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Thank you SunflowerFran3759 for your awesome beta skills. If there are any mistakes, they're mine for adding things after her review.
It seemed there was so much to do, but nothing to reach for.
What was he supposed to do now? What was supposed to happen?
He stared out the window of Mike's car as he drove him and their friend Garret to meet up with a bunch of other kids from their graduation class. He wasn't sure exactly where it was they were headed, but he wasn't driving, so it didn't matter. There had been so much to drink the night before as they all celebrated the end of their high school years and the beginning of what they called 'real life.'
Edward had no idea what any of that meant.
He had forced himself to attend the party, telling himself that this was the only way he would be 'normal.' He didn't want to be the depressed kid that was angry at his father.
He didn't want to be himself. He wanted to be someone else.
Then he saw Tommy. He didn't know what she was doing there. She hated parties and everyone from school, but there she was looking at him with pain evident in her brown eyes. For a quick moment, he felt anger that she dared make him feel guilty. She had been the one to ruin everything.
But he realized that he, too, was a coward.
"This is gonna be fun, dude," Garret shouted, patting Mike on the shoulder as they parked on the side of the road.
Edward could feel his heart rate spike as he took in the view from outside. They were only a few feet away from the cliffs. His breaths became difficult to find and sweat began to form on his forehead. He had not been to these cliffs in years.
"Dude, you okay?" He heard Garett ask.
"He's fine," Mike, answered. "He's probably hung over as fuck."
Edward felt hands pulling his cold frozen body out of Mike's SUV and into the cool breeze of the Saturday morning. Another hand roughly patted him on his shoulder. "This is it, man. This is the final ceremony," Mike said to him, but Edward could not put his voice to his face.
He was moving. He tripped over rocks and over his own feet. They walked until he could feel the drops of water from the ocean on his face and he faced Jacob Black who glared at him.
"I…uh," he wanted to say something. He wanted to explain himself, but the pull of the cliffs and the angry ocean below didn't allow it.
"Son, I love you so much. You're the reason I live. You know that right?"
"Look, man, I get it. You were fuckin' pissed," Jacob spat. "You're lucky Tommy talked me out of kicking your fuckin' ass."
Edward didn't answer, still trying to control his breathing. Not even the mention of her name helped him snap out of his secret panic.
"I'm sorry," Edward murmured.
Mike's booming laugh made him jump.
"Fucking Edward apologizing. You damn pussy. You're jumping first!" With a shove, Edward stumbled in front of the group of boys.
His stomach twisted, his heart moved into his throat, and lines of sweat ran down his face. He hadn't had a panic attack in ages, but suddenly he was weak all over as he looked back to where Jake, Garrett, Mike and some of the other Quileute boys stood, waiting for him to reach the edge.
"All right, Jacob, don't you have to say something? I don't know, something inspiring? Fuck if I know," Mike said.
Jake looked over at Edward. "You look like shit, dude."
"Yeah, Cullen had too much to drink last night."
"Just jump already!"
"Yeah, don't puss out."
"Um, are we sure we wanna make Cullen go first?" Garrett asked.
"Why wouldn't he go first?" Mike asked.
"Cause, you know, his mom…"
The boys cursed and nervously rubbed at their necks.
Edward took a deep breath, squeezing his eyes tightly, trying his best to rid himself of the images playing in his head.
"I can do it," Edward angrily spat, after saying nothing for so long.
"You sure?" Jake asked.
"Let's just do it all ready," Edward shouted, but before turning towards the cliff, he looked at the trees behind everyone.
He remembered being in this same place eight years before. He was such a scared young boy. He was so frightened of jumping, but there, out of the trees she came out to save him. After a few seconds of looking at the gently swaying leaves on the tree branches, he realized she wasn't coming this time around. He was tired of waiting for her. He needed to man-up.
He didn't need her.
He didn't need her to save him.
He looked down at the waves crashing onto the rocky walls. Ignoring the chants from his friends, he only paid attention to the beating sound in his brain.
"You're becoming a young man. You're going to be such a wonderful man when you get older. You'll be good. Really good."
Ignoring the rowdy boys standing behind him, and feeling that he actually existed in the world, he could see her now; her green eyes full of sweet kindness just for him. He could smell that scent that seemed to belong only to his mother. The one that assured him as a young child that nothing would harm him. He could feel her warm caress on his cheek, assuring him he was going to be okay.
