ENTRY #82 - AH
Truly Anonymous Twilight O/S PP Contest
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Title: Unseeing and Believing
Picture Prompt Number: 11: Your existence gives me hope.
Pairing: Edward and Bella
Word Count (minus A/N and Header): 4265
Summary (250 characters or less, including spaces and punctuation): Sometimes, love doesn't have to be seen…only felt. He can never see her, and he loves her just the same. A story of how friendship grows into something more, through darkness, with hope.
Warnings and Disclaimer: I don't own the Twilight Saga; it owns me. Stephenie Meyer owns all rights.
He runs across the field on a cold November morning – eyes wide, nose red, cheeks peppered with freckles, hair wild in the wind he's creating as he runs. He reaches out and tries to grab another kid's shirt so he can tag him, but he's too slow and misses.
"Slow down, slow poke!" The kid teases and laughs as he runs away.
Frustrated, he huffs, and panting heavily, declares in their general direction, "I'm not playing anymore! You guys are mean!"
"Aw, poor Eddie!"
"That's enough, James!" They both stop at the sound of Ms. Angela's voice. "Why don't you go back to your class? Did you not hear the bell?"
"Oops!" James says and scurries off with the other kids who were also playing.
"Edward?" Ms. Angela asks softly. "You okay there, kiddo?"
"Yep!" he exclaims.
"Not hurt anywhere? Show me your hands."
He does. They are unscathed. "I'm fine, Ms. Angela." He smiles his angelic smile.
"Do you want me to take you to your next class?"
"Yes, please, and thank you."
"Always so polite and well–mannered," she murmurs and ruffles his hair, before taking his hand and walking him to the classes for kids with special requirements.
As the care taker in Forks Elementary, it is her responsibility to see that every kid gets to his class unscathed and well–fed. Especially Edward. She sits every day and keeps a watch over the kids as they eat their lunch and play in the indoor playground, or the garden (if the sun is out, else the kids fall sick). She loves doing it. She loves these kids as if they are her own.
Edward walks quietly. He never talks much. He just feels the walls as he goes, and tries to count the steps, stopping at twenty, because he can't count any further. Good thing Ms. Angela is always there to help him out!
"Hi!" a bright voice chirps in Edward's ear. 'She's so loud!' he thinks.
"Why are you screaming?" he asks in the direction of the voice. He hears his mama's laughter as she ruffles his hair. Everyone keeps ruffling his hair! His mama smells of cookies. Butter cookies. His favorite cookies. He smiles.
"Edward," his mama says, "this is our new neighbors' daughter, Bella. Remember I told you about them?"
"Oh…" Understanding dawns on his little face. "The Swans, mama?"
"Yes," she confirms. "Bella is new here and doesn't have any friends. Would you –"
"Will you be my friend?" the girl says over Edward's mama's voice. "I want to be your friend. You're cute."
Edward blushes. No girl has ever complimented him before. "Thanks. I'll be your friend if you let me see you."
"O…kay?" Bella says, confused. "But you're already seeing me, stupid."
"Bella, what did we discuss about calling someone names?" Another female voice scolds from a distance.
"Sorry," Bella says.
"I'll go have a little chat with Renée, sweetie. But I'll still be outside, looking at you," Esme – Edward's mama – tells him.
"Okay," he nods.
"Is Renée your mama?" Edward asks Bella when he hears Esme's footsteps fading into a little distance, in the direction of his right hand.
"Yep," Bella replies.
"So…can I see you?"
"Sure," she shrugs, not knowing what else to say.
Edward reaches out and places his little hands on her face. He makes circles on her cheeks with his fingers. Then he rubs her cheeks with his palms.
"What are you doing?" she giggles.
"Seeing you," he answers as he traces her eyebrows.
"But why do you need hands to do it?" she frowns in confusion.
"Ooooh, my mama didn't tell you? I have a super power. I see people with my hands!" he proudly exclaims.
"But I can't do that," she pouts as his fingertips move to her nose.
"That's because you can already see with your eyes. I can't see with my eyes. Mama says I'm very special," he smiles.
"Ohh…" Her mouth forms a small 'o' of surprise. Then she thinks over it for a moment. "That…is so cool," she nods decisively.
"Really?" he excitedly asks.
