Thanks to everyone on Facebook who helped me with the idea for this entry! Also, just a side note, I don’t know how to make dream catchers so I did the best that I could, learning from the Internet. The color symbolism in this entry, I mostly made up since I couldn’t find Quileute color symbolism anywhere. The word bikà’watakwáyo is the closest Quileute word I could find to guardian and you can read about this belief here under ‘beliefs’ and I’m not sure that this spelling is completely accurate.
Tap, tap, tap.
“What?” I groaned as I rolled over in bed to see the clock; it was only seven in the morning and already someone was knocking on my door to wake me up.
“Leah?” My father’s voice spoke through the door.
“What?” I grumbled again.
“Get ready, will you?”
“For what?” I repeated, sitting up as I realized I probably wouldn’t get back to sleep.
“Well I seem to recall promising you to teach you how to make dream catchers a while ago. I thought maybe we could go do that today.” Dad’s voice is gentle, sincere, and it’s somewhat comforting to hear it—even if it is this early in the morning. No. It’s not comforting. What am I thinking? My parents don’t care, he probably just wants me to do extra chores or something.
“Dad. That was when I was ten. You’re a little late, don’t ya think?”
“Please, Leah?” Dad asks in a funny accent like he used to when I was little.
I hide my laugh with another groan, “Fine.”
Straightening the blankets, I crawl from my bed and get dressed quickly. I brush through my hair, leaving it down instead of my usual braid or ponytail.
Dad is downstairs at the table eating a bowl of cocoa pebbles—my favorite cereal, that I haven’t bought in years, but it appears like Dad got some to soften me up—as he waits for me. An empty bowl is in my spot with a spoon. Without saying a word, I pour the cereal and milk and sit down.
“I’m sorry I never got around to teaching you until now, ” Dad says as he takes his bowl to the sink and returns to wait for me.
“Doesn’t matter. I forgot about it anyways,” I reply with a shrug.
“Yes it does. And I don’t think you did. I think you remember a lot more than you say you do.”
“So?” My heartbeat accelerates, nervous that he sees past my lying.
Dad shrugs. “You never forgot when you were little either. When you were five, you remembered that you were supposed to have your birthday party in Makah after we had already had it here. You tried giving us the silent treatment for a week. But one morning you woke up and had forgotten all about that until lunch. You were so embarrassed—I took you to Makah for the rest of the day and everything was better, ” Dad finishes his story smiling at the memory.
I remember that too, but I don’t tell him so.
“You’re like your mother that way—so sweet and humble but can hold a grudge like no other, ” he says with a chuckle.
I finish eating and take my bowl to the sink.
“Ready?” Dad asks.
“Yeah, I guess.”
He holds the front door open for me and I go out to the car. He drives us through the town to the council meeting building. In the back of the building, there’s a room used for pottery and other arts our tribe does.
A few dream catchers and paintings hand around the room but most of the artwork goes to the museum safe down the street. In 1889, a fire had burned through the tribe’s land destroying nearly everything that they had. Since then, and since the technology has been gained, the tribe takes extra caution in keeping our culture safe from natural disasters as well as other technologies the world threatened to take over with.
We go inside to the back art room. A long table sits in the middle of the room and is lined with chairs. Along the back wall, shelves stretch from floor to ceiling holding art supplies, already-made pottery, and half made projects with names taped to the shelf in front of them.
Dad goes over to the shelves and starts searching.
Only council members have keys to the building, but anyone is welcome to use the supplies as long as they take care of them, clean up their messes, and write down what they used on the clipboard by the door so it can be replaced.
When I was little and Mom and Dad had meetings, Seth and I would paint in the art room. I always enjoyed it but as I got older I stopped coming. I think Seth still came occasionally but I wasn’t sure.
I join Dad at the shelves as he finds the thin strips of colored leather. He already has two metal hoops slung on his wrist.
“Pick a color,” he tells me. “The one that is you.”
I hesitate to decide. I had a willow dream catcher when I was little but as all the willow kind do, it collapsed as a symbolism of coming of age. That was a few years after I asked Dad to teach me how to make them. I don’t even remember what color that one was. As far as I knew, Seth still had his sky blue one.
“What color would you choose for me?” I ask.
“You have to choose. You can’t always depend upon others to make decisions for you.”
“Red, ” I say, taking not the bright red, but the darker maroon color from the shelf.
Dad grabs the white string to accompany the suede and sits at the table. I sit beside him.
“We’ll choose beads and feathers after we get the rim covered and the first row of web on.”
I nod and he passes me a hoop. Dad grabs a bottle of tacky glue from a tray in the middle of the table that holds pens, scissors and glue.
“Do the first loop and hold it while you wait for it to dry. After that’s secured you can do several loops at a time but don’t do so many that you can’t hold it while it dries, ” Dad speaks as he glues his first loop down and then passes the glue to me. “You can do it straight or on an angle. I find it easier when it’s angled.”
I struggle to glue and hold down the first loop but Dad just watches in silence. Finally I get it and he continues to loop the leather around his rim and glue it. I do the same when he is finished, realizing that Dad’s practiced hands make it look much easier than it is for me.
“The last loop will overlap a bit with the first, so cut the strip long enough for that. Then make a small loop around the top with the extra and tie it and glue it, ” Dad tells me as he glues his last bit of leather and then makes the loop for hanging.
He watches me do mine and then helps a bit when the leather doesn’t stick the first time.
“Okay, now the string. Tie it at the top, and then going clockwise, tie more knots. There should be thirteen when you finish. Thirteen for the thirteen phases of the moon.” Dad cuts two long pieces of string and hands one to me, then ties his string at the top of the hoop and continues down.
