AN: Okay, so listen. Ripple has been deleted (for those who've read it). I do not know why, or exactly when since I haven't opened my e-mail for a while. I'm not sure why it got deleted but I'm going to try to post it again. Not now, though. It might just get deleted all over again. For now, please try to enjoy this one-shot I've written to pass the time while I try to figure things out.

And I know this has been done a lot it's almost cliché, but this one's only a one-shot. Not a full-length story, so it's sort of different, I guess. And I must warn you, this one-shot contains heavy angst, it almost made me want to cut myself while writing it. You have been warned.

I'm going to end this massive excuse for an Author's Note now and proceed.

Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight.


"Some memories are realities, and are better than anything that can ever happen to one again." – Willa Sibert Cather

Oxygen

Eighty-seven years.

That's how long it has been since my heart was torn to pieces. That's how long it has been since my world crashed before my very eyes. That's how long it has been since the light of my darkness had gone out. That's how long it has been since the sun of my existence collapsed into an eternal black hole.

That's how long it has been since he left.

It has been eighty-seven years since that fateful day in the forest. It was quite a long time ago, but I can still remember it as perfectly as though it had only happened yesterday. I can still remember the eight words he'd spoken that signaled the destruction of my entire being.

It will be as if I'd never existed.

Yep. Merely eight words were all it took for my life to come crashing down on me like a ton of boulders—worse, actually. No amount of verbal pain could describe the feeling.

And though I've tried and tried to coax myself into moving on with life, I couldn't.

When he left, it was as if the world blacked out on me, and a searing hole burned into my chest. Everything was gone. I didn't have any reason to live anymore. Four months passed, and then I met Jacob Black. He was part of a small tribe in the Quileute lands in a private reservation called La Push. I thought by then I would be able to forget—the memories, the emotions, the way his amber eyes burned with such passion every time he looked at me, his voice, his presence, even his mere silhouette! I thought I would forget that all. But I was wrong—dead wrong.

With each day that passed, each minute I spent with Jacob, I forced myself—desperately, I might add—to return the feelings I soon found out he'd held for me. But no matter how hardly I'd tried, I knew it was not possible. It felt as if I were betraying my own heart, if I still had one, to try to move on when I knew fully well that a dominant part of me was not up to it. So I stopped, and let the pain destroy me.

Eventually though, I was changed. Something… Edward said I would never have to go through. But I did. He wouldn't care anymore, anyway. I never had any idea of when or how it happened. All I remembered was the feeling of hard, granite teeth digging into my skin before I was catapulted into the agonizing flames of hell.

Now, eighty-seven years later, I was on my own cold feet, running through a vast forest. But it wasn't just any ordinary forest. It was a forest where everything was green, every patch of earth was damp, deep green moss could be seen slithering along enormous tree trunks, and hanging over their thick branches were blankets of moistened vines and runners. It was silent, but not eerie, the cries of the jays and the whooshing of leaves under my feet as I ran took up most of the silence. I remember running through this same forest once eighty-seven years ago, but I was not alone at the time. It was one of the many memoirs this plain, though enchanting forest held that still haunted me over the years. Of course, being what I was now, I couldn't feel any pain. But running through a sanctuary—you could call it—that had once become part of the epitome of my existence was too strong for the numbness to conceal all.

To add to that, I knew the place I was headed was not going to help things either. But ever since my 'transformation', things—memories, to be exact—had all since been a giant blur.

And I wanted to remember.

Now as I accelerated through the serpent-like twists and turns, if I had a heart, I would feel its attempt at trying to rip at my ribs and leap out of my chest, and I would feel my blood pulsing through my veins like a maniac driving a Ferrari. But now there was nothing; nothing but complete and utter numbness.

Soon enough, my destination was clear enough for my new eyes to see. I could see the familiar lawn stretching out around the timeless white structure, though the whiteness of it wasn't very visible now that thick sheets of vines slithered up and across the cemented surfaces, and the gracefulness of the garden seemed to have lost its touch considering nobody has taken care of it in nearly nine decades in this deserted area.

