Learning to Fly

Chapter 1: I Really Left Him

Here I stand on the side of the road, backpack over my shoulder, duffle bag in my hand...it's wet, it's dreary and I'm holding back my tears.

I left him.

I can't believe I left him standing there. I can't believe I walked away.

But if I stayed with him, I can't experience life. I know how much I love him.

I need to do this to figure out who I am. I need to see where I want to go in life.

I miss him.

I miss him so much already and it's only been twelve hours.

I'm holding back the tears.

I cross the road and get in line for a bus ticket. The people drone on around me but all I hear is his voice in my head, "I love you enough to set you free, but please, come back to me."

I want to turn around and flee to him. Beg him to forgive me for breaking his heart, for changing our plans, for needing to be free.

But I can't turn back. I have to move forward.

I have to learn how to fly, on my own.

It's my turn at the window as the clerk asks, "Where to, honey?"

I halt my brain for a minute, trying to process what she just asked me. I want to say, "Back to him," but my mouth says, "Chicago," instead.

I board the bus fifteen minutes later, my fingers itching to turn my cell phone on and call him to tell him where I'm going.

But I can't. I'll call him when I get there. I need to wean myself from him.

I put my earbuds in, turn on my Ipod only to hear "Come Home" by OneRepublic blaring at me. He did that.

He set that up.

Which is exactly why I had to go.

Chapter 2: Chin Up Young Person

After being on that blasted bus for almost ten hours, I was never more happy to see Spokane, Washington as I am right at this minute.

We pulled into the bus station a little after four in the afternoon and I was ready to get off and stretch my legs.

There was a sign for Dick's Hamburgers a few blocks away. I needed to eat and the walk would help the stiffness I was feeling all over my body.

I loaded my backpack and my duffle bag into a key secured locker, put my coins in, released the key and shut the door. At that moment it felt like a vice grip was squeezing in on my lungs, my whole world was confined within that metal, secured with only a small key.

I reached into my pocket and pulled the shiny silver chain with the tiny key on it, holding it tight in my grip, willing the tears not to fall. He gave this to me two days ago, when he asked me to promise to marry him.

I gingerly opened my palm, using my index finger from my other hand to move it around so the tiny diamond's sparkled in the sunlight. It was the key to his heart.

I wiped a tear from my cheek, slid the necklace back in my pocket and took off walking to the restaurant.

I started noticing my surroundings. It didn't appear to be the safest of neighborhoods, but I had my mace and I knew self-defense. Charlie made sure of it.

The restaurant was a greasy spoon, which only reminded me of the diner back home. My heart was seizing up on me and the self-doubt was creeping in. "Next," I heard called as I moved up a spot in line.

"On your way to college?" A raspy voice spoke behind my head. I turned and was met with the face of an elderly man, his eyes a fading blue, his hair a softened silver.

"Um, sorta." I answered, seeing a kind smile shine through his aged eyes, they looked like they carried a lifetime of memories.

"Let me guess, you are off on an adventure to explore the world." His smile rose slowly and I'd almost bet he had the cutest dimples behind that sagging skin.

"Yes, sir." I responded, smiling a genuine smile back to him.

"Next," the greasy haired kid called to me, as I moved to the register to order. I paid for my order of a cheeseburger, fries and a vanilla shake and moved to the other counter, watching the old man do the same.

"Would you like to sit with me," I asked him as he moved to stand beside me once again.

"That would be lovely dear. My name is Uncle Bill, that's what all the kids call me, anyways." His stuck his hand out to me as I reacted the same and shook his in return.

"I'm Bella."

"Isabella. Your name definitely suits you well, beautiful child." He released my hand and turned back away from me. "You remind me of my Naomi. She was young and beautiful, just like you."

"Orders twelve and thirteen." The counter guy bellowed.

"That's ours," I told him, "Why don't you go find us a table and I'll grab our food."

He was already heading into the dining area searching out a seat before I grabbed both trays, stopped for utensils and napkins and made my way to the corner booth that he had snagged.

We both settled into our food with idle chit chat about where we started our trip and where we were both going. He was from Kingston Ferry and he was on his way Billings, Montana to visit his nephew for a while.

"How long were you married, Uncle Bill, if you don't mind me asking?" I said trepidaciously.