I do the same, trying to match my hands to his. My string tangles up and he has to help me several times to untangle it and fix my knots. With a sigh, I tie the last knot.
“Does it get any easier?” I inquire.
Dad chuckles. “That’s a matter of opinion. I think all of it is easy.”
I sigh again, “What next?”
He gets up and sets a bowl of beads and stones with holes in them on the table and then returns again with a clear box of feathers.
“Pick some beads—as many as you want. You don’t need a feather until the middle.”
Dad grabs a few random beads and sets them on the the table. I bring the bowl closer to me and carefully pick each one. As I do, he names of the symbolism of each color or stone.
“Red is for success.” I immediately throw the bead back in the bowl when he says that. “Why’d you do that?”
“I’m not successful, ” I say, avoiding Dad’s eyes. “I can’t even keep a boyfriend around.”
Dad fishes the bead back out and puts it on my string for me.
“You are. Sam had his reasons for leaving and it was wrong of him to do what he did. It had nothing to do with you though. He loved you, Leah, and he still does. You work well—at the store, in school. You know so much. You are successful, ” Dad insists. “Continue.”
I bring the bead up close to the rim, unconvinced by his words. “Now what?”
“Weave the string through. Make a hitch, here, like this,” Dad lifts his hands to demonstrate. “In the middle of that loop. Then do the same thing around the others. Add beads whenever you want.”
I nod, do a few more hitches and then dig for another bead. Dad glances up from his work.
“Yellow, for happiness.”
I sigh, “Why am I picking all the beads that aren’t me?”
“They are you, Leah. You just don’t realize it. Here—close your eyes. Reach out to the bowl and grab the rest of your beads. Choose them by how they feel, ” Dad says.
I fight the urge to roll my eyes but do as he says. He guides my hand to the bowl. The first few beads I touch all feel the same. I concentrate harder and find one that feels soft, like it’s made from clay. I open my eyes to see that it is clay, dyed a dark blue, close to being black.
“Navy, for courage. Pick another.”
I close my eyes again and find another bead. This one feels like wood; a sliver pokes out from it. I open my eyes. Green.
“Green, for nature. For earth and beauty.”
I repeat my actions, and find a white glass bead.
“White, for peace and serenity.”
“Okay, that’s all I want, ” I say.
Dad nods, “Finish the loops then. All the way until you get to the middle. Leave a hole anywhere from the size of a quarter to a dime, however you want. Some people make it determined by the amount of nightmares they have, bigger for more, smaller for less. That way the bad dreams go through and don’t get caught. Unless you use a smaller rim, then the hole is naturally smaller.
“Big then for me, ” I say.
I continue knotting the loops and get lost in my work until I get to the middle and realize how short the thread has become.
“Good,” Dad says. “Now the feather for the middle and for the ones going down. Choose.”
He lifts the lid from the box and I look through them carefully.
“Do I choose different ones or all the same?” I ask.
“However you like.”
“The same, ” I say and select four small white feathers with black tips.
“Eagle feathers, for protection, ” Dad says.
He shows me how to tie the feather into the middle and secure it with the glue and a bead. We add the three other feathers dangling from the bottom of the rim and put brown wooden beads at the top of each.
“Now you’re finished, ” he says, smiling. “You did good. See? That was successful. Now your bikà’watakwáyo can watch over your dreams too.”
“I don’t believe in bikà’watakwáyo anymore, ” I say quietly. Bikà’watakwáyo is a belief of our tribe of guardians that each person has. We have them to watch over and protect us. When I was little, I believed in them profusely, thanks to my parents and grandparents.
“No?” Dad asks surprised. “When did that change? You used to yell at the kids at school until they said that they believed too.”
I laugh. “I don’t remember that. When Sam went missing. Why did that happen if they are true? Sam’s guardian and mine would have kept him here. And when he got back, mine would have stopped the heartbreak. There has been so much that’s happened that I can’t possibly believe. Either they aren’t true or else mine just left me years ago.”
“I’m sorry you feel that way, ” Dad says, his face soft and sad. “Maybe one day your bikà’watakwáyo will return to you.”
I look away, unbelieving. “Yeah, maybe.”
“I have a meeting this morning in a few minutes, ” he says, and as he does, I hear the front door of the building open, more people arriving. “Are you okay to wait here? Or you can take the car and I’ll get a ride home.”
I shake my head, looking around the room to see that the easels and paint are still here. “No, I can wait.”
Dad smiles a little. “Okay then. Here take this one too. Do what you want with it, ” he hands me his dream catcher. “I won’t be too long.”
Dad stands up and goes out to the meeting room, leaving the door cracked open behind him. I hesitate for a moment and then deciding no one will be around to see me, go to the easel and begin squeezing paint out onto a tray. I have no idea what I’m going to paint, so I just start splotching random colors on until they make shapes. I get so caught up in my work, I don’t notice when someone comes in.
“Looks good, ” they say, making me jump. In doing so, my brush taps against my nose. I spin around to see Jacob Black watching me.
“Sorry,” he says and uses his thumb to wipe the paint from my nose and then brushes it onto his jeans.
“That’s okay, ” I whisper.
“I like your painting. And your dream catchers. You made them?”
“I made this one, ” I say holding it up. “My dad was teaching me how. And thanks.”
“Cool. Can I see?”
I pass him the dream catchers and he looks at each one closely before handing them back.
“Awesome,” he compliments again. “Do you think you could make me one?”
“Sure. When do you want it?”
“Before the thirteenth. It’s my friend’s birthday.”
