Her day started off like every other painstaking, monotonous day of her mediocre post-Edward existence had. It ended in tragedy… What if Bella had found the items Edward left under her floorboards? An AU story set in New Moon.
In canon, Edward leaves, and Bella thinks he has taken all of the items that would remind her of him when actually he has hidden them under her floorboards. This story explores what could have happened if she found them… Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters in this story or the Twilight universe. They belong to Stephenie Meyer.
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I rolled out of bed, rubbing my blurry eyes. I stepped into my slippers and left my bedroom, almost tripping over the rug on the way out. I paused for a second as I left to look in the mirror. I examined the large black circles which were growing each day beneath my red puffy eyes as a result of severe sleep deprivation. I looked away quickly as I didn’t enjoy seeing myself like that. The darkness reminded me of him, but while his added to his mystifying attractiveness, my undereye circles just made me look bedraggled.
On my way to the staircase, I peeked into Charlie’s bedroom, to find that he had already left for work. I saw that he had left me a pile of dirty clothes to wash, and picked up the full basket, deciding that it would be easier to get the machine loaded before I went to school.
I walked down the stairs slowly, clutching the washing tightly and dragging my feet behind me, each step seeming to take more effort than the last. I loaded the washing machine carefully, making sure not to mix the colours and the whites, and watched it begin to spin. Somehow, the revolving colours seemed almost hypnotising, and I began to feel a little dizzy.
After snapping myself out of the trance, I walked over to the kitchen cupboard, intending to pour myself a bowl of cereal. I stood in front of it for ten whole minutes, staring at the food inside before deciding that I wasn’t really hungry at all. I slammed the cupboard shut with unnecessary force and sighed.
I went back upstairs, the ascent of the staircase being as hard as the descent had been, and opened my wardrobe. I stared at the clothes on the hangers, which were all in the dull shades of black and grey: the only colours I wore in my state of mourning. I pulled out a plain black cotton shirt and a pair of dark grey trousers to wear. As I slowly closed the door, I glanced remorsefully at the brightly coloured clothes that had been stuffed into storage boxes and stowed away towards the back. I longed to wear colours like that, but I did not want to draw any attention to myself.
I looked in the mirror again, but I didn’t see any point in putting make-up on, even to conceal the unattractive rings under my eyes. I quickly scraped my hair back into a messy ponytail, gripping back the long strands which hung in front of my ears. I had decided long ago that it did not matter what I looked like, because I didn’t want anyone to be looking at me at all, whether to admire or criticize.
I left the house for school, locking the front door behind me and shivering slightly in the cold November air. I looked up to see that the sky was a pale grey colour, filled with colossal clouds which looked ready to burst and spill their contents as rain. I climbed into my truck and started the ignition. I didn’t really pay much attention to the road as I drove, the trees and cars on either side of me blurring into a colourful mass.
A small, but increasing, part of me wished, in a twisted way, that I would be involved in an accident. Any injuries I received would be nothing compared to the excruciating agony I felt in my heart. And maybe, if I was lucky, my mortal body would be so badly damaged that the pain faded away into nothing and I was forever relieved from the tedious suffering of my joyless life. I tried to push those dark thoughts out of my mind, thinking instead about the impending school day, which did nothing at all to cheer me up.
I arrived at school unharmed, and parked my truck in the far corner of the lot, under a large oak tree, so to avoid as much unwanted contact as possible. I picked up my large pile books from the front passenger seat, hugging them to my chest like a shield as I walked as fast as I could to my first class. I noticed a few younger students staring at me as I half-ran across the parking lot, no doubt gawping at the poor girl the alluring and mysterious youngest Cullen boy had left behind. I shut out the outside world desiring to be invisible.
I was concentrating so hard on erasing the intrigued stares that I tripped over a pebble, almost dropping my books. I sighed and sped up further, my eyes fixed on the ground. I heard the malicious laughter behind me and felt many pairs of eyes glued to my back.