He set his utensils down, wiped his mouth with his napkin before he looked up with clear blue eyes, "I had sixty four years with my precious Naomi. Would have made it sixty five if I hadn't acted stupid and left her for a year. But I found my way back to her, because she was my home."

I sucked in a breath at what he'd just said. He couldn't have known. Could he?

"Isabella, are you on your journey away from him?" He said while he reached his hand across the table to grasp my fingers.

I nodded my head profusely, trying in vain to hold back the tears.

"Then child, make the most of this journey, don't waste the time apart. So that when you return to him, your heart is settled in his as home."

I wiped the tears from my cheeks before speaking, "He already is my home. I just needed to find a different path to his front door."

"Chin up young person. But eat up or we'll miss the bus." Uncle Bill chuckled at me while he finished his burger.

Uncle Bill was right. I knew that he was my home. I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket and turned it on...

Chapter 3: Appreciating Memories

My phone was dead. Crap. I didn't even think about how I was going to get it charged.

So I did the next best thing and pulled my Ipod out, and sent a message to Alice on facebook. I had a plan and I knew that she would be more than willing to help.

That is if she's forgiven me for leaving.

"I don't understand why you are doing this Bella. You are the most grounded person that I know, you know what you like and don't like...and you definitely know who you love." Alice's bright blue eyes pierced were overflowing with tears. 

"Oh Alice, I know right now you don't understand, but it's something that I have to do for myself. I'm coming back. I just need to figure a few things out first." 

"But you are my sister in everyway but blood, now I'll be stuck here with nothing but the boys and Rosalie." Alice whined as I giggled and pulled her into a big hug. 

"I won't be gone forever, Alice." 

I know she didn't get it, but that's ok. This wasn't about her, it was about me.

"Have you talked to your young man since you left?" Uncle Bill asks as we walk back to the bus station.

"No, I was going to send him a text but my phone is dead." I answered.

"The world of technology has truly killed the subtle nuisances of romantic gestures," he chuckled as we sat on a bench, outside the bus stop, waiting to get on board again.

"My Edward is very old-fashioned. He would often bring me flowers, or write me little notes, a perfect gentleman." I sighed as I thought back to all that Edward had done to show me his love and adoration.

"He sounds like a good man to me. So why do you feel the need to leave him behind?" Uncle Bill questioned.

I closed my eyes and prepare to answer him before he pats my hand and said, "I completely understand. I felt the same way when I had to leave my Naomi."

I leaned over and laid my head against his shoulder. He was like the grandfather I never had but desperately always wanted. "Thank you, Uncle Bill."

"You are most welcome, sweet child." His voice was laced with kindness and understanding. I wanted to sit and talk to him more about his life with Naomi, but I didn't want to make him sad in remembering.

"Uncle Bill?" I was hesitant but I had questions that I thought that he might could answer for me.

"Yes, child, ask me what you want to know." He smiled against the top of my head as they announced that we could board.

I had so many things to ask him and we were going to be stuck on a bus for another twelve hours. I bet I could learn a lot in that time.

I smiled. This is exactly why I left.

Chapter 4: Experience

We got settled into our seats, it was roughly five in the afternoon and Uncle Bill's stop in Billings was until six a.m.. We had some time to talk.

"Did you ever worry that you would feel suffocated by your love for Naomi?" I asked as I help him tuck in his small blanket.

"Well, Bella, I never felt suffocated BY my for Naomi, but felt wrapped up IN my love for her. Do you see the difference?" His eyes seemed to have a gentle sparkle as he spoke to me.

"Yes, I do. It's just that there are times where I feel like I'm drowning in these overwhelming emotions that I have in Edward. It makes it hard to even think, sometimes." I paused wanting to be truthful to not only Uncle Bill but to myself, as well. "It scares me how much our love consumes me."

Uncle Bill lifted his head and let out the most joyous of laughs before he turned to me, clasped my hand in his, "That's true love, child. If there were no fear of losing it, then what would be the joy in fighting to keep it."

I let his words sit in my mind for a few minutes, as I turned to look out the window watching the scenery fly by. The sun was going down on the only day within the past two years that I hadn't spoken a word to Edward. I've never gone this long without hearing his voice, reading his texts or receiving a note from him.
I missed his words.

I pulled the chain from my pocket and held it up in the window to watch the sun glitter off the tiny diamonds.