"Yep. You're way cooler than my old friend Anna."
"Who is Anna?"
"I told you – my old friend. She had a bike."
"I know! And she could ride so faaaast," she sighs dramatically.
"I'd like to ride a bike," he quietly whispers, more to himself.
"You wanna play tag?" she asks once he's done 'seeing' her.
"No," he huffs and sits down on the grass. It's a little wet and it sort of feels cold even through his jeans and undies, but he's tired.
"Why not?" she asks as she sits beside him.
"I hate tag. James says it is fun and so he makes me play, but I just keep running and running and can never catch and they all laugh," he says, frustrated.
"Why do you play with him, then?"
"He's the only one who wants to play with me."
"I'll let you keep running till I get tired when it's my turn, and I'll let you catch me quickly when it's your turn. I'll let you win," she smiles and pulls his cheeks.
He blushes again. "Promise?"
"Pinky swear promise?" he holds out his pinky to her.
"Pinky swear." She reciprocates.
"Hey, Bells?" he says as they are getting up to play. She is too distracted to notice that he already gave her a nickname.
"Your nose has a little bump. It's very cute."
It's hard to tell who blushes more.
He groans and buries his head in his pillows.
"Get up! Or we'll get late on our very first day of third grade!"
"I don't wanna go. I hate school."
"Don't be stupid. I love school."
"Then you go," he insists and pulls the comforter over his head.
"If you don't get up in a minute, I will throw water on you."
"You won't," he says in a warning tone.
"Yep, I will. And you won't see me coming!" she says in a sing–song manner.
"No, I won't, but I'll smell you and get out of the way."
She sniffs her armpits. "Liar! I don't smell."
"Yes, you do, Smella."
"That's a stupid nickname. And I don't!" she shrieks.
"You do, you do, you do."
"Fine. Tell me how I smell, then," she challenges.
"Easy. You smell like strawberries."
She sniffs her shirt, but he continues before she can say anything.
"Your hair, Smella. Your hair smells like strawberries," he says as he gets up. He might as well. She won't let him sleep anyway. She never has in the past two years.
"Me, too. Mom is making pancakes so it's taking a while."
"Why aren't you in my class?"
"Because your books are special and your teachers don't write on the board. My teacher writes on the board."
"I wish we were in the same class. I like being with you."
"Why do you look so sad?"
"Because I am sad."
"Why are you sad?"
"Because only you and Paul want to be friends with me. There is no one else but Paul in my class – and he is always sick. All kids in the playground have their own friends."
"I don't want you to be sad, Edward."
"Can I hug you?"
She puts her arms around him and he breathes deeply into her hair. Once. Twice. Thrice.
"I really like strawberries, Bells."
"Will you stop calling me that?"
"But that's your name," he points out.
"No, my name is Bell–a. 'A'. Not 'S'."
"I call you Bells because when you speak, your voice is like chiming bells. I always call you Bells."
"I know, and that's really so sweet. But it doesn't sound very cool in front of my other friends. It sounds silly, and childish."
"It's not silly. And your other friends are mean."
She gives him a glare that he can't see, but the anger in her voice compensates for it. "Don't be such a baby, Edward. You don't even know them."
"Yes, I do. I've always known James, and Victoria, and Marcus."
"You knew them when you were four. Now we're twelve years old, Edward. It's a long time. They're good now," she explains patiently.
He pouts but doesn't say anything for a long time. She brushes her hair; he can tell by the slight cackle of static electricity in her hairbrush and the long swiiiish that follows.
"You don't play with me anymore," he says sadly.
She huffs. "Honestly, Edward, what can we play? Not tag, not monopoly, not hide and seek, not with the Frisbee, not anything."
It hurts. His eyes sting. His heart breaks.
"Sorry," he whispers.
"Don't be. It's just who you are."
"And you don't like spending time with who I am. I get it."
"It's not like that!" she says and puts an arm around his shoulders. He stiffens and shrugs it off.
"Don't be so…ugh…Edward," she whines. "You're still my best friend. I just have other friends, too."
"I'd like to go home now," he quietly says.
"Edward, you –"
She sighs. "Fine, I'll take you home."
"I can go by myself."
"Don't be stupid."
