Oh, you excellent Osa Bella readers, I have to beg for a little mercy here. I am at a conference two days in NYC and having to get up at 5am and be out all day and I swore I'd get today's post ready ahead of time, and well, that just didn't happen. At this point I am operating on oh, so little sleep here, so today we've only got one chapter. I know, I know. I'm sorry! Your .pdf is right here, baby.
Can't wait to hear what you guys have to say about this chapter. See you in the comments.
(a very tired) Myg
I don't know how long Edward stayed that night, because I fell asleep while he was holding me. When I woke the next day, I was in my bed and he was gone. And all the dishes were done. And the entire house was picked up. Not intrusively so, but the unopened mail was in a tidy pile on the kitchen table, the chenille throw was folded on the back of the couch and the pile of shoes by the front door was sorted into matching pairs and neatly arranged. That sort of thing. There was coffee made, and it wasn't even weak. But there was no Edward.
I sent Derek a text message.
"Can I get a ride?"
"You should be staying home."
"I have a lot of paperwork."
"I'll bring it to you after school."
"Please? I don't want to be here all day."
"Fine. But be ready. I can't be late."
The ride in with Derek was quiet, further confirming my suspicion that he would be dumping me soon. I tried to break the coldness, to figure out some way to reach through it.
"Derek, what's going on?" I asked. "Are you okay?"
"I've got a difficult day," he said. "I'm just very distracted. I'll talk to you about it later."
I let it drop. I did not want him dumping me in the morning before school anyway. That would suck. I hobbled into the main office to pick up my mail. For once the sun was out, and I was achingly glad to see it.
“What are you doing here, Bella?” Red said when he saw me come into the main office. “You should be home resting."
“Is Edward Cullen in today?” I asked.
“No, he's suspended, Bella.” A wave of something passed over me.
“What’s wrong? You look ill.”
Just then Jessica busted through the office doors. “Miss Swan—thank God you’re here. I really need to see you. It’s Mike. I think he’s done something really stupid.”
“Come into my office,” I said. We went in and closed the door and Jessica sat on the couch, fretting, picking at her fingernails.
“I think he’s taken something, but he won’t tell me what.”
“Okay, start from the beginning and tell me everything.”
“Last night, he called me and told me he didn’t want to live any more. I told him he was being stupid. I told you yesterday I was afraid he was depressed!” She started to cry. I was sickened because she had warned me yesterday about Mike being depressed, and in the chaos I’d forgotten.
“This morning he said he took pills. I told him he was a jerk for even thinking like that. I even told him I’d go back out with him, but he said it was too late.”She sobbed and I put my hand on her shoulder and picked up the phone.
“Doreen, call Mike Newton to the nurse’s office, now. We have an emergency on our hands.”
I turned to Jessica. “I want you to hang out with Mr. Colter here. I’m going to go talk to Mike right now, okay? It’s going to be all right. You did the right thing by coming to me.”
She sat quietly, crying. Red came to the door and I explained what was going on. “Mr. Colter, we’ve got to contact the Newtons and I think you should call the rescue squad. I’m going to see Mike now.” Red patted his hand on Jessica’s shoulder and gave me a dire look.
“Take care of it, Miss Swan.”
Mike was laying down on the cot in the nurse’s office when I arrived. I told the school nurse, Jeanette, what had happened. She grabbed the blood pressure cuff.
“Get up, Mike.” I said gently, but urgently. He rolled his head but didn’t make any move to rise. “I need to talk to you about what you took. Please.” He opened his eyes and looked at me.
“I don’t feel well.”
“I know, but we have to talk. I know about the pills. I need to know exactly what you took, how much, and when. Please… ” Jeanette rolled up Mike’s sleeve and took his blood pressure.
“Has the ambulance been called?” Jeanette asked.
“It’s on its way,” I said. Mike didn’t make a move he was so out of it. I was scared. “Mike, you’ve got tell me, please. I want to help.”
Mike rolled his head back to look at me. “I took a bunch of different stuff, some last night and some this morning. The bottles are in my locker. I don’t know how much, I swear.”
“Try to guess, Mike. Five pills? Twenty? A handful or a few?” I placed my hand on his arm and looked at Jeanette who was shaking her head.
“Not good” she mouthed silently, shaking her head, her face ashen.
“I’m not sure. More than five, less than a handful.”
I picked up the phone and dialed the main office. “Red, go into Newton’s locker—he says the pill bottles are in there. They’re here? Good. Yeah. Call his parents. I’ll ride over.” I went and kneeled down next to Mike, who was dozing on and off.
“We’re going to take a little ride, okay Mike?” I said. He rolled his head towards me and I could see he was frightened. “You’re going to be okay, but we need to get you to the hospital.” He started to cry and I put my hand over his.
