Written for Tales from the Void Contest
Genre: Science Fiction
Word Count: 9,998
Pairing: Bella and Edward
Summary: AU/AR BxE BPOV Time placement is relative. So is love. Being trapped by both is usually considered bad. But what if being stuck removes pain, fear and regrets? Reality is what we make it. Rated M for violence.
Disclaimer: I have nothing but respect for Stephenie Meyers and the world she created. No infringement is intended. I do not own Twilight or its characters. I do, however, own this insanity I call Watermark, a Twilight fanfiction creation. Enjoy!
"Stop staring at me," I whispered under my breath.
Of course he couldn't hear me.
I was too quiet, and he was across the street at the park with his friend.
Playing with knives.
That's what they always did. Trying to be dangerous and scare me.
They defaced their desks at school.
They carved into trees.
They were even rumored to cut themselves. It made me shiver to think of it.
I wasn't impressed by it though.
Attracted for some bizarre reason, yes, but not impressed. At least not with Jason, his best buddy; he actually truly did scare me. His eyes bugged out, and they seemed menacing.
The other one, the auburn haired guy with the craziest cat-like green eyes I ever saw, kind of haunted me. Edward—he didn't frighten me. Quite the opposite; he intrigued me.
I tried not to think about him, but it was beyond my control.
They stayed away from me and for good reason.
I was the Chief of Police's daughter, and they knew I'd report them for sneaking weapons into school if I heard them scratching at their desks, or listened in on their conversations. They liked to imagine they were dangerous. Of course it was ludicrous. How much trouble could two wanna-be punk kids be?
Unlike most people at school who ignored me, the green eyes seemed to follow me wherever I went.
I hated it.
I was afraid of it.
But most of all . . . I craved it.
There was a huge part of me that thrilled over the fact he watched me.
But then I was deluded.
He was keeping tabs on me—the freaky girl who never talked but watched him out of the corner of her eye too.
Of course he was wary of the cop's daughter.
The dude was into weapons and had 'future criminal' stamped in his genes, for pity's sake.
And I was a pathetic tattle-tale.
There was no way he'd ever be interested.
That's because you look like a homeless librarian with your glasses and boring, demure clothing. Wear some makeup!
I can't! Who's going to show me how, huh? Tracy?
She barely says hi to me, and she only does it at Jason's behest so they stay in my good graces. I know he secretly despises me.
She doesn't fool you. She's not your friend. A few times sharing her lunch and chit chatting does not a BFF make . . .
I know! But if I wear makeup it will be a joke. I don't know how to do it. I'll look like a clown, or worse . . . a whore.
Good. Better than brown-nosing teacher's pet dressed like a grandma.
I skulked inside my home and locked the door behind me.
Edward and Jason could leer and laugh at me all they wanted.
I would watch them from the sanctity of my upstairs room, out the window like a truly pitiful stalker.
My backpack was flung to its normal spot in the corner, and I crept over to the window and took a peek.
Emerald's flashed straight to my window the second I looked.
"Crap!" I yelped, and jumped back.
How did he do that? How did he always seem to catch me looking? Did he have some creepy sixth sense?
I shuffled away from the window and dropped my head in shame.
"Get over him. He's eye candy and nothing more. He's not your type, and he's nothing but trouble," I told myself.
Only I didn't believe it.
After several more attempts at getting a glimpse at him, I was a nervous wreck and gave up.
My lips were going to be chapped tomorrow from licking them so much, and my hands would have permanent indentations from my nails digging into my palms.
The sweat drenching my back I could thankfully wash away, but the rest . . . well, Edward knew.
He never said anything to me before to call me out, but who was to say he wouldn't do it now when I was getting so sloppy with my blatant staring?
Maybe I'd have Dad call me in sick tomorrow?
I took another surreptitious look, and they were gone.
The wooden picnic table they were carving into at the park across the street was now empty.
What did they write?
Without thinking, I was out of my room in a flash, and running across the street like an absolute dork.
In the middle of the table, where Edward had been sitting cross legged, was a carving of a gun pointed straight at my house.
A chill ran down my spine, and I shivered.
It wasn't because of the nippy air.
He hated me.
I was a joke.
And he knew my curiosity was going to get the better of me.
I was a target of their antics, the brunt of their amusement.
That was yesterday! You're going to go to school and look them in the eye.
So what if you're a loser in their eyes?
I bit my lip as I yanked the brush through my hair forcefully.
Would my hair ever look like anything more than an electrified mop?
I doubted it.
There was probably some great hair product to tame my curls, but I wasn't aware of what they were.
It wasn't like dad was going to be able to guide me in this regard either.
I dropped the brush on the counter, and gripped the tube of toothpaste in my other hand.
At least I had good dental hygiene. Nobody could fault me for having bad breath, or plaque.
They could poke fun of my glasses, my poodle hairdo, and my unimaginative clothes, but those things would change over time.
Some day I would have money and somebody to help me with a makeover. Fashion was fleeting, and even if I had money I wasn't into fads. They were trite, and I was most certainly above that.
See! This is why you don't have any friends!
I'm new. I've only been at this school for . . . seven months . . .
My shoulders drooped forward. Seven months was more than enough time to find at least one person to confide in.
But I was shy, and everybody steered away from cops and their skittish daughters.
Who cares? You'll be out of this place in a year and a half. Finish your junior year, take some summer classes and see if you can graduate early.
I knew dad would be devastated if I left early, but this place was stifling.
Not to mention lonely.
I needed new faces, a new start.
What I really needed was money to get contacts and a whole new look.
Maybe then guys would approach me and ask me out.
That was until I spoke. They would run away when my words left my tongue.
Lie then. Tell them what they want to hear.
You're the only girl at the age of seventeen who's never been kissed.
I cringed at the thought, finished brushing my teeth and left without looking in the mirror.
