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When Things Fall Apart

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“Loving you was sunshine, safe and sound
A steady place to let down my defenses.
But loving you had consequences.”

 


AUGUST


Michelle heard the familiar sound of the back door opening followed by heavy footsteps. She paused in her typing, lifting her head to confirm the footsteps heading towards her. She reached out for the unopened bottle of water on the coffee table beside her and held it over the back of the couch knowingly. 

She didn’t need to look to know who it was.

“You know me so well Mitchie,” teased the other person as they grabbed the drink out of her hand. She rolled her eyes lightheartedly and went back to typing, not missing the distinct clicking sound of the bottle cap twisting open for the first time followed by the crackling of the plastic being drained of its contents.

After a few more minutes of shuffling around in the open kitchen, a heavy weight dropped onto the cushion beside her. She sunk into the dip, falling into the lanky body of her best friend. 

“Whatcha doing?” Jacob sung, taking a peek at what was pulled up on her laptop. His brows furrowed. “What’s that?”

“It’s my project for creative writing.”

“You take creative writing?”

“You’re not funny.”

He laughed, his usual dopey smile stretching his features in a familiar way. “You know I’m kidding. What’s the project this time?”

Michelle was used to talking about her creative endeavors with Jacob. They’ve been best friends since they were little, and writing had always been important to her. So of course, he was the one to listen to her whenever she wanted to rant about a short story she was writing or— when she got into her creative writing class— her weekly projects that she spent most of her time working on.

She settled herself again, getting comfortable under Jacob’s arm. “It was a group project this time. We have to turn one of our previous writing assignments into a short film. I’m editing it now.”

He glanced briefly at the screen before shrugging and reaching for the television remote. “Looks complicated.”

The television came to life with whatever channel that was playing when it was last shut off. It was a sports channel, so she could only assume that Billy had been the one to last use the TV. She usually joined Billy in watching his sports, even if she had no clue what was going on half the time, but she had been so busy working on this project last night that she didn’t have time for anything else. It sucked to miss her quality time Billy— he was like a second dad to her after all— but she can spend time with him whenever. This project, on the other hand, is due in a couple days and it still needed a TON of editing before it was finished. 

“It’s not really that hard,” she mumbles, shuffling a couple clips around to an order she liked. “You just have to get used to it.”

The room fell into silence. Jacob watched some action movie he found while flipping through channels and Michelle worked on her project. Right as the movie was wrapping up, the front door opened, catching both of the teens’ attention. 

“Jacob? Michelle?”

“In here Billy!” Michelle called. Deciding to take a break, she pulled away from Jacob and threw her laptop onto the couch. It wasn’t until she stood up that she realized how long she had been sitting in the same spot. Her legs were practically numb and her back was aching due to how she’d been hunched over. 

Jacob must have noticed the grimace on her face, because he immediately pulled her back down onto the couch so that she was facing away from him. She didn’t fight him. She already knew what he was silently offering. So, she let him work his magic.

Nothing needed to be said. Jacob gave her a quick, yet effective, shoulder rub before cracking her back in a way that only he can do. No words were exchanged. In fact, this was how most of their time together went: comfortably silent. They had been around each other so much at this point that words just didn’t seem necessary most of the time. They were so used to the other’s presence that everything just came naturally to them. 

That’s what Jacob and Michelle’s relationship had always been. Natural.


“Would you guys slow down! I’m running in flip flops here! Cut a woman some slack!”

A round of laughter sounded from ahead of Michelle, causing her to roll her eyes and run faster to catch up. She was not a clumsy person. Not the most athletic, sure, but running was never a problem for her.

At least when she wasn’t in flip flops and a bathing suit cover-up it wasn’t.

When she finally reached the three boys, she bent over to try and rub some life back into her calves. They had started burning a couple hundred feet back, but now they had passed the stage of feeling like they were on fire and moved straight into going numb. 

“It’s not our fault your slow.”

Michelle looked up and glared at Quil. “Yeah, well it’s not my fault you guys have the bodies of green beans. I’m petite. I can’t stilt walk like you guys can.”

