CHAPTER SIX – RETROSPECT
"Edward, stop!!" I squealed, trying to push him away from me. This feat was next to impossible as he had me wrapped in an inescapable bear hug. "Don't do—"
I was cut off as he dunked me under the water again. I came up sputtering and smacking his arms. "Let go!"
"Ok, fine," he released me and swam a few feet away. "You're such a baby sometimes."
"I am not a baby!" I splashed him.
"You did not just do that." Edward turned back towards me.
"I think I did." I splashed him again.
"You're gonna pay for that, Swan," Edward growled. He started swimming back towards me. I shrieked in fake terror and climbed out of the pool. Edward followed and started chasing me around the deck.
"Ready to get dunked some more, Belly-Bean?" I heard him gaining on me.
"Never!" I tried to make a leap over the bottom of the slide, but my foot caught on the edge and I sprawled onto the deck elbow first.
"Bella!! Are you ok?!" I heard Alice call from behind the camera.
I had tried to look strong, knowing Alice would catch all of this on tape, but my tears overflowed as I saw the gash on my elbow start to bleed. Edward rushed over to me and grabbed my arm. "Oh my God, are you alright?"
"Yeah, I'll be fine," I sniffed. I wiped under my eyes in embarrassment. "Sorry."
"You're apologizing for crying?" Edward reached up and wiped a stray tear off my cheek. I blushed.
"No," I tried my hardest not to look up into Edward's face. "I'm apologizing for bleeding on your parent's deck."
"Oh!" Edward grabbed a towel off a nearby lawn chair and tried to staunch the bleeding. "Here, lemme help you up. Let's go inside and get it cleaned up."
"I'll help you! Hold on!" I heard Alice call.
The TV went black.
"Dang, how old were you guys there?" Alice asked.
"Umm," I was still a little lost in what we just watched. I had to think for a minute. "Like fourteen? I think." I glanced over at Edward. He had a look on his face that was a mixture of sadness, shock and embarrassment.
"Hey big brother, you ok?" Alice smacked his good leg. His other leg was wrapped in a big white cast, covered in Sharpie doodles and well wishes.
"Oh, yeah," Edward broke out of the trance he was in. "Sorry. That was… Weird." His hands went to his hair out of habit, but the gauze bandage still wrapped around his forehead stopped him.
Alice turned back towards me. "Did that scar? That was brutal." Despite the words that came out of her mouth, she laughed.
"Haha, yeah it's hilarious." I pulled the left arm of my sweater up and pointed at an inch long scar on the outside of my elbow.
"Damn!" Alice grabbed my arm to examine the scar more closely. She practically yanked me down the couch to show it to Edward. "Ring any bells?"
Edward looked uncomfortable. "No, sorry." He exhaled and reached for his crutches.
"Hey, hey!" Alice pushed lightly on his chest. "What do you need?"
"I was gonna get a soda." The look on his face made it clear he was looking for an excuse to escape for a few minutes.
"I'll get it for you!" Alice hopped up and disappeared into the kitchen.
There was a couple seconds of uncomfortable silence. I broke it by sliding onto the floor and rustling through the box of tapes. "What do you wanna watch next? Disneyland? Washington DC trip? Fun with new trampoline?"
I heard Edward take a few deep breaths behind me. "Bella?"
I braced myself before turning around and looking at him. "What's up?" I tried to make my voice sound cheerful, but it came out sounding strangled.
He hesitated. "I'm sorry—"
"Edward," I interrupted him. "Please, stop apologizing. This isn't your fault."
"I'm trying, I really am," he said. "Everyone has told me how special you are, and I want to feel the same way. I'm doing my best." He shifted to lean towards me, then winced in pain.
"Hey," I stood up to come sit next to him. "Don't you worry about anything but recovering. You stressing out about this situation with me isn't going to help. You have a lot of bones to heal." I tapped his cast.
"You know, you haven't signed it yet," he smiled a little sheepishly, changing the subject. He went to reach for a Sharpie sitting on the coffee table. "Owww." He stopped short and grabbed his side.
"Stop it." I made a move to push on his shoulder, to motion him back into the position he was in, but decided against it. Talking to him and spending time with him was one thing but physical contact with him was out of the question. I could practically feel the electricity pulsing between my fingers and his shoulder and I wasn't even touching him. He noticed my hesitation and sat back on his own.
I grabbed the Sharpie off the table and uncapped it. I leaned over his leg, contemplating for a second what to write. I wanted to scribble a novel on his cast, telling him how much I missed him, how much I wanted to feel his lips on mine, how much I needed him. But I opted for sanity and settled on a more simple "Pay more attention when you're driving, and get well soon!" I decided against the "Love, Bella" and just signed "Bella."
He glanced down and read the upside down words. "Very funny."
I recapped the Sharpie and tossed it back on the table. "I try."
Alice came back into the living room then, staggering under a tray of sodas, chips and salsa, chocolate chip cookies and Cheez-Its. She wobbled over to the coffee table and set it down.