It was pointless. The same pale skin and lackluster eyes would greet me, and I was beyond caring at this point.
My rusted old truck rumbled down the road, and I turned up my music to drown it out. If I couldn't hear it, maybe it would bother me less.
Fireworks were quieter than my dinosaur scrapheap on wheels.
The rain started coming down, and I hissed, "I hate this place!"
Parking in my usual spot on the far end of the parking lot, I gave myself a moment of peace.
A moment before I would have to face Jason and Edward's eyes. Maybe Tracy's too.
They always hung out right by the entrance under the eaves of building C.
Building C was where my first class was, and I had no choice but to pass by them.
Why Edward didn't just wait inside the classroom was beyond me.
I had to sit by him in Biology, so it wasn't like I could avoid him.
But no. He had to make sure I noticed his eyes following me in the door while he smirked and Jason rolled his eyes like he was thoroughly repulsed by me.
If Tracy was there, she sometimes berated them and told them to knock it off.
But not every time; sometimes she was too busy being lip-locked with Jason to care about the laser-like stare Edward gave me.
I pulled my hoodie up, gripped my backpack in my trembling hands, and turned the engine off.
The door creaked loudly as I winched it open, embarrassing me. To add to my shame, I had to kick the stiff thing shut.
Without fail, there they were. They didn't care if the rain drenched them. They were too cool for umbrellas or rain slickers.
Like an idiot, I sheepishly ran in the rain to get past them as swiftly as I could.
As my luck would have it, I slipped right as I rounded the half wall they were sitting on. My backpack slid across the wet pavement, and I landed with a resounding smack on my behind.
This was superb!
Not only was I making a spectacle of myself in front of the whole school, but the two guys I wanted to avoid were now chuckling.
I struggled to get up and suddenly felt a tight grip around my right upper arm.
"Here, let me help you," Edward cooed.
I blinked hard, and tried not to cry.
He wasn't helping me. This wasn't his tactic.
He was humiliating me right into the ground.
"Thanks," I hissed, and yanked my arm free of his grasp as soon as I was on my two feet again.
He wanted to really rub it in, so he fetched me my backpack while smiling the entire time.
I could barely look at him.
"You're welcome," he said, smug as hell.
Then he did the unthinkable. He leaned forward and placed a delicate kiss at the corner of my mouth.
Whoa! Why did it feel familiar like he'd done it before?
I blushed, and then tucked my chin to my chest to get away from him, ignoring that disturbing déjà vu feeling running rampant in my head. My mortification at causing a scene was the prevalent thought taking over when instincts kicked in full force.
People saw that! Run! Run away!
My feet shuffled lamely as I attempted to get away. This time as I made my way inside the building I didn't fall, even though my legs felt like limp noodles.
People were chortling and whispering about me as I passed.
No doubt they got video footage of each of my fumbles and it would appear on YouTube in record time.
I hated this place!
And I hated these people.
Why did he have to kiss me like that? As if he didn't haunt me enough in my dreams and waking moments.
"There are better ways to get Edward's attention than pretending to fall," Susan said as she passed me by, knocking into my shoulder.
I thought she was my friend. What gives?
A sudden burst of anger and resentment filled my belly, and my head stung on my left temple so fiercely it was almost crippling.
"Bite it," I muttered under my breath and kept my head down, not wanting her to really hear me or see how much pain I was in.
I didn't ask for him to do that to me anyway, so what was her problem?
You'll never live this down!
Only ten more feet and I would be inside the classroom.
Five more precious feet, and I would be in a solid chair where I would most likely not fall. At least I hoped I wouldn't.
There was no guarantee.
Shrinking inside, I put on a tight mask of ambivalence. There was no way I was going to let them see me cracking.
I quickly went to my locker which was right across the hall from my classroom.
The combination lock moved fluidly for me, and I fogged up the rusted metal door as I kept my nose an inch from the dang thing. If I disappeared into the lockers maybe people would stop looking at me. And maybe the side of my mouth where he seared me with a kiss would stop buzzing and tingling.
Maybe I would cure cancer too.
Neither was going to happen and I knew it.
I opened it up swiftly, unzipped my backpack and with shaking hands tossed my other books inside.
"Girl, you really need to get some decent footwear and gloves. How many times have I told you this?" Mike asked. "Come into my parent's store today; I'll fix you up." He smiled. They owned a small family owned camping goods store.
Did he not know he was repugnant to me?
How many times did I have to ignore him for him to take the hint?
I didn't say a word, but breezed right past him.
There was no way in hell I was going to his store or talking to him.
Didn't he realize it was spring anyway? This arctic weather had to end soon.
April was supposed to mean no more snow or icy rain, yet here we were: black ice on the streets, and my breath ghosting in white curls before my eyes.
I hated the rain.
I hated this cold.
I hated all of this!
Gloves sucked, and so did this decrepit little town.
My shoes squeaked as I moved away from Mike and towards my classroom.
Great. My socks were going to rub me raw all day since they were soaked through.
What the . . . ?
I stepped inside the classroom and Edward was already seated, and watching me with rapt attention.
The smile was gone.
In its place was some kind of grimace.
Ugh! Should have stayed in bed!
Was there some kind of vendetta God was exacting against me?
Wasn't I already debtless in terms of shame for one day? Or even for an entire week?
Apparently not. Edward waved me over, making it clear he was going to make a meal out of my embarrassment today.
I squared my shoulders, and ignored that knot in my gut that said, 'Look at how hot he is! Leather and wet hair. Yumm! Take a picture when he's not looking!'
My glasses that were misted over slipped down my nose. I moved to push them back to their proper perch, and my backpack torqued my shoulder funny and made me lunge to the side to drop it.
"Ooowwww!" Mike howled, and then jumped.
My fat backpack landed right on his foot.