But she had deceived him. She had cowardly left him, alone, angry and wounded. Nothing was okay.
He took a deep breath, closed his eyes and jumped.
The water hit his body, piercing deeply into his skin. His eyes wouldn't open as he moved his arms and legs, trying to remember how to swim.
Trying to remember what this agony was for and what the reason was for anything...
Son, I love you so much.
You're the reason I live.
You know that, right?
You know that, right?
He punched the water, snapping his eyes open, taking in the surroundings. There, just in front of him were images of his mother; her weary, sorrowful face hitting him and burning his lungs. He felt himself sinking further into the ocean.
She reached out for him, and before he could reach for her hand, another force pulled him up. Suddenly his head was above water, his vision blurry, as his lungs desperately took in the much-needed oxygen of which he had been deprived.
He helped the force make it to shore, watching brown hair float ahead of him, and pale arms pulling at him, always assuring him that she was with him. When they made it to shore, he fell, chest first into the sand and let his body rest.
"You okay?" She asked her voice soft and worried.
He didn't dare look up, and slowly made it to his feet, embarrassed that once again he was unable to help himself.
"Why did you do that? You've always been a lousy swimmer and you hate the water."
"Just…stop, Tommy," he muttered. "Leave me alone."
"Are you okay?"
He sighed, still not looking at her. "I'm fine," he spat. "How did you... how did you know I would be here?"
"Jacob…he told me what you guys were planning, and I was worried about you. I couldn't stay away. I needed to make sure you were okay before I…"
"Of course! Of course, he did. I would have told you, but you've decided that I mean nothing to you."
"Edward…I…I'm sorry for what I said," she whispered in a pained voice. "I didn't mean any of it. I was just angry. I've always been angry, and I took it out on the wrong person. You didn't deserve it. I don't deserve…I'm not good. I'm tainted, and you, you don't need that."
"I could have made it on my own. I don't want to owe you anything."
"You don't owe me anything. You never have. I'm sorry. I'm sorry for what happened to your mom."
"Please stop talking."
"No. We never talked about what happened. I think we tried our best to escape our realities, but they've caught up to us. I think we should accept it and stop pretending. I'm tired of pretending. I want you to know what happened to…that day…I…"
"I owe you," he muttered bitterly as he looked at his bare feet buried in the sand.
She said nothing for a long moment. He only heard her sniff and cover her silent sobs. The cold wind stung against his wet body, but nothing was worse than knowing that she was suffering, too. He wanted to walk to her and wrap his arms around her, but he wanted to teach her a lesson. He wanted her to hurt the way he was.
"You don't owe me a thing," she finally said. "But if you feel as if you do, you can repay your debt by promising that you'll never tell anyone you saw me today."
He ran a hand through his drenched hair, and from the corner of his eye, he caught her trembling. He gulped and closed them. "I promise."
"Thank you," she cried. She placed a hand on his shoulder, but he quickly pulled away causing a pained look to appear on her beautiful face. She pulled her hand back and stepped away.
He stared at the cold water as it reached his toes. Not once did he look her way or stop her. He let his pride win, and when she was completely gone, his eyes followed her footprints in the sand as they made their way into the forest.
He took one slow step in her direction but then quickly stopped himself. Thinking about what he was going to say to her the next time he saw her, he failed to push himself. He wanted to fix things between them. He was just too angry. Maybe tomorrow he would wake up in a better mood and go to her.
He would make things better.
He would see her again.
Just like in his dreams, she is there, and though he knows this is only in his mind, he stretches his hand out to her. She looks young and beautiful, just like she always did. Her eyes are green, and her skin is pale. She smiles at him, filling his chest with warmth that only a mother could cause.
He feels like a small child again waiting for his mother to move or say something—anything at all. While his lungs burn for oxygen, she starts to disappear, and with angry strokes of his arms, Edward makes it back up to the surface.
He gasps for air, coughing the water that has managed to get into his mouth. He wipes his eyes, and there, a few feet away from him, floating away, is Tommy's blue baseball cap.
He swims, fighting against the rough, strong waves that without mercy slap at him. He's struggling to catch up to the cap knowing that soon enough, it'll float too far away, and he won't be able to grasp it. The thought of never having it again fills him with fear and a desperation he has not felt in years.
He punches the water and fights with it until his outstretched hand touches it. He quickly grabs it, and with a grin on his face raises it above his head, high in the sky. "Woo-hoo!" He hollers victoriously.
