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A Family Experiment

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Bella Swan was organizing her dolls, putting each one in the perfect spot. The early morning light streamed into her room from the window. The light illumined some dust in the air, which was very interesting a few moments before she resumed her task. The first doll had a blue outfit, and brown hair, so she put her in the perfect spot on the shelf. She reached for the next one when she heard her mom shout whispering into the phone.  

“There is nothing wrong with her Charlie! She’s finally started talking and...No! It’s normal for kids to take a while to speak!”  

Bella placed her barbie in just the right spot and went to pick up the next one when she heard her mom again. 

“She does not need to see any doctor. She’s starting kindergarten soon, and the teacher can deal with her there. Stop trying to pathologize every fucking thing about your daughter. It’s not like you even see her. If you’re so concerned, hop on a plane and see her in person you coward!” 

Mom hung up the phone very loudly, and Bella put her hands over her ears. She did not like loud noises. Mom stomped down the stairs, shaking the walls and she squeezed her hands tighter. The front door banged closed, and Bella heard the car go out of the driveway. Bella shrugged and resumed her play. This would not be the first-time mom left her alone, but she always came back.  

Mom came back a little bit later with Pizza, and everything was good because she remembered get the good olive one and not the mushroom one which was gross.  

“Bella, you know how I have been talking about going to Italy for a bit?” 

Bella did know and thought it was a bit of a silly question to ask.  

“I did some thinking, and I think that it would be good for us to take a little trip there.” 

This made Bella confused. “Mom, I’m going to start kindergarten on Monday. You told me it was important to go!”  

Mom smiled a bit too big and said “It will be fine! I think it is even more important for you and me to spend some time together, just us” 

It did not feel okay to Bella, because it was sudden and different, and Bella did not like change. Mom helped her pack, and because she noticed Bella was scared, she let her pack her stuffed Octopus named Otto and her blankie in the suitcase.  

They left for the airport too early, and mom carried her to the car. When they got there, Bella pulled her blankie over her head because it was loud and bright and there was too much. She clutched her mom’s hand as they walked over to security.  

“You know Bella” Mom said, “If you tell me the color of three people's eyes, I’ll get you a toy.” 

Bella did not like looking into people’s eyes, and mom had been trying to play this game with her for years. Mom did not seem to understand how hard it was, so Bella just snuggled into her side as they waited on the security line that seemed to last forever.  

Bella clutched her mom’s hand as they navigated through the busy streets of Volterra. The cobblestone felt strange beneath her feet, and liked rocking back and forth, feeling the stones outline underneath her. She had blankie over one shoulder, and mom told her it was okay to bring Otto too. With one hand holding Otto and one holding mom, she hurried with mom to make the tour of Volterra castle.  

They entered the castle, and the walls were also stone. Bella tuned out the other sounds and ran her hands over the rocks and enjoyed the different textures. Mom put her hand on her shoulder, which made her jump.  

“Come on, the tours starting!” 

Bella and mom started walking, and Bella kept looking at the walls until they entered a room. Someone started talking, and then suddenly there was screaming. Bella put her hands over her ears and then she felt the most painful thing she had ever felt in her shoulder. Mom screamed and the pain stopped for a moment. Bella looked at her mom and could see a bunch of people in cloaks biting and hissing people. One of them was holding mom, who had stopped screaming. Bella looked up and the man holding her. He had red eyes.  

Bella lay on the floor very still. After a while the pain in her shoulder came back and started to spread. It felt like fire. She was burning. 

“Help!” She screamed.