A/N: Twilight and its characters are owned by Stephanie Meyers
This is a little bit of character development and an excuse to slack on my newest chapter update. Goes with my fic "Wide Awake". Must read that to understand. Hope this clears up some things and gives you all a good insight into Edward's situation.
WARNING: This has very dark themes and graphic situations.
Sleep isn't an escape. My traitor thoughts whispered as I stared at the back of my eyelids. Darkness with sharp flashes of color protruding from the edges in wayward pyrotechnics danced in front of my irises.
That was probably a lie. Even if it weren't a lie, it didn't matter. It was an escape to me, and the rare hours I was graced by the empty bliss it created, I was still. Numb. It wasn't much to look forward to during the day, but it was something.
I needed more of it. Hours, or preferably days if possible.
The incessant chirping of an elated blue jay disrupted my fitful slumber at six thirty that morning. It was too early for me to muster up the energy necessary to shoo the inane creature from its perch behind the smudged pane, so I instead reached a weak hand blindly to my side and pulled the rumpled pillow over my ear with a raspy groan.
The pillow stunk of mold and stale booze. I pushed my nose deeper and breathed it in resentfully... reverently. The mold was unseemly, but the smell of the ambrosial liquor was more than enough to make it bearable.
That was an escape. Even I wasn't stupid enough to deny that. Though denial was not something I deserved nor sought. The truth of my Darkness infected me daily, creeping into the very depths of my being and dragging me under. I stopped fighting against its pull long ago; choosing to numb it with liquor and slumber. Waiting.
But now I had awoken once again. Alone in my unkempt bed with the familiar stench of my existence and the sounds of life outside of my apartment window. Mocking. I pushed the pillow deeper into my face, bracing myself as my hand created a feeble fist in the lumpy material. I knew the memories would assault me as they did every morning I awoke. Sobered.
They came in brief, sharp flashes as I clenched my eyes closed and pushed the pillow as tightly to my face as my minimal strength would allow.
Licorice and Mint. Corduroy and velvet. Dahlia flowers and wolf grins. Brown loafers and silken hair. The soft jingle of metal. Fresh linen and billowing curtains trimmed with lace. Sunlight and laughter. Soiled white cotton and excited whispers. Muddy hands. Bronze hair. Green eyes.
I was sick again in. Huddling over the stained porcelain toilet and heaving nothing into the dark bowl. Dry heaves. No stomach acid. No food. No liquid. Nothing.
I was empty.
I didn't look in the mirror as I rose. I never did. I never could. Instead I slipped on the large brown trench coat that would act as my barrier for the short amount of time I required it. There was no reason to get dressed. I was never undressed.
My head was aching, a pulsing whoosh resounding through my ears as I stumbled down the hall of the dark apartment carelessly. The stench was everywhere. Little crevices as I passed the kitchen, all dirty. The dank smell surrounded the air in something that could only be described as death. This whole place reeked of it. Sunk into the pores of the peeling walls and the gruff fabric of the carpet that led to the unused living room.
Of course it was unused. It was meant for the living, wasn't it?
When my pale hand turned the door knob and eased it open, I hissed, turning my face away from the bright light of the morning sky's oranges and pinks. I squinted, inching my face into the light to adjust.
It was warm outside and there was a distinctly familiar scent in the air as I wandered down the sidewalk with my face casted downwards. Those two facts were my only clues in my estimation of the current season. Summer in Chicago. I couldn't remember the date because I never kept track. Time was unfriendly and increasingly senseless to keep.
I made my bee line to the corner store on Seventy Fifth and Lexington, the familiar daily path greeting me flatly as I gazed down at it unseeingly. A scant few persons wandered about the streets as I passed; some on their porches waiting for taxis, and some passing me in disinterest.
A family of four scattered out of cab as I approached the familiar store, halting with my hand hovering over the metal handle. First a woman and a little girl emerged. They were similar with their red hair and blue eyes. Mother and daughter, holding hands and stepping aside as two more exited. There was man, the father I assumed, with a comically receding hairline and a repulsive yellow button up shirt that resembled the color of week old vomit.
The man looked infuriated as he grabbed his little boy's wrist and helped him from the vehicle. "What did I say about talking back?" The man asked the boy angrily. The boy simply stared up at him with a rather bored expression, which only seemed to fuel his father's annoyance. The young boy couldn't have been a day over eight years old. His hair was the color of his fathers. Murky blonde as it fell across his scalp limply. If his genes were any indication, he'd better enjoy that while it lasts.
It was meant to be a rhetorical question. Even the boy could see that as he shrugged lamely and turned to his mother. They didn't look happy. The mother looked frazzled and on edge as the man paid the cabbie and snatched the boy's wrist up, dragging him into the shop with low, angry hisses laced with threat. The boy didn't seem to care about what his father was saying.