"Oh, I'm s-sorry," I stammered, and knelt down to take a look at his foot.
In my haste to make sure I didn't guillotine his toes off, I didn't notice he was switching into hopping mode.
And that's when I got kicked in the face.
His slimy, muddied up sneakers soiled up my chin and a part of my damp hair.
I was on my rear end again.
"Aaaarrrrgh!" I snarled, and clambered to my feet.
"Oh, jeez, sorry," Mike apologized, but continued to jump around like his toes were broken.
He reached out with one hand, looking absolutely ridiculous—he looked the way I felt.
"It's not a big deal. Sorry I turned you into a gimp for the day," I said, attempting to make light of things.
The entire class was snickering behind me. Because of course in the time it took me to erase Mike's dignity and mine, the classroom filled to capacity.
I went in search of my backpack, which escaped me.
"Here," that same cool voice I heard outside, spoke.
My backpack was dangling from his large, extremely attractive hands.
I had a thing for his hands.
They always caught my eyes.
Stop staring at his hands and take the dang thing!
"It seems I need soap on a rope, and backpack on a rack attached at my hip," I said, making fun of myself.
Edward chuckled, but said nothing.
I took the backpack and flinched when his hands helped place it back on my shoulder and accidentally grazed my neck. There was a zap of electricity that almost hurt when he came in contact.
His hands were cold, so I hoped he'd chalk up my reaction to nothing more than the frostiness of his skin.
He smiled and put his arm around my shoulders, walking me to my seat.
I felt like the old lady being helped by a Scout to cross the street with groceries in tow.
Yes, I was that inept. I couldn't make it from my car to my seat in first period in one piece.
Edward pulled out my chair, appearing to be the gallant gentleman.
I knew this was all about belittling me.
How did I know?
Because he was smiling, dammit.
And nothing about this was humorous.
At least not to me it wasn't.
My backpack hit the ground, and the moment my cheeks touched wood, Edward's strong hands pushed my seat forward.
The chair scraped along the linoleum like fingernails on a chalkboard.
My head tilted forward, and my hair did its job effectively. I was shrouded in the darkness of my hair the way I preferred.
It usually got me through my day unscathed, but it was too late for that. I didn't like anybody looking at me. They all thought I was a nut-job.
This day was already shot to hell.
Edward's pencil scratched next to me, and I huffed in annoyance.
He never took notes. Was he taking stock of all of my blunders and passing it off as being studious?
I loathed being his lab partner. It was torture.
I asked Mr. Landry to swap partners a week in. Even Mike would have sufficed as a replacement. But no—I had to suffer, being placed day in and day out in Edward's line of eyesight. It was not right.
Only a few more weeks to go; I'd make sure I shared no classes with him next year.
My senior year would be better.
It had to be.
"Hey, Bella . . ." Edward whispered, shoving his notebook towards me.
There was a drawing of a target.
"Ha, ha, I get it. You've zeroed-in on me with your handgun and my stupidity." I shoved it back towards him. A downright terrifying feeling of foreboding filled my entire body, and it was hard to keep from shaking in fear. I put on the tough-girl exterior so Edward wouldn't think me a woos. "I saw what you carved on that table yesterday."
"No, you're not getting it. It's a ri—"
An ear splitting noise shook the room. The glass shattered next to Edward, and he immediately ducked down into his leather jacket.
We both hit the floor, and crawled under our desk.
That's where we huddled in each others arms as another blast hit our ears.
The room was on fire. Every wall was ablaze.
And we were trapped.
"Ahhhhhhh!" I screamed as loud as I could.
My ears were ringing.
Edward was holding me, and we were both curled into tiny balls.
I think he whispered into my ears, but I couldn't hear a thing except occasional aftershock explosions. Random weird visions entered into my head—things I never saw or did before. Edward holding me. Me being in a hospital bed a step away from death's door. Edward lying in my bed with me at night and singing me to sleep. The strangest of all was slide after mental slide of him kissing me and simultaneously trying to keep me from seducing him, demanding he end my state of innocence.
Edward's hands slipped through my hair to grip me behind my neck, shocking me out of the mentally oblivious state I was in from all of the strange sights I was living through in my head. My head . . . ugh! It was ringing and throbbing so violently, making me disoriented.
His face suddenly was right before me.
'Don't move,' his lips said, my ears not registering it.
I shook my head in agreement, but didn't say a thing.
Edward crawled out from under the desk, and my instincts kicked in.
I didn't want to be alone.
Stupid! So stupid!
I should have stayed behind.
Blood was coating the floors.
Every single person in the room was dead.
Not even the teacher survived.
I looked over at the teacher, and his gray lifeless eyes suddenly blinked at me.
"This is not happening!" I said to myself over and over, to ward off the scary image I just imagined. He was dead, the teacher was gone. I knew this for a fact.
But why? He had the same amount of time to react as Edward and I did. The whole class did.
Were we the only two who got down?
Wasn't that common knowledge to duck, hit the floor?
Did they not watch TV in this crap town?
Edward moved swiftly, and went to his backpack, which somehow was unharmed.
Mine was missing.
I swear my bag had legs and was constantly trying to find a better home than the one I gave it. It drove me insane how I could never find my bag when I needed it. It was like magic quicksand sucked the lame thing down, only to return when I didn't need it anymore.
He pulled out a knife and a gun.
But those weren't as scary as what he did next.
He stood up, grabbed our desk and hurled it out the windows that hadn't shattered in the explosion.
I couldn't hear him, but I knew he was screaming obscenities at the top of his lungs. He had superhuman strength, and I almost thought of him as a superhero at my beck and call to save the day when I needed him.
He reached for my hand, and I had no other option but to take it.
His jacket was already off and placed over the jagged remaining window shards.
