Usual disclaimer: All recognisable characters are the property of Stephenie Meyer. All of the 999 words that are not 'Edward' or 'Bella' are mine, though :)


Backwards

There are times in every person's life when they wish they could turn back the clock. Go back to the beginning, make different choices, bite their tongue.

If I could have done that right then, I wouldn't have hesitated. I wouldn't have thought twice about rewinding, having a second chance. Surely, then, I would get it right. Surely I couldn't mess everything up twice in a row.

Yet time has this merciless way of ticking by, regardless. Almost as if our petty human problems aren't dynamic enough to alter the space-time continuum. This is something I could never understand. If this wasn't a disaster on the largest scale, I don't know what was.

So that was how I was standing here, you see, trying to justify the altering of time, the calendar, the laws of nature. I know it was a lot to ask, but I would have done anything not to be here right now, pushing away the only person I have ever really loved.

Fate has a cruel way of giving you what you deserve, whether you want it or not. God knows, I earned this ending, but I would have done whatever it took to stave it off. My voice grew hoarse as the poisonous words spewed from my lips, the ones that hurt me infinitely more than the person they were aimed at.

"I've tried to get over you, to move on; I've tried! God, but you mess up my fucking life every time you walk into it!"

He just stared dumbly at me, arms hanging limply at his sides as he watched my rant in shock.

Seeing the bemused expression on his face, I lost any last shred of sanity I was retaining, throwing my hands up into the air and raving, "Oh God! Oh God, oh God, oh God! I can't do this! I can't!"

Beaten down, I sank onto the sofa, resting my face in my hands, elbows propped on my quivering knees. I didn't have to look up to know that his eyes, wide and disbelieving, had never left my hunched form.

"I can't do this," I whispered, despair loud in my strained voice. "I can't go on like this. We don't see each other for months and months, then you waltz back into my life with that Goddamn smile of yours and tear me into pieces! What am I supposed to do, Edward? Tell me, please! What am I supposed to think?"

He remained silent, eyes raking me over with evident alarm, touched with a hint of sadness. That was the final straw, as far as I was concerned; I would not have his pity. "Don't!" I shouted, my voice cracking and broken, a sob bursting from my lips. "Just don't. Don't feel sorry for me. I don't want your pity."

"Bella," he murmured, coming towards me, but I held up a hand to keep him away.

"I said, don't!" I screamed, sounding like I had escaped from an asylum, but finding it impossible to care. "Don't touch me, don't come near me."

He kept his distance, gazing at me with concern and confusion.

The silence stretched between us like a raging river that we dared not cross for fear of drowning.

My ragged breathing was the only sound in the room for some minutes.

Gradually, I calmed and unclenched my fists, which had unconsciously bunched in my hair. I inhaled, then exhaled deeply. "I don't think I can go on like this," I told him quietly, not meeting his eye. "I can't see you anymore. I can't see you every few months, for a few hours, then forget about it for weeks on end. I can't do that; I'm going insane."

He opened his mouth, as if to speak, but I cut him off, rambling deliriously. "Can't see you anymore – can't see you – I don't know if I can do that. Am I strong enough? Strong – I would have to be stronger – I am weak, aren't I? Am I weak?"

I quieted again, lost deep in thought, mutterings swirling around my fevered brain. Finally, I spoke again, my tone more rational and less terrifyingly deranged. "I don't know if I can do that, if I can cut you off like that. What I do know, though, is that I can't go on like this. I just can't, Edward."

I heard his breath catch and a footfall on the scruffy rug, sensing rather than seeing him move until he stood before me. Then, slowly, as if not to scare a cornered wild animal, he sunk to his knees and just looked at me. I stared back, taking in the way a crease seemed permanently carved between his eyebrows, and the way his lips puckered when he was distressed. I loved every fucking thing about him. God, I was in trouble.

"What are you saying, Bella?" he finally asked, his voice weary and seeming on the edge of breaking altogether. "Are you trying to say goodbye?"

He reached out as if to rest his large hand over my clenched fist, then thought better of it and gripped the fabric of his shirt, twisting it roughly between his tense fingers.

Our eyes met and locked and I felt as if I were falling, tumbling into his eyes, his face, his mind. Back through everything we had seen and done together. Back over every time he had held me, and every time I'd kissed him. Reliving every memory, every moment as if it were happening again right before my eyes.

In that second, I just wanted to go back. Back to the start, to do things differently, so we wouldn't be here now.

We were stuck.

Our choices were made; the die was cast. That's life, the way it is. No going back.

Time marches relentlessly forward and we have to keep up or be trampled. No matter how much you want to, you can't go backwards.

Can't go backwards.

Backwards.