ENTRY #86 - AH

Truly Anonymous Twilight O/S PP Contest

Pen Name(s):

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Title: Seven Years

Picture Prompt Number: 19

Pairing: ExB

Rating: T

Word Count (minus A/N and Header): 2342

Summary (250 characters or less, including spaces and punctuation): Edward and Bella, 2005 through 2011.

Warnings and Disclaimer: None

x

The year is 2005

And I am thirteen years old

And I stand in front of the mirror

And I stare at my naked body

And I wonder why I'm not keeping up

And I wonder why I'm so defective

And I wish I could pull apart myself

The hair

The clothes

The teeth

The eyes

Make them longer and better and whiter and bigger and

I hear his guitar the first time that year

Outside of the middle school

In the back

Where all of the druggies come out

Druggies: cigarettes, sporadic weed

He's the only one not in class

He's the one who required a learning aid

He's the one who got caught having sex in the bathroom

He's the one who doesn't speak

Not to me

Not to anyone

I sit by his side

He doesn't even look up

Doesn't even notice

(Doesn't even care)

I rest my head on my knees

And listen.

The year is 2006

And I am fourteen years old

And I stand in a sea of people

Crossing my fingers

Clutching my books to my nonexistent chest

And try not to get run over

I am one of the masses

Not just because we all wear the same uniform

But because we all have the same parents

Tall

Wealthy

Cold

I am wearing designer perfume that Mom gave to me

It smells like flowers

Mixed with acid

No one notices

(No one cares)

I have three friends

Which are indiscriminate from each other

They are not worth my time to describe

I am not worth my time to describe

He is in my English class

Freshman English

All of the good kids are in honors, you know

They look down on us, you know

The main track kids, you know

Whose parents aren't quite smart enough

Whose parents aren't quite rich enough

Whose kids aren't quite good enough

To be on the Ivy League track

He sits in the back

Feet crossed

Resting on the wooden desk

Pen behind one ear

Pencil behind the other

During roll call, he raises his hand

Edward Cullen

Which I knew

Which I've always known

Which I always will

On the first day, the teacher asks him a question

Something along the lines of

"Have you read To Kill a Mockingbird?"

I don't know

It's really irrelevant

He stares back

Eyes ringed with red

Straight to the pupil

A curious gold, mixed with a curious green

"Um," coughs a girl

Blonde hair, blue eyes, pink lips, you know

"He doesn't talk"

The teacher blushes

Turns away

Edward leaves the room

And never comes back.

The year is 2007

And I am fifteen years old

And I have never been to a party

Or snuck out of the house

Or played hooky

Or lied to my parents

Or didn't do my homework

I have numerous acquaintances now

And we share history homework, English homework, what have you

It's December

When the snow is just beginning to fall

In light little flurries

That he comes back to class

He is taller

Lankier

Eyes sunken deep into his face

Baby fat gone

Hair thinner

Ears larger

Knuckles red, red raw

He brushes past me

Into creative writing

The class I'm taking to make me look

You know

"Well-rounded"

He sits in the back, again

He smells sweet, smoky

Marijuana

A smell I don't yet recognize

He's right next to me

And it's like I can feel it

The body heat, I mean

Waves and waves and waves of it

Rolling over to me

Undulating

I can feel the tension in every breath

The way his eyes flicker to the window, to the teacher, to my face(?)

My fingers clench against my pencil

His fingers clench against his pencil

I avert my eyes

He averts his eyes

I take out my notebook

He takes out his notebook

A moleskine

The cover etched in silver colored pencil

Patterns and colors and circles and shapes

The edges frayed and raw

The paper, thin

He turns to an open page

Out of the corner of my eye, I watch

Hastily, he scribbles something

Then passes the notebook over

Circled,

In the top right corner

Reads:

I notice you.

The year is 2008

And I am sixteen years old

He likes to write to me

Sometimes short little blurbs

Sometimes long, rambling essays about existentialism and college and parents and the way his bare feet feel underneath warm sheets

He refuses to play for me, though

He writes:

I remember that time in middle school, you know. I let you listen because I knew you would feel it. But now, you'd only listen to listen. And that's not good enough. Not for me.

I try to tell him

That's not fair

I try to convince him

To at least let me try

To feel sad enough

To feel something enough

To be affected by his music

One time

On a late spring day

When the birds are just beginning to surface

And the puddles of water are slowly but surely evaporating from the sidewalk

I come to his house unexpectedly

Attempting a surprise

After all, he's leaving for the summer

Spending it with his aunt and uncle in Alaska

Working with the fisheries

Canning or cleaning or I don't know

He writes:

It's just to make money. But I'll miss you, of course. But I'll be back soon, of course. But I'll write, of course.

Which is all very underwhelming

For I've never even felt the skin of his lips

Of his bare stomach

Of his elbows and cheeks and scalp

Two days before he is to leave

I show up

His parents are gone

His door unlocked

I'm walking up the carpeted stairs

Hand trailing the banister

When I hear the gentle sounds of an acoustic guitar

Strumming and strumming and strumming

I hold my breath

Hand to my chest

Eyes clenched shut

Back pressed against the wall

I don't know how long I hover there

Inching closer and closer to his closed bedroom door

Without realizing

I step on a creaky board

And the music stops abruptly

He opens his mouth

So angry

His face red

The vein in his forehead, pulsating

But there is no noise

His hands

Shaking

Pick up the guitar

Beautiful, worn wood

Pristine strings

And his calloused fingers

Throw it down the stairs

There's a thundering crash as the instrument breaks against the hardwood floor

A boisterous groan of strings

He points

Points, points, points

Get out

It is rolling off him in waves

Get out get out get out

He isn't back soon

And he doesn't write.