"I am stupid," he mutters bitterly, more to himself. She sighs again and takes his hand, leading him down the stairs carefully, and then across the garden and to the Cullens' front porch. She knocks thrice to alert Esme that it's them. When she hears Esme's muffled 'Coming, Bella!' she puts her arms around Edward and kisses his cheek.
He is too stunned to react.
"I'm sorry. I was very mean to you, wasn't I?"
"Will you forgive me if I hung out with you tomorrow? Only you. No one else."
"Edward!" she whines again. "Really, sorry."
"Okay," he softly says.
"Will you come with me tomorrow? My Dad wants me to learn the piano. I suck at music. Will you come and help me?"
"I'll have to ask mom."
"Of course you'll go," he hears Esme's voice as the door opens. "In fact, maybe you could learn, too."
He snorts. "Sure."
"Edward!" Esme admonishes him.
"What will I do there, mom? I can't even see the keys, remember?" he sighs in frustration and walks inside the house, leaving Bella and Esme feeling almost as hurt as he feels. Almost.
Their first piano lesson is a complete disaster.
As it turns out, Bella is tone deaf. Even playing the basic musical notes is a peril for her. Their – for she managed to drag Edward with her – piano teacher Mrs. Cope is rather impressed with Edward, though. It takes him twice as long as Bella took, but he finally manages to judge the distance between the basic seven notes and move his fingers accordingly.
Bella is jealous. She doesn't say anything all the way while her father – Police Chief Charlie Swan – drives them back to the house. She is so upset that she childishly walks out of the car without saying goodbye to Edward. He doesn't understand what happened. He doesn't understand why Chief Swan is walking him to his home and not Bella. Maybe she's just tired or something…
Later in the evening, Edward hears his mom arguing with someone on the phone.
"Well, what do you mean they can't keep it up anymore? ... No, I don't care that – yes, I know, but –" she huffs. "I perfectly understand, ma'am, but I do believe that it can be continued, and it should be, under the United States constitution." She listens patiently for a few seconds. "Fine," she all but spits into the phone. "We'll be there tomorrow." And she slams the phone into the receiver.
"Mom?" Edward calls out as he takes the seven steps from the kitchen island to where the telephone is. He knows his house like the back of his hand. "Why are you upset, mom?" he asks as he blindly reaches out his hand so she can take it.
She sighs. "Come, let's sit down first, okay?"
Over the next fifteen minutes, Esme explains to Edward how the Forks Middle School apparently doesn't have teachers who are qualified enough to teach him in a separate class, with special books and facilities. She knows it's a load of bollocks, and she also knows that there are people in the world who will just shirk away from the responsibility of educating a blind child. But, instead of letting it bring her down, she sees this as an opportunity for Edward to be eased into the mainstream education. The school did say they could still make special arrangements for his exams and evaluation. He only has to sit in the class and listen to the lectures. She resolves to make this a stepping stone in Edward's life; not an obstacle.
"That's Edward Cullen, right?" Edward hears someone whisper.
"Yeah. I don't know why he's here. Shouldn't he be in a different school?"
"Why is he sitting with Bella?"
"Because he doesn't have any other friend, moron. I bet she's with him out of pity."
Edward's fingers form a tight fist and Bella notices. She quietly slides her hand from the desk to his thigh, where the fist rests. She places her hand over it until he eases it.
"Don't mind them," she whispers. "You know it's not like that."
"Really? Then why haven't you talked to me ever since that music class?"
She breathes deeply. "I'm sorry. I was just jealous that you were so much better than I was, despite being bl –" She stops herself.
"Blind," he finishes for her. "I know. I'm…I won't go with you if you don't want me to. I don't want you to be upset."
"Of course I want you there. I'd like you to learn it."
"I'd like to learn it, too," he smiles briefly.
"I'm really sorry. I've just been in a bad mood lately, and it's not fair to you. I don't know what's wrong with me."
"You're forgiven. Really. And nothing's wrong with you."
Oh, but something is wrong with her. Especially when she screams in panic when she wakes up with blood in her underwear two days later, and consequently, doesn't go to school.
If anyone had asked Esme and Carlisle Cullen why they let Edward go to school that day, they wouldn't have had a reply. They just…did. They knew that the school authorities may not have been up to the mark, but the teachers that taught Edward certainly were very protective of him. They knew that Edward would be in capable hands.
