Disclaimer: Stephanie Meyer owns these characters. I don't.
I see the sunrise for the first time in a long time.
The reason for being up this early is because a man I knew almost a decade ago used to believe this was the most calming hour of the day. This reason drives me over the bridge, and to Coney Island where I can see workers setting up for another summer day.
The Mermaid Parade is tomorrow and the workers look anxious in their preparation; the crowds will be full and boisterous this weekend.
I let my toes hit the sand and there is an instant coolness that embraces them. The heat of the day has not gotten to the sand yet and it's refreshing on my heels. I walk down near the water, where I start to sink and then start my walk down the beach.
The beach is scarce, not a lot of people finding it too enjoyable early in the morning. However, the people that do surface the beach are with their dogs on their morning run, or older folk.
The pressure from everything around me had once been so strong, I thought I would wilt underneath it. Living through boarding school, through my 20's, through Edward... even through when I was married; I think I could have died if I allowed myself to succumb to those terms.
And it's strange because I could have loved my husband my whole life, but there were parts of him I just couldn't give.
And it's strange because I could have loved Edward my whole life and... I could... I have given him parts of me I didn't even know I had.
And it's strange because I was sitting on that beach, and I was alone, and so I ask, what parts of me ruined the relationships I had? I couldn't tell.
But that pressure I once knew?
My focus is drawn to the water only briefly until a while later when I hear something behind me.
And when it calls for me, the air turns cold.
We sit alongside each other, our feet buried in the sand. He's wearing his usual shorts, tank top and running sneakers however they are discarded on his left. His sandy socks are shoved inside his shoes.
But instead of me looking at him, as it always had been since the day I had known him, it's the other way around. He peers at me from a sideways glance until it is not enough for him.
Then he looks at me straight on.
He's older. His hair is darker. His face is tired.
"Your hair is longer," he says after a while of silence.
Our tolerance for one another has grown stronger in the years of not seeing one another. But there is still something crawling up my spine and it's telling me to leave.
We sit longer, a few sentences here and there but none of it really reaches the eyes. None of the talk really matters.
Until he sighs and breaks his stare from me.
"You're married?" The way he says it almost breaks me.
"I was," I say after realizing I hadn't taken my ring off this morning.
I don't know if my answer relaxes him so I ask him in return. "Did you ever marry?"
Shifting my gaze to him, finally, I see a look of absence on his face. I want to know.
"I didn't want anyone else."
Years ago, I know I would have fallen. I would have reached a level of vulnerability and let my tear ducks produce an endless amount of sorrow. I would have myself feel what he was feeling. It's bizarre and almost alien to me but I remain stoic and don't answer him back.
The silence that breaks up our conversation is more inviting than the actual conversation. It's easy to forget how to talk to someone when you haven't talked with them in years but somehow I know all the things I want to say to him. I know every word. I've practiced them for years. It's easy for me.
But now, I look at him, and I can't remember one word.
I do remember a day, though, where I couldn't stop thinking about him. Thinking about how much I loved him, wanted him; not a day where he wasn't everything to me. A day I could not breathe without him.
I remember his letters and my letters and it's like I'm reading a novel about two people. I can't fully connect to how I felt back then because I just don't remember. It's like I don't know even that girl anymore. But I look back at the letters and know they're mine. I know that girl is me.
It seemed as though I didn't have a choice between loving and being hurt. It was all the same. And briefly, upon remembering parts of my high school years, they still make me happy. The times I lived with him, the memory still makes me happy.
But I also remember him fading away in my mind every day after I left. I remember being okay about it. I remember the day I had a flicker memory that brought me back to senior year and then it hit me that I hadn't thought about him in years.
I thought I wouldn't be able to find that again. But I did. With my husband. And I had it back for a little while. I was happy without aching for something more. And it was those times I wanted to remember. Not these fleeting moments with the boy in high school who never had me as the starring role.
I can't help but only remember him.
And looking at him now, all the hurt comes back and that's what drives me to cry.
He doesn't realize what's happening because nothing more has been said. He figures it's something he's done and he momentarily tilts back, watching my face for a reaction.
I think he knows but he doesn't quite show it on his face.
It's until I let out a rough sigh does he motion back to me.
"It was real, Bella. It was."
I nod my head, though I'm not looking at him. I wipe at my face that's still wet and hot.
It's not the words I plan on saying. "I want to love you again but I can't."
After a while we both stand up and ready ourselves to leave. He carries his sneakers in his hand at his hip and he smiles down at me sadly. Before I go, he embraces me in a hug filled with every memory I could ever condone.
He kisses my forehead and whispers to me "Be happy, Bella."
He releases his grip only slightly.
"I will always want you. And I would wait forever for you."
And then he lets me go.
If it means anything, I had a hard time finishing this chapter, let alone the whole story in general.
I have chosen my ending, maybe not the particular one I had in mind when I first started Lies back in August but I am satisfied.
There is an Epilogue after this; don't cry too hard.
Once again, everyone who has supported, read and reviewed Lies have been amazing and I thank each and every one of you for sticking with it. New readers, or readers who haven been there since the beginning, thank you.
Hope all is well (: