stopped next to him briefly glancing upwards, wondering what I was meant to do. He nodded towards the leathery seat within. I didn't like the idea of getting in a car with a man I'd never seen before, but I had no choice. I quickly slid in and buckled myself in, pulling my long brown plaited hair free from the restraint and twisted the ends in my fingers, a comforting childhood habit. Carlisle got in the car and began to drive.
Without consciously thinking about it I stared at him, taking in the handsome features of my new master. His face was soft, friendly almost, but with a firm set jaw, and such blue eyes that looked terrifyingly aware of all that went on around him. His blonde hair was neatly smoothed back and stood out against his black suit. "Am I a picture Isabella?" He demanded, surprising me with his question. I shook my head, no: of course he wasn't a picture, what kind of question was that?
"No? Then please refrain from staring at me like I'm a goddamn piece of art work!" I snapped my head to the front immediately at his order, heart rate spiking. "That's better, be aware I accept no disrespect from my slaves, and nor do my sons. So mind your manners. I appreciate however that you are nervous and so we can ignore this one misdemeanour. I take it you want an explanation of what is going on?" He didn't wait for a response before continuing. "Unfortunately my previous slave had to be ...disposed of recently for not obeying my rules, and thus I found myself in need of a replacement. You are said replacement. You will be solely responsible for the domestic welfare and running of my house, including meal preparations. Understood?" this time he did pause for a response, so I nodded. "Good. If you work well and behave there should be no problems. But if you do not...there will be consequences. Your age, though admittedly not ideal is not an excuse for mistakes. Oh and you will not only be serving me, but my three teenage sons too."
At this piece of information I looked at him again shocked. I'd never dealt with or even seen people my own age, much less boys. Virtually all the slaves at Aro's house were female, save for one or two much older mal, hard labour slaves.
He glanced at me before saying "You will treat them the same way you treat me, make no mistake if you disrespect them, I will find out and you will be punished... Manners!" He finished sharply, reminding me that I should not stare. Mentally I cursed myself and faced the front window once more. "We're going to be in this car an awful long time Isabella; you might want to get some sleep. Get comfortable".
At his command I wriggled into a more comfortable position and closed my eyes, feigning sleep. With all the changes, there was no way I could sleep; I had too much to think about. But after a while, the gentle rumble of the engine and Dr Cullen's humming drifted me off to sleep. Fear is an exhausting emotion.
I awoke suddenly as I heard the slam of a door. My eyes flew open as I realised we were stationary and I sat up looking to my left... The driver's seat where Dr. Cullen had been was empty. I started to panic, where was he? Did he expect me to have gone with him? Unexpectedly my car door opened immersing me in the bright sunlight. Hadn't it been dusk when I'd fallen to sleep? Dr Cullen cleared his throat, making it aware he wanted me out of the car. I tried to unbuckle my seatbelt in a hurry, not wanting to keep my new master waiting any longer than he already had, but panicking made my hands shake and fumble, making it impossible for me to let me self out. Dr Cullen sighed beside me and bent down, leaning inside the car. I automatically froze, terrified at his sudden proximity to me. I leant back against the seat and closed my eyes waiting for a blow to come to my head. But none did. Dr Cullen simply undid the buckle and stepped away. I opened my eyes and looked up at him again and he clicked his fingers pointing to the space beside him, clearly having lost his patience. I jumped and hurried to get out of the car, cursing myself as I caught my foot under the seat and fell out the car, tumbling at master's feet. I pulled my knees beneath me and knelt up. Dr Cullen sighed and grabbed my shoulder, hauling me off the ground and onto my feet. I swayed as he set me on the ground from a sudden head rush. "Are you always this clumsy?" he demanded, tiredness in his voice. I shrugged and nodded, looking down at the ground. He chuckled. "At least you're honest."
He started walking away from me, I looked up to see where I was going and gasped at the building before me. A beautiful modern building stood out from the trees and woodland which surrounded it. The glass windows stretched from the bottom floor up to the third. It was breathtaking. I waited a moment taking in the building that I presumed was his house. "Don't make me click my fingers Isabella; I'd rather not develop arthritis because of you!" He snapped not looking back at me as he continued towards the beautiful front door of the house. I jumped and took the explicit hint and followed him quickly inside the now opened door.
I brushed my feet carefully on the matt and noticed the dark wooden floor. Oak perhaps? I took a sneaky look at the surroundings. The house appeared to be open plan, with a large living area and dining area which hosted a beautiful white piano. All the walls were covered with shelves of books, and the sofas were a beautiful white leather.
