The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot
You are the smell before rain,
You are the blood in my veins.
Call me a safe bet
I'm betting I'm not
I'm glad that you can forgive
Only hoping as time goes
You can forget.
by Brand New
Bella was coming over, and I was happy. She was only here for a month every summer, which sucked because that meant she hadn't been in my kindergarten class and wouldn't be in my class next year either, because she'd be going home soon. But she was coming over to play with me today and that's all I thought about because that's all that mattered.
I bounced in front of our big windows in my house, watching as the cop car Bella's dad drove pulled up to our house and they both got out.
Mommy threw a smile at me as she went to open the door for them, and I hopped behind her, impatient to start playing. When Bella and her dad got to the door, she beamed at me and yanked her hand out of her dad's and ran to me, hugging me tight. I'm not supposed to like her hugging me according to my friend Emmett, but he's not around right now and I take this chance to just like it, hugging her back. Her brown hair is kinda frizzy and it gets in my mouth because I'm smiling so wide, but I don't mind because she smells really good.
"Let's go play in the backyard," I tell her. It's not raining out, and I like to play outside when I get the chance.
"Behave," both of our parents yell after us, and her dad calls to her to have fun. She nods and smiles, and then takes my hand and pulls me to the back of the house, to the sliding glass door. She knows the way. I kinda don't like it when she holds my hand, because then my hand starts to get real hot and sweat and that makes me blush because I don't want her to let go of me because of that.
"Hey Edward," she says when we're outside, turning to smile at me. She has a nice smile. And a nice voice. I like it when she says my name. It makes my heart beat faster. "Guess what my dad bought for me? I asked him to buy another one so you could have one too."
"What is it?" I asked, happy that she thought of me.
She reached into her pocket and I hear crinkling. She pulled out two ring pops and held them out in her palm, giving me the option to pick which one I want. I smile at her and pick the one closest.
"Thanks," I say, unsure of what else to do.
I go to open it but I see her biting her lip, and then she says "Wait! I um…had an idea, of what we could with them."
She's still biting her lip but now she's smiling at me, her eyes looking really pretty. "Could we play Wedding?"
"How do you play that?"
"We pretend to get married, duh silly."
I get the feeling that I should be saying no to this, but she's still looking all pretty at me, and I say "Yes" without thinking about it.
"Yay!" she squeals. She looks over at the end of our yard, where the woods begin. There's a path there, and the tress on either side bend toward each other, making like an 'n' shape, and kinda looking like they bent like that to be closer together. "Let's get married over there," she says, pointing to that beginning of the bath, where the bending trees are.
"Okay," I say, and we walk over there.
"I need flowers," she says suddenly.
I think for a minute. "Wait here," I tell her, and I run to the front yard. I'm pretty good at running. It's not hard for me. My parents always have to tell me to stay in one spot, but that is hard for me. In the front yard there's a garden my mom made with lots of flowers. I see lots of ones that look pretty enough for Bella, and hope she'll like them. I'm not supposed to touch them, but I take some anyway and hope Mommy doesn't notice, or at least that she understands.
I run back to the backyard, breathing a little harder, and skid in front of Bella, handing her the bouquet. "Here," I pant.
Her eyes get all big and her cheeks turn red and she's biting her lip again. "Thanks Edward," she whispers, and my heart beats weird.
She points to the bending trees. "Go stand there," she says. "I have to walk toward you."
I nod and do as I'm told, standing there with my hands held in front of me. My leg is twitching. I don't like this standing still. I get the urge to move again. But I see Bella beginning to walk toward me with slow steps, the flowers in front of her, and she's smiling at me. My leg stops twitching a little, and I smile back.
She stands in front of me and smiles. I smile too, but I get the feeling something is supposed to be happening. "What do we do now?" I whisper.
"Oh yeah!" she says, her eyes widening. She reaches into her pocket with hand and gets out her ring pop. I do the same mimicking her.
"Okay," she starts, taking a deep breath. "Edward Cullen, do you take me to be your awfully wedded wife, for ever and evers, as long as we live?"