My first three lessons of the day were conducted as normal, providing welcome distractions from the anguished battles taking place inside my head and heart. I listened to Mrs Drayton’s lecture on the correct application of the cosine rule in non-right-angled triangles, intently scribbling down comprehensive notes on the subject even though I already had a perfect set of notes in my folder. I sat silently through American History despite the fact that the substitute teacher was naively oblivious to unwanted noise, and most of the class had begun conversing among themselves. I endured an awkward hour of Geography sat next to Jessica Stanley, who had requested a total of six times to be moved from me due to my coldness.
At lunch, I purchased a bottle of sparkling mineral water, and took it into the girls’ bathroom to drink. I sat locked in the end cubicle contemplating my utter lack of anything resembling friends. Even Mike and Eric seemed to have given up on me as a lost cause, for they ceased to wave at me when they passed me in the corridors.
After lunch came the lesson I dreaded the most every day- Biology. I did not have a lab partner, but that was the least of my worries, I preferred to work alone anyway. The lesson bought back unpleasant, uninvited memories of Edward; our first meeting, or first real conversation…It was often too much to bear. The lab we were assigned to complete was sufficiently hard to cause exasperated sighs throughout the class, but I relished in its difficulty, as it distracted me slightly from my aching reminisces. I still spent the entire hour as I usually spent it though; fighting back the tears which welled up in my eyes and prickled at my lashes persistently, threatening to break their banks and stream down my cheeks.
Gym was something of a blackout, I merely spent the period avoiding the ball determinedly and praying for time to speed up so that the hour in hell could be over. Finally I heard the long-awaited sound of the bell and ran to my truck. I was driving out of the school gates before the majority of the student population had left their classrooms.
When I arrived home, I did my homework assignments to the best of my ability and sent an unconvincingly cheerful email to Renée. I assured her that I still loved life in Forks, inventing friends, parties and trips to Port Angeles at the weekends. I was glad that she could not see my distressed face as I typed, as it would surely have given away the truth.
After I clicked send and waited for my slow computer to shut down, I walked through to the kitchen. I looked in the fridge, and began to feel a little queasy. I prepared dinner only for Charlie and was not even tempted by the delectable smells of homemade cottage pie.
Charlie arrived home from work at half past six, at which time his dinner was already laid out on the table for him, waiting. As I heard the lock click, I started to head upstairs as fast as I could, endeavouring to avoid speaking to him, as I usually did in the evenings.
I was three quarters of the way up the stairs when I heard his voice, “Bella.”
I jumped in shock, and froze.I contemplated dashing up to my room and pretending to be asleep, but that would probably worry him. I decided to just ignore him, hoping that he would give up and eat his dinner.
“Bella. I know you can hear me, I need to talk to you.” He said, sounding frustrated and concerned in equal measures.
“I’m tired.” I mumbled truthfully from the top of the staircase, hoping to get him off my back.
Charlie sighed, “Bella, come downstairs at once.” I noticed a hint of pleading in his voice.
“No.” I said heavily - why couldn’t he just leave me alone?
“Bella, if you don’t come downstairs now, you’re-” he paused, evidently at a loss for how to continue. I could tell that he was going to say ‘you’re grounded,’ but that would have hardly been a punishment. I never left the house, except to attend school or work, or occasionally to take a trip to the grocery store. “-in trouble.” He finished lamely.
I sighed deeply and walked downstairs at snail’s pace, putting off the inevitable interrogation as long as I possibly could. As I walked I tried to neaten up my hair, to no real success.
Charlie smiled at me encouragingly as I entered the kitchen, though I registered a look of horror on his face when he saw my worse-for-wear appearance, “Aren’t you going to eat something, Bella?” he asked, motioning towards his serving of cottage pie.
“No.” I said, giving a closed answer.
“Sweetie, you need to eat!” he exclaimed.
“Not hungry,” I muttered under my breath.
“Bella, you’re wasting away!” Charlie sounded extremely worried.
