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Chapter 9: Running back
After Edward’s departure, it was all quiet in the Cullen household. Emmett and Rosalie left for Europe soon after Edward’s departure and they would be back in time for Christmas. In the Cornell spring break, we were going to Denali for a holiday. I hadn’t told them Laurent was up there.
Carlisle’s shifts increased in length, spanning for hours on end as he tried to co-ordinate between teaching and being at the hospital.
Alice and Jasper went on a road-trip a few days ago, as Alice tracked down her old asylum and cemetery where she was buried. She had discovered her real name and ‘death’ but she was still pretty upset about it, so I hadn’t had a chance to ask her anything. She’d taken off hunting with Esme as soon as she returned.
So, before Alice and Jasper came back, it was just me and Esme in the house. I spent my lazy days watching TV, playing video games, reading, listening to music and running out in the woods. I would always return from running every few hours to check up on Esme. I couldn’t leave her alone for long; she would go crazy from loneliness.
And I felt lonely too. Not just lonely, also stir-crazy. I need to do something… rebellious, adventurous, crazy…
But what was the question? I could see if I could track Edward down and help him follow Victoria… but I knew he wouldn’t accept my help.
As I was thinking of this, I wandered to the back room and stared out the glass door and across the lake, with the early morning sun gleaming off the surface. A flock of water birds rose from on the horizon and took off into the sky, flapping their wings madly and screeching out their cries madly.
I wondered how Edward was doing. Had he reached Forks in time? Had he picked u Victoria’s trail? And more importantly, to me at least, had he seen Bella?
I gasped in realization as a thought occurred to me. Edward wouldn’t be in Forks, he would have tried to avoid there, but if I went there, to check up, there was no harm in that right?
I had remembered my mental note to check up on Bella from earlier. I giggled with glee as I began to formulate a plan. I needed to run, if would be a lot quicker and I could travel more distance. Stick to the trees, pack a bag with a few belongings, stay at home, check up on her and then be back home before Edward could figure out what I’ve done.
I raced upstairs and threw open my closet. I stepped inside and rummaged through one of the drawers to pull out a sturdy backpack. I grabbed a few spare shirts, a pair of jeans and a spare pair of skate shoes, just in case I needed to go public. My cell phone went in my pocket while I also snatched my wallet with cash, I.D and a driver’s license – both for a motorbike and a car. I paused as I turned to dash out the door as I spotted some things on my bedside table.
The first thing was a flat-billed cap. I smiled slightly, remembering when Emmett bought it for me.
“Now you can be awesome like me,” he had crowed out, pointing at his own, before pushing it on my head, messing up my hair a tad. “Yeah, go sis!”
I grabbed it and pushed it on my head, pulling my hair out of its ponytail, and pushing all the loose hair from around my face.
The second item was a family photograph. I smiled at it fondly, before putting it in the pack. I needed something to remind of them didn’t I? Not that I could ever forget them. I loved them way too much to ever do that
I turned and raced out the door, into the woods, and on my way back to Forks.
After coming back from Boston, I immediately went hunting from Esme. She, at first, tried to ask about my findings but before she could even get the words out, I had cut her off. “Esme, please, I don’t want to talk about it. Not just yet anyway.” She had kept quiet after that.
After tackling my second deer for that morning, I waited patiently under a tree, until Esme had finished with her elk. But then I gasped out loud when a vision hit me at an astonishing speed.
Shayla ran, at a somewhat fast speed that could be only kept up with a pack on her back, occasionally leaping up tall trees and crossing deserted roads. She paused by a sign, before following the road that lead into the town beyond.
The sign said FORKS.
“No!” I half-yelled out, making Esme jerk her head up in surprise. Her eyes widened in shock before she dashed towards me, leaving her kill exposed and half-finished.
“Alice? Alice! What is it? Talk to me,” she demanded. “What’s happening, who is it?”
I held a hand to my throat as I tried to see. Shayla’s future did not stray; she still went straight on towards Forks.
