Section of a Ceiling

Getting back into everyday life after Alice’s wedding was surreal. Edward returned to school, and my days became much like they had always been, except now they were accompanied with a mind-numbing emptiness that had no end in sight. Edward was going to be at Princeton for the next four years. I knew I couldn’t spend them hanging onto my phone waiting for his call as if I were a teenager, though that was exactly what I found myself doing. If Edward knew this, he’d be appalled.

I tried to remember how I filled my days before we met. I lived with Alice and she was nothing if not entertaining. Still, she had her job and Jasper. Though I was often alone, I managed to find things with which I could occupy myself. Of course, I continued to read a great deal and I had the piano but neither of these things satisfied my need for human interaction. I thought back over what my life was like last year, and found myself mortified by the amount of free time I consumed with trolling bars to get laid. When I became disinterested in the scene, I visited the Art Museum. These days, I just didn’t feel I could go there without Edward, that rather than ease my loneliness it would only intensify my longing.

It didn’t help that my friends were so busy. Rose and Emmett pushed their wedding back to early November because one of her cases had gone to trial and consequently, I saw very little of them. Alice made herself available to me, and even though we were finally speaking again, I hadn’t completely forgiven her, and I was waiting for her to establish some long-term consistency in her support of my relationship with Edward before I would feel comfortable confiding in her. Even then, I wasn’t sure we could ever go back to how things were.

By the time the leaves began to change color, Edward and I had settled into a rhythm. When his course work permitted it, he stayed with me on Friday and Saturday nights. Though he tried to complete his assignments during the week, there were times this was impossible, and he’d return to campus Saturday morning.

My moods shifted according to his presence or lack thereof, and I realized I was increasingly emotionally dependent on him. I physically ached for him in his absence and only truly felt alive when he was close enough for me to touch him. Some days I would reflect on how my life had changed in the past several months and think I’d grown tremendously. Just as frequently, I had the feeling that I’d not changed at all, that I was just as emotionally unavailable as ever and despite my love for him, Edward was merely a convenient distraction. The memory of his sobs from the hotel bathroom haunted me, and although I knew he understood why I closed myself off, I could tell that it bothered him.

He deserved so much more than what I could give him, but I was far too selfish to set him free. I wanted to open myself up to him, to become the person he believed I already was, but I had no idea how. As painful as it was for me to acknowledge, I knew I needed help.

One Thursday afternoon, suffocated by my fears, I called Esme.

“Is everything okay?” she asked, in a bit of a panic. Though I’d had her number for months, I’d never before used it.

“Yes, it’s fine. I just wanted to talk. Is that alright?”

“Of course,” she assured me. “I’m always here for you; I hope you realize that by now.”

I drummed my fingers against the kitchen table, trying to find my nerve. Part of me was terrified that if I told her the truth, she’d think I was too damaged to be with her son, but my more rational side suspected she already knew this. It would probably be easier to discuss my issues in theory, even though I knew I needed practical advice.

“Do you think people can change?”



“Yes, I do. The circumstances have to be right, and the individual needs to want it. Why do you ask?”

“I’ve just been thinking a lot lately and since Edward is away…” I struggled to find the words.

Esme laughed. “As always, Edward would be an exception. He’s so set in his ways for someone his age, it’s comical. Carlisle and I joke that he was born fifty and that’s why at seventeen he has the rigidity of a grumpy old man. Is he in one of his moods right now? Try not to let it bother you.”

“Oh, no, I wasn’t talking about Edward exactly. It’s just now that he’s away I’ve been alone a lot and I’ve had some time to think about things…” I didn’t know how to articulate to Esme that I had serious issues that had nothing whatsoever to do with Edward. I exhaled in a burst of air and just put it all out there. “I don’t know how to say this without making it seem like I’m throwing a pity party for myself, which is not my intention. I just think that I let some things from the past affect me more than they should and that I need to talk through it with someone.”

