But why am I Jessica?
When I woke up the next morning and recalled the events from the night before, I took the pillow underneath my head and brought it over my mouth to muffle my scream.
I don't understand anything that is going on. This does not make sense. Granted the events of New Moon started around Bella's birthday and I still have a few weeks before then... I'm beginning to worry my presence here as Jessica is throwing off the story's progression. I mean, why did Edward save me? He could've been acting as a good Samaritan, but the risk is revealing to me he is a vampire. Which I now can confirm from my own knowledge of the Twilight Series but still... He theoretically should not have risked saving me for fear that I would find out he is a vampire. Even Alice and Jasper were there which was abnormal as well. I am really going to make an effort to keep my distance from them for now on. Wait! Get a hold of yourself, Katie. I need to get a grasp on what my priorities are and interfering with the Twilight story line should not be my top priority. My top priority is to find out if my family is alive in this world. If they are not, I will accept this reality for what it is and try to relive my life as best as I can. If they are, I will find my way back to them!
"Jessica, please get up! You are supposed to take your brother to school this morning." I heard Jessica's mom call to me outside of her bedroom door. I had completely forgotten this request from the previous day's morning. Unfortunately, Edward was right, and I was fine when I woke up this morning. I was more than capable to go to school today. I scrambled to my feet and darted to Jessica's closet. It was always difficult getting dressed in the morning because Jessica and I had completely different taste in clothes. She aired on the mid 2000 preppy and cute look. Which I did understand was appropriate for the time. I, however, preferred a more comfortable and laid-back look. I had not looked at the clock yet, but I suspected I didn't have much time to get ready this morning. Given that I almost died last night, I allowed myself to stray from dressing in Jessica's style for once. The reward seemed justified to myself. I quickly selected jean capris and a loose fitting bright red shirt that I just knew Jessica intended to use only for sleeping in and to never wear in public. I slipped on the pair of black converse I wore every day because it was the only comfortable shoes she had in her closet aside from the established running shoes. Shoes were the one thing I could not sacrifice in my Jessica facade. I needed to be comfortable, so I never wore the other dozen options of shoes she had available in her closet.
I opened the door to leave Jessica's bedroom and Daniel was standing in the middle of the hallway. His little 10-year-old face was scrunched up in irritation. This was going to be a nightmare. I avoided Daniel as often as I could, but today would be the first time I was forced to have more than a few minutes of interaction with him.
"Did you eat breakfast yet?" I asked nicely to break the ice.
"Duh. You're going to make me late. Let's go." Daniel's response sent chills down my back. I admitted to myself that I found Daniel a little intimidating.
"Alrighty... let me grab something to go from the kitchen on our way out." I responded cordially to Daniel. I would not going let this kid intimidate me to skip breakfast. I also intentionally left out I needed to brush my teeth, put on deodorant, and wash my face first. Daniel didn't seem like the type to take excuses, but personal hygiene was important.
Once I made it to the kitchen, my options for breakfast were limited. The Stanley household never supplied food I would normally eat. I felt Daniel's eyes bore into my neck as I weighed my options in the kitchen pantry. It was unpleasant. I hastily settled on a banana and a packet of oatmeal to make later.
After acquiring my breakfast was complete, I grabbed the brown lunch bag on the counter labeled Jessica. Jessica's mom prepared one every school day. I forgot how nice it was to have a paternal figures influence in one's life. I sighed internally as I moved towards the front door. I had just realized I didn't even know where the school was that I was supposed to drop Daniel off at. This was going to be hard to explain but I couldn't get out of it now.
Is the amnesia excuse still playable here?
I unlocked Jessica's Toyota Camry once outside and watched Daniel hop in the front passenger side seat. I walked to that car door side and reopened the door.
"No way. You sit in the back." My order was not well received. His eyes stared back at me in disbelief. He was too small and underage to sit there. I didn't care if Jessica had let him previously. It was not safe.
"I always sit in the front!" He asserted to me.
"It's not safe. Park it in the back seat or you're not going to school with me. We can stay here all day if you like." I was thrilled I finally got my spine back with this kid.
Daniel stared me down for two minutes until he realized my words were not a lie. He huffed at me and redirected himself to the backseat.
