AN: Hello happy people! I wrote the first chapter of this story way back when, shared it with a few people, and then put it aside. Now that "Forget Me Not" is winding down, I thought I'd bring it out of hiding. Plus, Heather Dawn made a beautiful banner for it, and you can see it on my blog or on her website. :)
I'm really loving the drabble fic concept, and everyone seemed to like that with FMN, so we'll try it here. I can't promise daily updates, but maybe multiple updates each week? We'll give it a shot and see.
This first chapter is a little long for a drabble, but I couldn't decide where to split it, so you're getting it all. :) Thanks to Shaina, Katmom, and Krista for being my biggest cheerleaders, as always.
I love the rain.
Have I ever told you that?
In my hometown, it rains almost everyday, all day long. When I moved away to college, I was careful to choose a place close to home because I love the rain so much. But the city was never my home. Home is wet and green. Home is my father.
My dad is patient and level-headed and fair. When I was sixteen, those weren't the words I would have used to describe him. I would have called him stubborn and strict and totally unreasonable. My father didn't have many rules, but he did have two – don't break curfew and don't ride in cars with boys.
One night, when I was sixteen, I broke both rules.
I was grounded for two months. One month for each broken rule, I suppose.
At the time, I was so angry. I was so angry that I actually packed my bags and tried to hitchhike to Arizona to live with my mom. I made it as far as the one signal light in town before my father found me. Very kindly, he told me that he loved me and wanted me to come home. With that one sentence, I realized that he was, in that moment, showing me more love than my mother had shown me in my entire lifetime.
I climbed into the front seat of his police cruiser, and he took me to his favorite diner where we shared a banana split.
A little ice cream and all was forgiven.
I don't know why I felt compelled to tell you that. There are days like today – with the rain pounding against my windowpane – that I think about home and how much I love it here.
What I'm Listening To: "Rain" by Patty Griffin
I hit send just as a rowdy group of seniors walked into the library. Tonight was football homecoming and excitement was in the air. Athletics are taken very seriously in small towns, and Forks was no different. Football at Forks High School was so important that the football boosters had raised enough money to replace the consistently muddy ground with Astroturf.
That's right. I'm begging the PTA for new library books, but the football field has Astroturf.
I'm not bitter, though.
Unfortunately, there was one thing that was threatening to put a damper on the kids' enthusiasm, and it was that one tiny hurdle that was sending the poor seniors into the library, begging for my assistance.
Mr. Berty was requiring an essay on the central conflicts found within Romeo and Juliet, and while the assignment had been assigned over three weeks ago, the seniors had put it off until the last minute, and it was due Monday. Mr. Berty, who was not known for his compassion, had refused to change the due date even with the homecoming ceremony looming on the calendar. The pleas of the football team had fallen on deaf ears, and for the past two days, my library had been flooded with desperate players begging me to help them make sense of Shakespeare.
Truthfully, I was grateful for the distraction. The high school library is rarely a buzz of activity, so I was happy that so many students were using the library for something more than just a quiet place to read. I was also happy to have the interruption to my normal routine because my normal routine consisted of sitting at the check-out counter and relentlessly checking my email.
I had seen the movie You've Got Mail. I had heard the horror stories of meeting someone online only to meet them in real-life and finding out that they were psychopaths. But there was something about my music man that I found completely fascinating.
It happened completely by accident. I'd sent an email to a book vendor in Seattle, whose email address was MusicMan25(at)gmail(dot)com. It was one freak typing mistake – a five instead of a six on the end of the name – that had introduced me to the man with whom I'd been chatting for the past month. His initial reply to me had been one of confusion, and once we'd figured out that I'd sent my inquiry to the wrong address – he had then complimented me on my choice of books, which then began a huge discussion that was still going on one month later.
We talked about nothing.
We talked about everything.
We kept it simple and impersonal. I didn't know his name, and he didn't know mine. We didn't share stories about work or anything remotely mundane like that. Instead, we talked about literature and music. We talked about movies and favorite vacation spots and places we really wanted to see but were too afraid to go. We talked about the colors of the leaves and the flowers that were blooming behind my house. We talked about our hopes and dreams, and sometimes, we talked about our fears.
He ended each email to me with his reading material for the day, and I ended mine with a song that fit my mood. It was our way of establishing a connection to the other. Our choices of music and books always led to in-depth discussions about both of our passions, and we'd found that we shared many of the same favorites.
It was odd – having such a strong connection with someone whose name was a mystery – but it was effortless. It was safe. The man on the other side of the computer screen couldn't hurt me or break my heart.
He was pretty perfect.
I couldn't be certain, of course, but I was pretty sure he was handsome.
Not that it mattered in the least. It wasn't as if we'd ever come face-to-face, so I didn't have to concern myself with something as shallow as looks. I didn't have to worry about what I was wearing or if my hair looked particularly crappy today. I didn't have to be concerned that he was middle-aged and balding. None of that mattered. Not with him.
The next hour was spent helping students search the online database for any relevant sources. I nearly gave the quarterback, a sweet kid named Henry, a heart attack when I told him that it would probably benefit him and his grade if he actually read Romeo and Juliet before trying to attempt his paper.
"But…but…it's homecoming weekend, Miss Swan," Henry whined. He was dangerously close to tears.
"I understand," I nodded sympathetically. "It's such a shame that Mr. Berty only assigned this paper three weeks ago."
"I know, right?"
My sarcasm was clearly lost on him.
The bell rang, sending the kids scurrying toward their next class. Once again, the library was silent. I shelved a few journals and an encyclopedia devoted to British playwrights before heading back to the check-out counter. A quick glance at the screen brought a smile to my face, and I tapped the mouse.