“Okay. I’ll drop it by sometime soon then.”
Dad appears in the doorway then. “You ready, Leah?”
I nod, “Just a second.”
I turn around an pick up a pencil, signing my name in the middle of the canvas on a blank spot. Dad leads the way outside and Jacob follows, being joined by his Dad.
“Bye, Leah, Harry. See you guys later, ” Jacob says as we climb in the car.
I nod politely and Dad starts to drive.
“Thank you, ” I say to Dad. “For everything today. It was . . . fun.”
“You’re welcome. I’m glad you had a good time. There’s more I could teach you if you want. Our tribe use to weave baskets so tightly, you could boil water in them.”
I nod. “Yeah, maybe we can do more sometime. I really liked this even though it was hard. Jacob asked me to make him one.”
“That’ll be good. Gives you something to do this week. Borrow my keys whenever, just let me know.”
“Okay, ” I say smiling with the hope that I will be able to paint more.
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I was hyper. I had been sleeping a lot lately and now that I was up, I probably would be for awhile. I was mad again, too. Hyper and mad. Not the best combination under the circumstances.
Jared had gone back with Emily and we were all left out front in the waiting room. Mom and Dad sat down on a bench sided with end tables after-which the benches continued. I sat, too, in the middle of the bench on the same wall as theirs since there was no one else in the room.
The TV on the wall was turned on to the news channel, showing the weather. After a few minutes of waiting, Dad stood and paced the room. He seemed uptight, which I didn’t understand. On about his fifth turn, he paused and went to the window. Dad nodded at someone outside and then returned to his seat. I twisted in my chair to see who had been outside, but I couldn’t see anyone.
When I turned back, Paul was standing in front of me.
“Mind if I sit here?” he asked, gesturing to the spaces on either side of me.
I shook my head and scooted to one side to make room for him.
“How did you get here so fast?” I ask him. He wouldn’t have had time to go home, get a car and drive here in the time that it’s been. He lives on the opposite side of town as us and he was on foot when we left.
“I, uh, borrowed the Blacks’ car,” he says. That makes more sense since the Blacks live just across the street from us. We stop talking for a few minutes and I hear Mom and Dad speaking quietly to each other but I don’t eavesdrop.
“What’s going on?” I blurt out the question I’ve been wondering since I first went down the stairs and saw everyone gathered around Emily.
“Emily got hurt, ” Paul answers automatically.
“Yeah, I know that much. I mean how did she get hurt?”
“I wasn’t there.”
“No, but you know what happened. Don’t you?”
He avoids looking into my eyes, and then finally makes eye contact. He gulps, and I have to stop myself from laughing at him—it’s just like in the movies.
“I think it was a bear.”
“A bear?” I ask, and my eyes widen at how dumb that sounds. “Bears don’t attack people, Paul. And I’m pretty sure we both know that wasn’t it.”
Paul is saved, when the doctor walks in followed by Jared and Emily.
The pale doctor nodded to us, and turned to speak to the receptionist. We all stand in unison and follow Jared and Emily to the car.
Emily’s face was clear of blood but her face and arm were covered with fluffy white bandages. I narrowed my eyes in suspicion as they followed Paul around the back of the building where the Blacks’ car was supposedly parked. I was sure Jared and Paul both knew what had happened.
The sky had stopped crying but the roads were still tear-streaked. The streetlights reflected like clusters of stars off the asphalt as we drove back to La Push.
When Emily fell asleep with her head on Jared’s shoulder he spoke to me. “Sam misses you.”
“Whatever,” I scoff.
“He does. He loves you.” I see my parents exchange a glance. “But he’s in love with Emily.”
“Don’t care, ” I mutter under my breath.
“I think you do, ” Jared says softly. “You guys were so close to each other. I don’t think I ever saw one of you alone.”
“Dad, could you drop me off first?” I ask loudly.
“No, Leah. Emily needs to get home, ” Mom answers before Dad can.
I sigh and sit back.
“Sam wishes he could explain everything to you, ” Jared continues.
“Then why doesn’t he? I don’t understand. I loved Sam. I was in love with him. And he just left. He never even said goodbye. And he just keeps coming back, saying he can’t explain anything but he wishes he could. Every time I see them together it kills me. Kills me, Jared.”
“I know. We all have to live with it—” Jared stops suddenly as if he’s said too much. Dad looks back at him and Jared doesn’t continue.
“What do you mean?” I ask.
“Nothing, ” he says quietly and I can tell he’s not going to say anything more.
A few minutes later we arrive at Sam and Emily’s house, which is more like a mansion compared to the rest of the houses in La Push. Jared helps Emily out of the car and Dad waits for them to get inside before he pulls away. When we got home, I stayed in the car watching the gutters drizzle leftovers onto the sidewalk. I almost didn’t notice when the Blacks’ car pulled up and Jacob was driving, Paul no where in sight.
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Cold! I gasp and struggle to open my eyes. The left opens easily while the right sticks closed. I close them both again when brightness hits. Where am I? What happened?
With my eyes still closed, I concentrate on each part of my body, accessing the damage. My eye seems to be the worst, but my face, neck and arm are stinging. I can smell bitter antiseptic in the air.
For another minute, I lay without moving, trying to recall where I am. Then I remember. The forest. Sam. Cutting claws reaching my face, my arm. Shards of fabric shooting in every direction.
I open my left eye, slow and careful this time. The scene is blurry at first and then transforms into a bland hospital room. There is a small TV in the corner, a doctor in a white coat to the right, standing with his back to me. Jared is at the door, wearing only shorts, his back to me also, staring out the window that peeks into the hall.
