You used to say that I was such a joy to you and I wonder what I did to make you stop feeling that way. I know you didn’t want me to leave you, but you left me first. Plus, you didn’t seem unhappy that day. You said you’d be right back. How could you do that to yourself, when you know I could have found you like that? Because you know what? I DID!
I haven’t cried over you since the funeral. My therapist, Ms. Evans, said I was probably going through the final stages of grief, and that that was okay. She also said it’s okay to be really, really mad at you for what you did. And I am. She had me screaming myself hoarse about it the other day. My throat hurt and I couldn’t swallow right for hours, so I won’t be doing that again, but it’s all your fault anyway.
Everyone looks at me funny now. People whisper behind my back. They don’t know what to say to my face. They don’t like to look at me. That’s your fault, too.
I don’t want to think about you anymore. Leave me alone. I hate you. I hate what you did to us. I hate it so much, I can barely stand it.
My therapist wanted me to write down any thoughts I might have about Mom every day. When I told Ms. Evans that I couldn’t seem to forget the sight of my mom’s gray face, her protruding tongue, or the way her head flopped to the side when she was finally cut down, that’s when she told me to scream. “Scream it all out,” she said. I’m not sure if it helped or not. Those stupid, ugly, horrible images still replay at odd times during my waking moments and always, always in my dreams.
For days, I was just numb. Unbelieving of what I’d seen, what I felt, and how to cope with it all. Mom was fine one day, then dead the next. It just didn’t seem possible. No one I knew had a mom or a dad who had died. Parents were supposed to be like teachers—always there for you in their precise role. Always. There.
I’d never see my Mom again. Never, ever, ever. And if I did, part of me would have been overjoyed and part of me would have wanted to hit and hit and hit her again.
What did people do when they lost a mom? Worse, what did people do when everyone knew that they lost their mom because she committed suicide? What do I say, what do I do, how should I feel?
I didn’t know, but the first thing I did when things calmed down was to destroy all the bracelets she made, all the origami hearts and flowers, and the collage I’d spent so many hours making. She’d wanted to be gone. Now I wanted her gone. It was scary for me, because I’d somehow lost myself in the destroying part. I remembered gathering the bracelets, hunting down the origami shapes that were in every nook and cranny in my room, and pulling out the 8-by-10 artwork. And that’s it. Next thing I knew, Edward and Dad were there and I was shaking, and my hands were torn and bleeding.
I felt like I was falling slowly into the worst of everything. I didn’t know if I’d ever smile again.
I slammed my head against one of the kitchen cabinet doors one day and saw stars. It made me forget everything but the painful moment I was in, and it was … different. That was the first time I think I discovered how one pain could help to lessen another.
. . .
I’m at the kitchen table doing shots of chocolate milk when Edward comes in.
“You dang chocoholic,” he says and scoots the milk jug away from me.
“Give that back,” I growl.
But he pours one chocolate milk shot for himself, and then another one for me. When he holds up the glass in a toast to me, I just look at him.
“This is the part where you raise your glass and touch mine,” he says.
“What is there to cheer about?” I grouse, but raise mine anyway.
“Well, I won another fencing bout last night, and now I’m ranked number two in class.”
I clink my glass against his and toss it down the hatch. Another shot and I’ll puke, so I pour another shot.
Edward moves it away from me. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing, except you’ve got my glass. Give it.”
He levels his gaze at me and moves my glass even farther away. “Bella.”
“You look green.”
“You look ugly.” Which is a lie. Edward never looks ugly, he got all the beauty genes. And he knows it, too. He’s been spending more time in front of the mirror lately.
“How much longer are you going to mope?”
“How much longer are you planning to hold my glass hostage?”
“She’s not worth this, you know.”
I stand up and try to grab the glass. “Shut up!”
When I don’t give up trying to grab my milk, he flicks his wrist and splashes me in the face with it. It’s a cold shock and I can’t see at first, but then I am filled with rage. I scream and dive at him, trying to hit at any part of his body that I can. He easily dodges my flying fists, but he lets me come at him again and again until I’m out of breath and crying.
