You'll notice that Bella's past has been changed. I did that to add another reason for her to stay in Forks when Edward has left and to add something to her character that makes her more "my own". In other words, it's Bella, but she's a bit different (both personality and history).
And here's a stop motion-animation-thingy I made a while ago that fits very well with this story:
I have a LiveJournal-page with pictures to the story as well, but I can't post it yet (spoilers).
Susanne Sundfør – The Brothel
Orson Welles once said, "We're born alone, we live alone, we die alone." I used to find it such a pessimistic way to think. We're born into a family, we live with our loved ones, and if we're lucky, we die in their arms, I thought.
I don't anymore.
Loneliness is the scariest thing there is. It leaves you with the company of your thoughts, and nothing else. Your mind starts to shrink away, and your heart withers. Your thoughts become echoes of previous thoughts, until you stop bothering to think at all. And with that, you lose even the company of your own mind.
Most people will say they have been lonely at some point in their lives, but it's a word that has lost its true and terrifying meaning. Very few people have ever been completely alone.
No one is waiting for you at the end of the road. There's nothing to leave, nowhere to go and nothing to return to. The world becomes an empty hole, and the only reason you exist is because there's nothing else to do.
My eyes didn't truly see the empty road as I raced down the I-90 in Jacob's Volkswagen Rabbit, leaving city after city behind me.
There were only dark clouds ahead, coming closer.
Chapter 1 Soundtrack:
CocoRosie – Werewolf
Placebo – Running Up That Hill
Thriving Ivory – Flower for a Ghost (The only human-part of the song has always made me think about Bella)
CHAPTER 1: THERAPY
"Bella. I think it's time you start talking." I looked up, a little dumbfounded. "But I have been talking." She gave me an understanding and sweet smile. She was always so damn understanding. It bugged me. Dr. Meredith Davis. Her name bugged me too. At least annoyance was an emotion, which was a rare thing for me. Feeling things was something I'd put behind me a long time ago.
"You've been here five times, and each time you've told me about school that day, what you're going to make your father for dinner later, what test you have to study for, which subjects you're good at… You haven't said a word about the events that brought you here." I rolled my eyes and sighed. "My father brought me here." I'd made that very clear the first time I sat down on this damn comfortable couch in this annoyingly soothing room; I didn't want to be here, I was forced to. The memory of it flashed before my eyes.
"Okay, that's it. I've had it with you. Bella, this is not normal." I looked up at him, startled. Charlie's eyes looked red and his face was twisted in a frustrated grimace. He looked like he was forcing himself not to cry. It broke my already smashed heart to see it. "What did I do?" I asked, confused and startled. We'd been eating dinner quietly. I'd just been looking out the window, thinking about absolutely nothing while my eyes stared at the leaves dancing in the wind before his outburst figuratively woke me up. "Nothing." he said, still angry. He looked away and sighed, trying to calm himself. "That's the problem. You're like a robot, Bella. You're … you're almost catatonic. Something's got to change. I'm done waiting for it to pass in silence, because I can see now that that wont happen."
Dr. Davis brought me back to reality. "I know. But we're here now, so why not try to sort this out. Let's start at the beginning. I know you were in a relationship and that it ended. Why don't you start by telling me about him?" She smiled sweetly at me, trying to be encouraging in her tone and manner. I bit my lip thinking. Then I smiled a little as I imagined myself saying "Well, it all started when I fell in love with this vampire that went to my school, Edward." Then my smile faded as my stomach twisted in a painful way. I knew therapy wouldn't help. I only went for Charlie, and I always did my best to smile and act alive when I came home every Thursday afternoon, trying to make him think that I was healing. I wasn't so sure the smiles reached my eyes though, because his returning smiles never did.
Thinking about that, his sad smiles, made me determined to try. I would really try therapy. I would try to talk about the things that brought me here. "His name is Edward," I said in a small voice. I cleared my throat and looked down at my hands. His name made my stomach twist again. I wrapped my arms around myself, trying to hold everything together. It felt like I was coming apart, because his name was so much more than a name. It was memories. The memories tore me apart.
Dr. Davis nodded and gave me another encouraging smile. I continued. "He left about 4 months ago. He was… special. It's hard to explain. He was a very good person. He was perfect." I was saying the words but I forced myself into a dumb state where I could barely notice them. I was speaking lethargically, without emotion. It was the only way to say the words out loud. Dr. Davis' face went serious. "No one's perfect, Bella. It's important not to put people on pedestals. We all have flaws, it's only human." Only human, I thought bitterly. I exhaled loudly and closed my eyes for a few seconds, trying not to feel the pain, which was impossible.