"Um…I do," I say, feeling weird. She smiles and sets her flowers down so she can open her ring pop, and puts it on my finger. The ring pop is big and feels heavy. Serious.
I take a deep breath because Bella's looking at me, waiting, and I know it's my turn. "Bella Swan, do you take me to…" For some reason my throat closes up and I can't speak. I'm looking at her and she looks so pretty. I just feel like if I finish, she'll say no.
But instead she seems to understand, and smiles nice at me. "I do," she says.
My hands are shaking as I tear open the ring pop wrapping, and place it on her tiny finger. The ring pop looks so big in comparison, I don't feel like it's going to stay.
She smiles at me again. "You may now kiss the bride," she whispers, and I freeze. I've never kissed a girl before. I don't even hang out with them, except for Bella.
I watch TV though, and I've seen movies. I hold her face in my hands, and her breath gets faster, her eyes bright. Feeling better, I lean forward and press my lips to hers. They're really soft, and this feels nice, but I feel like I'm supposed to do more. I tilt my head to the side like they do in movies and open my mouth. She does the same, but our teeth hit. This doesn't feel so good anymore. I wished I'd just stayed like before. I close my mouth and so does she, and it feels better again.
I pull back before she can.
She's smiling real big. "That was nice," she giggles, and begins to eat her ring pop. "I've never kissed anyone before."
"Me neither," I say.
I start to eat my ring pop too because I want to kiss her again, but I'm afraid she'll push me away.
It's junior year, and prom is coming up soon.
I try not to think about it because there's only one person I'd want to go with, but I'm terrified of asking her.
I still consider Bella my best friend, and I think she considers me the same, but we don't hang out as much as we used to. It's not that she hangs out with other people more, or that I do. We still sit at the same lunch table. We're still partners in the classes we have together. She doesn't go out with friends anymore than I do. But for some reason, we just haven't been talking as much as we did. I know that's my fault. I've been blocking myself off from everyone, but especially her.
She terrifies me.
I try not to look at her too much these days. It's the end of junior year, and I can already feel the end of high school coming. A year more, that's all I have guaranteed with her. I don't know what's going to happen after that. It seems like I should be trying to spend as much time with her as I can, but I'm pulling back.
I can't help it. I move too fast, too early.
I'm sitting in my chair in Biology when Bella walks in. She takes her seat beside me, and smiles hesitantly, wondering if I'll respond today. I do. Her face brightens, my heart pangs, and I ask her some silly question to which she eagerly responds. Today is just one of those days where I need to be near her.
Newton walks up behind her, ignoring me, and taps her on the one shoulder. She turns in that direction, interrupted in the middle of her sentence, but Mike sidesteps to the other side, laughing at his little joke. I scowl darkly. Idiot.
"Hey Bella," he says, smiling at her. "I was just wondering…well, you know prom is coming up - "
Bella's face is turning pale.
" - and you know, if you weren't going with anyone…"
"Oh um…" Bella stammers, blushing. Her eyes quickly dart to me and look away but I don't miss it. Impulsively, the most impulsive - and bravest - thing I've done to date, I say:
"Well too bad Newton, because she's going with me."
I don't look at her, aware that I haven't given her an option of saying no, and glare at Newton until he walks away, scowling and defeated. Then I turn wearily to her.
Strangely, she doesn't look like she minds that I vouched for us. "I'm going with you?" she asks, amused. Her eyebrow raises.
"Yes," I say firmly.
She smiles, and I feel relieved.
Prom day dawns with the ever-present clouds hanging over Washington. The day passes in a rush as I run around the woods outside my house, before suddenly I'm standing in front of a full-sized mirror, wearing a tuxedo and nervously straightening my tie. My hair isn't as crazy as it normally is, but it's not behaving either.
My mom takes pictures, my dad winks proudly at me, and then I'm in my car, corsage in hand, about to pick up Bella who, against all odds, is going to prom with me.
