Misery At Best
She always had a choice. He however did not. The nonsensical journey of Edward after Bella chooses life and ultimately Jacob over him. There was never a doubt in his mind of where he would be, waiting in the shadows.
5. Chapter 5
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Self control is a tricky thing. It’s like you’re given a certain amount to spread around, but once it’s gone, it’s gone. Even with decades of practice I can’t seem to get any more. I trained my eyes on the car across the street, watching as Bella struggled to shove an unearthly amount of paperwork into her back seat. It shouldn’t be as hard as she’s making it and as usual I felt a pull to help her. To rush out the door and take the load out of her hands.
I flexed and unflexed my fists as an act of restraint. A little more of my self control used up. She paused in her efforts and placed her hands on her hips. A stray strand of hair that had fallen into her face is blown away with a frustrated huff.
The music playing in the back of my mind was less than an after thought. I’m so focused on the futile scene across the street that I couldn’t spare a thought to my new curiosity. I could feel my self-control draining.
The clouds that have been holding back for most of the day opened up and the rain doesn’t sputter to a start like it usually does, it just poured down. Bella turned her face up and smiled dejectedly. Again the urge to save her, even if only from this bad moment was hard to hold back.
A car sloshed down the street and Bella received a healthy dose of water to the front of her shirt. The look of shock on her face was almost too much. At moments like this I wonder how much torture I am going to subject myself to. No one is forcing me to sit vigil in this dumpy diner day after day, my action are my own. So why can’t I just leave?
This never-ending line of questioning in my mind does little to help my wavering self control. But, this is the only place I can feel close to her, even if my close is 50 yards away. Despite everything else I am not willing to break down decades of goodwill that my father has built simply to satisfy my addiction, even if it’s all I want every night.
As sick as it sounds I want to see them together, want to see that she loves him even a fraction of the amount I love her. I want her eyes to soften when she looks at him like they used to soften for me. The closure that scene would bring might be what I need to finally break free of this place. The pain would surely be enough to at least give me a quick exit.
And at the same time, I can’t be sure that it would ever be enough, that anything would be enough to make me truly believe that she was lost to me for good. Death, I suppose, would be the ultimate ending. But even thinking that makes me sick.
Another car approached, but slowed to turn into the dirt parking lot, now mud, in front of her shop. I could see the recognition light up her eyes. I eyed the piece of junk carefully waiting to see who appears from inside. The long black hair was the only indication I needed.
My body stiffened, causing the booth to groan under the pressure as I watched. He took no time doing what I wanted to, helping her shove the last of her load into the car. Once the task is done he took her into his arms and I couldn’t watch any longer. I placed my forehead on the table and focused on my breathing. I wished futilely that the cold of the table could calm my raging mind.
The music is finally able to come to the forefront and I let the words and melody take me over, grateful for a break.
‘ Are the wonders of this world
Are the wonders of my world
I like it in the city when the air is so thick and opaque
I love to see everybody in short skirts, shorts and shades
I like it in the city when two worlds collide
You get the people and the government
Everybody taking different sides
Shows that we ain't gonna stand shit
Shows that we are united’
Strangely I found some of the calm I was looking for in the music. I turned my head slightly so I could watch her as I listened. She stood behind the counter, staring blankly ahead. If I didn’t know she was watching the room I would assume she wasn’t even here with us. The deep breath was just an instinct, a perverse desire to feel the power her scent had.
This time the actions outside became the background as I allowed myself to indulge myself in her. I heard the cars sputter to life and leave, but I didn’t even turn my head. The object of my affection had disappointed me that day and I didn’t have any self-control left. Seeing him kiss her again, touch her even might have torn me from my seat and out the door to do things to him I had wanted to for years.
Instead I pretended to be focused on the far wall, when in reality I was following her actions with my mind and nose. She had been avoiding me since the radio questions. The following day she had asked one of the fossils to switch areas so she didn’t have to wait on me. The pattern had continued until the idea had been firmly implanted in the degenerating mind and she no longer had to ask.
That didn’t stop her eyes from fluttering towards me every so often and I could always hear the change in song when that happened. The songs were erratic and I hadn’t been able to pull a common theme from them yet. It had proved to expand my musical knowledge at the least. My apartment now had a CD tower just to hold the volumes I had bought after listening to her soundtracks day after day.
Her movements slowed as she began to count her tips. An easy smile played on her lips as she pulled the apron away from her and took her bag from under the counter. The song that began to play was familiar for once.
