We walked in a tense silence down the path through the woods beside Charlie's house. His cold hand gripped mine firmly as he lead me deeper into the trees. When we finally stopped we were well beyond a mile from the house. The fog surrounded us in a thick, damp cloud and I was ached to be closer to him. Even if just for the cool of his skin against mine. I stepped towards him. He stepped back. My eyes lifted to meet his and he dropped my hand. Now I was confused.
"Bella. Bella, we have to talk." I did not like the sound of that.
"What's wrong, Edward?" My voice felt stronger than I expected, full of artificial bravado with only a few traces of fear. He took a deep breath.
"We're leaving, Bella."
I imitated his breathing. I could leave. This was okay.
"Now? But in another year..."
"Bella... We can't wait. It's time. We've already stretched it out too far. Carlisle is claiming thirty-three. He can hardly pass for thirty. We would have to start over soon regardless."
"All right...? I'll come with you. We'll have to think of something to tell Charlie." He stared at me, his expression cold. Distant. I froze. I was suddenly nauseous. "When you say we -," my voice was flat, barely a whisper, even my bloated sense of bravery was long gone.
"I mean my family and myself."
I shook my head quickly, the palm of my hand on my forehead, trying to clear the heavy confusion in my head. His expression didn't change, he didn't get impatient.
"With- without me? What? But why? Edward!"
"Bella... You can't go where we're going. It's not the right place for you."
"With you is right for me, Edward. You can't leave."
"I'm no good for you, Bella."
"Don't be ridiculous." I tried to sound angry, I really did. I tried to make him realize he was being crazy. It ended up sounding pathetic.
"My world is not for you."
"Edward!" I could hardly think. I met his eyes, those lovely topaz eyes, empty and cold. It hit me then. "This is about my fucking soul, isn't it? This is about me being human."
His eyes bore into mine, alive all of the sudden. Within an instant, his gaze fell to the ground and his hands shoved into the pockets of his jacket. I knew I was right. That's exactly what this was about.
"But you promised, Edward! You promised you would never leave me." I was starting to believe I was hyperventilating. I couldn't get enough breath, my throat seemed to be closing up on me. My eyes burned with tears that hadn't quite reached the spill point yet. My throat was on fire with my sharp breaths, the lump keeping me from speaking was growing progressively larger.
"Bella, please. Please stop. I said I would stay only as long as I was good for you. I have to go." I didn't speak. I couldn't really, not even if I'd had something to say. My knees gave out beneath me and my lungs expelled what little air I had as my shins hit the ground.
"I don't want you to come with me." Each of his words separate and distinct. The tears were spilling. No, not spilling. Overflowing, cascading down my cheeks in waterfalls. I tried to speak, even just to scream at him to stop saying things like that, but my voice caught in my throat just behind that vicious lump and all that came out were meek little whimpers, betraying just how weak I felt.
"It will be as if I never existed." I wondered if he had any idea who he was talking to. If he had any recollection of our relationship. That was simply absurd. I found my voice, buried beneath all the tears and half-breaths. And I screamed at him.
"I don't want you to have never existed, Edward! You can't leave me. You can't. Please. Damn it, Edward. Don't do this to me." For a moment, just a flash, I almost thought he flinched. I couldn't make myself believe it when I caught sight of his far-off expression, completely uninterested in my sobs or wails or bruises that I'd certainly have on my knees. "You can't do this." I muttered weakly, my voice irritated after my screams. I was heaving with the small amount of air I could get into my lungs and the wracking sobs that shook my entire body. The snot was starting to run from my nose. I curled my chest down towards my knees, wrapping my arms around my torso and gripping tightly, trying to hold myself together while a vortex swirled in my chest.
"I'm not supposed to exist anymore, Bella. I should have died a long, long time ago. You'll lead the life you're supposed to lead now. I won't be around to interfere. I won't be around to endanger you anymore."
"Endanger? Who is going to protect me, Edward!"
"I'm your only threat anymore, Bella. You won't need to be protected." I could no longer breathe at all. It was official. I was not getting any oxygen into my lungs. I could feel the hole expanding, pushing at the inside of my ribcage as if it were going to break through at any moment. It pulled at the air I was sucking into my mouth and pushed it back out with one of my quaking sobs. Nothing was in my lungs anymore. It felt like I didn't even have lungs. Just a hole. Big and deep and angry. And it was eating me alive. I could no longer feel my arms, my legs felt like they were on fire with pricks from a lack of circulation. I could see the ground in front of me, blurry and distant, but there. I couldn't hear anything anymore. I don't know if Edward was still speaking. My throat felt like it was filled with lava. I watched as the ground came closer to my face rapidly. Then there was dirt in my mouth. I felt cool arms wrap beneath my legs and around my back. I knew Edward was carrying me home. I couldn't fight him. All I could do was sob. I couldn't argue with his decision. What could I say? I had begged. He was untouchable. He was gone. I felt myself pressing against my mattress a moment later, I watched as he took all evidence of himself from my room. I felt like I was dreaming.
I was sobbing uncontrollably and I couldn't stop Edward when he climbed out of my window without looking back at me.