August 31, 2010
It took a few moments for me to gather up the courage to exit the car, but I knew what I had to do. Continuing on like nothing ever happened was no longer an option, and changing her was not even a consideration. The very thought of Bella without a beating heart did far more damage than leaving her could ever cause.
Remembering back to the day I returned to Forks after almost slaughtering Bella upon her arrival, I remembered a promise I had made to myself- I would do anything to protect Isabella Marie Swan. Had I ever imagined protecting her would cause me- and her- this much pain? If I had, I would have left long ago, long before our feelings for each other escalated to this intense level. But I didn’t leave, and so I am left with the painful, strenuous task of leaving her forever.
‘Anything to keep her safe‘ I reminded myself as I pushed open the Volvo’s door. Once again, I studied Bella’s face. Walking over to her, I lifted her book bag off of her shoulder before placing it on the driver’s seat. I knew she could see right through my blank expression, but she remained silent.
“Come for a walk with me,” I proposed in a dead, emotionless voice.
Observing Bella’s alarmed face, I took her hand, knowing that she wouldn’t have moved otherwise. Reading her mind would’ve been pointless; her thoughts were easily readable on her face. Confusion, because naturally, she wanted to know the reason behind my actions. Hesitance, owing to the fact that she knew something dreadfully wrong was coming, and finally, what looked like determination dominated her facial features.
I led her only a few feet into the towering trees, knowing that she would get lost if we continued any further. Bella’s clumsiness and vulnerability were some of her qualities that I would not allow myself to forget. After all, they were two of the many reasons I had fallen in love with her.
No words could describe how I felt in that moment; there was simply no feeling strong enough. Anguish, panic, reluctance, and confusion were all wrapped into one unidentifiable emotion. If I had a heart, it would have been throbbing in my chest, or perhaps even silent.
My stone body suddenly felt weaker than it ever had before as I leaned against a tree for support. This would have to do, because my legs would not respond. I looked past Bella and through the trees to where her house stood in plain sight.
“Okay, let’s talk,” Bella started. The brave tenor of her voice didn’t match her quickly- deteriorating facial expression.
After taking a deep breath to calm myself, I stated, “Bella, we’re leaving.”
She didn’t understand; her face told me that much. Bella thought that she would be coming with us. If only she had assumed right, and she could come with me. If only I could whisk her away now and be with her every second-
I quickly pushed away the selfish thoughts. What I needed was in direct opposition to what Bella needed, and Bella’s needs come first. Bella will always come first.
She took a deep breath before responding. “Why now?” she tried to reason. “Another year-”
“Bella, it’s time,” I interrupted. “How much longer could we stay in Forks, after all? Carlisle can barely pass for thirty, and he’s claiming thirty-three now. We’d have to start over soon regardless,” I reminded her.
Confusion flashed on her face as she digested what I was saying. I simply stared back at her, my face an expressionless mask while my heightened emotions flared.
And then she understood. Pain was now the dominating emotion on her face. Bella whispered, “When you say we-”
“I mean my family and myself,” I finished, articulating each word.
The next few minutes were pure agony. I could see that Bella was in denial, her mind pushing away the idea that would lead her to pain.
As I waited for Bella to respond, my emotions turned into a fierce hate. Not a hate for her or for anybody else, but a hate for myself. I don’t deserve her. I have never deserved her, so how did I let this go on? I should have left Forks long before I had forced this devastation onto her. If I thought I was a monster before, I don’t even know what I am now.
“Okay, I’ll come with you,” Bella suggested.
You have no idea how much I want you to come. “You can’t, Bella. Where we’re going…It’s not the right place for you.”
“Where you are is the right place for me,” she stated. It broke my heart to see how sure, how positive, Bella was that I was good for her. If that was the case, there would be no need for this conversation, but it’s not.
“I’m no good for you, Bella.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” she snapped, “You’re the very best part of my life.”
“My world is not for you,” I replied.
“What happened with Jasper- that was nothing, Edward! Nothing!” Her eyes begged me to believe her words.
Nothing? It was everything! Everything that I had been fighting for had nearly been taken out from under me. Bella had almost died. There were no more excuses I could use to stay with Bella. My need for her had shielded what I knew all along- an accident was unavoidable.
“You’re right,” I agreed. “It was exactly what was to be expected.”
“You promised!” she pleaded. “In Phoenix, you promised that you would stay-”
“As long as that was best for you,” I reminded her.
Her escalating pain added to my own. Seeing her like this, knowing that I was the one who was causing it…it broke my heart.
