I've had this idea kicking around for awhile and thought I would give it a shot. I'm a huge angst h00r and wanted to try my hand at it.
This is a subject that is near and dear to my heart. I hope you like it.
This is rated mature for future chapters.
Special thanks to my beta, Mullet86 for agreeing to help me with another story.
Bella- 15 yrs old.
"Ok, now turn around and show me the back." I dutifully gave a quick twirl, allowing my Aunt Janet to see if the yellow party dress I was currently modeling satisfactorily hid my giant butt and wide hips. "It's perfect." She announced clapping her hands and smiling at me. I turned back to the mirror. I don't think I would have used the word 'perfect' to describe anything having to do with me but I was pleasantly surprised at how nice the dress looked. It had a tapered waist that hid my stomach, showing off my waist and was long enough to hide my chunky thighs. The neck line wasn't plunging by any means, but it gave a hint of cleavage and the cap sleeves hid my arm fat.
"You're beautiful Bella. The boys won't know what hit them. I'm going to go pay for the dress. You get changed. We'll need to hurry home so you can get ready. Have you given any thought to how you'll wear your hair? I think a loose bun with curls around your face would be beautiful." Her petite hands twisted my dull brown hair into the style she was describing.
"See? It's lovely." I looked into the mirror. The hairstyle was very feminine and made my neck look slender. It also gave the illusion that I actually had cheek bones under the pudginess of my face.
"No. I want to wear it down." As much as I liked the way I looked with that hairstyle, I reminded myself that he liked my hair down, loose and wavy.
"OK, sweetheart, whatever you prefer." Aunt Janet didn't try to talk me into it or demand that I give into her superior fashion sense. She just gave my shoulders a quick squeeze, smiling at me once more in the mirror before rushing out of the dressing room.
And that's why I loved her. She didn't push.
Aunt Janet was the mother I wish I had. Someone who accepted that I wasn't going to wear short skirts with Ugg boots just because some anorexic model in a magazine said I should. No. Aunt Janet accepted me the way I was. Sure she was the epitome of fashion. Always dressed to the hilt and could give Miss Manners a run for her money on any day ending in Y. And she was determined that she passed on those traits to her son and by default, me. But she never forced an issue. She always led by example. It didn't matter how someone else was dressed, how they acted or where they lived. She used to tell me that you couldn't choose where you came from, or whether you grew up in a mobile home or a castle. But you could choose how you treated people. And everyone deserved to be treated with the same respect and courtesy as you would treat a Queen or King.
My mother Renee, by contrast was nothing like Aunt Janet. While she too was always dressed to the hilt and polite, somehow it always felt faked. And her demeanor would change dramatically depending on where she perceived you to be on the social ladder. If you were above her, she was all compliments and smiles. If you were below her, she was insulting, short and rude. You can imagine where an overweight daughter landed on that ladder.
I shook off the thought of my mother before it ruined my day and did one more twirl in the mirror. I smiled thinking I'd never thought I'd looked pretty before. I wasn't crazy enough to think it was just the dress that had changed my attitude. I knew it was the reason I was wearing a dress that made me happy.
Grudgingly I took off the dress and put back on my baggy jeans and t-shirt. In spite of my now frumpy attire, I smiled again. Tonight I was going to the 'End of Summer' dance on the arm of Edward Cullen. My best friend for the last three summers and the boy I had an all consuming crush on for the last two. I hugged the dress to my chest and sighed. For the first time in my life I couldn't wait to have people look at me.
Chapter 1- Return to Forks
When I was 13 years old my mother and I agreed that it would be in both of our best interests if I spent some time with my dad. We came to this agreement after a three hour screaming fight.
She wanted to enroll me in an all summer 'Character Enrichment' camp, which after looking at the brochure I came to realize was code for 'fat camp'. I refused and a tantrum ensued. I wasn't upset over the fact that the camp was designed to teach me how to manage my weight. The truth was, I needed to lose about 15 -30 pounds and had been unsuccessful in all of my previous attempts.
