One of the good things resulting from the ending of mine and Peter's relationship is that Jessica and I are talking more. Slowly we've been reconnecting and filling in some of the gaps of lost time.
She told me that she has a boyfriend who's already in college and she only gets to see him on weekends. They talk on the phone every night and seem to be very much in love, but in between all that, she has been there for me to lean on.
In reality, we'll both be headed in different ways soon. She's staying here and going to a technical college for a two-year program. So I tell myself I don't want to get too attached and dependent on her, just to have to walk away again in less than a month if I happen to get the scholarship and leave.
But I have enjoyed what little female bonding time we've shared.
I've also learned how she knew so much about Edward and his family. Her uncle Ryan is one of Edward's racing buddies and he's also usually the one who accompanies Edward when he leaves town.
I quizzed her to see if she knew where they were now. She hadn't heard recently, but she told me that most of the time they just get in a car and drive until the road ends. That they would sleep right there in their car and then drive again when the sun came up until they ran out of cash. She told me about the time when she heard they hitchhiked across Arizona and once when they pretended to be a professional singing duo at a country bar for tips.
"Bella, you can't hold on to a guy like Edward. His heart is wild and his roots are weak. I told you, leaving is what he's good at. I can't count the times his mother has come by our house upset and worried sick. He's a dick for doing that to her and doing the same to you. I'm sorry, I guess I should have warned you from the beginning."
I open my car door and put my bag down in the seat. "No, Jessica. I'm not so sure I would've listened to anything you could have told me about Edward Cullen. I swear, it's like I knew a different side of him, this ...other guy who was caring and sweet and nice. He was kind of perfect. Now, if I can just figure out how to get him out of my head."
"I promise you this, someday soon you're going to meet some wonderful, gorgeous guy and he is going to be so happy that Edward Cullen was such a dumb-ass and walked away from you." She puckers her lips and points her finger at my face.
"Jess," I whine and grab her finger.
"Anyway, tomorrow's finally it, the last day of high school for us. For...forever. Can you believe it?" She looks back behind us at the old brick building that has been our second home for the past four years. She playfully swings our hands that are still entwined.
I shake my head because it is sort of difficult to grasp the reality that I'm about to graduate and move away and start a whole new chapter in my life.
The life I know of today will be gone, it's both exciting and scary.
"I can't wait," I eventually sigh.
"That's makes two of us." Jessica giggles.
/ / /
As soon as I walk through my front door, my dad hands me the letter.
I hand it back to him and ask him to read it to me, my fingers are shaking so bad I can't even begin to tear the envelope.
Now, hours later I'm still sitting on my bed in a daze. My body numb, my emotions desensitized, but my heart still beating uncontrollably fast in my chest.
I got it. I. Got. In. I got the scholarship. I did it.
I did it.
In three weeks I'm leaving for Oxford. I get to follow my dreams.
All that work has really paid off.
So why do I feel like this? Why aren't I more excited? Where's my overwhelming joy? Why aren't I screaming and dancing around my room?
Why is the fear so deep and strong inside of me?
And why do I feel so empty?
/ / /
"Bella! What did you do?" Jacob yells as he throws open my bedroom door and stomps into my room. "What did you do to Edward?"
"Jacob, what are you talking about?" I push away from my computer desk and slowly approach him.
"What did you do to him, you selfish whore?" He screams at me with a red face and blotchy cheeks and I freeze up mid stride.
I'm gaping at Jacob and I see the tears gathering in his eyes. Our mother and father suddenly appear behind Jake in the open doorway. I notice Jake's gripping his cellphone tight in his hand, but all I hear are the words he just shouted at me echoing in my head.
Then my anger bleeds through and my adrenaline pushes me forward. "What did you say?" I take another step toward him, looking deeper into his eyes. "What did you… just say… to me?" I spit through clenched jaws.
"You know what I said, Bella! Edward's gone. I've called his cell for weeks and he never answered, but now his number has been disconnected! So I called around to some of his friends and found out he's gone because of you!"