"The key to your young man's heart?" Uncle Bill asked, bringing me out of my revery.

"Yes, it's the reason that I left." I softly replied, suddenly feeling foolish and ashamed of my actions. A tear slipped down my cheek and I just let it roll its way down until it hit the collar of my shirt.

"I'm a selfish person. All he wanted was a promise. A simple promise of forever and I ran away, fearful of giving him what he wanted." I spoke as the tears unleashed with a force. I pulled my knees up, wrapped my arms around them and laid my head down between my knees while the tears soaked my jeans.

"There, child, you were not selfish in needing to figure things out for yourself. Do not regret your decision but make the most of it...do you want to accept his promise?" He inquired as he rubbed his hand soothingly across my shoulder.

I nodded, unable to speak, feeling like a small child being comforted by their parent.

"What was your greatest fear when you decided to leave?" Uncle Bill's voice had a knowing tone, as if he knew what I was going to say.

"That we were to young, foolish about being in love and that we'd grow to resent each other for being trapped in marriage. I watched my parents go through that. I'd rather never marry at all, than to have to face a divorce and being bitter about a love gone wrong." I lifted my head as I spoke, wiped the tears on the sleeve of my hoodie and looked at Uncle Bill to see him smiling at me.

"You left because you love him to much. You see, that's exactly what I had told my Naomi. That I had to leave to make sure that my heart could belong to her and her alone for the rest of our days. While the thought of loving another didn't settle well with me, the thought of her being the only love in my heart frightened me too. I set out to see what my heart could or would desire in others, only to find after a long hard year that my heart could never love anyone but her." He paused and wiped a tear from my cheek.

"You see child, I did try, one other time to love someone. I met a precious girl named Massiel, she was fun, loving and I truly did love her. But, something always held me back. She knew that my heart belonged to another. She told me that while she had a broken heart, it would bring her joy to see me with the one I truly loved. I left that night and returned to my Naomi. We were married two weeks later and after sixty-four years of marriage, she fell asleep and never woke up." He stopped speaking, closed his eyes and raised a hand to cover his chest where his heart still beat for her.

"Wow, Uncle Bill. That's a beautiful love story." My hand made his way to grasp his, hoping to comfort him in some way.

"I miss her every day. Still. She was my life. I've lived longer with her than without her and I truly miss the warmth that just her smile could bring me." He voiced laced with sorrow and adoration, a mixture of the grief and undying love.

"Don't wait too long, Isabella. Don't miss out on the memories that will rest in your mind in the long forgotten years when you reach my age. Soothe your soul, but find your way to him." He laid his head back against the cushion of the seat and closed his eyes to rest.

I sat and looked out the window, watching the sun set over the passing countryside. I smiled when I thought of Uncle Bill and Naomi and how full of love he still felt after all those years.

I hoped that Edward would still love me that way after I was old and grey. My heart ached for him but my faced smiled as I thought of him old and wrinkled like Uncle Bill.

And I couldn't wait to see it happen.

Chapter 5: Something New

I slept off and on through the night, but with the noise of people boarding and exiting the bus at the various stops, it was hard to feel rested.

Around four-thirty am I felt Uncle Bill stirring in his seat as I opened my eyes to find him writing something in a small notebook. "I'm giving you my address and phone number. When you get things settled, you give me a call and I'd like to arrange for you and that man of yours to come visit." He said, handing me the piece of paper.

"I would love nothing more." I replied as I sat up to stretch a little. "It's almost time for your stop, huh?"

Sadness consumed me at the thought of him leaving. Uncle Bill had been of great comfort and wisdom to me on this leg of my journey, I would miss his company.

"Yes, child, it is." His hand clasped around mine, while he gave me a slight squeeze. "Be careful out there, Isabella. Not all strangers are as nice as me." His smile accompanied by a small chuckle, warmed my heart.

"Don't I know it." I giggled back at him. "Uncle Bill?" I hesitated to ask but I had to know.

"Yes, child." I laid my head on his shoulder to enjoy the safety and security he provided.

"Do you have any regrets? Anything you wished you'd done, things you did but wished you hadn't?" My curiosity got the better of me as my mind was in overdrive.

"No, Isabella, I don't. I lived my life the way I wanted to but I lived a long, healthy life, full of love, full of memories. I wouldn't change a thing except I wish my dear Naomi and I had moved into eternity, together."