"I was wondering what was taking you so long," I said, scooting back over to my side of the couch. I caught Edward give me a slightly hurt look out of the corner of my eye. I tried my best to ignore it. "Did you bring the whole damn kitchen?"
Alice plopped back down between us. "We needed snacks!" She exclaimed, popping a chip into her mouth. She rubbed her hands together. "Ok, what's next?"
"Just curious," I interjected. "Who cleaned that up?" I pointed at a discolored spot on the carpet; the place where I emptied the entire contents of my stomach a couple weeks before.
"Oh, I did." Alice faked a gagging noise. "If you would check your messages, you'd see that one of them was me asking you to come do it yourself. Disgusting. You know how hard dried vomit is to get out of carpet?"
"Yeah, I meant to ask you what that was. Why was there dried vomit on my carpet?" Edward asked, a sickened tone to his voice.
Neither me nor Alice spoke. I could feel Alice's eyes on my face. "You didn't tell him?" I whispered.
"Well, no," Alice shifted.
Edward could sense the subject matter had taken a darker turn. "You don't have to—"
"I threw up on it," I said, cutting him off. "I was here when I found out about your accident and that was my reaction."
"Oh." Edward looked uncomfortable again.
After a few minutes of silence, Edward leaned forward to grab a soda and the quiet was broken by the whimpering noise he made when his broken ribs protested.
"Edward, geez!" Alice put the soda in his hand and gently pushed him back onto the couch. "It's ok to ask!" She scooted the tray closer to him so he wouldn't have to strain to reach the snacks.
"So!" I slid back down onto the floor trying to make my voice sound enthusiastic. "Which video is next?"
Alice dropped down next to me and began digging through the tapes. "Oh! This should be good. Wizard of Oz!" She popped a tape into the VCR and hit play. The image of several dozen fourth graders popped up on the screen, slightly fuzzy at first, but focused after a few seconds.
"Oh my God," I started cracking up.
"What?" Edward frowned.
"Do you not remember this?" I asked between giggles. "You were a munchkin!"
"Vaguely…" Edward focused on the TV and his face drained a bit when whoever was behind the camera zoomed in on him. At first he was just singing "Lollipop Guild," his cheeks rosy and his hair twisted up into a little horn in the front of his head. When the munchkins started filing across the stage, my giggles turned into hysterics. He shuffled across the stage on his knees, almost falling and catching himself a few times, still singing and clutching a lollipop almost as big as his head.
"Well, where are you?" Edward complained. "You're not a munchkin?"
I broke into another fit of giggles when Edward started kicking his knees up, which were supposed to be his feet, and switched his lollipop from shoulder to shoulder.
"This isn't funny," Edward pouted, but I could see a smile threatening to pull up the corners of his mouth.
"I'm sorry," I stifled another laugh. "I'm done, I promise."
We all watched as I, as the Wicked Witch of the West, stalked Dorothy around Oz, pining for her ruby shoes. When Edward made a reappearance as a flying monkey, I had to put my fist in my mouth to keep from cracking up again.
"Oh come on!" Edward laughed. "I swear I don't remember this!"
Alice was practically on the floor in hysterics at this point, and Edward felt everyone had enough laughter at his expense, so he picked up the remote off the couch and pressed stop. "Ok, ok, that's enough. Next tape."
Alice sat up and wiped the tears out of her eyes. "Wow, I had forgotten how funny that was." She hopped back onto the couch. "What's next? We have lots of photo albums."
We spent the next hour flipping through hundreds of pictures, reminiscing about elementary school, middle school, field trips, assemblies and summer breaks… At least, Alice and I did. Edward stayed strangely quiet.
"You remember this, Eddie?" Alice moved the photo album gently onto his lap. We were looking at a set of pictures from a road trip we took with Edward's parents to New York.
Edward stayed quiet as he surveyed the pictures. He was staring intently at one of the two of us sitting in the back seat of the minivan giving each other bunny ears.
"What is it?" Alice asked softly.
"It's just, I remember this trip," he said. "But parts of it are fuzzy. I can't bring parts of it up." He flipped the page and looked at a picture of me, him, Alice and Emmett on top of the Empire State Building. "Like, I remember going up here," he pointed at the picture. "But I don't remember taking this."
Now it was my turn to stay quiet. He remembered everything but what involved me. I felt both Edward and Alice's gaze on me as I picked at my nails, trying to pretend like my stomach didn't feel like it was turning inside out. Twenty minutes ago, it almost felt like normal, but now I was crashing again. I was getting really tired of this emotional rollercoaster I was on. It was way too easy to fall back into how it felt before it happened. Every time I was thrown back into reality, it hit me just as hard as the time before.
"Hey, um, I have to work early tomorrow, so let's cut this short," Alice chimed in, closing the photo album. "Bella, you want me to take you home?"
