Kissing Souls:

31,556,925 seconds.

525,600 minutes.

8765 hours.

365 days.

One year.

It's been one full year.

I lived a simple life. My father works on a farm, growing whatever he felt fit at the time. When I was younger, he decided put me to work in the fields. He pried my hands open and shoved tools into them, telling me what to do and where to do it. I listened, of course. I wanted my father to be proud of me. After all, I was his only son. His only child.

A few years later, when I was twelve, my father knelt down to my height in the middle of a cornfield. "Edward," he said. Then he squeezed my shoulder and stared me right in the eye. "Your mother and I have come to a decision." He smiled that proud smile down at me. "We have decided that it's time to give you your own barn."

Now, just because they were my parents didn't mean they were going to go out and buy me a brand new barn. It meant they were going to give me the old rusty piece of crap barn with no door, deep in the fields. But I was so thankful for this little gift. It was a space I could call my own.

As time went by, I managed to patch up the moldy old barn. I took down broken pieces of wood and patched them up. I fixed the barn door and the stable doors inside of the barn. Practically everything was fixed, but just like most old things, it had its flaws.

I was forbidden to travel to the second floor of my barn. My family couldn't afford the money to buy support beams to the second floor. The second story was barely strong enough to hold itself up, let alone a person.

My father was so proud once I finished patching up the barn. He beamed from ear to ear when he saw it. I could hardly hold in my excitement as he gave me my first animal to keep in there. My dad tightened the reigns of a chocolate brown horse that was about six feet tall. He told me that the horse was partially trained. I was able to ride him, but she was still quite young. Then he asked me what I would name him. "Rusty," I declared, "I'll name him Rusty."

"Why Rusty?" My father pushed me.

"Because she's the first animal in this rusty old barn." I said with a lopsided grin.

I loved Rusty. I would do anything for him. Though feeding him was difficult, my father constantly told me that he would travel out into the fields and grab some hay for him, but he didn't. He was always too busy. So I took it upon my shoulders to feed her. I traveled into the fields every morning to grab a large bundle of dead grass. It was the most I could do for her.

A few years later, when I was fourteen, my father helped with the delivery of a new born calf. After the calf was finally able to stand-on her own, my father gave her to me. I named her Missy, after her mother who died a few weeks after her delivery.

I quickly had to gather more hay for Missy and Rusty. I knew how much to grab for Rusty, but I would have to double the amount with Missy now joining us. I only ever fed Missy and Rusty something other than grass when my parents were distracted. I gathered some wheat from my father's fields and I even snatched some corn from the corn field. I managed to get away with taking that extra foods for about a year before my dad caught me.

My parents were throwing a get together with the neighbors. The pungent smell of cigarette smoke and cheap beer was wafting from the windows of my house. Our crops this past year had done so well that our normal income had almost doubled. It would only make logical sense that my father would celebrate.

In the middle of the celebration, I snuck silently out of the house and traveled through to the wheat fields and corn fields. I grabbed just a small portion of both for Missy and Rusty before I took the food up to the barn.

I stared up at the barn from the hill as I traveled. My barn was red, however the paint was chipping. The roof was supported, but it definitely needed to be patched up. I pushed open the wooden barn doors to look inside. The inside of the barn was dirty. The smell certainly wasn't as awful as it could be, but it did look filthy in here. Dirt and sand were tossed all over the place.

I sat down in front of Rusty and Missy's stables and started my normal routine. I divided the wheat in half, placing each portion into a bucket. I lifted my head when I heard an annoyed neigh from one of the stables. Rusty was poking his head out from the stable, watching the hay and corn with desire. Missy, however, was silent and watched me with an eager expression.

"I'm coming, I'm coming." I promised them as I started to pluck the corn from the cob. I dropped the corn into one of the buckets with the wheat. I was almost finished with the first cob when the barn door was pushed open.

"Edward!" My dad swung his beer around while walking in. "Why'd you leave the-"

My dad froze when he saw me with corn in my hands. Slowly, his eyes shifted to look at the wheat in the bucket. "You stole from me?!" He cried. Anger flared in his eyes as he threw the beer bottle to the ground. It shattered into a thousand shards of broken glass. Rusty whinnied in fear and backed away from the gate of the stall, following Missy's example.