I walk up the steps to her house, and I knock on the door, trying to breathe. Her father opens it, letting me in. He's known me since I was a kid, and trusts me. "Bella," he calls. "Your…date is here."
He glances warningly at me. Known me since I was a kid or not, I am suddenly a 'date' and dates aren't to be trusted, because they break girl's hearts and hurt them, and specifically his little girl.
I see a black shoe, kitten heel, emerge at the top of the steps. Slowly the shoe descends, followed by a long, graceful, smooth, pale leg, and then the hem of a swishy dress, followed by the waist and breasts and hair and face of an angel encased in blue, who is suddenly in front of me, smiling nervously.
My heart breaks. She's so beautiful. She can't be mine.
"You look…beyond words," I murmur, taking her hand and kissing it. Her father clears his throat and breaks my reverie, and Bella's too judging by the way she jumped.
"Be safe," he tells us on the way out. "And have fun…but not too much fun," he mutters warningly at me, too low for Bella to hear.
"I'll take care of her," I promise.
I hope I won't break it.
We talk in the car, and magic happens. It's like old times. The future disappears, and we're best friends again, talking, laughing, smiling.
I fall in love all over.
I hold onto her tightly when we get to the dance, because she's notorious for her poor balance. And maybe I just want to steal these few precious hours to hold her tightly before I have to let go. Because I know I'm going to have to, having seen how beautiful she is tonight.
"Dance with me," I lean down and whisper in her ear at some point.
"Um, are you sure that's a good idea?" she asks, her eyes panicked.
"I'm positive," I say gravely, and she bites her lip, relaxing and letting me lead her onto the dance floor. I hold her close, swaying gently with her. She looks up at me the whole time, her head on my chest. My heart grows and breaks with every beat. I'm positive she can hear it, as close as she is.
I stare at her lips and she stares at mine.
The bleak future crashes back down in my head. This is the only guarantee, the only time I have promised to me.
I tighten my hold and dance slower with her, savoring it.
When I take her home late that night, I walk her to the door. The lights are off, which surprises me. Maybe Charlie trusts me after all. Bella faces me on her porch, fiddling with her purse as we talk quietly. Without wanting it, our talk ceases and we're left staring at each other expectantly.
Taking a deep breath, I lean forward towards her, and gently kiss her. It feels as good as I remember. I haven't kissed since then, but I still know what to do far better than I did back then. I put my hand carefully in her elegant curls and press her closer to me, tilting my head, opening my mouth. She does the same, and we're much more successful this time as our tongues touch. Suddenly it seems like the sure knowledge of a bleak future grips her at tightly as it grips me, and our kiss turns more furious. She knows that this is going no where, and that's entirely on me. We kiss and take what we can now that we have the chance. She doesn't understand why this is it. Maybe she never will because maybe I'll never tell her.
Hours may have passed and I break away gasping. I kiss her mouth softly once more and turn to walk down the stairs. I turn back at my car and I can't really make out her face except that she's still staring at me. All I can see of her clearly is her skin glowing in the starlight.
Funnily enough though, we ended up going to the same college. It was more than I wished for. I let myself believe that high school was it. I was glad that I still had another guaranteed four years with her.
I knew she was confused by my behavior. After prom, I retreated inside my music, my room, my self. When we got our acceptance letters, we became best friends again. I was just grateful that she seemed eager to still know me.
She comes over to my apartment every Friday night, so we can help each other with homework, adjusting to college life, and hanging out in general.
It was Friday night now, and we sat on my couch, watching some movie. I kept my arm around her shoulder and she leaned her head against me.
"Edward," she whispered, suddenly. I felt a weight in it.
"…Yes?" I ask, scared for some reason.
"Have you ever had sex with anyone?" She keeps her eyes glued to the screen.
I was silent for a moment. "No Bella. I haven't."
"I haven't had sex with anyone either. And…" She took a deep breath and shifted to her knees next to me, making me meet her determined gaze. "I want you to be my first again."
Why me? I want to ask her, but I was scared to know the answer to that because it might shift my perspective and change everything. I let my finger trail down her cheek. "I want that too Bella," I murmur.