"Boys!" Dr. Cullen bellowed up the stair case, causing me to flinch. I held my breath as two large figures made their way down the stairs. "Isabella, these are my eldest two, Emmett and Jasper. Boys, this is Isabella, the new girl." I nodded and dipped a small curtsy to ensure my young masters would not think me rude for ignoring them.
"Uh...hi!" came a loud voice that made me tremble. He stepped towards me with his hand outstretched and I panicked, wrapping my arms round me to protect myself from the hit I was expected. "Jeez I just wanted to shake your hand! Calm down, I'm Emmett." He taller guy said. I slowly brought my arms down, feeling my cheeks flame with embarrassment. "That's Jasper" He said nodding in the direction of his brother, who stood leaning against the stair case, his blonde curly hair framing his face which hosted an angry expression. I wondered what I'd done to anger him already. I looked down and away from them quickly, hoping it wasn't my rudeness.
A silence followed the awkward meeting before Dr. Cullen told me he would show me to my room. I followed him silently up two flights of grand looking stairs to what I presumed was the top floor. I looked around the house quickly and discreetly as we went as he pointed out each of the rooms' purpose. The final door we came to was white. He took the handle in his palm and twisted the knob until it opened then he stepped aside and motioned for me to go in before him. I stepped into the cream coloured room which boasted a double bed in the centre, a desk, a wardrobe and a chest of draws. "You'll find sufficient clothing in the dressers, and the bathroom is through there, use it. I expect dinner on the table at six thirty every night, and for you to be up at six in the morning every day unless told otherwise. Understand?" he asked. I nodded, memorising the time. He headed to the door then paused, "I'm sure the five of us will get on just fine. Get settled in for the night and I will see you in the morning." With that, he shut the door, leaving me in my solitude to think.
The bright, spacious room was alien to me - I'd shared a dorm with six other slaves at Aro's place. Now I was on my own completely. I sat down on the bed and smiled at as it sunk comfortably. I lay my head on the pillow exhausted and listened. It was utter silence. At least something was familiar.
The beeping of the alarm clock woke me from my slumber. I sat up and looked down at myself, realising I'd fallen asleep on top of the covers still in my dress. I got up and stepped lightly across the room to the door Dr Cullen had said led to the bathroom. Tentatively I pulled the door open and peeked inside. Everything was white and clean. I gasped when I noticed the shower and rushed to turn it on, desperate to clean the dirt off me. I pulled off my dress and underwear and kicked them into a pile in the corner of the room and darted into the steaming shower. The pellets of boiling water danced onto my skin soothingly, massaging the knots in my shoulders and neck out. I leant back and poured some heavily scented shampoo into my hand smiling. We'd never had luxuries like this at my old master's house. We bathed under a hose and used dish soap to clean ourselves. Maybe this place wouldn't be so bad. After what felt like much to shorter time, I stepped out of the shower and dried myself off with the most beautifully soft towel. I caught the reflection of my back in the mirror and winced, I had several recent welts that had clearly started to get infected, beneath them, scars of old wounds crisscrossed by back making it very ugly. I turned away – not wanting to look at it anymore and continued to dry myself off. When I was dry and I'd brushed out my hair and plaited it again, I emerged from the bathroom and headed to the wardrobe where Dr Cullen had said there were clothes for me. I opened the wardrobe surprised to find an abundance of clothing ranging from simple tshirts, dresses and skirts to jeans jumpers and party dresses. As I pulled a simple floral patterned dress from the wardrobe I wondered why I would have been given a party dress. I slipped the dress over my head and was sad to see it didn't quite fit – my frame too small for the straps. I tied little knots in them and inspected myself in the mirror, even I could tell I was too skinny, too pale and too small for my age I turned away, glum and left my room heading for the kitchen to prepare breakfast.
As I stepped quietly into the room I found Dr Cullen already there, seated on a stool, large news paper in hand. He looked at me over the top of the paper. "Good morning, you look better after that shower." He told me, I nodded – definitely feeling cleaner. He looked at his watch then back at me. The boys will be down for breakfast in fifteen minutes, they can be quite picky about what they eat, so I suggest you just wait and ask them what they would like before making anything. I nodded slowly, wondering how on earth I was going to ask them anything! "Whilst you're waiting you can make us some coffee. Do yourself a cup too, you look tired still."
I sipped the coffee I made for Dr Cullen trying not to gag, I'd never had it before and I did not like the bitter taste, but I'd been told to drink it so I did. I stood in the corner with it, nervously waiting for the boys to come downstairs. I still hadn't met one of them, and I wasn't looking forward to it if he was anything like his big and scary brothers. I didn't have long to wait before the boys bustled down the stairs and into the kitchen.