My father whipped his head around, looking around the barn. "Do you have a stash here of my stuff hidden here, boy?!" He yelled at me. I pushed myself to my feet when my father kicked over one of the buckets in front of me.

"No Dad!" I cried. He banged around and started to look everywhere. He looked under all of my supplies for any more signs of his stolen food. My mind raced with how to act. He was drunk, I knew that, but I never went around my dad when he was drunk. I didn't know how to calm him down.

He flung himself onto the rickety ladder that led to the second story. Somehow, he managed to make his way to the second level. "Do you keep the stash up here, boy? Even though your old man forbid you to ever go up here? Is that why you hid it up here; because you knew I wouldn't look!?" He slurred his words together and took a step onto the second floor.

It creaked.

"No!" I cried and ran over to Rusty and Missy's stables. I tried to avoid standing under where he walked on the second story. "Don't do that! Get down, It's not safe!"

"Like hell!" He roared from above. He took another step towards the middle of the floor.

It creaked again.

"You always were a trouble maker!"

He took his last step to the middle. I knew when the floor creaked again that it would break underneath him. Just like I knew that those would be the last words my father ever said to me. My last memory of him was of his disappointment with me for stealing his wheat and corn.

Once my dad died, I always felt as if something was missing. I felt as if I lost my own self. As my father died, so did my mother and I. All I could do was just pray that someday our spirits would be returned.

My mother knew about the accident. She just knew his death was my doing. And she did everything in her power to make sure she had her revenge. Every morning, drunk as always, she would demand that I get out onto the fields and do my father's work. I was now in charge of the crops. And she made sure that I only ever fed Missy and Rusty grass.

A year had passed now and nothing had changed since my father's death. My mother would wake me up every morning at the crack of dawn, normally drunk, and push me out onto the fields. I would work until the sun went down. And then, and only then, could I gather some grass for Rusty and Missy. I missed my animals, but I never had time to see them anymore. Every day I visited Rusty I could tell that he's agitated by how little I visited and wanted to go for a run. I always have to tell him not today. I always promise him that we would sometime soon.

I never could meet my promises.

Today I thought it would be different. It was the anniversary of my father's death. Nothing was different. I woke to a pounding thud on my bedroom door.

"Wake up you lazy ass!" my mother slurred from the other side of my door. I groaned and sat up. My muscles ached, as normal, but I learned to push through it. After I woke up, I dressed myself and waited patiently for my mother to walk away from my bedroom door. After she left, I crept down the stairs and started heading for the front door.

I stepped outside and raised my hand over my eyes to adjust to the light. I moved swiftly to the side, narrowly missing an empty glass bottle flying by my head. "Get to work!" my mother cried from inside. I obeyed.

As soon as the sun started to go down on my full day of work, I sighed with relief. As quick as I could, I gathered a giant bundle of grass in my arms, cradled them against my neck, and started to walk back to my barn.

Rusty neighed with excitement that I was here, giving me my first reason to smile all day. I dropped his half of the grass inside of his food bowl and pet the back of his neck softly as she ate. Then, I shifted my attention over to Missy and set the other half of the grass into her stall while stroking her fur. "Good girl..." I cooed.

I backed away lightly from them and sat on the middle of the floor, facing them. I watched them eat in silence. They watched me as they ate, and I could almost see the smile in their eyes. I rolled onto my back and tucked my hand under my head, watching the ceiling. I compared the old wood of the ceiling to the new wood that I had to patch up after my father fell through it. Then the ceiling creaked.

I sat up and pushed myself to my feet, watching the ceiling. The creaking had subsided, but I still was worried. Was it my father? A ghost of him?

Impossible.

I rushed over to the ladder and wrapped my shaking fingers firmly around the wood before forcing myself to climb up the ladder. I stared at the wall until I gathered enough courage to turn around.

There sat a brown haired girl staring back at me. She was sitting on top of the place that my dad had previously fallen through last year. There was dust and dirt all over her clothing as well as her hands and face. She watched me, speechless and frozen.

"Don't move." I said. I saw her start to twitch. I knew - I just knew - that if I didn't try to show her that she wasn't in trouble that she would try to move. I couldn't have another accident. "Please don't move. The ceiling is weak." I managed to say rapidly through my lips.

She froze again and watched me with wide eyes.