His voice aged as he spoke almost with reverence for the journey of his life, so far.

"Don't get stuck in that pretty little head of yours, Isabella. Enjoy life, don't over think it all." He kissed my hair as the driver announced his stop.

"I'll miss you," I said against his shoulder as I fought to hold back a few tears. "Thank you for sharing your stories with me, they really did help."

"Spread your wings, Isabella Swan, discover what's inside of you that the rest of us already see." He said as he stood, opened his arms which I flew into, holding on to him as tight as possible for the last few minutes I had with him.

"It's time for me to go, Isabella." He pulled back, placed a finger under my chin, wiped the tears from my cheek, "Finish what you started, but never forget your way home."

I nodded my head, unable to speak. Never having known my own grandparents, it felt like I was losing my own grandfather.

"I'll expect to hear from you soon." He said as he turned to leave the bus. He stopped one last time at the door, winked and stepped off the bus.

I sat back down, wiped my tears and cursed myself in my head that I had a phone with no charge. I really, really needed to hear Edward's voice.

As the bus sat idling while the leaving passenger's luggage was removed a new group of travelers boarded the bus, "Is this seat taken?"

I looked up to chocolate brown eyes, jet black hair and a wicked smile.

"Um, no." I managed to mumble.

"Great, thanks, I'm John."

Chapter 6: Gratitude

John sits down and pulls out his cell phone, typing a message to someone. It makes me cringe because I just want to talk to Edward so bad.

I'm sure my parents are fit to be tied that I haven't called them. I'll have to find somewhere to charge my phone at the next stop.

I can feel John looking at me as I stare out the window, watching Uncle Bill greet his family that was waiting for him. He turns around once and waves to me before walking off with them.

"So, what's your story?" John not so politely asks.

I contemplate for a minute if I even want to talk to him before I answered, "I don't have anything interesting to tell." I turn back in my seat, lay my head back on the rest and close my eyes, trying to convey that I don't feel like talking.

"Oh come on, everyone has a story. And from the looks of you, I'm sure it's a good one." He chuckled.
I took a deep breath, who does this bozo think he is making a comment like that to me. "I'm not sure what you mean by that exactly, but no, there is nothing overtly exciting to tell you. I'm on a road trip to meet my fiance, end of story."

"You look a little young to be engaged. Is he into jail bait?" He eyed me curiously.

"Look, I'm tired, I've been on this bus for almost twenty-four hours, could we not chit-chat?" I'd all but lost my patience with this guy.

He held his hands up in front of me, "Sorry, just trying to make conversation. I'm on my way to New York. Just thought it'd be cool to find out more about my traveling companion, that's all."

He popped his ear buds in, leaned his seat back and started bopping his head to some loud, screamy music I could hear from my seat.

I decided to write an email to Edward and hoped that I'd have enough signal left on my ipod to get it to him.

My dearest Edward,

I miss you so much. I never realized how much that I took for granted what an amazing man you are.
I'm sorry for all the times I made you wait for me. I'm sorry for all the times I acted childish and wouldn't talk to you. But most of all, I'm sorry that I didn't listen to you when you explained to me how you saw our future. 

While I don't regret this trip I'm on, I do regret handling things so hastily. 

I can't wait to hear your voice again, baby. I miss your arms around me. I hope to see you soon.

All my love, forever,


"Who you writing too?" John asked as I turned to see him straining to see over my shoulder at what I was doing.

"Really, I don't think what I do is any of your business." I replied, placing my back to the window to prevent him from invading more of my space. I hit send and drew my knees up in the seat, then put my head down in the middle of them.

"If you miss him that much, why are you on this trip alone? I mean, I left my girl back home but you don't see me moping and brooding." I pulled my head up and took a long hard look at this guy.

His hair was shaved on the underneath but long and curly around the top, he had stubble on his chin and a ring in his lip. He had pretty brown eyes, that looked honest enough. But I couldn't get a good read on him.

"What do you want from me, John? I mean, you don't even know me. I'm sad. I'm trying to figure out my life on this trip by myself. There is nothing else you really need to know about me." I stated, feeling the tears start to form behind my eyelids.

"Oh on the contrary, I think that there is so much more to learn about you...by the way, what's your name?" He asked with a cocked eyebrow.

