I had finally healed from James’ attack, physically anyway. Life had somewhat returned to normal. I had talked things out with Charlie, leaving out pertinent information, and we seemed to have bonded closer as father and daughter from it. I finally regained my independence and I even got a part time job at the Newton’s little store in town. I had a boyfriend that was extremely devoted to me. Why wasn’t I happy? I laid pondering this alone in my room at three in the morning, my dad’s soft snoring drifting from down the hall. Almost every night Edward would spend time with me in my room, watching me sleep once I drifted off. Except for the few weekends he had to spend hunting. It’s what actually inspired my reverie, his rare absence. I know I should be pining for him, lonely and desperate for his ever present well, presence, but all I could feel was relieved to finally be alone again, to just breath, be human and not have a perfect godly creature listening to my every breath, thirst for my every heart beat, demand to know what I’m thinking every other minute. My god, it’s maddening. I turned over in bed to face the window beside me, watching the moonlight fall across the floor. I loved him, didn’t I? Then why has his presence become such a…burden ? I sighed, and admitted to myself that I knew exactly why. He’s clingy, controlling and whiney. He’s handsome, he’s immortal, he’s rich and yet all he does is complain. And he’s the clingiest man I’ve ever seen, I thought bitterly. It was true, the only ‘alone time’ I ever got were the nights he needed to hunt, even then they weren’t truly solitary, Edward has Alice constantly watching my every move in the future, or a member of his family standing vigil somewhere outside. He swears it’s just for my safety, but I’m not so sure. If I were being honest with myself, this wasn’t the first time these doubts chafed at my nerves. I closed my eyes and took another deep, cleansing breath. I was being obtuse, like Edward always says. He’ll be back in the morning and everything will feel fine again. I listened to the sounds of light rain outside as I drifted off to sleep.
The next morning was a school day and my birthday, Charlie had surprised me with birthday bacon and eggs and the promise of a present and pizza when he got home from work. He seemed a bit sheepish about the lack of celebration, but I had insisted that no one made a big fuss. I pecked his cheek which made him blush and left to drive to school in my old red chevy truck. The drive would be relatively short, but I still popped in a mixed cd I’d made with my favorite songs as I warmed up the old truck. B.Y.O.B. by System of a Down roared from my player as I tapped my hands on the wheel and banged my head along. I never really got to play this cd, Edward always complained about the aggressive sound and the offensive lyrics, I had multiple bands on this cd and he hated every single one. He usually chooses the music and it’s almost always Debussy, Mozart or Linkin Park. Realizing that I was ruminating in negative thoughts again, I shook my head to clear my mind. Today was going to be a good day, I had the next few days off, Edward would be back and we’re reading Romeo and Juliet in English class. I decided that we’d watch the movie after school. Cheered up by my new found plans, I backed out of the driveway and headed toward school.
The parking lot was just beginning to fill by the time I pulled my truck up, I scanned the parking lot for a silver Volvo and was not disappointed. As I was gathering my things Edward and Alice suddenly appeared by my driver door.
“Bella,” Edward breathed, as if he’d been gone for years, rather than just a weekend.
“Hi yourself,” I replied, staring into his topaz eyes, banishing the negative thoughts to the very back of my mind.
“Bella, wear this and be at our house by seven.” Alice interrupted as she handed me a flat box.
“What? Why? Wait-” I stuttered in protest as realization hit me.
“Ah, ah, Bella, complaints will get you nowhere. We’ll all be expecting you!” Alice chastised in her high pitched voice, forcing the flat box into my hands.
“Listen, I’m sorry, but I’m really not interested in a party, I just want to spend the day watching a movie and hanging out with my family.” I pushed the box back towards Alice.
“Bella, I know you plan on watching ‘Romeo and Juliet’ but you can do that literally anytime-”
“If Bella wants to watch a movie on her birthday, then she can.” Edward said as he leaned on my truck door, toying with a strand of my hair, “There will be plenty of time for her to be ready by seven.” He took the dress box and placed it in the cab of my truck.
Anger flashed through me, I had specifically made my wishes clear about not wanting a celebration and they’re acting like I’m a spoiled child for not wanting a party. I never asked for this! Again, I’m being told what to do and who to be. As I quietly seethed in anger, debating what to say, Alice skipped off cheerfully to her homeroom class. Edward placed a heavy, ice cold hand on my shoulder.
“Come on love, we’ll be late.” He reminded me as he gently coaxed me towards first period.
I spent the school day cocooned in my own internal rage. I quietly seethed as the day went by and said not a word to anybody. The day had finally ended and I had headed for my truck with Edward in tow as Alice would be taking his Volvo home alone to finish the party preparations. We sat in the cab as I warmed up the truck and the cd I had played earlier came on unexpectedly, playing Aerials by System of a Down. Looking down his nose at the music player, Edward sneered, “This mindless drivel? How can you listen to this? It’s an insult to music, don’t you have that Debussy cd I gave you?” Gripping the steering wheel, I took a slow, deep, deliberate breath. I then reached down and shut the player off. Eyes squeezed shut, with gritted teeth I replied, “Terribly sorry, my Dear, I didn’t mean to insult your delicate senses.” He simply smirked that half assed smile at me and scolded, “Bella, love, it’s just a birthday and my family doesn’t get to celebrate them too often. Just be good, don’t ruin this for them.” I said nothing as I evened out my breathing and began backing out of the parking space. The rest of the ride home was silent. On the way I had mellowed a bit, telling myself I was being childish and everything was fine so my mood was a tad improved by the time we walked into my front door. I tossed the stupid dress box on the kitchen table. Sensing that I wanted a little more quiet, Edward silently took a seat on the couch as I prepared my Romeo and Juliet dvd.