"Oh really? What friends are you talking about, Jake? Because I did nothing to Edward!" I point at my chest and emphasize every word. "I know he's gone, but don't you dare try to blame it on me! It wasn't my fault!"
Jacob shakes his head and throws his cellphone down to the floor. I watch as it slides across the hardwood, stopping only when it hits my wall.
"They told me he left Port Angeles because you are a two-timing slut!" Jacob points at me and screams through gritted teeth.
"Jacob Swan! You take that back right now!" My mother rushes in and stands between us. She grabs on to both of his shoulders and bends down to look him eye to eye. "I will not have you talk that way to your sister or anyone else in this house! Do you understand?"
I hurriedly step around her. My rage still zipping through my body. "Are serious? Do you really believe that, Jake?"
A few tears quickly slide down his cheeks. "He was my friend, Bella! And for some stupid reason he liked you! He liked you a lot! Now he's gone, so you tell me what to believe!"
My dad reaches out for my arm to pull me away from my mother and Jacob as she tries to push him out my door.
"Get out of my room you ungrateful little punk! Get out!" I reach out around my dad as I swing at Jacob. He's out of arm's length, so I kick at him but still never make contact. "You don't have a clue what you're talking about Jacob, so just keep your mouth shut! Why don't you go and find some friends your own age, you little spoiled brat! Oh yeah! I forgot! No one will put up with your shitty attitude!"
"Why didn't you stay away from him, Bella?" Jacobs lunges at me right before my mother shoves him backward and slams my door shut. I hear her fussing at him under her breath as she ushers him down the hall to his room.
My dad still has a hold of my arm. He pulls me around and coaxes me to sit down on the edge of my bed. My whole body is shaking and I'm breathing hard. All I see is red. Jacob has no right to say those things to me or call me names. He is so selfish, I just want to slap his mouth.
I look up at my dad still hovering over me and see the worry filling his eyes. The adrenaline that just moments ago fueled my fire, starts to dissipate making me feel nauseated. As my anger wanes, my chest tightens, causing my breathing to gasp and stutter. Then like a hard slap to the face reality seizes me. I feel like I'm free-falling through hell. Guilt rears its fat, ugly head and puts me in my place. What have I done?
I don't even know who I am anymore.
With short movements, I shake my head and reach up to grab a hold of my father's hand. "Daddy, I didn't.."
"Shh, you don't have to say anything. But tell me the truth, are you really alright, baby girl? Are things okay with you?" He sits down beside me and rubs up and down my arm.
In the blink of an eye, my perfectly constructed wall crumbles down and the wave of everything I had bottled up inside surfaces and overflows. I can't hold back any longer. I couldn't stop this breakdown from happening even if my life depended on it.
"I... I don't know, Daddy. I really don't know."
I fall against my dad as he pulls me into his arms. He hugs tighter and the tears come harder. My whole being weeps alongside my soul. I let myself feel whatever I want and don't try to stop it or hide it or push it back down. I acknowledge it and allow the hollow and the lost and the sad to pour out of me through tiny, salt water droplets. I close my eyes to the fear and emptiness and I pray that this is my lowest low, that all I can do from here on out is rise up.
That night after the house becomes quiet and everyone retires to bed, I burrow down and hide under the covers. My face is puffy and my eyes are irritated from my earlier crying spell. My stomach is empty because I was way too upset to eat, but now from the sounds my belly is making, it doesn't seem to care what excuse I had to not try to eat dinner.
It's probably a good thing though, because as soon as I make the decision to try again to contact Edward, the butterflies awake in my gut and create a hurricane of uneasy nervousness.
I take a few deep breaths and pull out my cell phone from under my pillow. With shaky fingers I scroll to Edward's contact and hit the green call button to dial his number once again. I'm betting that Jacob had dialed the wrong number earlier. Edward wouldn't disconnect his cell phone service, how else would he stay in touch with his parents?
I close my eyes and hold my breath as I wait for the familiar ring.
But instead a recording belts from my tiny speaker filling the black space around me. "I'm sorry, the number you have dialed is no longer in service. Please check the number and dial again or call…"
No! Please no... I hastily end the call and dial his number again.
