As a wise woman once said, the only place I own Twilight is in my dreams.
I think I heard the shots ringing out across the pitch black night before I truly saw them, or felt them. I heard the hammer click and the trigger pull and the bullet leave the chamber long before it even hit my body.
I knew this was coming. Since the very beginning, I knew this would happen. The threat had always hovered over us, a dangerous cloud ready to strike us down. It’s not as though I didn’t know what I was getting myself into all of those months ago.
And as I lay on the snowy ground, blood staining all that surrounded me, and an angel’s tears soaking the collar of my scarlet wool coat as he cried over me, I couldn’t help but think that, despite the pain and despite the ominous darkness now clouding my vision, for that short, sweet time of pure bliss and happiness, it had all been worth it.
For my entire life, I’d believed true love to be a cliché. A myth. Something intangible and unreal. Something everyone strived for and no one achieved.
I’d read it all - Romeo and Juliet, Catherine and Heathcliff, Elizabeth and Mister Darcy. Each story different, yet common in their core element - an undying, soul consuming love that one held above all else.
Never, in my seventeen year existence, did I ever think that I would experience this feeling, this part of me that was so passionate and consuming, that it changed my very being, the very core of who I was - that I would experience it so quickly and so briefly, that not only would I know the one true gift life could bestow upon a human being, but that it would come out of absolutely nowhere...
The sun broke through the glass of the window, escaping through the cracks of the curtains, and blinded me in their brightness. I shielded my eyes long enough to snap the draperies closed and sit back down on the bed.
I yawned hugely - I had not slept well. Today was my first day at Forks High, and the never ending rain had kept me tossing and turning all night.
“Bella? Are you up yet?” I heard Charlie call from the bottom of the stairs, making sure I hadn’t overslept.
“Yeah, Ch – Dad, I’m awake,” I answered dutifully, and I heard him shuffle back into the kitchen to fry eggs for his breakfast.
I went about my morning routine calmly, nerves not affecting me this early. I methodically washed, scrubbed, conditioned, and brushed. I dressed myself in my uniform jeans, a simple, charcoal grey sweater, a pair of black flats that I had obligingly bought on a shopping trip with my mother and shamefully discovered that I actually loved, and my black jacket, with which I assumed I would be making very good friends with in the near future. Remembering my nice black and white houndstooth umbrella which had, as well, been a result of my mother’s eccentricity (it was tearfully given to me at the airport in Phoenix) and which I also predicted would become a good companion of mine, I dashed downstairs to pop some bread in the toaster oven and chug some orange juice before making my way to school.
Charlie was sitting at the table, sipping coffee and finishing up the last few pages of the newspaper when I came down the stairs.
“G’morning,” I mumbled, still slightly drowsy - I had never claimed to be a morning person.
“Morning!” he said brightly, and I suppressed the urge to cover my ears with my hands. “I’ve got to head in to work, but have a good first day,” he said with a nervous glance, as though wondering if, after suffering eighteen hours of characteristic torrential downpour, I was going to change my mind after all and hop the first flight back to Phoenix.
“Thanks Dad,” I said, making an effort to smile reassuringly. He smiled back, and waved as he departed.
I waited a moment, and followed him out, sighing - although I knew exactly what I had signed up for, I had yet to get used to the dreary, depressing haze of rainclouds that always hung over the tiny city.
The thick coating of clouds yielded a heavy downpour during the drive, but luckily stopped before I got to school, and I was saved from the appearance of a wet rat as I began my new life.
The morning went much as I expected it to, with few surprises. The customary introductions, corrections of my name, new curriculums (most of which I had already studied), and mindless, polite chattering were exactly what I had predicted.
Everything was going well.
I really, truly hated my life.
Okay...so life itself wasn’t so bad, but in the hour-long, completely and utterly torturous period of mind blowingly boring Trigonometry, and an overly excitable girl (whose name was escaping me - or rather, I hadn’t cared to learn it yet) yapping in my ear, I had thought of a hundred ways to end my life right then and there.