“Miss Swan, I don’t want to die. Please… my parents… tell them it was a mistake… ” His voice trailed off as he faded out.
“We’re going to get you to the hospital now.” I looked up as the EMTs came in and began moving him to the stretcher.
“You again?” one of them asked when he saw me. I grabbed my crutches and followed them to the ambulance and climbed in the front. Mike looked grey and sick. They put an oxygen mask over his face and he didn’t even open his eyes. Red ran out to the ambulance with the pill bottles and handed them to me.
“I don’t know how much was in here, Bella.” He said. I looked at the labels. Xanax, Klonopin. Shit. Somebody at home had quite the pharmacy. This wasn’t good. “The Newtons are on their way to the ER,” he said. “Call me when you know something. I’ll meet you there after school.” I nodded and the ambulance took off.
Thank God the hospital was so close to the high school. I nervously watched as they unloaded and wheeled Mike into the ER where his frantic parents were waiting. His mother let out a sob and ran to his side as they were rushing him into a room.
“Miss Swan, I’m Dr. Stratton,” a slender woman greeted me with Mr. Newton following closely behind. “Can you tell me whatever you know about what’s happened to this young man?”
“A student came to me this morning and said she was afraid Mike had taken pills. When I talked to Mike at around 9am, he said he’d taken some pills last night and some this morning, but he didn’t know how many. He said more than five, less than a handful. Xanax and Klonopin, though I don’t know how many of each.” Mr. Newton’s face went pale.
“Okay, thank you.” She turned to leave.
“Dr. Stratton,” she turned back to face me and Mr. Newton. I swallowed. “What happens now?”
“We wait and see,” she said grimly.
It was 8pm and getting dark. Out of the ICU waiting room window I could see the final shadows of trees fading into night as the sun gradually sank behind the horizon. All afternoon and all evening I’d sat here, talking to groups of kids who dropped by. I spent a great deal of time with Jessica and her parents. Poor Jessica. It was bad enough she blamed herself for what had happened, but Mike’s friends were clearly putting the screws to her as well, especially Paige. Kids were so dumb about these things.
I sat on the couch, grateful to have a few moments of calm in what had been the shittiest day on record of my career, and that was really saying something. Derek had come by after school to sit with me and talk to the kids. He was very supportive and I was glad he was there, but still anxious that he was going to cut me loose as soon as this drama was resolved. Then he left at dinner and told me he’d come back to drive me home after visiting hours.
Mike stabilized, though he was groggy and uncomfortable. His mother came out and asked me to come speak with him.
“Miss Swan,” he said. “I’m so sorry for all of this.”
“No, I’m sorry,” I said, taking his hand as I sat next to his bed and giving it a light squeeze. “I’m sorry I didn’t realize how bad the stress was getting for you.”
“I wasn’t trying to kill myself,” he said. “I want you to know that. It was an accident.”
“Okay,” I said, disbelieving.
“I’m serious,” he said. “I was just trying to take the edge off. You know how it is.”
I did know how it was, but I certainly hoped he didn’t really think I knew how it was, at least not when it came to using pills to take the edge off.
“Taking the edge off should mean a guitar hero marathon or very loud, very angry music blasted from your car stereo. Not raiding the pharmacy.”
“I know, I know,” he said. “It was dumb.”
“Well, thank God you’re okay. You can thank Jessica for that,” I said.
“Ugh,” he said. “I really don’t want to see her.”
“I know,” I said. “But she saved your life.”
“I know,” he said. “It makes it so hard to hate her.” Tears sprung to his eyes and he turned his head to the window.
We sat and had a good, long talk about that, about hating people we love, loving people we hate, relationships that are good for us, relationships that are bad for us. The irony was clear to me, but hopefully not to Mike. I was impressed with how talkative he was given how exhausted I knew he must have been. And after about half an hour, I decided it was time to leave, but I had one very irritating, nagging question I had to ask.
“Mike, were you thinking about stealing that formaldehyde from Mr. Banner’s lab yourself?”
His already ashen face turned white at the accusation. As soon as the words came out, I regretted them. He wasn’t anywhere near ready to discuss this, and I had no valid reason to bring it up. I just had to know.
“How did you know about that? I always thought you were psychic, but damn.”
My guts felt hollow. How on earth could Edward have been right? "Did you tell anyone?"
"No," he said. "Of course not."
“What were you going to do with it?”
“Nothing—I swear to you. I was just… I don’t know. I was just angry. I decided against it, anyway, but then Cullen got to it first. He’s the one you should ask about it—he’s probably planning to blow up the school.”
“I’ll look into it,” I said.
“I hope he gets expelled.”
“He probably will.”
“Well, then something good came out of all of this.”
