Staying? Have I thought about it? Oh, Brown, if I told you how much I've thought about it I'd make myself sound certifiable. You'd run for the hills.
It didn't cross my mind before you touched me way back forever ago, at the party. That night I just thought you were a horny guy. After I'd gotten home I thought you were a horny guy who'd made the most inspired move ever, because that thing with my leg both terrified and heated me, and the terror was because of the heat. The heat was intensified by the terror. Your vocabulary was an intellectual aphrodisiac, and your very real consternation on the way home got me in the chest, once I understood what it had been about. You've been getting me in the chest ever since. So bad it's good, so good it's bad.
God, Brown, yes, I've constructed a fantasy future for you and me. Turning my back on the raindrops of where Mom and I live, and all they evoke. Foregoing the shifting silvered skies of the timber town, the seven hills. I'd ask Makendra if I could live with her, lodge in her space, and I'd invite you to my bed and I'd kiss you awake and fuck you to sleep, hear your music and your mind. Talk with Bear and walk with Blond, compound mediterranean relish to give to Mr Ninety. Play with Suzy, do the market with Alisha. Learn something - anything - about cars, to relate to Gypsy. Tell her I was made in one - she might like that. And I'd be here, with you.
Unsayable this, so I kiss him again, the way we kiss when we're in each other. I feel his breath huffing through his nose and onto my cheek, his ribs starting to heave. We're somewhere people can walk past, but his tongue's in me now just like how he puts his dick in me - seeking and devastating. Hands at my cheeks, fingertips to my hair. Breaking away, eyes with that blurred, occupied, possessed look he gets. Takes him a second or two to come back.
"Uh," he says.
"Does this mean - ?" Him.
"Bella. You haven't answered. About the staying? You have to tell me outright if it's yes or no, since I'm kind of slow."
Oh, he's hopeful, he's wanting. He must already know the answer because I would have already said so, but he has to hear it. Words. I love that he loves them. Needs them. I love that he can coax them out of me, when I'd sit in a fugue otherwise. These ones that I have to tell him, though, these knife-bladed ones will hurt my throat on the way out and hurt his ears on the way in.
Because in this puppet-show I am not threadless. Titanium strands attach me to my mother - even more so now that she's told me of my engenderment. Renee won't commit herself to being here, I'm certain. She won't linger in the house with Pippa, even if the two of them are struck by what may seem undying love as soon as they lay eyes on one another, and she won't stay in this summer land either. She will want to be sure, sure, sure. She needs to go home and pore over this, unlike past decisions which have been made so hastily.
So why should I even consider my hitherto inconstant, unpredictable mother, when I know what I want? Because. Because. I always knew she had nothing but me, and now I know she has nothing but me. There is the inkling of a potential for something, someone else for her, but she needs a rock to stand on in order to even reach for it, and I am her rock. It may not seem reasonable that I should support her, her being chronologically the adult - but she lost what I never had - the love and the foundation and the anchor that my father would have been. I have been and will be those things. I want to be. She gave me her youth and her possibilities and she protected me from her sorrow until now that she has given it to me, yet bearing it, I will be what she needs.
Brown - it can't be the end for you and me - and if mere miles and mere months apart mean it's over then it wasn't what either of us thought it was. Which is wrenching, but if this is what I want to believe it is - we'll survive.
I don't have the nerve to say all this to him. To his glittering eyes. It's too many sentences, and I don't speak that much in one go.
Summarize. "I've thought about staying, yes, but I can't."
Held in his gaze. "Why not?"
Not good enough. Not nearly good enough. Can't dismiss him, us, with so trite a non-explanation.
"Mom and I need to go back. There are things - things going on in our lives that need some time and consideration and we can't just drop it all and relocate."
The shutters come down fast. So fucking fast.
"I guess so. You've got a home back there, and a job, and friends and everything," he says stiffly. "There's none of that here. And you're starting Uni. "
He's trying not to sound crushed, I can hear it. It crushes me. It crushes me to realize that he's affected enough to try to sound like he isn't.
"Well, you know, let's stay in touch, as I said. E-mails. Let me know how you're doing. I'll send you photos of Spanky in the dog race next year."
"Which Spanky? I could leave the toy one with you."
"It would probably run faster than the real one."
Neither of us can grin.
