Nothing has changed…I so obviously do not own the twilight franchise. I just like to play with the characters. Especially when I get to create a sweet, sensitive Edward!
I sat back in my chair, half listening to my closest family and friends recount humorous life events from the last 25 years. My distraction was seated across the table from me, in the form of my best friend. Best friend? What a torturous notion. I lived for this girl; I breathed for her, my heart beat for this girl and had for the last 20 years. The pain of unrequited love throbbed in my chest at the thought of the unattainable perfection seated down the table. She was made for me. I knew it, my family knew it, and our friends knew it. She was the only one who didn't see it. Our late night snuggles/ sleepovers or "snuggleovers" as she named them upon conception during our college days, constant contact...I couldn't be any more obvious if I tried.
So I did what any self respecting, idiotic male, too afraid to man up and fess his feelings in a straightforward romantic confession... I pulled away. I stopped texting her 5,201 times a day. I quit inviting her over for our snuggleovers. No more dinners, movies, or talking on the phone until we fell asleep. I couldn't sleep, I had no appetite, and I barely smiled. I was breaking my own heart, and it was killing me. But I couldn't keep up this best friend façade anymore. I couldn't watch her go on dates as I sat and watched from the sidelines. If I couldn't have her heart, I had to move on.
Tears threatened my eyes as I was jolted out of my agonized reminiscing by a sharp clink on a wine glass and a heavy dining room chair scrape across the hardwood floor. My eyes focused on Bella, who had stood from her chair for a toast. I hadn't realized I had been gazing in Bella's direction until I caught smirks gracing Alice and Jasper's face in my peripheral vision. I felt my face scowl at their good natured silent ribbing, but quickly rearranged my features as I listened to Bella's toast.
The cadence of her voice tinkled as she recited her speech from memory. Her face was painted with courage and determination, her mocha brown eyes focused on mine. I couldn't bring myself to break the contact, electricity cackling in the air. I was lost in her gaze, until her words broke through to my heart.
"…A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words. And where you find true friendship, you find true love."
I gripped my glass tighter as her words rang through the air. My heart took off on a high speed race as I struggled to comprehend her words. The implication of her words could make or break my soul. Did she mean as a friend? Or did she literally mean true love? Hope, love, excitement, disbelief, anxiety, and several other unidentifiable feelings flitted through my being. I was overwhelmed with emotions as her voice once again broke through.
"Edward, you are the one who knows the song in my heart. You are the one who sings it back when I have so frequently forgotten the words. And in you, I have found true friendship, in you I have found true love. Happy birthday, may your next 25 years be as special as your last 25 years."
My chest tightened cutting off my air supply. Elation filled my bones as a face-splitting smile graced my lips. After all these years, she felt the same. She was as much my world as I was hers. I felt disgusted with myself; my actions were deplorable both in pulling away from her recently and forcing her to confess her feelings to me. I should have been man enough to make a grand gesture of love and here this amazingly gorgeous woman, inside and out, had to be the one to do it. Deep into my self-loathing, I heard the door slam shut and tires squealing against the pavement. My eyes snapped up to meet the shocked faces of my family and close friends staring at me. I frantically searched for Bella, my heart threatening to beat out of my chest. My breath came out in gasps as my palms collided with the dining room table in attempt to hold myself up. I felt a chair hit the back of my legs as I collapsed into it, staring straight up into my older brother, Emmett's concerned eyes. I heard conversation buzzing frantically around me as I worked to steady my breathing. 20 years I had been waiting for this. For something to finally set us on the track we were born to be on, together. And it was ripped from underneath me. She gave me hope and ripped it away in the same breath. She said the words I have been longing to hear for 20 years, and took them back. I tightly shut my eyes as I allowed the grief to consume me, my body trembling as tears trailed down my face. In the distance, I heard the faint sound of my heart shattering as my wine glass collided with the floor.
