I pushed a web of branches and thorns from my path and entered into the dull light of a waning day. What a cliched metaphore this seemed, the waning of my life, entering the dark ages that would now be forever my existence. I could see the huge white house looming before me with no trouble. It screamed emptyness, my family had already left ahead of me this afternoon so that I could run one more errand. My face twisted into a marble grimace as I thought of Alice's own sad expression as she'd left with Jasper. It made more sense for there to be no teary goodbyes with Bella, if we no longer exist to her she has nothing to grieve over.
My hand moved mechanically into my pocket to retrieve the key, I turned it in the lock and pushed the door without my brain being attached to my body, I was not even pained right now, just nothing, I knew that would definitely hit and hit hard, but for the first time in this strange afterlife since my 'death' in 1918 I felt dead. Cold, hard and dead. An empty shell devoid of being. The silence that replaced my heartbeat emphasised the nothingness, ringing with finality.
Now the pain lashed without mercy, rocking through my body with almighty strength.
I wanted, more than I've ever wanted anything before, to run back and embrace the love of my existence. To hold her hand and tell her I wasn't going to leave, not really, not ever. But I couldn't fathom the reasoning to do that, she deserved a life free from monsters and her life would never be put in danger at my hands ever again. Of course Bella is almost constantly a danger to herself.
I remembered my warning to her a few months ago before her trip to La Push - the Quileute reservation on the coast, the small town where we were forbidden under treaty to go - I had warned her not to fall into the ocean and oh, how sincere that warning had been, I thought bitterly.
I heard a muffled crack and looked down, though I was so deep in my reverie that it surprised me to take notice, the door handle that had still been in my grasp had shattered under my white knuckled fist. I let the crumbled pieces fall to the floor as mute, tearless sobs dragged me under, I dropped to my knees unwilling to resurface.
Over an hour must have passed and this scene remained unchanged. The very last of the day's light was leaking away and I was starting to get a grip on my mind. I thought methodically about my plan of action, I had packed all my meaningful belongings last night and stowed them in the car, the only thing left to do was leave.
Stupidly, very stupidly, I thought of what Bella would be doing right now. This thought brought on another wave of torture, it angered me that I couldn't be there to comfort her when she probably needed love and reassurance, couldn't be there because <i>I</i> was the one who would have caused any suffering. I wondered if she had found my hastily forged note. Charlie would just be arriving home now and she would be setting his dinner on the table. Would she be able to continue as normal? I couldn't dillusion myself into thinking that she would be fine, I knew that she would be suffering. How selfish of my to let her fall so deep for a monster just because I loved her. The use of past tense made my face twist up in a tortured grimace, <i>love, love, love.</i> It would never be </i>loved</i> as long as my miserable eternal existence lasted, I was sure of that.
Before I thought about what I was doing I grabbed the pen and pad of paper from the small table beside me that held the telephone,
</i>My Dearest Bella</i>, I wrote,
<i> Please be safe, do all you can to carry on without me and it will be possible, for you at least. I will live the rest of my existence remembering this summer as the best time of my life, but it will always be tainted by the knowledge of my selfishness. You could have been happy if I had stayed out of your life, and you will be. You must know that that is definitlely not how I wanted to end things, in fact I never wanted it to end. My life will forever be missing a piece, a void that nothing can ever fill because you can never be replaced. You're the love of my life and you know you always will be and you also must know that I would do anything, give anything just to be human again, if it were only for a few more months I would be eternally grateful, just so that I could stay with you.
But this is the end now. </i>Please, <i>look after yourself.
However wrong it was, I needed to let her know what I couldn't tell her in the woods, I'd seen her fall apart at my lies, now maybe she would be happier knowing the truth, of course I could never know.
The soft rumbling of the Volvo's engine reverberated in the back of my mind as I turned out of the long lane and headed toward Forks, still arguing with myself. I would just leave the note, I wouldn't see her or Charlie or anyone and then I could leave. I wasn't able to fully justify this but I was a selfish creature so I was allowed one more act of selfishness surely before I left.
I barely even saw the road as I floored it, 100 mph and the neon hand on the dial kept creeping up, 140, I was pushing this little car toward it's limits but I would soon be in the little town of Forks where I had to drive at normal speed, time was of the essence.
"<i>Chief Swan had better have a good reason for passing this job onto me, shirking idiot. Last minute. I must be flaming crazy.</i>" I could hear a middle aged man's mental rant not too far along the road, evidently Charlie was meant to be on traffic watch duty and at the last minute he'd asked this lazy excuse for a police officer for cover. I had to reduce my speed for this guy, he was a cop and he was on the job trying to catch out speeders. I wondered if Charlie would have turned a blind eye had he known it was me, or had he already heard about my departure? I also wondered why Charlie would not be in work tonight, as far as I knew he was an exemplary employee.
When I was just able to see the first few houses of Forks I spotted Charlie, he was carrying a flashlight in one hand and a phone glued to his ear in the other. He was still wearing his work boots and heavy duty coat, this explained his absense from traffic duty, there must be a big search on that required the senior cops, probably some poor kid ran away from home.
Bella's antique chevvy truck sat on the driveway where it had been parked earlier, I observed from about a quater mile down the road. I pulled up to the curb and cut the engine, I made sure I had the note in my pocket and stepped out into the dusk. I hadn't quite thought this far ahead, where would I put the note that she would be sure to find it? Or maybe somewhere not so obvious so that she would read it when the news had settled in some.
The rain struck my face as I trudged toward the house, still fighting internally over whether to do this. I was walking at a sluggish human pace so the argument had formed time and time over before I was stood in front of the Swan residence. There were no lights on, not even up in Bella's room so I figured it was safe to be here. Rain continued to lash at my face sticking my fringe to my forehead as I looked up toward her bedroom window. There was some sort of commotion not far to my right, in the woods, but I didn't care enough to listen in to what it was, trivial worries seemed more or less pointless to my closed mind. I was worried though that Bella would be involved in it and would return soon. I looked at the now sodden piece of paper in my hand, rain in Forks was usually inevitable but as I watched the ink run down the page in scatty drips it seemed like a sign. I threw the ruined mush that was my goodbye under the drain pipe and turned my back on Forks for good.