Entry #39 - AU

Truly Anonymous Twilight O/S PP Contest
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Title: The Price Of Hope
Picture Prompt Number: 43
Pairing: Bella/Edward
Rating: K
Genre: Tragedy
Word Count (minus A/N and Header): 1,099

Summary (250 characters or less, including spaces and punctuation): Bella never gave up hope that Edward would one day come to check up on her in her new life, but what is the price of hope?

Warnings and Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns the characters; I'm just taking them on a journey. No copyright infringement intended.

The Price of Hope

"Please. Edward, please!" Bella knew her pleas did nothing more than disappear with the wind. Her heart shattered into a million pieces long ago, only splinters remained. The desperation with which she called out now was primal, visceral, basic to a level no other human being had ever been brought down to in this day and age. No other human had ever experienced such a supernatural love, so intense it was all consuming.

Over ten years ago she had been left standing in the middle of a dark forest, confused and devastated by the words the love of her life, no, of her existence, had spoken to her. She had stupidly tried to chase after him, but attempting to follow his superhuman departure only resulted in her becoming lost in the woods. Fitting, she thought, seeing as the moment had left her lost in her own mind as well. She'd cried out for him until she physically couldn't bring herself to make another sound and curled herself into a fetal ball on the damp forest floor with no intention of ever getting up again.

Her actions were thoughtless. She no longer held any regard for what Charlie, her mother, or Phil might think of her, let alone her teachers, classmates or the rest of this small town. That night she had given up and given in to her heartache and lay helpless and alone, beyond crying and beyond caring. She allowed herself this one night of human weakness.

Sam Uley had found her. He had physically dragged her from the forest floor and returned her to the real world. She hated him for it. The next morning she was forced to face the consequences of that night, waking up to a life she found wholly unfamiliar. Facing the look of utter concern on Charlie's face as he addressed her at the breakfast table made her shore up her resolve to make herself at least appear to be okay. She could not be so thoughtless again.

Edward had taken everything from her; her heart, her best friend, her extended family, and every plan and thought she'd had for the future. He had taken everything except her parents, school, and the tattered remnants of a life she didn't want. It was all she had left. She had to carry on with these things, if only for Charlie's sake. Isn't that what he'd said? Bella knew, however, that she would never be able give up the overwhelming sadness. She had to formulate a new life plan.

Bella finished out high school in Forks, despite Charlie's protests that perhaps she'd be happier with her mother. Those first years she'd clung to the idea that Edward would return to where he left her. As time passed though, she reconsidered this. If Edward had truly meant what he said (the pain of even considering that stung deeper than even she would admit) he wouldn't return to Forks to see her. He would wait until she had a new life and come to see it for himself, and only after being reassured she had moved on. This became her new goal- to create an existence for herself, which would demonstrate she had moved on from the only thing that had ever meant anything to her in her life.

In an effort to put her past behind her, at least for appearances sake, Bella had said goodbye to what remained of the meager life Edward had left her with in its entirety. She sought out the sunniest, most beautiful place she could think of to build her new life. This is how she ended up in such idyllic surroundings; it seemed nearly criminal for her to continue to carry around this sadness inside of herself. The beaches of Hawaii were stunning, sun soaked destinations of escape for the rest of the world. For Bella, they were simply a means to an end; if she lived someplace sunny, then Edward could only come out to observe her at night, and night was when she would be ready for him.

Bella spent her days living a blissful existence of denial, her evenings in quiet reflection, and her nights in absolute devastation.

Bella found a job at a local restaurant, which had expanded its offerings to include a bookstore and art gallery. The job paid enough to keep her clothed, fed, and housed. She didn't need anything else. Her days passed in a flurry of activity mandated by the job. These tasks gave her mind something to focus on and allowed her to ignore the hole that had been tearing itself deeper and deeper into her heart and soul with every passing day.

At the end of her shift each day, she retreated to one of her favorite spots on the island: the restaurant's closest table to the water, where she ate a quiet dinner. There was no time in her existence for luxuries, but she made the time for this. This time each day was for her alone. The undeniable beauty of the waves crashing on the sand, relentless and unceasing, overwhelmed her no matter how hard she tried to keep it out. The scene calmed her mind and allowed her to find a rare moment of peace. She allowed this moment to last for an hour or two each night as she ate her meal, savored her dessert, and sipped at her tea. The ritual of it all was the one thing keeping her sane, and it prepared her to deal with what was to come when the sun went down.

She spent her nights in mourning, calling out for her soul mate and praying to whatever gods existed in this tropical paradise to bring him back to her. She begged and pleaded and bargained with all she had. Bella knew (hoped) that Edward couldn't stay away for her entire existence. Edward wouldn't be able to bear not knowing what had become of her, regardless of how he felt about her, right? Maybe her nights were tinged with denial as well; denial of his true feelings, denial of all the things he'd said to her before leaving her. Still, she walked along the deserted stretch of beach every night, wishing he would hear her pleading and come back to her. When her tears ran dry and her voice was muted from overuse, she would lay upon the now cool sand and sleep, dreaming only of an angelic creature with the demonic ability to break her heart.

That was the price she paid for never having given up hope.