He was nothing like...
Paper and paste. Teary eyed laughter and forceful tickles. Feathers and golden shimmers. Footsteps and chuckles. Humming and warm fingertips. Soft and sweet. Bronze hair. Green eyes.
I closed my palm painfully into a fist around the metal handle, jarring the door open with the jingling bell meant to alert the employees inside to my entrance clanging against the large door.
It wasn't necessary in my case. They knew when to expect me every day. I was as punctual as the elated blue jay outside my murky window pane was reliable. I chose my poison from the shelf, the usual bottle that would likely only last a mere five hours. I wondered briefly if I should buy an extra as I stared at the stocked shelf longingly. The scene of the family would surely make this day worse than yesterday.
I bought two. Paying silently as the aged and weathered woman behind the counter glanced at me sideways and made my change. We never spoke, and I pretended that I didn't see the pity in her eyes as I turned to exit the store with my treasures in tow. Her pity was something I neither deserved nor sought. Pity and denial were oddly similar in that way.
I walked home blindly, my memory of the habitual path sharp and clear despite my failing body's fatigue under the strain of my frail footsteps. The apartment door was unlocked, and opened with ease, but my hands shook as I pushed it open. Trembling as I was met once again with the stench of my reality.
I went to my bed, and there was serenity in the way it was waiting for me when I arrived. Dirty mattress and crumpled sheets, beckoning the daily routine as I removed the coat and sunk down onto the squeaky bulk in the middle of the room.
The blue jay had fled long ago. He always did by the time I returned.
My trembling hands produced my solace from the brown and rumpled paper bag. I licked my lips in anticipation, fumbling to remove the lid with the minimal amount of strength the need provided me.
It was warm as it slid down my throat. Bitter in the sweetest way as I threw my head back and took as much of it as I could without asphyxiating. It was disgusting and despicable, but so was I. We fit together as it lulled me into the slow numbness I craved.
It took more and longer to settle me into the comfort of its intoxication as I relaxed into the comfort of the hard mattress, but it was worth it. This was the time where I could remember it all with even a shred of peace. Without my bidding, the vision of the family on the street returned to me.
It was infuriating.
Because none of them looked happy, and none of them realized what they were taking for granted. I saw the same thing every day I made the trip to the corner store on Seventy Fifth and Lexington. Mothers and Fathers who didn't take the time to really appreciate their blessings. They bickered and fought and were unfaithful in dark alleyways and back seats without showing any signs of remorse when it tore their families apart.
I had the chance once. With a dashing man and a dashing smile that dashed my fears and elevated me past the petty differences that separated most. It wasn't every woman's ideal to get married at eighteen; with child at twenty three. But it was Ed and I because we knew from first sight at that party in Cleveland that we were meant to by the other's side. Entwined and inseparable from the first second of the first day of the first week of the first year of our happily ever after.
Sometimes, if I get obliterated just enough to lose motor functions, I can still smell his scent lingering in the stale air of the dilapitated rental apartment. Licorice and mint and warm rain. It smelled like home.
It smelled like devastation. Like the end of my will to live because it was gone, and I'd never smell it again unless I was like this. Drunk and utterly useless.
We had plans and hopes and dreams. A cabin in the forest sitting to the west of the city where we could escape. A vacation to France and a walk on the pier of the river while the sun set behind the Parisian clouds. I would laugh and throw myself into his arms when he mentioned it. Ed was a hopeless romantic. He romanced me hopelessly. Winding me around his finger with one flash of his dashing smile, and one touch of his soft lips.
He was everything. The gravity that planted my feet on the floor of our home when he worked all day. I would wait impatiently, sometimes losing my battle with my will and taking him lunch as a spontaneous gesture. He loved it of course, always welcoming me with opens arms as I jumped into them excitedly. The separation was never easy for us, so even one hour of lunch on a park bench with him at my side was enough to make me wish for forever in that one moment.
He gave me life and shone Light into the Dark void I hadn't even known existed. I still recall with perfect clarity the day we found out I was pregnant. Our families and friends alike were shocked, insisting we were too young, or too promising to entertain such a notion. We laughed and spent the evening alone. His big warm hand resting on my bare, still flat belly and his head on my chest. He was absolutely ecstatic.
I ran my fingers through his dark hair as we lay in bed in that night. "What would you prefer?" I asked in reference to the sex of a child.
His body shook with silent laughter that reverberated down to my toes where our feet had become as intertwined as our hearts. "I don't care." He replied simply with a smile in his voice.