"Much better. Thank you," I remarked to him genuinely pleased. I shut the door once he was inside and went to the driver's seat. Before I started the engine, my eyes caught Daniel with his main seat belt strap tucked behind his back in the rear view mirror. This kid was just going to try my patience today.
I craned my head over my shoulder in his direction and said, "Tell me what is wrong with this picture."
He thought it over a few seconds and then screamed, "What are you the safety police?!" He whipped the seat belt in its proper location across his chest and then I smiled sweetly at him.
"When it comes to my kid brother, I always want to make sure you're safe." I patted his head and then resumed turning the engine to start the car. "Now, give me directions to your school," I instructed to Daniel.
"You know you went there too when you were a kid," he grumbled at me from the backseat.
"Amnesia side effects. Do you want to get to your school or not?"
Daniel proceeded to give me the directions and they were very simple, as I should've suspected for the small town of Forks. We were nearing the elementary school when Daniel finally spoke to me again.
"What's wrong with you? You've changed a lot since you got hit on the head. We've all noticed it, but mom and dad won't say anything." Daniel's voice was no longer was aggressive with me as it had been all morning.
I didn't know how to answer his question and I couldn't be dismissive like I was to Edward when he commented I was different.
"Do you not like the new me?" I asked Daniel sincerely.
"I didn't say that. I haven't spent much time with you, but I know you're already nicer to me than you were before. I just don't want to get used to this and then for you to change back."
His answer was not what I expected it would be. I thought he was going to call me out for being a completely different person like I knew I was. I dreamt once that he demanded I change back to the old Jessica or he would reveal I was an impostor to everyone. That dream shook me and increased by sensitivity to avoiding Daniel.
"Fair enough. Maybe we could spend some more time together and you could help me remember things that you did like about me that I don't do anymore since I got hit to the head."
"Maybe." His one-word response was enough for me. I was just relieved to know I didn't have an enemy already, let alone in the house I was residing in.
The ride was soon over, and I pulled up in front of his school. He left in such a hurry that I hardly finished saying goodbye before he shut the door. I was about to drive away when I heard a knock on a window. I looked at the front passenger side's window. Daniel was looking at me. His face was emotionless at first. When he swept his dark brown shaggy hair out of his light brown eyes, I knew. He accepted me. I could not understand why so early, but I didn't understand the dynamics between Jessica and him before I came along. I also didn't understand my avoidance of him was perceived as kindness in some way. I would have to expand my knowledge on that in the future. Daniel waved at me and then turned around and rushed to a group of his friends congregated in front of the front doorways of the elementary school.
The drive to Forks high school felt long because I was lost in thought along the way. I felt relieved of how that went down. I acknowledged it could've been a lot worse. I would need to keep being nice to Daniel which wouldn't be as hard as I originally assumed it would be. I was only used to having an older sister as a sibling but felt confident I could navigate the waters of being an older sister to a younger brother. Jenna was a good example to go by. Pain funneled into my heart when I thought of Jenna. If I died as Katie Smith, I left her alone in the world. Our parents died when we were very young. Our grandparents took us in, but they had passed away as well after I started college.
I didn't know how to make my way back to my old life and Jenna. The only solution I could come up with was confirming Jenna was not present in this world. If she was, I would abandon this life as Jessica Stanley to be with her. However, if there was a Katie Smith already in this world or maybe my whole family, I would leave them in peace. Having to accept I would never see Jenna again was the most likely possibility. Until it was confirmed, I would not give up hope yet though.
I arrived at school nearly in tears thinking about Jenna and my real family. I was so swept up in my emotions, I hardly noticed Bella knocking on the driver's side window of the car.
Is she upset Edward saved me? Is she worried I suspect something is off with him? Ugh, what should I do?
I rolled down the window and gave Bella a weak smile. I was not going to assume I knew what she wanted. "Hi Bella," I greeted her nervously.
Bella's doe brown eyes conveyed apprehension before she responded to my morning greeting. "Jessica, how are you feeling?"
Did they send Bella in to test the waters? Do they want to see if I am suspicious of the Cullen's?
"Tired. I slept in late this morning, but it still wasn't enough it seems. How's your morning going?" I kept my response casual. She didn't ask a direct question, so my answer felt appropriate. I knew what question she was really asking and what answer she really wanted.