“No! This is about my soul, isn’t it?” She yelled. Her pain became secondary as anger took its place. “Carlisle told me about that, and I don’t care, Edward. I don’t care! You can have my soul. I don’t want it without you- it’s yours already!”
She had no idea what she was saying. I would give up my soul a thousand times to be with her forever, but Bella? Bella is simply too good. Her soul is far more important than anything else in my world.
That’s when I realized that I would have to go about this differently. As long as it was about me, she would deny it. Bella just doesn’t see me correctly as the monster I am. In order for me to get through to her, I’d have to commit the deepest form of blasphemy there was- I needed to convince Bella that I don’t love her.
I kept my eyes on the forest floor as I delivered the words. “Bella, I don’t want you to come with me.”
“You…don’t…want me?” She asked, hurt. The amount of pain my words caused her yet again reminded me of the monster I am.
I shifted my gaze from the forest floor to her chocolate brown eyes. Denying everything I felt for her, I replied, “No.”
“Well, that changes things,” Bella answered. All emotion fled from her expression, leaving a dead, numb look to take over.
I simply couldn’t look at her anymore. That dead, emotionless face…That wasn’t how I wanted to remember Bella. Looking at the trees, I continued my lie. “Of course, I’ll always love you…in a way. But what happened the other night made me realize that it’s time for a change. Because I’m…tired of pretending to be something I’m not, Bella. I am not human. I’ve let this go on for much too long, and I’m sorry for that.” More sorry than you’ll ever know.
“Don’t,” Bella pled, her voice barely more than a whisper. “Don’t do this.”
I stared back at her. “You’re no good for me, Bella,” I lied. Bella was the best thing that had ever happened to me, and that will never change.
She opened her mouth to say something, but then she closed it again. I waited for whatever she had to say. “If…that’s what you want,” she breathed.
After all the times I had expressed my love for her, how could she believe this lie so easily? It killed me to see that I hadn’t shown her that I loved her enough.
I was dangerously close to my braking point. The guilt and overwhelming pain preventing me from speaking, so I nodded my head once.
“I would like to ask one favor, though, if that’s not too much to ask,” I murmured after I found my voice.
“Anything,” she promised, her voice slightly shaking.
“Don’t do anything reckless or stupid,” I ordered. I needed her to understand. The whole point of leaving her was to protect her, and this was my last plea for her safety. “Do you understand what I’m saying?”
Settling back into my emotionless mask, I added,”I’m thinking of Charlie, of course. He needs you. Take care of yourself- for him.” Bella couldn’t think that I cared about her safety in the least. The idea was completely unfathomable to me, but she needed to believe it.
“I will,” she vowed with another nod.
That’s all I needed. As long as she was safe, I would endure anything.
“And I’ll make you a promise in return,” I stated. “I promise that this will be the last time you see me. I won’t come back. I won’t put you through anything like this again. You can go on with your life without any more interference from me. It will be as if I’d never existed.”
Bella’s knees started to shake while her blood started pulsing faster through her veins. I wanted to reach out and hold her; I wanted take away her pain. But I knew her pain was temporary. She would move on.
Rearranging my expression into a smile, I reassured her. “Don’t worry. You’re human- your memory is no more than a sieve. Time heals all wounds for your kind.”
“And your memories?” She choked.
I had already thought about this many times. My pain would never fade, not even one degree, but I would take the pain gladly if it spared Bella’s existence. She is my world.
“Well, I won’t forget. But my kind, we’re very easily distracted,” I answered.
We are easily distracted, it’s true, but there was no way I will be distracted from the pain of leaving Bella. I could try to distract myself temporarily, but in the long run, it would be a lost cause.
I took a step back before continuing. “That’s everything, I suppose. We won’t bother you again,” I promised.
Something clicked inside Bella’s head, and she finally understood. “Alice isn’t coming back,” she whispered.
I shook my head, my eyes staying locked on Bella’s face. “No, they’re all gone. I stayed behind to tell you goodbye.”
“Alice is gone?” she repeated. Bella and Alice had grown very close. They were best friends, practically sisters, and I knew how hard it would be on Bella to lose Alice as well.
“She wanted to say goodbye, but I had convinced her that a clean break would be better for you.”
As I assessed Bella’s reaction, I knew it was time. After memorizing her beautiful face for the last time, I delivered the hardest words I would ever have to say. “Goodbye, Bella.”
“Wait!” She panicked, reaching for me, but my stone hands pinned her arms to her side. I dropped my head to press my lips against her warm forehead with the lightest of pressure.
“Take care of yourself,” I murmured against her skin. Forgive me, Bella. I love you.
And then I ran, not knowing- or caring- where I was going. After all, what was the point anymore?
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