Embry crossed his arms and smirked. “I don’t know whether to laugh at that or be genuinely offended. You know how sensitive Quil is about his noodle body.”

“You know, I can let those comments slide with Mitchie, but if you think you’re going to get away with it, then you’ve got another thing coming!”

And with that, the two dunderheads were off— Quil chasing Embry down the beach and Embry running ahead like his life depended on it. Jacob and Michelle both shook their heads in amusement. Those boys were something else.

After a moment, Jacob turned to give her  a look before nodding towards a small overhang of trees along the shore. She simply nodded and followed him with her small bag of necessities hanging in a small backpack over her shoulder. Unfortunately for Michelle, she has always had issues with getting sunburn and dehydrated more quickly than what was probably considered normal for a girl her age. Because of that, whenever she went to the beach— even if just for a half an hour— she always made sure to load up on sunscreen and water. There was only one time that she can remember forgetting her bag at home, and after forty-five minutes of being in the sun, she passed out. It scared the hell out of Jacob, and ever since, he always made sure that she remembered to bring her little “beach bag”, as the boys called it.

After finding a comfortable, shady spot, Jacob and Michelle rolled out a big beach towel that Jacob had brought and plopped down next to each other. Jacob let out a long sigh and fell onto his back with a small thud! Michelle gave him a quick glance while rummaging through her stuff to find her chapstick. “What’s your problem?”

He didn’t say anything at first. Michelle paused in her quest for chapstick and turned to give him her full attention, only to find that he was already staring at her. 

“What?” she asked.

He blinked, almost as if her words had snapped him out of some kind of trance. “Oh, nothing. Just haven’t been to the beach with you in a while. You’ve been pretty busy.”

She raised a brow. “I see you almost every day.”

“Yeah,” he agreed, “but, we haven’t come to the beach together in a while. There’s a difference.”

“I didn’t know us having beach time together was so important to you.”

He paused again. “Well it is.”

Michelle narrowed her eyes in confusion. He had never really made a big deal about going to the beach together. Whenever they went, they went. That was that. But then again, she had been pretty busy lately. Ever since she began her creative writing class, she’s had her hands full with projects upon projects and other homework to top it off. Sure, she saw him every day. She practically lived at Billy’s house after all. But when she was there, she was usually doing work for school. They were in the same room together, but they were doing their own thing.

Now that she thought about it, it’s actually been awhile since Jacob and her have done something together period. Not just go to the beach, but anything. 

Her eyes softened. 

“Well summer isn’t technically over yet. We still got a few more weeks, so we can go to the beach every day if you want.”

His eyes widened and he shook his head. “Yeah, no. I don’t think so. You’re puny, pale little body can’t handle that much sunlight. You’ll melt.”

She threw her hand at his arm, smirking victoriously when it connected in a resounding clap ! He yelped, “Ow! Mitchie, what the hell?!”

“Aw, what? Did that hurt? Who’s the puny one now?”

His eyes narrowed as if angry, but there was no way she could ever take him seriously. The smile playing on his lips gave him away. “You really shouldn’t ha-”

“Yo Jake! You better not be messing with our girl Mitch!” Embry popped up beside Jacob.

“Is this guy bothering you Mitchie? We’ll take care of him for you.” Quil added in, wrapping an arm around Michelle’s shoulder. 

Jacob rolled his eyes. “Please. If anyone’s bothering anyone here it would be her bothering me. I’m an angel.”

“That’s what a creep would say. Right Embry?”

“Totally. Just goes to show, you never really know a person.”

“Alright,” Jacob jumped up from his spot on the towel and cracked his knuckles. “I’ll give you two a head start. Run.”

The two took off once again, this time with Jacob following. 

Michelle laughed so hard her cheeks hurt. And that’s how the rest of the day was spent— laughing and running around while Jacob occasionally reminded her to drink some water or reapply her sunscreen. It was fun— a lot of fun. More fun than she had in awhile. 

Jacob was right, they need to come to the beach more often. 


NOVEMBER


“Why is it that you have better hair than me? It’s not fair.”

Jacob laughed, accidentally pulling his head away from Michelle’s hands. She kept her grip on the three pieces she had sectioned off, pulling them back into place before continuing her french braid.

