Disclaimer: I Left Her is based upon Stephenie Meyer's novels: the Twilight Series. All characters and situations other than my own are sole property of Stephenie Meyer.
21st April, 2001
Norm Maleng Justice Centre
Kent, Seattle, WA
Edward: 20 Bella: 19
In spite of the fact that he had been best friends with her since the pair had a shared sixth birthday party because their mothers thought it was cute, his wife still managed to surprise him. Edward Cullen watched with an intensity that should not be used inside of the courts as Bella signed the papers with an unshaking concentration, worrying her bottom lip in her teeth as she focused on the signature that she had been practising since she was seven and a half and watched with envy at the perfectly united family of the Cullen's. If Edward hadn't seen her face crumple as he walked out of their newly bought home (with bags that he had packed three days previously and hidden in their unused attic), he would've been sure that his soon-to-be ex-wife was pleased that their sixteen month – four of which had been spent separated – matrimony was now over. He wouldn't let himself dwell on those thoughts out of respect for her. After all, he was the one who left her while she denied their slowly drifting apart and quiet dinners. Nope, he decided. Even if she looked calm and normal, he knew that she wasn't happy that he had left her. She was just a good actress, that's all. He wasn't sure, but he had an inkling that he was lying to himself.
He compared their appearances and was once again startled at how she looked as if this was a business meeting and not a divorce settlement. While his eyes had dark shadows under them from the sleepless nights he had been attempting to conquer as he dreamt over his future, her skin was as smooth and perfect as the day he married her. He had lost a few pounds from forgetting to feed himself as there was no longer dinner waiting for him on the table while she was lean and even a bit more toned, as if she had been working out since he saw her last. He had thrown on the suit that he had bought when he finished his bachelor in psychology which he had specifically packed when he moved out for this occasion. She, on the other hand, had a newly bought white blouse and dark grey pencil skirt that were perfectly ironed. He wondered absentmindedly whether she had enlisted the help of her best friend Alice Brandon for that as the Bella he married and left didn't know how to match up two pieces of clothing if her life depended on it.
He pondered over what she had been doing the last four months. He had spent the time with women he met in bars instead of his sixth birthday, experimenting outside of the relationship that he had been in for most of his life. He felt a dull ache of betrayal at the thought of her doing the same before reminding himself that it was he who left her, not the opposite. She was still perfect though; her silky brown hair was shoulder-length in comparison to how it was the last time he saw her, when he left, where it lied at the bottom of her back. She had been growing her hair since she was sixteen as she had it short throughout her childhood and wanted to be seen as a female. It wasn't entirely coincidental that that was the year he asked her out. He felt a throb that the hair that he once tugged and pulled at was gone but he admired how her hair framed her face elegantly while the long hair had hung heavily. It seemed as if her entire appearance had changed because of it but he could still see resemblances of his Bella. The chocolate brown eyes that were framed in her long eyelashes (which he was surprised to notice was coated in mascara; a rarity for her). Her pink, glossy lips where her bottom lip jutted out slightly more than her top giving her the perpetual expression as if she were pouting.
He wondered how he looked to her after four months. Four months, he thought wistfully. The longest he had been without Bella before their separation was thirty-two days when she visited her mom for the summer vacation in Phoenix when she was thirteen. And every minute of it had been boring and prolonged, as if the summer (however unsunny it was in the cloudy Forks) wasn't summer without his best friend. Perhaps that was why, when he came home from work one evening, he didn't feel the need to kiss her on the lips as he did every other night. Their separation was imminent, he supposed. They had spent the majority of their relationship as best friends and were each other's respective firsts. First dance. First kiss. First date. First relationship. First night. First love. First marriage. If only he had known, on that cold June day when he told his high school sweetheart that one day he was going to marry her, that he would feel the itches of constraint and claustrophobia overwhelm him, he would've asked her upon graduation that they find themselves outside of their relationship before committing instead of her hand in marriage. Perhaps they would have eventually found themselves back to one another, perhaps not. But in that scenario he wouldn't be here today, divorcing the woman he had loved for most of his life, with the excruciating knowledge that after this, there would be no them anymore. And for a young man who had spent his life being referred to as 'Edward and Bella', that was a frightening prospect.
