(Dedicated to The Resolver)
Turning onto the Cullen's long driveway, I suddenly realized I didn't have a conscious memory of driving here. My thoughts had been so fully occupied with seeing and holding Edward again. My last mental image had been so electrically vivid I drew in a sharp breath that jolted my mind back to reality. Edward was returning from a hunting trip with Emmet and Jasper. I began missing him the minute he'd left my sight 3 days ago. And now with our reunion so close, I was experiencing a sensation in my stomach that was sort of like the feeling you get on Christmas morning; but also what I imagined morning sickness might feel like. I guess there's a fine line between excitement and queasiness. Since Edward Cullen's first assault on my senses, I'd found my reactions to him increasingly erratic and completely out of my control. And now, just the thought of seeing him at any moment, was virtually short circuiting my mental and physiological grid. Settle down, Bella. Just park the truck.
In many ways, falling in love with Edward had been a shocking detour of my life. It had included heights and depths I couldn't have imagined. And even though it was irrational, I felt like unseen forces were compelling me and helping me to navigate this path with him. Everything about my relationship with Edward was irrational. Ours was a May-December romance on steroids. Then there was the whole alive vs. dead issue… definitely not a small hurdle to clear. And yet, none of this seemed unnatural to me. The most difficult thing for me to process… in fact, the most unnatural and irrational aspect of all was simply this…Edward loved me.
My heart fell when I didn't see Edward's Volvo out front, but I still jumped out of my truck and had to consciously keep from running to the front door. Maybe he's here and just parked in the garage. I had made several failed attempts this morning to reach him by cell phone, stubbornly refusing to accept that he was probably still out of range in the remote area where he and his brothers had gone. Glancing at my phone again, I was embarrassed to realize that I was almost a full 20 minutes early. I rang the doorbell anyway and could immediately see Rosalie as she sauntered casually toward me. The extra effort it took her to move so slowly made it abundantly clear that she was not happy about my early arrival. But I had grown used to Rosalie's passive aggressive way of relating to me. I had witnessed her active aggression and passive was definitely OK with me. "Edward isn't back yet", she said as she opened the door. "I'm the only one here right now." She paused…, then reluctantly added, "come on in…you can wait in his room." She was making an attempt not to be rude, but she obviously had no desire to entertain me. I thanked her and walked straight up the stairs.
It occurred to me that it might actually be a good thing that Edward wasn't back yet. I realized that I had the rare opportunity to be alone in his room. It would give me a chance to really study the kinds of music and books he liked. I might get an idea for a future gift for him. It was difficult to figure out something he didn't already have… even more difficult to focus on that kind of mission when he was around. He was definitely a distraction.
The butterflies in my stomach went into hyper drive as I opened the door and entered Edward's room. The first thing I noticed was his blue shirt draped over the back of his reading chair and it drew my hands like a magnet. I lifted the cotton fabric up to my face and inhaled deeply. The stomach thing was no longer a vague fluttering sensation, but a pronounced ache…an oddly violent reaction to his wonderfully familiar scent. I struggled to resist the urge to open his closet and literally bury myself in all his clothes. Fortunately, an image entered my mind that caused me to stop and chuckle to myself. I pictured Edward doing laundry. It was hard for me to visualize Edward doing anything as ordinary as adding fabric softener or putting his clothes on hangers. I laughed out loud and felt like I could easily become a little hysterical... all my anxious emotions were so near the surface. Ok, Bella, hold it together. You don't want Rosalie to hear you.
I calmed myself a little, but a new emotion bubbled to the surface… it was guilt. I suddenly felt totally out of place, but then I reminded myself that he'd been in my room many times when I didn't know he was there. He could hardly object to me being here now. Maybe some music will help me calm down. I turned on Edward's CD player instantly filling his room with sweet but sad sounding lyrics. They were Italian, I think. Note to self: Google the translation for a Josh Grobin song called Per Te.
Edward's music collection was broad and eclectic… ranging from Classical to R&B. His collection of books was more extensive and even a casual glance of the floor to ceiling shelves, indicated that they spanned many decades. The multi-colored bindings ranged from barely creased to those that hardly held their pages together. Running my fingers across them, I selected a volume of The Works of John Dryden. I opened it randomly and read the following highlighted lines: "I am as free as nature first made man, Ere the base laws of servitude began, When wild in woods the noble savage ran."