Sometimes I felt like Alice could read my mind. I wanted nothing more at that moment then to get the hell out of that apartment. I felt like I was being suffocated. "Sure," I said standing up. I continued to try to act normal, but I couldn't hide the fact my eyes were filling with tears or that my hands had started shaking. "Um, you want me to leave these here?" I directed my question in Edward's direction but avoided looking at him. I kept my gaze down at the table where the albums were.
"If you want," Edward said quietly.
"Yeah," I turned around so Edward couldn't see the hot tears spilling onto my cheeks. "I'll just come get them later." As I walked towards the door, I called behind me, "This was fun, I need some fresh air, I'll wait for you outside, Alice."
I thought that I was being rude by rushing out the door the way I did, but I felt like if I was in that room any longer I was going to scream. I pushed through the front door, pulling it shut behind me. I leaned my head back on the stucco wall and let the sobs escape my body. I brought my hands to my face to try to stifle the choking sounds coming out of my mouth and when I did, I realized Edward's front door must have popped back open, because I could hear the two of them talking softly. I tried my best to stay quiet and listened.
"Goddamnit, Alice, I feel fucking awful." He paused. "What if I just pretended?"
"You can't do that," Alice said. "Trust me, what you two have is way too special. You can't fake something like that."
"What the hell am I supposed to do then? I hate hurting her like this. I can't even be in the same room with her without this happening. It's breaking my heart seeing what I'm doing to her!"
"We just have to keep trying," Alice's voice dropped to a whisper and I could barely make out what she was saying. "We're all she has Edward. She rarely talks to her parents and she has no brothers or sisters. We're her family. This has to work out."
"I'm doing all I can," Edward whispered harshly. "My brain hurts from how fucking hard I'm trying! Seriously, Alice, my head is pounding right now! What else do you want me to do?"
"Don't get pissed off at me," Alice's voice raised back to a normal volume. "This is nobody's fault, especially not mine."
"Alice, I don't know what to do!" His voice sounded muffled; I figured he had his head in his hands. "I don't know how long I can handle doing this to her."
"Well, it's not going to get any easier, but there's no choice here," Alice said. "She's one of my best friends. We can't cut her out of our life because of this, as easy as that might be for you."
"You think that would be easy?" Edward's voice raised slightly. "All you guys have been doing the past two weeks is beating into my brain how special she is. 'Edward, you have to remember her. Edward, try harder, Edward, this is killing her.' I know what this is doing to her but you have to understand that I can't make my brain work differently. Alice, I'm trying. I'm trying harder then I've ever tried to do anything. It's just not working."
"We probably just need more time." Alice said. I could tell she was starting to get frustrated with the conversation. "It's only been a couple of weeks. We can't give up yet." I heard her get up off the couch. "I'm going to take her home and come back to help you clean up, so don't move until I get back. If I come back and you're lying on the floor with your other leg broken, I'm not gonna feel sorry for you."
"Yeah, fine." I could hear the anger seething in Edward's voice.
By this point, I had slid down the wall and was sitting bunched into a ball on the cold concrete. I heard Alice come out. "Here's your purse," she said, tapping my arm.
I quickly wiped my eyes and took my bag from her hand. "Thanks."
She leaned over and helped me up. "I know." She pulled me into a hug. She didn't lecture me again, like I expected her to. She didn't try to make me feel better. She didn't try to calm me down. She just held me and let me cry into her shoulder.
"I want him back," I sobbed into her shoulder.
She rubbed soothing circles into my back. "I know," she said again. "Come on, lemme take you home."
The ride home was quiet except for my occasional sniffles. When Alice pulled her car up to my apartment, she turned to me. "You need me to come up?" She asked.
"No," I wiped my sleeve under my eyes. "I know you need to go back to him. I'll be fine."
"Are you sure?" She grabbed my hand. "I'm here for you, you know."
"Yeah, I know," I managed a small smile. "Get back to his place before he hurts himself trying to clean up."
Alice smiled back at me. She gave my hand a small squeeze. "Call me if you need anything, ok?"
I managed to get myself up into my apartment and into my bed before my next bout of crying started. As I wept into my pillow, I wondered how long I was going to have to feel like this. How much longer would it be before he remembered me? What if it never happened? What if I was erased from his memory for good? I couldn't imagine this feeling ever going away; this feeling of emptiness, loneliness, desperation.
I hadn't realized how much I depended on Edward until he was taken away from me. Usually when I felt like this I would call him to make me feel better. Or I would go to his house and lay my head in his lap and he would give me a head massage and tell me whatever guy/work problem/traffic incident that had pissed me off wasn't worth getting so upset over. He was always there for me, always there to make me laugh and help me to forget about real life. He was my rock, my best friend, my confidante.
And he was gone.
I never felt so alone in my entire life.
So what do you all think of amnesiac-Edward? Re-reading it, I think he's sweet. :) Let me know what you all think!! I love seeing reviews in my inbox. And let me know if there's anything any of you want to see happen! I haven't written past this, so I'll definitely take any suggestions into account. :)