But do not ask the price I pay
I must live with my quiet rage
Tame the ghosts in my head
That run wild and wish me dead
Should you shake my ash to the wind
Lord, forget all of my sins
~ Mumford & Sons, Lover’s Eyes
Edward was gone.
His phone was disconnected. I couldn't leave my house to speak to his family, to beg for answers about his well-being. I was past stir-crazy and well into anger and insanity.
He’d left me some documents, an out, if you will. In it was everything I needed to get the hell out of here in September. He’d labeled it ‘Bella’s Escape Pack’. I loved Edward all the more for what he’d done for me, selflessly. I would have laughed if I hadn't been so devastated.
Forged identification, including a birth certificate, and transcripts claiming I’d completed two years at Peninsula College. An acceptance letter to the University Of Washington as a junior, with full credit for the classes he claimed I’d taken. A room in a furnished three bedroom apartment near campus, to be shared with two other girls. A bank account with a modest amount of money, to give me time to find a job in Seattle. A handwritten letter I’d already read a thousand times, in which he declared that he would never forget me, but he needed me to be safe and happy, even if that meant without him.
I almost wished he would forget me, forget the things we’d done and seen and been together. Whatever would keep him from self-imposed purgatory. But then I would think of the starry night sky above us and the whisper of the wind running around us in the meadow, the lightning that struck as though Edward commanded it so, and I didn't want to forget one single second, nor did I want him to. I wished I could play it on repeat as I could my favorite song.
It would be easier not to wallow if I could get out of the house. Being restricted to house arrest was damned hard to accept. My wolf needed to stretch her legs, my meadow missed my delicate touch. The sky from my window seemed so small and insignificant, when I knew how broad and vast it could truly be. I waited for the moon to move in the sky so that I could see her from my window. All I saw these days was rain, gloomy and dreary and suffocating.
I recalled the fight Sue had gotten in with Billy. The Quileutes are all descended from three bloodlines; the Atearas, the Uleys, and the Blacks. Sue raged at Billy that he was an asshole to treat family the way that he had. Of course, Billy doesn't see me as family and probably never will, which didn't help his argument with my mother. Sue and Billy grew up together and had always been close friends. She helped him tremendously when Billy’s wife Sarah died, and now she felt offended at his treatment of her adopted daughter. Sam didn’t escape the earful, either; he got a verbal lashing strong enough to cause him to run from the center and phase in his anger. None of it mattered in the end. Old Quil was the eldest and his word was final. Unfortunately, his views were incredibly old fashioned. He embedded fear inside my heart for my family and what their punishment would be if I disobeyed.
I looked up as I heard a soft knock to my door followed by my mom sticking her head in. “Bella?” she called softly.
I saw her dark eyes take in my rumpled bed and wrinkled clothes, her crow’s feet more prominent as she frowned at me. I set aside the book I’d been unsuccessfully reading and gave her a small, fake smile.
“Do you want to come into the kitchen with me? We can have tea and bake some cookies, or whatever you want.”
No, I didn't want to bake chocolate chip cookies and pretend that everything was fine. I didn't want to force small talk with my mother figure and just set aside my pain to be picked up again when she was done with her nurturing. But I stood, smiled a little wider, made the effort. It wasn't her fault, after all.
“Sure, Mom. I’d love to.”
She beamed, and I knew I’d made the right decision. I’d moped for weeks now, and it was time to shake off the sadness before it turned into true depression, if that was at all possible.
The rain pounded the windows as Sue bustled around the kitchen, setting a kettle full of water on the stove to boil, and then starting to gather what she needed to bake. Her favorite mixing bowls, her measuring spoons and cups, and then she moved on to gathering ingredients. I watched her for a few minutes, and as the water boiled I took out the tea and the cups, the monotony of the job soothing my crowded mind. I got the honey and the milk for Sue, setting it all on a tray and carrying it to the table. She set out the butter to soften while we sat and enjoyed our tea.
“Well, soon you’re going to be in college. I can hardly believe it. I may have only been your mother for five years, but you’re still somehow my baby girl, you know?” She stirred the little spoon in her cup, and I stared out the window and the gloomy world beyond the glass. Sue’s kitchen was a little cluttered; mail and keys and odds and ends stacked on the edge of the counter by the back door. She collected glass bottles and placed them among a few dishes on a shelf over one window, the bottles shining if the sun was out. That basically described Sue in a nutshell; the eternal optimist. The room was very rustic and cozy, consisting primarily of wood. I had grown to love it as I did the woman across from me.
I stood abruptly, going to her and sitting on her lap as she held her arms out for me. It had been years since I’d needed such comfort and reassurance, but it felt as familiar as it always did as she held on tight.
“Now, you are going to be fantastic when you get to that school. You’re going to make friends and see a bit of the world outside this place, as I know you’ve longed to do. It may not be on the terms you were hoping, but you’ll make the best of it.” The way she said it, it almost sounded like an order. “I know you miss him, honey, though I do wish you’d told me about him before it came to this. He’s given you a gift, one even your dad and I couldn’t manage. Never forget you were a wonderful woman before he came into your life, and you will continue to be that same wonderful woman, maybe even changed a bit for the better.”
A small sob escaped, but I reigned it back in. “I do miss him, Sue. It’s like a piece of me is missing.”
“Do you know the old stories about imprinting?” she asked as she ran a hand down my hair and rubbed my back.
I nodded against her shoulder. “I do.”
“Then you know it’s going to feel that way, always.” I nodded again, turning my face further into her strength. I needed it to seep into my bones. “You’ll learn to live with it, I’m afraid. You’re too strong to do anything else.”
“What if I don’t want to?” I whispered, scared of the feelings that threatened to overwhelm me at every turn.
“You’ll be too busy come September to think of much else, love. Right now it seems monumental because you’re cooped up in this house with nothing to occupy your brain.”
“I hope you’re right, Mom. I do.”
“I do, too.”