Bella's expression kept neutral to my response. I couldn't deny I was secretly hoping to goad a reaction out of her for not giving her what she wanted. I knew I was not being kind, but I was currently in an unknown story line territory of the Twilight Series. For all I knew, this could have gone on and Stephenie Meyer never bothered to write about it.
"My morning is fine. I was actually referring to what happened last night." She finally got straight to the point. I admired that she didn't dilly dally around the information she wanted, but I still was not going to yield to her.
"Ah, my run. It apparently didn't end well, but my mom informed me Edward and Alice saved me. I was really lucky. I cannot recall the events that unfolded after I started my run. It is pretty much a blur. Looks like I am fine now though. Please tell them both my sincerest thank you." I rolled up my window to signify the conversation was over. I was annoyed that Bella was still standing by the Camry when I finally got out of it. Apparently, the conversation was not over despite my power move to end it.
"Wow, really? You can't recall a single thing?" Her playing detective for the Cullen's was obvious and not a game I wanted to play. I just wanted to be left out of this story line. I knew how to end her questioning in one fail-safe swoop, but I didn't want to be mean. It seemed like I was left with no other choice though. Being buddy-buddy with Bella one day was never officially off the table before, but it was now.
"Not a thing." I shrugged my shoulders. "The hit to the head you gave me last week has really been affecting my memory even up to now." It was a low blow, but necessary to make her back off. Her facial expression instantly turned sour. She was either pissed at my response or had an ugly upset face. She turned away from me without a word and moved to regroup with Alice and Edward. Only Edward between the two had a concentrated focus in our direction though.
I wonder if the whole Cullen Clan knows? If Rosalie was here, she surely would be glaring daggers at me like she did after Edward saved Bella. She was so mad when he risked revealing they were vampires to a human. Ugh, I don't care to concern myself with this bullshit right now. I think I can be written out of the story now. Thank god!
The school day was nearly over, and I was mentally exhausted. I dodged odd glances from Edward, Alice and Bella all day long. I weighed the options of skipping and not-skipping Calculus, my last class of the day. In favor of skipping, I forgot to do my homework the night before due to everything that happened. The opposition to skipping, I would lose the chance to earn end of the semester bonus points with an unexcused absence. I laughed at the reasoning; I could very well not even be here around that time. It was an obvious decision in the end. I was going to skip.
"Jessica! Leaving the school grounds?"
F**k! Who caught me?
I turned around and saw Alice. I had not been around her enough to recognize her light and airy voice. It was like a beautiful melody full of warmth. Cute for her character but pestering at the moment.
"Guilty. Slight headache. I was just going to cut early and go home to rest." I tried to hide my deception but feared my tone of voice gave me away.
"Oh! For more immediate attention, why not go to the nurse then?" Alice asked me inquisitively. She acted innocent but I knew her game.
"Okay, I am caught red handed. I just want to skip the period completely." I hated that I struggled to sound cool when saying it. It just didn't roll off the tongue naturally.
"You can still do that in the nurse's office, Jess." I knew my face betrayed my perplexed reaction.
Why on earth would she call me that? Since I have been here, I have only been addressed as Jessica.
"Thanks for the suggestion, but I think I will go home." I wanted to keep it short. I honestly believed she would take the hint at this point.
"Wait, please don't. I would like to chat with you actually." And thus, I was trapped. I escaped from Calculus, but not from Alice's clutches. I blamed my favoritism to her as a character in the books as to why I allowed the conversation to continue when I could have persisted I go home for some other reason.
"Can we do that in my car, or do you need to be on school grounds to talk to me?" I asked her before discretely letting out a sigh.
"Let's go for a joy ride then." Alice skipped by my side as she escorted me out in the school crowd. Luckily there was no real patrol of the hallways between classes or we would have had to been more creative other than just walking out the school doors. Alice didn't speak a word to me again until we were inside Jessica's Camry.
When I pulled out of the school parking lot, she finally began to speak. "I don't know where to begin," Alice spoke softly. I genuinely had no clue what she wanted to talk to me about. Unless it was regarding the night before, but I thought I had resolved that with Bella this morning. I liked Alice; I wanted to be kind and give her an opportunity to speak to me after all. The Cullen's were sure not making it easy for me to avoid them despite my best efforts.
"Well…you don't always have to start at the beginning. You can try the middle. Or even the end, and then work your way backwards. Whatever makes it easier for you." Alice looked delighted with the words I had spoken when I glanced over in her direction while I was driving.
