Edward wiggled his pale hands, each finger looking like an ugly worm.
Edward wanted to chop something up. Not violently, of course, but . . . like those shrubs and overgrown rosebushes he'd trimmed in days when he was a barber. Such things had helped him to vent, to bleed himself of all the emotions vaulted inside of him. Feelings, and feelings, and feelings. Edward hadn't known just how the scissors helped him ignore all these feelings—horrible ones, some that were truly heinous and crazy, ones he'd never even felt before in his life—
Hands were useless at trimming, useless to console him, useless to fend off feelings.
"Things will turn out okay." Lucy gabbled on, drowsily, half to herself and half to Edward. Sleepiness weighed down her eyes and head, yet her determination to counsel Edward buoyed her up from dreamland.
Edward flinched as he snapped out of his thoughts. Oily strings of hair fell awkwardly over Ed's eyes, as he nodded to Lucy.
Hanging up the phone, Uncle Frank wandered into the kitchen. A quiet look of seriousness took hold of his face. Glancing at a snoring and supine Bobby, Uncle Frank choked out a nervous little cough.
Blinking listlessly and gnawing at his lips, Edward kept an immovable gaze on the floor.
"You frightened the whole family, you know, Ed— running off like that."
Edward remained lifeless on the stool, his shoulders sagging and eyes urbanely surveying the tiled floor
" . . .Edward," Frank heaved out a concerned sigh, "I'm not trying to make you feel bad, but I want you to know we're all just looking out for you. All we want is to keep you safe."
Uncle Frank leaned over, gave a few counseling pats on Edward's shoulder, offered to make him a nice hot cup of coffee, and before Edward could say 'yes, thank you' or 'thank you, but no'—Uncle Frank was already busy switching on the yellow plastic coffee-maker, making it gurgle, and pulling out a handful of powdered milk packets.
By now, Lucy could no longer keep her droopy eyelids from sagging a bit more, as she drifted off into a light nap. She began to snore muffledly and bury her head in Ed's raggedy jacket. And, eventually, Edward decided to snuggle with the admirable Mr. Teddy, digging his face deeply into Mr. Teddy's frizzy, but deliciously soft, stomach.
Face pushed up against the teddy's rose-red fluff, the mechanical man wondered how he and Victoria could ever keep being friends. Friendships, going by what Edward had been told about them, were all founded on trust. Yet, under the sudden circumstances, Victoria's trust in him was slipping bit by bit . . .
Although Edward knew—and he had seen—that Victoria had been a wonderful friend to him now, he couldn't imagine her ever being the same way if she knew the truth. A repining queasiness gripped him deep in the pit of his stomach, and a faint frisson of sadness pitter-pattered over him, as he forced himself to swallow the fact that Victoria would one day hate him.
Perhaps . . . it would be better to leave the city, and hide away in the castle, before Victoria could ever know anything. 'To be banished avaunt to whense ye came and never to return', like the villains and monsters in storybooks. Even though Edward understood that doing this would hurt his friend very much, something else told him it would save her from a lot more confusion and pain.
Slowly, he considered it. And with each slow thought, the pit in his stomach became sicker and the wave of sadness became almost crippling.
Still . . . it began to dawn on him that it was the only thing to do. At least, it the only right thing to do. This way, Victoria would never feel betrayed, or repulsed, or terrified and . . . it was the only way that Edward, in some small way, could still be her friend.
"Edward," Molly Walters' voice buzzed out through the telephone, "I think you're making the right choice."
Edward had one bony hand dangling uselessly to one side, another bony hand holding the telephone to his ear, and a sunken, hollow look about his eyes.
After he explained his decision to leave the city in broken, malformed sentences and many pauses . . . Edward finally was able to ask Mrs. Walters' if he could join the rest of the family, expect Kennedy, in returning back to the suburbs in the morning. Naturally, everyone was eager to have their Edward safe and sound, and stashed away with them again in the docile pastel neighborhood . . . yet everyone empathized him; he sounded so downtrodden with everything, his voice was so heavy and so accented by hints of quiet sadness . . .
Mrs. Walters' voice was gentler and more compassionate than usual— she knew how difficult this conclusion must've been for Edward, so she tried to soften the situation by being more sensitive than usual. But, thusfar, she wasn't too sure if it was actually working.
"I'm so glad you want to come back, dear."
Uncle Frank watched in the background, sipping from a smoky quaff of coffee, his facial expression blank, numb, and anonymous. Bobby and Lucy both were oblivious, as they were snoozing blissfully and quite loudly on the hotel room's sofa.
"I'm so sorry how everything . . . turned out tonight, Edward." Molly strayed kindly, "But you're making the right decision, you really are, and we're all very proud of you."
Edward remained perfectly mute. Then finally he murmured a very hushed, very tired, "Thank you."
