I took a deep breath and attempted to conceal the emotions bubbling under the surface ready to erupt at any moment. It would not do for me to be emotional right now. This was going to be hard enough to do, I could not break down. I could not break down. I could not break down. My hands were trembling as I opened the door to my car. I walked as slow as I could to where Bella was standing beside her truck. I took the backpack out of her hand and placed it into the truck, stopping momentarily to inhale the tantalizing scent of Bella. If I had a heart, it would be racing.
"Come for a walk with me," I managed to say without my voice breaking. I took her hand and headed towards the woods near her home. Her hand was so soft, so warm, I wanted to pull her into my arms… but I could not do that. Not if I wanted to get through this. And I had to. For Bella.
We weren't very far into the woods when I stopped and leaned against a tree, so that I would not fall over from the atrocious thing I was about to do. I had to do this now; I couldn't prolong it any longer. I'd been agonizing over it for days, if I didn't do it now, I would never do it…
"Okay, let's talk," Bella said, her voice strong, but I could smell the fear she felt. Bella was abnormally perceptive. Surely she must know something is wrong. It's not too late to change my mind. I could change my mind. I didn't have to do this. I could pull her into my arms, and everything would be fine, everything would be perfect. No! No! No! NO! I had to do this. Bella deserved so much more than I – a soulless monster – could give her. I could no longer allow my monstrosity to harm her.
I took a deep breath. I had to do this now before I changed my mind.
"Bella, we're leaving," I started. I watched as my words sank into Bella's unreachable mind. I expected anger, sadness, but she looked… relieved?
"Why not? Another year- " she said after taking a breath. Realization hit, she was relieved because she thought that she was coming with us. The idea of her being with me was soothing… she could be with me, we did not have to part. I did not want to be anywhere that she was not, but this was not for me. This was for Bella. I had to do this.
I said the words quickly as if that would lessen the pain each word brought me. It did not. "Bella, it's time. How much longer could we stay in Forks, after all? Carlisle can barely pass for thirty, and he's claiming thirty-three now. We'd have to start over soon regardless."
Regardless of the fact that I did not want to leave, we would have to eventually, and when we left, it would break my nonexistent heart for Bella to not be able to follow us. It was better for us to leave now. Bella being near us was too dangerous; we were too dangerous for her. Time after time I had put her in harms way, but I would not do it any longer.
I stared at her, willing her to understand, willing her to not make this any harder than it already was.
Her face changed; I could practically see the realization sinking in. "When you say we- ," she whispered.
Bella, please, please understand. I urged her mentally although she could not hear. Please do not make me say this, I cannot say this. I cannot.
"I mean my family and myself," I forced the words out of my mouth unwillingly. She was my family. She was my everything. How could I do this? How could I do this?
Bella shook her head back and forth, her heart beating so fast I thought it might fly out of her chest. I wished yet again I could know what she was thinking. I did not want her to hate me, yet I knew that was inevitable. I was about to break her heart, break my heart, but it was all for her, so that she could be safe, so that she could live. For Bella, I could do this. I had to.
After what felt like an eternity, but was only several minutes, Bella spoke. The words she uttered broke my heart. "Okay. I'll come with you."
Part of me rejoiced. She loved me, she would come with me if I wanted her to – and I wanted her to with every fiber of my being.
"You can't, Bella. Where we're going… It's not the right place for you." That was the truth. Bella deserved to live without shadows; without monsters; without me. She did not belong in the endless night that was my punishment for being what I was – a soulless monster.
"Where you are is the right place for me."
Oh my sweet Bella. "I am no good for you, Bella." It was the undeniable truth. She was everything that I was not. I would never deserve her – no matter how long I roamed this wretched planet.
"Don't be ridiculous," she pleaded. "You're the very best part of my life."
She was the very best part of my life – if you could even call what we have a life. I could not give her up. No, I could not. I needed her, I wanted her, I loved her. How could I exist without her? How? But I knew that I had to do this. I had to. For Bella.
"My world is not for you," I replied darkly.
"What happened with Jasper – that was nothing, Edward! Nothing!"
It was everything, I disagreed mentally. It was everything. Had I hesitated for one second – one second – she could be dead, she could be dead, but it was inevitable that something like this occur when I exposed her constantly to inhumane monsters such as my family and myself.
"You're right," I said. "It was exactly what was to be expected."
"You promised! In Phoenix, you promised that you would stay – "
I had to interrupt her. I had only promised to stay if it was what was best for her, but being near me was not what was best for her. If what happened in Phoenix was not proof enough, her birthday party confirmed that fact. "As long as that was best for you,"
Anger flashed in her eyes. "NO! This is about my soul, isn't it? Carlisle told me about that, and I don't care, Edward. I don't care! You can have my soul. I don't want it without you – it's yours already!"
No, no, no, no, Bella, please. Please. I can't do this. I can't, I pleaded with her mentally. If only she could hear me. I knew what I was going to have to do, but I did not want to do it. My nonexistent heart ached at the very thought of it. I wanted to fall down at her feet and beg her to forgive me, to love me. I could feel the tearless sobs creeping up. If I did not finish this soon, I would never be able to finish it, and I had to do it. For Bella. I stared at the ground and tried to clear all of the emotions off of my face.
I looked up at her beautiful face. Bella, my Bella. How could I do this? But I had no choice. I would lie to her to save her. I would make her hate me to save her.