The doctor turns around and my mouth drops open. I recognize him, although we’ve never met. Sam’s descriptions of them fits the man perfectly. Pale skin, ice cold. Gold eyes—well, black right now.
My first instinct is to run but I am held in place with the knowledge that he is just as fast as Sam. The only thing left out of the description is extreme beauty. Dr. Cullen is handsome. I automatically feel guilty for thinking this and advert my eyes.
I don’t understand why Sam is letting me be near one of them, but then I realize Sam isn’t here. Maybe he doesn’t know. But how could Jared then be here with his back turned to the enemy?
The doctor notices the fear in my eyes and his lips raise into a friendly smile that meets his eyes.
“Glad to see you awake, ” he comments. “I’m Dr. Cullen. I don’t know if you already knew that or not.”
His dark eyes flicker towards Jared who has turned around. Jared gives me a weak smile but his expression turns back to a poker face. My fear doesn’t disappear though, and Dr. Cullen continues talking.
“Can you open your right eye at all?”
I try again. It still hurts, but I am able to open it just enough to see but not as wide as my other.
“Good, ” he says while he watches them closely.
“It still hurts, ” I inform.
He nods. “It probably will until the stitches come out. They’ll dissolve on their own in a few weeks. Look straight ahead.”
Dr. Cullen shines a light around into my eyes.
“Good, ” he repeats. “Is your vision normal?”
“You might want to see an optometrist anyways. Would you like a bandage on your face, neck and arm? Or you can go without. Either way, no getting any part of the wound wet for forty-eight hours, ” he says.
I think about it for a moment. If I could just see what it looked like . . .
As if he could read my mind, the doctor hands me a small mirror. It looks much worse than it feels, even with the stitches closing the wounds. From above my eyebrow started one claw mark and was joined by two others around my eye. The corner of my eye was pulled down and the stitches came so close to my eye that I wondered how the doctor could have possibly sewed them in. The lines traveled down my face and took a break under my chin. They resumed at my collar bone and went over my arm, ending just before my elbow.
If Sam saw this . . . he would never forgive himself. I probably needed to keep it bandaged so he wouldn’t see it, at least until the stitches came out.
“Bandage. And can I get some extra bandages to last until the stitches come out please?”
Dr. Cullen doesn’t seem surprised by my answer. He must know the whole story. What in the world am I supposed to say happened?
“Sure. Does anything else hurt?”
“Okay.” Dr. Cullen turns slowly, like a human, and grabs something. “Close your eye, ” he directs and goes about bandaging my face.
“Jared?” I say, when the doctor has moved onto my arm.
Jared looks at me again but doesn’t say anything.
“Honestly, I have no clue. He’s having a hard time phasing back right now.”
I frown. “Do you know when he’ll be back?” I think I already know the answer but I have to hear it anyways.
Jared shakes his head. “He’s pretty torn up.”
Dr. Cullen looks up from his work and Jared having realized what he said, apologizes. I don’t ask anything more.
“Well, Emily, I think you’re set. If your vision changes, see an optometrist. Maybe go just for good measure anyways. Don’t get your bandages wet for forty-eight hours, and change them every couple of days. Clean the wounds regularly but cover them after to avoid infection. If they bleed in the first week, that’s normal. Anytime after that, have it checked out. And of course, look for signs of infection: heat, swelling, pus, and abnormal pain. “
“Okay, ” I say. “Thank you.”
“Your very welcome. If there’s anything else–”
“There won’t be, ” Jared interrupts.
Dr. Cullen nods. “You can get up then, Emily. You’re fine to leave.”
I sit up slowly and Jared comes to the side of the bed. He offers his arm to me. I take it gratefully and stand up, my head spinning. Jared helps me into the hallway and we follow the doctor to the waiting room. Oddly, the doctor had seemed almost human. Maybe Sam was wrong about them.
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I woke up to lots of noise downstairs; the front door opening followed by loud talking and shuffling. It was about six in the evening and the sky outside was dark with the mix of night and a rainstorm. I had fallen asleep after my fights with Mom and Sam. My anger was diffused for the time being but I knew it could ignite again in a moments notice.
I walked over to my door and cracked it open to listen. Somebody was here; they spoke hurriedly with my mother. I couldn’t tell the topic of conversation so I walked out of my room quietly and stepped down the stairs silently. When I got to the bottom I peeked around the corner into the living room.
Sam was shaking as he kneeled over the couch where Emily was laying. Mom was cleaning Emily’s face with a rag that looked soaked with blood. I gasped at the sight of Emily like this, forgetting for a moment all that had happened.
Sam turned and looked at my father who was standing in the kitchen doorway, his back to the room, talking on the phone. Seth was no where in sight but Jared—a kid that had gone to school with me and Sam, but dropped out early this year—was standing behind the couch. Paul came in the door then—he had also dropped out—and spoke quietly to Jared. What were they doing here?
I exhaled slowly, trying to be quieter. Sam heard anyways and turned around, spotting me. He spoke a few words to my mother, then stood and walked toward me. I sat down on the stairs, leaning against the wall. Emily being hurt had melted my hardened feelings. I couldn’t not care about her, even though I still felt hate towards her for what she had done. Suddenly, I felt exhausted.
“What happened?” I whispered and dad turned for a moment to look at me. I glanced around the room again, seeing that Emily was asleep.
“Emily, uh, got hurt,” Sam explained weakly. His eyes gleaned as tears threatened to spill over.
“Well duh,” I said back, annoyed.
“I can’t do anything more to help, Sam. I don’t have the supplies. She needs stitches. Maybe even staples,” Mom told Sam.
