The thing that frightens me is the fact I'm standing here, at the edge of death, and my legs aren't responding at all. I try to move but I know, too, that I would never be able to get far.
This boy before me, I know, is not human. And even if he is, he doesn't seem like one to me. The blood, garish upon his face, mars and enhances perfection. It makes him, strangely, fascinating, but on the whole, it causes my body to tremor because it makes him so very, very ugly. I breathe in and the scent of copper sends a newfound wave of nausea through me. I try not to focus on the smell. So I stare at soulless eyes of two dead things.
I realize that he is leering at me and my heart jumps violently. I notice that it's just the scarlet on his jawline that makes it look as though he is grinning, a dark mouth twisted into a sneer. Even so, it makes me want to shut my eyes and never look at him again.
But I can't. I simply watch as he moves toward me, an eerie specter in the growing gloom, and takes a lock of my hair into his hand. I fight not to yell, not to pull away quickly because this is a predator I'm dealing with. Prey, however helpless, may survive if they just think.
I don't understand why his voice is smooth, why it doesn't sound inhuman. But it's so smooth because it's inhuman. There's no variety of tone, just one, long, drone of blood and honey and lucid longing. He inches closer and I suck in a sharp breath of air, determined to stay still, but the scent of him just makes my head spin because he smells of those things too.
"I'm not going to hurt you." He explains with a finger upon my cheek. He is solid ice on my skin. He's coming closer, lips a hairsbreadth from mine and due to the red, the effeminate face, I can't help but want to laugh at how ridiculous it seems that there's a gender switch. He's the seducer, the prostitute, the whore, the sinner, who goes around trying to find the one thing that can cure this insatiable appetite for life and never finding it…. I can never think clearly when I'm under pressure; and when I can't think, or I feel something is hopeless, I have this moronic urge to laugh because the only other thing I can do is cry. And I don't want to cry.
"Hold still." He says to me.
In that instant, my body reacts and I'm rushing through brush and spindly arms, for the forest is his domain and it will respond to him, trying to trip me and wrap sharp things around my waist and ankles. I hit the ground, the soft earth still stinging my cheek. I rush to my feet, trying to keep my footing steady and I continue into the dimming dusk, the life about me quiet, save for my footsteps and hurried breath.
I don't want to look back. I can't. I shouldn't! He's behind me, all glinting blades and scarlet ribbons. So I don't. I focus on the view ahead, wanting to reach the house. I'm suddenly five again, wanting nothing more than to hide in my father's arms and hear him tell me the darkness is intangible, it can't touch me and never will, while my mother sings a lullaby and murmurs how she and my father will never separate again, never leave me torn.
Of course those were only dreams I conjured in the darkness. And the darkness was always there, reminding me how only it can produce those dreams of complete wholeness.
Out of breath, heaving and close to collapsing, my legs give way and I'm sprawled on a bed of leaves that crack in protest. Dizzy, faint, I crawl and there's bitterness in my mouth and it takes me a second to realize I'm vomiting from exertion. I try to fight the shaking when I smell rust, salt, and dying flowers among my reeking bile.
The boy is there, hideous and lovely, walking to me. Did he even bother to run? The look on his face tells me that he didn't.
My back is being scraped by the tree I'm pressed against, trying to curl in upon myself and keep my body hidden from those wretched eyes.
I'm scared, so terribly scared…
I can't move, can't breathe, and can't think.
"Look up, little one."
I'm five, wanting comfort, wanting melodies and symphonies to drown the silence that proclaims triumph.
"You don't have to worry."
How can I not worry? The voice is so unbelievably pure that I can't help but be revolted. It's so foul yet fair.
"Look at me."
My eyes dare to flicker. There's a soft contrast in the sunrays kissing the sky goodbye, faint incandescent rainbows that make promises. The boy, an angel that murders, presses his pale lips to mine and I taste nightshade ice.
"I promise I won't hurt you."
But that was a lie, another broken promise, because I'm feeling inscrutable pain, running into fire to which there seems to be no quenchable end.
I'm screaming a bloody soprano and thrashing, my arms flailing wildly as my legs curl awkwardly, a twisted ballet. I am a dying swan, sweetly singing of my murder, my death.
I'm falling from the sky, wings ripped and bleeding. The lake, invitingly cruel and resplendent, meets my frame and now I'm drowning but I'm still on fire.
I struggle to regain movement, trying to find air, breathe in bliss, only to go under and under, over and over again. I can't fight it anymore. I'm tired and I want to sleep.
But the world is growing in sound, becoming louder. I force my eyes closed and try to obliterate the noise from my ears. I want silence, where I won't have to hear lies and truths that become knives.
The world comes into sharp focus and I'm gasping, wanting so badly to cry because it's so abrupt. I wonder if this is why all babies come out screaming—leaving warm darkness and meeting cold light. I would be upset if I left all I knew and met something so terribly unfamiliar.
"Bella!" I hear above me. My father's face comes into view and I feel his arms around me, pulling me closer. "Oh, thank God! Bells, what were you doing so far from home?"
I can't breathe, I'm so relieved to be back! Forks isn't home, I don't think it ever will be. But my parents are home, despite the distance I've dealt with from my father, and his arms are comforting. I'm shaking, trying to remember how I got here. I recall nothing but pain and heat, lungs burning, inside the fire.
"Geez, Bella, you're really cold."
I look at my father's kind face. "I don't feel cold."
"Here, why don't we get you to bed?"
"All right," I say, complying easily. "Dad, how long was I gone?"
"Oh, Bells, you were gone an entire week! I couldn't find you! We had the whole town practically searching for you and we finally found you deep in the forest."
"Oh, no, Dad, don't tell me you told Mom." I say, knowing she would be frightened out of her mind.
"What else could I have done? I thought she deserved to know. Of course, I called her an hour ago and she said she would try to come here and check on you. I feel awful."
"Dad, it wasn't your fault. I shouldn't have wandered off so far."
"All that matters is you're safe. My little girl," he murmurs, pulling me in for another embrace.
I don't remember anything though. All I can remember is the boy, this horrible creature from hell, coming forward and destroying me.
I was being raped—this is the only description I can think of. There were tongues of fire touching me, irons clamping onto tender skin and bruising it till it's bluer than violets. My blood was boiling beneath my flesh, burning every fiber of my being, and I'm screaming sounds that I never thought would escape my lips. I want water to pour onto my body, into my insides and soothe the raging inferno but relief never came. Even saints couldn't be saved, so what made me so special?
All I knew was pain.
My father tucks me into bed and I curl into the blankets. He continues to put some more on me, trying to get me warm. He doesn't understand why I feel so icy but I can't feel anything. I wonder if the demon made me literally numb. My father tells me he'll take me to the doctor tomorrow and I nod. I'm tired, but insomnia decides to be a pain in the ass tonight. I decide to get up and move a little in the room.
Edward Cullen is a demon. That's all I know. Ghastly pale and wicked; his handsome features have forever been distorted in my mind. He's ugly and frightening, something I don't understand. But I do know him better than I've known anything. The blood on his face is still stark in my mind.
He'll forever be a vampire to me, something so dark and beautiful that it makes hatred burn in me.
I'm scared because he hurts me. But at the same time I'm not. I'm scared because he's something unreal but the reason I'm not is because, at least, I'll know what to expect. I'll know how to move around him, how to treat him. I'm not letting him get near me again, even if it kills me. I'm going to run from this thing, and I'll make sure he never catches me.