"Yes. I just know we will be good friends, Jess." My first thought, it left a bad taste in my mouth she used a line on me that she dropped on Bella in Twilight. My second thought, there it was. She was referring to me as "Jess" again. I was hardly accustomed to responding to Jessica and now I had to add Jess to my plate? I don't think so.
"Actually Alice, I prefer Jessica." I spoke my preference kindly, so she would not feel admonished by my request. She wrinkled her nose and pursed her lips at my appeal. I could not fathom what, in the short time span we spent together, led her believe that I favored her to call me "Jess".
"I think you'll change your mind in the future. But for now, I will appease you and call you Jessica." I was perturbed by Alice's confidence.
She saw the future. Somehow, I allow her to call me Jess, or she is just bullshitting me and trying to lay some inception foundation for the future. How am I to know?
"Now, you were trying to tell me something earlier?" My question was an attempt to shift the conversation to the main point of her going out of her way to entrap me when attempting to skip Calculus. My goal was that the car ride and conversation would be over at the same time.
Hey, where am I driving to now anyways? I cannot head straight home since Alice is in my car. Woah now…come on Katie. This is Jessica's car and not your car. Get a hold of yourself.
I panicked slightly that my train of thought's joined my and Jessica's existence into one and referred to her stuff as my own. It was just not natural.
"Oh, that is right! Thanks for getting me back on track. I wanted to discuss with you about last night-" I stopped Alice in her tracks.
"Alice, I thought Bella would have relayed the message to you that I cannot recall anything after I began my run last night. I am sorry if you have wasted your time in seeking me out for that, but I cannot add anymore to the story." The fabricated lie I was selling Alice, Bella, and Jessica's parents seemed to be working. I was quite pleased with myself. Alice nodded as if she understood.
"Yes, Bella did share that with Edward and me. I understand that you cannot. My question was about something else. If you let me finish this time, then you can answer me." An ashamed blush crept on my cheeks. She was right. I could have at least let her finish before I cut her off.
"Please continue, Alice. I will see what I can do." I pulled the car into the local ice cream shop parking lot I almost passed by and gave her my full attention. Her face glowed, hinting she was perhaps appreciative over what I just said. The friendliness emitting from her very being was frightening, and I could slightly admit I enjoyed the attention.
This is what Bella must feel like in her presence. Alice always had a special place in her heart for her.
"When we came upon you in the woods from our hike, you were struggling in the water to fight the current flow downstream. Edward extended a tree branch to get you out. You did not reach for it and let yourself drown…" My breath was slowing in my chest and my heart felt like it was expanding. It wanted to burst through my chest and run away. I commanded it to remain composed and allow myself to get out of this mess. I didn't respond to where Alice trailed off. I forced her to continue by remaining deadly silent.
"Why did you stop fighting to get out of the water? Why didn't you grab the tree branch?" Remorse seeped through Alice's questions. I could not discern why Alice needed that level of personal information about Jessica. She did not need to care or put up a false pretense she wanted to become Jessica's friend to get this information out of her. None of it made sense to me. It was inconceivable to me that Jessica Stanley should be on the Cullen's radar at all.
"I don't remember what happened, Alice. But that doesn't sound like me. Something must had happened to prevent me from taking a branch that was offered to me. That is the only thing I can think of that sounds plausible." I creased my forehead and dramatically puckered my lips to the right side of my face. I was attempting to pull off a convincing pensive guise to get her off my back. Alice gave me a reassuring smile that she believed me before she confirmed it with her words to follow.
"I see. Well I can understand that. I was just concerned if something was going on other than that for some reason. I think a lot of people have just been troubled about your personality shift after the head injury you sustained last week." I was taken aback by her boldness. Limited people so far have confronted me about Jessica's personality shift. Perhaps I was being too lenient on letting my Katie side come through.
I don't want to be someone else. But it seems even though I am trying to minimize the drastic shifts in Jessica's behavior, what I am currently doing is not throwing off enough suspicion. God, this really sucks.
I fiddled with the car keys in my hands before I drummed up the courage to speak what was on my mind. "You know, you are not the first person to share that with me and I am sure you will not be the last." I began to increase my attention on the keys to let my next words come out without over thinking them. "I am doing my best to get back to the old me, but… maybe there are some aspects of this new me that I don't want to change, Alice. People change. And if my change began with a hit to the head, so be it. I will not let others define who they think I should be. Jessica Stanley is who I decide she will be."