“Shayla,” I managed to chock out. “She’s going back to Forks. Why I don’t know but we have to get to her before it’s too late!”
Esme didn’t question my vision but turned and sprinted back across the plains, her white dress billowing out behind her, the early sunlight making it seem eerie, ghost-like even. She was always faster then me; it might have something to do with the fact that she was taller then me by a foot. But not being the fastest didn’t bother me, I had the advantage with my clairvoyance ability.
I raced after, pounding my short legs as fast as I could, keeping up with Esme as she ran. I was not necessarily fast, but graceful and so, we reached the house in no time at all.
But it was empty. “No!” I cried out as I tore into her room. I saw that her favourite cap, and the family photograph that she kept on her bedside table, was gone.
Esme followed me in and searched the closet furiously. “Some of her clothes are gone!” she called out. “I’ve got a trail of her scent here too!”
Together we raced back through the house to follow Shayla’s distinct, musky scent. We stopped short as we entered the front yard. There she stood, halfway through flinging herself through the trees. She half-turned, caught both our eyes and mouthed, “Sorry…” before she zipped away into the eternal darkness.
I knew they had seen me; after all I had let them. As soon as I heard Alice tear into the house, screaming out for me, I had paused up the tree I was in, waiting until my mother and sister burst out, still yelling out for me. I stared directly at them, mouthing an apology, before I flung myself away and into the darkness.
I had kept running through the woods, using my knowledge on the United States to tell where I was. I was out of the state of New York by midday and kept running. When the woods began to thin a little and turn into mountains, nevertheless I embraced them and chugged up them, occasionally leaping onto on all fours, moving as swiftly and quickly as I could up the steep slopes, my body as agile and lean as a mountain lion.
I hit the Olympic Range by sundown and I paused to gather my bearings as I leapt onto an outcrop of rocks atop the mountaintop, my hands clutched onto the higher-placed piece of brittle bolder in front of me, my legs stretched out behind me onto the more solid rock. I tilted my head to the side as I surveyed the memorable landscape, spying the dark woods, the all-too-familiar baseball field where we once ran, leapt, wrestled and played together. And then, a bit further back, the town of Forks, its few dim lights twinkling at me, and the La Push reservation slightly to the side, a bonfire set up on the coastline. Where they really still celebrating our departure?
I sniffed, smelling only clean air, salt water and other natural scents before I galloped down the mountainside, hitting the woods in only a few minutes, before I came to the clearing. Our clearing. The Cullen clearing.
I walked across it, slowing as I passed where the faint marking of our baseball diamond lay. My family’s scent was still strong where the dirt trails ran as well as all over the boulders we used as a spectator ‘stand’. I sat on it and ran my hands over the course rock, feeling it came off in tiny shards of stone as they came into contact with my granite hands. I lifted them and held them close to my face, sniffing slightly as I inhaled the faint yet distinct scent of my family.
I sighed sadly before rising to my feet and jogging off in the direction of home. The year-old scent of the nomads, James, Victoria and Laurent, touched my nostrils, but I shook it off and kept running.
Soon, when the sun was almost finished it’s decent into the horizon, I reached the old, white mansion-like house we had grown to love as our home. Remembering that the upstairs windows were unlocked, I sprang up one of the cedars, as light and silently as a cat. I inched open the creaky window before I leapt into the hallway.
The place was covered in dust, and every time I put my foot down, it sent tiny particles flying into the air, almost invisible to a human’s, but very much visible to mine.
I walked slowly down the hallway, as I pushed doors of rooms’ half-open, to peek inside them. Plain, white sheets covered all of the furniture, most of which we had left behind. I entered Carlisle’s study and looked around at the emptiness of it. Perhaps coming back wasn’t such a good idea… maybe I should leave.
NO, I scolded myself. I had come this far, no need to be a chicken and back out. I will control myself and stay. I am not a coward. I will not run away.