"Bella, my name is Bella."

"See, that right there is a story in and of itself. Your name means beauty but I'm gathering you don't see yourself that way at all."

Damn. Am I that predictable?

Chapter 7: Perception

"John, you don't know me. I don't know you. I wouldn't even begin to try to analyze who you are as a person." I said, almost defensively. I don't know why this guy was getting under my skin.

"Bella, you're right, I don't know you, but from what I can observe from your body language and facial expressions you are rather quite and reserved. You were your heart on your sleeve and you are obviously missing the hell out of someone." He stopped, pulled his bag up to his lap off the floor and pulled out a book.

"See this picture? Tell me what you think about this guy." He pointed to a picture of a group of guys, all
dressed in goth gear, all covered in piercings, tattoo's with black lined eyes. The guy he was pointing to was a little chubby and appeared to be trying to hide behind the group.

I assumed John took the picture, as I don't recognize his face anywhere in the group.

"Um, he seems like he's trying to hide behind the rest of the group, maybe he doesn't want to be noticed." I answered as honestly as I could.

"That's me, Bella." He said as I shook my head, not recognizing his face with the boys face in the picture.

"Oh, wow, I didn't even recognize you. When was this taken?" My curiosity got the best of me.

"Four years ago and I've lost about 150 lbs since then. You see, I'd always been the chubby kid who could sing. But it wasn't until my band mates kicked me out of the band that I realized if I wanted to front a band, I had to make some changes. I've always been shy but I love to sing and perform." He paused while he shook his head furiously, he let out a small laugh, "I know, ironic, huh?"

"Definitely." I replied.

"You see, Bella, no one took the time to get to know what my problems were, they just wanted me for my voice. But when I couldn't meet their needs in the manner they wanted me to, they just dismissed me like I was nothing. I didn't want to be nothing anymore."

"So they took you back? You are singing with them now?" I wondered how he could just forgive them all so easily after they had hurt him.

"Those losers?" He asked, pointing to the group of guys in the picture. "Um, that would be a big, fat no, pun intended. Oh they ooh'd and awe'd over me after I lost the weight, but by then I'd met a new group of guys, formed a new band where I was respected, I was wanted and they got to know me as real friends."

"Huh." So he hadn't forgiven them.

"Bella, my point in showing you this is that I see you, hiding within yourself. Girl, you need to let your sun shine bright for the world. There is something special in you, I can see it."

I smiled. He reminded me of Edward just then. Edward always said that I had a gift that world needed to see but I was always to shy to give it to the world.

Maybe he was right.

Chapter 8: Revelations

"So, what makes you happiest, Bella?" John asked inquisitively as he started to pull some fruit from his bag. He offered me an apple, which I gladly took.

"I love to write. It's where I feel completely free and confident." I easily replied before I took a bite of my shiny red apple.

"What have you written?" He asked as he peeled an orange.

"I have a few short stories that I wrote for various projects at school, but for the most part, I just write my life, my experiences. Edward is the only one I've allowed to read those, they are extremely personal." I explained as he shook his head at me.

"So what are you planning to do with this writing fetish that you have?" He turned in his seat to sit w/ his back against the rest so that our feet were almost touching, as I still sat up against the window.

"I was planning to go to school and major in either journalism or English Lit. I hadn't fully decided yet." I shrugged my shoulders because I truly hadn't decided.

"So do you want to be a journalist or an author?" John pushed.

"I'm not sure that I honestly want to be a journalist but I'm afraid of failure as an author. I thought it would be a nice career to fall back on and I'd still be able to write." I answered him honestly.

"Can I read anything you've written? Do you have it with you?" His eyes lit up and he seemed excited as I vehemently shook my head no.

"No, well I mean, yes, I have my notebook w/ me but no, I wouldn't feel comfortable letting you read it." I hadn't let anyone but Edward read from that book. While he loved it, the thought of someone else seeing those words...it made me shiver with anxiety.

"Come on, Bella, I'm a songwriter...so I kinda understand. Just let me read a few pages. I promise not to judge you in anyway." He looked sincere but still, I wasn't sure I could handle it.

"I don't know, John. It makes me a little uncomfortable to put myself out there or be the center of attention." I could feel my blush coming on.

"What if I offered to let you use my phone?" He quirked an eyebrow and gave me a wicked smile.

