Charlie thought I was depressed. He'd actually mentioned to me, last night, that there were "five stages of mourning" and he thought I was struggling with them. I'd heard about this before, I mean really, who hadn't? They say, originally, it's denial and isolation. Followed by anger, then bargaining. Which lead to depression and finally resignation. I wasn't sure if Charlie understood the whole step process because he seems to think I went straight from denial to depression. Truth was, whether I wanted to admit it or not, I was having my own process. I'd been in denial, yes. That's hard not to admit. Even bargaining in the dark silence of my room at night when the tears would consume me. I wasn't so much ashamed to say that as I was ashamed it didn't work. But I was not fucking depressed.
When I'd crawled into bed last night after spending the evening with James, I'd felt all right. Tired, for once. Even able to actually sleep without exhausting myself with sobs. That was a pleasant change. However, this morning when I bolted upright in my bed at the sound of my alarm clock, peace was the last thing coursing through me. I was pissed off. Maybe it was triggered by the blaring noise that had woken me up after two hours. Maybe it was the sound of Charlie's cruiser pulling out of the driveway, which immediately reminded me of Charlie. Which immediately reminded me of therapy. Which immediately reminded me of today. Simple thought process, really. But the anger welling up in my chest seemed to be exploding out of me. I sighed to myself and pushed my fingers against my temples, hoping to calm myself. James. I thought his name quietly in my head, hoping to remind myself of the pleasant evening and of how caring he was with me. The sad reality was it did the exact opposite. I went from angry to enraged. Absolutely infuriated.
He'll leave just like the rest of them once he gets bored.
The thought was heartbreaking. I wasn't sure if it was because of James himself or if it was because of how much he reminded me of a better time in my life. Of the people who used to be around. I knew I found his touch comforting for that reason. If I closed my eyes, I could almost imagine he was Edward. I could almost imagine a lot of things. Almost. I couldn't set myself up like that. Not again, it was beyond stupid the last time. It would be inexcusable of me to do it again. Burn me once, shame on you. Burn me twice, shame on me. No, this had to stop.
I would not be left destroyed in the woods again. I would not count the seconds until I felt that familiar cool touch. I would not. The alarm continued blaring. I reached over and yanked it from the table, consequently yanking it from the plug, and threw it across the room where it skidded to a stop under my desk. I ripped the covers from my legs and stomped down the hallway to the bathroom to shower and get ready for school. I wasn't sure if I'd ever been this angry in my life or not. It was... energizing.
It didn't take me long to get ready, and once I was finished, I no longer had anything to distract me. The fear of James just up and leaving me was astounding. I collapsed into a chair at the kitchen table and sighed to myself. Even though I didn't want to admit it, I had to stop counting on him. I had to cut him out before he had the chance to cut me out. It was my only chance of getting through this. Of course he would get bored. Hadn't they all?And Edward had supposedly been in love with me. James wasn't, so what motivation could he possibly have to stay around that the others didn't? Even though my point had been proven and my stance decided, I still felt this incredible sinking feeling in my stomach.
It was going to be a long fucking day.
School was miserable, as could be expected. Most everyone had gotten used to me not speaking but every now and then they would address me. Usually, I would shrug or pretend I hadn't heard them. Today was one of those days, except I didn't have the disinterest to simply ignore them. Instead, I spat vehemently at them. It was Mike, of course. He was always the stupid one. Jess hadn't even spoken to me since Edward left, she just smirked at me from across the table. That didn't go so well today, either. I told her to go blow the football team.
Maybe it was a little bit uncalled for.
Angela just watched me with sad eyes for most of the day. I could tell she wanted to approach me and offer some kind of condolence but at least she had the smarts to avoid making her intentions known. Obvious was one thing, known was something else entirely. Jess and Mike had crossed that line. They deserved it.
When Gym came around, I actively participated in tennis. Knocking the ball across the court repeatedly with my racket. I had tried hitting Jessica a few times, even Lauren, but never succeeded. Well, I did hit them, but it wasn't when I had been trying. The victory was empty. When the bell rang, I exited the school faster than just about anyone else and made it to my truck in record time. I opened up the drivers' side door and hoisted myself inside, starting the engine and pulling on my seat-belt. That's when I realized that, in my rush to exit school, I'd rushed getting to the therapist. I sighed and put my forehead against the steering wheel. That's when the sobs came. Uncontrollably, I choked on the lump in my throat and cried hysterically against my arm. I didn't even care that people were probably looking.
It was fifteen minutes before the crying stopped. When it did, I sat up and wiped my face off on my jacket sleeve. I refused to think about anything at all as I put the truck in reverse and left the empty school parking lot. I drove to the only known therapist in Forks and I hated every minute.
I walked in the door after the receptionist told me I could and I sat in one of the chairs across from the short man in his mid-sixties. His hair was almost entirely gray and he seemed to have a kind, open face. I knew better. That kind, open face would have me thrown in the loony bin faster than I could say Vampire. I crossed my arms in front of my chest and glowered at him over his cherry oak desk.