Looking relieved, she puts her arms around my neck and presses her lips to mine for the third time in our lives. It's my third kiss. I think it's hers too. I try not to think about that.
I pick her up and carry her to my bedroom. I gently shut the door and encase us in darkness, but I turn on my bedside lamp. I want to see her.
We kiss for a long time, more thoroughly than we ever have. She tastes as good as she's always smelled. It's a haunting, clinging type of thing that I know stains my memory better than most things. I call upon our other kisses often when I'm alone and tired and it's dark. I know that when it's all over, this will be no different.
She removes my shirt and I remove hers. Her hands touch me gently, tracing me, and I trail my hands over her, learning her. We work in tandem, but I tell myself this can't be unique. I remove her bra and manipulate and tease her flesh, touching and tasting, doing whatever brings that pleasure to her eyes, whatever makes her moan. She moans a lot. I do too.
She removes my pants and I remove hers. Our underwear meets the same fate and we're bare there together. I'm vulnerable suddenly and my leg twitches slightly. She puts her hand on my thigh and shushes me softly, pressing her lips to mine gently. I bite my lip and my leg stops. I bite her lip for her too, sucking for a bit. Our hands touch and explore the other, learning what we can before this is all over. Because we both know that this will all be over when the night ends. She strokes me to a sweet release and I tease the same response from her. We look at each other, our eyes connecting often.
She pulls me down on top of her and we kiss again as I press inside. She feels so perfect. My heart breaks. We moan together, but she's in discomfort. I wait. I can do that for now, for tonight. My life is just one big paradox of moving around while I'm waiting frozen, for something. Our hips begin to move and she's so silky and soft and willing underneath me, whimpering and sighing. I touch my forehead to hers and say all my secrets in my head, hoping that somehow she'll hear them when we're connected like this. I know she won't, and I don't want to ruin this all by telling her what I know. She's beautiful and everything I want. Tears spring forward and I bury my tears in her hair as we climax together, crying out softly at the same time.
I pull out and hold her close for a few moments, but my eyes land on my clock, watching it tick. She falls asleep in my arms and my eyes alternate between her and the blinking red numbers. She wakes up a couple hours later as I'm sitting up. It's early in the morning, or late at night, and no one should be awake but I am.
"I have to go," I whisper to her.
She looks up at me with those perfect, beautiful brown eyes. They look sad but they also look like they already knew this would happen.
"If you think that's what's best," she says quietly.
I kiss her softly one last time. "I do, because you'll think it is too one day," I whisper, letting her know one part of my secret fear, but knowing she won't understand.
I reach over and turn the lamp off.
It's four years later, and we're graduating. It's the proudest day of my parent's life. It's the worst day of mine.
Bella and I remained friends, and we never spoke of that night. But our lives were beginning after today, and I wondered if this would be one of the last times I'd ever see her.
We sit at the ceremony, but we're completely apart from each other because our last names are so different. I turn to look at her and she's looking at me too. I smile softly at her, and she grins back, but her eyes aren't affected. They look serious. I gulp and turn around.
The ceremony goes off without a hitch. I receive my diploma, I shake hands, my mom takes pictures and cries, we all throw our caps in the air. I'm mechanical.
When it's all over, Bella finds me, weaving through the crowd. Her whole face now is as serious as her eyes are. She takes my hand and we walk away, stripping of the graduation gowns. There's a park nearby. She leads me there. We walk around for a long time without saying anything. A couple hours maybe. We hold hands, and the same fear of it that gripped me when I was five grips me again, but I'm use to it now.
The sun begins to set. Bella finds a bench and we go and sit on it.
She kisses the back of my hand softly and I reciprocate. My whole body begins to shake a little except for the hand that she's holding.
"Edward," she says finally. She turns to look at me with those pretty eyes. "Are you ever going to explain what the hell happened that night? Hell, what happened all the years we've known each other?"
She looks mad and sad and frustrated and upset and everything I always expected from her before now but she's only just now showing. I sigh.