“Just because it’s longer doesn’t mean it’s nicer. It just means I need a haircut.”

Michelle continued to weave the pieces of hair, taking her time to make sure that they were secure and smooth. “If you ever do anything more than a trim I will finish the job for you and shave your head bald in your sleep.”

“You will not.”

“Maybe I will, maybe I won’t. Do you really want to find out?”

He chuckled. “Touche. Although, personally, I think I would rock the bald look.”

She scoffed. 

“What, you don’t think so?”

“There’s no way. You would look like a peanut.”

This had Jacob doubling over. It wasn’t really that funny, but it was late and it was getting to that point in the night where everything was funny. 

Michelle chuckled as he gasped for air. She slapped him on the shoulder. “Shut up, you’re going to wake your dad up.”

He took a moment to breathe deeply and collect himself. Finally, he had his laughter under control, but the smile on his face was still lighting up the room. “Sorry, sorry. You’re right. Quiet time.”

She huffed out a laugh before continuing to weave the pieces of his hair together. They fell into a bought of silence, the only noise being her laptop that was sitting beside Jacob on the floor playing one of the most recent Marvel movies. 

“Hey Mitchie?”

She hummed.

“Do…” he sighed. “What do you think about the whole Embry thing?”

Her hands froze, the strands of hair threatening to fall through her fingers before she snapped out of it and continued her ministrations. It was a good question. She had been trying not to think too much about the whole situation, but that’s pretty hard to do when one of your best friends just basically up and leaves you for what’s rumoured to be a gang. 

Now granted, Michelle didn’t really believe in the whole “gang” talk going around about Sam and his group of friends, but she had to admit, they were kind of suspicious. Not in a “we’re selling drugs and if you cross our path, we’ll kill you” type of way, but everything about them just felt so secretive and closed off. And they definitely don’t try to hide how sketchy they were acting. They definitely weren’t acting casual about it. If anything, their behavior only proved to make them look more suspicious. 

And now Embry’s with them. He hasn’t talked to Michelle, Jacob, or Quil in the past three weeks. It was like he just one day decided that he didn’t want to bother with them anymore. 

She had to admit, it really hurt. 

“I don’t know… Maybe he’s just going through something.”

Jacob turned around, thankfully after she had tied off the braid with an elastic. “What do you mean ‘maybe he’s going through something’? Even if he was, he would at least tell us right? You have to admit, it’s weird that he just cut ties with us out of nowhere. And for Sam’s gang? Something doesn’t add up!”

Michelle rolled her eyes, looking down to meet his gaze from where she was sitting cross-legged on the bed behind him. “Sam doesn’t have a gang Jake, that’s ridiculous.”

“Well it makes sense! Him, Jared, Paul, and now Embry. One by one, they all grew to the size of giants and suddenly got all suspicious and secretive, and the common factor? They all joined Sam’s little group. Maybe it’s not a gang, but whatever it is seems fishy.”

She didn’t know what to say to that. He was right. There were so many things that just seemed… odd about that group. And now Embry, someone who used to make fun of them and conspire about them, is a part it.

Jacob sighed, calming himself down a bit. She knew this was difficult for him. After all, Embry was his friend too. 

She reached out and pushed a stray chunk of bangs behind his ear. He leaned into her touch and fell forward, resting his cheek against her leg with his eyes closed. 

“I just can’t believe he left us like that.”

“I know.”

He turned his head so that he could look her in the eye and smiled. “At least I still have you.”

She felt the heat rising to her cheeks and was suddenly grateful that the room was too dark for him to see. 

He had been having this effect on her lately. For the past couple of months, there would be moments where he would say something that made her feel weird. Maybe it was the way he would say it, or the looks he gave her so casually that always somehow felt special to her.

Michelle had an inkling of what these sudden feelings might be, but she refused to believe it. 

She couldn’t afford to be dealing with those types of feelings right now. Her and Jacob were best friends. She couldn’t afford to mess that up with a stupid crush. 