"But I think you'll need to come over and pack up some of your things. It's practically morning anyway, and I'll have to talk to Frank and tell him to get Lucy and Bobby ready for the trip back." Molly added, practical even in the face of heart-braking situations.
It took Edward a moment or two to process everything. His mind was swarmed like a bee-hive of random feelings and thoughts, each one frantically zipping and echoing eerily in his head . . . finally, forcing himself to think straight, he said a quiet but cordial good-bye, and with zombie-like slowness he handed the phone over to Frank.
Nodding and furrowing his brows, Uncle Frank mumbled on a moment or two with Molly until he hung up the phone, and gradually rotated around to face Edward . . .
"Well, she wants you to go back. To pack up." Frank's instincts were absolutely against the idea of letting Edward roam about again. But, nonetheless, he caved in and ignored the bad vibes until they vanished one-by-one.
Slowly Frank ushered a stark-eyed Edward over to the door.
Both said nothing to each other but, at the last moment, Frank leaned in and gave Edward a hug which for some puzzling reason, only made Edward feel twice as hopeless.
Amongst the potpourri of unwashed teacups, old newspapers, and boundless books— Victoria was scavenging like mad through the chaotic mess that was her living room. Hauling up big piles of notes and trinkets, she adjusted her spectacles precisely before scanning over an old magazine cover, threading carefully through the pages, analyzing every word and picture.
Sighing, she tossed it aside, and then dove promptly into another pile of papers.
Toppling over a white cardboard store-all box, she foraged through the spread-out sheets of old newspaper articles and protest pamphlets.
Victoria knew she had seen Edward's face somewhere in a protest article before, after all she even remembered recognizing him from one of the protests, he was the man who had his face practically lacerated by a criminal. Musing on it, Victoria realized that that protest must've been at least three years ago, back when she was still studying in college.
Truthfully, she didn't really understand why it possessed her all of a sudden to find this article. Just after finishing her tea, while mulling over Edward's family and their strange aversion over question about his past, there was an urge to find out exactly how that past protest and Edward were linked. Intuitively she felt that his family might be a definite part in the link somehow.
Despite it all, Victoria half-wished these searches would end up proving nothing, lest she unveil something . . . something unusual as she feared.
Victoria sighed again for what seemed to be the billionth time that evening, removed her glasses from their perch on her nose, and quickly rubbed her temple.
She knew her apartment was a disaster zone . . . but, having a full-time job while aiming to get a promotion doesn't leave a whole ton of time for housework. On top of that, she spent whatever precious free time she had at the museum rather than scrubbing dishes or folding blankets . . .
Groaning, Victoria slunked down gracelessly into her tattered sofa. This all was so stupid of her, rummaging around for some old piece of paper, something that almost certainly wouldn't—
. . . What's this?
Her eyes caught a glimpse of a thick-typed title, 'Medical First: Machine to Man?'. As if on reflex, her eyebrow quirked up into an inquisitive arch.
Leaning from the sofa, Victoria plucked out the old newspaper from the disarrayed patch of other random papers.
Holding up the clipped-out article, she perused through it's introduction on the possibilities of synthetic skin and bones. Pedantically it drawled on for another page until it made a metamorphism into an overview of the protest of a disabled man who had been charged with second-degree murder. Said man had "blades protruding where fingers should have been", which was a description that sent tremors down Victoria's spine.
A frown curved across Victoria's face. A few stray memories of that protest rolled past her mind's eye— and, thinking of that monster, the hairs at the back of her neck thistled-up like needles.
The article blurbed on for another paragraph or so, before— this was were Victoria's mind hit a brick wall— it showed a picture of Edward.
It was Edward.
No. . . Victoria held the article nearer to her unreliable eyes, it was her stupid myopic vision. Or a mistake, or her imagination run amok, or some sort of cruel joke . . .
Blinking rapidly and cleaning her glasses with her cotton scarf, Victoria scanned the picture more scrupulously. Upon closer inspection, there were some small differences, but in many ways they looked frighteningly similar. The eyes were the same—puzzled, enormous black eyes. The shape of the face, the pencil-straight posture . . . all the same.
But the hands? Victoria tried to ferret out some sort of explanation, still the picture spoke for itself. This was Edward.
Skimming frantically through the some more of the article, Victoria discovered that the monster had a name—which, to immense horror, was Edward. At this point, a cold pit opened up in the bottom of her stomach. Trying to apprehend it, she realized suddenly what should've been obvious from day one. Edward Hands— his name was the simplest and most suspicious part. Edward Hands, Edward's scissorhands.
While all these thoughts sifted through her mind, Victoria was desperately trying to shoo them away as paranoid conjectures. She couldn't believe that Edward, her friend who saved her own life, could be this . . . this perversion. . .
Now the shock was culminating to a point, precise and stinging, searing through her in a ripple of shivers. Betrayal, hatred, bewilderment, desperation . . . Victoria felt everything at once, in one lightning-flash, before it finally left her disoriented and aching.