"Take my hand." I thrust my hand out to her and clutched the ladder tightly with the other. She quickly grasped my hand with both of her own and started to slowly crawl her way over to me. Somehow, I managed to get both her and myself down before we fell.

I sighed with relief.

"I'm so sorry!" she exclaimed and backed away from me. She ran her hand through her hair and glanced around the room rapidly. "I'll go. I'm so sorry..." she repeated herself.

I held up my hand. "Hold on." She froze again. "Who are you?"

"I'm Bella." She whispered lightly. She locked her knees and stared at the ground. "Don't hurt me..." Her voice came out even quieter.

I started to laugh softly, expelling all of my nerves. "Bella, I'm not going to hurt you." I rubbed my neck softly and gave her an assuring smile. "I've just had... a bad experience up there. It scared me to see you up there."

"Oh..." Bella straightened. She smiled and stared at the ground. "I'm still sorry, I don't have a right to be in here."

"It's fine. It's my barn." I glanced around the barn one more time to check if I left anything before making my way to the barn door. "Come on, let's get you cleaned up. My name is Edward."

"There isn't a river or pond near here, I checked." She said while kicking at the dust on the ground.

I glanced at her and frowned. "Bella." I held out my hand to her and raised my eyebrow lightly. Why was she looking for a river? "We're going to my house, not a pond."

"House . . . ?" Bella whispered softly and placed her hand in mine. I started to tug her along with me as I walked downhill to my wooden house. Has Bella always been so deprived? Was she homeless?

I stopped walking and pointed down the hill. "That's my house." I glanced back over to her. "Have you never been in a house...?" I asked slowly, unsure of my own words.

Bella nodded and laced her fingers between mine. I stiffened slightly and glanced down at tangled fingers. "I've been in a house." she whispered. "I ran away a year ago..."

"Oh." I simply said and left it at that. I continued to tug her down the hill and guide her around the brush until we made it back to my house. We walked up the stairs to the porch and I wrapped my other hand around the doorknob. Before I could make myself move any further, I hesitated. "Bella," I paused. "I'm sorry for what you're about to see."

I quickly swung the front door open and pulled Bella in behind me. I watched my mother cautiously for her reaction. She was lying on the couch, one arm dangling off of the couch lazily and the other one supporting a glass. "Who's that?" She demanded, sitting up.

"My friend," I stated. "She's staying the night." I forced through my clenched teeth.

My mother set down the glass in her hand and snatched something close to her, throwing it at Bella. I stepped in front of Bella and let the object bounce off of me, which happened to be a pillow. Did I seriously just protect Bella from a pillow? A pillow.

"Get her out." my mom screamed at me. "She's not staying here. No friends allowed, Edward!" She cried bitterly before picking up another pillow in her hand.

"Fine. She's not a friend. She's my girlfriend." The look my mother had on her face was enough to stun her for a few seconds. I turned to Bella and pointed down the hall, giving her instructions to the washroom. "Last door on the left is the washroom. I'll bring you some fresh clothes."

Bella quickly made her escape down the hallway and crossed her arms over her chest. As fast as Bella scurried away, my mother still attempted to throw another pillow at her. Luckily, she was too far down the hallway for it to hit her. I waited for the click of the lock from the washroom door until I went down the hallway to fetch the pillow my mother threw.

I walked back to my mother and dropped the pillow back onto the couch next to my mother. "You know, Mom." I began. She glared up at me and took a sip of her drink. "It's been a year. You haven't even mentioned Dad once."

My mother screamed and started to cry. She lifted her glass above her head and threw it at me. Luckily, I saw the signs coming and ducked before it smashed against my head. I dropped to my hands and knees and scurried away out of her view down the hall, cringing at her muffled sobs in the family room.

I hovered at the end of the hall listening to my mother. The sobs stopped abruptly before I found my mother at the head of the hallway, glaring at me. "You're poor excuse of a son!" she screamed at me before stumbling down the hallway to me. I stood there and watched as she raised her hand above her head and slapped my cheek.

I turned my head to the side and stood still, processing the blow. Had she really just hit me? She had been furious at me multiple times before this, but never once has she actually attempted to make direct contact with my skin using her own hand. Sure, she's thrown things at me... but she'd never slapped me. I couldn't even blame this on the fact that she's drunk. She's always drunk when she's around me.