"It's very hard for me to talk about. I try not to remember." I said. I was a little surprised at how calm and even my voice was. I still had my arms wrapped around myself, but my face was composed and my voice was calm, a contradiction to how I felt on the inside. "Maybe we'll start with an easy one – one of the classics. Try to name some of his flaws." She smiled at me again. "Uhm… well. I don't know. He was very protective, which was sweet, but it also made me feel a little… weak. Then again, his protectiveness saved my life, so I can't really call that a flaw."
Port Angeles. I had gotten lost trying to find the restaurant where I was supposed to meet Angela and Jessica... Surrounded by big figures on all sides… My throat going dry as I planned to start screaming… trying to remember how to incapacitate an attacker... Headlights... His car rounding the corner at full speed... Opening the passenger door… "Get in"… Relief.
I shook my head, trying to shake it out of my brain. "That wasn't a very good one, was it," I said, not really asking. "It's something," she answered, always with that damn smile. "Keep going," she encouraged. I sighed for the thousandth time. "Well… He had a problem with his temper, I guess." Dr. Davis had been writing something in her note-pad and looked up suddenly. "Bella, did Edward ever abuse you?" she asked in a serious tone, all smiles gone. A high-pitched laugh escaped from my lips. It sounded weird. I hadn't laughed in over four months. It was a humorless laugh. "He was nothing like that," I said.
The memories kept on coming. I pictured them like an ocean being held back by a huge wall of wooden planks. Each question made one of the planks fall, and a wave of memories came at me with full force.
Edward touching my hands and arms in the meadow with the lightest touch I'd ever felt. His skin sparkling in the sun. The electricity between my skin and his fingers. The wonderful sensation. Edward kissing me in my bedroom, so soft and gentle, like I was made out of glass.
Dr. Davis smiled, and I looked down and away from all of her sweetness and understanding. "Take your time, Bella," she said. But I was done. The memories kept coming at me, and it was too much. "I don't want to talk about this anymore," I said, my voice no longer calm. "Bella, this is important. If you're going to get better –" but I interrupted her. "Then this is not the right way to do it." She looked a little taken aback by my rudeness. "You shouldn't keep all of this locked up, Bella. It doesn't work that way."
We were both quiet for a while. I tightened my arms around my torso and tried to slow my breathing. I had a hole in my chest, somewhere around where my heart should be. It was normally just a hollow feeling, but now that the memories were no longer locked up tight, it felt like it was burning.
I looked up at the clock over her head, and it showed 5 pm. It was over. "We're done," I said and got up from the couch. Dr. Davis sighed. "See you next week, Bella," she said and smiled at me, but I couldn't return it.
It took all the strength I had left in me to tell her politely goodbye and walk at a normal pace towards the door. When I'd closed it behind me, I ran. I ran through the waiting room, past all the ugly paintings in the hallway and down the stairs until I reached the first floor bathroom. I locked the door with shaking hands, and then I collapsed and let the pain eat me whole.
A long time had passed. Maybe two hours, maybe a week. I had been in a ball on the floor, trying with all my strength to keep myself from breaking into a thousand little pieces. I hadn't felt this kind of pain in such a long time. It wasn't any better than it had been 4 months ago, but I realized as I lay there that I had in fact gotten better at controlling it. I had been controlling it, and I could do it now. I needed to feel better at once, because I couldn't bare it any longer. So I saw two options: I could start the process of making myself numb again, but that would take a couple of days at best now that so many memories we're out of their cage and poisoning me, or I could forget the past months and truly and entirely let myself remember the time before them. That way I would feel happy for a few seconds, enough to get myself off of this disgusting floor. Then again, that would mean more pain later.
Then I got angry. There I was, lying on a dirty bathroom floor, panting and crying. I was miserable and pathetic. It couldn't be this way. Life couldn't be like this, and I could not be like this. A helpless, scared little girl? That wasn't me. I got up, still breathing heavily and too fast, but now more with anger than pain. I opened the door with unnecessary force and ran out of the building. I'll never come back. This was my last session, I thought as I breathed in the fresh air.
It was raining, and I let the drops clean the tears off my face. But I wanted more. For the first time since I'd moved to Forks I really wanted it to pour down. And then I started to run. The raindrops hit my face harder, and it felt good. It felt good to run and be wet and just don't care. I ran and I ran as I thought back to a different time when I used to run all the time. Before all of this, before Forks, I used to run to clear my head. When my mom was too drunk to function, I ran. It made it easier to muster up the strength it took to cover her with a blanket where she lay passed out on the couch. It made it easier to go to bed afterward without crying.
It was on one of those runs that I decided enough was enough and that it was time to get her help. When my aunt arrived a couple of days later to take care of my mom and they ended up in a screaming match, I ran and I broke my time-record. It was a year after that, when my mom was sober and had just brought home her new boyfriend, another one to get her right back where she started, that I realized I wanted to stay with Charlie for the summer. I never told him the true reason why. I told him that I'd missed him, but it wasn't true. I just couldn't handle being the parent anymore. I was prepared to return to a brokenhearted Renée two months later; I just didn't want to be there to watch how it would happen this time.
