A/N: 'Experimental' is my new favorite word. Also: this wasn't beta'd at all; this was just quickly written for the sake of getting some ideas for another project down; all-human; anxiety/depression warning; I don't own Twilight; and most importantly, enjoy.
My Best Days
It's moments like these when I wish I wasn't such a klutz. Life shouldn't be this embarrassing, even when I'm at home. I shouldn't have to embarrass myself in front of myself. That's an all-new low. Today's not one of my best days. Not one one of my best days at all.
I wouldn't have dropped it if my hands weren't so sweaty. It being a half-empty bottle of vodka. I didn't like naming things. Pronouns work with me—he, she, it. As long as there are no names, there are no problems.
At least, not the same problems.
My hands are perspiring, my heart is racing, and my head is spinning. It's all too much. Too much, too much, too much. The worst thing—or something close to that—about this is that I'm not even hot. I'm not sweating like an athlete would; I'm cold. I'm an ice cube in an igloo in the middle of Antarctica.
I'm going to die.
Or no, maybe me being cold and sweating isn't the worst thing—maybe the worst thing is that I've spilled half a bottle of vodka onto my carpet, and I'll never, ever get it back unless I put my tongue to the floor and do a desperate act. I would. Oh, man, I would, but I can't move. I can barely breathe. Am I even thinking? Maybe a ghost of me is thinking. Maybe she's having a grand old time in this useless, screwed-up head of mine.
Maybe I'm already dead.
But why am I hurting so much? This isn't what I signed up for.
My anxiety's acting up. I don't like to think of it as an attack—it makes it sound like I'm dying, and sometimes if I feel like I might, but I'm not. My anxiety's acted up plenty of times. It's never completely disappeared (or maybe that's just the depression, being idle like that), but there are times when it's high. It's especially high when I'm not. Those aren't my best days.
My old therapist in Phoenix taught me about the AWARE method of getting through attacks like this, but I'm such an idiot that I'm embarrassing myself even further. I'm supposed to use this clever little acronym before the attack sets in, before the storm starts. I'm supposed to accept the anxiety, be watchful of the level I'm at, act normally, repeat the steps, and expect the best. That's supposed to make me aware.
I've accepted it. (I'm going to die.) I've watched it. (I'm at an 8.) I've acted normally about it. (Until I spilt the vodka everywhere.) I've tried to repeat the steps to get through it. (But there's no vodka left.) I'm expecting the best out of it. (It's a crap expectation.) I'm aware. I'm perfectly aware that this is bullshit and I can't breathe and nothing is okay. This isn't one of my best days; this day is absolute shit. It's only ten in the morning and I've managed to embarrass myself.
Trying to focus on controlling my breathing, I think of the days that weren't so bad.
Even my best days without Edward Cullen are nothing in comparison to the worst ones with him. He could be the worst and still be the best—or at least better than me. That's a given. That's also why he's attending Dartmouth and I'm not, and why I'm having a anxiety attack in Forks and he's not, and why I'm hanging on a heartbeat that's going too fast and he's definitely not. He's divine. He's perfect.
Me, not so much. Not even on my best days alone am I as good as my worst days with him.
The attack is supposed to peak. It's supposed to have me screaming on the inside, wanting to burst from my own body and mind, wanting to not just die but disappear. There's going to be a moment where I feel like I'm not breaking, but that I'm already broken and it still hurts. I haven't gotten there yet, but I'm waiting. That's the worst part of an anxiety attack: waiting for the anxiety to peak just so I can know I'm at least halfway there.
I give up on controlling my breathing and inhale, only to hold it in.
Th-thump. The-thump. The-thump.
With a beating in the background.
Th-thump, th-thump, th-thump.
I could count backwards from one hundred—no, I should count backwards from one hundred, by threes. I should recite the presidents, think of my favorite song, my favorite poem. I should do a lot of things, but I can't—
—remember my heart beating this fast in a while. Or I don't choose to remember the actual last time. The last time I can think of my heart threatening to burst out of my chest was when I first met Edward, or bumped into him, really. I've always found it cheesy when people say they met the love of their life by bumping into them, mostly because it sounds fake a lot of the time, but that was how we met.
"What are you doing tonight?" Mike Newton asked me. It was my first summer in Forks since I'd been little, and I was just fifteen. I would be sixteen in September, and I was still in surprise at my being able to snag a job at the Newtons' Outfitters store in town.
I smiled politely, not showing my teeth. I knew he liked me, but I wasn't focused on boys. Just the April before, I was diagnosed with mixed anxiety-depressive disorder, and I didn't want to somehow project that onto others. It was June now, and I hadn't changed my mind about that. I didn't even like me; why would I let someone else do that? It was selfish.
"No," I finally told Mike. "I'm not doing anything. What did you have in mind?"
"There's a party going on," he said. "It's gonna be massive. A sweet sixteen."
"Whose party is it?" I asked. I didn't know anybody in town besides Mike and a couple other employees at the store, but it wouldn't hurt to ask.