I raised my hand slowly up to my cheek and stroked my thumb over where she slapped. When I turned my head back to her I noticed silent tears flowing down her cheek. "I'm so sorry. . . " she whispered and reached her hand up to my cheek. I stepped back away from her hand and clenched my teeth together. She pulled her hand away from me as if she were burnt.

"Go to bed." I said with a monotone voice. My mother widened her eyes with terror and stepped back away from me. The tears began to flow faster down her stained cheek.

"This shouldn't have happened. . ." she quickly stumbled backwards away from me, heading towards her own room. "None of this was supposed to happen!" she screamed and broke into her own room, locking it behind her.

Once I was out of her view, I stood up and made my way down to my room. I reached my closet and pushed it open, searching for an old, clean t-shirt and a pair of shorts. Bella could wear these until I washed her old clothes or found her new ones.

I draped the white t-shirt and black shorts over my shoulder and walked back out into the hallway. I knelt down in front of the washroom door and managed to squeeze the clothes underneath the door through the large gap.

I sat across the bathroom door and waited until she was done. I was so tempted to hide in my room, but I knew that if I left, Bella would walk out confused. If she left the bathroom, it was completely possible she would run into my mother again. I couldn't let that happen., so I closed my eyes and leaned my head back against the wall, yawning.

I heard the faucet shut off, but I stayed still. There was shuffling inside of the washroom for a few minutes before the door swung open. I opened my eyes to look up at Bella, now wearing my t-shirt and shorts. "Do you have a hairbrush..?" she timidly.

"Oh, yeah." I pushed myself onto my feet with the help of the wall. "It's in my room." At the doorway of my bedroom, I flicked the lights on to reveal a plain, white room with the occasional ebony wood off of my dresser, floor boards, and bed frame. I moved over to my nightstand and picked up my comb. "It's not exactly a hairbrush, but..." I shrugged softly.

Bella smile and took the comb from my hand. "It'll get the job done." she said and started to run the comb through her knotted hair. I sat down on my bed unable to stop watching her.

Once she finished using the comb, she handed it back to me. "So I'm your girlfriend, huh?" Bella sat down next to me.

I held up my hands in front of myself as a self defense maneuver in case she decided to slap me. "I'm sorry!" I blurted out and slid away from her. "I needed to distract my mother, to get you out -"

Bella cut me off. "I can live with that." She shrugged lightly and lay back on my bed. "So, should I sleep on the floor or should I pack my bags and leave, boyfriend?"

I stared at her with a blank expression. Then a smirk crossed my face. "You're not sleeping on the floor and you're not leaving. You can sleep in my bed." I gestured to the bed and rolled my eyes lightly.

"Oh my..." Bella gasped dramatically and held her hand up to her chest. "I've been your girlfriend for less than 30 minutes and you've already got me in your bed? You have poor manners."

I rolled my eyes and scratched my neck lightly. "You know," I gave an exaggerated sigh and watched her with a steady gaze, "I liked it better when you were shy and scared of me. When did the outgoing side of you come out?"

Bella laughed softly and smiled at the ground. "Sorry, force of habit. I guess I'm just getting comfortable." She shrugged lightly and rubbed her knee.

"Is it injured?" I asked, taking notice to her movements. She shook her head and smiled.

"Another force of habit, I guess." Bella dropped her hand from her knee and stared at her feet. "Tomorrow morning I'll leave. When the sun's up," she said.

"Don't be in such a hurry." I bumped her shoulder playfully into my mine and stood up. "Go ahead and lay down." I walked over to my closet and pulled out a spare pillow and blanket, dropping it unceremoniously on the floor next to the bed before I knelt down and started to spread out the blanket on the floor. "You're free to stay as long as you would like, Bella."

When I looked back up at Bella, she was staring down at me with a surprised look. All I could do was laugh softly at her shock. I stood up and walked over to the light switch and flicked it off after I locked my door. The blackness engulfed the room, so I was forced to blindly make my way back to the temporary bed on the floor. "I'm not bad at working on a farm, you know," she broke the silence that was hovering in the dark night. "I was raised on a farm too. I could help you out on the fields."

"Alright. It's a deal," I answered with a smile though it was impossible for her to see it. "Tomorrow I'll show you around the fields. I'm sure you've already met Rusty and Missy."

