Pairing: Edward and Bella
Word Count: 2,946
Summary: In the darkness of her lonely room, Bella wonders what went wrong and what went right. With each of her solutions, a new mistake is born.
Disclaimer: I am in no way intending copyright infringement. I do not own the Twilight Saga – it belongs to its respective owners. I do not own the rights to the song "Band of Gold" by Freda Payne.
Author's Note: Thank you, for donating to this cause. And many thanks to the organizer, Ayden Morgan. This short one shot is derived from the song "Band of Gold", by the brilliant Freda Payne. It rocked me to the core the first time I heard it, and has since. Enjoy this tale.
(Song link: http:/ www. /watch?v=IRu6sONe6Dc&feature= related - remove the spaces.)
She sits on the bed, head bowed as if in prayer. Her white gown is forgotten, wrinkled and mussed around her. She glances towards the door, a fickle hope keeping her gaze steadily there. She feels the cold seep in relentlessly, but she is helpless to do something. To care.
She twirls the band around her finger absentmindedly, her index finger catching the small diamond every one… two… three spins.
She wonders what went right, what went wrong. So few of the former, too much of the latter.
Was it her mistakes? Was it her choices that led her to this inconsolable heartbreak?
Truth. It is with the bitter sting of bile rising that she sees it was her , all her that led from one pain to the next.
The silk of her gown is a horrid reminder of a superficial happiness, a tease of what she could have had, only a few hours ago.
She ponders his whereabouts, what he's doing. He had saved her and, in doing so, left her.
Her mistakes are vicious in haunting her in those moments of introspection and self-doubt. Her hands stop spinning, only to press almost painfully into her stomach. They attempt to repair holes too big uselessly. They attempt to fix the past, try to affect the future.
She hopes he's coming back. If he's going to be there for the night, for the morning. Mornings are the worst.
Hope is harsh to her.
A month. It was a month before her birthday. It was a month of funeral preparations, selling and buying and a harsh facsimile of mourning before Bella moved from Forks, the only home she'd known, to Phoenix with her distant mother.
She kept a picture of her father on her bedside and in her wallet. She pressed her fingers to it every morning before carrying her overtired and aching body on with her new life, participating as a spectator even then.
"Happy birthday, Bella." Her mother's tone is stiff. Everything about her mother is formal – stilted and unsure with her daughter.
Bella left the spoon hanging in mid-air, clumpy oatmeal falling onto the table. She blinked owlishly at her mother, surprised she'd even remembered. Renee had sent birthday cards occasionally, always with fifty dollars covering the unimportant words.
"Thanks, Mother." Bella was equally as stiff with her mother. "Mom" was simply too informal. Renee Higginbotham was no "Mom". She was barely a mother.
"Have a nice day," she said, looking forward.
Tears pricked at Bella's eyes – again – as she thought of her father. They always celebrated her birthdays together fishing or enjoying a picnic. It hurt Bella so much not to have her father there with her.
She just wanted to forget, just for once, the pain that ate inside of her. She wanted to forget this gnawing agony, to slip away from it.
She was seventeen and alone. So heartbreakingly alone. It was with this disparity roiling in her stomach that she decided to cut classes, do something to not be so alone.
And Bella found her solution in a nameless man and a motel room.
He was with her only a few hours ago, fixed smile on his face as he stands in the receiving line. There was a clear gap between the new couple. She wonders if it was always there, this distance, or if it's new.
The silk does nothing to block the cold; instead invites it in, welcomes it to her skin. The cold seeps through the material, through her skin and ices along her bones. She is so cold. Shivers rattle her prone form. She clutches at her stomach, prepared to protect it with everything that she has.
She has done so, thus far. These last four months have been dedicated to a life.
She wants him here with her. She craves his strong hold. She needs his unique scent to comfort her.
Shuffling, leather shoes drawn along carpet. She looks to the door before she can rein in her hope. The sound continues, the stumbling of the drunk making its way to another door.
Tears are in her eyes and on her face and making their way to her heart, embittering her towards hope and him.
She still wants him.
Bella cried in the dingy bathroom, her tears shaking her body and rattling the old toilet seat. Her hands combed through her hair and yanked on the ends rhythmically. Her single moment of recklessness, of stupidity, came back a tenfold.
It began with the vomit. She was looking at her clumpy, dry oatmeal and with the acid pushing up her throat, she heaved into the kitchen sink until her stomach was empty.
It happened again that night, with Renee as an audience. The stinging smell of tuna sent her running to the bathroom. Her mother, in her stilted way, held back Bella's hair, absentmindedly pulling her shirt lower.
Bella cried as she vomited. She clutched at her stomach, clawed at her throat, desperate for the cloying taste of acid to stop.
Just a stomach bug. She told her mother. Her mother told the school. She stayed away for a week; the bouts of vomit ceasing slowly.