The results are the same.
Somehow, I manage to push the correct button to hang up the call because I can't even bear to open my eyes and see his name still lit up on my screen.
Dammit! Jacob was right. About all of it. Even it being my fault he's gone. Edward must really hate me.
My cell slips from my hand and lands silently on my mattress. I don't even need it. Who am I going to call anyway? Who's going to call me? Stupid piece of shit technology! I don't have any use for you anymore!
If I had any tears left, no doubt they'd be falling like a waterfall during the rainy season from my eyes now. But the truth is that I don't—I'm all cried out.
For some reason, this feels like it, like the final blow. It's the proof that he really is gone for good. He doesn't ever want to see nor speak to me again. It truly is over. He has moved on.
I only wish I felt the same.
/ / /
The first Monday that I wake up and don't have to jump out of bed and get ready for school, I lazily stare at my ceiling and reflect.
May was one hell of a month. First, there was the play and all that crazy hassle that accompanied it. Along with the whirlwind of Edward and I spending so much time together, and me blindly falling in love. Then I finally broke up with Peter, and too soon after Edward disappeared from Port Angeles. There was the high of receiving the notice that I'd been chosen for the scholarship and the low of finding out how much my brother hates me. And last but not least, the final days of my senior year that were so uneventful—they didn't seem real.
But here I am, soon transitioning from a high school senior to a college freshman. Back down the social totem pole I go.
In less than a week I will walk that stage with my high school diploma in hand and turn a corner to the next stage of my life. On Saturday, June the fourth, our senior class will have our graduation ceremony and just like that, it will be over.
My mother has a ton of things planned for the next three weeks until I leave. She thinks I need a haircut and a mani/pedi. She says I have to go the doctor and get a physical. She also wants to double-check that I'm all up to date on my vaccines. She also insisted that I go to have my yearly appointment to refill my birth control pills, and who can forget all the shopping she swears we need to do to prepare me for England.
I wonder if I can change my flight to leave any earlier? Two weeks earlier, perhaps?
/ / /
"Ms. Swan, come on back." Nurse Betty shuts the door to the waiting room and motions for me follow her back to pre-exam station.
"Your mother told me all about you getting that thing to go over to England and study. Oooh, Bella! That's something right there to be proud of. You know how special that is? Not many kids your age get the chance to do such things. I remember once..."
I turn to focus on the blood pressure gauge as she takes my pressure watching the rise of the red needle and trying my best to tune her out. Nurse Betty is a sweet woman, but she doesn't know how to stop talking. Ever.
She notes my blood pressure and then my heart rate. She takes my temperature and after tells me stand up straight on the scale to record my weight. With a huge smile and a pat on my back she finally quits rambling and hands me a small plastic cup to go fill it full of my piss. Before she walks away she informs me which examination room to go to after I'm done.
The joys of being a woman.
I quickly use the bathroom and open the small, secret door to place the cup full of my urine inside. Ew.
I zip across the hall to exam room number two where Nurse Betty hands me my flimsy gown to change into. As quickly as I can I throw off my clothes, slip on the ridiculous gown, and haphazardly fold my things into a semi neat stack on the chair. Double checking that my undergarments are effectively hid between my shirt and my shorts.
I've always have this fear that someone will come into my exam room too early, that I would be in mid-strip, which would scare me stupid and make me fall ass up practically buck naked in the floor. That would be horrible.
I hop up and sit on the cold table and try to get comfortable on what has to be the loudest layered paper I've ever come in contact with.
Just in time too, not seconds later there's a soft knock on my exam room door.
"Ms. Bella Swan, how are you doing?" Dr. Jane Aro glides into the room carrying my chart. She hasn't changed a bit since the last time I saw her.
"I'm fine, thank you." I awkwardly shift on the paper cover under my naked tush.
"So tell me Bella, are you still taking the Prevention Plus birth control pills? You take the pink ones, right?"
"Have you had any complications lately? Have you been sick or had a change in any medication prescribed by your family doctor?"
"No. No, I don't take anything else and I've not been sick or... anything. No change."