And I can't keep this up. Can't. Can't. He has to know. I have to find the place in myself that can articulate, and I have to pull the reasons and the meanings and the truth up, and tell him as much as I can.
"Edward, um, Renee needs to go back. She and I need to go back. Something's come up for her, and I've never had the opportunity to really support her before, because the two of us have just kind of drifted, but if we're back where we were, we've got stability while she figures stuff out. She's got work there, a routine, a steady income, our apartment... All of that is really important to her right now."
Not even looking at me, disappointed and resigned.
"Yeah. Well, okay, Bella. If that's what has to happen. It's your call. I think I'll head home with Suzy. You want to walk back?"
He stands, brushes sand off his backside, takes our empty cardboard cups to a trashcan and returns. Holds out his hand for me, to help me up. I need more help than that.
"Vacations?" I say, desperately. "Can I come back and visit?"
He's winding Suzy's leash around his wrist. "Do you actually want to?"
"Yes. Yes, I do. What do you want?"
He runs - he just takes off and runs, Suzy yapping and bounding ahead. Disappeared around the corner, them both, leaving me flabbergasted. I could double over. We talked, we kissed, we talked - I know I'm all over the place emotionally and he must be having trouble interpreting - but I've said I want to keep seeing him! I've said I don't want it to be over.
Yet he's run out on me.
This afternoon, my mother said: "When Pippa called, I recognized her voice straightaway. It was like a timewarp. All she had to do was say my name, and I knew her. And then it was very general - this and that. It had been such a long time, there was plenty we had to tell each other. She knew I'd had a baby all those years ago - the grapevine was pretty efficient - and she was interested in how you were and what you were doing. She lamented how difficult things must have been for me, on my own, and she never asked who the father was. We just sort of skimmed it. In spite of that we fell into the old, best-friends easiness, as though we'd remained in touch all that time instead of not having spoken for years. And after that we talked every couple of weeks, and then she asked if you and I would like to look after her house and Hal. I couldn't pass it up, Bo. You and I needed time together, and time away from our lives, and it sounded perfect."
Two issues here, Mother.
One: don't even get me started. Pippa doesn't know the other half of my parentage? Or the circumstances? For crying out fucking loud, Renee! Oh what a tangled web we weave, etc. You have borne this whole fucking thing, this whole secret solely on your shoulders for my whole life! Oh, Jesus, I don't know how you didn't just crumple from the weight of it all. My head hurts, my heart hurts, my everything hurts. I can't condemn you, I can't condone you.
Two: what does "perfect" mean? Fuck! We've made friends in a community we have to leave; Pippa's beloved and valiant dog has died; I've fallen inescapably in love; and you and I have been shown a possibility far from our own - a place where we can be, and create, and grow and make things, and belong. We can stretch our wings and fly in the sun and the sunset, the sea and the seabreeze here, but our real lives are elsewhere. Solid, tax-paying, money-earning, worthy lives that enleaden us. What's your definition of "perfect", Renee? - because being here is a mindfuck.
But hey, I know my mother marginally more now - the woman she thinks she should be - and this Renee won't uproot us on a whim. It's taken her years and years to barely manage economic administration and practical planning, and she'll be wary of relinquishing what she's built for us for the uncertainty of someone who might love her. Or who might just have drawn inspiration from an intense childhood friendship to create a story.
"And we've been getting on great, over skype, me and Pip. Just great. It's like we were never apart, but at the same time it's like we have so much to tell each other, and so many different experiences. Every conversation is at least an hour, Bo. At least."
Just because you two can talk for hours doesn't mean you'll get together. Have either of you brought up that you kissed five hundred years ago?
"We haven't gotten around to mentioning what happened that night. To tell you the truth, from the way Pippa's talked to me, I thought it just wasn't going to be anything. Swept under the carpet, you know? But then, there it is, all laid out in her memoir, like it's the biggest thing ever."
"Have you told her you've read it?"
Renee so rarely curses that I see it might be time for another perusal of the liquor cabinet, even though it's only mid-afternoon. What would you like? Anything, so long as it's forty percent alcohol? It might be time to break out the chocolate, or make mango lassi with mint and chili, or beat your head against the tabletop, or hurl cutlery at the daylight moon. We do none of that. I keep talking.
"Well, how about when we arrived here - when you saw her?"
