Beyond the Pale Contest
Title: How Far Down
Pen Name: yogacat
Disclaimer: this is mine, twilight is not
Warning: it's really sad and somewhat dark
Image that Inspired You: #14 http :/www. beyondthepalecontest. /
To see other entries in the Beyond the Pale Contest, please visit the C2 page
http: /www. /community/Beyond_the_ Pale_Contest_Entries /83159/14/0/1/
Thank you to jessypt and lovelybrutal for helping me see clearly and to miaokuancha for beta duties and so very much more. Also thanks to fardaresmai for a final set of eyes.
All mistakes are mine
How Far Down
I climb the stairs slowly. One step. Slowly. At a time. I have no idea how many steps there are-how many flights- of birds, of stairs. One step at a time. I left my boots at the party. I'm not sure how many flights down. I left you at the party too. I'm not sure how far down. Yet I know you will be waiting for me when I get to the top. You said you'd always be there-to hold my hand, to talk me up or talk me down, to help me fly when I needed to be free. I need to be free of this weight, of this darkness, my legacy. One. Step. Closer.
When I was ten years old my mother made me promise I'd never kill myself. I said okay, but only if she promised too.
She did. Cross her heart and hope to die.
Six months later they found her body blue and broken. The waves washed her up on shore, below a cliff near the house where she grew up. There was no note. No sorry words of explanation. I didn't need any. Her mother had done the same thing.
I think she was afraid for me or maybe she was just afraid. I think she knew when she crossed her heart. I think she always knew.
You always knew. You knew me so deep, so inside I think it scared us both. You never made me promise. You never asked. You only ever said you'd be there for me- whatever I needed, whenever I wanted, when I was ready.
You always were. There, when I landed at my father's house alone and fatherless. He didn't know me. He wasn't bad. I heard him crying once so he couldn't have been bad. He just didn't know how to be a dad.
One step closer.
You always knew, and even when you didn't you tried. I remember you so clearly. My best friend, the stars in my sky.
It was the end of summer when we met. The back of my father's yard was a tangle of trees and brush so overgrown it wed itself to the woods behind it. I spent most of the summer getting lost in the thickness and green, the air so heavy, dark and dank. It was full of smells and animal voices that carried, but mostly there was a hushed silence that hung everywhere. With little else to do every day I would wind my way through the thickets and tangles, and find paths that led to trickling streams and secret campsites with burned books of matches and tiny bones.
There was a spot where the trees cleared, where the path of worn down dirt and broken twigs turned to stone—a huge flat of stone - cracked and worn and full of divots. It seemed to lead to the end of the earth. If I stood at the edge and leaned over as far as I could, I could see down. There was no bottom, there was nothing; it seemed to go on forever. At first it scared me, the nothing, the bottomlessness. But later, when we shared that space, our heads hanging over the edge and the sun beating down on our backs, the space, the nothing became ours and it was limitless.
That day, toward the end of summer, I fought the long hanging branches and thorn covered bushes and found a path, well covered and narrow. It was barely visible, as if it hadn't been traveled for a long time. When I finally got close to the end, there was a small deep, hole burned into the ground and cigarette butts and crushed beer cans littering a break in the bushes that opened up to a park. I found a dry spot to sit beneath a tree so tall it shaded almost half the open field. I was close enough to hear the echoes of fun, but far enough away that I didn't think anyone could see me.
There were boys playing baseball and kids running around chasing each other. Everyone seemed light and free and full of summer and sun, and I watched and listened to the screeching and laughing as boys ran the bases and moms pushed their kids on the swings.
I remember my mom used to push me on the swings. When she was happy and it was warm outside she'd push me so high, and she'd laugh and say "Look my little bird can fly." But sometimes she pushed me too high and I'd get scared. I'd cry and she'd stop and wipe my tears and say she was sorry. She promised she'd never scare me again, cross her heart.
I didn't hear the crack or the screaming or the footsteps pounding until you were in front of me, a ball at your feet. You were panting and stone still like you were in shock. You stared at me, your eyes so big, all red cheeks and gangly arms and legs. You blinked twice like you weren't sure I was really there. I wasn't sure if you were afraid you'd scare me or if you were just afraid of me. But I knew you were there.