Patty Griffin is a songwriting genius and has a phenomenal voice. So few people know about her, but I'm not surprised that you do. Maybe it's good that she isn't so well known. That way, she can keep writing what she wants and singing what she wants, and she doesn't have to conform to what the all-mighty label wants.
But enough about my bitterness. :)
It rains here all the time. I had no idea when I moved out here that I was moving to one of the wettest places in the continental United States. We must live close to each other. What if we found out that we lived in the same state? Or even the same town? I'm pretty sure we don't live in the same town. Two people who have this kind of crazy online connection would surely have found each other in the real world, right?
Your dad sounds like my mother. She's patient and kind. She makes the best cookies and always makes things beautiful, especially during the holidays. She has the purest heart of anyone I've ever known. I've disappointed her so many times, and yet, she loves me. It's astounding, really.
I started reading one of the books you suggested. I haven't been able to read much today because work is crazy, but I've managed to read a few chapters in between practice. Hopefully, after tonight is over, I can spend the weekend listening to the rain and reading. You should have warned me that it was over three hundred pages long. I might get it finished by Christmas. You will not, however, under any circumstances, convince me to read Harry Potter. It's not happening.
What I'm Reading: Cash - The Autobiography
I couldn't help but smile. I had a feeling he'd be a Johnny Cash fan.
I was just getting ready to reply when the library door swung open, and I let out a quiet groan as the band director walked through the door.
"I heard that!" His bellowing voice drifted in the air as he made his way toward the daily newspapers.
"I meant for you to!" I yelled right back.
I watched through narrow eyes as he made an absolute mess of my newspaper shelf. He did it on purpose.
Edward Cullen absolutely lived to irritate me.
Mr. Cullen was the new kid on the block. He'd just started teaching this year at Forks High after transferring from a private school in Chicago. He was handsome, in that infuriating I-know-I'm-hot sort of way. He was tall with a wild head of bronze hair and bright green eyes, and apparently, his jaw alone was worthy of praise.
Jawporn, Jessica called it.
She and Lauren – both math teachers – became swooning teenagers whenever the man was within earshot, and it was slightly nauseating to watch. He totally encouraged it, with his infuriating good looks and crooked smile, but to my knowledge, he hadn't dated either of them. Even worse, it wasn't just the female faculty that had a crush on the new music teacher. The band program had tripled in size since his arrival.
All girls, naturally.
"Where is yesterday's issue of the Seattle Times?"
I rolled my eyes. "Probably in the band room where you left it. Or don't you remember stealing it yesterday?"
He flashed his innocent smile at me.
"I never steal," Edward replied smoothly, but I refused to be charmed.
"When you take something and don't return it, that's stealing."
I could feel his eyes on me as I straightened a shelf of magazines.
"You don't like me much, do you?"
"I like you just fine," I said. I found an out-of-date issue of Time and quickly tossed it aside. "Why are you still here? Don't you have a trombone to tune or something?"
"I had to take a break," Edward groaned irritably as he grabbed a USA Today and made himself comfortable at one of the tables. "If I hear the school song one more time, I'm going to stab myself in the eye with my baton."
I could sympathize because the school song really was atrocious. It was dated and boring, but the principal required it to be played at all sporting events. Homecoming was no exception.
"It is pretty bad," I acknowledged. "We were forced to sing it at graduation. Be thankful you aren't the choir director."
He looked up from his paper. "You graduated from here?"
"Forks born and raised," I nodded.
A few students walked in, putting a halt to our conversation. Carrie, a sweet girl who loved to read almost as much as I did, placed a book in the book return while her friend made her way toward the magazines. When both girls saw Edward reading his newspaper, they immediately dissolved into a fit of giggles before running out the door. He ignored them while I rolled my eyes and made my way back to my computer.
Subject: Harry Potter
I knew you would enjoy the Cash autobiography. As for Harry…we'll see. :) I can be very convincing when I want to be.
We couldn't possibly live in the same town. I think you're right. Two people who can form this type of friendship through the Internet would surely have stumbled upon each other in the real world. I suppose we could tell each other where we lived, but I kind of like the mystery. I imagine that you live in the country and that you sit on your front porch in your rocking chair and play your guitar until the wee hours of the morning.
You just seem like a front porch kind of guy.
The rain seems to be ending, for now anyway. This is good news for my little hometown. It's an important night here, and while we've grown accustomed to working around the rain, it always makes life a little easier when the clouds cooperate.
Enjoy your book – and your weekend.
What I'm Listening To: An annoying co-worker trying to get my attention. Oh, and Iron and Wine's "Upward Over the Mountain."
"You like Iron and Wine?" Edward asked again, this time a little louder.
For just a moment, I panicked. He couldn't possibly see my screen, could he?
"Wh...why would you ask that?" I asked nervously.
"Umm, because I hear it streaming from your speakers?"
I sighed irritably and hit send. Why wouldn't he go away? Surely there was a teacher he could flirt with somewhere in this building.
Suddenly, Edward's attention was diverted to his phone, and I watched with amused fascination as he gazed intently at the screen. Whatever he was reading really held his attention, and I was grateful for the peace and quiet. When he looked up again, he had the goofiest smile on his face.
"Good news?" I smirked.
"It's just interesting," Edward smiled as he rose from the table.
"A lot of people like Iron and Wine," Edward grinned, and the annoying man all but skipped out of my library and down the hallway.
Yeah, it's not a big mystery – to us anyway. :)
There will be a playlist for this story with the songs I mention in each chapter. The playlist can be found on my blog or through the link on my profile page.
So what do you think so far? :)