And then as I calculated my movements, I realized that there were only sixty quick steps left before I was inside the warm—ironically enough—confines of the place I had once called home.

Fifty.

I closed my eyes, and let my senses take over.

Forty.

I heard the aural crunch of fallen leaves that came down from the cedars that shadowed most parts of the lawn.

Thirty.

I smelt the excruciating essence that traveled from every floor of the colossal edifice.

Twenty.

I felt the welcoming warmth of the front doors.

Ten.

I took a deep breath…

Five.

…and opened my eyes.

There I was, staring at the faded surface of the front door, standing still as a statue, on the very porch of the Cullen household. Slowly and very deliberately, I let my hand reach up to touch the dusty doorknob, twisting it open. The door squeaked louder than I'd anticipated, considering it hadn't been opened for over eight decades, and the dust bunnies that stuck to the edges and screws weren't of any help either.

I looked down and evaluated my every move, focusing on the baby steps my feet took, until I felt raspy wood touch the tips of my toes. I closed my eyes again, took another deep breath, before looking up and facing the sight I knew would come at me like a burning meteor.

Normally I would have broken down upon once again seeing something that held so much happiness and pain, but this time I was stronger—a little. Well, strong enough to have the courage to take more steps forward and urge myself to face reality—reality that had only once been fair, gives you all the bliss and contentment it could possibly give, makes you feel like the happiest person on the face of the planet, until it takes a snap at you and turns your life into a living hell.

My feet somehow produced a mind of its own and dragged me to the very middle of the room, as my gold eyes darted around the misty spaces, reabsorbing the feel and essence of the empty household.

Everything was still where I'd remembered them—to a certain extent, of course. Everything was white—covered in sheets, though my new and improved eyes were clear enough to see through the thin threads. The flat screen plasma TV still sat in perfect view of the long living room couch, and the small coffee table still lay in between the two pieces of furniture that hovered over the large velvety carpet. I looked to my right, and saw the wide range of stairs spiraling all the way to the second floor, mirrored by the glassy walls, and to my left, historic paintings and artworks still cascaded the concrete.

I sighed, and a memoir of his voice suddenly swirled through my head. No piled skulls in the corners, I don't even think we have cobwebs.

The voice tore through me like flames, and I looked around again. No piled skulls, indeed. No coffins, dungeons and moats. Nothing the mythical vampire's haunted castle held, although cobwebs had already started forming over the time. Other than that, it was still an image of a perfect, happy home.

But still, it felt incomplete. When I'd made the decision to come here, my one focus was to remember—from the good times when I watched Alice run frantically around the house in a desperate attempt to get the perfect photo of an Emmett porcelain doll after she dressed him up in ridiculous outfits that even Barbie herself wouldn't wear, and to the quite unfortunate times like that moment during my eighteenth birthday. That was the moment that had become the source of my infinite suffering, but I never resented Jasper for that, not once. I knew it wasn't his fault. It was mine, actually. I mean, opening presents were just about as easy and harmless as reciting the alphabet, and I, being the curse that I was, just had to get a paper cut.

It was my fault, and I had to face the consequences.

Sighing, I realized that it was better to run back to where I came from and forget everything—though I knew that was both a mental and emotional impossibility. When I'd made my decision to leave, I turned around, and then everything stopped.

There it was, standing on the raised platform just a few feet away from where I stood, in all its sheet-covered glory.

I took leisure steps toward the gist of my thoughts, and stepped onto the platform, placing my palm against the surface. Carefully, I pulled the white sheet from the object, and let it fall to the ground.

My eyes stayed focused.

It was the piano. His piano. The piano that held so many wonderful memories. Gently, I let my fingers graze over its glassy surface, afraid that it would collapse under my hands and the memories would vanish. It was still as elegant and grandiose as I'd once recalled, and the dim light coming from outside reflected upon its blackness. I reached the keys, and lightly tapped on them. I was surprised to see that it had managed to remain in tune for so long.