Not to mention, Edward himself threw a tantrum that he isn't a baby anymore and he can well take care of himself. That he has lunch – so he doesn't have to go to the cafeteria – and his stick, so he doesn't have to rely on someone else.
After an hour of arguing, Carlisle promptly drops him off, and asks him to call in case of any emergency.
And the call does come.
"He's upstairs, Bella. He's sleeping."
"I want to see him. Mom said he was upset. What happened, Mrs. Cullen?"
"I don't know. He won't talk. He just said he wants to be alone for a while."
"Let me at least try?" she pleads.
Esme nods, and for once, she looks older than her age. Trying not to panic much, Bella rushes upstairs and knocks on Edward's door. When he doesn't open, she turns the knob and surprisingly, he hasn't locked it.
He is curled up on his side, pretending to be asleep. Pretending. She knows he's not sleeping. His breathing is still normal, and he is a terrible actor.
"Hey," she says brightly, trying to cheer him up.
He doesn't say anything. He breathes slowly this time, but his finger fidgets. She smiles. "I know you're awake. Drop the act, Edward."
"What do you want, Bells?" he sighs; his eyes are still closed.
She climbs up on the bed, making it bounce, and lies down with him. "What happened in school?" she asks softly.
"Mr. Banner started teaching us –"
"You know that's not what I'm asking."
"Then why did you call Carlisle to pick you up?"
"I was feeling a little tired."
"Great, Edward, now you're lying to me. Me."
"Bells…" His voice is a plea. Let it go.
"Was it that terrible? Did someone say something to you? Because I swear to God I'll break their teeth and –"
"I was scared," he whispers. "Mike and James took my stick and kept passing it around and laughing, and I kept bumping into desks, trying to get it from them."
"How dare they?" Her voice is almost a screech.
"Shh, don't tell mom."
"I feel like such a wuss. I didn't want to cry in front of them. So I came home."
"They did call me 'blindey' all day…"
He sounds so pained that Bella doesn't even resist hugging him and snuggling under his blanket.
"I'm sorry, Edward."
"Why are you sorry?" He's on the verge of tears.
"If I had gone with you, none of this would have happened."
"You were sick, Bells. And I would have to face them all, someday."
"I'll never leave your side again. I promise."
He takes a deep breath and when he speaks again, it's so low that Bella has to strain to hear it. "Sometimes, I hate being…this."
"Don't. You're amazing, Edward."
"When I was little, mom used to say I was special. How is this special? I don't even feel whole," he all but spits.
"Oh, Edward…" she whispers and kisses him on the forehead. When she feels the wetness on his cheeks, she cries with him. More than ever, she wishes she could heal his wounds. "They're all mean, and I swear I won't talk to them anymore. It will just be the two of us again."
"I don't want you to not have good friends because of me," he sniffles.
"It doesn't matter. You'll always be my best friend."
He places his head on her shoulder and she lets him cry it out. When Esme comes up to check on them, she finds them asleep, with Edward's head on Bella's arm. She sees the dried tear tracks on both their faces and quietly exits the room; letting both of them heal in their own way. She knows Edward will tell her eventually.
And he does.
Mike and James are suspended for two weeks for bullying. Their example is enough for others to just let Edward be.
"You have mayonnaise on your chin."
He wipes it clean.
"What are we going to do for your fifteenth birthday?"
He goes back to tracing the letters on his book, written in braille script.
"Yes, Bells?" he sighs in exasperation.
"You have the most beautiful blue–green eyes I have ever seen."
"Bells, everyone in your family has brown eyes. You've not even seen many blue–green eyes. And what's up with blue–green? It's either of the two."
"I don't know; your eyes sometimes change color because of the clothes you wear."
He smiles. "Which color am I wearing today?"
"Green," she says with a chuckle.
"How do I look?"
"Handsome as ever."
"You think I'm handsome?"
"You think it's a coincidence that only girls sit around our desk? You're hot eye candy, baby."
"Yeah, okay, enough of the teasing."
"They also have a serious attraction towards your clothes. You should see how many of them try to sneakily see the brand."
He swiftly reaches around and pulls her to him, tickling her waist. "Why are you making so much fun of my clothes?"
She squeals. "Let me go! Edward!" she laughs.
