Author's Note: Hello, Fanfiction readers! I am honored to present to you my newest One Shot, entitled Drowning Bella Swan. Please, let me know what you think, even if you hate it! Happy reading!
The thought of summer vacation is known to fill ordinary teenagers with a sense of excitement and giddiness. But Bella Swan was no ordinary teenager. Instead of being what some would call a semi-normal seventeen year old, she felt like an old maid. Being two months shy of being eighteen, she was stuck in the 'not a girl, not yet a woman' stage of her life. But all of that would change when she went off to college this fall. These were the last two months before she would officially become an adult. Two precious months to get through, and she would be on her own. But naturally, the two warmest months out of the year wouldn't be spent living it up. It would be spent babysitting her own Mother. She didn't mind this, exactly. She was used to it, after years of much the same. It was just the way their relationship was; switched.
Nobody could deny that her Mother was a free spirit. She was the life of every party she attended, and made many friends. It wasn't surprising that she also had a strange addiction to trying new and exciting, if not slightly dangerous, things. Bella did not have digits for the sheer number of times she had talked her Mom out of split second decisions. At times, she admired this about her Mother, but simply did not share the same drive to be reckless and adventurous. Bella was quiet, where her Mother was loud. She was reserved and calculated, known for tripping on her own feet while walking on a flat surface, while her Mother was over the top. She never could stay in one place for too long. She didn't mind these differences, usually. It was like she had been born as a Mother; like a guardian to keep Renee from accidental death.
This summer was different, or so she had thought. Bella hadn't particularly wanted to play babysitter for her Mom this summer. Every moment that passed she got closer to the brisk fall day she went away to college. See, she wanted to reinvent herself.
She wasn't going to be able to hide behind her social butterfly of a Mother any longer. And in preparation for next year, she had decided to travel. It was an effort to find herself, before facing the challenges of college life. She hadn't known exactly where she would go, but the idea of striking out on her own in a new place both excited, and terrified her. For the first time in eighteen years, she would be by herself. On her own. Bella was the type of person that always found a reason not to take risks. She didn't reach out for things she really wanted for fear of unknown consequences, and not having control of any situation. After her graduation, she had decided to leave that part of herself behind. Bella Swan did not have to hide herself away. And this was the summer it was all going to change.
The decision to leave had left her practically glowing with hope of her promising future. She had all but packed her bags, and knew that nothing would stand in her way. But that was before. In that moment when she heard the door open, signaling her Mother's arrival. The sound of the slamming door shook the house, and Bella knew that it meant Renee was either upset, or excited. She yelled for her daughter to join her in the living room, and Bella did not hesitate.
In Renee's hands, were two tickets. Bella should've known that her summer plans no longer belonged to her. Renee placed the twin envelopes in her hand, and inside Bella's head, there was dread. Her heavy heart held the equally heavy envelopes. She didn't even bother to look at the destination. It wouldn't have mattered, regardless. If her Mother sensed her inner turmoil, she did not let it derail her excitement.
"California!" Renee had not waited for Bella to ask, or even look at the tickets. A child-like excitement had overtaken her, and it would be doubtful that she would see reason in such a rash, life wrecking trip.
"But Mom..." Bella could hear the words come out before they were properly formed. She did not want to disappoint her obviously overexcited Mother, but she didn't want to disappoint herself, either.
"I couldn't do this without you, Bells."
Bella could have said a lot of things. She could have said that this summer was about her, not about her Mother's impulses. She could have said that she simply couldn't go on this trip without compromising herself. She could have said plenty of things to get Renee to understand what this summer truly meant to her. But the look in her Mother's eyes stopped her before she could say a single word. With that one look, she could see that this wasn't just another reckless adventure Renee was taking her on. This was the last trip they would take before Bella set off on her own adventure- college. So, instead of saying one of the many things she would have liked to say, Bella said what she knew her Mother wanted to hear.
"Sounds great, Mom."