The year is 2009

And I am seventeen years old

My mom calls it teenage angst

I call it clinical depression

But really it's teenage angst

I've shut off all of my acquaintances

Because I hate them

And I don't care

I do my homework and I put on my uniform and I pretend that every day is the very last day of my life

Yet I still don't care

Edward's house remains empty

His family's abrupt move to Chicago remains a mystery in this small town

But there's something in the pit of my stomach

Itching and gnawing and aching and moaning

That tells me it has something

At least a little

To do with me

My eyes burn as I stare at the biology lab

The words too small

My head too full

I'm just about to fall asleep

Head drooping lazily over the textbook

When I hear three sharp raps at the front door

The clock reads 1:45AM

Outside

On the porch shielded entirely from the rain

Stands Mike Newton

A boy I've known

Casually

For longer than I'd've liked to know him

Casually

He asks me to Prom

Which I've already planned on not going to

But I kind of like the way it feels

To talk

And to have someone

Say something in return

I don a blue dress

Which really does nothing for my complexion

And flattens my boobs in a boyish way

Still, he tells me I'm beautiful

Because he's obligated and my dad has a shot gun

We go in a group with people I dislike

In a limo with people I dislike

To Benihana with people I dislike

To the school gym with people I dislike

But we go back alone

After the night winds down

And the rain begins to pour

And the thick, ominous clouds cover up the moon

He walks me to my door

And I feel like I've popped straight out of a young adult novel

Where he kisses me on the lips

Politely, of course

And wishes me a good night

Instead,

He presses me against the front door

Hand up the back of my dress

My hands braced on his neck

Ravaging

In a way I didn't know he was capable of

My lips fumble in their virginity

But so do his

Sucking and pulling and haphazard tongue and clanking teeth

He pulls away abruptly

And the door swings open

My dad and his shotgun

Perched at his hips

"Tomorrow, Bella"

He says

Aloud

But a part of me

Deep down

Wishes it were written in the gentle, lilting handwriting

Of a boy with his notebook.

The year is 2010

I am eighteen years old

And the disappointment of my senior class

"A state school," they laugh

Barely hiding their disgust

As I announce the University of Washington

With their public funding and their public tuition

Even the principal

When reading my plans at graduation

Can barely hide his judgment

I guess I'm just another statistic

Bringing down his Ivy League average

Mike and I break up

He's off to Princeton or Harvard or Cornell or Dartmouth

They sound the same to me

After all

Long distance relationships are hard

And

To be honest

Way too much effort

He leaves before I do

As most everyone else does

Their school starting in early- to mid-August

While mine lingers late

The first class of my freshman year arriving early October

My public school

With its public funding and public tuition

Places me in a class with 749 other kids

All staring at a decrepit professor

Attempting to teach remedial psychology

To pre-med students needing a language credit

I doodle in the back balcony

Where we nap and play games on our phones

Still, I connect with no one

And begin to realize, maybe they're not the problem

Maybe I'm the problem

My head is gone

Away, somewhere

Filled with fog

Brimming

Overflowing

I nearly flunk out my first quarter

And when I hear the guitar playing in quad

Just one week into the second term

I think nothing of it

Until I see him

With that same god damn beanie

Pulled over all of his hair

A gaggle of coeds surrounding him

Laying on their stomachs

Faces in their hands

Calmly listening

(Listening!)

To his music

My hands ball into fists

Wanting to do nothing more than run over

And slap him in the face

Twice

Instead, I refrain

I calmly walk over

Hands in my pockets

He doesn't look up for at least an hour

Completely focused on the guitar

Students come and go

Listen and leave

Finally

At the end of a long, minor chord

He puts the guitar down

The rest of the stragglers trickle away

Except me

I stand with my arms crossed

He looks up

His mouth opens

Closes

Opens

Closes

Nothing.

The year is 2011

I am nineteen years old

Every day, the notes are pushed beneath my door

My roommate things I'm being stalked by a psychopath

Sometimes, I think so too

I ignore them

As he ignored me

For two years

Like I was nothing to him

Like I didn't even matter

Like he didn't even care

I don't read them

However

I do rip them

Shred them up in my fists

Claw through with my nails

Briefly, I consider buying a paper shredder

But decide I get much more satisfaction

Through tearing the paper by hand

One morning

As I hastily exit the dorm

Late for my 8:30

I trip over his body

Sleeping outside my door

"What the hell!" I yell

He blinks up at me

I stare down at him

A student passes us, writing a text on his phone, completely oblivious

He stands, brushing off his pants and taking out his notepad

"Jesus," I curse

He grabs my arm

I wrench it free

He hands me a paper

I don't take it

He follows me into the elevator

I don't look at him

He throws the paper on the ground

I don't pick it up

He tries to hand me a new one

I don't take it

He closes his notebook

I exit the elevator

He doesn't follow

Thirty minutes into the class

I reach into the pocket of my jacket

Searching for my cell phone

Instead, I find a crumpled piece of paper

With the words:

Quad at 9. I'll return the phone.

"Fuck," I curse (loudly)

No one cares

The quad is beautiful in the spring

With the setting sun

And the blossoming trees

And the crisp green grass

And the red, red brick

He sits on the steps leading to the art and music halls

His guitar in its case

Perched against the railing

He stands when I arrive

Though makes no other move

"Cell phone," I demand

With an outstretched hand

He holds up one finger

Wait

Quickly, he takes out his guitar

And holds out his hand

Come with me

And against my better judgment

I do

I've never been to this part of campus before

With the tree-lined path

And the strange, tall columns

And the overgrown grass

He sits on the bench

Pulls me down next to him

And rests the guitar on his lap

He takes out a piece of paper from his pocket

And hands it to me

Just for you, it says

I'm sorry, it says

Forgive me, it says

I was wrong, it says

Give me one more try, it says

And then he begins to play

Just for me.