"Jesus - you were here too! It was all: oh, Renee, you might have to climb up a ladder and clean the guttering; remember to keep the glass doors closed, the salt gets in; there's a high-frequency insect zapper in the laundry, you can plug it in overnight. Take Hal to dance classes and varnish his toenails. Not exactly Hear My Gay Love Call."
Ingenuous. Shake my head. Renee.
"Actually - I was kind of wondering about you and Jim Bannerman - Mr Ninety's son?" I offer, just to see. "You mention him now and again."
"A JB of my very own?" says she.
An unfunny answer to an unfunny question.
"He's nice. He's acting kind of interested, since you asked, but - I wish I had an answer for you. I wish I had an answer for me. Here you and I both are, just trying to have a fricking vacation - and the damn dog we're minding up and dies, you meet Mr Wonderful - and yes, I think Edward is wonderful - and I make more friends in ten minutes here than I've made in ten years anywhere else. Then a lesbian tells the world she wants me. What's next? Will it rain frogs, Bo-bo? Will it thunder sunbeams and will the sky fall in and turn out to be dragon's breath and marshmallow?"
Go, Renee. No, Renee. The her Pip fell for so irrevocably. Whimsey and imagination and nuttiness and full of lively and lovely.
"She didn't tell the world, Mom. She didn't even name you. No-one would possibly know who that book is about beyond you and me - and you're weird, by the way. Did I ever say so before?"
"All the time. But, no."
Mom's smile coming right at me, the Renee special. Fond and proud, if I ever did anything quirky. Which I didn't, much. I didn't have quirky-itis. Courtesy of the recent divulgence, I find I have had Charlie-itis all along. A selective dive into the gene pool, awarding reticence and introspection. But I'm getting the fond, proud, Renee special now.
"Come here, you goose," she orders.
"Swan," I correct, and I go. I go. Enfolding arms of this strong, fragile woman are the grip of life and the grip of death. I never knew. She is the earth and the sky, she is metal, air and wood. All combined in a mysterious alchemy that I am awed to be a part of. She frustrates the hell out of me, but I carry her mitochondria. Born holding the egg that could be Isabella, it lay in wait with its sisters for the soldier of the dark night, the dark knight, until he came to meet his destiny. Any one of a hundred thousand babies could have come to her, and she got me. She did her best, her very, very best with the hand she was dealt, and I am inexplicable to her. She loves me regardless.
I hug her back with a deep, deep conviction.
"Oohmph," she wheezes. Have to ease up so I don't kill her with my love.
"Would you mind if I was a kitty-kisser?" says she.
"Oh, Jesus, Mom! Shut up or I'm leaving town."
"We're both leaving town, anyway. But does that mean you do mind?"
Touched that she should even care about my approval, my opinion. She called Brown Mr Wonderful, so I know about her approval and her opinion. I knew anyway - she bought condoms, and made sure to get out of the house when he visited me so that he and I could be alone. She wants the person I want to be the person who can make me happy. I want the same for her.
"Mom - kitty-kisser, whatever. Whatever, whoever you are - I want you to be with someone great who appreciates you."
Is that clear enough?
"Seriously. Jim Bannerman, Pippa, someone who's good to you."
"Yeah, that's it, isn't it? We all want someone who'll be good to us. But honestly it's too sudden to think that things might just magically click into place for me, too out of nowhere. Don't get your hopes up. I'm not getting mine. This is all topsy-turvy and weird and I'm so wary of expecting anything, while at the same time wishing I could expect it all."
Well, I know how that feels - I've been living in that space for weeks. It takes your breath and your appetite and your sleep. Your atoms dance. You don't know how you retain your form, you're so electrified, and you get random sweeps of sensation like solar flares if you picture a single word that he said, or you hear again a look thathe gave you.
So, yes, I know, Renee. Whirled.
Although - I don't know, really. It was like that with Brown almost straightaway, but my mother in her resolute indecision has quashed any possible thoughts of that nature about her early friend. At least for now.
And the blow I have taken as to my legitimacy has thrown me. Not my legal legitimacy - I couldn't give a damn about that - but the sure and quiet determination I've nurtured all my life that my parents were star-crossed lovers. I care far too much for Renee to resent her, I understand her newly too well to castigate her, and I feel for her too heartfully to blame her.
"Anyway, Bo, how are you feeling about this?" as if she needs my stamp of approval on her teenage and current behavior.