The lower half of the wall was aflame, so he brought me up on top of a desk and then swiftly smacked me on the lower back so I would jump out into the rain slicked grass.
The desk was moving around, and my knees wanted to buckle in fear, but somehow I lunged forward, and jumped, clearing the window entirely.
He did the same, and then ripped his jacket off the sill.
The fabric was shredded on the outside, but the inside still intact.
He didn't put it on himself, but placed it over my head to protect me and then he yelled some words I couldn't hear.
When the reality hit him I was deaf, he wrapped his hand around mine, and pulled me behind him as we ran.
He ran so fast, I was skidding and hydroplaning on the soggy turf.
The ringing in my ears went to earsplitting decibels, and that's when I realized why.
I turned around.
The final blast went off.
I watched in horror as the entire Fork's High School campus was blown away. Yet somehow, I knew. I knew this was going to happen. It wasn't as shocking as it should have been. I wasn't clairvoyant, so how did I know deep in my bones this explosion was imminent? Was it because the first one felt like a lead-up? No, that wasn't it. I searched my brain, racking it for some clue as to how I could have predicted deep inside this was going to happen. Not a single answer sprang to mind.
So, I stood and stared dumbly at the school, at a loss for words.
The explosion escalated a moment later.
It was rubble—all of it. Edward and I were thrown through the air into the lifeless parking lot from the after-blast.
Nobody was around, except Jason who seemed to materialize out of thin air.
And that was when I knew. Something was wrong!
They orchestrated this.
Edward knew. I got the vibe from him.
He knew this was going to happen, and he somehow pulled it off.
I wasn't supposed to survive, but being a cop's daughter, I knew what to do.
For some stupid reason he let me live.
But they wouldn't get away this.
My truck wasn't locked, and I had the keys in my pockets.
Before my mind registered anything at all, I was speeding out of the parking lot and heading straight for my dad.
I was not going to be Edward or Jason's alibi.
They would not use me to claim they were innocent.
The second I was in the parking lot for dad's office, I was running towards those front doors.
I heard ambulances and fire trucks screaming around town to get to the scene of the crime.
"Dad! Dad!" I screeched the second I was through the doors.
Dad jumped up from his desk and raced to me.
I collapsed in his arms, the tears gushing out of me.
"The school. It exploded," I told him.
"What?" he cried.
"It was Edward and Jason. They did it, and everybody's dead. Everybody except Tracy and me," I said in one breath. I didn't know how, but somehow I felt she was alive too.
"Stay here, don't move," he demanded.
I nodded, and slumped down to the floor.
Like a child, I tailor-sat in the middle of the floor without any regard to foot traffic.
The whole office went from a dull roar to shouts and frantic movement.
Calls were coming in, and I was frozen in spot. Once again . . . this all felt too familiar. But why? I was a good kid. I never got in trouble and wound up at the police station.
Hands roughly yanked me up to standing, and I was placed in an interrogation room.
Before I could blink an eye, I was being cuffed behind my back.
"What the . . . ?" My head craned over my shoulder.
Officer Pemenski was rambling off my Miranda rights.
"You're under arrest in suspected arson and destruction of school grounds. You have the right to—"
"I didn't do it!" I hissed.
He continued on with his memorized script.
I began crying.
Before leaving the room, he said, "Cullen's on his way. They've got him and the other two. Everybody knows about you," he said.
And with those parting words, he left me dumbfounded and shackled.
Where was my father?
Where was sanity?
I screamed and yanked at my wrists to get them free.
Nobody helped me.
And I was stuck.
Implicated in a heinous crime I had nothing to do with.
Officer Tram came bounding in a few moments later, and I heard the shrill screams of Tracy in the background, "I told you this was going to happen! I told you!"
How on earth did she survive the explosions? And how did I know?
The door clanged shut, and a second later, there were three photos slapped down on the table before me.
One was of Edward and me giving each other furtive glasses in class yesterday.
The second was of his sly little kiss this morning that I did not ask for.
And the third was of Edward helping me out the window, with his gun visibly tucked into the waistline of his jeans.
Crap! This was bad.
"I want to see my father," I said levelly.
"Can't. He's not here. He's cleaning up your mess," he said, circling me like a vulture.
"I want a lawyer then," I insisted.
"Your dad can't afford one. He told me before he left you were on your own." He stared impassively. I gulped, uncomfortable under his direct gaze.
He sat across from me, intertwined his fingers and settled them on the desk in front of me.
I stared him straight in the eye, unwilling to break down anymore than I already had.
His lips grimaced into a devilish smile. "You think you're so smart, don't you? Well, we've been watching for months now."
My arms started twitching, feeling really itchy. I had a creepy-crawly feeling, like insects were marching across my flesh, moving each tiny hair around to get around each follicle.
"No. I don't think I'm smart, I know I am," I back talked.
And that's when it all went from vacationing in the pit of hell, to being thrust into its cankerous bowels.
I was yanked forcibly out of my seat and then shoved through the door.
Edward screamed at me from somewhere down the hall, "Bella! Don't listen to them, they're lying! They're lying. Don't believe a word! This isn't happening!"
And then I heard a resounding smack to what I presumed was his flesh, and a loud thump.
"Say bye-bye to your little friends," the officer said, as he hustled me out the front doors, and shoved me into the back of his police cruiser.
The sparkling dews on the windows that looked like glittering gems taunted me. They were too pretty for hell.
There wasn't going to be rainbows though where he was taking me.
I was certain there wouldn't even be sunshine.
And I was right.
I spent the next two nights strapped down to a bed and medicated because I wouldn't stop screaming for my dad. They threatened to put me in a straight jacket if I didn't cooperate.
Nobody listened anymore, so I stopped.
That and my throat was bursting with flames, it was hoarse from my attempts to get attention.
I spent two more days being force-fed in bed, and because I stopped talking altogether, they let me go.