The only time that Bella ever showed any emotions other than friendly and negotiable was when the subject of alimony came up. After a long argument where Edward insisted on giving a fixed monetary value and her insisting that there was no need for his money, their attorneys eventually agreed on a 12 year contract for 30% of his income per month. Then she smiled at him warmly as the two finished the signing, removing any of the fire that had been evident on her face as they fought over her weak point: money. He didn't react from shock; who was this level-headed, friendly, warm Bella and what had they done with his rash, hot-tempered wife? He reprimanded himself. She was not his anymore. He dropped his head into his hands and hoped that he didn't look pitiful next to her composure. Didn't she feel anything? He left her after years of friendship and love and when she tried to go with him, he practically spat in her face, telling her not to follow. He was selfish for wishing that she felt something and tried to be happy for her, but he couldn't help the anger that she seemed so content, over there with her new clothes and new hair and new lawyer (he had used their old family attorney for his negotiations, another blow but she didn't seem to mind).
After the settlement was concluded, they were officially divorced. There were no tears on either side, though Edward felt a slight stinging but still managed a weak smile to her comforting grin. It was the end of Edward and Bella, Bella and Edward, Mr and Mrs Cullen, the Cullen's. Now it was Mr and Miss Cullen – she had opted out of reverting back to her family name, she had wanted to be a Cullen for so long, after all – the two had been two peas in a pod for so long that it was difficult to consider that she was no longer his and he was no longer hers. With a raised arm to stretch his cramped muscles, Edward stood up. Today was his first official day as a free man. This was what he wanted, wasn't it? He had spent so long feeling tied to a life that he had never really thought of properly that freedom from the woman who was chaining him to the job and the home and the city should've felt victorious. He assumed that this ache was just the emotional ties that were broken when he signed his papers. He asserted to himself that Bella felt the same. So why was she smiling and he on the verge of tears?
Bella met him at the door of the office and instantly enclosed him in one of her warm, friendly hugs that she used when one of her friends had just been dumped. Was that what she thought of him? That he'd just been dumped? He felt another verge of anger rise up at her nonchalance to the proceedings but dismissed it in favour of reminding himself that she deserved to be as happy as he was. Was he happy? She patted him on the back gently and reached up to kiss him on the cheek. "I'll be keeping in touch, Edward. You were my best friend before we were convinced that it was romantic love. Just because we divorced doesn't mean we can't still be friends."
He was fairly confident that because they divorced they couldn't be friends. And what was that about being convinced that they shared romantic love. Perhaps she didn't remember but he was fairly sure that he had fallen for her all on his own. Nevertheless, he smiled warmly, as if the last comment didn't bother him in the least, and pulled away from her. "I don't know where I'll be moving to now but you've got my email and my cell."
Bella's eyes widened in the first surprise she seemed to have today. "You're moving from Forks?"
Edward nodded though he slightly revelled in drawing some emotion from her. Could it be possible that she had been so calm today because she thought that they would still be in close proximity? Feasibly she had thought she could win him back once he was done with his experimentation. "I'm thinking of moving somewhere sunny, maybe California. You said that Phoenix was lovely, no? I want to focus a bit more on my music, see where that ends up. And I can always fall back to accounting if all else fails."
Bella's shock transformed to delight. Edward instantly deflated. "I'm so happy for you, Edward. You're finally going to do what you love. And moving! Congratulations! I'm afraid that I don't have the same ambitions as you. I don't think you heard though, one of my poems is being published in some fancy New York editorial company."
Edward tried on a smile and felt it shake slightly. Could she be anymore happier to get out of their marriage? He was beginning to convince himself that it was she who left him. "That's great, Bella. What poem?"
She blushed, the bright pink that had spellbound him for so long. "It's about Esme and Carlisle's relationship."
Edward nodded. For as long as he had known her, he had known of how she longed for what Esme and Carlisle had. They were the picture perfect couple and he felt a pang of sadness that he couldn't give that to her. "I'll have to read it."
Bella smiled, "I'd like that. Don't judge though, it's my first published writing. And it's only being published at the front of some poetry book."
She shined and was so happy and he felt that same anger but pride for her that he felt before. She was getting what she deserved. She would become a brilliant author with some rich out-of-towner (who had originally came here for a vacation but after meeting her couldn't leave) for a husband and one beautiful son (she had always wanted three children while he wanted several) and they would live next door to his parents and would have huge Christmas parties where the entire town would come and they would invite him but never expect that he would actually come. Nope, he wasn't bitter at all. He left her, he had to force into his mind. He left her.
Bella beamed once more before hugging him again. "Listen, I'm sorry, I would love to catch up some more but I'm meeting Alice for coffee and then visiting Rose about the truck."