Working at a hospital where your father as Chief of Medicine has its perks, I guess. I had called in sick to work and then had ignored the invasion of phone calls plaguing my phone. After storming into my house, uninvited I may add, and witnessing my condition, he immediately called in a five day emergency vacation. I was thankful for this, because honestly, I couldn't bring myself to care enough to get out of bed let alone save lives.
I didn't eat, I didn't drink, I couldn't watch tv or listen to music. I remained in my bed and stared at the ceiling, occasionally turning over to stare out the window. I studiously avoided the left side of my room, peppered with photos of Bella and me at various stages in our lives. The scrapbook Bella had given me for my birthday lay dormant on the floor next to my bed.
The scrapbook was amazing. It was the story of our lives lived out in pictures. Every play date, hug, innocent kiss, dance, graduation, vacation, and our entire lives played out in inside jokes were captured in pictures and in text artistically orchestrated page after page. In the front cover, the words she had said to me just five days ago were scrawled in her flowing print"…A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words. And where you find true friendship, you find true love." When I had read her words, I rushed to the bathroom collapsing on the floor in dry heaves. I had lost her forever, and it was my fault.
Tears leaked out of my eyes, salt burning the raw surface. I briefly wondered if I would ever be whole again. I couldn't see myself surviving this. I had already lost who knows how much from not eating, severely dehydrated from not drinking anything. I knew what I was doing to myself. I just didn't care. My heart was gone, the rest of me could just waste away.
I heard a loud banging on the door, but I didn't even move. I didn't need anyone to see me this way. To tell me I was making a mistake. To attempt to console me by telling me it will be alright one day. The banging finally ceased and all was quiet, until I heard the quiet click of my lock.
"What the hell…" as I mentally flipped through all the recipients of my key. I didn't give anyone a key accept Bella. Bella. Bella!
My heart constricted at the thought of her coming to see me. Then I remembered the matching hide-a-keys Bella and I bought as a joke and placed on our porches. Sinking farther in my bed, I tried to burry myself under the covers, thinking maybe it would confuse my visitor. Needless to say, thinking and strategizing was not a strong point of mine at the moment.
Heavy footsteps followed by the clinking of heels echoed through my house. I heard doors opening and shutting as the pursuit continued. I owned a large home, so it could take them awhile to get through the maze. Like in a horror movie, the footsteps grew louder and louder as impending doom came upon me. I could almost hear the ominous music thumping in the background. My bedroom door flung open as the perpetrators materialized.
"Jesus" muttered my older, usually boisterous brother as a sharp gasp was emitted from, what I assumed was his wife, Rosalie.
I was completely surrounded in a blanket of chocolate brown and mocha, cocooned in my sheets and comforter. Not bothering to peek out to see if my suspicions were correct. The footsteps began their descent to my bed, the blankets furiously ripped off my body. I was left shivering from the polar temperatures of my room, curled into the fetal position to keep in my body heat, my sweatshirt and sweats swam around my figure.
"For fucks sake, Rose! Look at him! Wha..fuh." Emmett's voice strained with emotion.
I looked up at Rose, towered over my bed looking down with one hand clasped over her mouth, tears leaking from her ice blue eyes. In all the time I have known Rosalie, she was the rational, unemotional half of my brother. The droplets of water raining down her cheeks seemed severely out of place. I didn't have enough energy to speak, so I dropped my eyes to the sheet shaking as Rose raked her fingers through my matted hair.
"What the hell is going on? It's not fair, Em. They don't deserve this; this isn't the way things are supposed to be! Help us all, if these two can't get it together. In the entire world, if two hearts fit together, it's these two."
"I know, I know. What do I do Rose? What can I do? He is my baby brother, I need to protect him..I can't…I" Em choked. "Edward is usually the one who has it all together, the one everyone can go to in need. He needs us, and I can't do a damn thing, Rose!"