Dad spoke then to Sam. “I—uh, talked to some people . . . . I think you should take her to Forks. We will go too.” There seemed to be some hidden meaning in his words that Sam obviously understood but I didn’t.
Sam sighed and looked toward Emily. “Fine.” Although Sam said fine, he himself didn’t look like it was okay with him. He began trembling and as it grew stronger, Paul hurried towards him.
“Sam, come on. We have to go, ” Paul said loud and demanding. Sam still shook but allowed himself to slowly be led outside.
”I’ll take care of her, Sam, ” Jared says just as Paul and Sam go out the door.
Weird. Sam and Jared hadn’t ever been friends when I was around. Neither had he and Paul.
Mom waited in the doorway and looked towards me. I stood up and took a few steps toward her, still not having decided whether or not I was going. Jared came around to the front of the couch and Mom moved out of the way, pulling on her shoes. He wrapped a blanket around Emily and carried her toward the door, only pausing for a moment as Mom opened the door. Dad was already outside starting the car.
Mom, knowing me well said, “You’re welcome to come with or stay. Seth is staying over at a friend’s house tonight so you don’t need to watch him.”
I nodded and followed her outside into the rain. In the van, Emily was laying next to Jared in the middle bench of seats, with Dad driving and Mom next to him, their hands intertwined over the middle console. I climbed onto the back row of seats and sat sideways so my legs would fit. I sighed, regretting my decision already. We drove through Forks to the hospital. Most of our tribe didn’t come here for the hospital, and some people didn’t even use American stores or anything—but the hospital especially was off-limits. Usually it was the older people that had a problem with it, but even our family preferred La Push’s resources over American’s. This was an emergency I guess, so was there an exception? Seth and I were not even born in Forks but at home in La Push.
Sam didn’t ever care before about using American stores instead of buying in La Push. But now, Sam acted like going to the hospital was the worst thing that could occur. I wondered silently what had changed. Last summer, we had gone on a picnic together in the park in Forks, and I had gotten stung by a bee. When it stared to swell, Sam started freaking out and saying he was taking me the the hospital. I wouldn’t let him, since I had been stung before and it was no big deal. We argued for a few minutes and then compromised by cutting our picnic short and driving home to my mom. She laughed at our story and then put some ointment on my sting. A minute later it was fine and I was telling Sam, “I told you so.”
We pulled up in front of the hospital and Jared raced in with Emily. My parents followed, slower, but still quickly. I dragged behind, torn between caring for and loving Emily and hating both her and Sam. The nurse ushered Jared and Emily into a room and us into the waiting room.
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I paced through the trees waiting for Sam to return; it had been almost an hour now! I still wasn’t sure how I felt about him. He obviously was not giving up his pursuit to win me over. He was nice enough but he was Leah’s boyfriend and he had just dumped her when he saw me. He didn’t even break up with her; just left her alone after she saw us together. Sometimes, he could be so sweet and I can’t imagine ever being with someone else. Other times…I missed Leah and knew what she would be thinking of us, then I hated him for what he’d done. Part of me wished that he would return to her, but the other part just wanted to forget it, and love him back. I knew I was falling more and more in love with him and further and further away from Leah every day. Maybe it was time for me to put my foot down before my heart got broken too….
He bought a house ‘for us . . . ,’ he’d said, ‘or just you,’ he quickly added when he saw my expression. He let me move in and he stayed in his old house but frequently came to visit, with or without an invitation. I had fun cooking for him and his friends who always gave tons of help on how to make everything taste better and ate as much as a herd of elephants.
And then there was his secret. Not just his, but the tribe’s. It seemed like more and more people found out nearly every week.
He’s already shared it with me, about why everything had happened the way it did and I’ve seen him and his friends in their other forms which was a little frightening. He explained why they exist and answers all of my questions. If only he would explain to Leah, then maybe we could set things right. He is so nice and handsome, but I still feel like Leah has a better claim on him. Maybe if she didn’t want him anymore, and as long as we could still be as close as sisters….
Sam suddenly burst through the trees, coming the opposite way I had been expecting.
“EMILY!” he shouted at me though I couldn’t tell if his words were meant to be harsh or simply filled with concern. He picked me up into an embrace that lifted my feet off the ground. “Where have you been? I told you to go home, not back here!”
“I was waiting for you to come back, Sam,” I explain. “I love Leah too you know; she’s still my cousin. Practically sister, although she apparently would not say the same anymore. You’ve hurt her you know. You need to just go back to her and forget me. I like you Sam, but you’re better off with her. She loves you so much. Please just go and give me my sister back. She hates me right now and I can’t live with that. Maybe someday, if she doesn’t want to be with you anymore than we—”
He lets go of me, not seeming to hear what I am saying and starts shaking. “Emily, that was something I needed to take care of on my own! You should have done as I’d asked! Leah won’t listen to a stinkin’ word I say. She doesn’t care. I love you, Emily. I need you, not her. I love her, but I’ve explained to you before; you are the one for me. Just deal with it ’cause I’m not going anywhere. It’s not like I get to control all of the . . . trashy circumstances. I know that it ‘s not fair for her. Life isn’t fair.” His words were half shouts, angry, but I didn’t know if it was me or Leah that had him upset. I started backing away from Sam as the shaking grew stronger.