It didn't occur to Bella the possibility of a child until her first day back at school. She watched a heavily pregnant woman push her baby in a stroller. She watched the woman rub her stomach every so often, deep inhale in, deep exhale out. Bella counted and recounted. She looked at the calendar as panic set in, creeping along her consciousness until she thought of nothing else but her baby with every step, every breath.
Bella cut school again, realizing her life would change again irrevocably. She went to the Planned Parenthood on the outskirts of Phoenix. She peed when they asked her to. She waited around for the few hours it took to determine if her child was indeed real.
She cried in the bathroom of the closest gas station, the truth of it all settling in. Grief relentlessly pounded with every heartbeat. But with it came hope, a glowing sort of contentment. She wouldn't be so lonely. She wouldn't be so alone.
Bella wondered what her father would say; would he support her? Would he help her as much as Renee would not?
It didn't matter to her who this baby came from, how it came. She was happy, so stupidly happy that she had it.
Bella's hands, tear stained and dirty, clutched at her white shirt, tucked carelessly back into her short skirt. She rubbed her stomach, rubbed off on it. She cooed lullabies from her happy childhood, tears still clinging to her eyelashes, still falling.
Bella floated home, too happy to hear the crass remarks surrounding her from the seedy area, too happy to notice the grime on her shirt, her body, too focused on what grew inside.
It was a solution to her loneliness.
She gets up, too restless to sit now. She paces, from the garish paisley of orange and yellow, to the bathroom. Her dress swishes with her angry movements.
She wants him with her so badly.
Her dress is tangling with her feet, a difficult battle now, for her to simply move. It's long – her mother refusing the mini dress so popular with other brides, with an empire waist. Anything to cover her bump.
She doesn't see the point in covering. Everyone knew. But it's what her mother wanted… what he wanted – her husband.
She had complied for him.
He wasn't around, nowhere near. The dress tightened around her stomach, closed in on her chest and throat. She leaves it on as a reminder.
She leaves herself lots of reminders. She twirls her ring, her index finger still catching the small gem every third turn.
Did he book another room for himself? Is he alone?
She questions why she accepted the proposal, and why she agreed to her mother's wishes. She wonders of her future, of a different future. She wonders about him. What will their future be like?
She imagines a fluttering in her abdomen, and she remembers.
The biggest reminder of them all.
Renee hadn't talked to her in two weeks. She walked by her daughter without so much of a glance, so much as a huff. But Bella felt her stares, regardless. She felt the judgment in the pit of her stomach, felt it pushing on her shoulders. Bella heard her mother's sobs each night, broken sounds that drift and smother her. It was in those moments she questioned herself.
Questioned if it was right to keep the baby. She wondered if her father would've stood up to her mother. She wondered if Renee believed Bella was making the same mistakes as her. And then she realized her mistakes were worse. Bella had no one to raise the baby with; had no man to marry. Bella was very much alone in this process. Her mother was of little use, condemning them with her harsh silence. Its father was nameless, faceless – blurred by depression and grief.
Bella's life became a blur of solitude, balanced on the precarious edge of sanity and mania. Her mother's silence isolated her and smothered, confusing Bella. Her nights were filled with hazy memories of her own childhood, always with the dreary realization come morning that her child would never have that. No fishing, picnics, piggyback rides and trips to the park.
She was in the backyard, enjoying the sun in November. She liked the feel of it on her skin. Book in one hand, the other rubbing circles on her flat stomach.
Renee had announced her arrival with the slam of the front door, the opening of the screen door.
Bella turned to her stomach, flinching slightly at her mother.
"I've found a solution."
The first time Renee used the word solution, she suggested they abort the baby. Bella wasn't ready to trust her mother.
She coughed, tears already thickening her throat. "And what is it, mother?" she pushed herself up, moving closer to her mother.
"You'll be getting married."
"I don't know who it was, mother." Her words were delivered with a harsh laugh; her truth a slap in both their faces.
Renee hesitated. "I know someone. He's a neighbour's child. In school – college."
"I… talked to him. He said he'd do it."
"What the hell?" Bella didn't quite know if the relief she felt was right.
"He has an apartment in the city. You'll be away."
"Why'd he say yes, mother?" Bella wanted to know – needed to know. Why would somebody marry a pregnant seventeen year old? What could he possibly get out of it?
"Not for you to know. But…" she hesitated again, shifting her weight. Her hands fumbled with the lacy overlay of her dress, fingering the tiny holes.
"Your father's money will be used. To help both of you."
Him. It will be used to help him, Bella knew. It was a dowry in all but name.
"When will I meet him?"
Will he come? Will he know she needs him, wants him? She wonders if he senses her yearning, like he did the first time they met. She had wanted something pretty – a loving gesture – and he had shown up with flowers. She had sobbed for a very long time.
Their relationship began in tears; cemented in them as she cried silently beneath her veil.
She clutches her neck, feels her pulse jump. Her nerves are fried. She stands to attention each time a patron passes her door.
Three times. Three times she heard someone pause near her door, before making their way to their real rooms. She wonders how many of those times it was actually for her.