“You have Quil too y’know,” she muttered, narrowing her eyes slightly at the computer screen in hopes of avoiding eye contact. She knew that looking into those eyes could be dangerous for someone in her position, so she purposefully avoided them.

She felt his head shake against her calf. “Yeah, but that’s different. He’s one of my best friends, but you’re more than that. You’re like, my best friend squared.”

She couldn’t help but feel a hint of pain in her chest at his words, but she ignored it. There was never going to be a right time for that. It wasn’t going to happen. She needed to get over it. 

Chuckling lightly, she shook her head in amusement. “Best friend squared? Is that the best you could come up with?”

She could practically feel him roll his eyes at her. “You know what I mean. It’s different with you.”

She was quiet for a moment. “I know what you mean.”

“And I know you’d never join a gang and cut ties with me.”

She couldn’t help but laugh. “Fortunately, gangs aren’t my thing.”

“You’ll never leave me.”

Her smile fell.

“Never.”


JANUARY


“Where is he?”

Michelle had been calling Jacob for the past twenty minutes, but he had still yet to respond and it was really starting to annoy her. 

“Maybe he forgot his phone at home and he’s running late.”

“He’s never this late Quil, and he always answers his phone. Something’s not right…”

She tried calling him again, but this time it went straight to voicemail. She pulled her phone back from her ear and glared harshly at the device. Not only were they now missing the movie that her and the two boys had been planning to see for the past month because of Jacob “running late”, but now she was starting to get worried that something had happened to him. 

“He better be dying…” she mumbled under her breath. Quil seemed to have heard her, however, as he let out a long, dramatic sigh of agreement. 

“I’m sure it’s something importa-”

Her phone started ringing, catching the attention of both teenagers. 

It was Jacob. 

She answered on the first ring. “Where the hell are you? We’ve been standing out here in the cold for the past twenty minutes waiting for you, so you better have a damn good excuse!”

“Shit, I didn’t realize I was that late. Listen, I’m not going to be able to make it.”

Quil saw the look of rage settle onto Michelle’s face and shook his head, taking a step back to avoid being a target of her wrath.

“Are you kidding me?”

“No, I’m so sorry Mitchie-”

“Don’t call me that!”

It went silent for a second. Quil watched it all unfold, careful to be quiet as the tension grew thick around them. 

A sigh rang over the other end of the call. “Come on, don’t be like that…”

Michelle opened her mouth to protest, but fought the urge with a deep breath. She didn’t want to make a scene. 

“Are you seriously just not coming? Is everything okay?”

“Yeah, everything’s fine. It’s just that Bella you remember her from when we were little, right? Well, she came back in town today and I didn’t know until this morning so I-”

She hung up without letting him finish.

She was mad. Not only mad, but hurt as well. Probably more hurt than mad if she were being completely honest with herself. He ditched them. He literally ditched them. 

“Um,” Quil squeaked when she turned her attention to him. “I-is everything okay?”

“He’s not coming.”

“I gathered that, but did he say why?”

She shook her head in mild disbelief. Jacob had never been one to pull shit like this with her or Quil or any of his friends. 

“Apparently Chief Swan’s daughter came back into town today so he went to see her instead.”

She couldn’t help the bitterness that leaked into her voice near the end. And she didn’t really care either. She was too frustrated to care.

“Wait, seriously.” Even Quil sounded shocked. “So he just ditched us?”

She nodded. 

“Damn.” He didn’t know what to say, and she couldn’t really blame him. She felt the same. 

“We’re already 25 minutes late, you wanna just wait for the next show? It starts in an hour.” Screw Jake. They didn’t need him to have a good time. They had been waiting far too long to see this movie to let one person ruin it for them. “We can just go get some food in the meantime. I haven’t eaten yet.”

Quil nodded. “Yeah, okay.”

They quickly purchased their tickets so they wouldn’t have to wait in the line later before heading down the street to a pizza place that they always went to. 

On the way, all Michelle could seem to think was the same four words over and over on a loop.

Screw you Jacob Black.


FEBRUARY


Michelle would like to say that Jacob ditching her was a one-time thing, but she would be lying. Ever since that day, Jacob had become one of the most unreliable people she knew, and for what? Some girl he knew when he was ten? 