I dumped my backpack downstairs, where I will be spending the majority of my time, before I unlocked the front door. It was safe to do so and leave, even if the house was empty for hours. Hardly any humans knew where our house was located and, apart from the occasional nomad, we hardly ram into our own kind. Anyone who picked the scent of our entire family, our unusually large collection of scents would scare them off. We were the largest coven, apart from the Volturi, and the Australian coven (also known as my friends).
I decided that I wasn’t going to see Bella tonight. I needed to clear my head. I went upstairs to the bathroom and had a warm, soothing shower, as the hot water ran over my tense muscles, making them loosen up.
As soon I was done, I headed back downstairs, towelling my hair dry, before I picked up the remote and switched the TV on. It was late, and there was nothing but a few late night crime shows, and humans trying to sell products no one would ever need, on. But yet, still, I threw my towel onto the banister of the staircase, and flopped down on the couch, staring at the TV with disinterest as I changed the channels at superhuman speed, trying to find something that was worth watching.
All of a sudden, my phone went off. Before it could even get to the third line of Starstruck, it was on my ear. “Hey.” I needn’t to glace at the screen to see who it was.
“Shayla Cullen…” My fathers disapproved voice came out of the phone as I sat up quickly. “Imagine my shock when I came home from the hospital to find Alice and Esme deeply upset and that you had run away!”
If he was trying to make me feel guilty, he was doing a mighty good job. Even though my father was a kind and compassionate man, when we did something wrong, we had to be punished. Not physically but groundings, chores… whatever was appropriate.
I might as well get the apology out straight away. “I’m sorry Dad, but… but I had to go. I knew you wouldn’t all understand so I had to get out of there as fast as I could without anyone knowing. A snap decision.”
“You could have talked to me about,” he replied. “I could have –”
“Would you have let me go though?” I demanded to know.
There was a brief silence from his end. “No, I wouldn’t have,” he admitted. “But really Shayla, did you expect me to? Despite your vampire age, you are still like a child to Esme and I.”
I growled quietly into the phone as I heard him switch to speaker phone and place it down on a solid surface. The rest of the family was probably listening in on this, not that it mattered.
“I am NOT a child Carlisle; I can make my own decisions for myself!” I snarled into the phone.
I heard Esme speak next. “Shayla, we are only worried about you. Please, please, please, come home!” she pleaded.
I scowled to myself before I inhaled and spoke back to her. “I will Mom, just… just not yet.”
I heard her sigh sadly as I heard Alice ask for the phone. What I was prepared for though, was her voice blaring out of the phone.
“Shayla Kara Cullen! Imagine how worried I was when I saw a vision f you running away! And our shock when we couldn’t stop you!” She stopped to take a breath.
“Alice, I’m really sorry,” I said quickly back to her, before she could get her next words out. “But I needed to do this.”
“She has been out of her mind with worry,” Jasper interrupted.
I growled at him before I continued on, speaking more directly to the family now. “I ask that you all do not worry about me. I’ll be fine.”
“Did you even look at the date before you left?” Esme whispered to me through the phone. “It’s the twenty-third of December Shayla. Hadn’t you noticed me getting the house ready for Christmas? Emmett and Rosalie were meant to be flying in today.”
Shit, had time really passed by that fast? I had noticed the decorations Esme had put up but when I made my decision to leave, all memory of the date was obliterated from my mind.
“I’m sorry Mom, I… I didn’t think of the date… I’m so sorry.” I took a moment to collect my thoughts before I continued on “Listen, I’ll be back soon after Christmas, a week, a week-and-a-half at the max. I won’t be gone for long and Alice… don’t look for me. Please.”
“Fine,” I heard her huff unhappily. I heard Jasper whisper comforting things to her which I couldn’t hear.
“I have to go now,” I continued. “Bye, I love you all.”
They had barely any time to say goodbye to me before I snapped the phone shut and threw myself backwards onto the couch in frustration.