Lie

December 1, 1995
Though Edward said he was at my disposal on weekends, I don’t know exactly what that means. I want to think that I’ll be sleeping at his place, but he hasn’t indicated one way or the other and packing a bag seems premature. When Alice comes in from dinner, I’m standing in front of my open closet while staring at my empty backpack like a tool.

“You’re being silly,” she says. “It’s just Edward. It’s not as if you’re going out with someone intimidating.”

“You don’t think he’s intimidating?”

“You’re kidding, right?” She laughs. “I’ll have to dig up pictures of him when he was twelve. If Alex P. Keaton had red hair and pimples, he and Edward could have been twins.”

This isn’t at all helpful—I always thought Alex P. Keaton was kind of scary. Furthermore, I don’t believe for a second Edward ever had pimples, but I’m not about to argue with her.

“Did he say where he’s bringing you?”

“We don’t have specific plans, and I’m not sure if I’m supposed to pack some clothes for the weekend or not.”

She gestures to the phone. “Call him and ask.”

“If I do that—and he wasn’t planning on having me stay at his place for the whole weekend—doesn’t that make me seem kind of…I don’t know…”

“Prepared?” she offers.

“I was thinking more along the lines of presumptuous.”

She walks across the room to her desk. “This problem is easily solved.”

“Please don’t call him for me; that will make things even worse.”

“I’m not.” She opens the top drawer and hands me a black ball. “Ask the oracle.”

“A Magic 8-Ball?”

“It’s never failed me.”

“Let me get this straight. Your infamous ‘gut feelings’ actually come from a piece of plastic mass-produced in China?”

“As if!” She closes her desk drawer and clears her throat. “I suppose if you want to be technical, some of them come from the white icosahedron die inside said piece of plastic.”

I turn it over and wait for the message to appear. “It says, ‘Cannot predict now.'” I roll my eyes. “Remind why you think this is useful.”

“You’re not cooperating. It’s a Magic 8-Ball, not Jo-Jo’s Psychic Alliance. You have to ask the question out loud before it can actually answer you.”

“I feel like an enormous dork.”

“Would you rather feel like a presumptuous dork?”

Even I have to admit her point is valid. Sighing, I turn the ball over in my hand so that the number eight faces up.

“Should I pack an overnight bag?” I flip my wrist so I can see the window, and ever so slowly, the answer appears. “Signs point to yes.” I hand it back to Alice and pull the scrunchy out of my hair, groaning. “I cannot take that as gospel!”

“The 8-Ball is truth, Izzy.”

Alice’s life is mere seconds away from coming to a tragic end when there’s a knock at the door.

“It’s open,” she says.

Edward steps into our room. “You know, what you just did is completely unsafe. I could have been anyone.”

“But you aren’t,” she says.

“But you didn’t know that.”

“How do you know?” She holds up the 8-Ball, smiling.

“I find the fact that dragged that thing halfway across the country to college with you a little disturbing,” he says.

“Oh, the 8-Ball is nothing,” I tell him. “She has Debbie Gibson’s entire catalog under her bed.”

When he laughs, she smacks him on the shoulder. “I’ll have you know Lost In Your Eyes is a lovely ballad.”

“Does she still sing along to it?” he asks me.

“At the top of her lungs.”

“I must have missed the note on the dry-erase board establishing today as National Rip On Alice Day. If you’re both going to be like that, I’m going to go hang out in the lounge.”

The door shuts behind her, and it’s just Edward and me. I want to hug him and kiss him, but I feel weird going for it. He’s made no gestures of physical affection toward me since he got here, and I’m not sure my advances are welcome. Truth be told, I’m not sure of anything—except the fact it’s awkward as hell.

“So…” He claps his hands together in front of his chest. “Are you ready to go?”

“Yes!” Then I realize that I’m not. “I mean, I can be. I’m just not sure what our plans are…”

“Well, first we should go back to my apartment and drop off your stuff. I figured we’d decide what we wanted to do from there.”

“My stuff?”

“I suppose you don’t have to bring anything with you. You only need clothes if we go anywhere, and I certainly don’t have any problem staying in bed all weekend.”

After a moment of blankly staring into space, one of the corners of his mouth twitches, and I know he’s having dirty thoughts. Then his eyes meet mine, and he licks his lips—and I realize he’s having dirty thoughts about me. I want to make a deal to tell him mine if he tells me his because I think dirty things about him all the time. But I keep it to myself—after all, we have all weekend to talk about that stuff.