While I appreciated her effort to befriend me - it was my first day at Forks High - it didn’t mean I wanted to know the life story of everyone in the school, especially all of the dirty gossip about their personal lives. I just didn’t care.
Alas, when she invited me to sit with her and her friends at lunch, I graciously accepted. If I could meet a few more people through this nameless girl, I figured I could suffer through a couple of extra minutes of her mindless chatting.
I nodded and smiled politely, not really comprehending the story about so-and-so’s parent’s divorce, as we sat down to a full cafeteria table with our trays of food, which was, in all fairness, not as greasy as I expected it to be.
I saw Mike and Eric, who had both shown me to classes earlier in the day (and who were both, frankly, much too polite), and met an Angela, a Ben, a Lauren, a Tyler, and an Austin. They all seemed nice enough, and I liked Angela especially. She was very quiet and a bit timid, but I could tell she was observant and smart, and the occasional secretive smile that crossed her pretty features told me she was making jokes to herself about the ridiculous things coming from some of the more shallow girls sitting near us - we would make good friends.
I allowed my eyes to drift around the large, brightly lit cafeteria - it wasn’t much different from the one I had sat in daily in Phoenix. Same plain linoleum and hard, uncomfortable chairs, same cliques at each table, same faces seeming bored and indifferent towards the outside world. Typical teenage population.
This dull and familiar environment soon became awkward for me, as the conversation struck a chord of gossiping that I, as the new girl, was incidentally excluded from. The urge to leave the cafeteria and wander and explore the rest of the grounds suddenly surged up inside of me, and I excused myself with only a few protests, citing a non-existent appointment with a guidance counselor. Then I fought my way through a throng of hormonal beasts and exited through the double doors into a long, white hallway filled with blue lockers on each side, bee-lining for my own, about one hundred yards away from the cafeteria.
I pulled my bookbag out of the tiny locker that had been assigned to me this morning, along with the map of the school that was hanging out in the little magnetic basket its previous owner had forgotten in their hasty departure, and began venturing through the halls.
The first thing besides classrooms with various mustachioed and big-haired teachers that I came across was a pretty courtyard, with various types of tall trees, flowering trees, and a few weeping willows. There were benches and picnic tables strategically placed beneath the towering plants, which had surely been there for generations, and for acquaintance’s sake, and since I was sure that it would be one of the few times I would see the outdoors without rain in Forks, I sat down upon a wooden and surprisingly comfortable bench for a few moments, and soaked in the sweet smell of grass and dew and fresh air, one that I had always adored.
After inhaling my quota of the outdoors for the day, I returned inside to continue in my miniature adventure. I was floored (and extremely pleased) when the next thing I stumbled upon was a decent sized, even expansive library. The room itself was small and cramped and no more than fifteen hundred square feet, but the bookshelves were high and wide and stuffed with books and more shelves had been crammed in the minute space than ought to be allowed.
Despite their obvious lack of space, they had managed to fit about twenty-five brand new, shiny white computers on long, grey tables with twenty-five new desk chairs, and a taller table behind them all where the petite, fashionable motorcycle boot-wearing, and watchful librarian sat perched on a high, stool-like chair. I decided that I would quickly write my paper on The Importance of Being Earnest, which had been assigned in my English class that morning, and which would take me no longer than 20 minutes to complete on one of these flashy, fast computers.
I approached the woman, who gave off an air of friendly yet adroit intelligence, stopped next to her table-desk fusion, which had an orderly chaos scheme going on, and stood silently until she finished some librarian business on the cracked screen of her laptop.
“How can I help you?” she asked with a genuinely cheerful smile. She had short, curly hair that reminded me strongly of my own when I failed to dry it, and she seemed honestly pleased to be sitting in the cramped, slightly over-heated space.
Not being able to resist her truly infectious attitude, I smiled, though slightly forced, and said politely, “Yes, I was told this morning that I could ask you for my student account number and password?”