He didn't care. Boy or girl, the child was a product of our love and devotion. A perfect being from the mold our hearts had created long ago as it nestled and grew inside of my belly. It was the happiest nine months of misery one could ever hope to experience.
I was the one who chose his name. Edward Senior insisted it was old fashioned and he detested the thought of the ridicule our child might endure for having something so traditional, as he had when he was a child. But Edward it was. He looked like an Edward to me. Like half Ed and half me, and the complete incarnation of an unfathomable creation.
Edward was perfection.
He was the Light that Ed shone into my soul. He radiated life and innocence with his shining green eyes and rowdy bronze hair. All he had to do was smile and Ed and I were inclined to give him whatever he wanted. Not that he ever took advantage of that. Even as a small child he showed an amazing amount of care and integrity.
That was the thing about my Edward. He had a bigger heart than he knew what to do with. He was sharp and witty and could go anywhere in this world with his amazing gifts of intelligence and compassion. He was Ed and I multiplied infinitely.
Every mother must have such notions regarding her child, but it was different with Edward and me. We were closer than others, bound at night as I rocked him lovingly and hummed him that same old lullaby my mother hummed to me when I was but a child.
We gave him only the best. The best education, the best clothing, the best music lessons, the best… everything. Because he deserved no less. And giving him those things made us happy and content. A happy family.
So on that windy night in May when I got the call about the house fire, my world came crashing down around me.
I wanted to scream as I stood outside the burning ruins of our happy home. But no sounds escaped my mouth and I simply sank to my knees on the dark gravel of the road. There were flashing lights and sirens as people scurried about our lawn. But all I could do was watch while everything I loved burned and billowed up into the dark sky.
It was our anniversary.
I wanted to cry, but I was unaware if the tears ever managed to escape my wide, terror stricken eyes. the Darkness that the weight of the grief brought upon my soul threatened to drag me under and hold me down. And I welcomed the peace of its relief as I felt the thread that held me to this plane sever irrevocably. I crumbled on the hard ground and watched my happy family go up in flames.
That's when I saw him. A tall fireman in sooty yellow garb running from the yard with a child in his arms. Not a child. My Light. My Edward. He had survived the fire that was raging furiously before me.
It was in that moment that I saw his bare, black feet dangling against the background of the burning house that I knew I had to push it back. No matter how impossible it may have seemed, I had to hold the grief in for his sake alone. I had to stand up and take the steps to the gurney they were lowering his body onto.
He was barely conscious as he lay in his singed pajamas. They were burned from his chest and stomach, and the sight of the charred flesh that was melting and blistering his soft and innocent skin made me retch violently beside the parked ambulance.
The people were speaking to me as I fought to regain control of my bodily functions and walk closer, but I didn't hear them. The only thing visible to me was Edward's tear stained, sooty face and his singed bronze locks as they loaded him into the back of the ambulance.
I went in with him. And not because I was told to, or asked to, and not even because I needed to know he was okay, though that instinct was surely ever present in my mind. I went with him to hum him to sleep when they sedated him. I stroked his ashen hair and kept my eyes away from the ministrations of the paramedics as he was lulled into unconsciousness by the sedatives.
As they worked on him behind the closed doors of a triage room, the authorities relayed to me the story of the fire and the fate of my husband. They gave me the most gruesome details regarding the condition of his charred remains. Details that would stick with me and haunt my memories for years to come.
Edward was in the hospital for only two nights, and I truly wish I could say that the job of caring for him was enough to keep my mind occupied and away from the overwhelming grief of losing my husband and soul mate. But it was still there. I fought it back and swallowed it down with every ounce of control I had as I tended to my Light, but it still swelled inside of me and threatened to pull me under and into the Darkness of my hopelessness.
My Edward suffered greatly for it. I was meant to care for him and mend his wounds, however physical or emotional they may have been. But my own wounds injured us both, and I was unfit every time the Darkness crept into my mind and I gazed into his flat, green eyes.
It didn't take long for me to realize this grief was inevitable. It would eat away at my soul indefinitely; pulling me down and transforming me into a broken shell that could barely function under the weight of it. It would bleed out of me and infect those I was dear to as they made every attempt to pick me up. It would destroy them every moment that I remained under.
Edward would grow up while watching me suffer, and in turn he would too. He'd spend his childhood caring for his broken mother and seeing the remnants of what she had been slip away from him. It would break him and dim that spark that I held so dear.
And I absolutely refused to let that Darkness take my Light. He was too special and too pure to allow such a blasphemous thing to desecrate him.
It was at the funeral that I had made up my mind. I bowed my head over my husbands casket and I swore that I would do everything in my power to assure Edward had the best chance for a happy future. The only way to make such a vow was to sacrifice. To send him to someone better. Someone whole who couldn't poison him.
