I knew it'd come down to a choice. A simple choice: me or a different life. I just never thought I wouldn't be the choice. We fought so hard for us, and then you leave. I never thought I wouldn't be what you wanted in the long run. But I'm not, and now I have to deal with it, have to live with the consequence of your choice. I have to go about each and every day like I'm not dying completely inside.
When Carlisle asks why, what happened, how could something that seemed so solid be over, I just say we've both moved on. I say there was a choice to be made and it was. You wanted out. I did what I could, God knows I did. You know I did. But it's fine, I'm fine, I'm getting over it. I'll be okay, it's all right. Except it isn't. I smile at him and pretend there isn't a huge hole in my chest. And if my heart were still beating, it would have stopped by now.
Carlisle's known me longest, knows me perhaps better than anyone. Except one person. Except you. I don't want to think about it, so I don't. I can't. That's over, done. And I'm okay…really…I'm not.
I know people in town whisper about it…me…us. They stop and stare at me when I venture in. They always did but now their morbid curiosity cuts like it never did before. They know, we both know they do. They don't know what we are, but they know, they can tell what happened. Love is love. I don't really need anything from town, but I miss you, so much it hurts. Thinking about you is incredibly painful, seeing you cuts like a knife. And hearing you, smelling you, being near you…it's what I imagine hell to be like; unyielding, never-ending, unadulterated pain. But I still look for you, still go to the places I know you'll be at, still stop to watch you. And when I see you, I don't say anything. I bite my tongue and swallow my pride. There's no use, you made that perfectly clear. I just nod at you, watch you look right through me, and pretend that I'm fine with your decision, I'm okay you went in a different direction than we planned. We planned…I leave once I've found you, trudge home, the hole in my chest bigger and rawer than before.
I haven't cried since I was a human, almost a century ago, but for the first time since I was turned, I know what it's like for you to hurt so bad your throat aches, for you to be so torn up inside all you can do is curl up in a ball and lay in bed, to just want to die every second of every day, to want someone so bad and never be able to have them and still have to smile a little for everyone. It's been almost a year since you decided and I still wonder if it will get any harder. It always does. Is this what heartbreak really feels like? Is it over yet? Can't it be done? Can't I just get over you?
When Alice demands an answer, demands to know just what in the hell went wrong, how I could ruin everything and then turn around and lose you…she shakes her head because she doesn't understand. I shrug and tell her we just grew apart. It happens. You love, you lose. We just weren't as meant to be as I thought. Okay, no one really thought we were meant to be, but I did…and you said you did too. She stares at me blankly and I shrug again, shove my hands into my pockets.
"Bullshit," she says, and she never curses. "Edward, don't lie to me. What happened?"
I shrug again and feed her the same line; we just grew apart and we've both moved on. Let's let bygones be bygones and leave it be, water under the bridge and all that.
She glares at me and I give her a small smile, gently remind her she needs to leave to go hunting with the rest of the family. I went earlier; I'm fine I assure her. She doesn't believe me, I know it, can read it in her thoughts. No one does. How can they? But I'm honestly past the point of caring. You were all I cared about after it all, why should I care now if they don't believe me?
When they're gone, I sit on my useless bed, one you mostly used, and pull your picture out of the drawer I have it stuffed in. I stare at it, run my fingers over the contours of your face that I know so well, and just remember, remember what it was like to feel like that. For the first time since I was turned I felt human. You made me feel that way, alive, like I wasn't the monster I believe myself to be, like I had something to live for. Now I feel deader than I ever have. When I can't take it anymore, when I've reached my breaking point, I put your picture back in its drawer.
"Whatever," I say out loud to no one (and try not to think how you used to say 'Uh-huh. Sure, sure' in response), "You made the choice, not me. I begged you, I pleaded. You decided you were better off without me. But it's fine, I'm getting over you and I'm okay. It's your loss."
But I don't mean it. A wave of complete misery hits me and I dig the palms of my hands into my eyes. I don't know how long I sit like that, hours probably. I just ask myself, like I do every time the wave hits, 'Is it over yet? Can I open my eyes? Can I be okay for a while now?' The answer is always no, but I push myself up and take a shower. It used to calm me. Now all it does is make me think of you, of us.
