I shut the phone again.
A creeping blackness grew in the edges of my eyes and I focused on that. I willed it forward, god please be oblivion, please be oblivion. At last I couldn't see, but the blackness brought no relief. In the darkness there was now only a deep throbbing wound in my chest. It pulsed and a roar sounded in my ears. I had lost all senses, all thoughts, save one thing: pain.
As the wound hollowed out my body with a knife as it spread, the roar sweetened and the blackness took heavenly form. The roar became her voice and the blackness her body.
"Don't." Her whole frame shook and her eyes became voids of madness. Her beautiful heartbeat slowed as if willing itself to cease the life-giving motion. "Don't do this."
In the decaying attic I finally gasped and the rush of air salted the wound that now encompassed every part of me. The vision would not end, the memory continued. She was there, in my eyes, and I was killing her.
There could be no redemption. As for absolution, I did not even consider the thought. My body convulsed, sickened, and strained. Killed her. Killed her. Killed her. I dug my fingers into my skull trying to tear, trying to destroy. I would have taken the life of anyone who ever threatened her, but now I was incapable of killing her murderer. Me.
I leaped and ran. The glass of the attic window shattered in the night as I attempted to change the past. I could save her! She was inches from my fingertips in that memory of the woods. Nothing mattered but her life. There was no night if she did not live in it. There was no world. There was no Edward.
I had left the village miles behind and had unknowingly entered a jungle when at last total realization hit me. Was I in pain before? Had I felt pain in my entire existence? It could not be true, because there was nothing that compared to this. I screamed and ripped my fingers hopelessly into the ground. The sound of my shrieks echoed in the thick air. It was a cacophony of a thousand tortured men, of gnashing teeth and wails from damned souls. I don't know how long I screamed and convulsed in this way until one coherent word formed.
That name on my lips broke through the directionless agony. Her face, open and loving, her arms so softly wrapped around my body in her sleep, the lilt of her voice, her kitten anger, and her heartbeat quickening at my touch. All these things hit me in perfect clarity, perfect recollection. They ripped daggers through me. As surely as if I had sunk my teeth into her lovely neck when first we met, I had murdered my love.
I stood, twitching and yelling. I begged the night to return her to me. "I'm sorry! Oh God! I'm sorry! Bella-no! NO! NO!"
What had Rosalie said? Jumped from a cliff. I needed to be with Bella, I had to understand what I had done, and more than that; I could not stop my mind from playing out the image of her death.
It had been six months. Now I began to understand the acute horror of her murder. Six months apart was destroying me. Destroying me, and yet I knew she loved me, and yet I was capable of returning to her. The burning at the stake was endurable because of these things. But for Bella…
She had lost my family and with it, her future. What friend could she now turn to for relief? There was no one she could talk to, not when she continued to bravely keep our secret. She had no idea where any of us were. She believed me indifferent. I told her…I told her…
I fell to the ground again. I told her I didn't love her, didn't want her. The wound in my chest clawed its way upward. I saw now as clearly as if this truth had been cruelly waiting to reveal itself exactly when it was too late.
I had left her desolate. I had left her unloved and lost and burning. She loved me as I loved her, and in the face of eternal separation, she had lasted only six months.
I returned to the village and I threw my cell phone in the trash. It had done nothing but vibrate for however long I was lost in insanity, but I would never answer it again. I stole the first car I saw and made my way to the airport.
In the shadows of the car the vision of Bella forsaken continued. I saw her thin and shivering on the edge of a cliff. The Forks sky was a volatile color of gray and the wind threatened to knock her over as it whipped the tendrils of her hair about her dampened and emaciated face.
Tears I knew too well, how often I had caused them, streamed down her face and her hopeless hands stretched in front of her into an abyss. In the car, mine did as well. In perfect clarity, as if she were whispering in my ear, the abandoned Bella gasped my name, "Edward," then allowed herself to collapse into gravity and eternity.
I screamed over and over. How could I have thought I had no soul? There it was, falling from that horrible cliff. There I had left it unloved and alone in that cold town. My very skin burned fire. Where once I had imagined my heart, a creation of Bella's love, I now felt only the sinking of poisoned teeth.
Her lullaby crashed discords in my brain. I had nothing left as I entered the airport and purchased the first ticket to Italy. I had no vision left of her alive. When she had fallen from the cliff in my head, she took every treasured remembrance of her. I was not even given her pained screams as some comfort. Nothing to know she HAD existed.
As if to mock the terrible aloneness I now drowned in, my subconscious finally provided a new image of Bella. It was a combination of Bella as I had seen her bleeding on the ballet floor and of Esme as I had seen her in Carlisle's head after her suicide. But now there was only a corpse. Half her face was mashed in by rocks and soaked in blood. All her limbs stuck out at unnatural angles and her one visible eye was milky in death. Pale, lifeless, and terrible. I slumped forward off of the chair I had sat in and my arms wrapped unbreakably around me.
I would never touch her again. Six months ago I had accepted that. Accepted it on the terms that she would continue existing. That she would live in the sun and love someone healthy, someone human. Never again. Never again would her sigh sweeten the air, would her laugh ring bells in the rain, would her thoughts and ideas change those around her. This was all because of me. I wished I had never been changed, never been born, wished I'd died a century ago in agony.
I could not wish I'd never met her. Even at my pyre I could not wish that. My time with her had been all the heaven I would ever need. Loved and lost, loved and lost, the old saying repeated in my head. There was no end to my selfishness even after her blush had left the world forever.