7: Of Catching, Of Conquering


Through the Dark Sod – as Education –

The Lily passes sure –

Feels her white foot – no trepidation –

Her faith – no fear –

Afterward – in the Meadow –

Swinging her Beryl Bell –

The Mold-life – all forgotten – now –

In Ecstasy – and Dell –

Emily Dickinson, “Through the Dark Sod – as Education”


The box in the coat closet will not let me be.

It hisses as I walk by.

It screams as I leave.

It whispers as I sleep.

Look at me, it demands.

I’m stronger than this.

I’m stronger than anything he could have sent me, but still

I do not look.


Black suit, platinum-and-grey striped tie.

I hate that he can appear so untouched and untouchable, his striking face clean of all traces of our acquaintance. It’s irksome, when every breath and each footprint he’s expended in my direction are practically visible on my skin.

His eyes find me again, and he smiles.

This time, he does not hesitate before coming over.

“I have a theory about your last name,” he begins charmingly.

“Do you?”

“I do. Would you like to hear it?”

I shut my laptop and smile. “I have time.”

The look in his eyes, I’ve seen it before: playful, determined. Focused. Flirtatious.

Edward Cullen grins as he tells me the story of the selkie, how the mythical creature is able to become human by leaving the sea and shedding her seal skin. He tells me that selkies in human form are lovely, and that they often bewitch human men with their beauty, only to leave them heartbroken after donning the seal skin and returning to the ocean. He tells me that a selkie’s lover can keep her only after hiding her skin, thereby forcing her to remain with him on land as a human.

He laughs at the dubious look on my face.

“I still haven’t heard your theory,” I remind him.

“I’ve never met a selkie with a last name,” he replies with a wink.

We say goodbye and he walks outside, leaving me wondering exactly how he knows so much about Gaelic folklore.

I look out the window at him, watching as he climbs into his car, unaware of my observance.

The moment before I mean to look away, his car door slams, and happen catch a glance of Edward Cullen’s driver in time to meet his cold stare.


“It’s a beautiful morning, Ms. Swan.”

“Yes, Billy. It is.”

“Sun is shining, we got a nice breeze moving through the city… it was getting pretty hot there for a little bit.”

“‘What dreadful hot weather we have! It keeps me in a continual state of inelegance.‘”

He frowns, thinks. Asks me to repeat it, and I do.

“Sounds like a woman,” he grumbles momentarily, and does not guess the answer.


“Your father asked me to tell you hello,” Dr. Cope informs me.

I nod.

“He seems to love you, very much.”

“Yes, he does seem to.”

I can feel her eyes, scanning my every facial tic with humanoid precision. She’s studying me, gathering information and assimilating it into a strategy that will inform her next move. She thinks she’s subtle. She thinks she’ll surprise me.

“Tell me about your father, Isabella.”

Annoyed, I fight the urge to shift restlessly at her question. What will it take to make this go away? I wonder to myself.

Something in me stirs at the thought, the question poking a sleeping beast.


“What will it take to make this go away?” my father asked an equally well-dressed man, while I waited on a bench outside.

“Mr. Swan, this isn’t – this is a serious problem. Your daughter has been harassing my client for the past seven months.”

“‘Harassment’ is hardly the legal term I’d use.'”

“My client—”

“Your client is out of his depth, especially if he thinks he’s dragging my family’s name through the mud in the interest of saving his reputation.”

“My client—”

“Tell Mr. Black to keep his dick in his pants next time. It’ll save him and his loved ones a world of hurt.”

The other man’s response was muffled; minutes later, my father stepped into the hallway, his face a careful blank.

“We’re going home now,” he told me.


Dr. Cope scribbles away furiously.

“Have you spoken to Mr. Black since you’ve moved here?”


“Tried to contact him?”


“Why not?”

“Because that was part of the deal. Surely, this has all been explained to you.”

“I’m well aware of what it took to get you here, Isabella. I want to hear what you think about it.”

“Nothing,” I answer honestly.

“Do you expect me to believe that?” she asks with a frown.

“I’m not a liar. So yes.”


She doesn’t believe me.

I don’t care.


“You alright, Ms. Swan?”

“Yes, Billy.”

“You don’t look well—”

“I’m fine.”

He looks hurt. Or concerned. Or both. “Yes, ma’am.”


Navy suit, blue-patterned tie. I recognize it as a hand-folded Faconnee two-tone in turquoise and grey. Hermes.

Shop traffic is always heavier on Monday, so he must deign to rub his Armani shoulders against those of the Morningstar riffraff as he comes over to say hello.

“Good morning, Bella.”


“So,” he begins, eyeing my computer. “You’re here every day?”

“Every morning.”

I watch as he attributes this to coincidence.

“Are you a writer?”

“In a manner of speaking.”

“Anything I’d know?”

“No, nothing you’ve read.”

We look at each other for a moment. I struggle to register every slope and angle of his face— how it moves, what it means. Watching, always watching.

My eyes catch the infinitesimal upward turn of his lips.

“Go out with me,” he says.

There is a gleam, a look in his eyes that I’ve seen before: playful, determined. Focused. Flirtatious.

I imagine how these exchanges must seem to him: happenstance conversations with a quiet girl who’s happened to cross his path. A discussion of art, a bit of playful banter with a sprinkling of Scottish mythology, perhaps even a hazy, alcohol-addled recollection involving whispers and skin and arousal.

I know this kind of man well. I know that even the nice ones are simply searching for a diversion, a distraction. Some of them may take the general female populace seriously, but this one doesn’t. I’m sure I seem an attainable target to him, sitting alone day after day in the coffee shop. Cold little Bella, with her pale face and quiet voice and the way she’s so easily swept aside by taller, blonder women.

Men love a chase, and I’m sure Edward Cullen means to catch me.

But I mean to conquer him.



About hollelujah

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