I try not to think about the way I used to stand in the doorway and watch you, the way the water cascaded down your back, the way you'd tip your head back and run a hand through your hair, or how you'd laugh when I'd hug you from behind. I try not to remember how you'd always slide your fingertips down my spine and swirl them at the small of my back, the way you'd whisper all the things you wanted to do with me, the way your presence made the steam quadruple, the way you'd kiss my neck and tell me how beautiful I was.
I squeeze my eyes shut but you're still there, you just won't leave me alone. Even though you're gone, you're still here. I don't know what's worse, the fact that you're gone but still here or that you haunt me without trying. I don't care which is worse really, I'm just trying to survive.
When Carlisle and the family returns, they call can emergency meeting. They're all worried about me. Yes, I know, believe me, I'm worried too. I've been hearing this speech for a year. I lean against the wall with my hands in my pockets and nod along to everything Carlisle and Esme say.
Carlisle says I need to start integrating into the family again, hunting with them, sitting with them. Esme pleads for me to talk to them, tell them what happened, to just spill it all and maybe we can figure it out together. Emmett says I need to talk about it, it'll be good to let it all out, get out the anger and the betrayal and the hurt and the pain. Alice says it's best for me to just get it off my chest. Even Rosalie is worried. She says keeping it all inside will just lead me back to Voltera and none of them want that again. No one will be there to save me this time. They all agree with her and I snort softly. Who says I want saving? Jasper tries to calm my fragile nerves. He has no words of wisdom to tell me, he's not forcing me to talk, and for that I'm grateful.
I offer them the most genuine smile I can and tell them I'm fine, I'm okay. "Y'know, things just happened…we grew apart, we've moved on…you know, that happens when you grow apart, you leave each other, wish each other happiness, go your separate ways. I'm okay though, really. I'm fine…we just grew apart…it's okay, I'm really fine. I'm doing really well. I don't even think about−" I swallow hard. "And I'm okay these days, y'know? I don't even go looking for−" I let out a harsh breath. "And I'm good, I'm doing really good. Like I said, we just grew apart, saw things differently. We've moved on though, y'know? We're different people. I'm fine, trust me. I don't get why you don't believe me…haven't you ever grown apart from someone? I mean, it's no big deal. I'm okay, I'm fine. I'm good, I'm really okay and I'm getting better every day. It was best for us, y'know? We wouldn't have lasted. We were a disaster from the start, made to end, right? Right. But like I said, I'm good, I'm okay. Really, I'm starting to forget all about it."
I realize I keep saying the same things. I don't have a good explanation for what happened. I don't know, and I think that's what hurts the most. You said goodbye without telling me why, without really saying it. You left me mentally a long time before you walked out. And I still don't know what happened. I don't know what I did. Was I too needy? Was I really the monster I think I am? Was I just not good enough? Did I not love you enough? Did I not give you what you needed? Was I too dark and dead? What? Why? How?
I take a slow breath and keep saying I'm fine and we just grew apart and that's normal, we're young, it happens, I'm okay, really, I'll be fine, don't worry about me, I'm doing much better than when it first happened, I'm doing really well, I'm even thinking of going to Alaska for a while, taking a breather from Forks, maybe the south of France. But it's because I'm fine, really. I just think I could use some away time, but I'm okay, really, I am. I'm talking in circles. I'm lying through my teeth and they know it, they've known it for a year, but I keep smiling and nodding and lying. I survey their concerned faces, their concerned thoughts, always the same, always wondering. I see the disbelief, not even trying to be masked, and something gives.
I sigh heavily and cross my arms over my chest. Why won't this all just go away? How am I supposed to forget if they keep asking me, reminding me? If I keep reminding myself. I look at the ground as another wave of misery hits me like a sucker punch in the gut and close my eyes. I can feel my body start to tremble and I can't stop it, can't stop the pain that tears through me. I almost feel like I did when Carlisle bit me and I can't help but wonder if maybe, just maybe, you really did kill me. I welcome that.