At least, I think we do. I still don’t know for sure.

“Is that an invitation?” I ask.

“To my bed?” He puts his arms around me and pulls me against him. “You know I want you there.”

Whether or not he wants to go to bed with me isn’t the question. He’s a guy; I’m going to assume he does. It’s everything else I’m unsure of.

“No, I meant to spend the weekend with you at your place.”

“You should know I want you there, too.”

“Except you never actually asked me, and I didn’t want to assume…”

“I always want to spend time with you.”

It’s exactly what I need to hear, and I’m able to relax a bit. As I toss a change of clothes and some essentials into my backpack, I think maybe I misunderstood him when he said that he was unavailable during the week.

“I’m ready.”

“Are these your keys?” he asks.

“They’re Alice’s; she must have forgotten them. We can give them to her on our way out.” I step out into the hallway and gesture for him to follow. “Come on.”

“Aren’t you forgetting something?”

“I don’t think so.” After I make sure the door is locked, I turn to leave.

He reaches for my hands and pulls me into him, pressing my back against the wall. “It was a long week.”

“Too long.”

“It was harder than I thought it would be.”

Except I feel it pressed against me, and it’s exactly as hard as it waslast weekend. But I don’t analyze it—it’s impossible for me to think while he’s kissing me. I focus on what I’m feeling—and I feel so much. Then he stops, and all I can feel is disappointment. My backpack is draped over one of his shoulders as he leads me down the hall to the stairwell.

“Let’s get you home,” he says.

I’m excited to be with him, but I know two days out of seven will never be enough.

“You know,” I say, “most weeknights, I’m studying, too. Maybe you could visit me here, and we could study together.”

“Oh, I’ve never been able to study in the dorms—not even when I lived in one. I couldn’t handle the noise or the obnoxiousness that almost always occurs when you put a few hundred eighteen to twenty-two-year-olds under one roof.”

“No one here is obnoxious; this is an honors dorm.” I push open the door to the lounge. “Seriously, no one even really talks to each other, and when they do, even that is schoolwork-related. The one time things got loud it wasn’t because people were drunk or stoned; they were having an overly passionate discussion about Kant.”

I scan the room for Alice. Like about a dozen other people, she’s lying on the floor with a pen and paper, paying very close attention to a guy reading aloud from a computer print-out.

“Question 166,” he says. “Have you ever masturbated onto a houseplant? Question number 167—have you ever masturbated with a houseplant?” He raises his hand, flashing his palm to the group. “Listen to the rest of this before you make that check mark—they want to know specifically if you’ve ever used a houseplant to rub yourself. This means that if you and a houseplant have masturbated simultaneously—but there was no mutual masturbation—it doesn’t count!”

Edward laughs. “Kant, huh?”

My cheeks are on fire, but not because I’m embarrassed. It’s safe to say that thanks to this, I won’t have a prayer of getting any mid-week visits in the foreseeable future—and that freaking infuriates me.

“Excuse me.” I step over several people on my way over to Alice. “I just wanted to give my roommate her keys. And while we’re talking about rubbing foliage on our…well…you know…there’s this outside plant that feels really good…down there. Anyway, it’s kind of like a vine, and the leaves grow in clusters of three. Have a nice weekend!” After waving goodbye, I grab Edward by the hand and pull him out of the dorm and into the crisp December air.

After we step onto the pavement, he doubles over, laughing so hard his face is almost as red as his hair.

“Are you okay?” I ask.

“You’re amazing. Do you get what you just did?”

“Uh…yeah?” I don’t know where he’s going with this—I mean, it’s not as if I’ve been drinking and I blacked out.

“You just told a room full of your classmates—who by the way were in the middle of taking the Purity Test—that poison ivy makes a quality jizz rag!” He throws my bag up onto his back and puts his arm around my shoulder. “I love…that you did that.”

And I know that it’s real…that he feels the same way I do.

So I tell him. “I love it, too.”


November 23, 2009
It isn’t until my phone beeps that I remember there’s a world outside of Edward and Alice. I illuminate its display to find four text messages from Carlisle, the most recent of which consists of only three words:

Are you okay?

I know better than to even try to bring him up to speed in a text message, so I call him.

“She lives!” he says.

“I know I promised I’d text you guys when my plane landed; I’m sorry if you were worried. I’ve been kind of wrapped up in stuff…”

“Is that a good thing or a bad thing?’

