Title: A Daydream?
Characters/pairing: mild Bella/Edward, Bella's POV
Rating: PG or lower
Spoilers: it's set during Twilight before any Edward/Bella came to be, so none really.
I stare at the textbook in front of me, then at my notebook. The Spanish verbs are a blur, gibberish of familiar letters in a combination that makes no sense to me, a code waiting to be deciphered. My mind is miles away. I’m trying to stir it back in the right direction, but failing repeatedly. It’s too quiet; it’s almost distracting. Charlie is still at work, and will be for the next hour or so. Outside my window, the afternoon sun is slowly setting. The leaves have this golden glow as the fading rays hit them. It’s impossible to look away.
I shake my head, forcing my attention back to my desk. What am I supposed to be doing? Oh, right. It’s a pretty easy assignment; we’ve been working on the same stuff for over a week now, and I know the drill. But today I can hardly bring myself to remember what the right answers are. My hand, the one that is holding the pencil, is scribbling something absent-mindedly at the corner of the page. When my gaze is focused once more, I suddenly notice what it is I’m scribbling, and drop the pencil at once, as if it’s on fire. It falls to the floor with a thud, but it’s too soft a noise to startle me. The silence is still thick around me. Outside, the wind rustles through branches, and for a moment I hear nothing else, but the sound is eerie and making me paranoid. I pretend to see something moving amongst the tree tops, gaining closer. I hold my breath and follow it with my eyes, just to realize a moment later it’s just a passing car.
A yawn escapes me, reminding me that it’s been another sleepless night. Weariness overpowers me as adrenaline, faithfully keeping up with me throughout the school day, is slowly wearing off. I lay my arm against the desk, and my head against it. My eyes close on their own accord. Darkness seems like a better alternative. But even with my eyes closed, it feels as if the E in my notebook is glaring at me, trying to break through the darkness. It makes my skin tingle. It’s almost as if he’s looking at me, into me, his eyes almost unnatural with their amber of a color. An involuntary shiver runs through me. I feel uncomfortable under his piercing gaze, mostly because it is impossible to be oblivious to it. Even while looking away I know his eyes are on me, his eyebrow half raised in a wordless challenge to look back at him. I feel relieved when his seat, the one next to mine in Biology, is empty. I’m not the target of those unnerving stares then. But as the class progresses I’m horrified to realize I’m restless, distracted, almost as if I’ve been waiting for the feeling of his eyes on my back. Almost as if I’ve been missing it. And maybe I have, in a perverse sort of way.
The truth is, I’m sort of worried when he doesn’t show up for classes every now and again. Everyone dismisses it, so I suppose I should just be indifferent to it as well. After all, they know better, being here longer than I am. But somehow I can’t. When I step into the lab and his seat is empty, there’s this emptiness surging through me as well. I know I’m about to find myself at the edge of my seat from start to finish. Those are the days when I’m taking notes on auto-pilot while my mind is elsewhere, completely elsewhere, as I’m trying frantically to make up a story that will make sense to me, anything to justify his absence.
At least when he’s there, there’s some sort of justification to my restlessness. But when he’s gone I’m somehow more restless, far more, and then it has no excuse.
I open my eyes. I blink once, twice, and the room swims into focus again. Darkness has fallen almost completely. The light in my room is faint and dim. I click a lamp on, looking away from the blaming stare of the E on my notebook.
The phone rings just then, tearing brutally into the silence, almost knocking me off my seat. I hurry downstairs, taking the stairs two by two, almost losing my balance when I miss the last one. I hold on to the banister, stopping myself from crushing to the floor. By the time I reach the phone, I’m out of breath.
“Oh, hey Charlie, what’s up?”
“Are you okay? You sound a bit weird.”
“I ran to get the phone.”
“Oh, sorry. I hope you made it downstairs in one piece.” His tone is teasing. I hold back a snort. I refuse to let him rejoice over the fact he knows me so well. “Anyways I’m just calling to say I’ll be in a bit late tonight. Something came up, I’ll have to stay here for a while.”
There’s this pang of disappointment that catches me off-guard. It’s not like we spend a lot of time together when Charlie is home from work. But tonight I’ve been sort of expecting it. It stopped my mind from wandering. “Oh. Okay. Will you be okay with dinner though or should I – ”
“Oh, don’t bother yourself, kid, the guys will order some pizza, I’ll be fine.”
“Okay, dad. See you later.”
I hang up. My steps echo as I make my way upstairs. The silence is unnerving, as unnerving as his unfathomable stare. I reach for my CD player and hit the play. Familiar sounds fill the room now, but I’m not focusing on the lyrics. I embrace the distraction. Maybe now I’ll be able to do my homework.
I sit at my desk again, reach for my notebook, do a double take. Then I freeze and let it drop to the desk. I turn slowly and scan the room. The only light comes from the lamp on my desk. The rest of the room is swimming in shadows. I can’t see anything even if I squint; I’m too freaked out to move, anyway. I glance at my window, but it’s still half-shut, just the way I’ve left it before. Now I regret putting the music on. If there is someone else there with me, silence must have turned him in more easily.
My heart is still pounding faster than normally when I reach for my notebook again and give it a better look. It’s still there, but it’s faded, hardly visible in the faint lamplight. It’s still glaring at me, from the fathoms of the paper. And now I start thinking that maybe I’ve been imagining the whole thing. Maybe I’ve never scribbled an E at the corner of the page. Maybe it’s been another part of my daydream, abruptly cut off by Charlie’s call.
Yeah. A daydream is a much more reasonable explanation than the other one, the one I stubbornly stuff in a dark corner at the back of my mind.
I grab a tattered copy of The House of Mirth and an afghan, and go downstairs to wait for Charlie’s return. It feels too weird to be in my room just now. I don’t bother to turn off the music; it remains a comforting background noise as I settle myself on the couch with the book in my lap. I hope to lose myself in the story, in the ups and downs of Lily Bart, hoping that her fictional tragedy will outdo my own, but soon I’m restless again, and my thoughts wander back to my notebook, to the faded letter and the ghostly remainder of his eyes, glazing dark gold like the setting sun on the leaves out of my window. For one careless moment that other explanation surfaces, and I push it back into its hiding place and further away.
Sure, I tell myself as I reopen my novel. A daydream; is all it’s been.