In the end, I sowed seeds of truth and lies together in my story. To an extent I meant what I said, but deep down I was realistic. I could only be myself so much without ruining the lives of the Twilight characters while I figure my own shit out. On one hand, I felt I should just do what I want and say f**k it all. On the other hand, I didn't feel like getting caught up in the Twilight melting pot drama of vampires and wolves. If I wasn't careful with that rate I was currently going at, I would surely get mixed up in it somewhere along the way.
"I am all for the new Jessica." Alice beamed at me and I felt an almost familiar surge of glee take over me for a split second. "While you are less in the limelight than before, you have seemed to grow a kinder heart." I am not sure what Alice based that on, but I just smiled graciously and said thank you.
"You picked a great location to park," Alice remarked coyly as she clapped her hands together in enthusiasm. I felt my eyebrows raise in wonder over what she was referring to. "Coincidentally, Jasper is planning on meeting me here to get some ice cream soon, did you want to join us?"
I fought off an eye roll as I assumed she knew we would end up here. Her future knowledge at times was exasperating.
Shouldn't she have a limit with how often she sees the future?!
"I should catch up on my Calculus since I skipped this afternoon." I offered myself an easy out and hoped she wouldn't protest for me to stay. To my gratification, she did not and let me go home. Little did I know it would be the last interaction I would have with Alice for quite a while.
Weeks had passed and today was Bella's birthday. I dreaded today. I was unsure if events would unfold as they were supposed to when New Moon's story line kicks off. Since Alice's and mines last conversation, things had dulled down for me in Forks much to my relief. The Cullen's kept their distance. Edward threw me unsettling glances now and then when we walked past each other in the school hallways. Fortunately, we had no classes together. He had not spoken to me since he carried me to my bedroom after saving me. It was all for the better. His behavior was unnerving for me and out of character.
The "lion who fell in love with the lamb", bleh, should not have eyes for another lamb. I wasn't so full of myself that I presumed he had feelings for me, but I had a strange suspicion that him not being able to read my mind made be the second unicorn he has encountered in his lifetime aside from the first unicorn, Isabella Swan. I held steadfast in the belief there were more requirements to Edward Cullen's love then needing to not be able to read their mind. A tiny part of me still insisted though that I rather assume the worst-case scenario and be vigilant and wrong, than not doing anything and be right.
Outside of my social life, I made strides in identifying the existence of the Smith family in this world. In my investigation, the first call I made was to the house Jenna and I lived in with our parents. The landline was still used, and a stranger had picked up. No one of the Smith surname had ever resided there. The next call I placed was to my grandparent's house where Jenna and I should have been residing in 2005. The phone number for my grandparent's house, that I memorized at age 5, was not in service. Growing up, Jenna and I had constantly tied up our grandparent's phone line with dial up. That would have led to a busy line in the least and not an out of service response. My heart nearly dropped when I put the puzzle together. I didn't allow it to hit rock bottom yet though. It would not be given permission to feel the grief and despair until I confirmed it with my own eyes.
I had been working on earning money for a round trip plane ride to Helena, Montana. My parents, Eric and Susan Smith, should have been buried in the Forest Vale Cemetery with an inscription of 'beloved parents' underneath their names. If I beheld the absence of their gravestones from the cemetery spaces I saw their caskets lowered into with my own eyes, I would submit to being Jessica Stanley.
To earn my travel money, I got a job at the only movie theater in Forks starting my third week as Jessica Stanley. I surprisingly enjoyed my time working there. I worked at a Regal theater when I was growing up, so I felt right at home working at a theater once again. I was making minimum wage in a small town, so saving up money while going to school was taking a while. I took a shift to work at the theater tonight because my nerves were working over time thinking about the events about to unfold for the Cullen's and Bella. Shit was about to get dark, fast.
I did my best to keep my mind preoccupied as the development of the evening unfolded at the Cullen household. I was midway working my night shift at the podium to tear tickets and direct customers, when I saw Mike, Angela, Ben, and Eric walking towards me. They looked happy to see me.
"Hey guys! What are you here to see?" I asked them possibly too excitedly.