I took a seat on the piano bench and began playing. In the years that I'd become what I was, I'd decided to take the liberty of taking piano lessons, thinking that by doing that, I would probably be as close to how incredible he was with the certain instrument, and I had hoped that it would make me feel like he would always be wherever I was at. To add to that, I also decided to take the time to learn the beautiful lullaby he'd composed for me.

You inspired this one. I remembered him say.

I was content right there, right then, just listening as the notes and melodies fell through their cadences, still slightly incredulous that my hands were the ones responsible for the melodic rhythm that filled the room. I found contentment at the time, until I reached the near-end, and the keys sounded wrong.

I tried again. Still wrong. And I couldn't remember how to set it right.

I groaned, leaning my elbows against the keys and covering my face with my hands. The one thing that would help me really remember him, gone! Gone because I just had to forget! Stupid, blurry vampire memories…

And then another sound caught me by surprise. It sounded like a door creaking open. I looked up, to see who had come to disrupt my peace, and everything seemed to freeze simultaneously.

"Bella?" There they were, standing not more than ten feet from where I sat, staring at me with wide eyes. There they were—the Cullens. My ears immediately recognized the voices that had spoken my name—Alice, Jasper, Rosalie, Emmett, Carlisle and Esme. There was a new rush of excitement and adrenaline as I looked into their faces—still as dazzlingly beautiful as ever. But one was missing. And I knew who that was. Where was he?

And as if answering my silent question, they all parted like the Red Sea, and he walked through. I watched as he instantaneously went rigid as soon as he'd laid his eyes on me.

The emotion that shot through me then was incredible, staggering. It was so overwhelming to see his face again that if I were still human and had the ability to produce tears, I would be sobbing my eyes out. But instead, I stood there, frozen on the spot. He, too, seemed to have lost all feeling, and I could see his family was no different. They were all staring, intently, a whirlpool of emotions dancing like a rage of fire in their eyes. Apparently this was something even Alice wasn't able to see. But I paid no attention to that. I was too focused on the perfect contours of his glorious face.

He was still the same Edward I knew—no change at all—from the tousled bronze hair to the flawless lips, still Edward. My Edward. But there was something slightly different. The light that I'd always seen in his eyes was no longer there, not even a twinkle. Or maybe it was just the lighting, since the sun had already begun setting, and dusk was creeping closer.

And did I hear myself clearly? My Edward? How could I be thinking such things? It was wrong—utterly wrong—for me to keep hoping. He didn't want me. He didn't love me. He never did. He'd already made that clear during that fateful hour in the forest and I had to accept that, no matter how much it would hurt.

You don't mean anything to him anymore, my mind punctured. Deal with it. I suddenly found myself standing up, knocking the piano bench to the ground in the process, and I took a step back.

His golden eyes met my own, and every single nerve in my body screamed at me to turn around and run. Run where? My mind was telling me to run somewhere—anywhere—to a place where nobody could find me, and I could hide there, sulking and basking in the shadowy darkness, for the next thousand years of my existence. But my heart was telling me to run forward, straight into his cold, gentle arms, where it believed I belonged—forever.

I hadn't realized how preoccupied my entire being was until I felt a warm and gentle pressure against my face. I blinked, and he was right there, standing so close to me that I had to fight the urge to stand on my tiptoes and press my lips against his. But his touch was odd. The coldness I was expecting didn't come. I was confused for a second, and then I remembered. I was like him now. Of course he wouldn't feel cold to me. Instead, I felt warmth radiating from him, the touch of his fingertips against my skin sending shivers—if that was possible—down my spine, like an electric current gone wild.

And then, for the first time in eighty-seven years, I heard it. It wasn't a figment of my imagination or memory; it wasn't any part of my untamed hallucinations either. It was real. Right in front of me. And my advanced hearing only made it stronger.