Where I was being housed wasn't clear. It was some kind of institution for crazies, but I didn't know if this was a prison of some sort or not.
I kept thinking any second my dad would bowl his way into this place and rescue me, but he didn't.
Each ticking second was worse than the previous, and hope evaporated straight out of my soul, through my pores, and into the dingy walls.
I was strung along the hallway and led into an office.
Every few seconds my guard would press a single fingertip to my wrist, and my eyes deceived me. I would watch in horror as blood rose to the surface where his finger touched me. It was like an instant hickey from his touch. When I flicked my eyes up at him in a panic, his irises suddenly changed from boring brown to the exact unique shade of green Edward possessed.
I blinked hard, willing the crazy sight out of my head. I was hallucinating, had to be.
When I got to my destination, I kept quiet. If I told them I was seeing things, that straight jacket would be a certainty, along with a whole slew of drugs being crammed down my mouth to take over in my bloodstream.
A therapist evaluated me quickly, and I barely responded.
I think they did this when I first arrived too, but because of the drugs it was a little hazy. My memories were scattered. All I could remember with clarity was the explosion and Edward taking my hand, caring if I survived or not.
The next day, the same thing happened; only this time, I didn't watch when my guard touched me. I was too frightened I might see it again.
When I stepped into the therapist's room, this time I decided I might talk. Maybe she could help me? I wasn't sure if I could trust her not.
"You seem better," doctor know-it-all said.
"Mmm," I grunted.
"Thirsty?" she asked.
I was staring at the glass of water on the desk. Or more appropriately, the watermark it rested upon. The mark had an oddly thick crescent mark on the left side, making it appear oval shaped, or lopsided.
This was an expensive desk; it didn't match the rest of this derelict facility.
Haven't you heard of coasters, lady?
I cleaned at home. It was my job to keep things running, and I always made sure Dad had a coaster when he was having a beer.
We didn't have unsightly rings on our hand-me-down furniture. Mostly because we needed it all to last, but for me it went beyond that. It was a pride issue.
I snorted when she repeated her question.
What if I was thirsty? Was she going to give me the drink she was already sipping from? Who knew if it was even water? If I worked here it would drive me to drink.
I had the distinct impression it was filled with poisonous venom, and if I drank it my borderline insanity would be tipped over into total oblivion—a place I would never come back from.
I leaned back, away from that scary glass of suspicious fluid.
She asked a few other cursory questions about home life and then she began to really question me.
"Do you know why you're here?"
"Yes." I wanted to glare at her, but that would slow things down.
Instead I kept my eyes on that infuriating, unsightly watermark.
"Do you realize what you did was wrong?"
"Mmm," I grunted again.
"Isabella, I'm here to help you. You need to open up and talk to me. I'll keep your confidence," she said.
Her voice was solid, didn't waver at all.
I swallowed hard.
"It doesn't matter." I shrugged my shoulders.
"What doesn't?" she asked.
"None of this. None of this matters. My dad's going to come for me and he'll get a lawyer," I said.
My hands started shaking, revealing my doubts.
I clasped them tightly in my lap to keep it hidden.
"Are you worried about him?"
"No. He can take care of himself," I lied. "Why would you ask me that?"
"Because, he hasn't been here to see you. If I was a young girl your age and my parents didn't at least come to visit I would be frightened." She cleared her throat.
I did the opposite. That thick lump in my throat affixed itself firmly in place. I tried to swallow so I could speak, but thought better of it.
She lectured me about the facility and how I was expected to behave.
Before she let me go she shook my hand and announced her name was Sherry Burgeon.
I was escorted out of her office and then brought outside.
The light was hideously bright.
This wasn't the Fork's I knew.
Why for the love of daisies on the one day I needed cloud cover so my eyes could adjust to natural light was it blazing bright?
My hands flew to my eyes to shield and protect them.
It had taken a full day of being here for my hearing to return, and I didn't like being deaf. I surmised being blind wasn't going to be any more delightful.
I stumbled as I moved towards a shady tree.
The guard behind me watched me go.
When my toes contacted the shadow, I uncovered my eyes and allowed a quick visual sweep of the grounds.
We were fenced in. Scary barbed wire, electrified fences, guards on towers, and dogs right outside the fence kept all of us whack-jobs at bay.
Where in the heck was I?
"You're in the funny farm," that silky voice I knew too well said from over my shoulder.
"Edward?" I whispered, shocked.
"Yeah. They don't have juvenile detention centers in Fork's. Too small of a town, so we're being held here until they can move us to Seattle's facility," he said.
I slid down the tree trunk until I hit the ground.
"Why am I here?" I asked rhetorically.
"You can thank Tracy. She's the only one of us that would talk, and since she kept spouting off about visions of the future, and dreams and such, they thought she was our leader and we were all brain washed by her. They think we're insane, and murderers too," he said.
He sat down next to me, his long lean legs bent at the knee, and his elbows dug into his thighs. His hands clawed through his hair and his head lulled forward in defeat.
"Why didn't you guys tell them I had nothing to do with it? Tell them I'm innocent," I demanded.
His head remained bowed, but he turned it up enough to the side to give me a humorous glance.
"You think we were responsible?" he huffed. "You're not as smart as I thought you were. Remember, Bella. You have to remember."
"Well, who did it then?" I ignored him asking me to remember. It didn't make sense to me.
"You know who did it!" he snapped, his hands flying wildly in the air.
"You did it! I know you did. You drew that bulls-eye to give me a message. Where you warning me?" I accused.
"It wasn't a bulls-eye, you silly girl! It was a ripple. I was drawing a pond of water with a stone dropped in the middle. Those were your ripples, and here I thought you would finally get it. What was I thinking? Clearly I was deluded, believing you might actually listen to me for once. But no! Jason was right! You hate us now, and he knew you were going to blame this all on us," he ranted. "We're trying to help you."