“What is going on in here?” Dad’s angry voice.
“Bella’s trying to learn how to fence,” Edward says. “She sucks.”
“I hate you!”
His face freezes and then falls. It’s the first time I’ve ever said it out loud. I don’t mean it, and remorse immediately fills me from the inside out.
Edward sets the empty glass down. “I’m done,” he says and walks out of the room.
“Don’t tell me you’re a sore loser,” Dad says and his lips twitch as he fights a smile, and it’s clear that he thinks me and Edward really were trying to fence.
I shake my head and run after Edward.
“I don’t want to talk to you now,” he says, not letting me into his room. “Maybe later.”
And so I go out to swing. I hate you plays over and over in my mind. I keep seeing Edward’s hurt expression, and it feels like my heart is breaking. Right then and there I make up my mind that I’m never even going to think those words again.
. . .
It’s almost ten at night when Edward finally answers my text messages.
“Basement. Five minutes.”
Excited dread fills my stomach, but I’m eager to get this pain off of my chest, so I run down to the basement.
“Bedtime in one hour,” Dads calls after me.
It’s more than five minutes later when Edward finally comes down the stairs. He’s still wearing his jeans and his hands are stuffed in the pockets. He’s even hunching his shoulders.
I race to him and throw my arms around him. He doesn’t move his hands from where they are in his pockets, but I don’t care. I have to make this up to him.
“I didn’t mean it,” I tell him. “I’ll never say it again, I promise.”
He’s quiet, and then, “You sound like Mom did.”
I gasp and fall away. He’s looking at me with hurt, dark eyes. It’s not okay yet.
“She never meant what she said, either.”
“I’m not like her,” I say fiercely.
“You’re moody and pouting like she used to.”
“It’s only been a few months, Edward. I still … miss her.”
He shakes his head and takes a step back from me. “It’s more than that. It’s like she took the best part of you with her.”
I take two steps back from him. “She did not.”
“You’re not the same,” he says.
“How can you be?” I demand. “Our Mom is gone. Don’t you miss her?”
He sighs and runs a hand through his hair. “I miss who she used to be. Not who she was before she killed herself.”
“She did and said lots of things that she had to say she was sorry for. You told me that.”
I nod and fold my arms across my chest.
“Well, you saying that you hate me makes me think of her.”
“I know you don’t hate me. But you said it and it hurt. I can’t forget it.”
Tears fill my eyes. I can’t forget it either. And I don’t know what to say to make it better.
We just look at each other for a minute or two. My body is stiff all over and it looks like his is, too.
“I hope you get better,” he says and then turns to leave and we’re still like strangers.
And it’s all my fault.
. . .
Jasper and I have Mr. Meyer again for art, but we’re in different classes, which sucks because I liked seeing what he was doing. I’m sitting with Embry again, who turned out to be really cool. He still draws airplanes. Tanya, thank God, isn’t at my table this year. Instead, I’m sitting next to Angela Webber and across from Ben Cheney. It’s a great group, which is a relief since we’re sketching facial portraits of each other.
I’m working on Embry first. He has a long face, a long nose, and a long chin. It’s taking a long time to draw, I think and snicker. He’s got an awful lot of eye lashes for a boy, and has eyebrows as thin as a girl’s. His mouth is flat and small. It rarely smiles. Right now, his mouth is kind of pressed together as he concentrates on me.
I wonder what I look like to him.
“Don’t forget about the cross-hatch technique I showed you,” Mr. Meyer says to me. “That’d be great to use for the shadow on his neck.”
We’re listening to Led Zeppelin today—their greatest hits, Mr. Meyer told us. He wants us to appreciate all kinds of different classics. So while they’re singing about a stairway to Heaven, I’m trying to get Embry’s chin to look right. He’s got a butt chin, but it doesn’t look normal on paper. But thank God he’s not smiling or showing his teeth. My teeth always seem to look like I’m trying to prove the theory of evolution.
