Disclaimer: Twilight? Wasn't me.


1933

"It didn't mean anything."

"Of course not."

Because that is the beginning and ending of everything. It took almost a year to get to the base of this tree, completely destroyed in a new and different way. The beginning took about a year—the ending, if that's what you want to call it, took about fifteen minutes.

"Where's my coat?" whispered acidly into the night sky, and on his breath some wish upon a star that he and I had stayed in our respective beds, counting sheep for a sleep that couldn't come. Compared to this celestial plea, the whereabouts of his clothing—what a ridiculous question. And he sounds vaguely upset, as if I've tricked him into something, as if depriving him of his coat is some unforgivable crime—and undoubtedly, I'm responsible.

"Well, I'd like to know where my dress is," I say, sitting up, brushing my mussed hair out of my face—wondering how, of all places, I ended up in these godforsaken woods, rolling around in the underbrush for—not even for my own entertainment or his, but for some goddamn relief. Relief from thinking of and wanting to; relief from reading my mind and not needing to read his. Relief from my dress.

"I think the issue of my dress is rather more important," I say to his disgruntled, disheveled moonlit face.

"Of course you do."

I hate him. He's buttoning his shirt, I'm pulling on my stockings; the moonlight is stalking both of us.

"Don't patronize me."

"I wouldn't dream of it."

"You can't dream of it."

"Don't remind me."

This, I know, hits a raw nerve. Hits something. I don't pretend to know what he used to dream about, but I know it wasn't this. It wasn't this messy unraveling under white oaks and ash trees, pressed up against crumbling brick buildings in the middle of the night. This natural sin of ours is not enough Milton and too much Thomas Hardy even for pretending to sleep at night. We're awake for all hours, wildflowers pressed into our spines, keeping us up.

"I appreciate your critical assessment of the botanical aspect of our—"

Halt. Because he doesn't know what to call this, but he can't stop that dire need to be disdainful; his mouth too goes running off without his brain.

"Fling," I suggest, affixing a stocking to its garter. "Do go on; I wanted to see where you were going with this insult."

"Not worth the time," he mumbles.

"Oh, but I am worth the fifteen minutes."

xxx

Stumbling home in the dark, almost drunk but without the excuse. And we're only close in the language of tripping footfalls, broken branches, and whispered admonitions of No one finds out. On my part, on his.

Reasonably, he could just run home, but he needs the time to think, to let the elements punish him as adequately as they can for what he has just done. Or maybe he just needs to break something. Twigs count.

He finally found his coat, I finally found my dress, and we will both have to lie about the way in which they were destroyed. Maybe I'll invent Edward into a bobcat—are there bobcats in Rochester?—maybe he'll invent me into a lioness.

"Esme and Carlisle won't ask questions. I'll—I'll just say I fell or something," he mutters.

"What?" I laugh. "I broke your fall?"

Of course, that's how Edward thinks of it.

"It's not funny," he hisses, but the side of him that can't stand being ungentlemanly moves to lift me up and carry me over the muddy ditch before us. And weightless in his arms, for a moment I understand that detrimental silly town fascination with Edward Cullen. Mind closed, I remind myself. He sets me down; we continue on our way.

It was a pointless gesture, of course. He knows very well how my dress got muddy in the first place. No, there's no fixing this now.

A few steps later by a sprawling sugar maple, I turn around and look at him. There won't be any excuse for this new level of squalor; the back of my dress already feels sticky with sap. He's looking at my muddy dress again, and I'm waiting for him to start talking about Faulkner. Waiting for him to tell me that this dress is foreshadowing. Somehow, I will signal the decline of the house of Cullen.

"It was a little funny," I say. Sound the fury, I think.

"You're not as bad as Caddy Compson," he says—ignoring my words, hearing only my thoughts. My occasional urges to kick him in the face return, ever faithful. "Not yet."

There they go again.

"It's a shame you can't drown," I say. Almost fiercely, he puts a hand to the sugar maple, some sort of rebuttal to this offensive statement. Breathe, breathe, breathe—even if you can't do that anymore. The other hand. "But I think the poetry of it alone would kill you," I say mockingly, and he's going to get stuck this way, his hands glued on either side of me, leaning on the sugar maple.

"She reads," he says.

"Quel surprise."

And before I can bother pretending to stop him, he's ruining my dress again, covering me in sap, kissing it off. He's kissing me, and he's the only thing I've tasted since I died. Maybe that makes it sentimental that I didn't stop his hands from rediscovering the bodice of my dress, his lips from reclaiming my neck (this part, I am convinced, is all repression), and finally—when we are done denying each other—my mouth again. Even for all our primness, when he seizes my face, kissing me harder still, I don't shy away from his dirty hands.

Dawn breaks, so do we. "Quel surprise, indeed."

Remember That (First) Time? (Hindsight Mix)

"First Timer," Elliott Smith, New Moon [This song is too soft for us—R.]

"One Line," PJ Harvey, Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea

"Gender Bombs," The Stills, Logic Will Break Your Heart

"Bones," The Killers, Sam's Town [This was your exact reaction, Edward.]

"Open Up Your Arms," Her Majesty, Memory & Loss

"Sex On Fire," Kings of Leon, Only By the Night [Don't flatter yourself, Rosalie.]

"Breaker," Low, Drums & Guns

2003

Sometimes, when sleep eludes me and the night is unending, I see it all over again. Clutching my headphones and retreating into my pillow, her anguished face all over again, on the floor. She attributes my coldness in that moment to some desire to break the broken. Truthfully, I was breaking myself. My bloodless veins were making the sound that ice makes in hot water, cracking. All I can say is that I was startled. She was a disaster to watch that day; I was a disaster in return. Eighteen years old, like a vandalized art museum (and here, if she could read minds, she would call me a tourist), like a Renoir cut out of its frame. Every restless night or so, I hear the security alarm going off.

