This is for nadia the demented one's mirror challenge from sillybella's Twilight forum. I'm hoping to make this story a collection of Twilight one-shots and some of them will be challenges from this forum.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to review!

Twilight belongs to Stephenie Meyer.


He pretends not to see the pain. He doesn't succeed.

He can feel the creases in his skin and he can't escape. He can trace the hurt that has been etched into his face. Follow the grief at the edges of his eyes. Outline the heartbreak across his forehead. Sketch the desolation in his cheeks.

Charlie Swan is good at hiding. No one knows how much he hurts. No one knows that he cried every night for the first two years. No one knows that he still sleeps on one side of the bed, leaving her side open. No one knows how he still wakes up each morning, expecting to hear the soft pattern of her breathing instead of the endless drone of rain. No one cares.

Charlie Swan is good at hiding from others, but he can't hide from himself. He can't escape the anguish she has caused or the life she has destroyed.

The depth of his pain penetrates to the very core of his being, all the way through his heart. In the mornings he looks in the bathroom mirror and tries to imagine himself before she left. He tries to see the young man with the soft, smooth skin and a smile on his face.

He can't. Charlie doesn't smile anymore.

When Charlie Swan looks in the mirror in the mornings, he doesn't see reality.. He sees who he wants to be. He can see himself, with far fewer worry lines, holding his arms open for his baby girl, ten years old now. She's growing steadily, but isn't so big that he can't pick her up and swing her in circles while she screams with delight. Her mother, his wife, looks at the two with a happy little smile. It's one of those rare days in Forks: the sun is shining and the air is warm.

When he closes his eyes and opens them again, he doesn't see his fantasy. Staring back at him is a grizzled thirty-something in desperate need of a shave. His pale skin is nearly translucent under his eyes and he can see the purple shadows underneath--yet another reminder of the miserable life he leads. He lathers up and grabs his dull razor. When he's finished, there are several pieces of tissue on his chin where he's cut himself.

"Just let me go, Charlie."

These words have haunted him since she left. Every day he hears her desperation in his thoughts and every time he looks at his sad form in the mirror, the pain of these words hits again. Just thinking of them now sends yet another knife through his heart.

He just isn't enough.

Not enough to keep her with him. Not enough to hold her love. Not enough to recover from the pain she caused.

And he's not enough for his baby girl, either.

When he thinks of his little girl, he remembers the last time he saw her. Ten months ago. Far too long for any loving father. He remembers seeing her get off the plane, escorted by a sunny attendant. He thinks of how he smiled as big as he could and how his heart swelled with warmth and love. He recalls how as soon as he saw her he ran up and opened his arms for a hug. He was just so excited to see his baby girl. His beautiful Bella.

But when he remembers the last time he saw his daughter, he remembers how she just stood there while he tried to hug her. He picked her up and gave her a kiss on the cheek and she didn't respond.

"Hi, Daddy." was all she had said.

Not "I love you". Not "I've missed you". Not "I'm glad to be here".

Just "Hi, Daddy".

Charlie awakens from his trance when he hears a loud clap of thunder. He dresses quickly, ready for another dull day at the station. He'll pick up a slice of pizza on his way home. He'll settle into his easy chair in front of the television and hope there's a game on. He'll have a beer and maybe call up his friend Harry. He'll go fishing on Sunday and he won't catch anything. The monotony of his life is crushing.

Every morning Charlie wakes up and looks in the mirror. Every day he sees the same half-life he's been living for years. Every evening he can see the pain lines in his face growing deeper.

Charlie Swan is not a fan of mirrors.