Disclaimer: Stephanie Meyer & Little Brown Publishing own all rights
The sunlight blinded Edward as he left the bookstore, stepping onto the rain-soaked sidewalk. The storm had just let up after his shift ended, long enough to let the sun light the concrete beneath his gaze with its golden rays. He felt neither as he quickly put on his sunglasses; not the slick concrete under his shoes or the stolen moment of sunlight that dappled across his shoulders. The golden rays that filtered through the trees only reminded him of her hair, and he didn’t want to be reminded. He kept his head down and his hands fisted in his pockets as he walked. He wasn’t looking forward to going home to the apartment they shared. Home, where she was. Home. What she’d always been to him, what he wished she wasn’t anymore.
It hadn’t always been that way. Once, she had been the center of his everything. Growing up when he’d hear the guys in the locker room speculating on what a fine fuck she’d be or watch the catty bitches alienate her out of jealousy, he’d been there to stick up for her and wipe away her tears. He’d loved her always.
But he never told her.
The sick part was, it wasn’t like they were fucking. No, they never had. The closest they got was when she would mold her body to his and they would lay together in his bed, tangled within each other, hearts beating in syncopation. The even sicker part was that everyone assumed that they were fucking and would talk like it was fact. For fifteen years, neither of them said anything. No confirmation, no denial. Like two brilliant stars in orbit around each other, their gravity drew in everyone around them. They were both vain enough to get a rise from it, feeding their codependency. He thought it was a sign of how right they were, how they belonged to each other. For her it was comfortable. Safe. Home.
But she never told him.
The years went by and he was still sticking up for her to those who misunderstood her and picking up the pieces to those failed relationships. Somewhere along the way, they began to merge into one person. And the one person was ugly and monstrous. He tried to close his eyes to it, tried to ignore the signs along the way. She tried to pull away. She didn’t like the ugliness and neither did he, but no matter what they tried, it wasn’t working for either of them. She’d arrive home, still smelling of cologne and it didn’t fucking matter. She didn’t try to hide it from him to spare his feelings. His jealous, accusatory glares when she’d leave the apartment dressed for dates didn’t seem to affect her. His shoulders never fell in defeat until after she shut the door behind her. He had to hide that because she might use it against him.
She told him it wasn’t normal. He knew it wasn’t. He pointed out to her that they weren’t normal, they weren’t ordinary. That’s why people stared at them when they were together. They were above all of that when they were together but when they were apart, he explained, they were nothing. They needed each other. Codependency at its finest.
The cycle had begun to wear on him; an endless routine of self-sacrifice without reward or even acknowledgment. The habits of a devoted lifetime were proving difficult to kick, no matter how much he’d convinced himself that she was toxic. No, that wasn’t true. She wasn’t toxic. They were. He’d spent half his lifetime trying to convince her that she loved him back because something in his soul told him she did. Like all the nights she’d crawl into his bed and lay herself next him, her tits smashed up against his back and she’d whisper to him about the old movie she’d watched that evening or how shitty her day at work had been. She never said she watched the movie alone. She didn’t have to. He knew; cheap cologne lingers.
As soon as he’d roll over to face her, she’d slip away and go back to her bed. So he stopped rolling over and just let her use him. He’d fall asleep to her soft murmurs and in the morning when he’d wake up, he was always holding her. It broke and contented him all at once. Those mornings were the best for him. He’d stroke her hair until she woke up, they’d argue over what cartoons to watch. She always insisted on Looney Tunes until he reminded her that good cartoons weren’t on TV anymore and that they’d have to settle for SpongeBob. She’d giggle in agreement and politely ignore his stiff dick.
Their feigned argument became less frequent because Edward began shutting his door at night. He couldn’t offer up his heart every night on the altar of her perfect rack, he didn’t have it in him anymore. She’d tiptoed to his door with a smile, looking forward to being immersed in the scent of bookshop books and spicy shower gel. Her smile fell when she was faced with his closed door for the first time. Disappointed tears clouded her vision as her hand reached for the knob, turning it only to find it locked. She went back to her room and cried herself to sleep.
And she still never told him.
He didn’t sleep that night. The haunting jiggle clicking of the door knob turning in her hand just about broke his heart. Again. It was the first time he’d denied her. Yet he knew it couldn’t be the last. This cycle had to stop. They weren’t growing anymore.