"The Exorcism of Emily Rose!" Angela squealed enthusiastically to me. I did not take Angela for one to enjoy the paranormal horror movie genre.
"Nice. So…uh?" I looked at them, waiting for them to offer me their tickets to tear.
I get it now. They came here because they wanted to see the movie for free.
I shook my head at them and laughed. I was sure this would be the first time of many for them to use my employment at the theater to provide them free movies. The nostalgia hit me hard as I remembered doing the same for my friend's as Katie Smith.
"Down the left hall. Third theater on your right, theater three." They all smiled at me. None of their faces showed relief I let them in without asking if that is what they wanted. It seems they had become more comfortable with the new Jessica over the weeks. I admittedly was enjoying their company as well as I slowly opened up to meeting them to socialize during the day at school and stopped avoiding them all the time. Even Mike was accepting that Jessica was no longer into him romantically.
After they thanked me and headed down the hallway, I called after them. "I will join you guys on my break!" I received a thumbs up from all four of them before they walked into theater three. Sometimes I hated how easily I was slipping into the role of Jessica Stanley's life. I wrestled with the notion if one of my family members was in a similar situation, I would want them to live on and be happy.
Always easier said than done, right?
I immediately recognized Mike's blond hair, reflecting the light from the movie screen, when I walked in theater three on my break. I came to their seating area bearing free popcorn and soda. It was one of the best perks for working at a movie theater. I sat down in the available seat next to Angela. Her eyes were mostly covered by her fingers. She turned to me and remarked she should have never let Eric talk her into seeing this movie. I caught on too late to Mike's arm reaching over to squeeze Angela's left arm before I could warn her. She shrieked into my ears. It hurt a lot. The embarrassing part was that the scene on the screen was a non-scary part that could not justify her screech. I bit my lip to stifle my laughter. I patted her shoulder as her eyes shone with a mixture of fear and anger. I made my exit before Angela unleashed her wrath on Mike. He had no idea what he was in for.
Things were running slow per usual on a weekday evening that was not Friday. We were overstaffed and I drew the short straw. I ended up leaving my shift when Angela, Ben, Eric and Mike got out of their movie. We crossed paths and chatted about the movie and the ramifications of Mike's innocent teasing of Angela during the movie. Somehow, Angela, Ben and Eric pushed on me to take Mike home since he lived closer to me. Forks was small. You could get anywhere within five minutes. The set-up felt fishy to me, but I allowed it for some reason.
The only sound in the car ride to Mike's house was the music playing on the radio. I didn't mind. Mike and I hadn't talked one on one since I told him off about us just being friends. Things were fine in a group setting, but apparently there was still an awkward air between us when solo with one another. Supposedly, I had not picked up on it before.
Mike's directions came to an end and we pulled up to his house. I was waiting for him to thank me for the ride before exiting the car. He was stalling though.
"It's okay, you don't have to tip me for the taxi service. The first ride is free." I attempted an ice breaker. I was quite pleased with myself for getting past 2019 references in such a short span of time of being in Forks. Referring to a taxi and not a Lyft or Uber when talking to Mike was a huge accomplishment for me. I always celebrated my little successes integrating in Jessica's life as long as I didn't devolve myself from my Katie Smith core.
"Good one. Yeah, so there was something I wanted to clear up with you."
Again? Didn't we just go over Jessica being over Mike recently enough?
I did not want to jump to conclusions and allowed him to continue before I judged it was necessary to put him back in his place.
"Okay, here it is straight. I just am going to lay it out there. I do not want us ever not being more than friends taken off the table." His tone was serious. A total 180 from what I observed in the movie theater.
"Where did this come from? Aren't you only interested in Bella?"
"I don't know what I feel anymore. I just don't want to count us out though." Now I was irritated.
"Don't you think that sounds selfish? You can't have your cake and eat it too. Decide on your feelings and pursue one person. Throwing out lines with bait on it to see what bites and choosing whatever suits you at the time is cruel. Yes, Bella has a boyfriend. But if that is who you like, then that is who you like. Don't settle on me because I am single. I deserve better than that, and I know you know that too." I was stern but not cruel with my words. I saw potential for Mike and myself to be good friends, if I ended up stuck in Forks. But, he needed a swift kick in the ass before that could happen.