Edward wondered if she even knew that this was a divorce settlement and not a casual coffee between friends. He also felt slightly acrimonious. Alice was one of their friends, having been in their same year in high school. While she had been closer to Bella, he hadn't caught up with her once throughout the four months they had been separated, instead crashing at a small apartment in the middle of Seattle's nightlife. And Rose was his cousin's wife. How was it that Bella somehow managed to get not only their home and their furniture but also their friends? Stop being bitter, he told himself. He left her. He left her. He hummed out a rhythm for those three words since they seemed to be in his mind a lot today.
"Alright then." He pondered over what he should say. See you later sounded too informal and he probably wouldn't see her until maybe Christmas, if his parents managed to convince him to come. But goodbye was too final, too resolute. She had already told him that she would be keeping in touch. This wasn't the end though he had thought it was whenever he thought of their divorce. In the end he didn't have to say anything because Bella kissed him on the cheek once more and whispered I'll keep in touch in his ear.
And as he watched her walk away confidently with a posture more straight then he had seen when they were married (perhaps being married had put her in a slump, much like it had for him) he thought that they were the perfect words.
Authors Note: I despise long author notes so I hope to write everything I am thinking about this story in this note so that I don't bother you with them after this is done.
This novel is the result of my own personal bitterness towards beginning authors (and past me, also). I find after reading for the majority of my life that a lot of these fictions on this website are the same overused ideas. One that particularly bothers me is that Edward is always shown as the better looking guy who will come out of the story as a famous singer, musician, actor, author, etc. Some of these fictions can be good but a lot of them are tedious and I am frankly sick of Edward being the famous one in his and Bella's relationship. This story is a bit more realistic, I imagine. Edward has high dreams, much like every other human being (as you can already see, this is AH) but as you read this story, you will find that he is confronted with the fact that not all dreams come true. This is more of a character developing story for me. Edward will divorce from Bella and leave his family behind for the glitz of LA and the sunshine. But throughout the years he will mature and grow beyond his feelings in this chapter.
Second on the agenda is the locations. I am not a born American nor have I ever visited the US but I have done my research (though how reliable is the internet anyway) and chosen the places of each chaper based on this. Edward stays at an apartment that I like to imagine is what I described and the Cullen's house is on a street with a lake behind it, and from the book there is a lake behind the house as well. So please forgive me if I have completely messed up as I only have what the internet gave me. Please feel free to review or PM me if you have a deep problem with my locations.
Thirdly (I'm not sure if this is last as I am writing this from my mind) the chapter length. I initially started this story off as a oneshot to get my feelings out about what I mentioned in the second paragraph of what is turning out to be the longer author's note in the existence of fanfiction. But this oneshot is designed to go for ten years post-Divorce. Eventually I decided that I would need to split it up or nobody would bother reading it. I was going to do a twoshot but I couldn't decide where I should split it. So, instead, for every new day that I write about, a new chapter is born. Some of these days that I had written in my oneshot are a couple of paragraphs but some go for quite a while so I imagine that the chapters are going to be very unique. My apologies so please remember that this was a oneshot but I got too carried away with myself.
Next, I do love reviews like the next author so, if you liked something about this or hated something (though I don't want any unnecessary flames) or you think something needs to be changed, please PM or review this story. I promise to reply to every review or PM but I am not going to be like those authors who don't update without a certain number of reviews. I am willing to bribe and blackmail, however, so beware!
The fifth agenda is on my other stories. I am notorious for writing a story before getting busy with my life or getting into another story and losing my focus on whatever I was writing but I do intend to finish them. Sadly, I recently changed computers and my files weren't properly transferred but I am intending on getting them back. But, good news, I am already done this story (as I said, this was a oneshot) so I should be updating this as soon as possible.
Second-to-last, if you guys have any fictional poems or story concepts that I can borrow to be pretend published as Bella's, please do. If you haven't realised by now, she will be the successful one. Though, she isn't as calm and collected as she seems. All will be revealed.
Last (finally),I apologise if I sound like the most awful author ever. This authors note is completely bitter and superior and I am not saying that my story is brilliant but this is probably more for my sanity then it is for your enjoyment. Though it comes a close second. Please know that I do have a sense of humor and am very humiliatable so please forgive me. I do hope you like this story though.
If you read all of this (which I'm sincerely doubting anyone did), then congratulations. The only other authors notes now would be a public apology or something if I get a location or spelling wrong.
Thank you for your patience.