“I ate earlier.” I lied sharply.
Charlie didn’t look like he believed me, I saw a heavily sceptical look pass over his face, but he let the subject drop all the same. He started to eat his meal, and I sat opposite him, watching him chew each mouthful hungrily. The only sounds to be heard in the kitchen were the clinks of his cutlery and the occasional cough or sigh.
I endured ten minutes of the awkward silence before finally speaking, “Can I go now?” I asked quietly.
“No, sweetie,” Charlie said with his mouth full. He swallowed melodramatically and continued, “we need to talk.”
“About what?” I asked resentfully, incredulous at his nerve for holding me captive in my own kitchen.
Charlie looked torn, and opened and closed his mouth three times before finally voicing his worry, “Bella, I think… well, I think you need help.”
“Help?” I murmured, putting on a confused tone even though I was perfectly aware of what he meant. He thought I was mad, he thought that I needed to see a shrink.
“It’s good sometimes, to have someone to talk to about your problems, and since you don’t feel you can open up to me,” he paused, looking at me carefully, “I think you need to talk to a professional, someone who has experience regarding what you’re going through.”
I was positive that no psychoanalytic professional would have any experience with what I was going through. I was pretty sure that they would not have counselled a girl who had fallen in love with a vampire, and since that was the root of my problems, it all seemed rather pointless. It wasn’t as if I would be able to divulge my true feelings either, unless I wanted to be locked up in a padded cell in a mental asylum.
“I don’t need professional help.” I said, “I’m fine.”
“Now Bella, I think we both know that that’s not true at all. I heard you shouting last night.” Charlie stated calmly, though I noticed that he was clenching and unclenching his fist under the table the way he always did when he was stressed.
“There’s nothing wrong with me, I was just having a nightmare.” I protested, frustrated tears welling up in my eyes because my whole life, my whole pitiful existence was a like an extended nightmare, except I could not wake up.
“Bella, don’t cry,” he said quickly, “maybe you’d rather talk to your mother about this. Do you want to give her a call?” He stood up and walked into the hallway to pick up the telephone before returning and holding it out to me.
It was a measure of Charlie’s perception of the seriousness of my situation that he was suggesting I call Renée, so I tried my best to kid him that nothing was wrong.
“I really am fine,” I said unconvincingly, “I emailed mom just a few hours ago.” That much was true.
Charlie put the phone down on the table with much more power than was strictly necessary, accidentally slamming it so hard that his drink shook and small droplets the liquid spilled over the edge of the glass.
“I just don’t know what to do with you Bella.” Charlie sighed, shaking his head ruefully and absentmindedly using his sleeve to mop up the water. “The first step to solving a problem is to admit that you have one.”
“Just leave me alone.” I moaned, instantly regretting my harsh words as I saw my father’s face fall further. I knew that he doubted his parenting skills and my comment must have been like a slap in the face for him. He clenched his fist hard, and I was sure that if he was squeezing a stress ball, it would have burst.
“I’m sorry,” I said sincerely, “I just don’t feel like talking to anyone at the moment.”
“Bella, it has been months now since…” Charlie sighed, and continued slowly as if he was thinking through every word with the utmost care, “since he left.”
I froze in shock. Talking about him was a banned subject. Charlie knew that. I felt the familiar prickle at my eyelashes caused by suppressed tears, and willed them to stay back.
Charlie continued hesitantly, “It’s not normal to be like this so long after…”
I wanted to yell at him. I wanted to scream at him to shut up, to stop talking about Edward. I couldn’t stand it. It was too much. Instead I sat silently at the table, unmoving. It was taking all my strength not to sob recklessly.
“Bella, he left you. He obviously didn’t realise how special you are. You deserve someone who appreciates you.” Charlie said. I flinched as leaned towards me to put a comforting hand on my shoulder.
I tried not to listen to his comment. I still did not believe that he had mentioned him. I expected him to skirt around the subject, maybe to touch at the edges but certainly not to dive straight in to the centre.