All was quiet accept for the soft sniffles coming from Emmett and Rose. I wanted to assure them I would be fine, but I couldn't find the words. It tore me apart to know how much I have hurt people closest to me due to my grief. My lips pried open but no sound came out, my throat parched and raspy.
"Okay, Rose, Go down to the kitchen. Cook anything you can find, check expiration dates. Who knows the last time he has been shopping. I am going to get him in the shower. I'll be done in a half hour. Have something hot and waiting for him."
I heard Rosalie's heels click against the wood floors as Emmett heaved me easily into his arms and stalked into the adjoining bathroom. I couldn't find it in me to struggle as Emmett peeled off my dirty clothes, leaving on my underwear.
"Damn it E. These clothes will need to be burned. When's the last time you showered?"
I raised my head, blinking at Emmett. Unable to vocalize, I held up a hand. Emmett muttered a string of expletives as he picked me up and placed me under the steady stream of hot water. My body sagged against the cool tiles, as I let the water run over my body. Emmett quickly washed my hair and turned off the water. He wretched me out of the shower and sat me down on the toilet, wrapping my bathrobe around me, tying a knot around my waist. Roughly jerking my head up, he quickly brushed my teeth.
Exiting the bathroom, Emmett boomed "Okay, I'm getting out of the bathroom. You take your own damn underwear off. I'll find a clean pair."
I managed to shimmy out of my sopping boxers as Emmett threw a new pair, hitting me in the face. I attempted to smile, but the foreign facial gesture caused physical pain.
After I was clothed in clean boxers and a robe, I was thrown over Em's shoulder and transported to the kitchen.
"You have two choices Edward. You can eat and drink on your own, or I get Dr. C Cullen over here and he can admit you to the hospital to be fed by IV. I don't expect you to eat it all, but you need something." Rose's eyes blazed with fire and ice.
I looked to my brother for help, but he shook his head, making it clear he sided with his wife. The food smelled wonderful, but my empty stomach churned at the thought of food entering after a five day self induced fast. I picked up the water and took a few small sips letting it settle in my stomach. After a few bites of chicken noodle soup and a glass of water, my stomach turned violently, sending me retching to the kitchen sink.
A shrill ring echoed through the house, Emmett went outside to take the call. Moments later, he crashed back through the door, his eyes alight with panic. He grabbed Rose and hurried out the door only pausing to bark out orders.
"I'll be back in a few. The soup better be in your stomach and you better be somewhere other than your bed, Edward!"
Sometime later, although I couldn't tell you how long, since time doesn't hold too much meaning, Emmett returned with Jasper. I was still perched at the bar, working on soup and crackers, drinking some orange juice.
"And I thought I saw ground zero at B's house." Jasper drawled
To say I was confused was an understatement, but then again I couldn't say my brain was functioning at an optimal level.
"The sad thing, Jazz? He actually looks and smells a lot better." Emmett boomed with a wry smile.
I barked a laugh, which really sounded closer to a bark than a laugh. My throat had been soothed with the copious amounts of water and juice flowing through, and I was capable of making sounds other than rasping.
"Where did you go, Em?" I cringed at the rough tenor of my voice.
"Rescue Mission 2."
"It seems you aren't the only one on the bottom with a shattered heart."
"Time for change" smiled Jasper.
I looked between my older brother and brother –in-law. Twin smirks playing on the corners of their lips. I couldn't help but think… What the hell is going on?
Two long weeks passed since Emmett and Rose waged war against my excessive self-loathing. I was back to the daily grind. Functioning, barely. Like a robot, I went through the motions. Eating, breathing, thinking…not feeling much other than numbness and a dull constant ache. It had been three weeks since I had any contact with Bella. In 20 years, I had never gone two days without contact with Bella, let alone three weeks. Even in my year in Chicago, during Advanced Med, I was in constant contact with her. I would fly into Seattle every other weekend to see my "family" but to be honest, it was because of Bella. I couldn't bear any longer of a time period. If I wasn't in Seattle, she was in Chicago. I didn't sleep at all that year. I was up studying night after night, so my weekends were free to do as I please. In the end, it was all worth it.
