I was sitting here, trying to work on the latest (and very, very late) chapter of my current WIP, when suddenly this little idea hit like a wrecking ball. It's short, and not very sweet, and took about four hours from germination to posting. I don't think it needs a tissue warning, but I live on angst, so I may not be the best judge of such things. Might be a good idea to keep a tissue or two on hand, just in case.
As always, I own nothing.
I fall through the door of the apartment, foot catching on the frame and nearly sending me tumbling to the floor before I catch myself. I barely hold back a giggle, because I'm not that drunk. Drunk enough to trip over a doorway, maybe, but definitely not fucking drunk enough to giggle like a little girl. Fuck that.
Stripping off my clothes as I cross the living room almost sends me on another header, and I narrowly miss landing my ass on the sofa as I wrestle my t-shirt off over my head. All I really want is my bed, but that's going to have to wait at least another five minutes or so—I'm sweaty and disgusting, and don't want that shit rubbing off on my sheets.
I shower off the residue of the party I just dragged my ass home from, as well as the girl I nailed in the pool house while a bunch of drunken assholes whooped and hollered it up just outside. Ashley…Amber…Allison…something like that. Who gave a shit? Blonde, big blue eyes, pretty tits, nice ass…I remember the important stuff. I wrapped it before I tapped it, but I can still smell her perfume all over me, and it's starting to make my skin crawl.
I could have probably washed off in the pool itself, but no way in hell was I so much as dipping my big toe in that cesspool. Some fucking frat boy douchebag puked in that thing last week, and who knew if they had even bothered to clean it out since then. Fucking pigs.
I barely bother with the towel, swiping it across my chest and rubbing it over my hair before tossing it in the general direction of the hamper. My bed is calling my name, and I'm just about to crawl under the blankets when I remember I have to reset the alarm on my phone. Gotta get up an hour earlier to meet Peter in the library so we can finish getting our report put together before class. Shit.
Cursing under my breath, I head back to the hallway and dig my phone out of my pants pocket. Flipping it open, I see that I have one new voicemail. What the fuck? How did I miss…oh, yeah. I didn't take my pants all the way off when I did what's-her-face, but with the phone on vibrate I probably wouldn't have felt the call come in with them down around my knees. I almost don't listen to it, figuring it can wait until morning. If it were important, whoever it was would have called back. I set the alarm as I weave my way back to the bedroom, and then set the phone down on the nightstand before climbing back into bed. I close my eyes. And can't sleep. That little screen message flashes over and over again behind my closed lids, taunting me.
Two minutes later I'm grumbling and cussing as I sit back up and grab for the phone. Pushing the button to call my voicemail, I lie back on the bed and close my eyes. This better be fucking good.
The message starts, and my breathing stops.
"Hi. Edward. It's me. I mean, it's Bella. Swan. I don't know if you'll even listen to the rest of this, or if you'll press the delete button as soon as you hear my name—I mean, as if you have any interest in what…but it doesn't matter. This is more for me than for you, anyway, so I guess whether or not you actually hear it doesn't matter so much. Just as long as I say what I need to say.
"I don't know if you even remember the day we…when you left. What I said. Maybe you do. I like to think that…never mind.
"It was the end of July. You took me out to the playground at the elementary school, and we sat on the merry-go-round, and you told me that you didn't want to do the long-distance thing. That you wanted to head off to college with a clean slate, and start fresh. That you loved me, but it was time to move on. Do you remember any of that? Do you remember what I told you in return?
"I said I would wait for you. You told me not to, but that was never your decision to make. I promised that I wouldn't try to hold you back, that I would let you go without a fight, but that I would still be here if you ever changed your mind. I guess I always thought that you would eventually come back to me. I figured that you needed time to be young and wild and free, but that when it was all said and done you would realize that I was where you belonged. That was probably naïve of me, but I thought that we were something special. No, I knew it. I still do. And even though you never did come back for me—even though I probably haven't even crossed your mind in years—I'm glad that I held on for as long as I did. I'll probably always have that little ache in my heart, wondering what might have been, but I also can find peace in the knowledge that I did everything I could. I held on, and I waited, and I loved you long past the time I should have let go. But—and this is what I'm calling to say—I'm letting you go now, Edward. I can't wait any more, and it's time to move on.