Is she undesirable to him? He said once he could never be repulsed of her, that she was brave. Commendable – he had said she was commendable.
Had he changed his mind? She thinks he met someone. She thinks he robbed his life of happiness and love. She knows he's tied to her irretrievably, to her and a baby not-his-own.
Could he grow to love it? She rubs her stomach, the skin taught beneath the dress. She finds a small serenity in the feeling. Nothing pleases her more than when her baby responds, with a few quick taps.
Her baby is silent today.
When she needed the jolt of contentment, the reminder of something better, her baby is silent. She rubs a little bit more, pressing her fingers into her skin, hoping for a reaction. Praying. She needs this, so desperately. She needs to be taken away, even for a brief moment – away from the garish bedspread and dank hotel room.
One tap. She is privileged to one, single kick.
And it is hope; it's bitterness that trails along her cheeks, drips off her chin. And with each harsh drop of hope, her heart is hardened.
He was beautiful – much like an angel. He was her saviour, her guardian. Bella appreciated all that he was giving up for her, all that he was doing. Edward Cullen became Bella's hero. Only a few years older, at the ripe age of twenty-one, he showed much of his telling Irish heritage, with red hair and sea-green eyes. She pictured Edward much like Archangel Michael, always protecting.
Edward was kind to Bella. Distant, stiff, but kind. They talked often of menial, superficial things in their lives – always light, always on the surface. He once told her she was brave for keeping her child. Society, politics, and decorum as they knew it were slowly crashing around their ears. While some embraced a heathen lifestyle – words uttered by Renee – most showed outright disdain and contempt.
She never figured out what he received from saving her. Renee, on more than one occasion had implied money, but Edward seemed too honest to marry for that reason alone. Bella was too scared to ask, too scared to push him into backing out. They would walk for hours… talking, learning and sharing. She liked the sound of his voice, couldn't help but picture it speaking to her baby – whispering and loving it. It always made her cry, for sharing her baby hadn't been what Bella wanted or needed. But it was what she wanted now, helpless as she was to resist. Her heart had been cruel to her.
Edward had gotten her something for Christmas. Bella noticed it on Christmas Eve as she paced in the living room. Edward and his parents were coming. She didn't know what to think, how to act – his parents were off limits to her. She'd gotten him a leather notebook, knowing he enjoyed taking notes in class. With all that he done for her, she hadn't expected anything. It was stupid of her, really.
Bella pocketed the gift before Renee arrived, curious and nervous. She ripped the wrapping paper in the safety of her bedroom, crying as she noticed the ring. Engagement ring. The ring was on her finger before she realized it; just a little too big. The idea of the gift, the emotion it evoked… she laid in the dark, her tears coating her pillow as she decided to call him. It was just thoughtful of him, exactly Edward – working at a distance – that moved her.
His parents were not unkind toward her. Bella got the distinct sense that they disapproved of her actions. From his father's sly looks and mother's stilted conversation, she knew. But Edward was there, keeping their intrusive, judgmental remarks away.
Mrs. Cullen suggested a January wedding, before anything began to show was best. Her husband seconded and Renee agreed. Bella and Edward sat quietly in the middle, as their future was planned. His hand made its way to her back, rubbing, soothing, relaxing. Bella rubbed his thigh, drawing strength from their bond.
She wanted January to come and go. She wanted away from Renee, away from his parents. She wanted to be with Edward.
Edward was there for her.
He was kind as he lifted her veil, pecking her once on the lips. He was courteous as they walked down the aisle, towards his father's Lesabre. He was formal. He was distant.
He was cold.
She didn't understand the shift, couldn't comprehend what had happened. She had talked to him two days before the wedding, enjoying the smooth satisfaction in his honeyed voice.
And then she walked down the aisle, toward him and his blank face. Her nerves, in her naivety had lain dormant, lulling her into false confidence.
Her manic pacing is forgotten. She leans against the wall, sobs racking her small frame. She struggles to suppress her sorrow and guilt.
She comes to recognize where being alone in this suffocating room truly means – abandonment, solitude, loneliness of the worst kind. She slides to the floor, uncaring of that happens to her white dress.
He left her on her wedding night. He left her with her future taken away from her. She doesn't know what will happen in a few hours, in the morning. Her life, beyond this heartbreaking moment, is unknown. What may have once seemed liberating, it is now terrifying. She wasn't the only one depending on him.
Her baby taps once, twice against her abdomen, a solid reminder of her poor choices.
She wants him. She wants to feel his arms around her, feel the security they provide. She ignores the shuffling outside, the repetitive back and forth of leather on the carpet.
She ignores the sound right up until someone knocks before opening the door.
End Notes: a million thanks to my beta and friend, shelikesthesound. Much love and many hugs to Chrisska, acinadisme and foundmyedward for prereading and being there for me.
Important to regard: there is little chance I'll continue Golden. I like where it ended. But if the idea strikes or I'm in the mood... we just never know.
Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed this. Who do you think was at the door?