He laughs as though he's a little out of his mind and can't help but think how incredible it feels. No longer prisoner of his own thoughts, he swims to the beach and places the soaked cap over his head.
He sits in the sand, his knees up against his chest, his eyes glued to the waves of the ocean where he lost his mother and where he last saw the girl who saved his life, over and over again. He is alone, but the voice in his head that has tortured him for so many years is finally off.
It is simply him, the beach and the ocean.
Life continues, and with it, he must go like a wild ocean current. Life has always been frightening, but he now knows he must surface for air, and that there is no use in drowning away. His only regret is in realizing this too late. With Tommy gone and so many years now in the past, it'll be tough to regain control.
He walks home in his drenched clothes wearing the blue baseball cap he first saw on a dirty, ten year- old girl who would come to change his life.
When his father opens the door, worry is evident on his aging face. Edward doesn't wait and pulls him into a tight hug.
Carlisle, not caring that he is soaked in ocean water and freezing, holds his son as he cries into his shoulder.
"I'm sorry, Dad," Edward whispers.
"I'm sorry, too."
"I miss Mom."
"I know, Son. I know."
"I'm sorry she died."
"It wasn't your fault."
"I know that now, I honestly do. I'm not lying this time, I know it's true and that it wasn't my fault. But it still hurts so much."
"She loved you so much, she loved you, I swear it," Carlisle says, holding his son's face.
"I think I'm ready. I think I'm ready to say goodbye," Edward whispers, feeling his sister wrap her arms around him. His father's watery blue eyes agree with him.
Nothing has ever felt so relieving.
He looks up and catches a teary-eyed Esme a few feet away. He smiles at her and realizes that maybe everything will be okay.
Just like his mother always promised.
"I can't believe you're really leaving," Carlisle says as they drive up to the airport. "You need to come and visit more often, Son."
"I will," Edward promises. "Forks isn't so bad after all."
His father chuckles as he parks his car. He helps Edward with his luggage, and when it's time for them to say goodbye, he pulls his son into a manly hug.
Edward laughs, fixing the strap of his bag around his shoulder. "Take care, Son. Don't forget to call me and to text Alice when you land. You know how she worries."
"Sometimes she acts like my mother." The words create a silent moment between them. "Mom would have been proud of her," Edward finally says with a smile.
Carlisle nods. "She would have been proud of you, too. She always talked about how wise you were for your age. She wasn't being biased. You're really a great man, Edward."
"I'm sorry for being such a broken man for the past years. I'm gonna try to be better," Edward says. "I think I can try now. I see that I wasn't the only one that lost her. I should live my life. I should stop being sad. I can breathe, I see that now, I feel it."
"I know you will. Please call me if you ever feel like you can't, Son. Don't ever feel ashamed of being sad. Don't wait another five years. I know you can move forward." Carlisle gives Edward one last hug before leaving.
When the plane lands, Edward heads over to his new apartment. He doesn't bother unpacking and leaves his belongings neatly put away for days. He works all day, and when he arrives back to his empty apartment, he stares at the brown boxes in his living room.
The walls of his office are suffocating, and he spends his time daydreaming about the freeing times when he ran around the forest with Tommy. He smiles realizing he wasn't a city man after all.
He loosens his tie and sits back in his black leather chair, wondering where she is.
"Do you think these folks travel a lot?"
"The maps may just be for decoration, Swan," he said and poured wine into both glasses.
"Well, I know I would hang maps of the places I've been on my walls. Though they won't be hanging for too much time. I don't plan on staying anywhere for too long. Imagine just leaving and going to different places, discover new things and meet different people. Wouldn't that be awesome?"
She had always been the braver one.
He looks up bus tickets and spends hours selling his things online.
At closing time, he heads over to his boss and resigns. The man, who had been impressed with Edward when he had interviewed him, asks him to rethink his decision, but Edward is tired of questioning himself.
He's going to do this.
He spends another day shipping all his belongings to their new owners, and shoves his clothes into a bag and places Tommy's, blue baseball cap over his head.
Buses, car rides and his own two feet get him miles and miles to the unknown.
Small towns, big towns and the middle of nowhere…
He meets a few kind people and then some that are not. He gets jobs to pay for the next trip, and for food. He keeps his eyes open and the calls to his family short.
There is no time to waste.
Carlisle doesn't like what he's doing, but doesn't say it, and Alice thinks he's finally lost his mind. He's purposely lost his shrink's phone number and doesn't bother taking his meds.