"Your animals? Yeah." I heard shuffling on the bed as she rolled onto her side. "They're sweet." Bella whispered lightly. "I should get some rest. We both should. We need it. We'll talk in the morning."

"Alright. Goodnight, Bella," I said to the dark.

"Goodnight, Edward," Bella whispered. It was then that I realized that this was the first time she said my name, and I liked it. I loved it. The way she said my name, it sounded like she was caressing it as it rolled off her lips. Almost as if she truly cared. And that was the last thought that ran through my mind before I fell asleep.

The sun blared through my window right into my eyes the next morning. Despite how bright it was, that wasn't what woke me up. The pounding on my bedroom door was incessant. "Wake up! Just because you have a girl in the house doesn't excuse you from work!" my mother screamed.

I sighed and sat up, rubbing my forehead. "Bella, " I whispered. She stirred. Did she really sleep through my mother's wake-up call? I laughed softly and continued calling her name until she threw a pillow at me.

"It's been a long time since I was this comfortable. Let me be," Bella moaned from her bed and turned her back to me.

I stood up and started picking up and folding the blanket on the floor. "Alright," I simply said. She was my guest; if she wanted to lie in bed all day she was free to.

After I finished putting away my temporary bed, I took out my work clothes for the day out in the field. Normally I would change in my own room, but instead I made my way to the washroom and changed there. I stared at myself in the mirror, ran my hand through my dark hair, and stared down at my torn jeans and my shirt. I tucked in my shirt and started to fold my sleeves up while I walked back to my room.

When I walked inside, Bella was sitting up. Her blonde hair was up in a ponytail and she was glaring at me. "You were going to ditch me!?" she exclaimed. "I told you I was going to help you, boyfriend." she teased.

"You're a guest." I laughed softly and shook my head. I leaned over and snatched a hat out of my drawer and pulled it on my head to keep the sun out of my eyes while I'm working.

"I might be a guest, but I'm a guest who needs to pay off her rent." She shrugged and stood up, pulling on her dirty shoes.

I leaned over and picked up her clothes from yesterday and laughed softly. "Come on, let's go." I made my way down the hall and tossed her clothes around in my hand. "Do you care if I throw these away, Bella?"

Bella shrugged. "I won't have anything else to wear..." she murmured quietly, following me down the hall.

"Don't worry about that, I can get you more clothes," I assured her. She nodded, trusting me. I took Bella's hand and started pulling her with me into the kitchen. I tossed the clothes into the trashcan and pulled open the fridge. "What would you like for breakfast?" I asked. When I turned to Bella, I saw her eyeing an apple. "You can have it." I laughed softly when she eagerly grabbed it and took a bite out of it.

"Thanks," Bella said between bites. I followed her lead and snagged an apple of my own and made my way to the front door.

I pulled open the front door and held it open for Bella. Once Bella took a step out the front door, she broke off in a run up the hill. "Bella?!" I cried after her. Where was she going? I sighed and started to run after that crazy girl.

I slowed my pace when I saw what her goal was. She was running towards my barn. I laughed softly and shook my head. I usually didn't visit my barn until the evening.

I walked up to the barn and pushed open the door. Bella was standing by Rusty, petting the top of his head. Rusty seemed so comfortable with Bella here. How long had Bella been staying here?

"Bella, how long have you lived in my barn?" I voiced my thoughts.

She froze and bit her lip as she thought. "Can I ride her first? I've never been on a horse." She turned to me and smiled. "Then I'll tell you."

I laughed softly and nodded. "Sure, Bella." She squealed and ran over to me, wrapping me into a big hug. I was stunned for a brief second before I wrapped my arms around her and hugged her back.

Bella dropped her arms and stared eagerly at Rusty. As I guided Rusty out of his stable, I thought about my field work. There was nothing urgent that I had to do today. The work could be pushed off 'til later. I shrugged to myself and stroked Rusty's hair.

"Where's the saddle?" Bella asked. "Or the reigns?" She tilted her head in confusion.

"I prefer to ride Rusty without either of them. Doesn't feel right to ride m' with restraints. Took some extra training, but I managed to do without it." I pat Rusty's back before I pulled myself on top of him. I adjusted my posture and gestured for Bella to walk over to me. She did.

I held out my hand for Bella to grasp and she tightly wrapped her fingers around mine. I pulled her up and watched her as she swung one leg over Rusty. I slid back so she would have more room in front of me. We had only just begun moving when Bella started to laugh softly.