I’m not sure how to answer him. “I guess you could say it’s one of those things.”

“Ah. I take it you’ve seen the senator?”

“Yes.”

“How did that go?”

“He claims he wants to try again.”

One of the best (and sometimes worst) things about my closest male friend marrying my closest female friend is that advice always comes in club packs. This is why I’m not at all surprised when after a long pause, it’s Esme who responds.

“What were his exact words?”

“He said, ‘I want to try again.'”

“Don’t do it,” she says.

“But I want to try–”

“Like the way you’ve spent the past ten years trying to get over him? And how has that worked for you?”

I pretend her question is rhetorical, even though I know it’s not.

“Obviously, It hasn’t,” she continues. “And would you like to know why?”

“I have a feeling you’re going to tell me whether I say ‘yes’ or not…”

“Because you’ve never told yourself you were going to learn to love your life without him in it; you’ve only ever committed to trying.”

“Without trying, you never know if you’ll succeed,” I remind her.

“That’s where you’re wrong,” she says. “It establishes failure as an option, and that won’t work. You need to set the bar a bit higher. Unless he’s able to look you in the eye and promise you this time things will be different—that he’s willing to make sacrifices for you on a comparable level to the ones you made for him—then nothing else he says matters.”

“Are you still there, Carlisle?” I ask.

Carlisle is romantic in a way Esme is not; of the two of them, he’s more likely to risk it all on a whim.

“Yes,” he says. “We have you on speaker.”

“If you were in my position…” I swallow hard, hoping it will steady my voice.

“I kept it, you know—the letter you wrote me not long after you left him. I’m not sure where it is, but as soon as we get off the phone, I’m going to try to find it.”

“What good will that do?” I ask.

“Izzy, you went to bed crying every night for years. Maybe if you read it in your own words, you’ll remember how awful he made you feel–”

“He was just as miserable as I was. I know that now.”

“Because he told you?” Esme’s voice is gentle; it’s her words that sting. “I love you, Iz—and I want more than anything for you to be happy. I’m not saying that I don’t think you should hear him out. I think it would be good for you get to know who he is outside of your idealized memories of who he was.

“He’s made you the romantic equivalent of a campaign promise. It’s nice to hear, but ultimately, it’s meaningless.”

“You didn’t see him,” I say. “Esme, he was crying. He cried.”

“So has Bill Clinton. Would you want to be his girlfriend?”

“I believe Edward was sincere.”

“He may very well have been,” Carlisle says. “Then again, he could have been faking it—only time will tell. But you need to remember what he is.”

I snort. “The sexiest man alive?”

“Yes,” he says. “And why does People Magazine even know he exists? Because he’s a politician. And let’s be real here—politicians are nothing more than mobbed-up actors with power fetishes.”

“I seriously doubt he’s mobbed up.”

“Maybe not, but remember grad school?”

“We all know I would have hated grad school. Regardless of how it came about, that worked out for the best. I adore my job.”

“That’s why you have to be sure,” Esme says. “This time, you have so much more at stake.”

By the time I hang up, the residual euphoria from my morning with Edward feels as far away as my eighteen-year-old self. In its place is the cautious pragmatism one would expect from a woman of certain life experiences who is painfully aware of what she stands to lose—it’s far too much, so I want to give up.

And I almost do.

Then I remember what Edward said on the plane. “I’ve kept the same cell number and email address to this day. So you’d have a means to contact me—just in case you changed your mind, if you decided you’d acted that day on anger or haste…”

And I need to know if he was telling the truth—because if that was true, then I’d have no reason to doubt the sincerity of what he’s said since. My phone is in my hand; all I have to do is remember his number. Of course I do—I’ll never forget.

It never rings; there’s a pause and a click, and he speaks—not with the voice he has now, but the one that speaks to me in my dreams.

Please don’t hang up, Bella. Just…please. You’re hearing my voice, and I want more than anything to hear yours…but if you don’t want to talk to me…if you’ve dialed by mistake or by habit, or if you called me on impulse and you’ve already changed your mind…Please, Bella. Please…just listen. I’m not sure how we got here, but I miss you. I need you. I love you. I think I always will.





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  1. on 28 Jun 2012 at 3:31 pmSimone

    Everyone should have friends like Carlisle and Esme, plus a personalized answering message created specifically for them.

    [Reply]