Chapter 9: Soothing

"You'd let me use your phone?" I tentatively asked.

"Yep, I sure would," he chirped as he cockily pulled it out of his hoodie pocket and started waving it around.

"Fine, but please, be kind. It actually kind of terrifies me to hear your thoughts after you've read it." I cringed inward almost nauseous as I pulled out my notebook. "I'll pick out the two pages you can read. Deal?" I stuck my hand out as my other hand gripped my notebook tightly to my chest.

"Deal." He started to almost bounce in his seat, instantly reminding me of Alice and the bundle of energy that she is.

I searched through the pages of the notebook to find a passage I'd written a poem in about the night Edward and I graduated from High School. We'd spent the night on the beach with a bunch of our friends.

As we were both still virgins, we stayed out in the cool night air, enjoying the moonlight and soothing roll of the sea, just talking about all of our hopes and dreams. Where we saw our lives going in the next few years as well as the next ten or twenty.

We knew we'd be together, even that far into the future.

I found it and scanned my eyes over it before slowly sliding the book through the air to his waiting hands, "Wait, give me the phone, first." I narrowed my eyes at him, as he shook with laughter.

"Darn, you caught me." He laughed as he handed me his phone and snatched the book from my hands.

I sat there for a few seconds as I collected my thoughts and shook as I dialed Edward's number.

After the third ring, he finally answered all breathy, "Hell...Hello? Bella, is that you?" His voice was sleepy but anxious as he hoped it was me.

"Yes, baby, it's me." We both sighed at hearing the others voice.

"I've been so worried, Love. Your phone is only going to voicemail. You haven't responded to my texts or emails. Are you okay?" Edward sounded so worried and tired.

"Yes, Edward. I'm okay. My phone died and I don't have anywhere on the bus to charge and we haven't really stopped anywhere long enough for me to charge it. Did you get my email?" I asked, willing the tears not to fall from my eyes. I didn't want him to hear me crying.

"Bella, your email...it meant so much. But baby, you don't have anything to apologize for. I love you, through the good, the bad and the in between. You are stuck with me for life, Love." He let out a small laugh.

"Are you sure you're okay, Bella? This is the longest we've ever gone without talking and I miss you so much." Edward's voice cracked and it hurt my heart to think that he might be crying over what I'd done.

"Edward, I miss you like crazy and this nice guy I'm traveling with loaned me his phone so I could call you. I can't wait to see you again. I have so much to tell you. So much I want to explain to you. When do you get to Chicago?" I had to stop for a breath, it was almost like I was afraid he was going to disappear.

"Some guy loaned you his phone? Has he hurt you? Is he safe?" I could hear the protective side of Edward rearing into full force.

"Calm down, Edward, please. He is a nice guy, do you want to talk to him?" I asked as John looked up and stared at me with big, bulging eyes.

"Yes, please." Edward sounded as if he were pacing.

"Okay, his name is John. Here he is." I handed the phone to John who was furiously shaking his head no at me before he reluctantly took the phone from my hand.

"Hello?" John said curiously.

There was a lot of 'yes's' and 'no's' and 'mmhmm's' before he finally said, "Dude, don't worry, I got your back. Yep, done. Consider it done." He let out a chuckle and relaxed a little before he said, "Sure thing, Edward, here's Bella, talk as long as you'd like. I'm reading her notebook."

Oh shit, I don't know how Edward's going to feel about that since no one else but him had read it and John is a virtual stranger.

"Edward?" I asked softly.

"Bella, you let him read your notebook?" His voice sounded wounded and full of pain.

Chapter 10: Consention

"Edward, calm down, babe. I made a deal with him to use his phone. When he found out I write, he wanted to read my work but you know me, I didn't want to let him. So he used his phone as leverage to let me read it. I'm only letting him read the two pages about Graduation night and the poem included." I sighed as I tried my best to explain.

"Bella..." his voice died off and I heard him sigh heavily. "I want people to read your work but to be honest I kind of liked that I was the only person privy to that specific notebook." I could hear the conflict in his voice.

I felt the tears pushing their way out of my eyes, I couldn't stop them. "I'm sorry, Edward. But I wanted to talk to you, I needed to hear your voice. I just missed you so much." I started sobbing, trying to be as quiet about it as possible.

