If the universe disappears, where does that leave you? If there's no ground to stand on, how do you remain upright? How is it that I still exist, when each moment of existence is a spiraling torrent of aching and misery? The agony doesn't alter in degree. Every minute that I realize I'm still alive, only in the literal sense, hurts just as much as the moment I realized that I could never, ever be anything close to happy again.

I wish I wasn't broken. I know enough not to actually wish for him to come back, but I constantly wish that I wouldn't hurt so much. It was just natural- if I was in pain, of course I would wish for it to end. Unless I was one of those nutjobs that burn themselves for pleasure, that are taken away and locked up so they can't hurt anyone, including themselves. Maybe I was crazy. Maybe I was a nutjob. I hated feeling so vulnerable, though! Lost, alone.

Jacob wrapped his arm around my shoulder. "What are you thinking about?" he asked. I glanced up at him, prepared to answer with an easy lie: the beauty of the ocean before us, the time, Victoria. I didn't lie, though. I wanted to tell him the truth.

"Edward," I choked. Understanding, Jacob pulled me into his chest and stroked my hair.

"I'm sorry," he said huskily.

"I'm not normal," I whimpered against his scalding shoulder. "I'm crazy; I can't function. Jake, I'm… broken. I hate being like this." This was the first time I'd ever told anyone the extent of the damage. I hesitated, then told him, "I hear his voice in my head." Jacob began to quiver, and I tried to step back. His arms were like a vice against me. "Jake-"

"How could he do this to you?" Jacob hissed. "I hate it. I hate him."

"No, Jake," I mumbled. He was still shaking.

"I mean, he just left. He broke you, Bella, I can see that. And how could he leave you? How could he…" Jacob trailed off, and the shaking stopped. "How could anyone leave you?" he pondered softly. I craned my neck up to look at him. He looked… pensive.

And then, very softly, he pressed his lips to mine. I froze. But… I didn't want to move. I wanted to stay here and feel his warm lips against mine, because Jacob did care about me, and he was so sweet, and I always knew that I could absolutely trust him. All those weeks of worrying about blurring the relationship lines between us seemed utterly useless now, because I'd been completely wrong: I didn't want them to be blurred. I wanted them to be clear-cut and understandable: because the way I felt about him now would always be ten times whatever I had felt about Edward. Perhaps I had simply not understood the strength of first love, or perhaps Jacob and Edward were rare. The hole in my heart was gone- not as if it had healed, but as if the thing that could fill it did not exist, and neither did the instrument that had carved it. No hole. Just pure bliss, as I'd never known it before. I wrapped my arms around Jacob's neck and kissed him back.