I just couldn’t verbalize it. I knew that the second I said it all out loud it would all become real.

“Okay, I’m going to email you the contact information of one my colleagues who does counseling. I think that would be a good place for you to start.”

Did I really need counseling? Granted, Alice had been telling me that for years, but in those conversations, we were nothing more than pots and kettles.

“Oh, it’s not that bad.” I tried to convince myself. “I was just hoping to talk to you a bit about my mother.”

She sighed softly. “I love you as if you were my own, but I suspect this goes well beyond what I can do for you in a non-professional capacity.”

“So do I need to make an appointment?” I asked.

“No, Sweetie. That would be completely unethical.”

I was crushed even though I knew she was right.

“I’ll contact your associate.”

“Look, I want you to know that I don’t think less of you for doing this. There’s very little in life we can control, Bella. You can’t change the actions of others, just the extent to which you let them affect you.”

The same words from anyone else would have felt patronizing, but I knew she was completely sincere.

“There’s one other thing,” I began nervously. “Could we keep this between us?”

“You don’t want me to tell Edward.”

“Yes, if you don’t mind.”

“If you decide to see a counselor regularly you shouldn’t feel compelled to hide it from your significant other. As the mother of the young man in question, I can assure you that if you do tell Edward, he will be completely supportive. That being said, I’m assuming you called me because I’m a doctor, so all of this is a moot point. This discussion is completely confidential. Now, I should get going. I have an appointment waiting. I’ll send you the information later tonight.”

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. I’m very proud of you.”

Her simple words made my cheeks damp.

We said good-bye and I continued to sit at the table, wondering if therapy actually helped people. I was startled when my phone rang moments later. I picked it up immediately.

“Talk to me, Edward.”

Though I’d seen him four days ago, it still felt like an eternity.

“I need to see you. I hate to ask, but can you come up?” he asked.

There was no need to convince me.

“I’ll leave now. See you in an hour.”

I threw on jeans and a sweater and flew up the interstate. He met me at the entrance to his dorm and pulled me into his arms.

“Was this a booty call?”

“Kind of,” he admitted, blushing.

He held my hand and led me to his room. Mike and some guy I assumed was Tyler were sitting in the common room drinking, which struck me as odd for dinner time on a Thursday.

“Bella!” Mike perked up when he saw me.

“Hi, Mike.”

“It’s been so long since you’ve visited I thought you’d cut our Eddie here loose.”

Edward ignored him, instead addressing the guy sitting next to him.

“Tyler, this is my girlfriend, Bella.”

“Nice to meet you.” He smiled and stood up to shake my hand. I could tell by his eyes he was baked.

Edward lived with a smarmy prick and a stoner man-whore. Lovely.

I looked up at Edward and he led me into the bedroom, closing the door behind us. I kicked off my flats and climbed up to Edward’s bed. I was amazed a man his size could fit up here. There was very little head room between the bed and the ceiling, and both of Edward’s heads were sizable.

“Coming?” I smiled down at him.

“In a second.” He walked over to his dresser and retrieved a small scrap of lace from his top drawer.

My missing panties. He could be such a little perv.

“I told you they were safe.”

“Did you wash them?” I asked.

“Now, what do you think?” He returned them to his dresser drawer before joining me on the top bunk. “You never did teach me how to work the delicate cycle.”

I snuggled into his chest, laughing.

He nudged my face up towards his and leaned into me. My lips had just brushed his when there was a knock at the door.

I decided that solitude was far preferable to cock-blocking roommates.

“Come in,” Edward groaned.

“Sorry, I just needed my jacket.” Mike went to the closet and retrieved his pea coat. “We’re heading out to the Street later. You guys should come. Edward claims it’s not his scene, but he’s been known to put in an appearance from time to time.”

“The Street?” I asked.

“Eating clubs,” Edward explained. “Thursdays are a big party night around here. Thanks anyway, Mike, but we have our own plans.”

“I’ll bet you do.” Mike winked at Edward and shut the door behind him.

“God, he’s repulsive. Please tell me the girls around here don’t fall for his shit.”

“Not that I’ve seen.” Edward lifted my sweater and traced circles around my stomach. “Of course, I’m not usually here on weekends.”

“That’s somewhat reassuring.”

He replaced his fingers with his tongue, and I lost all coherent thought. We made quick work of our clothing, and I settled myself down onto his erection. I leaned forward, brushing my breasts against his chest. Although the skin to skin contact felt amazing, I wanted to take him inside me as deeply as possible. Needing to change angles, I quickly sat up, forgetting our space constraints. My head slammed into the ceiling, and I yelped in pain.

“Fuck,” I screamed.

“I am fucking you, baby.”

“No, I think I really hurt my head.”

He sat up and gently ran his fingers over my scalp. “You already have a bit of a bump forming.”

I had forgotten we were still joined until he carefully lifted me off him.

“Who painted Carnival Evening?” he asked.

“Rousseau. I bang the shit out of my head and you quiz me on art? What the hell?” I felt like I was going to fall over, and I put my hands on the bed to steady myself. “Fuck, I’m dizzy.”

“Just breathe. On a scale of one to ten, how much does it hurt?”

“Um, maybe a seven? Shit, now my ears are ringing, too.”

“You have a concussion. I’m just trying to ascertain its severity. I know the basics, but maybe we should bring you to the emergency room.”

He got down from the bed and pulled on a pair of sweatpants before pulling me down into his arms. He handed me a t-shirt and a pair of his boxers. I put them on, and rolled the waist band so they wouldn’t fall off me before sitting in his desk chair. He went out into the common room and returned holding a cold can of beer.

“This will numb it,” he explained.

He had to be joking.

“As much money as the three of you have, you can’t spring for some decent beer? I haven’t had Natty Light since I was underage.” I sighed. “I’m going to need a glass for this.”

“I didn’t mean for you to drink it. Hold the can against your head. I don’t have ice, but this will work just as well. I’m going to call my mother.”

He returned five minutes later. “Okay, you’re lucid enough that a hospital visit isn’t necessary as long as you don’t become too disoriented. You can’t drive home–”

“What? I have to stay here?”

“You can’t operate a car like this, and I have an exam tomorrow. Do they give teachers sick days?”

I nodded.

“I suggest you take one. I’ll drive you home after class tomorrow.”

I sat there in disbelief, holding the can of cheap beer to my head. I was going to have to spend the night in Edward’s dorm room with his two idiot roommates.

I actually found myself wishing I’d black out.

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  1. on 29 Aug 2010 at 1:51 pmizziey

    i knew that top bunk was going to be a problem. damned cock-blocking ceiling. and btw, i love that esme’s a psychiatrist.


  2. on 01 Oct 2010 at 1:34 pmlisa89

    Hahaha, poor Bella. I love this.

    I also think it’s great that Bella let Alice explain herself, but also that they just haven’t gone back to being perfect – I think you’ve written that subplot(?) out really nicely.


  3. on 12 Nov 2010 at 7:48 pmkng1986

    She got a concussion while having sex. I love it.


  4. on 25 Nov 2010 at 4:23 pmBooksgalore/Bookishqua

    oh man, poor Bella. That sucks. :(
    :) Loved it


  5. on 09 Dec 2010 at 4:01 pmNKubie

    This was pretty funny, actually. I’m also glad that Bella is going to get some therapy. There are lots of issues she needs to work on.


  6. on 05 Jan 2011 at 9:59 amSea4Me

    Excellent. Glad B asked @ Esme’s response was perfection. Wonder what new drama dorm life will bring?


  7. on 29 Jan 2011 at 6:08 pmJanice

    Now she actually gets to see what happens during the week while she’s away from Edward. Glad she’s seeking help!!