I took a deep breath, the words hung in my throat. "Bella, I don't want you to come with me." Each word was torture – the worst pain I'd ever experienced. Nothing could compare to this pain, nothing.
I stared at her beautiful face again. How much longer could I endure this? I would have to. Surely she knew that I was lying. Surely I would have to convince her I was telling the truth. This would be the death of me, but I knew I had to do it.
"You…don't…want…me?" she asked, her face full of confusion and hurt.
Of course I want you, I screamed in my head. How could I not? Warm, beautiful, caring as you are. How could anyone not want you?
"No," I said. I did not dare say more. I was on the brink of collapsing.
She stared at me, my hurtful words, my lies, sinking in. I tried to prepare myself for the tears that I knew were coming. I had to be strong. I did not know how I would do this if she were to cry. I already wanted to pull her into my arms as it were.
"Well, that changes things," she replied calmly.
No! It changes nothing because it isn't true, Bella, it isn't true. I want you, I need you. How can you believe me? I had to look away from her right then; the urge to pull her into my arms was becoming unbearable.
I stared into the trees as I said the words that would leave me a broken empty shell. "Of course, I'll always love you… in a way. But what happened the other night made me realize that it's time for a change. Because I'm … tired of pretending to be something I'm not, Bella. I am not human." My entire body seemed to reject the lie. I'll always love Bella. That will never change. I had to look at her, had to see her then. I turned around to face her. "I've let this go on for far too long, and I'm sorry for that."
As my words and their meanings began to seep in, the look on her face nearly crushed me. It took every ounce of self-control I had to not grab her right then and tell her it was a lie – it was all a lie. How could she believe me?
"Don't," she whispered and I was nearly undone. "Don't do this."
I don't want to do this. I don't want to do this, but I have to. I have to.
I looked at the beautiful girl in front of me. The girl I loved, the girl I would always love. The next words I said were going to kill me – kill her – kill us. But I had to say them. I had to give her a clean break so that she could move on from me, have a normal life without me.
"You're not good for me, Bella."
Bella, I pleaded with her internally. Please do not believe me. You are the best thing in my life; you are the only thing that makes my existence bearable. How could you not be good for me?
She opened her mouth several times. Part of me hoped she would beg me to stay. If she did, I would stay; I knew I could not resist it if she asked me to stay now.
"If…. That's what you want," she whispered.
How could this be what I wanted? I wanted none of this, but it's what had to be done. It's what I had to do. To protect her, to save her. Then I remembered that danger seemed to follow Bella wherever she went. What if something happened, and I wasn't here to stop it?
"I would like to ask one favor, though, if that's not too much," I said.
She looked so broken, so sad, I very nearly took it back, took all of it back. No, I had to do it.
"Anything," she said softly.
"Don't do anything reckless or stupid," I told her, attempting to make my voice sound as forceful as I could. "Do you understand what I'm saying?"
She nodded but said nothing.
"I'm thinking of Charlie, of course. He needs you." I need you. "Take care of yourself – for him." Please, Bella.
She nodded again and whispered. "I will."
"And I'll make you a promise in return," I said. "I promise that this will be the last time you'll see me. I won't come back. I won't put you through anything like this again. You can go on with your life without anymore interference from me. It will be as if I'd never existed."
She started to shake, and I wanted – more than I'd ever wanted anything – to pull her into my arms. I had to leave now before I did. At least I could put some comfort in the fact that it would not always be so painful for her. Humans' memories were not as powerful as ours, as time went on, she would forget.
"Don't worry. You're human - your memory is no more than a sieve. Time heals all wounds for your kind." But I would never be able to forget. The pain would always be there in the place my heart used to reside.
"And your memories?" she asked, her voice thick with tears.
"Well," I said and stopped. They would haunt me for the rest of my existence which I should say is only the length of your life. I could not bear to remain in a world where Bella did not exist. I would follow her as soon as I possibly could, though I would not even be able to be with her after death - damned creature that I am. "I won't forget. But my kind... we're very easily distracted."
I smiled at the absurdity of the statement. There would be no distraction from the pain. I could already feel the darkness surrounding me. There would be no recovering from this.I was lost. I had to move away from her. If I did not, I would never be able to leave, and I had to leave.
"That's everything, I suppose. We won't bother you again."
Goodbye, my Bella, my love, my life.
Bella looked frantic. "Alice isn't coming back," she stated.
I shook my head. Alice - as well as the rest of my family - was very unhappy with me. They respected my decision, but none of them approved of it. Alice least of all.
"No, they're all gone. I stayed behind to tell you goodbye."
"Alice is gone?" she asked.
"She wanted to say goodbye, but I convinced her that a clean break would be better for you." Convinced, threatened... was there truly a difference?
"Goodbye, Bella," I said.
"Wait!" she cried, reaching out for me.
I did not have to leave. She was reaching out to me. She still wanted me. My arms moved to grab her involuntarily, but at the last second, I remembered why I was doing this. For Bella. To keep her safe. I could not be weak now, I had to do this, for her. I wrapped my hands around her wrists and put them down at her side, so that I was not tempted to wrap myself in them. I wanted to kiss her, but I knew if my lips touched hers, I would not go through with this. I pressed my lips against her forehead, allowing the scent of her to wash over me for the last time.
"Take care of yourself," I gasped and forced myself to run away from her, allowing the darkness to envelope me as I ran.
For Bella. It was all for Bella.