I yelled back, angry that Leah didn’t matter to him and I apparently didn’t either since he wasn’t listening to me. I was going to lose the only sister I had and it was all Sam’s fault. “Stop! Trashy circumstances? Is that what this is? Because to me it seem like you’re just acting to much like a Uley to know a good thing when you’ve got it. Leah was good to you and now you’re treating her like the last few years didn’t even happen. You’re so selfish! What about what everyone else wants? Or are you the only one who’s opinion matters? How can you be so mean to her? To me? You’re just like your father!” He takes a step toward me and I push him away, “I’ve heard the stories and—”
That’s when Sam lost it. His clothes exploded into a million pieces. His limbs seemed to reach out in every direction, his right paw catching my face on its way toward the forest floor. Sam’s sharp claws scrapped down the right side of my face and then my arm and shoulder. I cried out in pain and fell back towards the ground in shock.
It took him a moment to phase back—he seemed to be having trouble with it. Then in an instant, the monstrous wolf disappeared. He shouted my name again, this time his voice was for certain full of concern. Sam scooped me up into his warm arms and began running, murmuring words of comfort along the way.
A black fog threatened to engulf me, blurring my vision and making my head spin. I could feel warm liquid on my cheek and arm. My right eye closed and once it did, it wouldn’t open. I didn’t try to open it anyways because of the pain that came when I did. Instead I closed both of my eyes and focused on my other senses. I struggled to concentrate on Sam’s voice, on the gentle, steady rhythm of his foot falls. The smell of the forest around us, then the smell changed to home. I was faintly aware of when Sam climbed the steps to our porch and a minute later laid me on the couch. I could hear him talking to someone but as the warm trickled to my ear, I stopped listening, for a moment.
I was almost asleep before Sam hoisted me into his arms again and ran out the door. It was raining now. The soft, cold drips felt good on my skin. We had a car, but I guessed Sam thought it would be faster this way, and it probably was.
Since he had first turned into a wolf, he could outrun most of the cars on the highway. Or so he told me. I never got to be with him when he was a wolf apart from one time. He said it was dangerous, and after what had just happened, I now believed him. I heard Jared, another wolf in Sam’s pack, join us but I couldn’t understand what he was saying. Sam was practically flying as he sprinted through the forest along the edge of the town. I began to drift to sleep again. I felt so tired.
“Sam. Tired. Stop running? Sleep?” I mumbled the words the best I could knowing they would probably be incoherent.
“No Em, don’t go to sleep. We’re almost there baby. I’m so sorry. Hang on,” Sam whispered more gentle words in my ear.
Then Sam and Jared spoke. I only made out a few words; sleep, angry and pain.
Sam slowed to a walk and then paused for a brief second. There was the sound of a door opening and then the voice of a woman quietly saying, “Come in! Put her on the couch Sam.” I recognized the voice as Sue Clearwater’s. She continued speaking in hushed tones. “I don’t know what I can do to help with my limited medical knowledge but I will do what I can. You really should take her to Forks. They really could help more than me.”
Sam laid me on the couch and someone pulled a blanket up over my legs. “You know I can’t do that. It would just make things worse.”
“You will take her if I say. If I can’t do enough then—”
“Then I will take her, ” Sam finished. “But please—” his voice was full of pain as he choked back tears. “Do what you can.”
And that’s when I fell asleep.
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It was a few minutes past five—quitting time—so I hurry to finish straightening the boxes I’ve been putting on the shelf. Walking to the back of the store I take off my apron and grab my jacket. I leave through the back door, to avoid the customers, and slip my jacket on. Finally, it was Friday, the end of my work week.
There was a slight salty mist in the air that wasn’t really rain, but still felt nice on my skin. I walked toward the woods, and then I was on the trail towards home. I always used the trail as my route to get wherever I was going as another precaution to avoid seeing anyone. I strode slowly, admiring the evergreens that smelled so sweet and familiar this time of year. I usually wasn’t in any hurry to get home and spent more time walking there than necessary. The scenery was enjoyable and I never got tired of the nature around La Push. That part, I would miss when I finally left.
The small clearings along the sides of the trail—that Sam and I had usually kept free of weeds and plants—were now grown over by a light cover of vegetation, as I had supposed would happen. Occasionally families or tourists would go on picnics in them but this summer after they had grown over with weeds, they hadn’t been used as much. We used to lay out there on a blanket in the middle of the night and watch the stars when the sky was free of clouds.
As I passed the second clearing on my walk, which was more hidden by the trees than most, I was surprised to see it was clear of any plants. Maybe the city council had decided to—a flash of movement caught my eye, interrupting my thoughts. Then a giggle. I took a few steps back, since I had nearly passed it now. Standing between three young evergreens was two figures standing with their bodies closely intertwined.
I recognized them almost instantly, their postures familiar, and gasped. The man heard and looked up.
“Lee-Lee.” He groaned quietly, throwing his head back like a child who had been caught stealing candy.
I began to sprint towards home quickly. The even pace of Sam’s bare feet sounded behind me as he began catching up. Angry did not even begin to describe how I was feeling. How could he share our place with her? I ran faster, pushing myself harder. This was our place, not theirs! Even now, since he had left me heartbroken and alone, it was mine. The only place I had left to be completely alone. Sam’s hand caught my shoulder and spun me around, knocking me hard to the ground.
“Leah,” he began and paused kneeling to help me up. I growled in protest and scrambled to crawl away but he grabbed my ankle, bringing him back to the ground in almost an army crawl. His skin was still hot, like a scorching fever.
“Kîka!” I shout, spitting the Quiluete word for ‘get away ‘ at him.
Sam ignored what I said and began again. “Leah, I’m sorry, really . . . it just happened—I wish I could explain.”
Emily caught up with us then. “Hey. I—” She didn’t finish her sentence before Sam was shouting.
“Emily, go back to the house now!” He was trembling, his hand shaking my leg. I kicked and kicked trying to get free but his grasp was still tight.
