Author's note: This was the piece I originally wrote to begin Survival: So I Left, but I lost it, of course, and only just now has it resurfaced. I liked the piece, though, and decided to go ahead and post it as a sort of alternate first chapter. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
No regrets, I told myself. Focus on the fact that you're saving his life. Saving all their lives. You will return someday. Focus on how happy you will be when that day comes.
I couldn't let myself feel the pain, the hurt at the thought of what I would be putting him through. I had to leave, I had to do everything as planned, or this would never work out. No place for unpleasant emotions.
He had been confused when I had asked to hunt alone tonight. He had given me a slightly confused look, waited for an explanation, then shrugged when I gave none. He knew me well enough to know I would tell him when I could, that if he had to wait, there was a reason. And he would wait.
I quickly, quietly penned the letter I had to leave him. I needed to at least leave him some explanation, for my peace of mind, and his. I brushed aside the thought that I would be leaving him without even a goodbye. He wouldn't know I wasn't coming back until he read the letter tomorrow.
And it would tear him apart. Not the betrayal, he would never see it that way, though I did. Not my leaving him. Not that I hadn't said goodbye. It didn't take that. The fact that we would be apart would do far more damage than the rest.
But it has to be that way, I reminded myself sternly. There really is no other option. I took a deep breath to calm myself and forced myself to feel happy, as if I were already back. The others would never accept that I had to leave, they couldn't know until too late to do anything about it.
I lay the letter on the bed where he would find it, and hoped that he wouldn't until after I had left. I wouldn't be able to bear the look in his eyes when he realized I was leaving.
I slipped downstairs, carrying nothing but the cash from my dresser drawer in my pocket. I wouldn't be able to escape notice with anything more. I paused halfway down, and raced back up the stairs and ducked into Jasper's room, knowing full well he was downstairs reading to Nessie.
She still loved being read to, though she had reached full maturity now, and Jasper was the only person she asked to read to her. Perhaps it was because he had been the first one to read to her, to settle down and read slowly, softly, as if savoring each and every word. He had instilled in her a love for reading.
I scanned his room frantically, trying to see where he would have put it. I knew he still had it, he wouldn't allow me to throw it out, and actually wore it when I wasn't around. I found it in the back of his closet and snatched it from the hanger, dashing to my room quickly so as not to be caught pillaging my husband's clothing.
I slipped out of my shirt and into his. It was old, one of the two shirts he had bought himself, and had worn until I expressed my distaste for wearing the same shirt so much. It was a flannel collared shirt, green and black plaid, soft and worn and drenched in his scent.
I breathed in deeply as I buttoned it up, then tried to tuck it into my pants. It had been a bit long on him, never mind me, and so was awkward, but I only needed to be able to hide it under the jacket I was now slipping into and zipping up.
I again made my way downstairs, reminding myself to act as if nothing were wrong, to feel as if nothing were wrong. He was waiting at the bottom of the stairs, his brow slightly creased, worried.
I forced a smile and stood on tiptoe to kiss his cheek. "I'm going out now." I told him, trying to sound bright and cheerful.
He studied me carefully, looking for something. He knew something was going on. He sent me a wave of calm I didn't realize I needed. "A vision?" He guessed. I nodded, aching to wrap my arms around him but not daring to.
"I'll tell you about it when I get back." I promised. He nodded patiently, content to wait. If only he knew how long he would have to wait. How long it would be before I did get back.
I didn't look back as I went out the door, didn't let myself think about him as I began running and continued through the night.
I ran until morning. I did need to hunt. I found a deer to satisfy me, and continued my journey, far away from home and the man I loved.
Disclaimer: Twilight and such the like are no possession of mine.