I have no life but this,
To lead it here;
Nor any death, but lest
Dispelled from there;
Nor tie to earths to come,
Nor action new,
Except through this extent,
The realm of you.
It was twilight again. The time, I had come to realize, that Edward grew quietest. Perhaps pushing the subject at such a sacred time to him wasn't the brightest thing to do. I, however, was not going for subtlety. Nothing, and I mean nothing, about Isabella Alexis Swan had ever come near 'subtle.' In fact, I was currently stuck somewhere between foolishly bold and carelessly desperate.
Edward Cullen could do that to you.
And with no more than a cold, gentle kiss on your brow, too. It was a kind of magic that really wouldn't be considered magic at all. Except for the fact that he was a vampire.
Yet today was no day to linger on the consequences of my boldness. Nothing in my life could possible have been more urgent than what I was about to say to the angel holding my hand. So I took a deep breath, turning around to look him in the eye.
Each time, the result was staggering.
I nearly lost myself in those topaz pools—forever drowning. Even now my head was under the tide, metaphorically speaking. I knew, absolutely and quite gladly, that I would never resurface. Momentarily, my heart flew to a rapid pace, sending my breaths to ragged intakes of air. It wasn't fair at all.
Edward smiled. "I thought you were over the whole 'dazzling' thing by now."
I shook my head ferociously, wishing for the first time in my life that I was the most beautiful person in the world. For a moment, I wanted passionately for Edward to experience the depth of admiration I felt for him. I wanted him to be the one left gasping for air, knocked breathless by something closer to a divinity than an ordinary human.
"You are intensely, overwhelmingly, and devastatingly lovely. And if you start the 'only a plain human girl' thing, I might have to hand you over to Alice again for another shopping spree."
I stared blankly back at him. "I thought you couldn't read my thoughts."
"I thought you knew you were beautiful to me."
I shrugged, which tended to annoy him. His praise was wasted on me; Renee had told me long ago that a man in love was no reliable judge in the looks department. And if one thing could be said about my mom, it was that she knew all about men's opinions on the female form. She would know, I thought reverently, her being a divorcee and a cradle-robber. Phil was only 29, and still Renee had managed to catch him like she was not a day over 30. That was Renee's allure; she was a free spirit and young at heart. I was neither.
I still wondered how this perfect creature could be mine. How could the one I had subconsciously dreamt of all my life, a marble god with an endless heart, suddenly claim to love me? How had the product of my soul's search for love suddenly fallen as I had fallen for him?
Answers I would never quite know. But I understood enough to cling to him for dear life.
Edward must've seen some trace of doubt on my face, because the next instant he was cupping my face with his cool hands. A mingled expression of annoyance and pleading passed across his face.
"I forget how hard it is," he murmured, sighing. "Not knowing. Not hearing."
I tried to smile, but the fear of his change in mood welled up inside of me like a crushing weight in my chest.
I will bring it up. He will lose this time, I told myself. And I will become a vampire.
"You don't need my thoughts," I said, swallowing for the benefit of my suddenly dry throat. "You already have me. You have my heart and soul."
"That's what I'm afraid of."
He took my hand in his own, twining his icy fingers in mine. His eyes closed, and it seemed as if he was a statue instead of a living person. Still and silent, we sat there on the porch of my house—just listening to the soft patter of rain on the porch roof. I couldn't begin to wonder what he was even doing here. He certainly didn't look like he belonged with humans, a human himself—or even a classic vampire. The angel was deep in his thoughts, searching with a pensive and serious expression on his pale face. There was no sunlight that bounced off his bronze head, like at our meadow, but it still shined.
And his cold arms were wrapped around me, enclosing me into the safety, and danger, of his world.
Beneath me I could feel no frantic heartbeat like mine, but his chest still moved in a rhythmic pattern. Edward had never let go of his habit of breathing. I don't think he wanted to scare me. He was trying much too hard to be what he wasn't, or would be again. And I hated myself for that simple thing alone.
Because, above all other things, Edward's immortality was a fear no amount of reassurance could banish.
