Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended.
One year later
"Are you coming tonight? Please tell me you're coming tonight."
I lock the phone between my ear and shoulder, using my hands to zip up the last of my suitcases.
"I don't know why you think this is a good idea," I tell Angela. "I don't really want to say goodbye to anyone. I don't even like that many people."
"Ouch, Bell. You don't even want to say bye to me?"
"Of course I'll say bye to you. You're the one driving me to the airport."
"You have to come to your own going-away party. It's necessary for you to get entirely too drunk… and maybe miss your flight and stay here, in New York."
"You know this is a good thing. I need to get away for a while," I say adamantly, thinking of the reason why I'm leaving.
It's been a little over a year since I've seen Edward. After I walked out on him, I went straight to Angela's apartment and confessed everything. She gave me shit at first, but like a good friend, she didn't judge. What she did do was angrily head to Edward's apartment to gather the rest of my belongings so I wouldn't have to.
Edward tried contacting me for a while after I left. He'd call and wait outside Angela's apartment and sometimes at my work. But I ignored him. Every time. Pushing him away was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do.
After three months of crying and drinking and not caving or giving Edward any sort of chance to fix things—even though I wanted to—he gave up and left me alone.
"This is killing me," he'd confessed to my voicemail. Those were his last words to me. And part of me was glad. I wanted him to feel at least a fraction of the pain he'd caused me over the past five years.
After moping around for six months, I started to get my shit together. Angela suggested therapy, but I preferred yoga and wine. It was a lot less expensive.
I was on the lookout for a crappy one bedroom apartment so I could give Angela her space again. My efforts seemed futile after I heard rumors around the gallery that someone was going to get the opportunity to work in Spain for the summer. I worked my ass off and continued to push Edward out of my mind, because there wasn't room for him in there anymore. It was time for me to focus on things other than him. It was time for me to work on myself and get my life back, the one that hadn't existed since the day I met him.
"Listen," Angela begins, cutting off my thoughts. "I told everyone to be at the bar around nine. It's not a sit-down dinner thing, I know you hate that. It's just some friends getting together, friends you should say bye to before you leave for a few months. Okay?"
I sigh into the phone, loud enough so she knows I'm not entirely happy. "Fine."
"Jesus, that took way too long to convince you."
Laughing, we say goodbye and promise to see each other later tonight.
After making sure I've packed everything I need, I head out to grab lunch with my mom and run some last-minute errands before the party tonight.
When I round the corner, passing a bakery I've never eaten at and the dry cleaners I use all the time, I see him.
He's sitting at a table on the patio of a restaurant. But he's not alone. He's holding a baby girl, lifting her above his head, then bringing her back down, kissing her stomach. I watch for a second, not realizing that I've stopped completely in the middle of the sidewalk. A few people bump into me, and I move closer to the dry cleaner's front door. My gaze lingers long enough to notice the blonde woman, Rosalie, sitting next to him. She's smiling at Edward and the baby, laughing animatedly when the baby laughs.
My chest constricts so tight I'm sure I'll stop breathing. He's just sitting there, like he never broke my heart. Like he was never part of my life. And it's weird to see him like this. But it's even weirder that I feel okay. I'm not jealous of him and his family, because the way he's smiling makes everything we went through worth it. If he's found some type of happiness, then maybe all the pain and the tears and the bullshit wasn't for nothing. I hate myself for thinking it, but maybe things happen for a reason.
I watch for another minute, taking in everything that is him. His hair is shorter and his eyes are brighter. His jeans and black T-shirt are splattered in white paint. He has a new tattoo on his forearm, but it's hard to tell what it is. All I see is ink. All I see is him.
The love-scorned, broken-hearted part of me tries to muster anything close to hate. Because every time I pictured this scenario, it's the only feeling I could imagine. But now that it's happening, I can't. I can't and I won't begrudge his happiness.
Before he spots me, I start walking in the opposite direction. Because seeing him is one thing, but speaking to him is something I'm not ready to do just yet.
Glancing over my shoulder once more, I try to memorize everything about this moment. Because for the first time since meeting Edward, it feels like he's no longer mine.
And I think I'm finally okay with that.
There will be one more chapter because I refuse to let it end this way. Sorrynotsorry.
Thanks for being awesome and patient and lovely and other things that are cool.
Huge, ginormous thanks to Kim, Vic, and Ausgirl for everything.