Dizzy, she raised herself up. Everything she did felt trace-like, surreal.
After what seemed to be eons of standing and staring numbly at nothing, Victoria felt as if she had to leave immediately, to seek out the truth, to know if these fears were only paranoia or not.
Teetering between rushing out the door and swaying backwards in the shock of it all, she snatched her coat and tangled herself up in it, wiggling her arms through the cuffs.
Before unlocking the door, Victoria looked down at the flimsy newspaper picture that was wrinkled up like a dead flower in her tight fist. And something like sadness came over her.
Once again making a chilly pilgrimage down the city's street toward the tall and grimy apartment complexes, Edward passed through a nomad crowd of drunk carolers who were butchering all sorts of holiday jingles . . . and although they were somewhat of a lively bunch, Edward was able to tunnel on through the swaggering, giggling mass to reach the entrance. In great contrast to the inebriated sing-songers, Edward was troubled and stiffly sober as he pushed against the apartment entrance's large glass doors.
Edward mused on how close the hotel and the apartments were to each other. Probably only a block in distance.
But it was astonishing how Edward's mind had been so distant when he ran away from the family only but a few hours ago . . . and now, returning back to them, although a deep and tangible depression weighed him down, at least Edward was determined to solve this problem. Solve the problem, Edward nodded gravely to himself and instantly felt a sense of duty to protect Victoria from the horrible truth . . .
It was unbearable—he was the knight in shining armor and the dragon at the same time. Protecting and threatening at the same time. Saving and killing, all at once.
Clunking up the twirling metal staircase, each step feeling awful, the mechanical man felt as though he might just toss himself off the staircase rail and finish it all, then an there. Frightened, he shivered at his own thoughts. No, that wasn't right. And it wasn't the answer to anything.
Feet aching with each step, Edward felt like he was ascending to some sort of execution tower like those in the Inventor's storybooks; towers where you put your head on a hard wooden block and then . . . the end came in a wide blade. Edward trembled again, his thoughts beginning to terrify him.
And, dragging himself off the staircase and down the linoleum hallway with twittering fluorescent lights, Edward marched on and on, step by step, breath by breath—
" . . . You!"
A voice cut through the air, so sharp it felt like it slashed Edward's ears.
Startled, Edward swiveled around to see a familiar face polka-dotted with freckles, balanced with glasses, framed with frizzy hair, and radiating with a slightly disturbing self-righteousness.
His heart immediately leapt into his throat, "Victoria . . ."
"You!" She almost shrieked, shaking the newspaper article at him. Flattening out the picture, she held it out, her gray eyes looking as lethal as sharp metal shards, "Is this you?"
At first Edward had wondered why she was here, appearing out of the blue, but now . . . looking at his grayscale mirror-image in the article held before him . . . he immediately began to have a sinking feeling in his stomach, a hopeless sensation as if he was slipping off a steep cliff. He panicked silently.
His heartbeat thudded out all other sounds, while he stared at the picture that was . . . him, only what he was long ago . . .
Victoria barked out again, voice draining out the heartbeats —"Is it?"
Carefully switching his gaze from the piece of pearly-gray paper to Victoria, Edward desperately wanted to . . . say something to help, maybe even tell a lie, just so it would erase the impending pain. . .
"Is this you?" She snapped again.
The moment he looked at her, Victoria took a step back . . . a though she was recoiling away from a dangerous animal, a poisonous snake, rather than her own friend Edward . . .
She knew the truth already, lies wouldn't subdue anything now. Edward was done with lying to Victoria; he was sick of parroting lies, only prolonging the inevitable truth. Edward swallowed down a wave of nausea, it was too late to save her—all he could do now was hurt her.
. . . There was an incinerating silence.
Scraping away her very last shred of hope, Victoria was reassured of what she had known but had hoped, by some magic, could be undone or . . . made somehow untrue. Skin paling down to a deathly color, her mouth opening into a silent scream, Victoria took back another step. And another. And another still.
It was as if she was seeing him for the first time in her life.
His bleak eyes implored, as he approached her and put a soft hand on her arm.
"Don't—" Snatching his hand away, Victoria spat out, "Don't do that. Just—"
"You're not! You're a murderer!"
In a blaze of paranoia, she felt the adrenaline of fight or flight. Victoria's shaking hands curled up into fists; torn on wheather to run for it or to hurt him.
Edward half-covered his face in case she decided to follow her instincts, continue coiling up her fists and knocking him to the ground. And, honestly, Victoria felt every bit of instinct tell her to do just that . . . still she never brought herself to follow through with it. Some small feeling told her he wasn't a perversion, or evil, or anything but her friend, and certainly, she couldn't bring herself to do anything so violent against her own friend.
Uncoiling her fists, she threw her hands up and shouted out at him.
