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See the wound on her arm.

See how you can’t look away, how it mocks you and suffocates you with your own self-loathing.

Cover it with your hand so you can’t see it any longer, and draw the mounting fever out of her marred flesh like a poultice with the chilled abomination of your skin, the palm of your hand—a killer’s hand. So gently, lovingly, wrap your fingers around the meager circumference of her bicep. Be mindful; she is fragile like glass, and yet nothing like it, because she could never be brittle.

Nevertheless, you will shatter her.

One last time, revel in the feel of her skin against yours: warm like the equatorial sea and soft, like her breath at the nape of your neck. Resent the escape her slumber affords her; envy her peaceful repose. Let your mind drift, if only for a moment, to the blame you wish you could lay at her feet. Wish in your heart that it could be so simple as to blame a silly girl for her silly love. Tell yourself for a moment that her affection is nothing more than the giddy obsession of a human and not worth this turmoil. Acknowledge that it would be easier, easiest, if Rosalie were right after all.

Hate yourself. Take it back, the wayward lashing of terror and blame, of blasphemous slander, even though you never spoke it aloud. Whisper in her ear that it’s not her fault, could never be her fault. As she dreams, confess the truth:

“I’ve done this, Isabella. It isn’t you. It wasn’t you.”

Doubt. Wonder, “How can my emotion be defined as love if I allow this to continue? If I continue to expose her to the danger inherent to my existence?”

Conclude, “If I love her, I will do what’s best for her, even at my own expense.”

Run away as dawn breaks; she can’t know you stayed. Tell your family it’s what you want. Hurl insults at the ones who love you, who want the best for you, and blame them for your failure. Jasper’s inordinate thirst, the imperfection of Alice’s sight, even Carlisle’s naive optimism—use anything necessary to convince them you’re right. Persuade them to abandon their daughter, their sister, their light and joy. Ignore Esme’s maternal grief, Rosalie’s crowing indignation, and Emmett’s torn spirit. Disregard Jasper’s guilt, Alice’s visions of a murky future, and Carlisle’s wavering hope.

Keep her at arm’s length as you walk the halls, your eyes distant and disinterested when they meet hers across a table or over your shoulder. Later, when she sits in the passenger seat of your car after school and asks if you will return to hold her in the night, tell her, “No, Bella. Not tonight.”

Kiss her, oh God, kiss her. Taste her lips, one last time. See the fear that dims the light in her eyes. Remember: this is for Bella.

Destroy your room in a fit of grief. Incinerate every memento you have that incites your traitorous memory and regret it the moment they’re gone. Scream over the misery you’ve wrought. Crush the ivory keys of your piano in your agony as you pound out a relentless dirge; let the senseless destruction remind you of what is in store for your Beloved if you stay.

Help them pack, cover the furniture, empty the refrigerator of the food that nourished her. Tell them you’ll meet them in Denali, and "No, you can’t say good-bye."

Sift through her belongings like a twisted freak. Smell her clothes, lie in her bed. Tuck a few loose strands of her silken hair into your pocket. Steal her evidence of you; help her forget, and bury them in the floor. Let a secret part of you hope that she’ll see them and know the truth.

You must assure that she will never know.