Saturday, November 16, 2013, 5:46 PM

Couldn't you see that all my flippancy was only a mask, hiding my real emotions; crushing them down desperately? -Noel Coward, Hay Fever

My head is pounding and I don't know what to do. He's stares, waiting, but my silence proves to be too much.

"Do you have any idea how that felt? To wake up and find you gone?"

The first tear is a catalyst.

"God, Bella. Do you have any idea how long I've waited for you to open your eyes and see me?"

The anguish in his face is tearing me apart. I close my eyes but the image remains. Cold fingertips brush against my neck. When I open them, he's so much closer. It makes it even harder to resist the urge I have to let myself fall into him. His hand moves upward, cupping my face.

"Bella, why did you leave?"

"I thought it was for the best."

"Why?"

I try to look away but his hand tightens its grip, urging me not to.

"Edward..."

He leans his forehead against mine and I lose the ability to think. My heart physically hurts. The cold air is burning my lungs as I realize just how much my breathing has picked up. My body is screaming for me to give in, to just let me have this. Two inches and you could close the distance between you. Two inches and you could just be with him.

I squeeze my eyes shut tighter, holding my breath. I need to regain focus.

Nothing's changed. He doesn't even know what he's asking for.

"Edward," I say, pulling from his grasp. "This can never work."

He takes a step back, searching for something in my face that he doesn't seem to find.

"You really believe that, don't you?"

I nod and my own arms circle my waist, fighting the urge to step back toward him.

"I told you, Edward. I told you I didn't want to ruin what we had and now look what's happened to us."

"It's only happened because you ran away from me." I grip tighter to his jacket that's still wrapped around my shoulders. "Bella, why are you fighting this?"

A small sob escapes my throat but I stand my ground and stare straight at him.

"Edward, I'm not all the things you think I am." My voice cracks, but before he can say anything I keep going. "You've built up this idea of me in your head since we were kids, and I'm just not that girl."

He looks like I've just slapped him.

"Don't treat me like that, Bella. I'm not just some kid with a crush."

"That's not what I mean..."

There's so much spite emanating from him. Feeling like there's no good way to adequately explain myself, I begin to ramble.

"Say we were together, and you were great; everything was great... Eventually you would wake up one day and realize that I'm just Bella. I'm just the big sister of your best friend that likes to cook and take care of my boys. It's only a matter of time before you find yourself with all these great opportunities and you'll have beautiful women falling at your feet and then you'll realize that you've wasted so much time with that older girl you grew up admiring because you couldn't see how extraordinarily not extraordinary she was."

He tries to step toward me but I counteract him with another step away.

"You'll see it sooner or later, Edward. You'll see that I'm not worth all that pain and waiting and you'll wonder why you ever bothered."