I left Mike’s room and went back to the waiting room to gather my things. I was badly shaken that Mike had been far gone enough to even contemplate violence towards others. But what bothered me more was the possibility that Edward had read Mike's mind, because that just couldn't be possible. But how else could Edward know?
I took out my cell phone and flipped through my contacts, down to E.
"We have to talk… this is B." I sent as a text message.
"I'll be right there."
"I haven't told you where I am."
"Hospital. Meet me in the parking lot in 15 minutes."
Out in the parking lot, I saw his Volvo, but I didn't walk near it. I walked off to the side of the building, away from the front doors and from where I might run into more kids or parents or anyone I would know. He pulled up and I got in his car, looking over my shoulder to be sure nobody had seen us. It was times like these I hated living in a small town.
“Where are we going?” I asked.
“Nowhere,” he said. He got out onto 101 and drove south, too fast. "How is Mike?
"He's okay," I said, and then looked at him skeptically. "How did you know about Mike wanting to steal the formaldehyde?"
"I already told you."
“How did you know Derek was going to propose to me?” I asked.
“I read his mind,” he said.
“Did you read his mind yesterday?”
“He’s going to break up with me, isn’t he?”
He didn’t answer.
“He’s just waiting because he feels sorry for me because I got hurt,” I said. “Right?”
“He’s an ass.”
I started crying. I knew it was going to happen, but I wasn’t ready for it. I reached into my bag and took a Percocet.
“You shouldn’t take that on an empty stomach,” he said. “How many did you just take?”
“Shut up,” I said. He made a face, shook his head and sped up the car. “What did you do to that bear?”
He tightened his hands on the steering wheel. “What the hell are you talking about?”
“I saw you carry off that bear yesterday. How did you do that?”
“That’s crazy,” he said. “How could I even do that?”
“It was just like Lake Crescent,” I said, and then stopped myself as I realized I was blurring reality with my dream. Pain killers were going to make me slip and say something I’d regret if I wasn’t careful.
“What the hell are you talking about?” he glared at me. “Are you feeling all right? How many of those pills did you take?”
I started crying harder. My ankle was throbbing and my confusion was drowning me, making me feel panicky and paranoid. I suddenly wanted out of the car.
“Derek knows,” I said. “He knows about us, doesn’t he?”
“There’s nothing for him to know,” Edward said.
“He knows about our trip together on Reckoner. He knows you were at my house last night. He knows. I know he knows.”
“No, he doesn’t. I swear to you.”
“He suspects something,” I said.
“He thinks that I’m stalking you, and he’s worried that you can’t see me for what I really am.”
“And what’s that?” I asked.
“It’s complicated,” he said.
“So you think he’s right?”
“I know he is,” he said.
“What the fuck does that even mean?” I asked, half laughing through my tears. “You’re stalking me?”
“Not exactly,” Edward said. “Look, I’d never let any harm come to you. Ever.”
“You’re too late. The damage was done long before I ever met you.”
“Don’t talk like that,” he said. “If Derek breaks up with you, so be it. You know he’s not right for you anyway.”
“That’s not the point!”
“Of course it is,” he said. “You should be with someone who loves you for who you are, Bella.”
“Take me home. I’m done talking.”
“Well I’m not,” he said angrily. “I have some questions of my own.”
“What were you talking about a minute ago about Lake Crescent?”
“Nothing,” I said.
“You’re lying,” he said.
“You can’t read my mind,” I said.
“I don’t have to.”
“I had a dream you attacked a bear at Lake Crescent,” I said. “Okay? I got confused.”
“I’ll say,” he said. “I was worried you were hallucinating there for a minute.”
“Now you’re my psychiatrist?” I said.
“Somebody ought to be,” he said.
Edward turned the car around and started driving in the direction of my house. I sulked as I watched the trees pass by. I wasn’t answering anymore questions. In fact, all I felt like doing was going home and going to bed. Then I remembered I hadn’t called Derek for a ride home. I looked at my cell phone and saw it was off. It didn’t power up—the battery had run out.
Coming down K Street, I saw exactly what I’d feared. Derek’s Subaru was parked in my driveway. I would have told Edward to drive me back to the hospital, but it was definitely too late. Derek was sitting on my porch and saw Edward’s car, with me in it, coming down the street. This was the day of decisions from hell, I thought.
“What is he thinking?” I asked Edward.
“He thinks I tricked you into getting in the car with me. Let him think that, okay? It doesn’t matter.”
“It matters if he calls the police,” I said. “Then we’ll both have to deal with my father, and I don’t want that.”
“Just let me do the talking,” he said.
“Ha. I don’t think so,” I said. “Drop me off.”
We pulled into the driveway and I got out of the car and hopped with my crutches up to the front porch where Derek was waiting for me. Edward followed me, much to my irritation.