No, it was the fact that two years prior to our epic battle, my mother had gone and married a man 12 years her junior. Phil was a right fielder for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Their marriage had catapulted her into a whole new social stratosphere where country club dances, spa lunches and afternoons at the stadium were not a choice but a lifestyle demand. I didn't fit into that lifestyle. As much as my mother tried to fit her round daughter into the svelte square hole, it just didn't work and she had subsequently decided that she'd much rather travel the country with him and his pro baseball teammates, than stay home and take care of her frumpy daughter.
I wasn't good enough for my mother and her friends. So I was being pushed aside, pawned off if you will, and I didn't like it.
Not that I was surprised that my mother would prefer the company of young, gorgeous and physically perfect men to her overweight child who hid in her room reading books instead of being outside in the sweltering heat of the Arizona sun. But I was still mad about it.
So, at 13 years old I found myself on a plane heading from my home in sunny, dry Phoenix to spend the summer with my dad in cloudy, wet Forks, Washington. Could I have found a bigger extreme to plunk myself down into? I doubted it.
I'd been born in Forks and lived there until my mom left my father when I was a baby but I'd only spent a handful of days there over the past 10 years. Forks had never been 'home' and Charlie had never been 'dad'. I now had three months in the Pacific Northwest to get myself reacquainted with Forks and Charlie. For propriety sake, my mother had decided that I would come home after the summer and return to Phoenix for school. While she could tell her country club friends that her decision to travel with Phil for the summer was because she would be so lonely without me, she would have a much harder time explaining my absence when school started. No, as much as she wished I wouldn't come back, she didn't like how that would appear to her friends.
And appearances were paramount to Renee.
"Charlie, there she is!" I heard my father's name and I lifted my head and turned towards the sound.
"Bella!" The sound of my name being yelled across the terminal made my skin crawl.
Dear God, please strike me down. Kill me now. Please let there be another Bella on the flight. One that didn't mind attention being drawn to her by an over exuberant aunt. My eyes quickly scanned the sparse arrival area of the Port Angeles International Airport looking for another Bella.
No such luck. I slumped my shoulders forward, praying that my face would stay hidden within the lengths of my dull brown hair, and trudged towards the sound of my aunt's voice.
"Bella! We're over here sweetie!"
Please don't look. Please don't look.
As if I needed more proof that God was not partial to 13 yr old fat girls, the 15 people standing in the small airport all turned towards the noise. And stood witness to my embarrassment. I inwardly cringed at the thought of attention being drawn to me.
"Bella, Bella over here!" I gave a half wave in acknowledgement to the couple waiting at the baggage claim area. I recognized my father immediately. His stereotypical cop moustache was easily recognizable and the petite brunette standing next to him with the huge smile was my Aunt Janet. Unable to wait for me to finish the 15 foot trek over to where they stood, she came bounding over and immediately enveloped me into a tight hug.
"We're so happy to see you." "Did you have a good flight?" "Are you hungry?" The questions came at me in rapid succession.
"Janet, give the girl a minute to breathe." My father proceeded to extract me from my overly friendly aunt. She relinquished her hold on me but didn't stray far.
"How have you been kiddo?" He asked, giving me a brief squeeze.
"Good." I answered with a weak smile. Despite this man being responsible for half of my DNA, and judging from the slight paunch he was hiding underneath his cop shirt, more specifically he was responsible for my slow metabolism, I didn't really know him.
"It's been a while. It's good to see you." I nodded in agreement at his words.
"Well, let's grab your bags and get this show on the road." Charlie clapped his hands together, turned and motioned towards the baggage carousel.
I hadn't spent a lot of time with my dad but I remembered and always appreciated that he didn't mince words or waste time with unnecessary sentiment.
I was surprised to see two boys stepping over to my dad. Where did they come from?
Aunt Janet walked over and put her arm around a lanky blond boy. "You remember your cousin Jasper don't you?" She pushed him forward a bit. He looked up under a shaggy mane of dirty blond bangs and gave me a half smile.
"Hey." He gave a barely perceptible nod of his head.
"Hey." I nodded back to him. This was the boy who used to call me 'Smella Bella'? And who at our last meeting cut all the hair off my Secret Dream Barbie in a fit of 10 yr old male anger?