"Oh baby, don't cry, please, don't cry. I'm sorry. I'm not mad. I'm so fucking happy that you called me." Edward's voice wrapped around me as I closed my eyes and let the tears fall.

"I miss you." I whispered into the phone.

"Bella, I miss you more than you will ever know. But Love, you left for a good reason and you need to do what you set out to do. Yes, I miss you like crazy and can't wait to have you back in my arms again, however, you need to figure out what it is that made you want to leave. I'm not going anywhere, well, I am going to Chicago but in your life, I will always be here."

Edward and his words. I sighed and wiped my tears. "Edward, you always know what to say."

"Well, my dearest Bella, I just tell you the truth and hope you realize it when your brain finally slows down enough to absorb what I've said." He chuckled.

"Edward, I really am glad that I took this trip. I have learned a lot, I can't wait to tell you all about Uncle Bill and his story...and of course, John, too." I smiled remembering Uncle Bill and all he'd told me.

"Uncle Bill? Jeez, Bella, are you making friends with the whole bus?" He laughed out loud.

"Not hardly, baby. But the most colorful ones happen to have found me, it seems." I replied with my own laugh.

John closed my book and let out a heavy breath. He sat forward and put his elbows on his knees, placing his face in his hands.

"Listen Edward, I think I need to go. Can I call you once I get my phone charged?" I was curious to know what John had to say, even though I regretted having to get off the phone with Edward already.

"Sure Love, you need to stretch your wings without me holding onto them to keep you on the ground. Soar, my Love, fly high, but please, I beg, please come back to me." Edward's voice came through the phone with the calm and serenity that I needed to finish what I started.

"I love you, Edward." I whispered into the phone.

"Oh Bella, my heart isn't big enough to hold all the love it has for you, my heart is with you, always."

"Bye." I said, holding back a fresh round of tears.

"Bye, Love." He said softly just before I heard a click.

I took a deep breath and held the phone for a few seconds as I closed my eyes.

"Bella, we need to talk about what you wrote." John's shaky voice brought me instantly out of my revery.

Chapter 11: Coming Undone

I just sat there, stunned for a few minutes, as John collected himself. He finally sat up, let out a long breath and turned towards me, holding my notebook up in the air.

"Your writing is pure genius." He breathed out, a smile broke out across his face.

"Wha...What?" I stuttered in disbelief at what he'd just said.

"Bella, what you've written...there are no words to describe how it moved me. Touched me. I've got at least three songs running through my head to the words from your soul." John said with a twinkle in his eyes, smile on his lips and giddy little laugh coming from his throat.

"No, John...just no. Those are my private thoughts, my personal feelings." I pleaded with him.

"Bella, stuff this is good is what legacy hits are made out of. You have to let me use it. I'll give you the proper credit for it. I'll make sure that your name is on the final production. But there is no way you are getting off this bus without giving me permission to use those words in a song." He waved my notebook in the air again, cocked his head to the side and smiled at me.

I sighed and closed my eyes. "John, I can't. I just simply can't do that."

He didn't understand how personal what I'd written was to me. John had no clue what those words had meant to me and to Edward.

"Why not, Bella? This is your time to shine. This is what your contribution to the world is. Your words...well, people need to hear them. I need to sing them. They are meant to be heard." John's voice was full of determination to persuade me.

"John, those words, what I let you read...they mean the world to me. It was one of those magical moments that last a lifetime in your memories. I'm just not sure that is how I'm meant to make my mark on the world, making myself that vulnerable." I could feel the anxiety start to creep in and my lungs start to tighten.

"Okay, so we'll start with just the poem, then, alright? Let me write it out, sing a few bars to you so you can hear it for yourself." John demanded as he pulled his own notebook and pen from his backpack.

I watched, in fear, as he opened my notebook back up to the pages I'd let him read. He copied my poem and I felt myself shaking.

Dammit, Bella. Stop this. You want to be a writer. You will eventually have people reading your work. This is one of the those defining moments in life that you've been seeking, so suck it up.

"John?" I hesitantly said.

"Hold on, almost done." He hastily replied.

"John, please stop. Look at me. Please." I tried to sound stern but felt like I sounded scared.

"Bella...come on, just give me..." I cut him off before he could finish.

"Fine, John. Use the poem." I acquiesced.