‘ Well too much silence can be misleading
You're drifting I can hear it in the way that your breathing
We don't really need to find reason
Cause out the same door that it came well its leaving its leaving
Leaving like a day that's done and part of a season’
She held my gaze for a moment before heading through the doors and I tried to summon my reserve of self-control. But today, like so many other days, Bella had drained it. Common sense made me wait until she was just out of sight before I followed. The air outside was just cold enough to make me notice. It was rare that I actually noticed the seasons or the temperature change.
It was far too easy to follow her scent to where her car was and then the track of the distinctive tires. This is what I wanted to do every day when I watched Bella pull away from the shop. The fact that it wasn’t her I was following barely registered in my mind. I was finally giving into instinct, following my gut rather than my overly opinionated mind for once.
Speed was not necessary to keep pace, she lived remarkably close to the diner. Also remarkably close to my shabby apartment. I watched from across the street as she locked her car doors several times as if she needed the added reassurance. Seeing her outside the diner brought out a side of her I had failed to notice. Or it could be that I was too wrapped up in watching something else to notice.
Her steps were slower, more deliberate now that people weren’t demanding coffee and overly greasy fries at every turn. A breeze blew through and she didn’t even shudder, simply paused and took it in. When she opened the door to her small house I cursed the fact that it couldn’t have been two stories or heavily lighted. Anything that would have made my watching less convenient.
Nights were the longest hours of the day and this new revelation was a new past time I knew I would be too weak to pass up. I waited for her to be securely inside before I slid across the street. The exterior of the house was brick, the easy grooves making it easy to pull myself closer to the windows if needed. The clanking of metal inside made it obvious that she was in the kitchen. I took a couple of steps back, still hidden by the trees, so I could see easily through the window.
Actual music flowed out through the windows to me. I was too far to hear her personal choice. She continually brushed her bangs from her face as she filled a teapot at the sink. Her lips moved knowingly to the words of the song and I couldn’t help but inch further.
It was hard not to make comparisons. There wasn’t much about this new girl that compared to Bella. Bella was fragile, in constant need of protection and she, Marley, possessed a quite sense of strength that didn’t make sense to me. Every one of her movements leaked stability and ease.
I shook my head severely trying to make the current line of thought stop. It wasn’t worth the effort to compare them. I couldn’t make a mistake like that again. I tried to pull from my self-control reserve and felt it scrape empty. The lack there of made me feel unguarded, uneasy. Suddenly, for the first time in decades, I felt tired. Not from the lack of sleep, but from the need to regain control, common sense, anything that would clear my mind of the controversy raging inside.
My steps backwards were labored, taking all of my energy to resist, I’m not quite sure what. The desire to rip into Marley, to kill her was very faint. Her scent called to me and tempted me more than most, but craving human blood was a vice. A vice I had learned to control, but this new desire was unfamiliar. Born of the hallow space that Bella had left. It ached now, this empty crevice inside of me. A space I hadn’t known to exist before Bella and was now painfully aware of every day.
In uncensored moments I could see Marley creeping into this space, the similarities between the two and my curiosity creating the need to test out her ability to fill the void. The test was never allowed to be successful. She couldn’t do it, there was no way. And yet, even as I entered the naked space of my apartment I could feel the hallow crying out for her. It betrayed me in that way. Sick of being empty I supposed it simply wanted an easy fix.
That night passed impossibly slow. At every moment I itched to race back her home and observe. My need to know everything about her was passed off on the greater need to extinguish all interest. Surely with more time and research the curiosity would fade to interest and eventually nothing more than an intriguing scent. I was sure of this. I just needed to know more. Needed to let her show me all the reasons she couldn’t fill the void.
It would involve risk. I wouldn’t be able to simply decode the songs in her head, I would have to gain a small amount of entrance into her life. Allow her to do what my ability had failed to accomplish, reveal herself to me. Charm, I had been told, was a talent that didn’t elude me so it was what I would rely on. There was a small amount of annoyance in that this new task might distract slightly from my main purpose here, but it was unavoidable. One could not continue while the other nagged at me constantly.
It would be a small sacrifice to my self-torture, but I would allow it. If for no other reason than to prove to myself that being here, forcing myself to be near Bella, was justified. That there really was no other person in existence better suited for me. There was little doubt, but just enough to allow this…experiment.
Knowing that you have the ability to be appealing doesn’t make it any easier to summon it when needed. The last few hours before the sun rose were spent spinning scenarios through my head. Calculating the best way to lure her to me, convince her to trust me at least to a very small degree. When I finally left the confines of the apartment I felt at least in part prepared.
I sat at a new table, not far from my booth, but more importantly, in the section she now claimed as hers. I fiddled with the salt and pepper shakers and packets of sugar. All of which seemed pointless to me. Human food was beyond repair, so why did they even bother with trying to disguise it?
