"Mom, I've got to go." I pulled slightly away from my mother suffocating embrace. Liz Dwyer released me and stood back, brushing my unruly hair back off my forehead.
"You call me every evening, honey." She instructed, locking her emerald eyes with my identical ones.
"I've promised already," I half-smiled, exasperated and touched at once. My gaze darted to my square-faced watch, and I stepped away firmly, swinging my carry on bag onto my shoulder. "I'm going, I'll miss the plane." I pressed a kiss to her cheek, breathing her soft perfume and baking smell. She took my hand for a moment and gripped it. Her new wedding band dug into my palm. "I love you."
"Love you too, Edward. I'll miss you." She sighed a little before dropping my hand. "Say hi to your dad for me?" She tacked on awkwardly, twining a strand of red-gold hair in her fingers.
"I will." I answered, turning away. I glanced back after a few moments to see Liz waving manically, jumping up and down, earning odd looks from passers-by and accidentally bopping one man on the head and knocking his glasses off. I stifled my laughter. Only my mom. I was honestly going to miss her so much. I rounded the corner, still grinning at Mom's antics and reached another section of airport security. The worst section of airport security. I joined the queue, taking off my shoes, jacket, belt, bag and watch and depositing them in a tray. They were pushed through the security scanner. Squaring my shoulders, I faced the metal detector. I launched into my dramatic mental monologue. We meet again, my old foe...
"On you go," A security guard interrupted from behind me, shoving me forward. I stumbled through the archway and held my breath. There was a second of silence. It didn't beep! I considered a victory dance, but my plans were killed before they could live. The machine, with a malicious glee, paused and then:
A female security guard leaped out of the seat she'd been dozing in so fast you'd think it had suddenly caught fire.
"I'll strip search him." She volunteered. I shrank back, turning pleading eyes in the security guard who had pushed me.
" It's a mistake!" I begged. "It always does that to me. I'm not carrying anything, I swear. Just let me walk through it again, please."
His mustache twitched, in equal parts moved and amused by my desperation. "Alright. Go ahead."
His colleague looked like she wanted to protest, but he must have outranked her, because she simply huffed and jiggled her way back to her chair, her too-tight uniform displaying all sorts of unflattering angles as she did so. I shuddered. "Thank you," I said fervently to the security guard who had just saved, if not my life, at least my peace of mind. He just gestured to the archway. I marched through it, and thanked what gods there were when it didn't make a peep. I made a beeline for the tray with my stuff, and broke the record for putting shoes, a belt and a jacket on while avoiding the stare of a creepy security guard then escaped to duty-free.
Once I was out of that woman's range of vision, I put my bag down to unzip the front pocket and get my phone out. I had three messages from people at school who had remembered I was leaving this morning. I stood, put my bag on my back, and texted while I walked. I sent one to Mom while I was at it, letting her know I was through security with the usual fuss. I'd barely hit send when my phone buzzed with a reply.
Remember to eat! You know how cranky you get. Mom xxx.
I raised my eyebrows. I was seventeen. Cranky was a bit of an overstatement. I just...got upset when I didn't eat. It was totally normal, everyone was weird when they were hungry. I wasn't as bad as the guy in the Snickers ad. Not quite. I scanned for a place to eat. Chocolate cafe place, no...Burger King, no...Italian, didn't feel like it...Subway! Yay!
I stopped dead, embarrassed at having thought that, like a five year old girl the snarky part of my mind commented, and fought the urge to run headlong into the delicious aroma pouring from my favourite place in the world right now. I walked at an almost normal pace, then cheated and ran the last few metres.
"A footlong please," I announced to the guy at the counter. "Toppings." He stated in a dead voice. I assumed he was asking so I began listing. "Olives, the veggie patty, sundried tomatoes, em...that stuff, sorry can't think what it's called, sweetcorn, cheese,"
He stopped in the middle of heaping stuff onto the footlong. "Which cheese?"
I paused. "What kinds are there?" He indicated two types of cheese behind the glass window. I scrutinised them, thinking carefully.
"No rush, pal." He sneered. I frowned at him, then went back to examining the cheeses. The guy was really rude. I wished I'd asked the girl server. Girls were always way more helpful. Women must just be naturally friendlier, I mused. "Gouda." I pointed to the cheese after another minute of rude server guy scowling. He put it on to my footlong, threw me a filthy look and put the footlong in the oven.
A lot of scowling later, I was happily munching on my footlong when my phone buzzed with anothe text. It was from Mom.
You're probably on the plane now, so I'm saying bye before you take off. Love Mom. Ps did you eat?
My wide, shocked eyes inched their way up the phone screen to focus on the displayed time. Shit! I gathered up my phone, bag, jacket and footlong and set off in the direction of boarding. I ate as I ran, and to my dismay dropped a few olives. I skidded to a halt at the second security barrier, and began speed-eating. The girl next to me looked disgusted, and edged away from me. Probably wise. She wouldn't like to get her nice clothes sprayed with Subway.