Michelle was quickly becoming sick of being stood up at the last minute every time they made plans to hang out. One or two times, she could get over, but when being ignored started to become a regular thing, she had to put her foot down. She was beyond annoyed with him, and what better way to show you’re pissed at someone than to ignore them completely. 

So that’s exactly what she did and has been doing for the past week. Every time Jacob called to inevitably cancel and reschedule the plans they had, she would mute her phone and ignore the call. Every text he would send her trying to explain himself, she would not read. Her inbox had been steadily filling up over the past few days, but she didn’t mind. 

He even tried sending her an email, to which she promptly spammed. 

She had successfully avoided him after school as well since she had photography club for an hour and a half after classes ended while he goes home right when he gets off. 

Overall, it seemed fairly petty, what she was doing to him, but in her mind he deserved it. If he wants to blow her off for nothing important, then why even bother giving him the time of day? 

It’s not like he was her best friend or anything. 

It’s not like they had been thicker than thieves for eighty percent of their lives. 

It’s not like they were each others everything. 

It’s not like any of that stuff mattered to Jacob anymore, so why should it matter to her?


Friday had been rough for Michelle. 

School had dragged on for what felt like hours longer than it actually was. She forgot her homework for Physics on the kitchen table and her teacher is one of those teachers that are adamant on no late work, so that dropped her overall grade a good two percent. She tripped over a stupid roley backpack on the way to lunch and cut up her knee on the concrete outside. And then she got home to an empty fridge and had no money to fill it. 

It was a pretty bad day for her, and she was feeling absolutely miserable. Not only was she having a bad day, but she had nobody that she could talk to in order to make it better. 

Her father hadn’t been home since Tuesday— something about a business conference in Texas.

Quil was busy helping his mom prepare their house for guests tonight. Apparently they were having some distant family coming into town for the weekend, so he had his hands pretty much tied until Monday morning. 

Embry was out of the question at this point. He had practically removed himself from their lives months ago and hasn’t spoken a word to any of them since. 

That just left Jacob. 

Despite how angry, annoyed, and hurt she had been with Jacob over the last week and a half, she found herself desperately missing him on multiple occasions. Especially in times like these when she was used to just calling him over to brighten her day. 

Because no matter what type of situation she’s going through, she always had Jacob to rely on to cheer her up. That was never out of the question. 

But now it was, and Michelle’s chest clenched at the that harsh reality. 

Without giving herself a chance to be realistic and back out, she picked up her phone and called him. She didn’t care how mad she was. She didn’t care that she had been ignoring him for the past 10 days. She didn’t care that he had given up trying to get ahold of her six days in. 

She just wanted her best friend. 

But she called, and called, and called. 

And he never answered. 


APRIL


Two whole months went by before she heard even a single word from Jacob. It wasn’t even intentional either. She had been walking past his house on the way to the only corner store in town and he had just been pulling into his driveway with Billy. They probably went grocery shopping or something, but that didn’t matter to her. All that mattered to Michelle was that Jacob—perfectly healthy and a bit taller and more muscular than before—was helping his father into his wheelchair like nothing was wrong in the world. 

The same Jacob who hadn’t returned her calls. The same Jacob who couldn’t even bother to text her back letting her know that he was okay. 

The same Jacob she hadn’t spoken a single word to in over two months. 

“Jake!” 

She couldn’t walk by without saying something. No matter how mad she was, or how frustrated, or how defeated, she couldn’t just say nothing as their friendship slipped between her fingers. 

She couldn’t let that happen. 

He froze at the sound of her voice, continuing to secure the safety bar on the wheelchair before turning to see the small girl running up their dirt driveway towards him. 

Billy took a glance between the two of them as she came to a stop a few feet away. He nodded his head cautiously, muttering something about letting us work out our own problems before rolling into the house with a couple of grocery bags hanging off one of the handles on the back of his wheelchair. 

The two watched him leave before turning back to one another. Jacob was staring intensely at his feet while Michelle met his eyes with conviction. She was finally talking to him. After so long, she was finally standing in front of her best friend again. 