My aunt kept checking in on her and told me she was doing well. Much better, in fact. Then I realized that my leaving actually helped her, and I decided not to go back. I told Dad I wanted to stay, and the joy in his eyes then made me truly see that it was the right choice. My mother was not my only family, and she didn't seem to need me now. It even seemed like it helped her not to have me around, which left a bitter taste in my mouth. All of that work, all of those times I had tried to help her seemed like a waste now.
Sometimes I wondered what it was about my absence that seemed to be helping. Was it the guilt she felt about having lost her only daughter that sobered her up for good? Or was it the need to prove that she could be good for me to make me come back? Or maybe it was simpler than that. Maybe my presence just brought out the worst in her for reasons unknown to me. Sometimes she would call me or send me emails begging me to come home. I always told her the same thing: that I loved her, but that home was Forks now.
So I had stopped running. At that moment, I couldn't for the life of me figure out why. I was out of shape so my chest ached and I could barely get enough air to my lungs, but it felt too good to stop. It was almost painful, but it was a good kind of pain. And when I felt that exhausting, good pain in my muscles it was easier to think about painful things and let the pain they brought on become a good pain as well. I thought about my mother and how angry I felt for not being good enough, how bitter I felt that she did better without me and the guilt that washed over me when I realized how selfish that was. I felt it all – the pain, the bitterness and the guilt. As I ran, it was a good kind of pain.
My mother and Edward had something in common. They were both stored away in a small, locked up box in my brain. They were always there, but they were locked up tight. I left her and she was better for it. He left me, and I assumed he was better for it too. There they were, in the small box, the one I left and the one who left me, both of them better off.
30 minutes later my muscles ached and I realized I'd left my truck behind. I stopped and leaned my hands on my knees, breathing heavily. When my breath started to come easier, I turned around and walked all the way back. By the time I reached my truck I was soaking wet from head to toe and freezing. I got into the car and started the engine, eager to get the heaters going. My cell phone lay on the seat next to me and I picked it up. 7 unanswered calls – all from Charlie. I looked down at the screen with a sad face. "You must've been worried sick," I mumbled before pushing the green button and calling him up. I made up an excuse about bumping into Jessica and told him I was on my way home.
For the first time in four months, when I walked through our front door and smiled at him, it almost reached my eyes. Almost.
"How was therapy today?" he asked, looking down at his food and shoving it around on his plate with his fork. I got home too late to make anything so we were eating last night's lasagna-leftovers. I recognized his behavior – he was always shy about asking questions like that. My mind had been preoccupied when he'd asked – I'd been focusing very hard on thinking about the calculus-test that would greet me tomorrow – so it took a few seconds too long for me to answer. "Uhm, it was… fine. Actually, I wanted to talk to you about that." I hesitated, forcing myself to look at his face to measure his mood. "It's not helping, it's just making things worse," I started in a quiet voice. "I want to try and do it on my own, in my own way. I think it would be good for me to start running again and maybe spend more time with my friends." The last part was a lie, I always felt worse in other's company when I had to stay alert and pay attention to conversation. It was much easier to be in my numb, non-responsive state. "Running?" he asked, confused. I could hear in his tone that he wanted to, and was probably about to, disagree. "When I lived in Phoenix, I used run all the time. Whenever I had… a lot on my mind. It always helped a lot."
What I meant was that whenever my mom was having one of her "bad weeks" the running helped me cope, but I never told Charlie exactly how bad it used to get. He only knew she was a bit more thirsty than what was normal, not that it was a problem. Not even my aunt knew how bad it was until I contacted her. My mom and I both kept our mouths shuts – her because she was ashamed, and me because I was afraid that they would make me move to Forks where I couldn't take care of her. And now, here I am. I felt the bile rise in my stomach and tried to squish it down.
"Bella, I don't know…" But I could see that he was considering it. He pursed his lips and looked at me. I tried to make my face look alive and sane, but it felt fake. Like putting on a mask. "Parenting," he said with an exhausted exhale. "I want to do the right thing here, but I can't say that therapy has made any difference, not that I can see anyways." He looked away, out the window. He was uncomfortable talking about my "state". Suddenly his eyes became sad, only for a second, before he exhaled again and composed his features. "I guess… we could try." But as he saw the relief wash over me, he quickly added, "But I'm telling you right now, if it doesn't help and I want you to start going to Dr. Davis again, you are not allowed to object. Are we clear?" I nodded eagerly and smiled. "Okay. I'll call her tomorrow." I tried to make my smile more sincere as I thanked him, then I got up to start the dishes.
I really would try.