"What?" I asked as I reached my arms around her to hold onto Rusty's neck and guide him out of the barn slowly.

"It's just..." A grin spread across Bella's face as she looked around. "It's fun." She started to pet Rusty's neck softly as Rusty started to quickened his pace.

"Here." I took Bella's hands and placed them on Rusty's neck. "You guide him." Bella widened her eyes lightly. "To speed Rusty up, just tap his side with both feet. To slow him down, just pull on his hair. Gently, though." I said.

Bella nodded and tapped her feet against Rusty. Rusty moved to a trot. Bella laughed with excitement. We continued to ride Rusty for almost an hour before I took control of Rusty again.

Bella continued to smile before she leaned back into me. "I promised you answers. Go ahead and ask away," she said.

I nodded softly and started to walk Rusty in no particular direction. "How long have you lived in my barn?"

"Two weeks."

I widened my eyes and looked down at her. "How?"

"You had a pattern. I stayed on the main floor until the sun came down. Usually, you only stayed for a minute or two before leaving. When you caught me, you stayed longer than normal and I guess I was too noisy." she said.

"I'm glad I caught you," I whispered, mostly to myself. Silence floated between us until I asked another question. "Why did you run away from home?"

Bella frowned lightly but stayed quiet. I decided it was time to put Rusty back in his stall and drop the subject.

Once Rusty was back in his stall, I jumped off of him and held my hand out for Bella. She grasped my hand and jumped down. I watched her wobble as she walked out of the stall. As much as I tried to suppress a laugh, I couldn't stop it.

"What's so funny!?" She exclaimed, poking my chest playfully with each word.

I held up my hands in front of myself defensively and backed up. "Nothing."

I turned around and locked up Rusty's stall. That was when Bella started to talk. "I ran away for several reasons. I never knew my mother. She left when I was young and she hated life on a farm. Before I ran away, she came back and wanted back in my life. When she started to control me and push me around, my father let her because he still loved her. Things just got worse and worse and I couldn't handle it." I turned back around to look at her, but she just shrugged in response. "At first I regretted it, but I'm starting to like my decision more and more now."

Her story caught me off guard. She was strong and brave she was for running away. And it surprised me how similar her story was to mine; she was also being pushed around by her mother.

"How about you, Edward?" Bella broke the silence and sat down in front of Rusty's stable. She sat along the wall and looked up at me. "What's your story?"

I sat down next to her and leaned my head back against the stable door. "You say that as if we are in jail." I teased, trying to procrastinate.

"Back to the subject." Bella glared, poking me chest. I was caught red handed.

I sighed, retelling the story of my family. I told her about how much I looked up to my dad. I told her about the party and how I snuck food in for Missy and Rusty. I explained about my dad being drunk and his emotional outburst. I even showed her the broken wood where my father had fallen.

Bella stared at the ground of the stable with a frown etched onto her face. "The place that you found me..." she whispered in horror.

"Is where my father died..." My voice broke at the memory. I suddenly felt embarrassed at the emotion I was showing, so I turned my head away from her. "Yesterday was the anniversary of his death."

Bella widened her eyes and lifted her head to look at me.

"You know what the hardest part was?" I didn't give her time to respond. "Knowing that the last memory I had of my father - the last memory he has of me - is him hating me. The last thing he said was that I was a trouble maker." I squeezed my eyes closed, willing the tears away. Now was no time to loose control.

"Things will get better... It just needs time and hope," Bella whispered. She laced her fingers in mine and squeezed it softly.

"One step at a time, right?" I asked her.

Bella turned my head back to hers. "One step at a time," she murmured, lifting a hand to brush her thumb across my cheek. Her smile knocked the wind out of me. "Together."

And then I knew that everything would be okay. Bella was here with me, and she wasn't planning on leaving. She would always be here with me. She's the piece of me that my father took with him when he died.

She was my soul.


Originally, this story wasn't written for a Twilight fan fiction I'd written this for another website, however I feel that it would get more viewing eyes and people who would enjoy reading this than somewhere else. So, on that note if you see the name "Elle" or "Jason" anywhere, let me know. Those are Bella and Edward. 3

Feel free to review or check out my other stories~ Thanks for reading.

~Alice