I felt so small with you standing so close, like a shadow and you were the sun.
"What happened?" Your voice was so quiet and soft, careful.
"To what?" I had no idea what you were talking about.
"You're all scratched and bleeding."
I looked at myself; my arms, my legs, were covered with scratches. I didn't feel anything. Nothing hurt. I felt warm and wet and sticky on my face but I hadn't noticed until you told me. "I found a path from my house; it was kind of covered with bushes and stuff I guess."
"You came through the woods?" You seemed surprised. Like no one was ever in the woods. I knew that wasn't true.
"Yeah, there's an old path…"
"You shouldn't be in the woods by yourself. "
You shrugged: a boy shrug, an "I know but I'm not going to tell you" shrug.
"I don't know; it just doesn't seem right for you to be alone like that." You looked down at your feet, finally noticing the ball that lay there. Like a spell broken, the air ripped open and sound came rushing in. The screaming, people calling your name, calling you names. You turned away from me as if you'd just remembered you were doing something else before you saw me.
A boy came running up behind you breathless, reaching down; he grabbed the ball and threw it back toward the game. "Dude, what the fuck? We just lost." He whacked you on the back of the head and your hat fell off. "Come on, Emmett's' gonna chew your ass." He looked at me, cold. I could tell he didn't see me. He didn't say anything.
You bent to pick up your hat. You were still, like you didn't know what to do. I heard the other boy scream "Edward, come on." You turned away and you turned back and took one step closer and you stopped. I saw your lips move. Bye.
That word, your word, my word was the first spoken to me, only me, only mine. Bye.
I stayed and watched as you ran. You were just a boy and I was alone in the dark.
The stairs are solid and cold beneath my feet. I can feel the air like an exhale on my skin. One step, each step feels like a lifetime.
The sun beat down on our backs, so warm, though our bellies were cold. Our heads dangled over the edge looking down, looking up, at the birds that swooped around us and disappeared.
"I wish I could fly I wish I could fly I wish I could fly."
My eyes are closed so tight. I said it like a prayer.
I looked at you, your eyes wide open, looking up.
"So I could be free and just go, and you could come with me. Then I wouldn't be afraid, if you were with me."
You looked at me so soft, "Did your mom want to fly?"
I shrugged. "I don't know."
I let my shoulders hang even further over the edge, my head back against the side of the cliff.
You looked at me, your eyes burned into my belly like the sun. "Don't go Bella."
I shook my head in response, in wonder at how you knew it wasn't time.
You held my hand. It was the first time. It was the right time. You held on.
I feel the air swirl around my feet and hug my skin. Cold, colder. I stop to steady myself.
So much closer. I can feel it. Every part of me tingles and sways. So slowly, I step. One more.
Your hands were so gentle. Always so gentle. You pushed me so slow. Not too high. I got scared. You knew this; you knew everything. Even though everyone already knew, every word I said, everything I told you seemed so important and so ours. Not meant for anyone else. Everyone knew.
You knew everything.
You pushed me. At first just a little. You waited, so patiently. It took all summer. I flew so high and I laughed and you laughed.
We flew together.
"Higher, push me higher, Edward, please?"
The swing reached its peak and it jumped and my heart stopped.
You slowed me down, you brought me down so slow and easy and were there and you held me.
"Bella, I'll never let you fly before you're ready." You kissed the top of my head and rocked me back and forth.
It started to rain. You took me home and warmed me up. Up in my room the stars in the sky shine so bright. You put them there months ago. So I would always feel free and open. Even though I knew it was just a ceiling. You wrapped me under blankets and your fingers were so cold against my skin from outside's raw, wet fall.
You pulled me close and you kissed me soft and you kissed me right and you held my face in your hands like a treasure. "I love you, Bella."
My hands warmed on your cheeks and I felt a little smile but my insides were dark and churny. I know you do. I know. I wanted so much to say it. To be free with the words like you are. But everyone that's ever said it never really meant it and I knew you did and I wanted to mean it too. Not just need you, but really know that I love you.