“Certainly!” she replied, promptly shuffling through her tidy mess and pulling out a thick stack of papers. “What’s your name?” I immediately warmed to her even further, since she seemed to be the only one who hadn’t known me by name before I even breached the borders of the school.
“Isabella Swan,” I said dutifully, and she simply nodded her head and began flipping towards the end of the papers in her hand, and I simply decided she was my favorite of all the people I had met that day.
“Swan, Swan, Swan...” she mumbled under her breath as she scanned up and down the length of a sheet. “Ah, here you are!” She uncapped a marker with her teeth and scribbled a seven-digit number on a Post-It, along with an arbitrary word that I couldn’t quite see from my vantage point. She handed me the note and with a cheerful smile, turned back to her work.
There were four rows of tables on each side of the room, divided in the center by a wide aisle with a projector at the head of it, which was clearly utilized for the occasional class taught in the library. There was a wide expansion of windows on the left, and I selected a computer right next to them in the very last row to the back.
The library was all but deserted, save for two people, of whom all I could see was the back of a bronze-colored head two tables in front of me and a long, shining curtain of blonde hair on the opposite side of the room.
I turned my attention to the screen, and swivelled around my mouse to bring it out of standby mode. A screen popped up that said, Forks High School, and had two areas to type in username and password. I typed in 2008072 and 'clean,' respectively, and a desktop with icons along the bottom quickly popped up.
I was pleased to see that my favorite music program was already installed on the computer, and deciding that since there was still forty-five minutes left in the lunch period and I therefore had more than enough time to write and print my paper out, I pulled my MP3 player and USB cord from the outside pocket of my bookbag, which had failed to be unpacked since the previous day when I’d used the bag for a carry-on. I plugged it in to the USB port, selected the playlists I wanted to download to the computer, and stuck my headphones into the jack on the side of the monitor.
As I waited a few customary moments for the songs to transfer, I first set eyes on a face I was not soon to forget. The bronze head two rows in front of me had turned to gaze out the window, revealing the profile of a strikingly beautiful boy. He was not a typical, handsome young man - he was strange, pretty for a male and extraordinarily attractive, someone that I would be happy to simply stare at for hours, and then afterwards still not be able to picture exactly how he looked in my mind.
A tiny beep chimed from his desktop, and he stood languidly, as though he was much more tired and older than he truly was. He was taller than I’d expected, at least six or seven inches taller than my own 5'6" frame, dressed in a French blue button down tucked into dark blue jeans and a light grey vest that was far more impeccable and tasteful than one would expect from a teenage boy.
I decided in that instant that he must be a teacher - although every member of the administration in our school had their own district-granted laptops, it was clear from the condition of the librarian’s that the small, light devices didn’t hold up well to the wear and tear of every day life, and this teacher in particular must have needed to print out some worksheets for his students. That must be it, because, quite frankly, straight young men did not dress so perfectly.
As he began walking in my direction up the small aisle closest to the windows, my own computer beeped and told me that my music had been downloaded to my account. I cast my glance back to the screen and tried very hard not to give in to the urge to simply stare at his strange, entrancing looks as came towards me. When he passed by, I caught a strong whiff of something incredibly noxious - something I couldn’t describe, as though something like soap and woods and pure, unadulterated life were oozing from his pores. I fought the urge to breathe deeply, and focused myself very hard on organizing my music library and selecting which songs to listen to while I wrote my paper.
I chanced a glance over my shoulder briefly to see that he was standing over the massive printer-copier in the tiny room adjacent to the library that had nothing separating it from the main room save a tall glass wall that was strikingly modern compared to the rest of the average, undecorated library.
I turned back to my computer as he moved to come back towards his work space, but he stopped to speak to the librarian on his way back.
“Excuse me, Miss Roy,” I heard him say in such a respectful tone that it utterly destroyed my teacher theory. His voice was slightly gravelly, yet had a clear, contained, and refined manner that contradicted the almost sexual vibrato of it. “Do you happen to have a list of all of the homerooms that have juniors in them? I just need to know how many copies to make of the announcement that senior dues will be owed at the end of June.”