“Do you want to stay over tomorrow night?” Angela asks me. She’s small and dark-haired like I am, but wears these cool, purple cat’s-eye shaped glasses on her nose. She was also one of the first people at school to say she was sorry about Mom. And she didn’t even hardly know me then.
Tomorrow is Friday, so it’s likely I’ll get permission to stay at Angela’s house. “Can Rose come, too?” I ask.
“Sure. Well … I’m almost sure. I’ll have to ask, but Mom will probably say yes.”
The thing is, Rose doesn’t want to go.
“She’s too uptight for me,” she says.
“No. You go. I’ll go to movies with Alice.”
I’m a bit disappointed, but I understand. I’m not as outgoing as I once was, so I don’t mind a low key evening with Angela.
“Alright. But if you’re seeing Annie, you have to see it again with me,” I tell her.
“Only if it doesn’t suck,” she answers.
. . .
Dad has to take me to Angela’s because she lives too far away for me to bike it.
“So what’s going on with you and your brother?”
I shrug and inwardly groan. “Nothing.”
“Doesn’t look like nothing.”
“Well, what’s it look like?”
He gives me a look. “Smart-alek. You don’t think I notice that you two are giving each other the silent treatment? That you’re not hanging out together down in the basement like you used to?”
Sighing, I give in. “He’s mad at me. I hurt his feelings when I said that I hated him. Remember? You thought I was being a spoil sport.”
“But I shouldn’t have said that.”
“You shouldn’t have said that,” he agrees.
He’s quiet, thinking about it, and then, “I don’t like seeing my kids at odds with each other. Especially you two, because you’ve always been close.”
I didn’t like it either, but until Edward was willing to forgive me, what could I do?
“He won’t talk to me,” I say in a small voice.
Dad gives me another look, but this one is gentle. Encouraging. “Then you make him listen. It’s been a week now. Time to make up, huh?”
“I’ll try,” I tell him.
“That’s my girl. I know you two miss each other. I’m always catching you two looking at each other when the other isn’t looking. I can tell by the frowns you both wear that neither of you like where you’re at.”
I nod. I’m not happy. I’m miserable not being able to talk to Edward. I hate that he’s avoiding me. It makes me think of how I treated him last year after Mom got sick. It sucks eggs.
“It’ll get better.”
“Alright then,” he says with a smile. “Have a good time. Call me tomorrow when you’re ready to be picked up.”
“I will. Thanks, Dad. Love you!”
. . .
I get home from Angela’s around two the next afternoon. She’s really nice, but her parents are religious and strict. We had to be in bed by ten, and say a prayer before dinner and breakfast. It was a bit much for me. Thank God Rose had said no to coming over. She would have went ballistic.
“I’m sorry,” Angela had whispered to me just after dinner time. “My parents really like you, though.”
Edward’s behind his closed bedroom door. Again. When I knock, he comes to the door instead of saying come in like he used to.
His eyes are cool. “So you’re home.”
“Yep. Can I come in?”
He sighs, then swings the door wide.
“Question,” I say just inside the door. I’m more than aware that he doesn’t want me here.
a“What falls but doesn’t break, and what breaks but doesn’t fall?”
I follow him over to the chair at his desk. When he sits down, I sink to my knees beside him.
“It’s my heart,” I tell him. “Are you ever going to forgive me?”
He scoots his chair back from me so I’m forced to let go of his arm. “I’m working on it.”
A lance of pain shoots through my heart. Okay. Fine. He’s not ready to forgive me yet. I thought because he let me in, that he was. I nod and push myself back up, then turn to leave. As I walk to the door, I notice how immaculate his room is. Nothing out of place, no clothes on the floor. The dark blue carpet swims in front of my eyes.
I’ve got my hand on the doorknob when he pulls me to him from behind. The tears I was holding back erupt like an ugly volcano, and these horrible sounds are bubbling up from my throat. I want to turn around and hug him back, but he won’t let me.
“It’s okay,” he says into my hair. “I forgive you.”
. . .
The answer to Bella’s riddle for Edward is actually day and night, but she changed the answer to fit the situation.