And of course, he didn’t tell her.
People tried to point out the flaws in their relationship. He’d gone to watch a baseball game at his brother and sister-in-law’s apartment a few nights prior. His brother had clapped a strong hand down on his shoulder and encouraged him to break away.
“The two of you are toxic together. She’s a fantastic girl, you know I’m not saying otherwise, but you should really think about breaking away. For fuck’s sake, it’s not even like you’re dating. You just… she’s always there.”
He nodded like he always did when people had this conversation with him. Agreed. He knew that he wasn’t going to listen. Their words meant nothing. They would never understand that he and Rose fed each other. She’d always be there. Always. It made no difference how unhealthy it was. She was inescapable, and secretly didn’t want to escape, but he saw no choice. If he stayed, they would destroy each other.
When he trudged through the front door home from work, he ignored Rose on the couch and he made himself a sandwich, went to his room, and shut the door.
He was just so tired.
December was cold in Port Angeles, but not cold enough. The rain was an ugly substitute for the promised snow. Time trudged on and soon they found themselves ringing in yet another year.
Rosalie remembered the exact moment that she knew she had lost Edward. There were moments leading up to this one but this was it. New Year’s Day. The Twilight Zone marathon on the Syfy channel. They lamented, as they often did, that the Sci-Fi channel had changed its name to something as ludicrous as Syfy.
Why change the name of something that was correct to something that was not? Fucking amateurs.
Yet, they watched because it aired their marathon and this is what they did: party the night before, loaf on the couch the next day with Rod. She worried that they might not this year; she’d felt him pulling away, saw the constant sadness in his eyes. She used to be able to erase it but now it seemed as if she caused it. She was happy when he took his regular spot on the couch and stayed there the majority of the day. The winter sun had made its early retreat, leaving them bathed only in the light from the 28 inch television that flickered in shades of grey.
“I don’t think that they are going to run To Serve Man,” Edward mumbled into her hair, his front pressed to her back, arms wrapped tightly around her middle. The worn couch had been his parents’, once in their living room, then in their basement, before it was passed along to Edward and Rosalie’s apartment. They’d spent a great deal of time on the couch together, so much time over the years it had become their home base, indenting and molding until it held a space for them, waiting until they returned to it.
“They shouldn’t,” she commented. “Once you’ve seen it, it loses all appeal. The shock factor is gone at the end and then it’s sort of… lame.” She looked over her shoulder to find his eyes. They were angry. Sad and angry. Angry and sad. Those were the emotions rolled around and were what she saw most from him these days. And something else, further down. Deeper.
She had always been able to read him. He was a mirror of her. But lately, the read didn’t come as easily and it scared her.
Not that she’d ever say that.
“What the fuck, Rosalie? You know it’s my favorite.”
Yet again, he was getting pissy. Yet again, she was getting sick of it. They used to get pissy together, at other people, but never with each other. Lately though, he had this attitude with her. She didn’t understand it and she sure as hell didn’t like it.
Although she was annoyed and didn’t appreciate being cursed at, she decided to appeal to his sense of logic. After all, Edward always was the logical one. Both were ruled by their emotions but he was male and therefore, he tried to think things through, at least more than she did. “I’m just saying, there are better ones than To Serve Man. They always run that one. Give other episodes a turn, man.”
He pulled back, his hands retreating to his sides as he sat. He muttered something under his breath that sounded like just one more reason. Sighing, he stood and picked up the discarded popcorn bowl that sat near her knees. “I’m done.”
At the time she thought he meant that he was done with the marathon. That alone was irritating because this day and night was theirs. He was always hers but lately there had been a note of discord, the friendship they’d built over the past fifteen years was decaying and she was worried but she didn’t know how to say it without sounding needy.
Rosalie came to realize that it wasn’t that he was just done with the marathon.
He was done with her.
It was true that they’d been playing the push and pull game for awhile. Well, no. Make that, she’d been playing the game for awhile. Fifteen years and he was always there, steadfast and constant. There to pick her up when she fell. There when she didn’t even realize she needed someone until it was him, standing in front of her. Him holding her in his arms. Him and her. Her and him. She and he. He and she.
Until they weren’t. That January day, he was no longer hers.