"Tell me!" he laughs, too.
He eases up, only slightly so she knows he will do it again if she tricks him this time.
"Because…?" he prompts her.
"Because you are wearing your shirt inside out today," she giggles.
"And you didn't tell me? !" he pretends to be offended.
"You were wearing your jacket over it; I only saw it now."
"Not a good enough excuse," he does an evil laugh and starts tickling her again, and this time she tickles back. He doesn't remember laughing so much in his life.
"We're in high school. Holy shit."
"I know. I'm in awe, too."
"How did I pass this exam? I was so sure I was going to fail."
"You, sir, were born intelligent," she says in a mock–formal tone. "And, you are soon going to be a prodigy."
"I'm still learning."
"Please," she scoffs as she goes through the enormous collection of music in his room. "You are composing your own music now. Do you understand how monumental that is? ! Freakin' amazing is what it is! The amount of inspiration you give everyone is astounding, you know, and –"
He moves his hand up her arm till he finds her chin and puts his hand over her mouth. "There's a limit to how much exaggeration I can take in a day."
"I'm not exaggerating!" she mumbles against his hand.
She removes his hand and takes it in her own. "I'm serious, Edward," she says softly. "You are an inspiration, and you give me hope. I feel like I can also be something and fight the odds."
She rolls her eyes, though he obviously can't see. "You can't be unaware of the fact that not many people make it out of Forks. My grades aren't exceptional, and nor do I have a spectacular talent like yours. But…I look at you and I see someone who was just dealt the wrong hand, you know? And yet, you didn't give up."
"I wanted to."
"But you didn't. Sure, you had your off days. Sure, you shed a tear or two –"
"I told you not to mention the crying again! It's embarrassing."
"It's not. You are human; humans have emotions. Deal with it."
He sighs. "I think my quota of philosophy is complete for the day."
She mock–punches him in the ribs. "When was the last time you gave me a hug?"
He ponders over it. "I…don't remember."
"That…is a crime," she huffs and puts her arms around him in a chokehold. He moves his hands to her back but doesn't fully hold her. He takes his time and just allows himself to feel. He lets his hands slowly roam over the contours of her back. She is wearing a cotton shirt today – a thin one. He can feel everything through it and he can't explain to himself the thrill that shoots through him as she presses closer to his body.
She feels it, too, but doesn't know what to make of it. So in a moment of impulse, she stands on her tiptoes and brushes her lips against his. Stunned, he takes his hands from around her waist and takes a step back.
"What was that?" he asks a little shakily.
"Well, generally it's called a kiss but if you want to call it hula–hooping we can do that, too," she deadpans.
He bursts out laughing. "Hula–hooping? God, you're random!"
"I'm also a girl whose first kiss was very rudely interrupted by a pointless question."
Before she can say anything else, he moves his face closer to hers and tries to kiss her again.
She giggles. "That's not my lips; that's my chin."
Undeterred, he kisses all over her face, exploring it in his own way, softly, sensuously. Her ears, her cheeks, her eyebrows. Her skin is so soft. He kisses the tip of her nose, before finding her lips and kissing her soundly. He doesn't really know what he is doing – he's acutely aware that he hasn't even seen a couple kiss. Not even in movies. Maybe he's making a complete fool of himself. Bella doesn't seem to mind, though. She keeps kissing him and he lets her lead.
After a couple of minutes, they part, breathing heavily and resting their forehead against each other's.
"I really wish I could see your face once. I know you're beautiful."
She runs her fingers through his hair and pulls him down so she can kiss his forehead. She then grabs his face in her hands and asks him to close his eyes. Once he complies, she gently kisses one, then another eyelid.
Much as he hates it, his eyes tear up, though he doesn't cry.
"Edward," she starts, and her voice is just a whisper. "You don't need these to see me. You've seen me – all of me – better than anyone else ever has, or will. And your mom was right when she said you were special. You are special. You aren't shallow, and you will never judge anyone on their appearance. You take people for who they really are. You see people for who they really are. Because you see from here," she says as she places her hand on his chest, right above his heart.
"This is what makes you special. This beautiful heart of yours is what I truly love."
"Love?" he whispers.
"Love," she whispers back.
"Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind;
And therefore is wing'd Cupid painted blind…"
–William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream