Firstly, I would like to thank everyone who took the time to review. I appreciate it more than I can say.
Secondly, I struggled with the second part a bit more than the first. I'm still not entirely happy with it. The tone is much different as Edward is in a different mind-frame. Also it covers a much longer time period. The sparsity it also deliberate.
Thirdly, I think it's clear I know nothing about biology or anatomy. The references are only a device to break up the time and show some of Edward's turmoil.
It was a clean break. Just like the forest twigs that snapped underfoot. Quick, quiet, broken. Yet, it roared and echoed like thunder.
Her body went limp beneath me as the scream of fractured bone went through the house.
Downstairs, Esme and Carlisle leaped to their feet. They knew what the noise meant. Esme wanted to come up to me, even at my worst she wanted to give me comfort I didn't deserve.
"No," I heard Carlisle say, putting a gentle restraining arm across his wife. "Let him be."
They sank back down onto the pristine white couch. They planned and worried and fretted and even though I tried to block it, there was no ignoring the supportive bias in their thoughts. I hated the way the loved me right then.
The girl was gone. To a better place. Passed on. Slipped away. All those useless descriptions that all mean dead, dead, dead. Killed with my bare hands.
A calculated act, nothing like the wild monster that took over my senses in the woods earlier. I had the mens rea and the actus reus. I murdered her, in the hope that I was saving her. SOS. Was that the call of desperation I'd seen in her kiss?
Save our souls. That phrase didn't even really mean that. So many things were victims to common misconception.
Besides, only one of us had a soul.
One pure, innocent soul. Dead and gone. I had to believe it was the right thing to do. I saved her, right? From a non-life of blood and thirst and eternal damnation. She was better than that, better off in heaven where she belonged. An angel.
Textbook phrases were heard in my ears, my own mental voice reading clinical tomes. The seven signs of death.
For people as light skinned as Isabella Swan, the skin begins to pale almost immediately after death. She had been fair in life, milky white skin that hinted at delicacy and vitality beneath the surface.
Now, her skin was taking on the ashy grey colour of a boiled carcass. I still couldn't take my eyes off her, as she paled before my eyes and perversely I still found beauty in her appearance.
Her flesh was whiter than mine. I wondered if my sharp cheeks had taken on that slight glow, the one that came with the energy of warm blood. A watered down version of her blush. I remembered the rosy hue on her cheeks, the ones that would never blush again.
Already, Isabella's body was cooling beneath me. A human wouldn't have noticed the drop in temperature but I mourned the loss of every single degree of warmth.
I couldn't let her go and waited until her body was cold before I moved even an inch.
The others had all returned and were gathered around the dining table downstairs. They planned and discussed our options. The subterfuge necessary to hide protect me from my crime and us from exposure.
I would raise no objections to their plans. I had a body to conceal.
Disentangling myself from twisted sweaty sheets, I left her deathbed.
Conversation downstairs ceased at my movement and Alice dashed to my side, wringing her hands. She was the designated helper; sent to make sure I didn't leave any evidence. I didn't greet her or look at her. I hardly acknowledged her presence.
"I need her jacket." she murmured too gently.
I froze. I was busy zipping it closed.
"Why?" It was hard for me to choke out that one syllable.
"Evidence," she explained, rifling through a drawer. "The search party will find it and believe there was an animal attack. It's better this way. Kinder her to her father…"
"Fine." I cut her off and removed the jacket. It was cold now too.
"Here-" When Alice took the coat, she handed me a sheet. "I see you want to do this alone. Wrap her in this. Be discreet. Don't let anything fall. Keep a listen out for passers-by, they might be searching already."
"Already? She…school hasn't even been out that long."
Alice looked out the window pointedly. It was pitch dark.
"Do what you have to do. We'll take care of things here." she said and left.
I kept staring at the infinite night sky.
Downstairs Esme was preparing cleaning supplies and considering new carpets. I shook out the sheet in my hands.
Isabella Swan was to be buried in four hundred thread count Egyptian cotton.
When the heart no longer beats, blood settles and gives a bluish tint to the skin. Comparable to the circles under my eyes - but all over.
I left through the window, feeling too animalistic to put on a human façade. Or maybe I just didn't want to face my family downstairs. Still, I could hear their thoughts through the glass wall. I was mirrored in their minds and I did not like my reflection.
I went straight towards the river that bordered our property. My intention was to get as far away from that blasted school as necessary and escape all thoughts while I was at it.
But as I made the leap over the water, gravity and the wind disturbed the make-shift shroud. It exposed the crown of her head. Her hair was matted and the light of the moon shone a halo on her locks. The irony of the image was not lost on me.
A single leaf flitted loose and glided to the surface of the river below before being lost to the murky depths.
It struck me then, that the corpse was filthy and I did not like this fact. It did not match with the clean innocent memory of the girl. Granted, her essence was gone - her soul.
But surely she deserved the respect of…what?
A proper burial on consecrated ground was not an option.
I hesitated on the river bank, wavering. The wound was closed. I could hide the trail and her father would find her before…
"That's not a good idea Edward." Alice was here. Again.
Why didn't her gift ever work when it mattered?
"That would arouse too much suspicion - the police, the Quileutes. It won't look like an animal attack. It'll seem like murder."
"It was murder." I replied.
Alice sighed. "We cannot be associated with this. Please, Edward. You know this. We've been here before."
She began to remember a vision of brown curls and red eyes, but caught herself. Perhaps that was why they sent her - she was good at controlling her thoughts.
"Do you see how I was right?" I asked her suddenly. "You must do. Don't you?"
Her reply was blunt. "No. Not really. But I see why you think so."
With the corner of my sleeve, I wiped some a smudge from the corner of the forehead, where the shroud had slipped. Underneath, the skin was a sickly mauve.
"Let me," spoke Alice. "I'll wash her before you go any further."
She held out her hands to me. I cradled the bundle closer to my chest.
"Please," Alice almost begged. "I know what you want. Please. She was going to be my friend too."
I acquiesced. I turned my back and shut my eyes while my sister cleaned blood, sweat and grime from the body of my victim.
My mind was closed. I didn't want to watch - it seemed too voyeuristic, too invasive. But still I saw. Glimpses of mottled flesh, angry bruises and how long it took for Alice to untangle her hair.
I wondered idly, if Isabella had ever been baptised and what prayers would have been said at the ceremony.
Alice covered her face for the last time and I willed myself not to look again. It was ingrained in my memory anyway.
"Thank you, Alice." There was a lump in my throat.
"Anytime is the wrong reply," she thought wryly.
"Burying her under running water is a good idea," she told me instead. "No-one searches there."
I didn't correct her assumption and waited for her to leave before continuing on my one-man funeral cortage.
Loosely defined as the contraction of muscles, leading to stiffness of the body. I knew all about that.
After the burial, I went home and showered. Boiling water washed muck and blood and all the other remnants of the day down the drain. I scrubbed my nails until there wasn't a speck of dirt left beneath them and then I used the brush on my body.
When I emerged from the steamy cocoon, the clothes I had discarded were gone from the floor of my room. A small bonfire flickered through my window, struggling to stay alight against a torrent of rain.
The cool leather of my couch stuck to my wet skin. I resigned myself to dressing in clothes that did not touch her. The scent was almost gone to the others, masked by air and bleach. But it was in me and about me and I doubted I would ever forget it.
I would not look in the mirror.
Rain pounded on the window, streaming down glass in jagged lines. It continued relentlessly and I remembered the taste of her tears. If every drop represented unshed tears, it would not be enough.
My body felt stiff in a way that was alien to my unnatural state. My limbs wouldn't move the way I wanted them to. My brain was too loud. Particles of dust landed on my skin and itched me. Her blood gave my muscles too much power, too much energy. They were coiled tight and ready to spring. I wanted to feel weak.
If I had a different nature, I would have given in to temptation and the urge to go downstairs and lie in the sheets she died in.
I wanted the lingering scent even fresher in my nose and the memory of her body beneath mine.
I wanted to go down to my piano - to hammer out the rage or relay that eerie melody that kept ringing in my ears.
I wanted to throw objects around in temper - to smash glass and punch around me and shatter my physical world to it's foundations.
I wanted to scream.
I wanted the release of sobbing real tears.
I wanted the relief of sleep.
I got none of what I wanted. So I simply lay on my couch, as stiff as a board, and waited for the new day to dawn.
The tissue of all dead things breaks down to simpler matter over time. We were no exception.
I had to go to school the next day and the days that followed that, for the sake of remaining inconspicuous and out of consideration for my family.
The car journeys were silent. Rosalie refused to let me drive. On the first day, I was thrown to see the ugly red truck still in the parking lot. If I'd been at the wheel, we would have crashed into it.
Rosalie just parked as far away as possible and Emmett held my attention in his thoughts so I wouldn't have to look. Everyone else in the area stared at it.
The school was abuzz with rumours and crocodile tears. I heard all the opinions - good and bad. We all had to speak to Mark, the earnest officer in charge of the case. He wasn't suspicious when I informed him I knew nothing. No-one had.
The search went on for two days. And though I knew they would find nothing, still I feared. The whole town got out to help. This was the biggest thing to happen in decades. Emmett and Jasper even volunteered and they may have fabricated some convenient animal tracks. Or maybe it had been decided that the heavy rain had washed away any potential evidence. I had stopped listening to details but my cursory looks into the minds of the police force had confirmed they had no leads.
I'd be lying if I said it wasn't a relief when they called off the search.
I did consider going to Alaska despite the timing. My unwillingness to cause any more hurt to Esme was the only thing to prevent me. And it only barely did. Since leaving was avoidable and the other actions weren't, I chose to stay.
I wasn't ready to leave her behind yet.
Also, I was never any good at coping without my family. The ones I had been pushing away and avoiding. I only saw them in school really.
Biology was hard. On the first day, everyone stared at the empty seat. Michael Newton, remembered my bizarre behaviour the previous day but did not associate with the disappearance. He was more concerned with his own missed opportunities.
Humans were selfish like that.
When death was declared, the students grieved. Youths are always shocked when faced with their own mortality. In their minds, they glorified and beatified the girl. Remembered her as prettier and funnier than she was. The missed someone they never knew, who hardly touched their lives.
The immortal murderous seventeen year old who walked among them could identify with that.
The following week, Isabella Swan's cameo appearance in Forks became old news. An astute student compared her to the victim killed off at the beginning of a horror movie.
So I no longer had to hear about how Charlie Swan was a broken man. Though the memory of him finally coming to remove her truck from the parking lot would haunt me forever. He came while class was in session, and he was full of quiet jumbled thoughts. Bitter over a fall out with his friend and something about his ex-wife. I couldn't quite catch what he was thinking - grief did that to people.
But I saw too much with my heightened senses and witnessed him sob with his head on the steering wheel until a bell rang and he drove away.
That parking spot became the location for a new tragedy and gave the good people of Forks a new loss to rubberneck at.
One icy morning, Tyler Crowley lost control of his van. It skidded into a vacant car and he died on impact. It was horrible. We had to restrain Jasper. Ben Cheney shredded the skin on his arms on broken glass in a valiant attempt to save his friend.
The scent hardly appealed to me at all.
At any rate, there was a new tragedy. The populace had grown up with this person and watched him die in front of their eyes. There was a tangible loss, real grief and an actual body.
I was relieved to get a day off school so I could visit that place. Though the endless torture of being alone was definitely harder than school.
Counsellors were brought in and offered to all. A forest ranger and a motoring expert gave talks on safety. Curriculums were modified to remove anything offensive. In English, Emily Dickensen was decided too morbid. We were to study Frost instead; a poet usually reserved for the senior classes. They waffled on about roads and woods and fire and ice.
The analysis could have made me scream with boredom, if only for the pervasive memory of warm pliant lips on mine that could not be suppressed.
The teacher called on me unexpectedly, interrupting my wicked reverie. He hoped that my class participation might match the standard of my homework. Even was bored with inane descriptions of assonance and alliteration. He waited for me to tell him which was the most effective poem so far. I hadn't done the reading. I knew it all by heart.
"Out, Out." I told him. My voice sounded strange in my ears. The first time I'd heard it in while.
He waited for me to tell him why.
"The closing line," I explained. "And they, since they were not the one dead, turned to their affairs."
He did not call on me again.
It was decided that the school would hold a joint memorial service. Attendance was mandatory. Volunteering to help was optional. Since it meant free classes, there was no shortage of assistance.
I was in study hall alone, thinking about what I'd done. That was all I ever thought about. I agonised over my choice. I tortured myself with Alice's fruitless visions. I hated myself for what I had done and who I had become.
"Shoot. I didn't think there would be anyone else in here," The thoughts of Angela Weber reached me and she peered through the door. "Has he seen me? I better go in. If only he wasn't so intimidating…"
She entered the classroom and sat three rows away. I was a little surprised that the preachers daughter wasn't involved in the service. I would have thought she'd be leading the choir.
She was tall and she bumped her knee under the desk. She winced and in that moment she seemed so young, so human, so like…
"Um…Edward?" she asked nervously. She was right to be nervous. Look what happened to the last girl I was alone with.
It was a huge effort to lift my head and answer. "Yes?"
"Did anyone take attendance?" she asked.
I shook my head. "There's a sign in sheet on the desk."
"Thanks." she replied. I prayed, not that any God would listen to me, that she would not ask me anything else.
"You're not helping with the service." she observed.
Angela was kind but she was not that bright.
"My sisters did the flowers," I answered blandly. I had shaken my head when Alice considered freesia. The invoice was delivered to our house the previous afternoon while I was ditching biology - several thousand dollars worth of lilies and roses. Far too much for the makeshift altar in the gym. I paid over the phone with my credit card.
"I saw them," she answered. "They're lovely."
She knew I was avoiding something - but she was concerned and curious rather than suspicious. I wanted to tell her she was wasting her sympathy on me. She bit her lip and twirled her ponytail. I spoke again to get her to stop that.
"Aren't you helping?" I asked. "Isn't your father leading it?"
"He is, in a non-denominational non-biased way." she replied with a tinge of disdain. "I will attend of course, I have to. But it's turning into a circus and I'd rather pay my respects in my own way."
I tried to give her a small smile but my mouth was unaccustomed to moving that way. She got a grimace that unnerved her.
"At least you're not a hypocrite." I mused.
In her head, Angela came to a realisation about why I wasn't there. But she disagreed with my statement.
"I am." she told me. "I say nothing and I will play the doting daughter at the service. That is as hypocritical as anyone else. But I've prayed. I've spoken to my father about it. I've asked for God's forgiveness."
"What do you need forgiveness for? What could you have possibly done wrong" I asked, without thinking. Hers was one of the kindest minds I'd ever encountered. If she was a sinner, what did that make me?
"I've done many things wrong. We all do. But God knows when intentions were pure. And if I ask, and I mean it, then He will forgive me." she stated resolutely.
Well, at least she had hope for redemption. It was too late for me. But oh, how I wanted to believe her.
Angela got flustered - embarrassed by the way she had spoken to me. I couldn't look at the blush that crept up her neck. I put my head back down on the desk and the conversation was over.
But still, I couldn't ignore her thoughts.
"He looks so different. He's normally so composed. He's an orphan, these deaths may have affected him more than he lets on. He's been unravelling before my eyes…haunted."
From then on, I tried harder to be normal. I put my mask back on. I spoke with more care. I hunted regularly. I went back to listening for errant thoughts that could expose us. I made an effort for the sake of my family.
I almost slipped once. I went to the Swan residence in the dead of the night. I lingered on the upstairs windowsill and breathed in her nearly gone scent. I thought about what it would be like to touch her things and look at the scattered books and lie on her bed.
But I stopped myself. I was trying to do the right thing, though that never worked out for me.
I went to the meadow instead.
The meadow was my own little secret. I was the only one in the family that had any. They never pried though they all wondered about where I had been sneaking off to. They made wrong assumptions that I didn't bother to correct or explain.
I went there everyday and lay on the dewy grass. Sometimes I hummed, sometimes I was quiet.
I spoke out loud- in hushed reverent tones. I told about my day and my non-life and things that were significant and inconsequential.
I replayed the kiss over and over again in my head, revelling in the depravity.
Flowers began to bloom. Animals awoke in the forest. Worms burrowed in the soil.
Some days, I hated myself. Others, I tried to forgive myself.
I tried to tell myself I was right and that at least she was at peace. I would never be.
Sometimes, I deluded myself into thinking I felt something there. A presence. Her. but I knew I was not going to get that mercy.
When the decomposition process is over, skeletonization occurs. It can take months or years but eventually, everything is sold again. Just missing important parts.
In the meadow, I saw myself for what I truly was. A monster who tried - and failed- to do the right thing.
I learned to live with the consequences of my actions. I was ugly, surrounded by beauty. I was alone with my thoughts.
And I was sure, without the shadow of a doubt, that two wrongs could never make a right.
Six feet beneath me a body lay rotting. Isabella Swan - the only girl who would ever touch my heart.
Thanks for reading! I hope my morbidness was not too disturbing for you all. Sorry for any possible typos. Again, feedback is most welcome. I would love some more reviews for this. I'll also answer any questions you may have.
Edit- I thought it was clear but I must have been mistaken. The story is complete. That's all folks.