"Who did this?" I repeated.
"You have to figure it out. And yes, I was trying to warn you, just like I always do each time you do this. Come back to me."
He stood up, dusted off his pants and left me with my mouth agape, watching him join Jason on the lone picnic table across the yard.
There were twenty of us out here milling about.
And I was alone.
That night I tossed and turned. They let me sleep without being restrained. There was a funny lump in my stomach, churning, making me nauseous.
I kept trying to look at my stomach to see if I was crazy and an alien was about to pop out of there. But just when I was about to set my head down on the pillow, a slight movement caught my eye across the room.
The door was open! And Edward was standing in the hallway, motioning for me to join him.
I jumped out of bed as quickly and quietly as I could. I found my shoes, slipped them on and ran to him.
He grabbed my hand and started running.
I don't know how he did it—but somehow he figured out a way for us to escape without being detected. The place was dead. There were no guards around, no alarms being tripped, and in a blink of an eye, we were out on the grounds, climbing over the fence. He used his leather jacket on the barbed wire the same he did on the glass on the windows back at the school. Did they let him keep it, thinking it was insignificant? They took all of my possessions. I was stripped down and left with nothing of my own. All I was granted was their standard issue institutionalized garb and shoes that fit funny, rubbing my feet raw.
I could barely keep up with him once we were on the ground. He aimed for the forest, where I knew we would be hidden from the insane asylum, but not necessarily safe. There were wolves to worry about.
But Edward didn't seem concerned.
My wrist he was yanking on was incredibly sore, and I didn't know why. When I was strapped to the bed it didn't hurt me there. It was my ankles that usually hurt afterwards, because I preferred to kick my legs over straining my hands. I had no upper body strength so it seemed reasonable to use the power of my thighs and calves instead.
The moment the building was out of sight and we were surrounded on all sides by thick forest my head burned like it was fire.
I was bombarded with images of me crying, curled up in the fetal position. There was the distinct impression that Edward had just left me behind, and I was completely devastated by it.
I yanked my arm out of his and turned on him.
"You left me," I whispered, barely audible.
"What are you talking about?" he asked, confused.
"You left me in the forest," I clarified.
"Bella, we've never been in the forest together before now," he corrected.
I blinked hard, and then several more impressions took hold of me.
"Oh my . . ." I fell to my knees. "You broke up with me. I was so in love with you but you ran like a coward, and you . . . you weren't human!" I yelped, covering my mouth suddenly.
I was crazy—a full on lunatic.
"Bella, I have no idea what drugs they gave you, but we just escaped. I found out your father is the one who blew up the school. He did it for insurance money. He meant for you to die. He wanted to collect on his—"
Edward's eyes shifted from forest green to a deep gold, frightening me.
"No!" I blurted. "You're trying to trick me. This isn't real." I looked down at my wrist, and there was that crazy watermark from the desk, imbedded in my skin. It shimmered in the moonlight, giving me chills from the ominous way it flashed and glowed.
"What is that?" he asked, grabbing my wrist and examining it.
I stared, mute.
"Are those . . . teeth marks?" he asked, his voice breaking.
I nodded, scared out of my wits.
"Who bit you?"
"A vampire," I said out of the blue.
His eyes squeezed shut like he was in tremendous pain, as if I kicked him in the gut. "This is wrong. This isn't better."
My breath hitched, and then he touched it, the same way the orderly had. That bruising, blood-rushing sensation intensified. A lot of blood converged on that spot he pressed down on, and when he lifted his finger, there was a very dark red, angry mark in the center of the watermark.
"What's happening to me?" Tears threatened to slide down my cheeks.
"You're right . . . this isn't real," he said, his eyes flat and lifeless.
"Is this some sort of joke? You're messing with me, right? Did you drug me? Am I . . . seeing things?" I asked.
"Yes and no. You aren't drugged. You're in your head, Bella. I keep trying to break you out." He tapped the side of my temple, and that blood chasing thing he did to my wrist happened all over again, converging in this one spot.
My head felt split open, flayed like a sword sliced right through it.
Thump, thump, thump . . . thump, thump. Thump . . . gug . . .
And then nothing: my heart stopped entirely.
Suddenly my eyes flashed open.
I screamed in agony.
He was gone.
I rubbed at my lips.
Edward's venom coated lips left traces behind when he kissed me right before he left.
I was lying on the forest floor, curled in a ball. There was cold blood trickling slowly down my cheek. It felt thick and gluey almost.
My shaking fingers reached up to feel what was there—how I was wounded.
A sharp object jutted straight out of my skull.
And then it all came rushing back in a tidal wave.
Edward broke up with me. I searched and searched, but couldn't find him. When I realized his saliva was still on my lips, I jammed a stick into my wrist right in the middle of where James bit me months ago.
The blood sprang up immediately. I rubbed the saliva on my mouth across the wound.
Fearing it was too late, I dropped to my knees, to find a jagged rock to make a bigger gash in my vein. There needed to be better access for his venom to take hold.
A burning sensation began trickling up my arm, but I was impatient and wanted more.
Right as I sliced into my wrist, I was hit with a force stronger than anything I ever felt before.
I was knocked to my side, and that branch was jammed further into my head. It was a few inches away from my temple.
It knocked me out seconds later. What should have killed me did not. The wolf, presumably Jacob, who tried to stop me from changing myself, left when he thought I was dead.
The burning, coupled with the absolute devastation of Edward leaving trapped me in my head for the next three days.
During that time I lay on the forest floor, my heart barely beating as my body bled out at the wrist and at the side of my skull. Edward's venom mixed with my singer blood held me in a world of my own making—one where he wanted me. It was a place where nobody else existed.
I would destroy anybody in my path that kept me from him.