"I don't know what to tell you," I say, even though it's a lie. I know exactly what it is. I just can't say it because I'm not ready to enlighten her. I'll never be ready.
"Liar," she whispers, calling me on it. "You've pushed me away for as long as I can remember. And yet sometimes it seems like all you want to do is be with me. I've given in and let you use me like that my whole life, hoping that one day it would pay off. That you would let me in for good. It's been stupid of me, and yet I can't stop. I lo- want you too much Edward. I'm sick of these games. Do you want me or not?"
I stare at the fading concrete. Our intertwined hands. "It's not that easy Bella," I murmur, but I don't say anything more though I should.
"Like hell it isn't," she whispers, squeezing her eyes shut like she's in pain. "What's wrong Edward? God, why can't you just tell me?"
"You'll leave," I barely breathe. If I tell her she'll realize what I've known all along. Maybe not right away. But someday, after I've opened myself up too much to ever close it back off.
"I'm gonna leave if you don't," she says bluntly, tiredly.
I feel like I should tell her so it's fair, but in a way I almost want her to leave now. Because if she leaves now and not later, it was on my terms and I was prepared and I can deal with the rest of my pathetic life better than I could if she'd left when I was unprepared and not ready for it to happen.
I say nothing.
"Fine," she says darkly. "Fine." She brings her knees up to her chest and wraps her arms around them, glaring at the sidewalk. "Just get up and leave Edward. I'm not going to do it first and give you what you wanted all along. So you get up and leave first. You're good at that. It's all you've ever done," she mutters bitterly.
I don't know what to do or say except obey. I open my mouth as I stand, perhaps to spill everything, or maybe just to tell her that I hope she'll have a happy life, but my throat closes up, but this time she's not looking at me and she doesn't understand what I mean to say. I can do nothing else except leave my life behind.
It's been five years since that day.
It's how I got here.
To this party. This celebration. I see quite a few of our friends from Forks here. I see some people I don't know too. New friends of hers. I'm surprised I was even invited.
I stand here in the corner, holding my drink of straight vodka and tequila mixed, because I'm hoping to drown this pain that's been raging harder and more violently ever since I got the invitation.
To this engagement party.
The door opens. Snow flakes swirl inside, and then so do they. Bella and her fiancé. His arm is around her. He's laughing and looks like the happiest man in the world. He probably his. She has a smile on her face too, and she looks happy. But I've seen her smile bigger, seen her eyes brighter. I've got a feeling though that this is her new 'happiest' smile and this her new 'bright eyes'. The knowledge saddens and lifts me simultaneously.
Our eyes meet and her laughter drops a bit. She looks away. I wonder again why she invited me. I drink my drink, my throat contracting as it tries to reject the vile taste. My face scrunches up. It's disgusting and it burns, but damn it helps.
A couple of her friends, new and old, make a toast for the happy couple. I'm forced to raise my drink too, but the unhappy swig I take after is the perfect antithesis.
I watch her all night, though I don't want to. It hurts enough to kill. And every time he touches and kisses and hugs her I can't even hate him, because I'm too busy hating myself. He took the chance. I didn't. He deserves to be where he is.
But I still can't help but to think, It should be me.
The party tumbles over its peak and begins to settle down, with slow drinks, lazy laughs. I watch as Bella slips outside when she thinks is no one is watching. That's because she's been avoiding my eyes all night, so of course she didn't look at me and know that I was. I follow her outside.
She's standing out in the snow, her shoulders hunched up, arms around herself, her head down. She left her coat inside. So did I. I close the door quietly behind me. She snuck out the back way. We were quite alone.
I know she can sense me there, but she doesn't turn around.
The words that have been burning my throat, the back of my eyelids, the thoughts in my brain for months now, and especially tonight, claw their way out of me.
"It should be me," I say. I'm only a few feet behind her. I don't need to raise my voice. Even the wind seemed to die so I could say what I needed to.
She sighs, and I see her shivering. "Don't Edward," she whispers.