She wanted to say so much. There were so many questions and so many explanations sitting on the tip of her tongue, yet the words didn’t seem to want to come out of her mouth. 

So she did the only thing she could think of at the moment. 

She ran straight into the unsuspecting boy’s chest, wrapping her arms tightly around him and burying her head into his neck. He stiffened at the contact, but slowly relaxed, bringing his arms up to wrap around her waist.

They held each other tightly, neither wanting to be the one to let go. 

“I’m sorry,” she whispered, her breath bouncing softly off of the skin where his neck met his shoulder. 

She didn’t know why she apologized. She didn’t do anything wrong after all. But she did it. She apologized, because she knew that if she didn’t, then this awful silence between the two of them would go on longer and longer until it became permanent. 

And god knows she didn’t want that. 

So she bit her lip and said it. Even though she didn't have to. Even though the roles should have been reversed, she did it anyways in order to get her best friend back. 

That night, he didn’t say a word.


MAY


“I don’t know. What are you guys ordering?”

Michelle, Jacob, and Quil were out to breakfast at Sue’s Diner for the first time in what felt like forever. Michelle had invited the two boys after school the previous day to spend the night at her place to have a movie marathon and since there was no food in the house for breakfast, they all decided to head over to Sue’s.

“I’m getting the all you can eat pancakes,” Quil said without even looking at his menu. Jacob perked up. 

“Oo, sounds good. I think I’ll do that too.”

Michelle chuckled. “Might as well join the party.”

After ordering their meals the trio got to talking as they awaited their food. 

Taking a sip from her water, Michelle leaned forward placing an elbow on the table. “Man, I’m tired.”

Quil laughed. “Well, you were the one who wanted to finish the last movie. What time did you actually end up falling asleep anyways?”

She looked sheepishly down at her drink. “Three.”

Jacob snorted. “And you wonder why you’re tired.”

She glared at him, tossing her straw wrapper into his long hair in retaliation. She didn’t expect for him to block it, however, which only made her pout some more. 

“By the way,” Jacob said, ignoring my pouting face. “Where was your dad? Was he out of town or something? I’m surprised he let us stay the night.”

The other two fell silent. Quil’s eyes widened, giving Jacob a look of disbelief and Michelle was simply frozen— hand hovering over her drink, straw drawn in between her index and middle fingers.

Jacob looked confused. “What?”

Quil snapped out of it first, shaking his head slowly while glancing at me and then back to Jacob. “Dude, bad topic…”

“What? Why?”

Michelle’s eyes hadn’t moved from her glass. It was amazing how a question so innocent can snap you back to reality so quickly. 

Her father had gone on a “business trip” three weeks ago. He has been gone ever since then, which worried her to no ends, but what was worse was the first thing she heard back from him was a text meant for someone else. 

“I’ll pick up some milk on the way home.”

It was a simple enough text. However, it was what was in between the lines that hurt the most. 

As innocent as that text was, it spoke volumes in terms of where her father has been going on and off for the past year or so. At first she believed him when he said that it was business, obviously. Who wouldn’t believe that right off the bat? But as time progressed, she realized how inconsistent these business meetings were. Also, most of them were in the same small town in California.

She was suspicious, but it wasn’t until she received that text a week ago that she decided to investigate. 

And low-and-behold, what did she find?

Her father had another family. 

Yes, it was a shock. At first, she didn’t know whether or not to even believe it. But the evidence was all there. 

Her father had another family. In California. Where he spent more time than he did with her, his only blood-related child. Or maybe that wasn’t true anymore. According to the paperwork she found, he had been with these people for the past 14 months.

To say it was a shock would have been an understatement. For that whole night, her chest was tight and her stomach was in knots. Her eyes were flooded and her throat kept clenching, giving her a massive migraine to boot.

She needed Jacob that night. She needed her best friend to be there for her and hug her and reassure her that everything was okay. She needed someone to tell her that it was all wrong. That the feeling of abandonment that was beginning to sink into her heart was ridiculous and that she would wake up the next morning realizing it had all been a dream. 

But he didn’t answer. 