She watched him walk away from the living room, putting the popcorn bowl in the kitchen and then shook his head as though he was trying to clear it of her. Flipping the light on, the room was bathed in ugly florescent light and she blinked owlishly at the sudden harshness. He stood there, near the hallway that led to their separate rooms, and stared at the floor where the rug they got from a truck sale met the wooden planks of the hardwood. Her mouth had gotten them in this mess in the first place so she fought every instinct to ask him what the fuck he was thinking and instead sat there quietly, waiting to see what was on his mind and if he’d share.
He didn’t say anything. His lips pressed together and bowed, grimacing. He turned quietly and walked to his room. She heard the sweep of the door against the carpet and then the soft click.
She wandered around the apartment, no longer content watching their show when he was no longer there to watch with her. She could hear the low tones of his voice and she knew he was on the phone and wondered with whom. She washed the popcorn bowl and placed it back in the cabinet. Placing her hands on the counter, she looked around the small room, trying to keep the tears from her eyes and the feelings from her heart. Her body longed to go to him, to knock on his door and climb into his bed and see if she could fix this. Her heart feared the rejection, keeping her rooted in the kitchen. Finally her eyes landed on the laundry basket that sat on the small table, big enough for just them. While she was loading the washer, she came across one of his work shirts, a button-down shirt that smelled like him. She pressed it to her nose and inhaled, feeling a lot stupid and even more sad for doing so, but she needed him. She needed him so badly, needed to be near him in some capacity. The t-shirt she was wearing was discarded, thrown on top of the clothes to be washed and quickly replaced by his shirt. She was, in some small way, comforted being wrapped in the fabric that had only a day ago been wrapped around him. Spinning the knob on the machine, it gurgled as it filled with water. After pouring in the soap, she retired to her room. Though they had done nothing, the day had worn on her and she quickly fell asleep.
Routine called to them the following morning, the alarm clocks going off one right after the other. Rosalie stayed in her bed after she had turned her clock off, listening to Edward’s chicken alarm clock sing its song. They didn’t share a wall but the damn thing was so loud, it could be heard throughout the apartment. She couldn’t complain, though; she’d been the one who had bought the clock for his high school graduation present. She always asked him why he never upgraded to a different alarm clock and even offered to buy him a new one but he said he liked the chicken. And who was she to argue with that logic.
Instead she bought him a heavy silver watch for his most recent birthday. Bella had gone with her to pick it out. They’d visited every store in the mall but Rosalie wasn’t satisfied with anything they found there. She finally found what she was looking for at a jeweler’s that Bella had heard about from her friend, Angela. Bella pointed out the wedding rings that she and Jasper had looked at together when they had been at that stage in their relationship and Rosalie had smiled and nodded. Her heart wasn’t into looking at rings. Not when she knew she was so far from that point in her life.
When she heard Edward moving around the kitchen, she rose from her bed, forgetting herself and the shirt she was wearing.
Her arrival in the kitchen went unacknowledged and she wondered if he was still angry about her Twilight Zone comment. She started to say good morning but only got as far as the good mo-when he spun around and took in her appearance. His shirt and her panties. She’d removed her jeans before slipping under her sheet and blanket.
He stared at the shirt, his eyes narrowing and turning to that recently all too familiar look of anger. He turned away from her and dumped his cereal bowl in the sink, throwing his spoon in the sink with a loud clatter. His eyes darted to her bedroom door as he turned back around. She watched his nostrils flare in total confusion. Her mind raced to catch up and she tried to sort the words out and explain why she was standing in their kitchen in his shirt. It wasn’t the first time she’d worn his clothing but the rage she saw in his expression made her think that perhaps he wasn’t okay with it anymore. She couldn’t understand why. This is what they did and who they were.
“I’m moving out.” There was nothing routine about the statement yet he stated it calmly, as though it were an everyday occurrence. She saw him clenching his fists though, which made her believe that he wasn’t as nonchalant as his statement seemed. Ice ran down her spine, spider-webbing through her veins, wrapping her where the fabric once comforted.
Rosalie looked down at the shirt as though it might give her some indication as to why these words were coming from his mouth. It did not.
The rage in his eyes didn’t soften and the fear within her grew. She did the only thing she knew how to do.
The wall rose. The wall that outsiders saw on a daily basis but not him. Not until more recently, anyway. Emotional bricks placed themselves one on top of the other.
Her voice floated out from behind the wall, sounding detached. Cold. Foreign. She didn’t remember thinking the words, but she said them.
“Do you need help packing?”