“Thanks for the ride, Edward,” I said. “Goodbye.”
“Edward, why are you driving Miss Swan home?” Derek confronted him.
“Excuse me?” I said. “I’m right here, I think you can address that question to me.”
“I insisted,” Edward said. “I had to talk to her about something urgent. Something confidential.”
“You can go now. Goodbye, Edward,” I said.
“Miss Swan wants you to leave,” Derek said. “And that’s what you’d better do. Right now.”
“Of course,” Edward said. He nodded to me and then hopped in the car.
“I was worried sick,” Derek said. “Why didn’t you answer your phone?”
“Battery died,” I said. “Sorry.”
“What were you doing with Edward Cullen? Do you have any idea how dangerous he is? Do you have any idea how that looks?"
I just glared at him, unable to give any kind of coherent response.
“Look, we need to talk,” he said.
“Now?” I asked. “I’m pretty spent. This was a terrible day.”
“Bella, it’s important,” he said, impatient.
I went inside and grabbed left overs out of the refrigerator and started eating. I wasn't hungry, but I felt woozy from my medication and the fast drive and Edward, and the dread I felt as I realized I was about to be dumped.
“Well, I’ll get right to it. I think I underestimated how some of our differences would cause problems between us,” Derek said, without any invitation.
“I know,” I said, my irritation with him growing. “But can we talk about it tomorrow? This day has been really difficult for me.”
I felt the tears well up, my sadness outweighing my anger. He began to relax, his tone began to soften.
“I think maybe we got ahead of ourselves with this engagement,” he continued, despite my plea for a forbearance. “Maybe it was a mistake.”
“Fine,” I said. I pulled his ring from my finger and handed it to him wordlessly. He took it and put it in his pocket. He reached for my hand but I pulled it away from him.
“Bella, I’m sorry,” he said. “But I think this is for the best.”
“Yeah, well your timing really sucks,” I said. “What does this mean now anyway? Do you still want to see me?”
“No,” he said. “Not in that way.”
“So you’re willing to throw it all away then,” I said. "We were engaged, Derek. Not going steady."
“Bella, you know as well as I do that this isn't going to work between us. Why walk down a path that’s not going to lead anywhere?”
I wanted to hate him, to just think he was a fucking jerk, but I knew he was right. We really weren’t right for each other, and for months I’d been trying to be right for him without considering that maybe he wasn’t right for me. There was no hope left here for any long term anything with Derek.
I felt the full force of that loss, the overwhelming emptiness of the night before returning and engulfing me. I started to cry, heavy tears rolling off my face, onto my plate.
“I’m sorry, Bella,” he said and squeezed my hand.
“Now about Edward,” he said, stiffening.
“No,” I said. “I’m not discussing him.”
“You’ve got to distance yourself from him. I’m very concerned about your relationship with that kid.”
“Thanks for your concern,” I said. “I’ve taken note of it. You can go home now, knowing you’ve done all you could to protect me from myself. Thanks.”
“Come on, Bella, don’t be that way. I'm just trying to help you.”
“I’m sorry, but if I’m not mistaken, you just broke off our engagement on the day one of my favorite students almost died. On top of it, you’ve reminded me that you think I have bad judgment. So, if you don’t mind, I’d like to stop looking at your face right now. I think that’s a reasonable request. Under the circumstances.”
“Fine,” he said. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
“Oh, I won’t.”
The sound of his tires pulling off the gravel in my driveway, maybe for the last time—who knew? It undid me a little. I hate endings. I hate goodbyes, even if I'd see him tomorrow at work. It was all different because he wasn't my fiancé. He was my ex. And that thought really fucked me up.
I pulled a can of Rainier from the back of my fridge where it had been sort of hidden, but there just in case Charlie came by and wanted a beer. I'd just taken an extra Percocet an hour before and was feeling a little loose, but I had also just eaten and I figured I would be fine if I just had one Rainier and drank it slow.
So then, I wouldn't be getting married in June. And there'd be no more Friday nights at his house, making dinner, watching television. No more quiet talks about our day, or the kids at school or planning our vacation. I wouldn't be meeting his parents.
My future was ripped out from under me again. I started crying, and then I just got pissed off. I wanted to hurt something. I wanted to break things, but I wasn't very mobile.
Almost an hour later I was only half way through the can, watching some random movie I could barely follow. I decided to throw the rest out because I was getting too messed up, but I was too tired to move off the couch. I decided to sleep there and didn't even bother changing out of my clothes.
I closed my eyes, hoping sleep would come fast, but I couldn't stand the darkness. I couldn't stand the emptiness.
I pulled my phone off the table.
"Come back," I typed.
And then sent it to Edward.