“Seriously guys, who died?”

“Maybe you would know if you actually picked up your phone once in a while.”

The spite that ran through those words surprised even herself. She really didn’t want to hash out these feelings now. Her and Jacob’s friendship had been treading on thin ice ever since she apologized to him, and she really didn’t want to be the one to shatter the illusion that everything was okay. 

Too bad it wasn’t her head talking anymore. 

Jacob’s jaw hung open as he tried to figure out how to respond. Michelle and him have rarely ever thrown harsh words at each other. When they fight, they say things as they are and figure out how they can fix it. 

They don’t get malicious.

Before he had the chance to speak, Quil tried cutting in. “Mitchie…”

“No, don’t involve yourself in this Quil. This is between Jacob and myself.”

Jacob’s eyes narrowed. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means,” she pushed her drink aside. “I’m sick of your bullshit.”

“What the hell-”

“If you had even once tried thinking about anybody other than yourself or your precious Bella, maybe you wouldn’t be so clueless as to what’s been going on in the real world lately.”

Both boys were equally as baffled, but for different reasons. Quil was shocked that she had the balls to say something now—and here of all places—while Jacob was just confused. 

He began getting defensive. “One, don’t bring Bella into this. And two, what the hell are you going on about? I just asked if your dad was away on business.”

“Right!” she laughed hysterically, drawing some attention from the neighboring tables. “God forbid I spoke harshly of the deity that is Ms. Swan! And like I said, maybe if you actually cared enough to be there for me when I needed you, you’d know that my dad left me three weeks ago to go fuck around with his new family!”

At this point, the whole diner had eyes on their table. People started whispering to each other in hushed tones, but Michelle didn’t care. Everything was finally coming out and it felt so damn good. 

Jacob’s eyes were wide. “What?” It was barely a whisper, but it got its point across nonetheless. 

“And you know who I had to turn to?! Nobody! Absolutely nobody! And it’s all because of you and your little master! I’m so sick of hearing the same thing ‘Bella this’ and ‘Bella that’. You’re turning into a selfish prick the more time you spend with her and I’m getting sick of it!”

Guilt and shame began festering within Jacob, but instead of recognizing it and accepting it, he ignored the unpleasant feelings and used them to fuel his defense. “Hey! Don’t talk about Bella like that! You don’t have any right!”

“Fuck you! Yes, I do! Because of her, I’m losing the closest person to me, so if I wanna call her a manipulative skank then I will!” 

“Stop being such a bitch Michelle!”

Michelle tried to ignore the pain that sprung up at his words. She can take name-calling, but when it was Jacob, it was different.

She slammed her hands on the table and stood, causing the silverware to rattle, some falling to the floor.

“Fuck you Jacob. Fuck you and your pathetic one-sided love bullshit. She doesn’t even like you! Get over it!”

He stood as well. “She does like me, and I like her! A lot! You’re just jealous because nobody loves you, not even your own dad!”

It went quiet. So quiet that you could hear a pin drop. All noise in the kitchen stopped as soon as Michelle stood and everybody in the building was now staring at the two uncomfortably. 

Everything seemed to go still in Michelle’s mind. Her heart felt like it stopped and her hands went ice cold. 

Nobody loves you. Not even your own dad.

Her eyes welled up with tears. 

“Mitchie... I-I’m so sorry… I didn’t mean-”

She couldn’t even look at him right now. She just needed to get out of there. She needed to leave. Her throat was starting to tighten and her chest felt heavy. She needed to get out of there.

She stumbled out from between the chair and the table and rushed towards the door.

“Mitchie wait!”

She was gone.


SEPTEMBER


It had been weeks since she last spoke to anybody. Even at school, she would go to her classes, eat her lunch in a secluded corner of the library while she did her homework, and then leave. She had skipped her last few photography club meetings. The club manager had approached her after class a couple of days ago to tell her that if she kept skipping, then they would be forced to kick her out. 

She didn’t care. She just wanted to be left alone. 

Her father showed up for a couple of nights about a week ago, but then left again. She hasn’t heard from him since. Hell, he barely spoke to her while he was there. He simply said hi, left her a hundred bucks, and then watched television in his room while he “worked” for the rest of the time he was in the house. 