I quickly checked him out. He didn't look a lot different. He was still thin and needed a haircut. I was not a fan of boys with messy or shaggy hair. Honestly, I wasn't a fan of boys no matter how they wore their hair. The adolescent males in my old school took teasing and harassing to a new level of awful. I tended to avoid boys at all costs.
I probably outweighed him by 30 pounds.
That's just great I thought. Nothing like being reminded that I'm huge to make my day a bit brighter. He had thesame color blue eyes that his dad, my Uncle Mark had and he still shyly looked down when he spoke. Something we had in common. I wondered if he ever got to where he could throw a football. He hated that I could throw one with not only superior strength but accuracy.
"Hi. I'm Emmett!"Before I could continue contemplating Jasper's lack of athleticism, I was knocked out of my silent reverie when a bear cub masquerading as a teenage boy stepped forward, pushing Jasper off to the side and grabbing my hand in a tight grip. He was wide where Jasper was thin and taller than my cousin. He had dark brown, almost black wavy hair and warm hazel eyes. He looked all cute and cuddly and like a bear cub there was the underlying threat that he could do some serious damage if he wanted too.
"I'm a friend of Jasper's." He told me as he grabbed my hand in his two giant paws and proceeded to vigorously pump my hand up and down, giving me a huge smile. Good grief, the boy had dimples the size of moon craters. Despite my normal habit of resisting eye contact with all humans, I couldn't help but give him a small smile back. Who could resist dimples on a bear?
"Emmett, let the girl go." My dad's amused voice rang out.
The boy/bear let go of my hand and gave me a wide grin as he ambled over to the lone luggage carousel where Jasper gave him a quick nudge. I watched in amusement as Emmett immediately grabbed Jasper in a headlock.
It wasn't 30 seconds before a full wrestling match began. Emmet clearly had a weight advantage over my cousin but apparently Jasper was not opposed to fighting dirty. I watched as he stuck an elbow into Emmet's side causing the bear/boy to fall forward, thus loosening his grip on his prey. I couldn't help but laugh at their antics. Are all boys like that? I wondered. My experience with males was pretty limited to playground humiliation and lunchroom ridicule. I'd never been privy to their playful side. However, I was well acquainted with their cruel side.
Charlie chuckled and stepped in to separate them. "Boys, don't make me get out the handcuffs, again." They disentangled themselves laughing good naturedly and giving each other one more quick jab to each other's arms.
"You'll get used to them." I jumped at the sound of my aunt's voice. Damn, skinny people sure can move quietly.
"You'll be one of the guys in no time." I doubted her prediction but nodded anyway. She gave me another hug and pulled me over towards the carousel that was now spitting out luggage in short drivels. I saw my bags come careening out of the shoot and stepped forward.
"Those are mine." I pointed at the two non-descript grey duffels.
Jasper and Emmett both made a grab for the bags. Seemingly in an effort to try and beat the other to some sort of prize.
Once my bags were secure in the hands of the two boys, we walked out of Port Angeles International and headed towards a small parking lot.
The sky was overcast and the air was much cooler than I was used to. I zipped up my hoodie to avoid the chilly wind.
"A bit cooler than you're used to huh? You'll get used to it." I doubted Charlie's prediction. I shrugged my shoulders and followed him through the lot.
"We didn't think you'd want to be driven into town in my patrol car." My father said as he motioned towards a dark blue Chevy Tahoe parked at the curb.
"Yours?" I asked, pointing to the SUV. I'd never seen Charlie drive anything other than his patrol car.
"No." he laughed, rubbing his hand over the back of his neck. "It's Janet's. We, well, she thought you'd prefer a less public entrance into Forks."
I nodded gratefully and looked for my aunt. She was at the back of the truck trying to mind the boys and the luggage.
"Jasper Charles Hale, don't you dare throw that bag. There might be breakables in there. Emmett Michael Cullen, put the umbrella back. It's not a sword." I tried to hide my mirth as the little woman attempted to corral the two boys.
I hopped through the door Charlie opened for me and was immediately surrounded on both sides by Jasper and Emmett. Their bodies encroached on my space in the middle of the seat. I was not prepared to be so close to them. I immediately pulled my legs and arms in tighter to my body, attempting to make myself seem smaller. Yeah, that's really going to work Swan. I rolled my eyes.