One night in particular stood out in my memory. If there was ever a time I should have fessed up to my feelings, it was two winters ago. That winter was the first and only time I had hope that our friendship was more than friendship, that there was something more.
A blizzard was coming in; I could feel the bitter cold as I hiked up hill to my car after a hellacious day in the ER/OR. A blizzard meant one thing, more 36+ hour shifts due to the influx of accident and hypothermia victims do to the snow, ice, and biting cold. It seemed today had been a precursor for what was to come. A five car pileup near O'Hare had left 4 teenagers in critical care literally fighting for life, had 1 elderly man deep in a coma without much hope, and taken the lives of two family units and one tiny brunette about my age. I had been assigned to the young brunette woman, who despite her mangled appearance, looked startlingly like Bella. When I had rushed into the OR while being briefed on her condition, I was in full blown surgeon mode. I made my way over to the table, suiting up quickly, barker orders and listening to the stats being called from the OR nurse. I took my place at the operating table and looked down to assess her condition and formulate a plan of attack with the chief surgeon. A lump gathered in my throat as I took in the resemblance of this woman to my best friend. I knew it wasn't her, but it was as if she was lying broken on my operating table. Swallowing thickly, urging my irrational tears at stay at bay I listened to the prognosis, injuries, vitals, and plan of operation. Three hours into the invasive procedure of reconstructing vital organs and constant blood transfusions, time of death was called.
It was easily the most traumatic day of my young life. It was like I was watching helplessly as my girl lay broken on my operating table. I sent of a 911 text to Bella. I had to make sure for myself she was okay. I wretched open my laptop and clicked on Bella's name. Her tired face popped up on the screen and my straining emotions broke loose, materializing in sobs wracking my body and shaking my core.
"Bella, I…I…I nnnneed you!" I choked out between breaths.
My breaths came out in short gasping spurts as I struggled to steady my breathing, recounting my day in the OR. I felt so weak in that moment, losing my cool over something so ingrained into my career choice, but I couldn't help it. Bella's soothing words floated over the speakers, her concerned face breaking me further. Exhausted, my eyes floated shut, lulled to sleep by the soft comfort of Bella's voice.
Hours later soft knocks alerted me to the presence of a visitor. I glanced at the alarm clock next to my bedside table. 4 AM. I quickly checked my phone for any emergency calls and came up blank. Rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, I meandered toward the living room, stumbling in the darkness. Opening the door, my mouth opened in shock. There was Bella, bundled up in a jacket and fuzzy boots, shivering from the cold, snowflakes dusting her dark locks. My face lit up with a smile as I ran out into the sub-zero snow storm in just my boxer shorts and undershirt. I scooped my girl off her feet and rushed inside, swinging her around, giggling like a high school girl who sees her crush. My heart took off, beating furiously as I held onto my lifeline as my world depended on her, because it did.
"I can't believe you're her Boo!" I whispered, hugging her tightly.
"What do you expect Boo? You called all upset. I had to come save you." She whispered back, mimicking our childhood nickname back to me. When we were little, we were literally attached at the hip, if she fell, I fell…which was often. Hence we were nicknamed Boo-Boo.
"Only you would fly thousands of hours in the middle of the night, just for me. Only you" I snorted, wiping my teary eyes. "I'm sorry Bella; I didn't mean to worry you. I just missed you, and I had a tough day at the hospital. I needed my favorite girl."
I took Bella in my arms, walking her into my bedroom and snuggled into the bed. Face to face, I held her as if my life depended on it and did not let go.
Sitting alone on my couch, flipping through the beautiful scrapbook Bella had given me for my birthday, three short weeks ago, reminiscing, I came to a realization. I had sat around long enough. I had waited for opportunities to present themselves for 20 years. I had waited for the right moment my whole life, and maybe it wouldn't happen…unless I created it. I had enough…enough of my fears, self-doubt, and victimless unrequited love. If I wanted "the moment" I would have "the moment".
I called Rosalie and Alice, asking them to meet me at Tiffany's, the shrill squealing nearly caused me to lose my precious hearing after telling them my plan for Friday. I had never been surer of any decision in my life. All that was left was to find if Bella was as sure of me as I of her.
Friday came quickly. I grew more and more restless as the day wore on, the implication of my decision to possibly crush my entire being weighing heavily on my psyche. I had it all planned, After work, Bella would be lured to my parent's house and into the back yard, where millions of twinkle lights and tea candles would light up our old treehouse leading her to me.
As the day went on and on…and on, I began to think about how Bella had left me at the party. The more I thought, the more anxious I grew. So much so, I found myself driving toward the coffeehouse Bella and Alice co-owned. I paced in front of the building for what seemed like hours, the rain saturating my clothes. Finally, I approached the door, tapping the glass doors softly…still internally waging a war against my pessimistic side, currently begging me to tuck my tail and run home. Before pessimism could win out, Bella looked up and walked to the door, hesitation marring her features. My heart sank and I took one lungful of air and rushed forward. I had to do this; there is no backing out now. I knew what I wanted; my only uncertainty was her reaction. My voice steady as I began, the beginning of the possible end.
"Why did you do it?" I ground out, clenching my teeth.
"I DON'T know Edward! If I could take it back I would! God, I never meant for things to get this way. I just needed you to know. It was killing me to sit and watch while other women had what I so desperately lived for! It was killing me to see you miserable. It kills me when you talk about the "special girl" you have been after for so long. It was killing me to see you pull away from me. I didn't know what to do! What do you want from me? What do you want me to do?" She cried, tears leaking from her eyes.
I was slightly startled by her admission, but powered on. "Why did you run? I have been waiting…so long!" I shouted "I have been waiting so long for something to happen between us. And it does, and you run! You started it and you left! You gave me this beautiful scrapbook of our lives and then I haven't heard from you for almost a month. What was I supposed to think…?" My chest constricted as I recalled the painful memory.
Tears were dripping down my cheeks as I continued "I have told you so many times, you were my special girl! It kills me when you talk about the "special man" you have been after for so long. It kills me to see other men have what I have been after for 20 years. I have loved you since our first play date when we were five. I loved you through our awkward teen years and your heartbreaks. I have loved you in spite of the wear and tear our relationship has caused on my heart. It killed me to be in Chicago for a year, only surviving because we flew to see each other on a weekly basis. And when you showed up two years ago, after a day in hell, in a blizzard…I knew you were the other half of my heart."
I stalked toward Bella, grabbing her tiny hands as I knelt to the ground. Sniffling I reached in my jacket pocket and pulled out the ominous light blue box, flipping it open. "Bella, when you stood up and toasted at my birthday party, you said a friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words. And where you find true friendship, you find true love. You are the one who knows the song to my heart, and has sung it back many times when I have forgotten the words. And in you I have found true friendship, in you I found true love. I love you with all I am and all I can be. Now that I have you, I will never let you go. Will you marry me?" I held my breath as my world rested on her reaction.
She collapsed to her knees threw her arms around me, and snuggled her face in the crook of my neck "Oh Boo, I'll love you forever and for always. Yes!"
I slightly turned my head, as happy tears replaced the tears representing pain. I grabbed her hand and slid the ring on her left third finger, where it would stay for all eternity. I brought her hand to my lips kissing the ring. I slowly leaned forward, moving my shaking hands to cradle Bella's delicate face as I tilted my head, softly brushing my lips to hers, the world disappearing around us. Just Me and Bella, the way it was meant to be.
Now, what I really want to know….who's POV did you prefer?