"You're right. I am sorry for being so thoughtless, Jessica. I was just so disheartened when you said that we would only be friends going forward. Something clicked in me. I tried to ignore it, but it gets harder to ignore with the more time I spend with you." I observed Mike's icy blue eyes. I understood the sincerity in his words while I confirmed it in his gaze.
"I think it's too-" Mike cupped his right hand over my mouth before I could finish speaking.
"I won't let you say it's too late. Give me more time. With our friendship, I think I will sway you to liking me again." The determined expression on his face made me waver in finishing my sentence. Disturbed by my hesitance, I reminded myself I was Katie Smith and not Jessica Stanley. Mike's charming words or attractive face should not have compelled me to fall into the trap of merging into Jessica's life.
I don't even feel that way towards Mike! What is wrong with me?
"And your feelings for Bella?" I inquired to shift the focus from me to the correct person to have Mike's affection at this time. I needed to nudge him in the right direction. They were supposed to see the movie Face Punch in the future on a "date".
"They are fading," Mike informed me confidently.
"What if she wasn't with Edward anymore?" It was going to happen in the very near future. There was no denying this would change things for Mike. His hesitation to my question was the only confirmation I needed that he would soon give his full attention to Bella. As I wanted, and the story line demanded!
"I thought so. I enjoy being your friend, Mike. Let's keep growing our friendship, okay?" I stuck out my right hand for Mike to shake. He looked at me, then my hand, and back to my face. He closed his eyes and sighed in defeat before extending his hand forward to seal the friendship agreement.
"Good night, Big Mike," I said cheekily to him. Mike chuckled in response and grinned at me.
"Good night, crazy. Let's pick another free movie to see with the group later this month." Mike exited my car and walked towards his doorstep.
"Sounds like a plan!" I shouted through the rolled down window before I waved and smiled at him.
My peaceful sleep that evening was disrupted by a disconcerting dream I had.
Jenna and I were sitting on my bed in our childhood shared bedroom at our grandparent's house. It was a cozy and welcomed scenery for a heart to heart sisterly conversation with my big sis. Jenna was asking me if I liked my new life. I shared with her everything I had been through. I explained I didn't know how to get back to her and my life. She nodded and listened intently to me. She was concerned for me. I missed that affection from her. And a human in general who knew the real me and didn't see me as Jessica. The advice she offered me in response to my problem was startling. She suggested I let her, and our family go. She wished for me to accept my new life and live it to the fullest. I shook my head and protested. I worked too hard in my previous life and at my core I was still Katie. She replied everything would be okay and informed me that the body was just a shell. Who I am on the inside is what matters, no matter what I look like. I may look like Jessica, but I am Katie still.
I woke up that morning very freaked out. My dream sister's complacency with my life in Forks was alarming and finally acknowledging that I could in fact dream in this reality was not comforting for the possible theory I was in an afterlife.
Having that dream completely distracted me from remembering that today was the day after Bella's birthday. The D-Day of New Moon was almost here. In another day or two, if I recalled the timeline correctly, Edward would leave Bella. But, nothing of that story line pertained to me, so I went about my school day as a normal day in the life of Jessica Stanley.
Alice was missing from school today but not Edward. I couldn't remember if that was right.
Are they all supposed to be out of the picture already?
The few glimpses I got of Edward during the day were disturbing. He had a very pained expression on his face. To most, his face may have appeared neutral if they didn't have more than a surface level association with him. Thanks to the extent he had communicated with me since I inhabited Jessica's body, I learned some of the tells. At first glance, it could have looked like his mouth held a straight line. The corner of his lips showed signs of straining to not fall to a frown. His eyes shifted constantly around. If one could steady focus on them for more than a few seconds, they could see the agony hidden in them. They were small details, but I caught on to them. Bella had not seemed to though…yet. She walked around oblivious- so painstakingly unaware to that fact Edward was about to crash her world and break her heart. It was sad, but there was nothing I could do about it.
To brighten up the day for myself, I was going to perform a task I had been putting when I got home. I was finally going to allow myself to calculate how much my trip to Helena was going to cost. I hadn't done the math sooner because it was depressing to find out how long it would take to earn the amount needed for my trip. Now that I had earned…$251, I wanted to see how far that would get me. Then I would map out the hours left I needed to work before I could go. I had also yet to formulate a good reason for my trip to explain to Jessica's parents. Looking forward to this task helped me survive the rest of the school day.