" . . . I don't even want to look at you! You did all those horrible things. You did everything."
Slowly emerging from his cower, Edward began to beg. "No . . . Please believe me."
"Lair. . . !" Victoria's voice suddenly lost all sharpness, and it became cracked and exhausted. And she murmured a muffled, "You're a monster," before she ended up leaning against the wall, dazed—not crying, but on the brink—trying to piece together everything, trying to quell her anger, trying to make sense out of it.
Victoria looked in his face, trying to see a monster underneath the facade. But she couldn't see any monsters. Edward wasn't. He was her friend.
-Epilogue-Ivy and sweet peas had, by this time, weaved into the Mansion's main gate so tightly that it had enveloped it in a tangled mess of spear-shaped leaves and frilly flowers . . . and, observing this with surprise, Edward was forced to scuttle up the crumbling outer wall and tumble down into a prickly monster-sized rosebush in order to enter into his old garden.
Picking out a thistle from his elbow, dusting off the moist dirt and dark red petals, Edward stumbled out of the rosebush and stared in flummoxed awe at everything.
The Mansion's parterre that had once been so neatly snipped and sculpted was now a complete jungle. The sunflower patch was in disarray, weeds the size of baby trees speckled the walkways, the primroses overran their path, and . . . and Edward slumped down in bewilderment as he saw how the topiaries had all lost their picturesque looks and were now large blobs of brown fluttering leaves.
A giant twig reached out of where the hand topiary used to be, now leaving only a macabre and skeletal twig-hand. Edward sighed, his observant black eyes slowly moving from one devastated side of the garden to the other.
Seeing his garden so overgrown caused Edward to realize how long it had been since he had ventured back up here, to his home.
Peeling off the white petals from one wildflower, letting the white flakes drop down onto his shoes and gravel, Edward sat and thought. He mused on how the past few months had gone by as quick as minutes, gone in a blink of an eye, a flash.
After the confessional Christmas night, Edward had decided to stay in the city for a while longer before coming back. Mainly because of Victoria.
But Victoria belonged in the city, with her ambitions and books and thoughts, and Edward. . . well, he wasn't quite sure where he belonged yet.
It had been grave and puzzling time for Victoria, trying to understand Edward, trying to wipe away her past prejudices and hatred, trying to come to terms that she was friends with a 'perversion'. Loyal as ever, Edward was always around Victoria, trying to explain to her how . . . he hadn't meant to scare her. Or hurt her. And he was so sorry. But Victoria always told she understood, even though sometimes she didn't. There were somethings about Edward that Victoria could never fully understand.
A few shards of glass winked innocently from the ground; the shining remains of Jim's fall through the Mansion's zenith window . . . and Edward looked numbly at the ground, memories flooding though him. Long ago memories.
Waking up from his memories, Edward sighed very softly and quietly. He missed seeing Kim—and, now, he realized, he had forgotten what she looked like. All his memories of her were lovely but . . . incomplete, blurry, blotched. He couldn't remember her face. Still, in all honesty, that could've mattered less. Kim couldn't be replaced by anyone—truth be told, to Edward it seemed almost as though she were still alive. Sometimes, when thinking in the dark, he felt as if he had never actually lost her; that Kim was more to him than ever.
Victoria once said that the boundaries between life and death were murky and vague at best, unclear where they really end or begin, and Edward began to appreciate the truth behind what she said.
Running a lone finger along the mossy stone bench, and looking at his garden made him at peace. Maybe it was the comfort of finally being home. Finally feeling at home.
And, Edward took solace from being alone. This way he could think. Of course, it was horrible when he was all alone, all the time . . . but Victoria had promised to visit him, and Lucy was enthralled with the idea of remodeling a castle . . . Lucy had gabbled on to Edward non-stop about how she wanted him to build big ballrooms, and libraries, and dining rooms, and all sorts of rooms like in a proper castle.
So, there would be visitors from time to time . . . and that's all Edward could ask or care for.
Lifting himself up from his seat, Edward turned his sights to the Mansion. Morning glories daintily crept up the gothic windows, curtaining the diamond-framed glass, and other bits of the garden and house had messily melded together. Studying the change, Edward actually thought the Mansion looked more gorgeous than he'd ever remembered it.
The sun shimmered lightly on the oily leaves that cradled the house, making the plants gleam like emeralds embedded in a jagged rock.
He walked up the entry stairs up to the colossal doorway; velveteen shadows darkening the rusty iron fretwork of the door. Brushing away a scintillating silver veil of cobwebs, Edward ventured his way calmly through the icy shade near the doorway. Prying open the moist and maggot-ridden door, Edward peered curiously into the chapel-like darkness of the castle . . .
And, stepping inside the familiar shadows, Edward closed the heavy door.
So, here's my end-of-summer gift to everyone. Much love to you all.