"Bella…" The velvety folds of his voice snatched the oxygen right from my lungs—not that I had much need of it—and I gasped, loudly.

I heard it again. "Bella?" It was more frantic this time, and I my knees started wobbling, my breath ragging, desperate for air as the oxygen was still nowhere to be found. I'd heard that tone of his voice too much before, and it hurt to have to hear it again. It was the sound of his voice, worried and protective, filled with anxiety I couldn't explain. It was the sound of his voice that became the epitome that he cared. For me. And possibly even loved! How incredible the feeling was!

I noticed, in the corner of my eye, as Jasper seemed to take a sharp intake of breath before collapsing down on his knees as his family—the family I loved and will always love—Alice, Rosalie, Emmett, Carlisle and Esme—immediately ran to his side. Then I wondered, was that because of me? Were my emotions really so out of my control that they'd managed to tear through Jasper, the manipulator of emotions, himself?

And then I knew it was too much for me to handle, and I couldn't bear inflict any more pain to any of them anymore. I'd already done too much.

So I did the unthinkable.

I ran.

Not to a remote place where nobody could find me like my mind was screaming, but not straight into his arms like my heart was telling me either. I just ran. Plainly ran. Away. Anywhere but there. Anywhere but in a position where the power of his eyes had the capability of breaking me down. I couldn't bear to let him see me in the vulnerable and weak condition I knew I was headed to.

I ran, as fast and as far away as my feet would go, and the oxygen still hadn't returned. And then I remembered something he'd once said to me before, something he'd once told me in the same place I was running away from.

We don't need to breathe. It's not necessary. Just a habit. It gets a bit uncomfortable—being without a sense of smell.

Now I understood what he really meant. For vampires, air and oxygen weren't necessities. But surely, being without them made you terribly incomplete. There would always be something missing, and nothing would feel right. For me it was everything.

But in my case, I was already incomplete. That had happened eighty-seven years ago. I'd already been torn apart, and the only remnants left were the jagged pieces of a broken heart that all but belonged to me. And Edward, he would always be the one—the only one—who would be capable of putting the pieces back together. My entire world had found its purpose for existing the instant I set my eyes upon him, and that's not about change now. Nothing could and would change it.

As I let my thoughts run through a straight line, I could feel the breath of the damp winds of the twilight air whispering against my face, and I could, once again, hear the rustling of leaves under my feet whilst I ran. I didn't actually pay attention to how long and how far I'd already gone, but I knew it was not far enough that I couldn't hear his last whisper.

"I'm sorry…" His gentle whisper was broken, withered, as if he, too, had felt the same pain and suffering I'd felt in the years that we'd been apart. A tearless sob escaped my lips. Hearing his voice like that had given me an epiphany. An epiphany that proclaimed that he'd never once stopped loving me, and I couldn't help the dominant part of me from believing that.

And then a thought came to me. I didn't really know where I was headed at that moment, but I knew wherever it was, I would come back. Someday, and hopefully he would still be here, waiting for me. And when I come back, he would gather me into his arms and put me back together—like a broken glass. And once he'd healed all the wounds that had taken me over, we would be together again. Forever. Alice would be my best friend again, Emmett would be my bubbly big brother again, Rosalie would once again be the girl I wished to be—beauty and perfection and all, Jasper would be my own personal guidance counselor again, Esme would be the loving, caring mother that I'd always imagined, Carlisle would be my favorite doctor again, and maybe the oxygen I now longed would decide to come back.

Finally, Edward… he would be the strength that kept me living, the energy that kept me going, the determination that kept me hoping, the soul that kept me existing, the heart that kept me loving, and the oxygen that kept me breathing.

And I knew, no doubt—without question—that Edward Cullen would always be my oxygen.


AN: My friend actually derived a joke from that last line when she read this. She said, "Edward Cullen would always be my oxygen and Jacob Black would always be my carbon dioxide." Corny, eh? Spare us for that. Anyway… like it? Hate it? Review! And as usual, constructive criticism is always welcome! :)

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!