I'm teetering, since you asked, but, "Fine. A little wobbly, actually, but still upright. I'm really sad about Charlie."
"I hope things get less muddy for you with Pippa."
"Thanks, baby. Have you heard of the airport test?"
"It's when you haven't seen somebody for a while, and you're not sure how things are between you, and you have to pick them up at the airport. Your very first impression on seeing them will tell you the truth of what your heart wants."
Back to whims, mother? But equally you could term it intuition, or gut instinct. Who knows, maybe it's true. "Guess we'll find out pretty soon, then."
"You know, Bo, if I had to meet you at an airport every day between now and forever, I'd love you every single time, with never a moment's doubt."
Tears prick at my eyes, while hers are blue and steady and sure.
"Same for me with you, Mom."
"That's my girl."
Quiet now, tiny then louder, stretching out as the day progresses. Calm though - not a full and bursting quiet. One with space.
I know some people arrive at a self-settlement best by spilling it all, and doing some kind of bounce-off thing, where their nearest and dearest offer helpful, counseling advice and suggestions. Not me. Others may weigh it all up and consider carefully - I'm not like that either. I'll internalize, the issue will become pure cloud, and I'll dizzy at it in brackets of moments until the cloud disperses, revealing my answer. I'm not an analyst; not scientific, or mathematical. I disappear the issue and the vectors until the answer is a slow fog of clarity. I kind of know the foreglow for now, anyway. The present-glow too. It's not anyone's fault. There was a human chain of events, with a human result. I am no more and no less in how I came to be than anybody else, and though a sorrow I never fully understood until now has always been a part of my makeup, it doesn't define me. I could choose to think of it as enriching if I'm prepared to accept it.
One step forward, one step back. Trouble is, I don't end up at my starting point. I'm not the Isabella Swan I have always thought I was.
"Maybe we'll have a better perspective on all this once we've left," Renee, the optimist.
Get to the corner, and he hasn't gone at all, he's waiting.
"What do I want? Come here." Growls, pounces, like I'm prey.
I'm caught and held, that safe encirclement of his arms that isn't safe at all. It hasn't stop me from falling. Suzy does what she does, trying to join in.
"I want you. Us. To make this work. We'll do it. Interstate flights don't cost much. You know, maybe in a way, this will be good. If you were around I wouldn't be able to study. I wouldn't let you study. I'd be demanding and whiney."
"Oh, yeah. I'd be all Oh Bella, I left my pencil with you. Can I come by? Oh Bella, I need you to help me revise. Oh Bella, will you read to me? Oh Bella, my piano doesn't sound right unless you're sitting on top of it."
I like whiney Edward. He has me smiling.
"You have a piano?"
"Of course. Do you have to get home or do you want to come over to my place? I could introduce you."
And my head tips to his shoulder as we walk, giving me a different angle on the world. We're at his door when he stops me.
"Just quickly, a question. Although I don't want a quick answer. Can I ask you now, and you go away and think about it?"
"Ah - sure." No idea what he's talking about.
"Actually, no. I won't ask now. I'll ask you later, because you have to have a clear mind to answer. As clear as possible, anyway. Away from my influence."
Stumbling into the front hall, I've tickled him because I can't keep my hands away - and why would I? and he's laughing helplessly, as we're waylaid immediately by Esme. Delighted to see us, wanting to chat with me. So lovely. I want to chat with her too, almost as much as I want to fool around with her son upstairs in his bedroom. Standing where she can't see him, he blows kisses. I can't possibly be impolite enough to bring the conversation with Esme to a close so I nod and smile and reply to everything, despite the distraction. The growing urgency.
He is champing at the bit, I can see the desire in him, but Suzy is the one who rescues us both. The naughty hound appears suddenly with a shoe in her mouth, exasperating Esme and liberating her son and his guest. Esme scolds and gives chase, and Brown and I take the stairs two at a time.
"Here we are, then," he says, shutting the door.
I browse his bookcase, which I didn't get the chance to do last time I was here. First and uppermost, music, composers, composers, music. Then downwards, a backwards chronology. Sci-fi, spy stories, the phases he went through. Watching me peruse his life, though books don't tell me everything.
"Have you brought girlfriends here before?"
"Yes. No. Well, I've brought girls here, and I've brought girlfriends..."
Stupid question, Isabella, and you totally asked for that lurch in the belly.