Charlie got into the driver's seat with my aunt in the right seat. "Boys, don't crowd Bella." She voiced from her seat where she was checking her hair in the visor mirror. Emmett gave me a sly smile and scooted a couple of inches to the right. I wanted to smile back at him but years of trying to be invisible made me lower my eyes and look down at the floor.
I spent the next 45 minutes dodging random elbows and answering my aunt's rapid fire questions:
"Did you bring your swimsuit? We usually spend most of the summer out back in the pool."
"I'm not sure." Me in a swim suit? In front of strangers? Male strangers? Um, no, not gonna happen.
"Does any of the scenery look familiar?"
"Not really." I moved forward in my seat so I could look past Emmett and out the window at the lush greenery passing alongside the car. The tall pine trees and snow capped mountains were a sharp contrast to the brown and rocky landscape I was used to.
"Everything is so green. And wet." Well stated Captain Obvious.
Being from the Southwest, I wasn't used to the color of lush vegetation, always preferring the warm and soothing color of brown and tan to the harsh tones of green.
I leaned back into my seat and tried to relax as Aunt Janet continued her drive time oratory.
"Jasper, tell me you did not just lick Emmett's hand." I had no words for that except, yuck.
"We're going to barbeque tonight at the house. You're not a vegetarian are you?"
"No." Look at me. Do I look like someone who avoids cheeseburgers?
"What is that god awful smell?" The last question elicited a barrage of giggling from both boys. I could do nothing but cover my face with my hands in a fruitless effort to avoid the stench. Seriously, what do they feed these Forks boys, sauerkraut and liver?
"Charlie, do you smell that?" I could no longer contain my laughter and joined in with Jasper and Emmett.
"Alright you three what's so funny? Charlie, I think there might be something wrong with the car. That smell is getting worse." Aunt Janet rolled her window down and stuck her face out for a whiff of fresh air. Her perfectly coiffed hair was being beaten to death by the wind as she attempted to escape the stink. I briefly met my father's eyes in the rearview mirror. They were crinkled with contained laughter.
"I'll take a look at it when we get back." He promised her, suppressing a chuckle.
The rest of the trip was less eventful as the boys settled into a game of ISpy and Aunt Janet pulled out a book to read. It was some teen story about a vampire in love with a human girl. She said it was good and that the hero was 'dreamy". She promised to lend it to me. I covertly rolled my eyes at the thought. I was much more interested in the new Jason Bourne installment than a lame love story. It served no purpose for a girl like me to get romantic ideas in her head. Nothing good could come from dreaming about something you'd never have.
The silence in the car was welcomed. It gave me a chance to think about what had happened in the last five hours. I'd been unceremoniously dropped off at the airport by my mother and stepfather. Mom had given me instructions to not take her absence as an opportunity to overeat.
Airport terminal- Phoenix- This morning
"Just because I won't be there to remind you what a healthy serving size is, does not mean you can eat as much as you like. If your father stays true to character, your meals will consist of greasy diner food. It will be even more important for you to watch your calorie intake while you're there." Her words were punctuated by a disapproving look at my body. "And for god sakes, take this opportunity to work on your attitude. Being sullen and sour faced will not land you a boyfriend."
I could do nothing but hang my head at my obvious shortcomings.
"For goodness sakes Isabella, stand up straight. Slumping makes you look even heavier."
"Yes mom." I said with my eyes still cast downward.
"Now, I fully expect you to come home thinner. In Forks you won't have the heat to blame for not exercising. No excuses Bella. I mean it."
I could only nod in agreement. If my mother wanted to spend the last five minutes we had together for three months berating me for my unhealthy habits, what choice did I have?
"I hate to interrupt but we really need to get going and don't want her to miss the plane." Phil said, breaking in before my mother could give me more instructions. I smiled gratefully at him. He gave me a quick wink as he put my bags on the ticket counter.
"Oh, of course. Do you have your ticket?"
"OK, try not to get lost when you change planes in Seattle."