We watched the movie in mostly companionable silence, except for when Edward felt the need to randomly quote the movie, which I did my best to ignore until we got to the final act where Romeo kills himself. From my side on the couch, Edward piped up, “I do envy him there, the ability to kill himself. Humans really do have it much easier, if you want to die there’s a thousand ways to do so. My miserable never ending existence ....”, Really, on my birthday, really? My blood began to boil, I looked over into his face, realization hit me like a tidal wave as he droned on and on about his cursed immortality. This man had become an anchor around my neck, pulling me down into the depths of his despair. His overpowering need to control me, his constant bitching and moaning, his giant fucking ego, Too much, It’s too much! I can’t take this anymore!! Suddenly, my path was laid out clearly before me. I stood up and angrily smashed the power button on the remote. “Edward, I can’t do this. I can not do this anymore!” I towered over him yelling at the top of my lungs.
“Bella, you can’t do what any-” He began, looking at me a bit wide eyed.
“This! You! All of it! I’m done, I. am. Done. This is it for us, get out and don’t bother coming back!” I pointed angrily towards the front door.
“Bella, love, it’s just a party, you’re being completely irrational right now,” He began trying to sooth me with his stupid velvet voice.
“No Edward, this has been a long time coming. Look at us, Edward, Look at us! What we have isn’t normal and it isn’t healthy!”
He reached out towards me, “Bella, love, you’re being obtuse-”
I blew out an angry breath and roughly sat back down on the couch, “Edward, you have to admit, this isn’t good for either of us. We’re together almost 24/7, half the time you don’t know if you can survive being away from me, or if you really just want to rip my throat out. You know next to nothing about me, in fact most of the time it seems like you’re trying to mold me into this dream girl that doesn’t exist and never will.”
“Bella, that’s not tru-” Edward began, but I held up my hand.
“Let me finish. You control my every movement. My every decision. When you’re not making my decisions for me, you’re constantly reminding me how much stronger, faster, smarter, more powerful you are than me. Well, I’ve thought about it and I need a partner, someone who is my equal, not a glorified demigod. Sometimes it seems more like I’m worshiping you than actually dating you. So this is it for us, I’m sorry. Please tell your family that I’m sorry and that I won’t be making it to the party.” At this I stood and motioned to the door. On his way out, he looked me in the eye and said “I’m going to give you some time to cool down.” I slammed the door behind him and sunk to the floor, I felt as if a giant lead weight had been lifted from my shoulders. It’s over, I can breathe. Once I recomposed myself, I stood and looked at the kitchen clock, Charlie would be home in about two hours. I did have homework to do, but I was in absolutely no mood and my grades were mostly A’s anyway so I could skip an assignment or two. I contemplated calling Renee to talk about what had happened, but suddenly I felt too worn out to talk. Finally, I decided to curl back up on the couch and watch trash tv.
“Bells, I’m home.” Charlie announced as he walked through the front door, hanging his jacket and gun belt. I felt a sudden surge of raw emotion seeing him, teary eyed I ran up to my father and gave him a big hug. He awkwardly returned the embrace and began to pet my hair, “Bells? Honey, what’s wrong?” He gently coaxed me to the kitchen table and motioned for me to sit in the chair beside him. “It’s okay, let’s talk about it.” He reassured me. I took a deep breath and began, telling him everything except for the supernatural elements. He listened calmly and soothed me when I got overly emotional. When I finished my recap of the events and how I’d been feeling lately, Charlie rubbed my shoulder and simply said, “It’s okay honey. You don’t need me putting my two cents in right now, so all I’ll say is that you’ve done the right thing, even if it hurts. Now how about we order that pizza and you can pick what we watch, do you want to restart your movie?”
Charlie’s quiet, nonjudgmental support meant the world to me. I felt better knowing someone on this planet was on my side. Wiping away the last of my tears, I decided on a different movie and Charlie ordered my favorite pizza from the local small business in town. We watched The Grudge and ate together and enjoyed a quiet evening. Afterward he handed me an envelope with a bow stuck on it. Curious, I opened it to find a birthday card with two hundred dollars in it.
“I talked to Renee about your disappointment in the local library, so we thought we’d give you a bit of money to start your own actual book collection. We also bought you a bookshelf that I put together while you were out yesterday. It's just waiting for you to find a place in your room that you’re happy with.”
I was speechless, it was such a kind and perfect gift. The possibilities ran through my head as I bear-hugged my dad and squealed with genuine glee. Charlie happily returned my hug and said, “You have perfect attendance and you work hard, why don’t you blow off tomorrow and take a friend to go book shopping in Seattle? You deserve a mental health day.”
I told him I would and instantly knew who I would take. As far as I knew Jessica wasn’t much of a reader, but she was an absolute addict for gossip and shopping trips of any kind. And honestly, I craved her bubbly optimistic attitude just then. It was getting a little bit late so I wasted no more time picking up the phone and dialing her number. She answered on the second ring. At first she seemed a bit surprised, I supposed I hadn’t realized how much I’d been neglecting my other friends for him, but she seemed thrilled at the prospect of blowing off class and spending the day with me, especially when I dropped a hint about the break up. We decided I would drive by and pick her up at nine in the morning and we would get some gas and iced coffee before heading towards Seattle.
Charlie and I placed my new book shelf in my room and I began my nightly routine before bed. I was just about to sink into the soft covers when I remembered the stupid dress box Alice forced on me. I blew out a frustrated sigh, there was no way in hell I was keeping whatever godawful, pricey piece of clothing she bought that was in it. I jogged back down the stairs and grabbed the box from the kitchen table, I unlocked and opened the front door and tossed the box as hard as I could outside. I hoped it found a gutter to land in. Satisfied I re-locked the door and went back to bed, falling into a relaxed and satisfied sleep.