“Can we stop talking about this?” I said, and then imploringly added, “Please.”
“Bella,” he refused to end the conversation, “Sweetie, you need to move on, just try to forget about him.”
Suddenly, the sadness swelled inside me, overcoming all my other emotions and coursed through my small body at a high speed. I stood up, knocking over the chair I had been sat on and ran out of the kitchen as fast as I could without colliding into anything.
I let my tears fall as soon as I reached the top of the stairs. I could see their crystalline cover over my eyes as I neared the entrance to my bedroom. I could feel their icy wetness on my cheeks as I slammed the door behind me. I could taste their unpleasant saltiness as I threw myself onto my bed. I gripped my pillow so hard that my knuckles were white. I sobbed hysterically.
I could imagine Charlie still sat frozen at the kitchen table, wondering what he had said to cause such a strong, instantaneous reaction.The truth was that his words had reminded me of Edward's final conviction. ‘It will be as if I never existed.’ I snorted despite myself. He could leave town with the rest of his family. He could even take with him every material possession that could possibly remind me of him. But he could never vanish completely from my life. I could never forget that he existed, because he did exist. The eternal gaping heart in my heart was proof of that fact.
I sat up on my bed, biting my lower lip until it was red and sore in a feeble attempt to stem my tears. I moved to place my head in my hands and my eyes fell on the thin blue veins that pulsed evenly under the layer of pasty skin on my left wrist.
One cut would be all it took… One cut to take away all of the pain… One cut to make me forget him, forget everything. One cut…
I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t find the strength within my soul. It was not because I put some value on my life or because I had something, anything, to look forward to. It wasn’t even because I didn’t want to hurt my family. Although I knew Charlie and Renée would be devastated, I didn’t have the clichéd image in my mind of them sobbing over my dead body.
No, it was for the most pathetic of reasons. Blood would remind me too much of vampires, of the Cullens, of Edward. That would be too much to bear, even in my dying moments.
I screeched with an inexplicable anger, as if a volcano inside my stomach was erupting fiercely. I grabbed the first thing I could lay my hands on, which happened to be my copy of WutheringHeightsfrom my bedside table. I threw it across my room with all of my strength. I felt a strange pleasure as I watched it hit the wall, and slide down, landing splayed open on the floorboards. It was like a huge weight had been taken off my chest.
I took hold of another book - Romeo and Juliet - and threw that across the room. As I watched it fall, I felt powerful, in control. I could hear Charlie’s bewildered shouts from downstairs - telling me to stop. Telling me that everything was going to be okay. It wasn’t.
I picked up my television remote control, and threw that to join the others. That time I felt not pleasure, not power, but disgust. I was disgusted at myself for being so psychotic and violent. I didn’t know what had come over me.
I walked over to the pile of missiles, taking long, deep breaths to calm myself and feeling seriously ashamed for flying off the handle in such a way. The books’ pages were bent and creased, and I smoothed them down, closing the novels and placing them carefully on my bookshelf. I looked at the remote control to see that the battery cover from the back had broken off, and the two batteries had rolled away.
One of the batteries was sat by my bookshelf, and eventually I found the other, in the middle of a crack between two floorboards. I picked up the battery and felt one of the boards slide beneath my fingers. It was as if someone had taken it, and then done a poor job of reinserting it.
I put back together the remote and put it on top of my television, before going back over towards the mysterious floorboard. I looked at it closely, discovering that it had indeed been forcibly removed and not secured properly back into place.
My curiosity fought with my urge to just lie in bed and cry. The curiosity won and I prised away the floorboard using my stubby, bitten fingernails. It came away easily and I saw some junk hidden underneath.
I wondered if it had been left there by the previous owners of the house, or maybe Charlie had hidden something there. I considered replacing the board, and forgetting I had seen anything, and I wish that that was what I had done.
Alas, it wasn’t. I reached into the hole and pulled out my prize. For a moment I couldn’t believe it. My heart stopped and I figured that I must be dreaming.