Your eyes were so serious and dark. Your leg wrapped around me and I am molded to you. I felt safe. I tried so hard to feel safe. I feel so safe with you. "Are you afraid of me?" You asked.
You already knew.
"No, I'm afraid of me."
I kissed. I kissed you. I loved to kiss you. I love to kiss you. I still love to kiss you. I miss kissing you already.
I'm not afraid of me anymore. I'm not afraid of flying. A few more steps. I'm so close. I can see the door.
On Sundays, for so long, I used to sit in the living room of my father's house. Every Sunday I cut coupons out of the paper so you and I could go get food after school on Monday. Every Monday since the first Monday of the first day of school, you'd come to my house and we'd go to the store. You'd pull my wagon behind you. In our slickers, we would walk in the rain. Every Monday you would load up the trunk of your car with groceries and drive us home. I had enough coupons to buy enough food for a week. My father gave us money, but he never said thank you. He never thanked you.
Sunday. I sat on the floor surrounded by papers and photos of me. Me when I was small. Me when I lived with my mom. My mom took these pictures. Of me when I was small. There's a little girl looking back at me, big brown eyes, and long brown hair flying behind her. Her eyes cast down, eyebrows drawn tightly together. I don't remember what I was looking at or what I was thinking. This is the little girl I remember. This is the little girl that lives in my heart.
I felt you crouch down behind me. I felt your arms around me. You pulled my head back against your chest and wiped my tears. "I need to love her too don't I?
I couldn't stop and I haven't cried this hard since… And how did you know?
How did you always know?
I was mad. How could I be angry? I was mad at you for knowing the words to explain the feelings I had before I understood them. I was mad at me for everything. I was so fucking mad. Your shirt crumpled in my fists and I pushed and I pulled and I sobbed- gut wrenching. I couldn't stop.
I can't breathe, I can't stop. I can't stop crying. For me. For you. For the little girl trapped inside my heart that only you know.
"How are you so smart? Where did you come from?" I looked up at you and wonder if you're real, but I know you are, you are the realest thing that's ever happened to me.
"It's all right, I can love you both." You brushed my hair back and you held me, and you held us so close to your heart and we rocked and we swayed and you hummed. We hummed. Soothing, calming, steady rhythm of us. All of us.
"Edward, I can't." I can't do this. "I need help."
"I know you do baby. We'll find help."
The door. It's solid. It's cold. Closed.
I place my hand on it flat. It's so cold. I turn the knob slowly and push.
I step through. Light snow swirls around me and the air is wet, heavy and a hushed silence hangs over everything.
I step. The snow melts under my feet.
My feet melted in the sand. It was so warm even as the sun was setting. You opened your arms and reached out to me and I ran.
Into them. So strong. So safe.
You lifted me up up up over your head, spinning and twirling. I was light in the sky with you beneath me. I fly. And I laughed and I sang and you carried me so high. You laughed and I felt you free, as free as me.
Back at your house you made me dinner and told me again, it was only the weekend. You were going to see your mom and her new boyfriend in the city. You'd be back on Sunday night. You told me this over and over again. You'd been telling me this for weeks; we even marked it on my calendar. You told me again. Sunday, you'd be back.
You'd be back.
I'd already be gone.
I slept deep and hard and the image of your face as you pulled out of the driveway never left me. It never has. The wearied lines etched across your forehead, the helpless, hollowness of your beautiful eyes are my fault. My fault. You knew.
"I was so lonely and asking for forgiveness."
"I gave it then, before you even asked, if you ever asked."
"I don't remember."
"I'd give it now if you let me."
"If you gave it to me, if you only could."
I dream deep and hard and I heard something outside. I tried to wake you. "Edward," I whispered. Edward, I shake. Edward, I pound the mattress. You were right next to me but you didn't stir, you didn't move, at all. I heard you. I felt you next to me, where you always were.
You're not there.
You're not here.
I don't know for how long.
Sunday. The carpet was empty, thread worn and bare. I held her image in my hand. I tried to catch her eyes, to see what secrets she held.