And that is how Bella Swan found her way onto a plane, on her way to California.
Bella couldn't say she felt sad about leaving Florida. It was truly just another place to her. She had no strong emotional pulls from the place. Nothing was tying her there. No, she wasn't leaving her home because she hadn't never found her home. Not really. Not yet.
There were a lot of things she still didn't know. She didn't know what the next two months held in store for her. She didn't know how her Mother would be after she left. She wasn't even sure she really knew what it meant to be Bella Swan. The only thing she did know was that she was leaving behind everything she has ever known in order to try to find out.
She landed in California feeling as sunny as the sky outside. A deep breath confirmed what her eyes were already telling her- that this place was going to be different. It was nothing like she had ever really experienced before. A brand new environment- exactly as she had envisioned for herself this summer.
She didn't even see a problem with the small one bedroom loft Renee had rented for the six weeks they had planned on staying. She put her bags down, and felt her previous jet lag fall away. The tiredness was muted by the teenager Bella truly was. She wanted to explore, breath the air and be among the people who lived here. The first thing on her mind was the beach. With the skin on her back warmed from the sun, she longed to feel real sand between her toes. She told Renee she was going for a walk, and closed the door behind her. She didn't really have any idea where she was going, but she didn't mind the journey.
Bella hadn't paid much attention to the path her feet were taking here, and after a while she spotter the water in the distance. There was really no way to miss it. She had never seen anything so sparkly, calling to her in such a way that she had to stop herself from running. Few things she had ever come across had ever had this effect on her. She was giddy with excitement, and it showed. She could feel the almost nervous, childish laughter rise in the back of her throat. For once, she didn't try to contain it.
It was almost as if, in that moment, Bella could see the path that lead to the person she wanted to be. She kicked her shoes off as soon as she got to the road leading up to the sand. She wasn't nearly the only one having a beach day, she noticed.
It was exactly the way Bella had pictured the stereotypical summer days on the beach: brave teenage girls showing off in their bikinis, Moms busy covering their children in sunblock and surfboards lining up at the tide. At first, Bella was at a loss of what to do. She wasn't the sunbathing type, and she couldn't imagine trying to balance her weight on a surfboard. But she found that she enjoyed watching.
She couldn't tell much by their wetsuits, only the vague outline of muscle chests in the distance. She enjoyed watching the way they maneuvered the boards whatever direction they wanted. They danced over the waves like she could only dream of doing with her own two feet on land. She couldn't shake the feeling that she was watching people who had conquered an element. She wasn't above being tremendously jealous of that.
She was content to watch all of them as they manipulated the water in their favor. But one of the guys stood apart from the rest. By the way he commanded that board, you would assume that he must live in the water. His hair practically glowed in the sun in such a way that she couldn't tell it's exact color. That made her even more curious about the man who rose above all the other on the beach that day. It wasn't long until Bella realized that she was no longer observing this mystery man, she was flat out staring.
She instantly averted her eyes, not wanting to give her admiration away. Her cheeks burned with embarrassment at the thought of being caught staring at the mysterious surfer. The Bella Swan from Florida did not like to take chances. She did not like to feel vulnerable, or weak. Previous versions of herself would shy away, and find a shady tree to read under. She wouldn't think of doing what this version of herself was thinking of. No. Way.
Maybe it was the beach air, or the element commanding man stuck in her head that gave her the idea. She knew that she would never come up with something so impulsive. The thought forced her closer to the water. She could swim, couldn't she? Bella knew that she wasn't the greatest swimmer, but that was something she could change about herself. Maybe the new Bella would swim like a fish. The new Bella wouldn't care that she was without a bathing suit, strip down to her modest pantie and bra set, and jump into the water without a second thought.
It was stupid, yes.
It was also probably very reckless, the thing she had condemned her Mother for so many times.