We stood there for a moment staring at each other. The differences between us never seemed stronger. Her strawberry blond hair and tan complexion were a huge contrast to my dull brown hair and pasty skin. Her shiny blue eyes the opposite of my boring brown. Where she was thin and firm, I was thick and jiggly.
Thankfully Phil broke our stare down with a big hug. "I'm going to miss our movie nights. You have a good time and don't let anyone push you around. OK?" He pulled away and gave me a look that said, she means well. I doubted he was right about my mother's motives but I appreciated the sentiment. The only thing that had made the last two years bearable was Phil. He was always quick to diffuse a fight between my mother and me. And he never once made me feel badly about my weight.
When it was the off season, he and I would spend every Saturday night watching scary movies and eating contraband junk food. He said that what my mother didn't know wouldn't hurt us. Mom always had some social event to go to on those nights so it was just Phil and me.
"I'll miss you too." I said to him truthfully.
"Phil, baby, we really should be going. I still need to get my outfit together for the Sneedly's dinner party tonight." They were going to a summer kick off block party tonight. I'm sure my mother was ecstatic that I wouldn't be attending. She was finding it increasingly more embarrassing to be seen with me in public.
One more quick squeeze and Phil stepped back, leaving me once again staring at my mother. He nudged her forwards with his shoulder and nodded in my direction. She took a deep breath and put her arms around me in a small hug that lasted about 10 seconds before she stepped away. To say it was awkward would be an understatement.
Renee wasn't a hugger. Sure, she and her friends could air hug and kiss like Beverly Hills Housewives, but when it came to me hugs were few and far between.
"Yes, well don't be late for your plane. I do not want a call telling me to come back for you because you got distracted and missed your flight."
"I won't mom." I'd rather lose a pinky toe than call her for help.
"Goodbye, Bella. Have a good summer." Phil waved as he turned around to leave. My mother turned on her Manolo heels and walked away without another word or glance.
I stood in the terminal and watched them walk away into the bright Arizona sun. I suppose it wouldn't have been odd to see a 13 yr old girl cry or sniffle a little as she watched her mother unceremoniously walk away knowing that she wouldn't see her for three months. But truthfully all I felt was relief. I would be outside of Renee's sphere of influence for three blessed months.
No more 6:30 AM wake up calls to go running, or disapproving looks when I would unthinkingly choose to ingest a couple of potato chips. I wouldn't have to endure the fake smiles and comments from her as she introduced me to her friends, or have to pretend I didn't care when she chose to go alone to mother/daughter spa and shopping dates with her friends and their daughters.
I was happy to be going away. I knew that living with Charlie would be fairly solitary but I was used to that. At least he wouldn't make disapproving noises over my food, clothes, music and reading choices.
The plane ride to Seattle was uneventful. I'd switched planes in Seattle without missing my connecting flight or falling down an elevator shaft. The plane to Port Angeles was smaller than the one I flew into SeaTac on and thankfully less crowded. I was able to nab a single seat for the hop and was allowed to absently stare out the window without worrying about overflowing onto my neighbor's seat or spilling a drink into their lap.
Backseat of Aunt Janet's Tahoe-
Bella- 13 yrs Old
On the road to Forks, WA
When I had exited the jet way in Port Angeles, I'd felt as if a small weight had been lifted from my shoulders and I could finally take a deep breath. I didn't anticipate that the next three months would be perfect. I was still me and as such I knew it was a foregone conclusion that I would trip over my own feet, dress like a "fat ghetto clown", thanks mom, and attempt to relatively stay off of everyone's radar until I would make that walk on the jet way in reverse.
I settled back into my seat between Jasper and Emmett and closed my eyes. I took a deep breath and let it out slowly. Looking out of the window, I contemplated my new reality. I didn't know what awaited me in Forks. All I was sure about was regardless of what was waiting for me when I returned to Phoenix and the cold arms of my mother, for the first time in a long time I wasn't dreading tomorrow.
A/N What did you think? I'm already working on chapter 2. So, if it sucks let me know before I waste anymore time on it. LOL!
I would really, really appreciate a review. Even if it's only a couple of words to tell me I should take up knitting and quit wasting everyone's time.
Have a great weekend.