The minutes passed achingly as I waited. Her entrance was hurried as usual and I found myself wondering what happened to her slow deliberate steps from the night before. Her apron was thrown over her head and she was before me, head bent looking down at her notepad before she even made an effort to look up.
“How are you doing this morning, I’d recommend the chef’s omelet….it’s you.” Her words halted as she lifted her eyes to meet mine. I tried a small smile and was rewarded with a new song.
‘ We can reach the sea
They won't follow me
Shadows they fear the sun
We'll make it if we run!
Run from the memory’
“I think I’ll just have a coffee, if that’s ok,” I supplied.
She pulled her pen away from the paper purposefully as if to signal to me that it wasn’t worth writing. This was where I was supposed to charm her, keep her at the table. As she turned away I opened my mouth, but it was dry. Whether it was from the burn her scent created or something else I couldn’t tell.
“You know that the caffeine will burn away the lining of your stomach without food.”
Her back was still to me, but it was obvious the words were meant for me. Several answers instantly filled my head, varying from the truth, that I had drained a deer earlier this morning so my stomach was far from empty to the lie she was probably guessing would be my response.
“What would you recommend then, to save my stomach lining?” I baited her. She turned slowly, a small smile playing on her lips. It was an expression I had seen before, but never directed at me. My mind went blank for a brief moment. She leaned in slowly, bracing herself on the edges of my table.
“My painfully ancient boss would like me to try to sell you something pricey, but honestly I wouldn’t eat much that comes from the kitchen. So if I were you I’d at least get some toast. Do your stomach a favor,” she spoke quietly as if anyone else in the room cared what she was saying other than me.
When she stood straight again I instantly missed the proximity of her scent. She smiled again and I couldn’t help but return the gesture. Her mind slowed as a new song entered.
‘I wish we could open our eyes
To see in all directions at the same time
Oh what a beautiful view
If you were never aware of what was around you
And it is true what you said
That I live like a hermit in my own head
But when the sun shines again
I'll pull the curtains and blinds to let the light in.’
The last lyrics rang in my ears. Loneliness. A weakness I would pretty upon. It made me sick to know I would use it against her, but I had bigger problems to solve than this small moral dilemma.
“Toast it is then,” I agreed. She nodded her approval before walking away. Her scent swirled around me for a moment and I missed the open window.
She said little to me for the rest of the day, returning often to check my lingering coffee cup and remove the empty toast plate. Forcing it down was a small battle. I knew I had to make more progress, but she took the words from me every time she passed. This was not supposed to be this hard.
I had almost given up, resigned myself to waiting for the next day, when the chair across from me was pulled from its place and she appeared before me in it.
“So you want to tell me what it is you’re watching out the window every day? Except today of course. You’ve abandoned you’re post and I’m a little surprised, you seem very determined.”
Each of her words hit my like a tiny pinprick, not painful, but almost something I wanted to ask for more of. I was supposed to be the one asking questions, unraveling her mind.
“I just like the view,” I tried. She huffed indignantly and raised an eyebrow.
“You really expect me to believe that? It’s one of the girls at the bookshop isn’t it? Either that or one of the men who work at the gas station and I’d like to give you the benefit of the doubt,” she rattled on.
There was no end to her words to her questions. It was hard to even screen her mind as she kept mine so busy. I sighed heavily trying to push some of her scent from me, a tiny effort to clear my head.
“Let’s just say it’s one of the girls then. Does that solve the mystery?” I pressed. She smiled, a victorious almost cocky smile. It suited her. In the brief moment of quiet I could hear a fanfare in her thoughts.
I let myself meet her stare straight on. Her eyes were bright, alive with curiosity and I wondered how long she had kept these questions to herself.
“You must really like one of them. It all adds to your intrigue. You have the part down. The brooding, the emotionless face, you’d be perfect in one of those 1950s movies about a man pining for lost love,” she offered.
The joy she seemed to get out of this was amazing to me. And why did her words not come in short sweet sentences? Instead they tumbled out of her mouth like an unwelcome spray of cold water. My lack of enthusiasm for the current line of questioning must have crossed my face because her smile faltered and she began to stand up.
“I shouldn’t have put my nose where it didn’t belong, I just really like trying to read people,” she apologized. This time my search for my lost words was desperate, I couldn’t let her get up, leave.
“I didn’t mind your nose where it was. It’s actually nice to talk to someone other than myself,” I corrected her. She stopped mid movement. As she eased back into the chair the same fanfare played in my head. This is where it would begin.