On the top of a stack of books on his table, I noticed a dog eared copy of Mary Shelly's "Frankenstein". I imagined how Edward might relate to the creature in the story. He had often referred to himself as a monster, but I recognized that, like Frankenstein's monster, an isolated and sensitive spirit existed inside. Again, my body ached to hold him. Feeling a little rocked by this latest wave of emotion, I sat down hard on his chair. From there, I noticed a black, leather Bible within reach. Picking it up I could see it was well worn and I turned its whisper thin pages carefully until my eyes were drawn to portions that were underlined multiple times with an angry pen. I marveled at the control it would have taken to mark the page in such a way and not tear through it. One passage read:
Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, "Father, I thank You that You have heard Me… when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth!" And he who had died came out…
I considered what might have been going through Edward's mind while reading these words. Did he wonder why such a resurrection had not been possible for him? What a treasure of insights this little covert operation was yielding! Ok, the guilt had been overwhelmed by intrigue. But then, a few pages over I saw the edge of a different kind of paper sticking out. I pulled it slowly from between the pages, revealing a sheet of folded stationary with EC embossed in silver on the outside. It looked like it had been crumpled, and then smoothed out again. The guilt reemerged, but not enough to stop me from opening the letter. I stood and walked to the window where the light was brighter. I barely recognized Edward's handwriting. The slashing ink marks were filled with emotion. I could sense the anguish in the letters even before reading the words. Then as I absorbed the meaning of each word, I saw deep into my love's quiet heart and mine was broken.
Oh, God… here I am once again… peering into the abyss of my endless, empty future. The permanence of my condition, I can scarcely bare. What kind of existence is this? God…why did this happen to me? Why don't You care? It's obvious to me that You don't. The bitter thoughts of this agonizing creature are inconsequential to You. If You detested me so much, why didn't You just let me go straight to hell? Why have I been indefinitely exiled to this damp purgatory?
It was an act of mercy, I suppose, that You brought me to this family, but even among them I am the least preferred by You. Even in their midst, I am utterly alone. What did I do to merit such singular damnation among the damned? How can I express my grief when You even deny me tears? Day after day, I am privy to the most intimate thoughts of everyone around me. What an ironic punishment this gift is as there is no intimacy for me…only separation.
It was drilled into me as a young child that You are omnipresent and omniscient. Perhaps so, but I no longer believe You are omnipotent. If You were, You would deliver me from this perpetual torture. Surely, a creature who no longer possesses a soul has no right to ask You for anything, but here I am again asking, begging You to give me a distraction or give me blissful nothingness. I dare no longer ask for what my phantom heart truly desires - a love to quicken it again.
Through my tears, I could barely decipher the shapes that concluded his letter of lament. Then slowly it came into focus again… the date he had penned his desperate prayer…
June 2, 2004
It was the day I decided to leave Mom and Phil to come live with Charlie in Forks.
I remembered it clearly, because Phil was scheduled to play an important game the next day in Huntsville, AL. I heard Mom crying in her room that afternoon. The minor league season was well under way and the weeks of separation had taken their toll. The sound of my Mom crying pushed me over the edge. I couldn't do this to her anymore. I couldn't continue to make her choose between me and Phil. I would pack up and move in with my Dad. Standing in the hall, listening to my Mom crying, I had made my firm decision on that very date.
In the same instant this puzzling realization filled my mind; I became aware that I was no longer alone. I turned around to see him standing in the doorway. The crooked smile on his face let me know that I wasn't in trouble, but instead of running and attacking him like I had planned, my arms hung limp at my sides and my feet felt glued to the floor. I still held Edward's letter in my hand and tears ran down my face. Tilting his head slightly to the side, he raised one hand and motioned for me to come to him. With that single gesture, he released my feet, but also more tears. I entered the circle of his arms and cried and clung fiercely to him.
He remained silent, but he spoke sweet volumes with his gentle embrace.
When I was finally able to speak, I said "I'm so sorry".
"You should be, you little sneak", he teased.
"No… well, yes, I'm sorry about that too, but that's not what I meant. I'm sorry I didn't really understand the pain you've been going through for so long. "
He held me closer and whispered against my temple, "It doesn't matter".
"How can you say it doesn't matter?"
He kissed me on the forehead and wiped the tears on my face with his thumbs. "Well, I can say it no longer matters."
We stood there just holding each other for a long time.
"Yes, my Bella", he said in a breathy tone so deliciously intimate, the sound of it made my knees buckle a little.
"Will you take me to the meadow?"
Tilting my face up, he looked deep into my eyes and said, "I'll take you anywhere you want to go" adding as the brilliant smile I adore spread across his face… "anything to get you out of my room".