"I assume you aren't happy to be here, Miss Swan."
"You are happy to be here?" His question startled me. Was he an idiot? Clearly.
"Ah, I see. Well, my name is Arthur Howley."
Silence. He coughed. A few minutes went by.
"You know your father only means well."
"I know what my father means."
"You shouldn't be hard on him."
"Do you feel like talking, Isabella?"
"Bella." My voice was acid. It practically burned my throat as I spoke. Perhaps I was being unnecessarily harsh. I considered that for a moment. No.
"My apologies. Do you feel like you have something to talk about?"
"You mean besides being here when I would much rather leap into a pit of fire? No, other than that I'm pretty sure my life is fantastic, thanks."
His expression was blank, he stared at me for a long few minutes from across his glossy desk. I hated his desk. I wasn't sure why, when I thought about it, but it didn't really seem to matter. I hated his desk the same way I hated the stale smell of too-stiff tissues of his office. The same way I hated his warm blue eyes. The same way I hated how he wrote every fucking word I said down. I set my jaw tightly, determined not to say another word. Clearly mister Arthur Howley had other plans. Didn't everyone?
"He was just a boy, Miss Swan."
In all the anger I had felt today, nothing compared to that. Not when Jessica had been glaring at me for having the chance she never had and then finding herself smug when it blew up in my face but still resentful enough to glare. Not when Mike had the audacity to ask me out. Again. Not when I thought about Edward leaving. Not when I thought about how James would leave. Not when I thought about Alice's bright little face lit up in excitement. Not when I thought about Renee's stupid emails asking me if I'd met a new boy. None of that sent me off the edge the way this stupid man's imbecilic comment just did. I had never understood the phrase "I saw red" until now. And I saw red. You must understand, it is not a figure of speech. Do not underestimate the power of anger. My vision clouded and the red seemed to seep in from the sides. That was the last conscious thing I remember thinking. And then I spoke.
"HOW FUCKING DARE YOU? You don't know him. You don't know me. YOU DON'T KNOW SHIT YOU PRETENTIOUS FUCKBAG." I grabbed my jacket and turned on my heel, leaving the room and making sure to slam the door hard enough to crack the paneling. Fuck him. Fuck him and his stupid assessments of my situation. I didn't fucking need this.
You know how I'd spent the entire day in a fit of rage? Well. When Charlie got home from work and checked the answering machine, you could say he had a fit of rage of his very own. I sat at the dinner table, looking at the cold lasagna, letting him yell. He was right. It had been immature. But so had been poking at an open wound. And this guy had called himself a therapist? Every assessment I had ever had about therapists had turned out to be right. They simply wanted to aggravate your condition. Whatever it was. So that they could pump you with pills or throw you in a straight jacket or make your therapy last years longer than necessary. That's all the fucking gave a shit about.
Charlie did not share my sentiment.
"Bella, I can't believe you said that to him! What's wrong with you? I've never known you to act this way!"
"You've never really known me at all, Charlie," I muttered to myself. He heard me. Stupid, stupid idea, Bella.
"Bella," Charlie's voice was soft all of the sudden. As if he thought this was what it was all about. "Is that why you're so upset?"
"No, Dad. I'm so upset because he thought it was okay to tell me that Edward," I swallowed hard when I said his name, "was just a boy within ten minutes of knowing me! What kind of therapist goes LOOKING for trouble like that? I'm sorry I snapped, Dad, but he crossed a line that I felt was unfair and unwarranted. I agreed to do this therapy thing but I did not agree to go and have some old man instigate problems."
Charlie sat in silence for a while. Eventually he sighed and said he would look for a new therapist for me but that, until then, I would have to continue seeing Mr. Howley simply because the insurance wouldn't take too kindly to paying for something that hadn't even lasted a whole session. I nodded and put the untouched lasagna away and went up to my room. I crawled under the covers and stared at the wall for what felt like days. Eventually, I heard Charlie go to bed. He didn't check on me tonight like he usually did. That was good. I was sick of everything today.
Within an hour of Charlie going to bed, I heard the pebble hit my window. My heart leaped into my throat and I realized that now I would have to deal with cutting James out of my life. I groaned. I rolled over onto my stomach and waited. I knew he'd throw another pebble. I also knew that would be when he listened carefully to see if something was wrong.
There it was. The second pebble.
"Go away, James. I'm done," I murmured. I knew it was the cheap way of going about it but I really didn't have the strength to tell him to his face. I couldn't look into his eyes and tell him I didn't want anything to do with him. It wasn't true and I was a horrible liar. He would know. I heard rustling outside, I knew he was climbing up the tree so he could peer into my window to see if I really meant being done the way I knew he thought I did. Within seconds his face was at my window and he tapped lightly. I met his gaze and the hurt that crossed his face was threatening to leave me in tears again. Is that how I looked when Edward left?
"Bella?" My name was choked as it escaped his lips, thick with strain from getting past the lump that was clearly in his throat.
I rolled over and pulled the blanket over my head.