They don't let him think.
Thinking used to be a curse, but it's what now keeps him going.
He meets a young roughneck, named Jasper Whitlock while wandering through Georgia along with his crazy girlfriend named Maria. They don't like staying in the same place too long either, and offer Edward a ride to their next stop, and then to the next one and the one after that.
"You're awful quiet," says Jasper.
"I think you're crazy," says Maria.
"What's your sob story? Everybody's got one."
"Yeah, make us cry."
"Where you gonna end up?"
"Yeah, I mean we don't mind drivin' you, but where are you gonna settle? You look like the settlin' type."
"I'm looking for someone."
"Who? A girl?"
He nods, staring at the fields of nothingness in Texas and smiles, wiping the dust off his passenger window.
My Dearest Tommy,
I don't know how I failed to realize that you always spoke about traveling and leaving the place that watched you grow up; that place you never called home.
I think I ignored it because I desperately didn't want you to leave, and at the same time I was too cowardly to ask you to stay.
I realize now that I shouldn't have asked you to stay, but instead, I should have asked you to let me come with you. Wherever you went, I should have gone.
While I was rotting away, not letting go of my mother, and not accepting that she would never come back, you endured what life had given you with great resilience.
I know you're not dead because you're the complete opposite. You're out there somewhere so alive, and I'm sure light shines down on you always.
I have been the dead one. I was the one my father and sister mourned. When my mother decided to take her life away, she didn't realize she would also take mine. I've spent so many years angry with her for this reason. And because of that, I was not allowing myself to be there for you.
I am done playing dead.
I hope to find you one day. I'm sure when I do I will find a brilliant woman full of the life she craved so much as a child.
I don't know where I am going, but I envy you because now, I too, want to live.
My dearest Tommy, we spent so much of our childhood carrying the weight and the sorrows of the adults around us. I am happy you don't carry it anymore. I, too, want to be weightless.
Wherever I go, I will always be looking for you. My eyes will wander until they find you.
And when they do, I will tell you the truth.
I will tell you how much I love you.
How much I've always loved you.
"Edward? Son? There are policemen at the door asking for you."
"They say they have a few questions for you…about Tommy."
After a week of another 'episode' in which Edward refused to move out of his bed, a fire came alive at the mention of her name.
He threw a shirt on and headed downstairs where two, tall policemen stood.
"Do you know Isabella Swan?" The one with the brown curly hair asked.
"Yes, I do," Edward simply answered, swallowing the dry knot in his throat. "Is she…is she okay?"
"Have you seen her lately? Has she reached out to you?"
"Son, it's important that you tell us anything you know. We have some indications that Ms. Swan was not in a safe state of mind. She's been missing for over a week now, and nobody has seen her. Any time wasted could mean danger."
Edward felt his heart sink and his legs weakened. "I…I don't know. I…last saw her on graduation night. She was…she was okay when I saw her. You really haven't heard anything from her?"
Both men looked away from him, not caring to answer his question. He didn't have the answers they needed. He wasn't of value. But what they failed to understand was that he needed to know where she was.
"Some of her things are missing from her room at home. She's been missing since graduation night…"
Edward felt someone pulling at his arms and away from the door. "Son, calm down…" he heard his father say. "Why don't you sit down? Take a breath."
But Edward didn't listen. He ran out of his home, ignoring his father calling his name. For hours, he searched what seemed to be every inch of Forks, Washington. With a dry and sore throat, he continued to shout and ask for his girl.
When he began to trip over his own feet, and when his eyes no longer could see through the fog that had fallen around him, Edward slowly made it back home.
There were no thoughts in his head, only plans.
Tomorrow he would find her.
But as the days passed and nothing was heard of Isabella 'Tommy' Swan, the cloud in his mind became darker and more paralyzing.
Where was she?
Had this been her plan all along?
During his last night home before college, Edward held onto the baseball hat she had left behind, and to the idea that he would find her again.
He would spend the next five years with the same thought, plus one more.
As he watches the stars shine above him during a rare, cool Texas night, he feels a sense of calmness and peace. A small hint of a smile comes to his mouth when he hears the loud hollering of a train headed to the small town, announcing its arrival.
"One day I'll find myself attached to these tracks, Edward. But I'll come back to you, someday. But it can't be here in this town. It's not part of the plan. But somewhere out there…someday…there you'll be."
So we are all caught up with revisiting the past!
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