Bella sees that Edward is gone at lunch and it makes her immediately spiral into anxiety and self-deprecation. She internalizes the absence as her fault. Which is stupid. In what universe would it be your fault even if he had gone? She is so saddened by this she decides to skip lunch.
This is as good a place as any to talk about Meyer’s problematic writing when it comes to Bella’s eating habits. We regularly see Bella getting food, making food, thinking about food. But we rarely if ever see her eating much of it. In this chapter she is so morose that Edward is not in school that she skips lunch altogether and decides that lemonade is a good substitute.
I may be reading too much into this because of my own personal experience with an eating disorder, but it seems to me that Bella has a somewhat unhealthy relationship with food. She likes to make it, but she doesn’t eat it on the page. In this chapter she only eats a few bites of pizza off of Edward’s plate.
Some of this behavior could be explained away if Meyer had been writing Bella as a person who had chronically dealt with depression or anxiety. I know when I am very depressed it can cause me to lose my appetite, small things seem to become a bigger deal than they are. Anxiety and depression make you internalize things that are not your fault. However, it’s a perception of reality, and not what others truly think about you.
According to Meyer, Bella is supposed to be an audience stand-in. She’s the every girl. While some girls have trouble with self esteem, I don’t believe that it’s a trait that every girl has. Giving us even a brief allusion to something that could have shaken her confidence, made her feel unworthy, since she’s constantly on about that in these books, would go a long way. It could even be a really subtle nod towards the fact she has depression or anxiety.
Here’s an example of what I would do if I were writing it. Early morning, before school, it’s easy.
I looked past my reflection, studying the small bathroom in the mirror’s surface. I suppose it was pleasant enough, in its way. But without Charlie regularly cleaning it all these years I did notice some cobwebs in the corners. I made a mental note to clear those out after school.
The sink’s surface was marbled. Probably at my mother’s insistence. She’d complained about the décor more than once when I’d asked her about the early days of her marriage. It was shiny, and reflected back the few bottles we always kept out. Tylenol, for my frequent injuries. Allegra for Charlie’s sporadic allergies. A blue prescription bottle, with the name of a psychiatrist, printed out in neat little block letters.
It’s not perfect. It’s wordy and awkward but I think I got my point across. It would be a simple matter to allude to mental illness in a way that is not overdone or even cringe worthy. Then again, Meyer can’t seem to write characters in anything other than black and white, so I’m sure she’d botch the theme of mental illness rather magnificently, given the chance.
Anyways, this chapter is fairly simple. They’re doing blood typing in Biology, because there’s going to be a blood drive in Port Angeles soon. Bella, who has apparently been too distracted by Edward in class to pay attention to such petty concerns as her education, missed this. We know there had to be some sort of lead up to this, since Edward is skipping.
Bella immediately faints at the smell of blood, which is absurd. The blood is nowhere close to her. As a person who self harmed back in the day, I’ve seen a lot of blood. I can concede that the sight of blood might be scary for people. It’s the vital red stuff that keeps us alive, and most of us like it to stay in our bodies. However, Bella is upset by the smell of blood.
I call bullshit. I can admit to that really morbid sense of curiosity that compels people to taste a portion of their own blood, at least once. But blood doesn’t have a smell in that small of a quantity. You’d only get the smell of blood if Mr. Banner decided that he’d had enough of the mediocre performance of Mike Newton whilst he ogles Bella, and decided to bludgeon him to death with a microscope.
Literally the only way that you can smell blood in such a small quantity is if you coat your finger in it and shove it up your nose.
Which gives me the most fantastic image of Mike doing that in some sort of absurd courtship ritual.
Bella faints and has to be taken to the nurse. Edward takes over for Mike halfway there, and finds it deeply amusing that she faints at the sight of blood. She tries not to spew everywhere. Personally, I think Edward deserves it as he’s mocking her while she’s sick. Go ahead and upchuck all over his fancy designer clothes Bella.
Also, side note, eating at lunch time would actually have helped Bella feel less lightheaded now. Just saying.
Edward uses his super special powers of smexy to get her out of her final class, and they go hang out in his car until school is over.
Edward and Bella bond on their mutual dullness. Seriously, Bella’s interests thus far have not extended past classical literature, cooking, and classical music. So…basically she’s pretentious? It would have been more in character for Edward to have liked artists from the twenties, since he died just before then. We don’t get to see him express interest in much else either. Oh well, this snooze fest of a chapter is over.