"Mornin' Dad!" The one named Emmett bellowed cheerfully, "Hi again Isabella!" I didn't move but nodded in greeting.
"Morning son, you guys hungry?" Dr Cullen asked folding his paper and putting it down.
"Aren't I always?" Emmett asked chuckling and making his way to the fridge.
"Wait son, Isabella can get your breakfast!" Dr. Cullen reminded him, hearing my name I put the coffee cup I was holding down as my hands began to shake. I could tell all three of them were looking at me, silent stares in my direction. "Go on Isabella, ask them." Dr. Cullen demanded. I kept my head down: my mother's words: keep quiet circling around my head. "Isabella..." His voice had that warning tone, and he began to rise from his seat. I began to shake. "Ask my sons what they would like for breakfast."
I looked up at the boys nervously, trying to hold in my fear; I begged them with my eyes to tell me what they wanted to eat so I wouldn't have to speak. I opened my mouth to make some form of noise but nothing came out.
Emmett seemed to be unable to take the tension and said quickly, saving me, "Well I'll take a bacon sandwich..."
I wave of relief swept over me and I smiled a little nodding, I was about to move to fulfil his request when Dr. Cullen spoke again.
"No, I want to hear her say it." He said, narrowing his eyes at me, rounding the table. I didn't know what else to do other than look down and shake my head. "Are you refusing? Are you disobeying me already?" He demanded loudly, stepping closer. This time I felt it was important to look at him and shake my head quickly, desperately imploring him to not think of me as disobedient. "Then speak. Speak Isabella – ask my sons what they want. NOW!" He yelled. I squeaked and flinched cowering in the corner, expecting a physical punishment as my angry master stepped terrifyingly closer to me and raising his hand.
"Stop Dad!" an unfamiliar voice said loudly, I opened my eyes some and saw his other son; Jasper had stepped towards his father... "Isabella? Can you speak?" he asked. I looked away blushing, and slowly shook my head embarrassed, scared and confused, I'd never been demanded to speak, this was very strange to me.
"Oh." Dr. Cullen said simply. "Aro never told me that, though I suppose he never thought to ask you." He reached out to me and I flinched again, so he pulled his hand away looking a bit offended. "We can work on that..." He said picking up his paper once more. "Right kids, I'm off. Keep an eye out for Isabella, and warn Edward..." he looked at me and said "Behave" before departing.
There was blissful silence in the room once again for a moment before Emmett reminded me of his bacon sandwich and I hurried to the fridge to get the ingredients out. Jasper helpfully said he'd take one also, so I made two.
"Are you not having one?" Emmett asked as I nervously held out the plates to them. I shook my head, surprised he'd ask. He laughed "More for me then I guess." I nodded and turned back to the kitchen to clean my mess up.
The boys sat at the kitchen table eating whilst they watched me which made me very nervous indeed. I cleaned as best and as quickly as I could, taking their plates from them and washing them too, before standing back in the corner, out of the way, unsure what to do with myself now. A car horn beeped loudly from outside, and I jumped. Jasper left his seat, announcing that their ride was there and left the room. Emmett hung back which made me nervous.
"Look kid, just make sure the house is clean yeah? And the food's cooked. And stay out of Edward's way and you'll be fine ok?" He said quietly advising me on how best to survive my time it their home. I nodded eyes down cast. I heard him sigh as he left the room.
I sighed myself once they'd left, I was alone and therefore couldn't inadvertently anger someone during my first day. I tentatively took myself on a tour around the house. It was the same size as Aro's I figured, only a lot nicer, and a lot less slaves to maintain it. Curiosity led me up the stairs and a brief look around each other bedrooms, feeling safe to do so as I was alone. I smiled to myself feeling rebellious. The last bedroom I stepped into was such a mess like I'd never seen before. As I stepped further into the room I wondered who's it was as all the other rooms had been relatively tidy. This room would take me hours to tidy. And clean. On the desk on the far side of the room I spotted a photograph inside a beautiful glass frame. Having to jump over piles of clothes and books to get to it, I made my way to the desk to take a better look at the photo to ease my curiosity of to whom the bedroom belonged. I didn't recognise the people in the photo. Both boys in the picture were tall and muscle, one very tan with black hair and a massive grin, the other less tan and lighter hair, after closer inspection I realised the second boy had a similar jaw to master, he must be the third son, Edward. I smiled at his beauty. His eyes shined so brightly they drew my attention to him straight away. I smiled at the boys in the photo, they looked very happy.
I heard a noise behind me and span around to face someone.
"Who are you?" He demanded angrily and loudly. "What what are you doing in my room?"