“But, Sam, I—” Emily protested but was cut off by Sam again.
“Now!” He pointed in the direction we had come from.
Emily walked back towards the clearing, her head hung low. I wasn’t sure whether it was because of shame or grief. Sam let go of my ankle then, but moved to sit beside me when she was out of sight. I stood up, ignoring him.
“Lee-Lee.” He stood next to me and reached for my hand.
I jerked away from his reach and put a hand up to stop him. “Don’t even . . .” I shake my head. “That isn’t my name.”
“Sorry, Leah.” He paused. “Hey, I love you.” Sam’s words repulsed me. How could he even stand to say that when it obviously wasn’t true? I had seen them together more than once now and Seth’s gossip told more honesty than Sam.
I rolled my eyes and turned on my heel, stomping away. Sam grabbed my swinging hand with his fiery grasp.
“Leah, I love you. But Emily . . .” I tried to get away again while he spoke, his sharp words cutting at me. “Emily is the one I need to be with. I’m going to ask her to marry me. But I do love you, you and her. I know she is your cousin but . . .”
I finally broke away and started running home again. Why? was the only question in my head. Sam ran after me but not as quickly as before.
When I got home I slammed the back door shut, and kept my stride, running up the stairs. I caught a glimpse of Seth and Mom, who were in the living room watching me, confused. I slammed the door to my room too, and a moment later I could hear Sam’s deep voice talking to my mom downstairs. He had followed all the way. I stood hovering behind my closed door. What to do, what to do? I was hungry. And had to use the restroom. The sound of footsteps coming up the stairs forced me to hurry my decision. I locked the door and sat on my bed, already foreseeing what would happen.
Sam came down the hallway and knocked on the door, calling my name and trying to coax me out. I didn’t answer and pretty soon he gave up. The Sam I had known before would have sat down outside the door and waited. It might have taken me hours, but eventually I would have opened it to face him. Not anymore. Now he had a fiancee to go home to and I no longer mattered.
“Leah, hon, can you open the door please? He left.” This voice was soft but strong. The voice of my mother replaced Sam’s.
I sighed as I got up and unlocked the door, then laid back down with my face against my pillow as she walked in.
“What happened?” Mom asked me. She sat down on my bed, her voice was soothing but nothing could help.
“Didn’t Sam tell you?” I spoke quickly, hurrying to spit his name from my mouth. It always tasted bitter now, like a bad aftertaste to our relationship.
“Yes, but your perspective would help. And it might help you to talk about it. I know you have had a rough time but you’ve hardly spoken to anyone since before he was missing.”
“I hate Sam.”
“Don’t say that. He is just trying to do what’s right.”
“Yes it is. He ruined my life. Emily too.”
“Leah-h!” She said my name louder this time, not liking that I could say something so harsh about my ‘almost sister’.
“You’re on their side anyways! ” I half yell. “You wanted my perspective and you got it.”
Mom sighed and left the room, returning later and throughout the weekend to bring me food, which I picked at but hardly ate. It was almost like when I first saw them together all over again. Once again, my heart was broke. Broke, broke, broken, always breaking heart.
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Sam was sitting, waiting for me in the clearing as I expected him to be when I arrived. I make my way through the trees to him. The first time he brought me here, I had been angry. Leah had told me before of how they sometimes sneaked out to the clearings in the forest and watched the stars. But now, we had been back several times, and every time it got easier to forget that what we now shared had once been his with somebody else.
“Hey, beautiful, ” he says to me and pats the ground next to him. I giggle—I can’t help it—and sit beside him. He takes my hand. “How did it go?”
I’ve just gotten back from Makah, where I am going to teach weaving and other arts at the high school. The woman that taught before me, and through my time in high school had noticed that I learned the arts easily and knew more than most of the other students. When she retired, she had recommended me to the staff and when no one else applied, they called to offer me the job. I drove up and was greeted by the desperate new principal who hardly bothered with an interview, and told me that I could start once school did.
I shrug, “I took it. They were pretty desperate. I had never really thought that I’d return to high school, even for a job. That’s why I graduated early.”
“Well, you enjoy weaving and stuff, right? And I’ve seen your work. You’re probably the best they’ll ever get!”
I laugh at his enthusiasm. I probably will enjoy it, even if I’m not much older than the students.
“How are we going to work out the drive? I mean, I really love it here; the house, being with you, everything.” I’d been dropping hints like this throughout the last few weeks, showing him that I didn’t completely hate him for what he’d done anymore. I understood why life had gone in the direction it had and honestly, I was starting to really like Sam. Maybe even love.
He puts his finger on his chin and stares upwards, pretending to be deep in thought. I laugh again. He turns to me. “Maybe you could hire a wolf to ride up there and back. That way you can stay in the house, and with me, and still go to work. It would save money on gas, too.”
I laugh. “Yeah, but all that money would have to go to food—payment for the wolf.”
“A gentleman wolf would always share the food with his lady, of course.”
“A gentleman wolf wouldn’t have . . . “ left Leah the way he did. We both feel the unspoken words between us and the air is tense for a few minutes. “Sorry, ” I say, breaking the silence.
He shakes his head. “It’s fine. You’re right anyways. But—”
“But I understand,” I finish his sentence and then my stomach rumbles. He laughs and I groan, embarrassed.
“What would you like for dinner?” I’ve grown accustomed to the way Sam asks me questions anymore. Instead of asking me if I want something, he asks how I want it. The way he says it is like he will get me whatever I want whenever I want it without me having to really ask. It’s nice sometimes—like a forever promise, which it kind of is with imprinting.