“Of course!” she replied in what I was discovering was her typical cheerful way. “More Student Council business?”
“As usual,” he responded, indulging her. I heard some ruffling and a bright, “Here you go!” I quickly stuffed my headphones into my ears to fake nonchalance as the lightest of footsteps came towards me. I randomly clicked on a song on my screen and pretended to be thinking very intently upon the program in front of me. I knew for a fact that my detachment looked forced, at best, but I had to, at the very least, try to hide how profoundly his impression seemed to be stirring inside of me.
I felt slightly disturbed when he paused behind me, and I felt as though he were staring at me intently, his eyes carving through my flesh, searching for something - and I didn’t know what - underneath. Mortified by my asinine school-girl reaction and the fact that I was being a supreme idiot, I decided resolutely that I must have something in my hair, or anything equally as embarrassing.
Slowly, hoping in vain that he would turn and walk away and leave me to feel awkward and raw and silly all on my own before I could actually finish my movements, I pulled the headphones from my ears and turned in my desk chair to see him peering, curious, with his head slightly cocked to the side, at my computer screen. Confused, I tried to see what he was looking at so intently, but saw nothing on my desktop save the list of songs playing on the music player. I waited patiently for him to speak, too intimidated by his absurd looks and the thrumming in the pit of my stomach to trust myself not to say something scarily stupid.
After only one short moment that felt more like several long ones to me, he pulled his line of vision from my computer and placed it squarely on me, an enigmatic, enchanting grin stretching across his odd features.
“You know the band Air Traffic?” he said, gesturing to my computer, the same restricted, yet excruciatingly masculine voice pouring over me, his eyes crinkling in the corners out of surprise.
I was stricken - I felt sure that he was going to say something more along the lines of, ‘Aahh, you’ve got a little something...’ but I was relieved that he didn’t, and shocked and incredibly pleased that one of my favorite bands (whose music, in my possessed distress I had not realized was pumping through my headphones) was in his realm of consciousness.
“Oh!” I blurted. “Yeah, I do! You’ve heard of them?” Unconsciously, my nose scrunched in the slightest out of sheer disgust at my own dullard antics - obviously he had heard of them, or else he wouldn’t have approached me about it. I prayed he wouldn’t realize that I was, inwardly, cringing so vehemently that I almost felt myself seizing.
However, he smiled graciously and simply replied, “I have, and I hate to say that before you, I was the only person I knew that had discovered them.”
“Ohhh,” I sighed, relieved again that he didn’t call me out on my brainlessness. “I shamelessly admit my weakness for British alt-rock bands.” Happy with the fact that my wits seemed to be coming back about me, I smiled sincerely for the first time all day.
I felt my courage fly even higher when he returned a small smirk and offered me his hand to shake.
“I’m Edward Masen,” he said pleasantly as I made sure to squeeze his hand with a grip equal to his own strong one - I remembered someone I knew complaining of “shaking hands with a dead fish,” and ever since, I’d made it a point to have a strong handshake.
“Bella Swan,” I replied with a wide, wide smile and a thrill in my voice that came from making a beautiful friend. He sat down at the desk chair next to me, his elbows resting on his knees, and we began to discuss music - any kind of music, every kind of music - from The Kooks and Regina Spektor to Billy Joel and our favorites of the upcoming crop of young female R&B artists (Adele for me, Duffy for him, and a mutual disgust for the unoriginal black hole that was Amy Winehouse). We talked about early jazz music, who would win in a battle between Debussy and Satie, which current indie bands were indie bands for the sake of being indie bands, and which songs we could listen to, nonstop, for the rest of our lives.
This one conversation, this meager half-hour of bonding over something that I would learn he felt so passionately about and which I formerly treated as an engaging pastime, would be the start of something so painfully beautiful, so agonizingly wonderful that I would come to believe that without it, I would cease to exist.
When the bell rang, we exchanged pleasant goodbyes, now familiar with each other in a way that no others were, and parted ways.
And so it began.