At least she had money for some groceries now. 

She hadn’t spoken to Jacob at all. They were back to ignoring one-another, except this time he didn’t even bother trying to get a hold of her. 

And now Quil had disappeared on her too. She tried calling him a few times in the beginning in a desperate attempt at gaining some company. As much as she wanted time to herself, cutting herself off was hard at first. 

But he didn’t answer her. She started to get worried at first before realizing the pattern in his behavior. First Embry, then Jacob, now Quil. What the hell was with her friends and leaving her? Was it some sort of trend that she didn’t know about? Or did she just have a habit of picking shitty people as friends?

She was starting to get used to being alone now. She knew that it probably wasn’t healthy to be thinking that way, but it was the truth. The more time she spent alone, the more she became accustomed to it. People ignoring her phone calls became such a regular thing for her that she gave up even trying, and developing a routine around the house to keep herself from slumping around in her bed all day grew easier and easier as the days went by. 

That being said, however, she still couldn’t help but question where it all went wrong for her. 

Did she overreact around Jacob? Maybe she should have just kept her mouth shut…

Why did she blow up over such a small, harmless, rhetorical question?

Why is she double-guessing herself constantly?

Why is everybody she loves leaving her?

Why does everybody leave her?


She didn’t know what to expect when stepping into the diner. It was the same diner that she caused a scene in months ago, so maybe she thought that people would recognize her because of that?

She didn’t know what she was expecting, but she definitely wasn’t expecting nothing. 

And nothing is all she got. 

“Come on Elle, you’re blocking the door.”

Michelle snapped out of her thoughts and moved aside, allowing the old couple that was waiting behind them to pass through. The girl next to her chuckled before nodding towards one of the tables. “Come on space-case, let's sit down.”

The girl that she was with was a girl by the name of Natalie. She was new to Michelle’s calculus class—having been only recently put into advanced math—and had somehow managed to work her way into Michelle’s lonely life. 

Michelle didn’t know how it happened exactly, but now the two girls were together pretty regularly. 

“So, Ellie-Belly, what do you usually get for breakfast?”

That was another thing: the nicknames. Natalie had decided to make it her mission to call her by everything other than her actual name. And oddly enough, Michelle didn’t mind too much. The only nickname she had ever been given was Mitchie, so getting some new ideas from an outside party wasn’t so bad. 

“Probably just the all you can eat pancakes. It’s pretty cheap.”

“Oo, maybe I’ll get those too. I probably shouldn’t be having that much sugar, but I guess…”

Michelle missed the end of what she had been saying when something caught her eye from across the room. 

‘No, it couldn’t be,’ she thought to herself. 

It was Jacob.

Only buffer, taller, and with less hair. 

And beside him was Quil, who was in the same boat as Jacob. And beside them was Embry. And sat with the three of them were Sam Uley, Paul Lahote, and Jared Cameron—resident “gang” members of the reservation. 

They couldn’t see her from where she was sitting, and for that, she was grateful, because all she could do was stare in disbelief. 

They said they would never hang out with them. In fact, they hated them. So why…

She turned away quickly, as if one of them had looked over and caught her staring. She didn’t know what to do—how to react. 

They all looked so… different. They cut their hair, something Jacob swore he would never do, and what was with the sudden growth spurt? Were they on steroids or something? No. That was ridiculous. Her boys would never do something like that. 

But clearly they did something, and whatever it was wasn’t natural. 

And then she realized something. 

They weren’t her boys anymore. They stopped being her boys after that fateful day that she blew up on Jacob here in this very diner. They stopped talking to her, stopped checking in with her, stopped visiting her. 

She was nothing to them now.

She sighed, her eyes sliding closed to try and sooth the tension building behind them. They didn’t want her anymore. That much was obvious. 

And she was just going to have to accept that.

“Hey, are you okay? You look like you’re about to cry or something.”

She took a moment to collect herself before shaking her head and turning her attention back to the concerned blonde sitting in front of her. 

“Yeah, I’m fine. What are you getting to drink?”