"A rich kid," Mike said. "Filthy rich. His name's Edward Cullen and he goes to a private boarding school in Oregon during the school year, but he comes home every summer since his parents and siblings live around here."
"You're a bit of an insider," I observed.
"Nah, my mom just talks about his family all the time. They're our best customers when they go camping the second Edward's home for the summer. So, anyway, his party's tonight. He always throws parties, but get this: this one's a masquerade."
I wasn't a party-crasher. I didn't go to parties, period. "Okay," I said. "Are you crashing?"
"I think I have a better idea."
"And what would that be?"
I bit my lower lip and thought about it briefly. I did want to remain friends with Mike, but—who was I kidding? What would I do at home tonight, anyway? Wallow in my sadness a little more? I could certainly try to crash a rich kid's party, and even if I didn't like it, I wouldn't have to try it again. I could do it. I could give it a shot.
"Okay," I told Mike in agreement. "I'll go."
His smile was so big I couldn't help but smile back. "Yes!" he said excitedly. "It's gonna be so much fun."
"The crashing or the party?" I wondered.
"Both," he promised. "Definitely both."
Wearing a cheap, red mask from the party store and a plain black dress I had only worn once before that night, I told Charlie I would be spending the night at Jessica Stanley's house (which was somewhat believable since we sort of knew each other but not all that well) and eventually went with Mike and our friend Eric to raise a little hell and have a little fun. They were on bicycles, and Eric had brought his brother's bicycle for me to use. Pedaling into the night, my depression and anxiety (pretty fucking rad how I managed to get a MIXTURE of two terrible things instead of being lucky and just getting one) were the least of my worries.
The Cullens' house was deep in the woods, and wearing a mask in the darkness didn't do very good things for my vision. It took a while for Mike, Eric, and I to arrive at the party, but once we got there, we snuck in with a large crowd that was already entering. Pushed up against people, I focused on getting in successfully. It wouldn't be hard to. I had a mask on. I was dressed up. I was nobody and somebody at the same time.
I'd never attended a party, but this had to be a prime example of one. It wasn't a sloppy, 1980s, teen party; I didn't see anybody throwing up or knocking over anything. This was a masquerade. This was classy. I suddenly felt like a sore thumb, sticking out in my barely-passing dress and cheap, plastic mask. The party also didn't feel like a sweet sixteen at all. I'd watched enough MTV to know what one—especially one thrown by someone as rich as Edward Cullen—was supposed to look like. Who was Edward Cullen, anyway, besides a spoiled, boarding school kid who still managed to know people from his hometown who would celebrate his birthday? From all I'd heard, he was starting to sound fictional.
I'd spent most of the night with Mike and Eric, and at one point, I'd found an open bathroom that happened to be upstairs. I hadn't had to walk through any bedrooms, thank God, but once I got to that bathroom, I realized I didn't have to go, really; I just needed to get a sense of mind. Then again, it was kind of hard to retrieve something you didn't have.
This had been a bad idea. Making rash decisions had never been good for me, and this was one of them.
I needed to breathe. I needed to breathe and get it together before things got really bad. I definitely needed to go home, but I'd taken bike. I'd also left said bike in the woods with my other partners in crime, and there would be no way to find it without them.
I was stuck.
Once that settled in, I found out another thing.
I was lost. Lost in a tight, limited place.
I was sitting on a toilet cover in a big bathroom at a party meant for the beautiful, my face in my hands, barely breathing, regretful, stupid, and—
There were seven knocks on the door, and I quickly got up to get myself together.
"I'm sorry," I called to the person on the other side of the door. It was the easiest thing to say; I was always sorry. "I'll be out in a second, I just—," My sentence broke off. "I'm sorry," I repeated.
Without looking in the long mirror, I smoothed out my dress and adjusted my mask. My hands were shaking and my heart was beating so fast that it pulsed in my ears, louder than the music playing downstairs, louder than my thoughts. My palms were so sweaty I was afraid I wouldn't be able to open the door, which would have been overly embarrassing.
But I did open the door. I did. And I tried to dash out without having to look at the person I'd kept waiting only to bump right into them. My clumsiness always prevailed. I was short, and I still am, and I didn't meet another pair of eyes; I met a chest, and from the firmness I'd felt only so briefly, it had to be a guy.
I finally looked up, and it was. A guy, I mean.
He was pale and had bronze hair. He also wore a black tuxedo like every other guy at the party, only he wore a black shirt, white vest, and red tie. His mask was black and red, and it looked something I could buy with maybe seventeen paychecks, if it was on sale. If I had seen someone like him at this party before, then I'd forgotten, which would be impossible. This guy was Edward Cullen, and he looked down at me with a crooked half-smile.
I told him, "I'm so sorry," at the same time that he said, "How original."
"What?" I asked, standing still. "What's original?"
"Juliet crashing Romeo's party," he said. "That's really original."