"But I haven't brought anyone here and - made out, if that's what you're asking."
He's sitting on the bed, arms held up, inviting me to stand before him.
"You're the first. Well, the only. We could make out, if you want."
Of course I want, but - hesitate. I don't like thinking of him with other girls. Wouldn't like to estimate how many there have been. Wouldn't like to know. Enough to have made him so confident, so sure with his caresses, so able.
He interrupts my train of thought.
"This blouse. It suits you but I'm afraid I have to undo the buttons."
Exploring. "Your bra is front-fastening? God loves me. Oh."
Smirk and wickedness. "Now guide your boobie to my mouth."
Guide my boobie? I stagger, laughing, and my boobie and its identical twin jiggle in front of him.
"Ooh, yeah," and he's grabbed both boobies, shoving his whole face into my chest. I'm still laughing, but his lips find me and it's not so funny any more. He's not laughing either when I push him back down and pin him. He's hard, right there, my thighs accept him and admit him, and my clit is on the launch pad. Five, four, three, two - already close.
"Oh no you don't, missy. We still have far too many clothes on."
Silly, happy, so horny, both of us. You're right, and I want your dick. I want your laughter and your voice, and your words, and your everything. I love you.
"I love you."
"What?" Hands on my shoulder, pushing me back so fast I gasp. "What?"
You look shocked, Brown, makes me feel bad, so don't make me say it again.
"What did you just say?"
Shut up. Your eyes are green and daring, your hair is fucking stupid crazy and your stubble is part brown, part orange. Orange! What are you doing questioning me, Mr Orange Stubble?
I love you. It's a bit of an elusive concept to me, slippery and admiring, loyal and aching, an always, underneath knowing, with a coverlet of whoops, I'm aslant. It's a concrete concept too, after the afternoon I've had.
I love you. I know exactly what it is, now. I've known it all my life, it's what my father gave me besides my dark eyes, and what my mother gave me unquantifiably, in her elusive way. I will love truly, and I will love wholly.
But it's too fucking big for me right now. I need - I need - who is Isabella Swan and what am I going to do with her? What I can't do is abandon university for hot kisses and licking that line of dark hair down your abdomen, following it after its disappearance, and on to a pearl-drop, salty tip.
And work here in a flower shop, or for Mr Ninety, linking sausages. I want to think, I want to learn, I want to know. Know me.
"Um," I say, shooting Brown and myself down with my non-committal.
"You said you love me. Well, I love you, too. So we agree. We're both in it. We're even," he says. Hands at my waist. My waistband. My button and my zip.
"You love me? Love this."
Tongue. Oh, fuck. On, at, in the pink of me, his favorite color. Tracing the raspberry swirl he summons forth my own tiny erection, not hard like his, but puffy and swollen when he is giving me so much dedicated attention.
I stop him before it's too late, before the little silent thunderclaps and the ripples that exit through my fingernails and toenails and scalp. Hey you, get up here, now. Ignoring his momentary protest. Mouths, chests, hips - we're aligned. He's in.
My thighs to his, embracing.
"Bella, if you do that - I can't last. It makes you tighter."
I don't know why I'm holding him with my legs but not with my hands, fingers fluttering in his hair, on his arms, his cheekbones. He's moaning, pushing, thrusting, panting, trying so hard for me. His every surge I meet, triumphant.
"Bella, it's fucking incredible for me - are you close?"
He can hardly speak. "I - hope - you're - close."
Then head bowed, he makes the lunge he makes when he climaxes that I know, I crave, I exult in. I'd be projected through the headboard if not locked so securely by his grip under my ass, his other arm beneath my neck.
When my inner circle tightens, it threatens his blood supply. He's told me my body does this. He's told me he thinks I could kill him. "Le petit mort," he said, "You make me know I'm alive."
Now he almost shouts, noisy when I peak, so loud in his pleasure. No way Esme can't be hearing us.
Kissing, stuck together by damp skin till he rolls away just far enough to pull off the condom. Makes a triangle of his arm, props his cheek on his knuckles, recumbent and lambent on the sheet we just consecrated.
"Seductress. Tempting me with your sweet wiles, and your sweet ways, and your sweet words. What was it you said?" Eyes have turned forest dark.
"I love you."
He doesn't look as happy as I might have expected.
I'm writing for the twilight25 as jackqueenking. fyi.