"God, I can't believe I haven't been cut off yet! How long do you have this message thing set for?" There's a short silence—maybe four or five seconds—before the voice resumes.
"They say that you never forget your first, and I hope that's true. I never want to forget you, and I have to admit that there's a selfish part of me that hopes you remember me, too. Not with regret—not as the girl whose heart you broke. But as the one who used to be able to make you laugh when you were moody and depressed. The one who used to lay with you on the couch while we watched movies, and buried her face in your shoulder during the scary parts. The one that helped you bury Jake after he got hit by a car, and swore never to tell a soul that you cried over his grave. I never have.
"I hope that instead of tears, you remember my smile—you always said it was like the sun. I hope you remember how very much I loved you, and that once upon a time you loved me too. I know you did.
"Most of all, I want you to be happy, and I hope you find everything you're looking for.
"Goodbye, Edward. Have a good life."
I lie there, shocked and unmoving, as the message plays out, only coming back to life when the automated voice says, "to save this message…" I frantically press "9", irrationally terrified that I will accidentally delete it—I don't know why. It doesn't matter—she doesn't matter—but something deep inside is screaming at me not to lose this one last piece of…I brush the thought away. "Message saved. You have one saved message. First saved message…" I listen as it repeats, and then play it again. And again. Then I sit there on the edge of the bed, staring at the phone in my hand for I don't know how long. My chest is tight, aching, and I don't know why. I tell myself it's the booze, combined with the shock from the sudden appearance of the ghost of girlfriends past.
It's been more than three years since I saw her, since I heard her voice. Since the day I told her goodbye, and walked away without a backward glance. I haven't thought about her in I don't know how long. It's been at least a year since the last time I caught a glimpse of a slender brunette out of the corner of my eye and had to do a double take.
I used to dream about her, I guess. I never remembered them when I woke up, but according to Emmett I said her name in my sleep a lot. It was a bit of a shock when, while we were smoking up in our dorm room one night during freshman year, he asked me "So, who's Bella?" Emmett's cool, and has ended up being one of my best friends, but the guy has no tact or verbal filter—especially when he's under the influence of…well, just about anything.
I press play again, and absently rub at my chest with my free hand as the message plays out once more. I don't know where this compulsion is coming from, and once again choose to blame the overabundance of alcohol in my system. I'm sure that in the sober light of day I will have a good laugh at myself, and will erase this silly, pathetic little voicemail from both my phone and my memory.
But right now I'm drunk, and if you can't be a bit self-indulgent and brooding when you're smashed, then when can you?
I don't sleep that night; instead I sit on the bed, alternately listening to my phone and staring at it as it rests in my lap. For one brief, insane moment, I almost press the button to call the sender. That passes quickly, but the phantom ache in my chest does not.
I don't know where this strange sensation is coming from—this hollow, empty feeling. As if I lost something, which is just ridiculous. I never asked her to wait; I never wanted her to. I was done with her years ago. It doesn't mean anything that apparently she's finally done with me, too. It's a good thing. I tell myself that I'm glad for her; I never wished her unhappiness or harm. She deserves better than to waste her life away pining over someone who tossed her aside and never once even thought about wanting her back.
Morning comes, and the alarm goes off in my lap. I must still be a little bit drunk, because I press "9" once more before snapping my phone closed and setting it down on the nightstand. I get ready to leave, but my gaze keeps returning to the inconspicuous-looking bit of silver sitting there so quietly beside the bed. Finally I'm ready to go, and walk over to pick it up.
Checking the power, I see that it is down to one bar; it will be dead within a few hours. I have to keep it turned off during class, anyway, so there's really no point in even taking it. Instead I plug it in to the power cord and leave the apartment, heading for the library.
The phone stays behind, but that strange, hollow ache follows me out the door.