She thinks it's morbid that I see her death like a movie scene, like some surrealist dream with a distorted soundtrack. I just think it's appropriate. Everything about the way she came into our lives is surreal. And she picked the song.

"I'm not going to let you use this perpetual insomnia excuse on me anymore," she says suddenly, as if I've dragged her kicking and screaming into my room, as if our little midnight bedside chats are a punishment I've inflicted on her. If she were any good at saying no to me, she would be in her own room, giving herself a manicure and listening to the Black Keys. And God, if I were any good at saying no to her, I would make her stop rearranging my CDs. "This game—it's juvenile and ridiculous," she says, "and your music taste is puerile, at best."

"Oh, did we learn a new word today, Rosalie?" I reply, turning over some Joy Division album she gave me twenty years ago. She flinches, and I still love that slightly enraged face she makes. She makes it a lot, actually.

This juvenile, ridiculous game… I don't even know how long ago it began. No, that's a lie. After the first… the first, I sat at the piano for days. And sneaking up behind me as well as she could with her loud wild young dangerous thoughts, she put her hands over mine on the piano. And, as alive as I'd been since death, I ignored her—vivid shameful memories of the woods playing like a broken record in my head. She put her lips to my ear, and I wanted to rip my most prized possessions to bits for her.

"Fine," she whispered. "Don't kiss me. Don't even look at me." I was learning how to breathe and forgetting all over again. And slowly, that lilting voice that seeps into my skin: "Why don't you write me a symphony, Edward?"

She was taunting me. In her thoughts and her words, she accused me of being this unfeeling, repressed bastion of stoicism—no, she dared me, I would never touch her. I'd compose lyric poetry about her instead.

This soon became fundamentally untrue.

To summarize seventy years: I wrote her a symphony; she made me a mix tape. We'd been challenging each others' musical tastes ever since, in my bedroom at all hours of the night, creating playlists for every moment between us—even those moments that eluded our mutual grasp. Rosalie had made a playlist for my death; I had made a playlist for hers. Even when we hated each other, Rosalie thrived on critiquing my CD collection, and I was always gracious enough to grant her a piano lesson… if only to feel my hands on hers again. It was—

It was a game.

"You listen to Muse. Who still listens to Muse? 'Time is Running Out' is their only good song," she says, little fingers tinkering with the ancient record player that sits on my windowsill. "Absolution isn't even a good album; you just like feeling that you're not 'metaphysically alone' and that whiny emo boys understand you."

Sometimes, when Rosalie's talking, I completely stop listening. I know she resents this, but tonight, she is grounded in the present, and I am lying under a tree in 1933, still concerned about the state of her dress.

"I like that dress… on you." She looks at me like she wants to kill me. It's unforgivable of me to ignore her when she's mocking me. "It's like… it reminds me of that painting—Dance at Bougival, with the white skirt and the—"

"You are such a tool."

Well, she never could take a compliment.

"Excuse me?"

She raises an eyebrow at me, completely without irony. "No, seriously. Who raised you? Would you like walk into a bar with that line—'Hey, gorgeous. You know, you have the most beautiful eyes, very Pablo Picasso circa 1923.'"

"I would never compare a woman's eyes to a Picasso."

"Really? I think you compared me to a Kandinsky once…"

Messy, vibrant, beautiful—liable to give you a pounding headache but, in its own way, musical and orderly in its madness. If she hadn't been shredding my clothes when I'd made the comparison, I would have elaborated. She's Kandinsky in his Blue Rider period. She's like Composition VII. I do like the geometry of his Bauhaus period, I do… but so much order does make you long for chaos. Rosalie. When it comes to chaos, Rosalie delivers.

"But I like Kandinsky," I say.

"No, you don't—not really," she says, tapping my Muse CD on the windowsill with no regard for its value. "You like to look at it, but you wouldn't collect it."

Accusing.

"Who collects Kandinsky?"

"Who listens to Muse?"

"Point well-taken. Now, come here."

This is always the stumbling point. Trying to bridge the gulf between us. When our minds finally stand on the same side of shore, our bodies are oceans apart. But then, when our bodies are together, our minds are gone completely. In any case, the thought of taking those first, desperate steps has always made Rosalie and I both seasick.

"No."

Expected.

"We'll choose a different song—we can do a different playlist." And God, I hate the pathetic way I bend just so we won't break.

"No."

She's toying with me now. Rosalie always says no just to make sure her mouth remembers the word, to make sure I remember she can. Can she still break me with a single syllable? Yes. Damned if I let her know that. 112 years of practiced politeness and restraint are all that keep me from pinning her to the windowpanes.

"Just come over here, Rose."

An almost-silence as she opens the window, exposing my bedroom to the autumn night. She perches, half outside, staring at me. Convince me.

"Okay, we could start with 'She's Lost Control.' We'll do the summer of '87, if you want." Stupid and desperate to even suggest playlisting the summer of '87.

"I'm saving 'She's Lost Control.' But we're definitely starting with Joy Division. None of that ridiculous cover shit."

"Yes."

"Fine," she says, and I shouldn't have begged her to come sit on the bed with me.

Because she's just waiting for me to lose control.


A/N: So I'm new to... everything. All comments and criticism are very welcome; I'm trying to get back into writing, and this seemed like a good way to go. Besides, I couldn't get the idea of Edward and Rosalie out of my head.