She hums and nods her head.
She's never done this before. She should already be headed down south to poke and prod and make me cringe.
"Did you ever happen to miss taking a dose or two, per chance? Or did you get better about remembering to take your pill every day?"
I shrug and the loud paper underneath me seems to echo around in the room. "Yes, I mean, no. Um—yeah, sometimes I still miss a pill here and there. But I am better about remembering! There was once or twice when I was really busy and stressed, and I missed a couple of days in a row because it slipped my mind, but I doubled up as soon as I..."
"When the last time you had sex?" she interrupts me.
My face burns hot with shame and embarrassment. "A month ago," I blurt out.
"That seems about right," she says as she pulls out a circular calendar looking thing out of her pocket.
"What do you mean?" I ask.
She makes a few marks on my chart then turns to rest her hip against the cabinet. She smiles and takes a deep breath, "Do you recall what I told you could happen if just once you forget to take your pill while you're sexually active?"
I try to respond, but all that happens is my mouth bobs open and shut. I pucker and then I wince. The room suddenly seems to shrink, and my heart rate spikes to what I'm sure is an unhealthy speed.
Her eyebrows raise and all at once, I freeze because I think I already know what she is about to say.
"Well, it happened! Congratulations, Bella! You're pregnant."
/ / /
When my visit is over, I numbly walk out of the clinic. My hands are full of pamphlets, samples, books, and magazines—all courtesy of the doctor's office.
I haven't freaked out yet, I'm so shocked I can't even process how to make it all the way out to my car. Instead, I carefully squat down to sit on the curb in the parking lot for a minute to try to collect my thoughts.
I look down at the brochure on top, there's this gorgeous little baby girl on the front. The title reads, "What's next now that you are expecting?"
Am I? Am I really… expecting? Could Dr. Aro be wrong? What if the test they used was bad or expired or defective?
I glance down at my stomach. It doesn't look different. I sure enough don't feel 'with child.' I... I can't be. It was only one night.
Oh fuck! What... if I am? Surely the doctor's office would know not to use bad tests, they are the professionals. If I had to trust any one's word, it would be Dr. Aro for sure.
But there is a first time for anyone to be wrong.
Shit! What do I do now? I glance at the brochure in my hand again and I notice the face of the father in the background of the picture, he has these green eyes that remind me immediately of—
The ever-present crack in my heart makes itself known with a twist and pull simply by thinking of his name. And now...now that I know I'm carrying his baby?
My hands start to shake and I feel like I might throw up, or pass out, or throw up and then pass out. I cover my mouth with my hand and hold back the sob that's crawling up my throat.
"Bella? Is that you?"
I look up from my concrete seat at Esme as she kneels down to my eye level.
She's smiling at me and I feel her touch on my shoulder, but I am speechless and scared. I don't know what to say to her.
"What are you doing sitting down here? Are you okay?" She shrugs and then I watch as her eyes drop from my face down to the cornucopia of papers and material in my hands.
"I was supposed to be getting a refill of my birth control, but… I… then… What are you doing here?" My voice shakes.
"Carlisle business office is just upstairs, I was dropping off some paperwork for him. Bella, what is it, hon? Your face is so pale, are you sick or something?"
I squeeze my eyes shut and shake my head uncontrollably, hoping that if this is a dream, I can wake up now.
"No, no, no. I'm not sick, Esme... I'm pregnant. And... and it's Edward's." I barely whisper through my labored breaths. This must be what it feels like to hyperventilate. I need more air. I can't seem to breathe deep enough.
"Bella, calm down." I feel her hands tighten around my elbows. I didn't even know she was holding me. "Look at me, Bella. You need to calm down before you pass out. Breathe in through your nose, out through your mouth. There you go. Do it again. In through your nose, out through your mouth. Keep going. Only think about breathing, think about filling your lungs with oxygen, and feel them expand. Then concentrate on releasing that air, slowly. That's good. Now easy, easy. Stand up with me, I'm going to drive you home."
*Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield.
As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard.
This is another paradox: what is soft is strong.*