Before the memory of James and other dangerous vampires, before the anger or loss of Charlie and Renee, and even before my own fate of dying. Before the danger, the power of thirst and temptation and need that might exist between us—something else scared me more. None of that mattered. I would be trapped somewhere with Edward for all of eternity, and he would never hurt me. For the simple (and simply unbelievable) reason that he loved me.
But immortality—time—was a barrier I could not face with any chance of victory. It was the only thing that could destroy my world, an obstacle that could very well break us apart. And in taking Edward me from, destroy all I had.
I knew, very surely, that the way it was now could not continue. I had limited choices. I could stay with Edward, and stay human. I would grow older and older, a danger to my family, myself, and the Cullens. Wither before his eyes, and die—perhaps leaving him forever. Or, Edward could change me. I would become one of them, and be with him until the very end, if there even was an end. For eternity, trade whatever death held for me; my mortal life, a father and a mother, and a great home in Forks. Not to mention change. Being a vampire meant never changing, never aging.
Or lastly, we could part. Break it off before either of us suffered more loss. This option, undoubtedly, would kill me. Neither of us could do it. And we would never know where our love could've led us.
The last was hardly a choice at all. I needed Edward. And my greatest hope was that he needed me too. I was terrified that Edward would someday think leaving was better for me than constant danger. He promised me, and I trusted him. And there, sitting in the comfort of his arms in the cool twilight, I made a promise never to let any of him go.
Bella Swan, the proverbial barnacle. I didn't care if it was selfish. I am selfish. I will be as long as I'm in love with Edward. Which, even to a vampire is a very, very long time.
"You're quiet," he finally said. There was a question hidden in those words. I shifted, looking up at him.
"Yes." I readied myself for the attack. I made sure to face him, leaving the haven of his arms. I breathed deeply.
"We have to choose, Edward. Soon." I kept my voice as even as possible. "While it's not too late."
He stiffened, realizing I wasn't going to just let this go tonight. A part of me desperately wanted to—but if not now, when? These were moments when my will was strongest. I was aware of my reasons, and the fear was real and strong enough to push my thoughts to words. Now, or never. A new chant that swept my mind with amazing calm. Fight, or flight. Win… or lose.
"Bella," he warned, bristling. I saw he was trying to contain himself as long as the evening could be salvaged. It never got far enough. We were never pushed to action. I never won.
Now, I would.
"Please listen, Edward. I love you. Everything I am is you." My voice was clear and the words were firm. "When I die, when I get to wherever you are so determined to get me—there will be nothing there for me. All I'll ever need, want, or even ask for is with you. It is you."
The line of his jaw was hard, locked in an angry clench. Topaz eyes blazing, Edward Cullen growled in frustration. I may never have realized he was trying to frighten me.
"And what about when you are one of us, Bella?" His tone mimicked mine, icy and clear. "When you change. When who you were is nothing anymore to who you've become? You don't realize, Bella, but all their lives humans are searching for something important. We—Alice, Carlisle, all of us—have lost it. You'll never know how precious it was until you've given it all up!"
I could feel hot tears threatening to blur my vision of a beautiful, furious Edward. Each thud of my heart seemed to pound my resolve into nothing. I didn't ever want to be angry at him, but I was now. And giving up was no choice at all.
"And you know this? You have theories, Edward, about what you think will happen—but they are just that—theories! Something you're unsure of, that may not even be right, is breaking my heart! And that is real!"
I worked myself up even more, to face a silent, brooding Edward. "All you can say to that is that you won't be there waiting for me on the other side? I see what you can't, Edward! There is no other side, not without you! Anywhere you are, eternally on earth or damned to the pits of hell itself, is where I belong!"
I could no longer speak in an understandable way. Everything I feared gripped me with astounding intensity. Each breath cut into me, until I felt Edward's cold presence envelope me in a crushing embrace. I struggled to bring myself under control.