"I love you Bella," I say, because I'm ready now. The time apart has been enough for me to come to terms with things I didn't want to admit before. I walk forward and wrap my arms around her, partly to warm her up, partly because I want to.
She freezes a minute before breaking down into tears, half-heartedly trying to struggle away. "Well it's a bit too late for that!" she cries. "Why now Edward? Why do you have to pick now? I'm engaged for crying out loud."
The time for explanations, the time that should've come years ago, is now.
"Bella, the reason I always pulled away was because I loved you. So much. It scared me.
When we were five, and we got married with those silly ring pops, I saw myself asking you when we were much older, and I imagined you saying no.
When we went to the prom when we were seventeen, you were the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. I realized how it would've been so easy for you to dance with anyone else, any one of the boys that were watching you.
When we made love for the first time, I thought about you doing that with someone else one day, and it killed me.
Because you're perfect. And I knew that even if you said yes to me then, that a day would come when you would realize you could do so much better, and you would pull away before I even had a chance to register what happened, and I didn't know how I would deal with that. So I tried to control everything, and make sure I never gave you the chance to pull away first. I was a coward. I was selfish. I was stupid."
She was crying in earnest now. "Yes, you were! You are!" she sobbed at me. "How could you think that Edward? After everything I did for you, because of you, that I wanted anything else but you? Damn it Edward, I still want you and I'm supposed to marry another man…"
She gripped the front of my shirt and cried.
"I'm sorry," I mutter, more sorry than she could realize. "He is the exact future I saw. The man who would one day defeat me when it came to you. I've only recently realized it was a self-shaped, self-fulfilled prophecy. I made it happen."
"Yes you did," she murmurs, still crying. She looked up at me with those beautiful eyes that make me ache. "I'm not perfect Edward. I don't understand how you see me. I don't understand how you saw me ever pushing you away."
"You don't understand how perfect you are now," I whisper. "But it's later on, when you do, that's always scared me."
She pushed away from me then, the one thing I'd always been afraid of, but for some reason the fear is gone as she does it.
In its place comes acceptance. I bow my head and concede defeat.
"He's a good man," she whispers. "He's treated me really well. When he asked me to marry him, I couldn't imagine saying no because I knew nothing better would come along."
I swallow. I look at my feet, and suddenly her feet are in front of me too.
"Because you had already left," she continued, her voice breaking. "I don't love him. I love you. And I know I shouldn't give in to you, not again."
"I've changed," I tell her, my voice breaking too because I've rarely been so sure of something as this.
"It seems," she murmurs, and looks down. "Edward, if I push you away right now, and walk back in there, what will you do?"
"I'll chase after you."
"Prove it," she says quietly, and her eyes have that same determined gleam in them they did the night we made love.
She moves to walk past me, but I grab her arms and pull her to me. We're looking at each other's lips again and when I kiss her, it's practiced, it's timeless, it's forever, it's us; together.
"This is so stupid," she whispers against my lips. "This whole thing."
"It is," I agree. "I'm so sorry. For everything. Do what you have to. I'll understand."
"I thought it should be you?" she murmurs, raising an eyebrow, her lips brushing mine.
"It should be," I say gravely.
"Then promise me something."
"You'll hold me this close forever, and never push me away again."
I crash my lips onto hers, loving her. "I promise," I gasp, my breathing ragged. "Bella, more than anything else, I promise that."
She nods and takes a deep breath, before smiling at me, my smile, the smile that's so much happier than I've seen in years. That five-year-old smile, when we got married under two bending trees.
She takes me hand to lead me back inside, and I hold her hand tightly, eagerly following her where ever she'll go or not go. My legs don't twitch anymore, because they're fine with staying still and settling down.
She needs courage before we head back inside and tear up the world, so I pull her close to me and hold her tightly.
Something to kill the writer's block. Drop me a review, please. I decided to end it with a happy ending for once.
Something to kill the writer's block. Drop me a review, please. I decided to end it with a happy ending for once.
- The Romanticidal Edwardian