A deep, reverberating growl erupted out of my chest, and I yanked the branch out of my head.
I could feel my skin seal shut over it—healing almost immediately.
The bleeding stopped, even though it was probably only residual from before my heart stopped beating.
I jumped to my feet in a sweeping cat-like motion, elegantly poised myself to attack, and then I was off.
I would find Edward.
I would hunt him down.
He would pay for this. He would learn he could not leave me behind. Ever!
He was mine. I was his creation he did not purposefully make.
No matter. I was his monster, and he would give me what I wanted—his flesh!
I ran and didn't tire. His scent was nearby, which made me laugh. How was he this stupid to not really leave the area?
My feet skidded to a halt when I caught him around the neck.
I didn't know where I was, but we were outside of a brick building. He choked on his words as I gripped him by the throat with both hands and squeezed as hard I could.
He smacked feebly at my hands, and called me by name, "Isa-sabella . . . stop, sweetheart. They can't . . . h-hurt you any-m-more."
Hurt me? Who hurt me besides him?
My grip loosened, and it was enough for him to break out of my hold.
He took me in his arms and wept bitterly.
"It's okay . . . Darling, I've got you. I took you out of that scary institution!" he cried.
I pulled away from him, my eyes wide in confusion.
That's when I noticed what he was wearing. He was dressed in dress pants, a simple white button up dress shirt. It was topped off with a bowtie and accessorized with suspenders. He even donned a fedora.
What the hell?
I backed away, alarmed.
My head shook back and forth. This was a nightmare, the absolute worst kind.
I glanced down at what I was wearing. It was a simple linen blue dress, and I was wearing black granny boots that were scuffed and worn. My stockings didn't fit quite right, and even though they were soft, my skin felt like it was being scratched and scraped by the silk.
I looked up at a sign next to his head, by the door he most likely exited to find me. It read: the National Society for the Promotion of Occupational Therapy (NSPOT).
Oh no! No, no, no, nooooo!
I heard of this place. This was where psychotic people were mistreated with electro shock therapy and lobotomies. They were being 'rehabilitated' after going mad.
But I wasn't one of them, was I?
My eyes darted about like a skittish wild animal being trapped.
Just then, three men exited the building, dressed in traditional nursing uniforms from the early nineteen-hundred's.
This was not reality!
They slowly circled around me and surrounded me, corralling me towards the door.
Edward approached me slow, his arms outstretched.
"What is happening?" My eyes still shifted about in case they attacked me.
"You've been in a coma for three days, sweetheart," he explained, his voice soft and soothing.
"What?" I whimpered.
"You were shot in the head about a month ago. We were attacked one night in the alley near our favorite restaurant." His eyes were pleading with me to come to him, but I placed myself strategically between him and the men, looking for a gap so I could flee.
"I remember . . . a fiery explosion," I said.
"Yes, you do. His first bullet hit through the window and punctured a gas heater. It exploded. When that happened, you threw your handbag down and bit him on the wrist to get him to drop his gun he was pointing at me," he explained.
I wanted to blink it all way, wish it wasn't true.
"But . . . what did he want?" I asked shakily.
"My wallet. I handed it to him, but you refused to give up your purse. That's when the first shot was fired." His hands dropped in defeat, realizing I wasn't going to take them.
"And . . . was there a leather jacket?" I asked.
He smiled encouragingly. "Yes. Yes, I knew your memories would come back. I knew you'd remember me," he said, beyond joyous. He was downright giddy.
"Edward," I breathed.
"Yes, I'm your Edward, your newlywed husband," he said, smiling triumphantly.
A hundred visions of me trying to get him to have marital relations swam through my head.
He refused every time, citing he was protecting my reputation. I didn't care about that—I only wanted him.
As soon as we married, I insisted he hold me all night after we made love and sing me to sleep.
But what about . . . what about being in high school? What about it exploding in a ball of flame?
"Was I . . ." I hesitated, knowing this going to sound downright certifiably deranged ". . . did I somehow travel to the future?"
"In your mind you time travelled. They had you on heavy drugs; they even sedated you a few times. Each time you thought you were somewhere else they electrically shocked you to bring you back to us. You babbled about stuff we never heard of before." He rubbed at his eyes to keep from crying. "You thought I was vampire when I kissed your neck. You asked me to change you into one too so you wouldn't hurt anymore. Each night I had to leave the institution to go home you sobbed and begged me not to leave you. It broke my heart." Tears slid down his cheeks now.
That's when I knew . . . he wasn't lying.
I flew into his arms.
Edward scooped me up, carried me inside and set me down on a hospital bed.
I was strapped down right away, and I immediately howled and thrashed about.
"Nurse Susan Tracy!" Edward shouted, angry at how I was being treated. "You promised she wouldn't be restrained!"
A bouncy little woman with cropped short black hair stared at me, her eyes piercing and even darker than her hair.
"Alice!" I croaked.
"Tracy, she's off the medications they gave her," Edward spoke to her, ignoring me.
"Alice, it's you!" I cried, struggling to break free.
"She's having another episode," Alice, or Susan Tracy as Edward called her, responded.
"She is not. She's just a little confused. When we stepped out of the car, one of the orderlies accidentally tripped her. She hit her head. She's fine," Edward insisted.
"Alice, help me! I want to go back. Back to two-thousand and twelve; I promise I'll be good. I want to be like you and Edward. I won't kill anybody and suck their blood. I'll hunt deer; be a good vegetarian. Please, I just want to be with Edward forev—"
"Nighty night," she said, injecting me with something in the thigh.
"Nurse Tracy, we didn't agree to this!" Edward yelled in her face, fuming.
Darkness was sucking me in.
"You didn't tell me she still thought she had been almost a hundred years in the future!" Alice yelled back.
Edward broke down into hysterical fits of sobbing, and before I went under completely, she took him in her arms and hugged him consolingly.