My hand emerged holding a CD. The CD Edward had made for me of his lullaby. The CD that I thought he had taken and destroyed. I placed it in the CD player, where it had been the last time I saw it, and pressed play.
I let the usually soothing sounds wash over me. They did not calm me as they had always done previously. They didn’t cause beautiful butterflies to flutter around my stomach. The combination of notes sent shivers down my spine, and began to coax out my buried memories. I could picture Edward sat at the piano, his fingers moving swiftly as he played my lullaby.
I listened to the music, feeling my body go numb, as I flicked through the wad photographs which had been stashed away, along with a couple of tickets.
I first looked at the photo of Edward and I in the kitchen. His hand was placed delicately on my shoulder, and my arm was wrapped around his waist. I felt a stab of pain, as I saw the crease down the middle between the two of us. Suddenly, I could vividly remember putting that photo into my scrapbook. I had thought I looked terrible compared to his godliness. It still felt uncomfortable to look at myself in the photo, even though I looked a million times better there than I did now, with my unmade face and my messy hair.
I stared at the photo of Edward alone, stood in the kitchen. I realised that the beautiful vision I had been picturing for the past few long months was nothing compared to the real thing. He was smiling in this photo - his bright white teeth shining. His deep ochre eyes were like pools of warm honey, sweet and gorgeous.
The next photo was of Edward and Charlie. I remembered how Charlie had tried to push the camera’s focus away from himself, and I had joked with him, saying that I wanted his photo because he was so handsome. The Bella of two months ago seemed so unbelievably different to the Bella of today, with her jocular mannerisms and her wonderful, loving boyfriend. Those days were over.
I had never been able to take a photograph of all of the Cullens, but I could imagine it vividly. I would have made Edward stand in the centre, and he would have looked incredible as always. Carlisle and Esme would have stood behind him, smiling warmly and looking at each other adoringly through the corners of their golden eyes.
Emmett and Rosalie would be stood to one side of him. Emmett would probably grinning from ear to ear, hugging Rosalie to his large chest. Rosalie would certainly have posed, looking unbelievably beautiful. Yet I was sure she would have worn the uncharacteristically ugly look on her face which she reserved for me. Utter hatred would have plagued her dazzling eyes. To Rosalie, I was an unwelcome intruder into her family’s secret life from the start.
Stood on the other side of Edward would have been Alice and Jasper. The vision of Jasper’s face bought back memories of my eighteenth birthday party at the Cullen household. I remembered how that fateful night had spiralled out of control, due to nothing more than a paper cut. I could remember watching Jasper struggle against Emmett’s strong grasp, twisting to face me with his teeth bared and his black eyes smouldering uncontrollably.
If Emmett had not stopped him, my supposedly delectable scent may have tempted him too much. He would have bitten me, draining my life away with my blood.
Had that been what had driven Edward away? Was it the threat of my injury that had worried him enough to take such strong, immediate, ludicrous action? I had always tried to kid myself that that was the case. I had liked to believe that deep down, Edward did care whether I lived or died. I had persuaded myself to believe that his reason for leaving had been to protect me.
I realized that it wasn’t. The photos had bought back so many agonizing memories, among them the memory of our last conversation in the wood.
“Bella, we’re leaving.”
He had taken a deep breath before he had spoken, as if mentally preparing himself to break the terrible news. I had assumed he meant all of us, and asked for a few more months. He had corrected me, saying it was only himself and his family who were leaving. That had been the first painful blow. I had thought that after all that time, after all of the things we had been through, that I was almost part of the family. How stupid I had been, naïve and self-obsessed. Of course to Edward the year he had known me would have seemed like nothing more than a second, an inconsequential moment. And yet my heart had begged to be allowed to go with him.
“You can't Bella. Where we’re going… It’s not the right place for you.”