I was the first one to walk into the Stanley house that afternoon. Jessica's parents usually weren't home until after 5 in the evening, and today, Daniel was going over to a friend's after school. It was relaxing to enjoy the house to myself. I intended for my full Katie side to be released. I wasn't sure what that entailed though. Lately a lot of my normal personality had been on display for the townspeople of Forks and it had not been rebuked by others. It was almost being accepted as the "new" Jessica.
I went upstairs and threw my backpack into Jessica's room. I changed out of the preppy attire I adorned for school. I replaced the outfit with Jessica's gym shorts and a bed-time shirt. Jessica's wardrobe did not contain downtime clothes. It was truly a travesty.
Once I finished changing, my ears barely registered the knocking sound coming from the front door downstairs.
Maybe Daniel is home early? He should have a key though…unless he forgot it again. Even after I have been working so tirelessly to instill in the Stanley family to lock their doors! The goober needs to remember his key because I won't always be there to let him in. I better teach him a lesson...
As soon as I was ready, I opened the front door at a gradual pace to build up the suspense of my impending attack. Still hidden from Daniel, I focused on the angle of the door until it was ajar at a 45 degree angle. With the perfect opening, I jumped in the gap with an exuberant scream before exploding nerf pellets at Daniel from his own nerf gun. I cackled menacingly at my target…who was taller than Daniel. I was eyeing a waist band where Daniel's head should have been.
I whipped my head up and took in Edward's stunned face. I snorted before I howled at my innocent target. It took a full minute to regain my composure. "Sorry, I was expecting you to be Daniel." My shoulders shrugged up at the end of my half-hearted apology.
"Apparently. Or, should I say I hope so?" His collected composure was unsettling. He couldn't even emit a single "ha" or say "that was funny" in our given situation. I had an off feeling about the Edward I was observing in front of me.
Wait, no. Isn't it too soon for him to break up with her? And if he did...what is he doing here?
My humor suddenly died, and I felt a wave of emotion wash over me. There was not a single feeling to define it, but an array of many. Annoyed. Sad. Angry. Agitated. Troubled. Maybe there were more, but I didn't feel like identifying them in that moment.
I rode the wave and chose not to let them consume me, yet. I could still muster to display a neutral expression on the outside. "Cullen, what's up?"
Edward cleared his throat first before speaking. "I am leaving today. My family is moving. Carlisle has a new job opportunity he is taking."
F**k. I was right.
Edward did not misunderstand my indifferent facial reaction. Underneath it, I was seething with fury.
He came here to talk to me after dumping Bella in the woods?! What a twat!
I capped the rage and thought of Bella in the woods at that very moment screaming in desperation of the pain she was going through. It was over dramatic for a break up, but that didn't mean what she was experiencing was not real. Her feelings were as real as mine were in that moment. I knew better not to do what I was about to, but I could not help myself.
"You should stay."
There it was. I said it. I was attempting to alter a pivotal moment in New Moon's plot because I felt pity for Bella, and Edward was being a drama queen with his reaction to the night before. I justified to myself that the story lines of Eclipse and Breaking Dawn could still carry on despite this move. I would personally help insert Jacob into the plot and make sure he wormed his way inside of Bella's heart for some continuity of the Twilight Saga.
I waited for Edward's response. His head was downcast. His delicate eyelashes masked the truth in his eyes - a truth he did not want me to see. I felt 50/50 on the odds he would take the bait, change his mind, and stay. More like 20/80, but I was trying to be optimistic for Bella's sake.
Okay, he could take it the wrong way though, I should clarify to him my intent of what I meant.
"I mean, you should at least finish up the school year here with Bella." Edward's jaw set. I speculated he was not satisfied with my follow up commentary
"It's not up to me. I should go before they leave without me. Goodbye…Jessica." Edward spoke with remoteness in his still voice.
And like that, Edward was gone, and the plot of New Moon was back on track. I only regretted that I let him off so easily. If it wasn't a dead giveaway of what I knew had transpired, I would have given him a piece of my mind about how he dumped Bella in the middle of nowhere. He was so obtuse and not understanding of the fragility of her being once she came to love him. Not that I agreed with it…but still.
Stupid Edward. Right now, I am SO Team Jacob.