I reached out my arm, and that's when Rosalie, the woman that never liked me, angrily gripped my wrist. She pressed her finger so hard I knew it would leave a mark.
She followed me. Memories hit me. She was at the insane asylum. I knew she tortured me—shocked me and told me Edward didn't love me anymore.
"You . . . did . . . it," I whimpered and then I was gone.
I was floating back . . . back to the present. The place where Edward left me in the woods. The place where I was bleeding, broken and without a heart.
The place he would never come to, because this was where I was condemned to remain.
Lost in the woods in my mind—where the wolves kept me company and tried to destroy me if I clawed my way back to Edward, back to my love.
If I ever forgive you for leaving me and hurting me beyond repair, I'll consider finding you.
Until then . . . I will wallow, rot away.
"Come back, Bella . . . sweetheart! I need you!" Edward screamed.
A jolting fire ripped through my chest, and my eyes flashed open to a searing light.
I was strapped to that bed still. A syringe stuck out of my heart, and he plunged it down into me.
I glanced around the room. Everybody was dead.
All of them—except nurse Tracy—or Alice as I remembered her.
"She's not dead! Her brain isn't gone!" Edward yelled at her, referring to me.
She was tied up to a chair nearby, gagged with a handkerchief stuffed in her mouth.
"Adrenaline. Pure adrenaline . . . I told you that's all my wife needed," Edward spat at her.
Her eyes were wide with fear.
He finished emptying the vial into my heart, then pulled it out in a sickening, suction-sounding way.
He ripped my straps off, pulling me off the bed and running with me out the door.
"I've got you, my love. We're going home. I'll take care of you. You never have to see those people ever again. You just have to stay with me. No more time travelling, okay?" He was running so fast my head was spinning.
The next thing I knew, we were in our warm bed. He was wrapped around me, singing to me as his tears dropped into my hair.
"Edward . . . I love you. Will you stay with me this time?" I asked, my legs shaking uncontrollably.
"I will. I'll always stay with you. I love you more than anything," he said, kissing my head over and over.
"Will you keep me here with you? I think this is the place I want to stay. I like it when you're human. You have the most beautiful green eyes I've ever seen," I said, remembering his golden and black ones. They were nice too, but a little disconcerting at times.
He hummed, drowning out the things I was saying.
"James bit me." I cringed.
"Shhhh . . . no, no, baby. You bit him. You bit James Landry, and when we watched him die, you told him you hated him."
"Did we know him?" I asked, shocked by this.
Pieces of the puzzle clicked into place. That teacher? The one who blinked at me? That was James, the man who shot me in the head?
"Yes, we did. But I don't want to talk ab—"
"Alright . . . I will," he said reluctantly. "He was . . . he was the man who killed our baby."
And that's when I passed out.
That's when I tried to go back to the woods.
The woods were quiet, didn't have blood all over the floor.
The blood of my baby.
He did it.
He made me crazy.
He was the reason I tried to forget.
James wanted to steal our money, take everything we had.
Edward accidentally hit James wife with a car a year ago. She was hugely pregnant, soon to deliver, but her baby died. She did too.
I was pregnant too. Just barely showing.
James hunted me down, exacted his retribution and attacked me while Edward was at work.
He sliced into my belly, killing my baby instantly. I watched him walk away, leaving me for dead.
If Edward hadn't decided to come home for lunch and surprise me, I would have died that day.
Edward rushed me to the hospital, saved my life.
Because he somehow wrapped my belly up tight with a torn sheet before driving me to the hospital, I didn't lose enough blood to die.
But my baby was gone.
And I slowly lost my grip on reality.
When James shot me in the head a few months after, that's when it all got jumbled up.
And now I had to choose.
Where would I live out the rest of my life?
Would I be the escaped girl in the woods with Edward, knowing I was somehow responsible for all of those deaths at the school?
Would I lay low and hide out in the woods alone, where my vampire boyfriend left me behind and he would never return? I couldn't hurt anybody in that place. It was a tempting option.
Or would I deal with the dread, the anguish over a lost baby? Would I try to figure out a way to handle the humility of going through some psychotic episode and admit to my husband I was indeed crazy and needed help?
I didn't have to decide.
Edward's fingers stroked my temple, where the memory of a bullet echoed the scorching pain that ripped through it.
He kissed me there and pleaded with me to stay with him.
I couldn't do it.
I couldn't leave him.
There was only choice.
I chose Edward.
I stayed at his side and selfishly allowed him to remain stuck with a wife who was broken and most likely beyond repair.
"I love you," I sighed.
"I love you too. Don't leave again," he begged.
"I won't, if you don't," I replied.
"I'm never ever letting you go. They'll have to pry my cold dead fingers off your body to get to you," he promised.
And that was when the front door was suddenly being banged on angrily.
"We have to run now," he said.
"They've come for us? They want to separate us?"
"Yes, sweetheart, they do. I hurt some people. They want to put me in jail and they'll probably take you back to that nasty place to try and treat you," he said lovingly.
I stood up, he took my hand, and we ran out the backdoor, disappearing into the woods behind our house. We would deal with the wolves—as long as we were together—we would survive. Because our love did.
It always would.
Check out this website for a little more information on how psychiatric care was handled in 1917 by a pioneering nurse in the field by the name of Susan Tracy: http : /www . sensory-processing-disorder . com/history-of-occupational-therapy . html (remove the spaces)
Thank you to my terrific beta, Catastrophia, for helping me clarify a few muddied spots. Just know she's a wonderful friend and an even better editor! She is also the reason I entered this contest. I couldn't say no to her.
I love time travel stories. One of my favorites is Somewhere in Time by Richard Matheson. Most people don't realize he wrote I Am Legend as well, that's how varied his writing was.
Let me know what you think. Can't wait to hear from you!