I had pleaded pathetically, announcing to him that wherever he resided was the right place for me. I was prepared to change everything about myself, to lose my mortality and to leave behind my family to stay with him, because he was my world, he was all that mattered.
“I’m no good for you, Bella.”
I had begged angrily, trying to convince him not to go, assuring him that it was ridiculous. I had told him that he was the very best part of my life. It was true after all, for it was he who had made my life bliss since I moved to Forks until that terrible day.
“My world is not for you.”
He had spoken grimly; his grave face looking pained. I had known what he was thinking about. I had lied to him, saying that what had happened with Jasper hadn’t bothered me, that it was nothing. I had reminded him desperately about his promise. He had guaranteed me that he would stay in Forks forever, for…
“As long as that was best for you.”
Anger and frustration had risen inside me. I was determined to convince him that he was still best for me and that I needed him.I’d thought he was worried about my soul, as Carlisle had told me. Edward didn’t want to change me because he didn’t want to condemn me to his existence. It was my choice though, I was old enough to make my own decision. I had screamed to him that he could have my soul - that it was his already.
I had thought that his eyes had been lifeless and cold before, but when he looked up from the ground to face me they were statuesque. He spoke slowly, emphasising every word.
“Bella, I don’t want you to come with me.”
The memory of that sentence stabbed me in the heart setting the blood of pain flowing. I had replayed those words over in my head, before finally stammering to him, asking him if he really meant it.
He had stared at me, his face devoid of apology or emotion as he listened to my childish stutters. Without looking at me, he had told me that he would always love me… in a way. That wasn’t enough for me; I loved him in all ways, with all my heart. I wasn’t even sure if I believed his words anyway, because they did not even touch his eyes, and nothing, not even the merest trace of emotion, flickered over his frozen face.
“I’m… tired of pretending to be something I’m not, Bella. I am not human.”
I was too human for him, and sure enough, in that forest clearing at that moment, the icy marble planes of his face had not looked human. But I had never cared, for I did not want him to pretend to be human, I was happy for him to be himself, a vampire.
Of course, it had always freaked my out slightly that a part of him thirsted for my blood, but I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him, so much so that nothing else mattered.
“You’re not good for me, Bella.”
He had twisted his earlier words around, therefore destroying all my will to argue. I had wanted him, but more than anything, I wanted him to be happy, and if that was not with me…The knife twisted inside of me. It widened the wound and caused agonising pain, making my eyes water uncontrollably. He did not love me.
I couldn’t believe my stupidity. He had tried to make it easier for me, blaming himself, and somehow I had managed to kid myself for all this time that that was the reason. It must have been because I wanted to that I had conveniently forgotten that crucial part of the conversation.
Edward hadn’t really left me because he was worried about me. He had left because of a fact I had known since I first met him. I wasn’t good enough for him. My league and his league were spheres that did not touch. He did not love me.
Unable to bear any more Edward-related reminders, I pressed the top of the CD player, which grinded the beautiful, cruel music to a halt immediately. I stared at the latch as it unhooked and watched the cover swing open so very slowly. The time did not calm me however; every moment I waited seemed only to heighten my anger and distress. I grabbed the CD and tested its strength, bending it backwards and forwards. I could see the plastic in the middle stretch and begin to crack. Finally it snapped it into two, the cold plastic shattering over my floor. He did not love me.
I ripped up the offending photographs, trying not to look at them as a tore them into shreds and dropped them back into the hole. Before I slammed the floorboard into place, I saw the stripe of photograph which was on the top. Edward’s warm, deep topaz eye stared at me until I hid it. I dragged my rug across my room to cover up the cracks. He did not love me.
I remembered the promise he had asked of me, in return for disappearing completely.
“Don’t do anything reckless or stupid… I’m thinking of Charlie, of course. He needs you.”
I thought of Charlie as I scrawled a note, each word of it causing pain, as if I was writing them with my own blood, cutting them into my body. I told him that it was not his fault and that nothing could have prevented this. Life was not worth living if he did not love me.