That night, we slept at Ed's parents' large country home. I hadn't hummed Edward to sleep like I usually did and he came downstairs, likely seeking me out as I sat at the kitchen table and drowned my grief in the stale vodka from the never-used liquor cabinet of the Masen home.
It was torture to deny my child this one last thing. To hold him in my arms and hum him my song and watch as he drifted to sleep peacefully. But I knew if I went up those stairs and held him I wouldn't be able to let go. So I remained where I sat as I told him, without looking him in the eye in fear that the grief would show and the Darkness would penetrate and desecrate my Light.
When the words left my mouth as I gazed down into my glass, I realized he would need consoling for this. He wouldn't understand the logic and the sacrifice I was making, and he would hurt for it. It angered me that I couldn't be the person to ease that pain in him. It would fade with time, hopefully. And I prayed to whatever God it was I worshiped that his new family would make it up to him and give him the happy home I could no longer provide.
I made the arrangements before the Masens could even figure it out. They would want to keep him for themselves, and that wasn't good enough. I would still know where he was, and the pull to see him every day would be far too strong to resist. And most importantly, they battled their own Darkness from the loss of their child. It wasn't good enough for him.
Once he was taken away by the case workers of the state, I left their home without another word to the aging and grieving couple. I couldn't bare the accusation in their eyes as I drove away from the country in my car, alone.
I let the bustle of the city hide me as I drifted from one shabby motel room to the next. Always with the one item that granted me the numbness to face the Darkness and take it into myself wholly. I was drinking with purpose and intention every day that I made a trip to a corner store or a busy market.
I had considered suicide many lonely nights as I lay in a comfortingly uncomfortable bed. The urge to do so was at times overwhelming. Just the thought alone of being able to see him again.
I didn't know if I could consider myself a deeply religious woman. But my family had brought me up with certain beliefs and morals that I abided by faithfully. I wasn't quite sure, if there was a heaven, if I would even be allowed admittance into such a place. But Ed and I were two parts of a whole, and I knew deep in my heart that I would go where he was. He was waiting for me somewhere out there, and I was ready to meet him.
Few things held me back. Mostly fear. Fear that I wouldn't do it right, and I'd just end up injured and waited on in some second rate hospital in the bad part of the city. There was also a fear that such a sin would banish me from that heaven. I wasn't deeply religious, but I wasn't taking any chances where Ed was concerned either.
So I drank myself into stupor after stupor on a daily basis, and if God was compelled to explore the semantics of my intentions and actions, he may have thought it to be suicide anyways. Of course, even though I knew better, I couldn't find the strength to disapprove when I downed a bottle greedily and welcomed the Darkness.
Those were the times of night, when the Darkness had consumed my ever fiber, that I allowed my thoughts to drift to my Light. I wondered where Edward was and how he was doing. If his grades were good, and what the couple was like who was caring for him. I wondered if he ever grew to like sports when he was old enough, or if he still kept up with his piano lessons.
Most of all, I wondered if he was happy. I prayed for it, longed for it, begged the Darkness relentlessly for it. I allowed myself grand illusions of his normal daily routines and habits. I imagined that he was somewhere smiling at that exact moment, and it always made the sleep that the Darkness plunged me into that much more peaceful because of it.
Of course, I had no way of knowing really. I couldn't count the number of times I had to restrain myself from seeking out his exact location. I would reason that I needed just one look at his face, or one second to hear his voice. Just one glance to see how tall he had grown, or what parts of Ed had appeared with his maturing features. He would surely be just as dashing, if not more so.
I remained good on my vow throughout the years however, and I never strayed from the path the Darkness would inevitably force and shove me into daily. I could do no such thing and commit no such betrayal.
My Edward would be seventeen on this night. I never kept track of time or dates, but I always made sure to realize how he was growing into a man. And as I lay in my bed with the approaching Darkness daring to drag me under and tuck me into my glorious nothingness, I imagined that he was laughing and bright like the silver moon that softly illuminated the peeling walls of my shuttered and dank oblivion.
My slumber greeted me with that same magnificent vision that transcended my Darkness just enough to allow me a small grin as the empty bottle dropped from my hand and bounced off the grimy carpet with a gentle thud.
Because somewhere out there in the world, my Light was shining brilliantly among the twinkling stars of the clear May midnight.
A/N: Hope this answers some questions.
Things like "Darkness" and "Light" are capitalized intentionally. I got this idea while reading a fic by Minisionoo (Freaking amazing author. I have two of her stories favorited, and I implore you to read them this second!).
It made the words an entity and not just a concept. I hope I portrayed that successfully.
Reviews are just lovely.