"Is this the flight to Seattle?" I asked her through a mouthful of sandwich.
"Yes." She muttered, keeping her face averted as she answered. "Cool." I responded happily. Luckily, my subway was finished by the time I got to the front of the queue, so I scrunched the greasy papers up and shoved them into the front pouch of my carry-on. My bag was not included in my airport security allergy, and it made it through various scanning things with grace. I swung the strap over my shoulder and recalled my seat. I thought it was row 12 C. An aisle seat, as it turned out. Some planes had it the other way, where A was the aisle and C was the window. I preferred the aisle. I had long legs, and needed to stretch them on flights. In row 12 seat B was a very friendly businesswoman named Christine. She was really chatty and was going to Seattle to meet the bosses of the HQ of the company she worked for. She had dyed blonde, impeccably flat-ironed hair, skilful make-up that didn't quite hide her wrinkles and an expensive, possibly designer suit. I'd put her in her late thirties/early forties, and she was nice. She reminded me a little of my mom, but she went quiet when I mentioned that to her, then asked how old I was. I told her, and she took out her laptop and worked for about twenty minutes, then slept the rest of the flight. I read Jane Eyre on my ereader. It was a far cry from my usual reading material, but we were studying it in school, so I figured I should make the effort and not just go for the Cliffsnotes. In my opinion, no matter how well it aged, a Gothic romance was a Gothic romance. Now, it was a good Gothic romance, with insights into morality and such, but I switched over to Discworld in some places. That's the beauty of an ereader.
Charlie was there to pick me up at the airport in his cruiser. I caught him in a hug when I spotted him, and he looked surprised and a little uncomfortable. Guess I got my affectionate side from Mom. He helped me with some of my bags. On the forest-lined roads to Forks I couldn't help but notice he kept exactly to the speed limit. Comes from being a cop, I supposed. He was also introverted, and comfortable with long silences, unlike myself. I was making small talk in under ten minutes.
"I've always wondered what the front of these is like," was my comment on the cruiser. He threw me a look.
"You were expecting me to make that joke, huh?" He nodded. I quietened, getting desperate.
"Mom said to say hi." He nodded again. I needed words! 'Hello, son' was all he'd said in practically half an hour! Wasn't his tongue stiff by now?!
"I should get a job while I'm here. Do you know anywhere in Forks I could get a job?" He seemed to be considering that, but I couldn't wait. I had an overwhelming urge to fill the silence. "I'm saving for a car, see. I don't know what kind. I mean, I'd love an S60, but no way I'd afford that, you know? I think maybe - "
Charlie cleared his throat and spoke honest-to-goodness words. I almost wept for joy. Well, that might be a little exaggeration. "I already..well." He paused, looking embarrassed. Don't stop now, Charlie! You're doing so well! I chanted encouragement in my head. Mom was used to me saying this kind of stuff out loud, but I was taking it easy on the newbie parent. No need to scare him. "I already got you a car. As a welcome gift, sorta." He nodded to himself as he said it. My eyes were huge.
"Seriously, Dad? You got me a car? That's epic! You shouldn't have, really. That's amazing! I can't believe it! I probably shouldn't hug you while you're driving, right? It's probably not safe?"
Charlie looked frightened, whether at my outburst or at the thought of me hugging him again. He kept staring out the windshield as he shook his head at me.
"What make is it?" I asked eagerly. He glanced at me. "It's an old Chevy truck. I got it off a friend, real cheap."
"How old?" I wondered. He turned immediately into the driveway of a vaguely familiar house, looking relieved as he did. My gaze zeroed in on a bulbous, rusty red monster of a truck. That must be it. A part of me wistfully pictured a silver Volvo superimposed over the thing, but mostly I was glad Charlie didn't have to drive me places in the cruiser. It really was good of him to buy this for me. I knew he didn't have a lot of cash. My gratitude was 100% genuine when I delivered the promised hug. He stood stiffly through it. He'd get used to me.
My room was...a room. A small one with dark grey duvets and pillow covers, and a rocking chair which had languished in that corner all seventeen years of my life. My clothes all fitted easily in the wardrobe, and I plugged my chargers in at the wall socket, left my phone, watch and reading glasses on the bedside table, and generally deposited my personal effects about. By the time I finished, I had gone one better than lived in, and my room looked messy. I left stuff in the bathroom too. I hadn't had to share in Phoenix, but that house had been bigger. Charlie and I watched ESPN for the rest of the evening and ordered pizza for dinner. It was surprisingly good pizza. I had a vegetarian and Charlie amusingly had a meat-lover's. I didn't think about my first day at Forks High at all, and slept untroubled by dreams or nightmares.