"Bella," he pleaded once more, stroking my head. His tone was different now, much softer and gentler. "I know it may seem absurd, to cling to something as trivial as mortality. But believe me when I tell you this—I vowed long ago never to hurt you. And taking your life away…" He swallowed hard. "Will hurt you more than you will ever know."
I felt a twinge of anger.
"You can't protect me from every hurt, Edward. Like it or not, you're hurting me right now." My voice was acidic.
He pulled back, as if stricken. Sometimes I wish he could read my mind. I wish he could know the depth of pain behind my angry words. That he would just know. But I gathered my courage once more, numbing myself to the self-disgust I felt when I saw the grief etched in his white features.
"You know that, don't you? You realize time is against me. Every second I get closer to the end. I'm not asking you because I'm afraid of dying. I'm asking you because I'm afraid of dying without you." I fought to keep the hysterical note from my tone, but failed.
If Edward were human, I would've seen gold mingle with the pearl of tears in that moment. The numb feeling disappeared.
"I know you're not trying to hurt me. But…" I struggled once more, and managed to keep my voice from breaking. "But you are. I'm so scared I'll wake up one day and realize I've lost you. Lost the chance to be with you."
Edward was silent.
He held me tighter, drawing me closer. I could smell the sweet scent coming from his breath, the smell that was wonderfully Edward. It reminded me of when I had barely met him, when I had first inhaled the beautiful fragrance that came from his jacket. It made the thought of being parted with him only unbearably harder.
"I don't exactly know what I believe in anymore, Bella. Before all of this, before you, I thought the only thing that waited for me was some kind of damnation. Carlisle told me about his belief in redemption, but I never actually listened. The only thing I know is that I have you now. Right in this very moment. I can't make any decisions for you. I don't think I can trust my own judgment anymore."
A sharp intake of breath was my only reply. I dared to hope that this was his acceptance of my choice.
I pulled away again, trying to read his marble face.
"I have made my choice, Edward." My voice was steady, a contrast to the strange feeling of apprehension and excitement bubbling in me. "I realize that there are consequences, but this is important. Nothing is without consequences. You're not the only one who can make sacrifices for the one you love. I'm ready."
The slight feeling of guilt returned as his face fell a little; I knew what I said still saddened him. But the sudden rush that this new acceptance brought on was more than I could ever hope for. Edward only nodded grimly, gold eyes brushing my soul with their intensity.
"So this is it? You will have the choice of turning back, Bella, until the very last second. I won't ever refuse you that."
I shook my head firmly, throwing him an apologetic smile.
"This is a decision I will never doubt."
"It won't be easy. You'll have to leave everything behind." His tone was melancholy. "And, well… it's not easy getting used to what you will become. Even with all of us there with you, something will always be missing from you. A part of you that won't be recovered."
I felt the pangs of sorrow already. My stomach turned, thinking of everything I'd be giving up. Charlie, Renee… never seeing another birthday; no gray hairs or laugh lines or memories of growing up. Things we as mortals took for granted. My breath caught in my throat at this last thought.
And then I looked at Edward.
I'm not Alice. I can't necessarily "see," or like Edward turn through someone's mind. But then and there I saw the images of myself, and the Cullens, playing baseball in the chaos of a storm. Rosalie, throwing her arms around me in a gesture of sisterly love, accepting me into her family.
Carlisle and Esme, hugging me as if I was their real daughter. Emmett, and Jasper, both smiling at me like brothers. Alice, nodding her head as if to say 'I knew you could belong with us.'
Edward, filling my every thought, every sense, every hope. Edward and I seeing the world together. Edward dancing with me. Edward holding me, kissing me like we both wanted him to. Edward and I getting married. Edward laughing. Edward smiling. Edward.
And it was like I was seeing everything anew.
What were sorrows, when I had an angel to lift them all away?
I turned his sad face to mine and pressed a gentle kiss on his lips.
And, somehow, everything would be right.
Reviews, both criticism and praise are appreciated greatly. Thanks to Stephenie Meyer, the goddess who inspired these words, and the late Emily Dickinson, who put the words in motion with her beautiful poem. I also thank anyone who took the time to read and/or comment on my writing!