Yet, she didn't stop herself. Before Bella really knew what was going on, she was stripping off her shirt and pants in the middle of a crowded beach. She didn't look around for fear of the wandering eyes she would meet. She looked straight ahead at the endless blue, and did not hesitate. She made a run for it, yelping when her skin came in contact with the cold, bitter water.
She forced herself to revel in the cold, letting it hit every spot of exposed skin. By the time she had dunked her head under the salty water, Bella knew she was a changed person. The water washed over her, healing her inner scars she had learned to live with. It washed away her doubts of real families, happiness and love. For those few brief, calm moments, Bella Swan was free. She truly believed she could leave it all behind, in the massive ocean and walk away clean.
She didn't realize what was actually happening until the once cleansing water forced its way up her nostrils. She choked on her own breath, and hadn't even realized that she had closed her eyes in her peaceful moment, and let herself drift away from the shore.
The waves were much stronger than they had looked, she realized. Each one slammed into her, and more water was introduced to her lungs. And that was when she truly started to panic. She gasped for air, and tried to fight her way back to the land. The ocean was ever powerful. It didn't wash away your problems without washing you away physically.
And that was the moment Bella was sure she was going to die. She had been in California only a handful of hours, and her own narrow mindedness was leading to a fast demise. In a sick way, Bella was getting her wish. She would no longer have to babysit her Mother. She would no longer be known as the quiet girl who couldn't stand on her own two feet. She wouldn't get the chance to become the new Bella, who strived in a new world away from people's expectations of her. She would remain clumsy Bella, who let herself drown the first time she ever swim in the ocean, forever.
There was no fighting against a powerful entity like the ocean. It would swallow both you and your dreams whole.
In her last few moments of consciousness, Bella imagined the surfer as he danced on the water. No, she couldn't say she conquered an element today. The element conquered her. She imagined him swimming through the furious ocean gracefully. After all, a man like that must live in the water. She was oddly comforted by this thought, by the presence of this unknown man in her last moments before she was swallowed by the ocean. She closed her eyes, and let the water overtake her.
All that was left was flashes. She saw flashes of things, the living world, she assumed. The bright sun. Wet, bronze hair settling against her cheek and forehead. Yelling. Frantic, panicked yelling. The afterlife was not as peaceful and calm as she had imagined it to be. It didn't make much sense. But who said that dying was easy?
It seemed to be a long time before she was aware of herself again. The steady rise and fall of her chest confirmed that idea that she was breathing, but the beeping that went alongside her breaths disoriented her. She couldn't decipher the lights behind her eyes. They flashed in different shades and patterns, leaving her ever confused. It seemed like a long time until she was able to open her eyes. The sight of her Mother in front of her face both startled and confused her.
"Oh, Bella! You're finally awake. I was so worried about you!" Her Mother's arms were tight around her sore body as she tried to decipher how in the world she was in fact alive.
"Mom? What happened?" She rubbed her eyes and cleared her throat to find it incredibly painful. Right, the whole drowning thing. The last thing she for sure remembered was watching the mysterious surfer ride the waves. She remembered thinking she was dead, forever lost in the deep blue ocean. So how was it that she ended up in a hospital bed?
"You almost drowned trying to swim in the ocean." Her Mom looked at her with sympathy, as she petted her hair lovingly. "You could've died! If it hadn't been for Edward..." Her Mother started, but didn't get the chance to finish.
"Edward? Who is Edward?"
"I'm Edward." The sound of an additional voice startled Bella. Looking up and seeing who the voice belonged to was nearly enough to give her a heart attack.
"He saved you, honey." Her Mother told her before kissing the top of her head. "I need to call your Father. Try not to almost die again while I'm gone, okay?" Her Mother was the only one to laugh at her own joke. Bella didn't feel much like laughing as she felt the heavy stare of the man in front of her.
Renee walked out of the room painfully slow, offering Edward a smile on her way out. He kindly smiled back, his hands placed behind his back in a respectful manner. He waited until we could no longer hear my Mother's footsteps as they walked down the hall.