I hear Esme's shocked gasp and I foolishly think that maybe you're there, maybe you came back. I'm eager and wishing it so hard, it makes the pain almost stop. But when I lift my head and open my eyes it's just Carlisle. He comes closer and wipes a tear from my cold cheek, wonder in his eyes. I don't care about that stupid tear though; I don't care about anything at all…anything but you.
I slide down the wall, hugging my knees to my chest. I've always been the one who's the weakest, the one who always puts the family in danger, keeps us unbalanced. But I've never been this way, this broken. I'm completely shattered and none of my pieces are fitting together again like they should. They're all too jagged and bits are missing. I surprise even myself when I let out a gut-wrenching sob and tighten my arms around my knees. My throat is throbbing, my eyes are burning, and every muscle in my body is screaming, but I don't care. I curl up as tightly as I can, like maybe I'm hoping I'll disappear if I'm small enough, like everything will vanish. I can feel the cool wetness of my tears on my knees.
I'm grateful no one tries to hug me and Jasper doesn't try to calm me. I need this, this pain, this hurt, this…I can't even find a word to describe it. It's all consuming, devastating, earth-shattering. I curl tighter into myself, my body nothing but fine tremors as I cry. The raw noises I'm making are painful, even to my own ears, and obscenely loud. My family just looks on, at a loss. Everyone but Carlisle. He can't stand to watch me that way and not help. So he does what he does second-best to fixing things. He finds answers.
Marcus says a vampire can cry−once, maybe twice in his entire lifetime. When their pain is so deep, their heart so ripped up that that's all they can do. He cried when his mate was killed. He's not surprised I'm crying. Except you're not dead. I wish you were, I really do. Then I wouldn't have to see the rejection in your face and not know what I did to deserve it. I wouldn't have to wonder who you're with now, if you're happy, if you miss me, if I cross your mind at all, if you regret what you did. Part of me wants you to die like I am, slowly, from the inside out.
When I finally stop crying, I don't look up. I just stay there, small and fragile on the floor, still shaking. I keep the mantra in my head, 'Is it over yet? Can I open my eyes? Is this as hard as it gets? Is this what it feels like to really cry?' I stay there, my entire body just one throbbing pain. But that's nothing compared to the way I'm feeling inside.
Eventually I move, back up to my room, and just lay on my bed. No one follows me, I think they all know now just how damaged you've left me and there's nothing they can do or say that will fix it. I don't even think you can fix it now and honestly, I'm not sure I want you too. I stare up at the ceiling and wonder. I don't understand why, how I'm still alive, if that's what I am, after what you've done.
People say heartache is just a feeling, something in the brain, that when your heart breaks you can't actually feel it, that it's not a physical thing. That's bullshit, complete and utter bullshit. I felt my heart break. Every time I saw you, every time I was near you, every time I heard your voice, every time you ignored me, every time you pretended I wasn't there, every time you turned me away, every time you looked right through me, every time you kissed someone else…every single time I felt it crumble and the pieces fall. Now there aren't any pieces left and suddenly my world looks very different.
I shake my head slightly and blink. Personally, I think when your heart breaks, you should die. Hell, you're practically dead already.
I swallow and turn onto my side.
When I open my eyes again, you're there. Not really, I know that. Maybe I'm crazy now…maybe this is what Bella went through when I left her. I'm not sure. Bella's long gone now, but you, you're still here. There's someone new in your arms, but you're the same old you. I wonder if you'll do to him what you did to me. Except he'll probably die and you'll move on. But me? I don't have that luxury. I won't be comforted by knowing I'll die or that I can simply take my life. I'll live the rest of eternity. Without you.
I close my eyes and pretend your warm arms are wrapped around me. I pretend you're still here, laughing in my ear softly and telling me that you love me, that you never want to be anywhere else. I refuse to open my eyes, refuse to see the reality of my situation. There aren't any more tears for me to shed for you, physically. I bury my face in my pillow anyway because inside I'm still crying, screaming, begging. I don't care anymore if it gets harder, if I can't ever open my eyes again. I know what it's like to really cry and something about that is comforting to me.
I'll still pretend I'm okay, because I have too. I don't know what else to do. So I'll smile and nod and lie, on the outside. And on the inside I'll continue to cry and sob and scream and beg for you.