Entry #12 - AH

Truly Anonymous Twilight O/S PP Contest

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Title: Mended Heart.

Picture Prompt Number: 25

Pairing: Edward and Bella

Rating: T

Word Count (minus A/N and Header): 2,387

Summary:

Bella tries to piece back together her broken heart after her love leaves her for another. Can she crawl out of her depressed state to mend her broken heart? Will she find herself again, rebuild her life without him?

Warnings and Disclaimer:

All characters belong to Stephenie Myers.

The sun started to set slowly over the horizon, and yet, it felt like I had only just sat to rest my emotionally weary body.

The afternoon had flown, just like it did every afternoon. But it seemed to be going faster. Did that mean I was healing? It certainly didn't feel like it. My heart felt just as broken as it did almost a month ago, the day I found out he was leaving me for someone else.

Every day, I had been coming down to the Oxnard shoreline to watch the sun make its way home for the evening. Disappear from my view, on its way to the other side of the world, where it would warm the skin of the man that had once loved me.

At least, I had thought he loved me. Did he? The same questions began to filter through my mind that had plagued me since May. What could I have done for him to leave me? Could I have changed in some way, so that he would stay? I could picture the angel on my left shoulder, comforting me, telling me that I am a good person. Of course he loved you! While the devil on my right kept whispering my faults to me. You used to nag him all the time, no wonder he left you!

I squeezed my hands over my ears, trying to silence the imaginary voices in my head, the tears stinging my eyes as they started to form again. Really? More tears? How was that possible? I'd shed more tears for that man since he'd left, than I ever had as a child. I tried to stop them from falling with the heel of my palms, but they were a force to be reckoned with, sliding past my hands easily.

Would the ache in my chest ever go away? I rubbed at it with my fists, hoping to shift the pain in some way. It only served to remind me of his strong hands on my body. He had beautiful and talented hands that could massage away the knots in my feet at the end of a long day. And his smile, oh his smile. It lit up his whole face, crinkled his eyes, it was contagious. You couldn't help but feel his joy when he smiled.

Yes, there were good times, and I did remember them, if I squeezed my eyes tightly and stretched my mind. But if I was being honest with myself, toward the end they were few, and far between. I should have noticed the signs, they were all the usual ones. Later nights at work, hiding his emails, the new buzz-cut. All these in the last few months, when in the past, he had only wanted to spend time with me. We were great friends, never an argument between us. We hardly ever went out because we enjoyed the quiet days at home, watching the game on our large flat screen, mending things around our house.

But that all changed.

I could almost pinpoint the day he met her. He had come home late from work, for the first time ever, his face flushed as he rushed through the front door. Dinner was ruined. The steaks he usually praised me for, sat cold and rubbery on the white china. I had waited for him to arrive, sipping on a wine while cooking. I'd finished half a bottle by the time he fell into his dining chair. When I'd asked him why he was late, he fumbled through a poor excuse about the boss making him work harder, lying through his teeth about how cruel he is. When I'd looked in disbelief, he blamed it on the wine, telling me I shouldn't drink so much without eating. He had never said that before, had he?

Slowly but surely, he started to change the way he viewed me. A few harsh criticisms here or there, mainly about my cooking. He started to push his plate away, saying he wasn't hungry or the meal wasn't good enough. Snide comments about how I dressed. Even though in the past, he loved my jeans, saying they made my ass look good. Then it changed to, "Why don't you ever wear dresses?"

Guess she wears dresses.

And so one day, I decided I'd had enough. I drove down to confront him while he was at work, knowing he would be embarrassed, but not caring if he was. I pulled him aside and just came straight out with it, not bothering with the pleasantries I used to pride myself on. I asked him if it was true, the stories I'd heard from Angela down at the salon. Was he leaving town? Moving to Australia? With some woman he had fallen for? My heart slowly shredded with each "yes" he had replied with.

"Who is she? No! Don't tell me, I don't want to know." The tears were kept at bay, just that one time, and for that I was grateful. I didn't want him seeing me weak, helpless. I pretended to be the strong beautiful woman he was stupid enough to lose. I straightened my spine, shoulders back, and told him he needed to move out every single one of his belongings by the end of the week.

Then I walked out of his life. Forever.

It was later that I had started to break-down. How was I supposed to keep functioning? When all I could think about was that the dreams I had for the future were in tatters? How could he have loved me, for so long, and then just toss me aside for some bimbo in a skirt? The tears were pouring down my cheeks when I realized, that I had no-one. We had moved to Cali when he had been offered his "great job opportunity", I'd left all my friends and Charlie back home in Forks. There was nobody I could run to, to find comforting arms and a shoulder to cry on. Nobody. He'd moved me here, saying that we only needed each other. But now he had another, and I was left alone.

I'd found comfort in the end. Not in the arms of a friend, but in the beautiful sunsets over Oxnard beach. The sound of the waves caressed my soul, trying its hardest to soothe away the pain of his memory. The swooshing and crashing, a relaxing lullaby, stilling my mind. The soft sand massaged the soles of my feet as I walked to my favourite spot near the rocks. The sand was much softer than his rough and calloused hands. The sun warmed my skin, feeding it, giving it energy. Reinvigorating me after a long day of fighting back tears at the office.