"So, you're Bella?" His voice was calm, as if he casually introducing himself to a stranger, and not the girl whom he had just saved.
"And you saved my life." She said, studying him carefully. Bella didn't know what to make of this man. She tried not to notice his attractiveness, but she would have to be blind not to see it. She settled for not looking at him at all, if only to keep the deep red away from her cheeks.
"Consider yourself lucky that there were people around." His deep voice penetrated her thoughts. "I watched you go underwater and not come back up."
His confession ends with her looking up from her chipped nails. She find his eyes staring back at her, and find herself drowning in them, too. She forced herself to regain some composure, if only for a few moments.
"I guess I kinda owe you then." Bella told him, offering him a small smile. After all, he had just saved her life under no obligation. He laughed wholeheartedly, and her heart jumped at the sound. She instantly felt comfortable here with him, Bella realized. The thought raised her heart rate. He moved closer to her, standing at the foot of the bed. Usually, she would shy away from strangers in general. But with him, she couldn't help wanting him to move a few steps closer.
"You owe me nothing." He told her calmly, but seriously. She found it difficult to concentrate being in his presence. His eyes were on her, but she didn't feel like she had to say anything in that moment. Bella let her eyes meet Edward's, and that was all the words that were needed.
She wasn't sure how long this went on for. Neither of them said anything as they examined each other's faces. She had to wonder what he found there. Could Edward see the old Bella Swan, the one she had tried to leave behind? Could he see the person she came out to California to find?
His eyes were almost familiar to her. Unsurprisingly, the deep green reminded her of the ocean. But she was looking at much more than the color of his eyes. She recognized him for much more than the man who had saved her life. What did this mean? She had no idea. Bella had never met such an intense stare before, and had trouble wanting to break it.
"Why did you save me?" She hadn't even realized the words came from her throat until they were already spoken. He sat on her bed, by her feet. Bella was struck immobile from the sheer shock of having him so close to her. She felt her body tingle, from the tip of her toes to her eyelids. She realized then how much she wanted him to answer her question.
"I knew you were watching me." Edward said confidently, and Bella instantly blushed. "I watched you notice me. I could tell you were contemplating. I've watched people walk away from the ocean because of fear. But if I would've known you can't swim, I would've told you to stay scared." He chuckled, and she couldn't help but laugh alongside him.
The idea of him watching her made Bella feel warm. Hot, even. "But you looked so determined. You went straight for the water, and never looked back. I admired you. Not everyone could throw their fears aside like that."
She could feel her breath stuck in her throat, and she couldn't force herself to respond. Luckily, he continued, his fingers lightly tracing the pattern on her hospital issued blanket. "The look on your face when the water hit you- I had never seen that look on anybody before. You were free, in the water, that moment. And I knew I wanted to know you. "
She laid still, not daring to move a muscle. As if moving would make his confessions of watching her less true. "And then I saw the waves take you under. You were taken off guard, and I waited for you to come back up." He took a deep breath before continuing. "I didn't even think about it. I was already off my board, and halfway to you."
She realized that this was not an admission that should come so freely from a stranger. They were talking as if they had known each other for a long time. The realization of this should've freaked Bella Swan out. But strangely, it didn't.
She met his eyes again, and smiled at the familiar stranger. The old Bella Swan would not feel comfortable sitting this close with a stranger, regardless if he had just saved her life. And in that moment, she realized that maybe she was right about the ocean changing her. Maybe it had washed away the traces of the timid, painfully shy Bella. That version of Bella Swan had drown in the ocean today.
She smiled at him, and reached for his hand. It was the first time she had touched him while being completely aware of his touch. "Thank you."
It was completely sincere. She had a feeling that she wouldn't have been able to leave her behind if it hadn't been for Edward.
"You're welcome, Bella." He picked up their touching hands, and brought it to his lips. And Bella knew that in that moment, she was no longer lost.