“You pick. You never choose,” I tell him
Sam stands up without letting go of my hand and then helps me up. I take my hand back for a moment and brush the dirt from my clothes. He turns to face me, and his hands graze the side of my face, my jaw, my neck. “I choose to let you pick. I will like whatever you want, ” he says obediently.
I shake my head stubbornly and he sighs.
“If your stomach didn’t sound like Paul when he’s mad, I’d say we go back to the house and forget dinner. Put on a movie and—”
My stomach grumbles again and we both laugh. Sam kisses my cheek. I smile and lean my head against his chest.
“What? What’s this? Could it be? Is the gorgeous Emily actually flirting back for once? She doesn’t like me, does she?” Sam teases.
I giggle and mumble against his chest, “Maybe a little more than like.”
I don’t know whether Sam hears me or not because he throws his head back suddenly, mumbles something, and groans, sending me stumbling backwards a few steps. I balance myself, and then turn to see what he is looking at.
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“Time Passes. Even when it seems impossible. Even when each tick of the second hand aches like the pulse of blood behind a bruise. it passes unevenly, in strange lurches and dragging lulls, but pass it does. Even for me.”—New Moon
The months of April, May and the entire summer have passed. I barely finished school last year, but somehow I did. I am dreading the day when summer ends and it will return. He never came back to school last year which made it more manageable, yet still painful. His absence was waiting for me around every corner, every classroom. Even in everyone else, as their eyes reflected back only my own empty gaze, void of his accompaniment. I don’t see either of them anymore. It’s better that way. Emptiness is better than refreshing the pain.
Seth is cheerful as always and is even hyped up for school to return. Dad spends most of his time with Charlie, the police chief of Forks, and Billy Black. They go fishing a lot more often. Mom spends her time with the mothers of Seth’s friends or cooking the fish Dad brings home. But I don’t care what they are doing. None of this really matters to me anymore. I’m heartbroken. My cousin, almost sister, has fallen in love with my ex-boyfriend. And even worse, he loves her back. I despise them more than the devil hates angels. If there are such things anyways. It sure doesn’t seem like it lately.
Seth kindly notified me, when they bought a house on the other side of La Push and moved in together. He keeps me updated with the town gossip even though I sometimes wish he wouldn’t. However, it was kind of him to let me know that I was officially out of Sam’s life with no chance back in. Ever. Not that I mind anymore. I used to, but now all I can do is hate them both.
Every day over the summer there were numerous messages for me on our phone’s answering machine and I received letters weekly in the mail. I didn’t even bother to check my email, knowing my inbox was sure to be full. The messages were deleted with out being listened to and the letters thrown away without being read. At first, Seth tried saving the letters, but after awhile he gave up and didn’t even bother to tell me when another arrived.
Mom got me a part time job in La Push ‘s small store, helping keep everything in stock and ordering more of whatever they needed. I don’t mind it very much. I hardly see anyone except for my boss, who I’ve known for years. She has been one of mom’s friends since before I was born. I work Monday through Friday, eleven until five, stocking the shelves out front during the slower hours to avoid customers that might know me. The job gives me extra money, which gives me hope. Hope for getting out of La Push, eventually. Maybe going to a community college or something in Seattle. I can only wish that someday, I can move on and away from the pain.
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There were no words to describe what I felt as I walked into the lodge. The sight I saw was so incredibly, unbelievably, heartbreaking. There is now way I will ever talk to Sam or Emily again.
Their names echoed in my head along with the repeating image of them kissing as I turned and walked back out the door.
HOW COULD THEY? It was like a news headline being printed over and over a million times on newspapers across the world: ‘Emily and Sam kiss! Leah is left heart broken!’
It made me wonder if this had been going on for awhile or if it was something new. Why would they kiss in public—in front of me and our families—while Sam and I were still together? Or at least I thought we were. He apparently had other plans.
I drove home at a speed that would have made a race car driver anxious. I don’t remember much of the drive—or getting home, or going to my room—but the next thing I knew I was lying on my bed.
I wasn’t sure of how much time had gone by as I lay there and cried my heart out. When I heard the others arrive, I locked my door and clamped my windows shut, yanking the curtains closed with a harsh jerk that left my shoulder sore. A while later, my stinging eyes flew open to the sound of something hitting glass. The lights were still on in my room and the house was quiet so I went to my window.
It was him.
I don’t know what I had been expecting. Maybe I had forgotten for a moment. Sam was standing below it, throwing pebbles at the pane of my window. His face was pleading. I closed the curtain and turned off the lights. There was no way I was ever talking to him again.
When the waves of crying washed over me once more, I shed no tears. Instead, my cries were silent broken sobs. I would not cry for Sam. Only for what could have been.
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I walked into the restaurant with my practically immediate family: Sue, Harry, and Seth. Leah, who I considered my sister, was on her way here. The ride over had been quiet without her. When we were together, our noise level ensured that everyone knew we were the best of friends.
The Blacks were already here, and so was Leah’s boyfriend, Sam.
He caught my stare with a reflection of my own expression on his face; there was shock. Surprise. Wonder . . . and a split second of love. What was that about? He stood frozen like a statue, still staring into my eyes. I couldn’t seem to break away my own gaze. I had known Sam for as long as he had been friends with the Clearwaters. I looked down and my heart missed a beat.
What is this? What just happened?
He moved toward me and then suddenly I was in his arms and he was kissing me. He pulled back to take a breath and, “Wh—” was all that I got out of my mouth before his lips were on mine again. I didn’t kiss back, but I didn’t stop him, either. I could feel the eyes of our friends and family boring into me—into both of us—with crazed feelings.
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