Answers; maybe that's where she kept them.
I felt you crouch behind me, your words so softly in my ear. "Bella, baby, what are you doing?"
I turned to catch your eyes, to hold you in my heart. "I'm looking for the bottom, Edward, I need to see it."
You held my hand so tight as we entered the warehouse. Alice's party. New Years. New Year. New and old and it was so dark and loud and so full of people. Lights strung around the room making it glow magic. I felt pretty, holding your hand. My dress was soft and light. You said I was beautiful. You always said that. You tried to smile. You tried to hide.
I see you trying so hard to hold on.
"Bella, don't leave me."
I stood on my toes to kiss your cheek. I wanted to say I love you. I was so close. I wanted to say it. I wanted you to hear it. I wanted to soothe you so you'd know everything. All of it would be all right. When and if and what…ever.
I stood on my toes and held your face in my hands. I kissed your cheek. I kissed your lips. I love kissing you.
I'm so close.
We stood by the windows, huge windows. I don't think I've ever seen such a space before, open and glowing like stars. We watched the snow as it started to drift down from the sky. Slowly, one by one they float, they fell. We watched them fall.
You squeezed my hand. "Alice." You squeezed my hand. You brushed my hair aside. "I'll be right back okay?" You squeezed my hand so hard.
I felt your hand slip away.
I watched you go.
I remember your face, so weary as you left.
My hand felt so cold. I don't know how long I'd been standing there.
I looked for you. I looked but everyone seemed so tall and not you.
I wandered through the crowd.
I didn't know how long I'd been there.
I didn't know where you were. I didn't know how long.
Step. Step. Step. Like foot prints in the sand. In the snow. I leave my mark. Knowing it will melt or be covered up.
It doesn't matter.
The snow sticks to my dress. It's pretty small white melting on navy blue satin. The wind blows and the snow dances around me, my dress dances around me. I dance in the snow, giddy and light.
I look up and there you are. I knew you'd be here waiting for me.
You smile and hold out your hand. "You're ready?"
I nod as you help me up to the ledge. You never let go of me. You never have. I know you never will.
You squeeze my hand and the wind blows and takes us away.
The air is cold; it's so cold I can feel it rushing in my ears.
I look at you and we're flying. I'm free and I'm light and you're with me like you always are.
I look and I see my mother. "Smile baby bird you're free."
I look and you're turning into snowflakes.
I hear myself hit the roof of a car. It's soft and it's cold and I can't feel anything except that it's cold.
I can't find your hand. I'm so cold and there's warm and wet and sticky under me.
I hear voices. Running steps and sirens. "Where's Edward?"
I ask over and over again.
Where are you?
I was only gone for a minute. Only gone. I was gone. Fuck. Where did you go? I can't find you. I went to say hi to Alice, that's all. Only a minute. I should have taken you with me. I knew.
Your boots are lying next to a door that's cracked open. Stairs. Going up. Bella, no no no.
I take them two at a time, three at a time. I can't go any faster. I ... God. Bella.
It's only two flights.
Please still be there, please don't leave me. Please. The door is open and snow is coming inside. I almost slip I'm moving so fast.
I follow your foot prints, slowly melting, slowly being buried. To the ledge.
"Bella. Fuck. No."
I call 911. Before I even look over. The ledge.
Because I know, I've always known.
It's been almost a year since you told me you needed to see the bottom.
It took me almost a year to find my own way down. It was hard, so hard without you.
I felt you in my heart and she helped. She helped. But it wasn't the same as when you were flying, finding the bottom without you.
We follow the path and take small steps together. One at a time. Down to the bottom. I'm holding your hand just like I used to, holding you.
Holding on. Holding us.
We're standing on tiny pebbles and roots. The river flows by us and we're surrounded on all sides by rocks and trees and an unknown valley.
"It's so beautiful." You say.
I love seeing the magic sparkle in your eyes.
"I thought maybe she'd be here."
"I was hoping too."
You look at me. "But she's here." You put your hand over your heart. You put my hand over my heart.
You look up to the sky.
You look at me again and smile.
"I love you, Edward."