Every day I would find myself sitting there, listening, feeling, drinking in the beauty. I'd see the same people walking past, at precisely the same times. Old saggy ladies with Chihuahua's scurrying at their feet. Fit young men and women running, trying their hardest to fight the aging process. Couples walking past holding hands. They were the hardest to watch. I would look down at the sand when they strolled past, pretending to look for shells. I couldn't bring myself to mumble my usual greeting with them, it hurt too much, and I would end up making a choking sound instead. Then they would look at me in pity.

For those few hours every afternoon, I could forget him.

Until the sun made its way over the horizon. Then I would be feeling my way back through the darkness.

The next afternoon, I walked down the sand from the car parked up on the hill, and sat in my usual spot. But this time, I had brought my camera. The night before as I lay in bed, I wondered if I could capture that feeling I craved for every day, bottle it up so to speak, and display it on my walls. I was certain that it would make my small house a little easier to come home to. I needed to forget the memories we had made in there, change the feel of my lonely haven. Make it mine. So I dragged out the camera from an unopened box in the spare room, and dusted it off, feeling excitement for the first time in a few months.

I sat on the beach for a long while at first, not even taking the lens cap off. Letting my surroundings fill me with their warmth and beauty, before I started on my reconnaissance. I knew I could do this, and I would make it in the end. I just had to drag myself out of this well of self-pity. I needed to go back to who I was before him, when I was a confident Isabella Swan, when I knew who I was and who I wanted to become. I thought back to all the photo albums I had filled with my shots and remembered the enjoyment I had in taking them. I meditated on those memories while drinking my fill of the beauty surrounding me, and when I could feel my heart surging once again, for the right reasons, I stood up and stretched. I was ready.

I aimed the camera at all my usual favorite scenes, waiting for precisely the right light to capture the most perfect colors. The waves crashing onto the rocks, throwing the water spray up into the air above, causing a beautiful rainbow effect. The palm trees swaying in the breeze on the edge of the sand, tropical birds flying from branch to branch. The surfers, muscles straining as they moved, trying to catch the most gnarly waves.

It was at that moment, that a vision would be ingrained in my memory for the rest of my lifetime.

A man. A god, walking up the sand out of the waves. His golden lithe body, glistening in the setting sun from the droplets of salt water. His black and white board-shorts hung loosely on his hips, showing of his toned abdomen. He ran his hand through his wavy hair with his left hand, while carrying his board with his right, glancing around the beach for his towel he had left for his return.

All I could do was stare dumbly at him while he strolled past, my camera hanging around my neck, useless to capturing anything at all. He glanced over in my direction as he walked over to his towel, leaning down to place his board on the sand. His back muscles rippled with the movement, sending me into a staring stupor once more.

He was beautiful. Can men be beautiful? I decided that he certainly was. His back was perfectly sculpted, his wide shoulders showed the world his regular enjoyment was swimming. He had two dimples above the waistband of his shorts, almost as if they were pointing to his firm round buttocks.

As he was bent over drying his face on his towel, he glanced surreptitiously over to me again. Twice? Nobody has ever looked twice at me. I quickly turned to look in the opposite direction of him, raising the camera eyepiece to cover my blushing face. I took some random, shaky photos of the fishermen on the rocks, fully knowing that none of the shots would be print worthy. Why was he looking at me? Plain jane Bella. With the brown hair, brown eyes, and brown life.

I could feel my heart racing, palms sweating, an unfamiliar feeling that I had thought I would never feel again. Excitement? Over a man? I then felt relieved, maybe I was getting over him? Maybe.

I turned around, hoping that he had left. The feeling of excitement was a welcome change, but it still made me nervous, I wasn't used to the attention.

I stopped halfway in my turn, shocked into submission. He was walking toward me while rubbing his hard chest with his beach towel. I quickly turned my head to see who he was walking toward. There was no one there. Only me. I couldn't breathe, and my mouth suddenly became so dry. My lungs refused to work, but at the same time I could feel my breathing speed up. He seemed to be walking with purpose, like he actually wanted to talk to me.

He stopped a few feet from me. His face lit up into the most breathtaking smile, his green eyes sparkling, the skin around them crinkling at the corners. His white teeth stood out brightly against his tanned face.

"Hi. Umm, I hope I'm not bothering you, but um.. Are you a photographer?"

Me? He thought I was a photographer? What should I say? Do I play along, try to sound like I know what I am talking about?

"Er... No, no It's just... a hobby of mine." I held my camera up to show him, hoping he would see it was nothing special.

"Oh. Ok, sorry to bother you, I thought I would ask. My sister is looking for a photographer, she gets married in a month and all the 'good ones' are booked out" he chuckled, raising his fingers in the universal sign for quotation marks.

"Oh. Ok, sorry, I'm just...plain old me. No professional!" I laughed out a snort, covering my nose in embarrassment.

"Well, I wouldn't say that. Plain I mean, you're far from that.."

Did he...was that...a complement? It had been so long since I had heard one, I wasn't sure I recognized it.

"Um. Thank you?"

"You sound unsure. You really think you're plain?" he said, shaking his head slightly, looking confused.

"I don't know, I guess? I just.. I'm not used to hearing someone say I'm not, really." Once again, my heart was racing. He thought I was pretty? This gorgeous specimen of a man?

"Well, you should hear that you are beautiful on a regular basis" he smiled gently, "You don't have anyone who does that?"

"No. Not... Not anymore. At least, not in a long time. He... He never... Jake was never a guy to give complements."

"Well, Jake was a very silly man."

He held out his hand for me to shake.

"My name's Edward, it's a pleasure to meet you."