"They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself." - Andy Warhol
TEN MONTHS LATER
"Edward? Edward, you need to start packing."
Alice's voice startled me, interrupting my dazed state. I turned around to face her body and looked up and nearly had to smile. There she was, standing by my bed with my old vintage brown suitcase opened before her. I wasn't sure if I was going to tell her that the metal locks on the suitcase probably hadn't worked since 1950 and that I was keeping it mostly for collection's sake.
"I know," I replied, returning to my nearly cathartic state of idly turning steadily from left to right on the chair I had been sitting on for nearly an hour, in front of my laptop. I couldn't get myself off this chair, not before I figured out exactly what the hell I was going to do with this story.
"Leave it alone." I didn't need to ask to know she was talking about the blank page on the laptop screen. "You've been at it for months now. It's not going to start making sense all of sudden. So," she said, using her arm to gyrate my chair until I was looking at her bubbly, sweet self.
"Of course it will."
"I mean it," she said, this time with a firmer voice. "Get packing, Edward. We leave in two days, no excuses."
"Sure, sure. Don't worry." I looked at her, tenderly trying to make the metal locks work in any way and decided it was time to take a different approach to the God-fosaken story with no end. "I could use your female perspective on this, Alice."
"Oh, Ed, I wish I could. Truly. I just have so much to do before we get there, can it wait a few hours? I'll try to help tonight."
Nodding, I signaled for her to leave. "Go on, go take care of yourself."
"Don't forget to pack!"
I sighed as she left the room with a hop, adoringly blowing me a kiss as she left. You had to give it to Alice, she sure as hell knew how to be convincing, even when it came to me.
I looked back at the bed where the old suitcase taunted me with its emptiness. My biggest problem, although I wouldn't tell Alice fearing she would lynch me, was that I was pretty sure I had no washed or ironed clothes to fill that suitcase. I scowled to myself, wondering how in hell I was going to get out of having to wash, dry, and iron a bunch of clothes to go on some weird family vacation I didn't even want to go to.
I tried to remember why I didn't get out of going with Alice, Jasper, Emmett and Rose on vacation, but I remembered quickly. It was hard to say no a week in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with no parents around to bug you and nothing to do but lay lazily on the beach reading a good book seeing hot girls walking by. Didn't sound too shabby, am I right?
But what made me want to go the most was that I desperately needed inspiration. I had been working on this same story for so long, and things didn't develop as they should. I needed someone to read everything again and help me get back on track, tell me where I went wrong.
Involuntarily, my mind drifted to Bella, and the way she had once sat right there, on that same bed, reading this same story as if it was the most interesting thing she had ever read in her entire life.
I shook my head, cursing my lack of control. No thoughts of Bella. No good thoughts, no bad thoughts, no thoughts at all.
It was the way she wanted it, and it was the way she was going to have it.
To get my mind off her, I started picking up the random items of clothing I found on the floor of my room, before I heard a knock on the door.
Before I could tell whoever it was to come in, I saw Alice and Rose staring at me with gloomy eyes.
"We need to talk, Edward."
I signaled to the dirty pants and underwear in my hands. "I'm nearly done packing, don't tell me we're not going anymore," I winked playfully. When Alice didn't smile, I started to worry. "Please tell me we're still going."
"Oh, we're going. We're just not going to be alone."
"Oh?" I asked, not wanting to interrupt her. But no one spoke; instead we stood there, quiet but for the annoying sound of Rose clearing her throat a couple of times, urging Alice to keep going.
Rose finally spoke instead. "Well, Esme and I saw Charlie the other day while at the supermarket. And they started talking, asking how things were, you know the deal, and Esme at some point mentioned that we were going to be away from home for the next two weeks because we were going to Rio."
Alice didn't meet my eyes, and she didn't need to. As she spoke it became more and more clear where this conversation was going and I was having a hard time processing all this information.
When I didn't say anything, Rose continued. "So anyway, Charlie started saying how he had been thinking about calling us because he was about to take his trip again and he wasn't really sure if he was going to be able to this year and so things were getting really complicated and he really needed to talk to us," Rose rambled on and on endlessly, probably not wanting to mention the one name she wasn't sure I was able to listen to.
Not wanting to drag it out any longer, I nodded. "You're talking about Bella".
Her eyes brightened, relieved. "Yes! That's it. He didn't want to leave Bella alone here. Because she's older now and he knows she can take care of herself. Heck, she mostly takes care of both of them," she chuckled, elbowing Rose, who looked not at all amused. I sympathized with her.
"Anyway, Charlie didn't feel like leaving her all alone in their house. Probably because it's not like she would be there alone, she has Jacob now. And of course a father wouldn't want her to be all alone with her boyfriend of nearly a year for a week."
I couldn't say I disagreed with Charlie, but my face remained expressionless – or so I hoped.
Alice bit her lip, and there was silence again. I only nodded, mentally begging her to just come out and say it for once.
This time it was Alice who spoke. "So Esme – you know Esme – she felt terribly guilty that she hadn't remembered to call and ask if they needed for Bella to come over this year and one thing led to another and the next thing we know we're booking an extra flight for Bella and checking for a room in the villa we're staying at and so…"
My eyes felt so heavy, I had to close them as I spoke. "So Bella is coming with us."
I didn't need to open my eyes to know Rose and Alice were nodding.
My heart sank. Bella. Bella. The same Bella I had nearly lost my head for just a year before. The Bella I had secretly wanted to get away from that dickless prick - well, who I hoped was dickless anyway - Jacob for so long, before he finally won the battle.
After the stupid party where Bella and I had somehow ended up sleeping cuddled in our guest room we started texting each other back and forth for a few days. We agreed we should put our friendship first and forget all the other bullshit that we let get in the way. We talked on the phone every night. At one point I thought our relationship – or lack thereof - was starting to make some progress.
And then she was gone. And not just the texts or the late night calls. At school Bella started avoiding me. She didn't ignore me; she made it a point to say 'hello' and 'how are you' and 'bye, Edward' as we passed by each other, but she never looked at me the same again.
Eventually I confronted her about it, but she shrugged it off as being worried about school. Later she admitted Jacob had seen the texts and forbid her to talk to me. Forbid her. I asked her why she didn't tell him to go fuck himself, but my remarks weren't as well received as I'd hoped, and soon even the 'hellos' and the 'goodbyes' became rare occurrences.
At this point, we weren't on speaking terms. On my birthday I had expected a call or a text message from her, but it never came. I didn't know whether to blame her or the dickless bastard, but part of me couldn't believe she couldn't get away from him for a minute to wish me a happy birthday.
Alice interrupted my thoughts again. "Ed, are you okay?"
It took a long time for me to answer. Was I? Was I okay with being close to Bella again? Was I ready to face her and ask her why she had shut me off right as we started working things out? I didn't know the answer to these questions. I wouldn't know until I saw her.
"If Esme invites Bella's dickless boyfriend, I'm out."
"Sure, of course."
"And," I started, with a smirk, "I'm going to need your help packing."