"My name's not even Juliet," I blurted out before I realized what he was referring to. "My name's Bella."
"And mine is Edward," he told me, "but it's not like it matters." He shrugged. "I don't think I know you, Bella."
Shit. "Don't you?" I asked, trying to not blow it. "I mean, you invited me."
"Quite frankly, I wouldn't invite someone who got their mask from somewhere as cheap as the Thriftway."
Either my heart was beating so hard I couldn't feel it or it had stopped completely. I felt myself blush, and took a deep breath. "So I crashed your party," I admitted. "I'll leave as soon as you let me out of your way."
"Oh, I'm not kicking you out," he said. "People crash my parties all the time. How do you like it?"
I resented his confidence. By the second, I resented him more and more than was necessary, but I couldn't stop. "I don't," I replied honestly. "I don't like it at all."
"Well, what's wrong with it?"
"The food is plain, nobody smiles, and the music's boring me to death."
"I appreciate your honesty," he said.
"My mom comes up with these sorts of things. I don't like them that much. At least someone else doesn't."
I refused to let him in any further. "That's too bad."
"Ouch," he said. "I thought you'd at least have some sympathy."
"I'm not a sympathetic person."
"You know what, Bella?"
"Neither am I."
Slowly, carefully, he put his hand to my jaw, and I didn't stop him. I wasn't freaking out anymore. I couldn't feel my heartbeat, but I wasn't freaking out. I didn't feel hopeless, either. I didn't feel anything at all.
Edward subtly cocked his head to the side, and then ever so slightly brought his lips down to mine in one move, like he'd been doing this all his life. I could believe it. I inhaled sharply, and then let myself feel us together. I didn't know whether this was right or wrong. I didn't know anything.
He then pulled away, much too soon, and I gasped and stumbled back into the bathroom. He shut the door closed behind him and brought me back to sit on the counter, where we would be a little more level with each other. He was a tall sixteen-year-old, which I liked. I wrapped my legs around his waist, my dress coming up a bit, and put my fingers in his soft hair. He didn't kiss me again; he only stared at me as I waited for him to make the next move, and I could see that his eyes were green.
"Let me see you," he commanded.
"I'm right here," I replied.
"No. The mask is in the way."
"Do… do you, really?" I asked.
He nodded, and with that, I pulled off my mask. I could see him better, but I still couldn't see all of him.
He didn't say anything. He must have been stunned at my plainness.
"I'm sorry," I said. It was the only thing I could say; I was like a little robot.
"Sorry?" he asked. "Why would you be sorry?"
"Bella, you are exquisite."
Then Edward kissed me again. He was kissing me. A boy was actually kissing me. That was what fifteen-but-almost-sixteen-year-old girls were supposed to do. They were supposed to be kissed, and they were supposed to be kissing.
Again, too soon, Edward pulled away and straightened up. I stared at him, my legs hanging cold off the counter. Wasn't I supposed to see him, too? I'd given him something; wasn't he supposed to as well?
He gave me that crooked smile again and made his way to the door. He swung it open and looked back at me over his shoulder. "I'll meet you again, Bella." Then he left the room, and bam—he was gone.
The sly fucker.
I still didn't like myself; I hated everything about me. And maybe Edward didn't like me, either. He certainly couldn't have if he had just left me after that. But maybe that was the key: I didn't like me, and he didn't like me, but we both loved him.
That was one of my best days.
I open my eyes and I'm in room. I'm not fifteen anymore; I'm nineteen. Almost twenty, actually. I'll be twenty in September, and it's June now. There's only so little time left.
My anxiety attack can't be over already. It was only paused. That was the thing about Edward: he never calmed me down or made the anxiety go away; he only paused it—froze it in the middle and made me forget it was happening at all, only for it to return and scare me again.
Cold sweat drips off the end of my nose and onto the ground. Messy.
The chills I'm getting are starting to make my stomach hurt, too. I'm shuddering and convulsing so bad that I can feel the vodka coming up in my throat, and that's no imagination. I swallow it back down. Disgusting.
On my worst days, I throw up. At least it hasn't come down to that…yet. I should be happy. I should be grateful for the normal.
This makes me want to talk to Edward now. We did actually date after than encounter. We dated for a while—almost four years. His twentieth birthday is in two days, but he knows me too well to throw a party. Not again. The first time to crash a party was pathetically cute; the second time would just be pathetic.
I push Edward out of my mind as quickly as he entered it. There's no more of him, I remind myself. There's no more of us.
And there isn't. I can accept that. I don't like it, but it's acceptable.
I can breathe easier now. Just a little. My throat's less closed up. Today's not one of my best days, but at least I'm getting through it. I've accepted it, I've watched it, I've attempted to act normally through it, I've barely attempted to repeat the previous steps, and I didn't expected the best, but I rarely expected the worst. I'm aware. I'm still embarrassed, but I'm perfectly aware.
Maybe it's not my worst day, after all.