I've been reading New Moon, by Stephenie Meyer. Previous entries can be found in the directory. As always, please share your thoughts on this chapter in the comments.
Chapter 3: The End
The next morning Bella is feeling shitty and Edward is still all dead inside. I mean, he literally is dead inside, but for once he’s actually acting like it. Bella’s afraid he’s been thinking about “right and wrong” all night—if he has, he’s probably got some really retarded ideas this morning. Does Edward stay in bed with Bella all night? Does he ever get up and go for a walk? Catch a movie? It just feels like such a waste. What good is immortality if you’re not going use all of that time? Alice and Jasper have band practice at night. Emmett plays Call of Duty and re-watches Die Hard. Carlisle and Esme play board games (Operation, natch), and Rosalie practices bitchy faces in the mirror. They’re making the most of it!
Bella’s anxiety is sort of taking the form of a hangover—she’s got a pounding headache, she’s wincing at loud sounds—and to make matters worse, Edward is almost totally ignoring her. She’s got a million questions for Alice, but she never shows up to school. Edward finally tells her in the middle of that day that Alice is with Jasper. And Jasper has “gone away for a while.”
“And Alice, too,” I said with quiet desperation.
I would object to the appropriation of “quiet desperation” here, but Alice is gone? That blows! Edward keeps up the cold shoulder routine for the rest of the day.
“Did someone say pork shoulder?”-Charlie Swan
Bella’s frustrated that she keeps having to break the silence, but she does. She tries to use sex again to warm him up—okay, she uses the promise of more dry humping—but it doesn’t work this time. He’s ice cold. Literally, but also figuratively.
Bella has to go to work, and when she finally parts with Edward she basically has a panic attack in a parking lot. “I was able to talk myself into enough composure to handle getting out of the truck and walking to the store.” That is an ugly sentence—“enough composure?”—but I kind of admire it as a pseudo-entry in the Bella Swan Mixed-Metaphor Hall of Fame. Blame lying “on the doorstep of the town of Forks,” is still one of my all time favorites.
The “store,” by the way, is the Newton family sporting goods store. Mike greets her enthusiastically (Now we know the strings Bella pulled to get this gig—or rather the one string. Is that suggestive enough? I’m talking about Mike Newton’s penis.) and Bella nods “vaguely in his direction.” That’s a good move, Bella. I use that one a lot.
Bella spends work distracted thinking about what Edward could be thinking—she decides she’ll offer to stay away from his house from now on. “I’d see Alice at school,” she says. “No doubt I would also run into Carlisle with regularity—in the emergency room.” Sorry Jasper, Rosalie, Emmett and Esme! I guess you don’t rate! Then Bella has a reprise of her “let’s away to prison” King Lear speech, where she decides that the two of them should run away together into semi-seclusion. At some point in this chapter she just starts assuming that also is what Edward is thinking. It reads to me like a profound delusion, but maybe it’s supposed to be a real red herring.
Bella drives home and is relived to see Edward’s car in her driveway, but she ends up walking straight into some kind of Sam Mendes-style domestic hellscape. Edward and her father are sitting in the living room, watching SportsCenter. For a minute Bella talks to Charlie and Edward doesn’t say anything. Finally he makes dead-eyed eye contact as Bella heads to the kitchen, saying “I’ll be right behind you,” before returning to the TV. It’s weird that such a thing would be chilling, but it is. All of Edward’s charming chivalry is gone—he’s not sitting in a wife beater drinking a can of PBR, but he might as well be, you know? What is wrong with my testosterone levels that I find sitting around seemingly half-conscious and watching ESPN to be utterly appalling?
Bella sits in the kitchen running through worst-case scenarios. If Edward wants her to stay away from his family, she’ll do it. “Of course, he wouldn’t expect Alice to be a part of that,” she says. That’s right Edward! Don’t you dare try to keep Alice and Bella apart! Would you try to keep peanut butter away from jelly? No. You would not. Would you try to keep Ellen away from Portia? I promise I know other lesbian couples, but they are not springing to mind at the moment.
Bella returns to the “running away” scenario, and is troubled by the idea of leaving her parents. Thinking about them, she regards her camera and scrapbook sitting on the table and decides to start documenting the time she has left in Forks. She starts to think about Edward’s “carefree laughter” the night before juxtaposed with his current Al Bundy incarnation in the next room.
It made me feel a little bit dizzy, like I was standing on an edge of a precipice somewhere much too high.
"All due respect, Bella, you got no fuckin' idea what it's like to be Number One. Every decision you make affects every facet of every other fuckin' thing. It's too much to deal with almost. And in the end you're completely alone with it all."
We’re accumulating themes at a pretty rapid pace here—we’ve got the Romeo and Juliet motif, the self-absorbed love stuff, the cliff imagery, the soul garbage. I’m not complaining; compared to the relatively thematically shallow Twilight this book is reaching Shakespearian thematic density. Didn’t see that coming.
Bella takes a picture of her room, despite the fact that it hasn’t really changed since her childhood. She notes that her mother will recognize the quilt—you know, the one she dry humped Edward against—because it was made by her grandmother. Gross.
Bella feels change coming, and the urge to take pictures is weirdly compulsive. She goes down to the living room, where Edward and Charlie are still staring at the TV, and forces them to pose for a few shots. She notes the “strange distance” in Edward’s eyes. “Probably he was worried I would be upset when he asked me to leave.” Poor Bella! Oy! They take some joyless photos—Bella can barely smile—and she tries to be casual around Edward but after Charlie takes a picture of them, this happens:
Edward dropped his hand from my shoulder and twisted casually out of my arm. He sat back down in the armchair.
O cruel! What a dick! Bella sits on the floor and tries to hide her shaking hands. The show ends and Edward gets up to leave. What a dick! My allegiance to Team Alice grows stronger every day. Bella follows him, he refuses to come back and stay the night, and he leaves her awkwardly standing in the driveway in the rain until Charlie calls her back from the porch. I have to say, it’s quite a compelling miserable scene, New Moon’s own little Revolutionary Road. And someone needs to punch Edward in the face. Dick.
The cycle continues for a few days—Edward walks with Bella everywhere, goes to class, and doesn’t talk. It echoes the scenes in Twilight where the opposite happens: they talk for days and days. Both are a little tedious! Last time I was like, fuck already! Now I’m just like, fucking break up already! “If only Alice would come back,” Bella laments. I know!
One day after work Bella picks up the first roll of developed photos. She goes home and looks at the first picture. “When I pulled it out, I gasped aloud.” That’s what she said. Bella, I mean. Edward looks just as good on film as he does in real life. “It was almost uncanny that anyone could look so… so… beyond description. No thousand words could equal this picture.” Well, thanks for trying anyway, S. Meyer.
The next few pictures, taken after the party, show the very different, new asshole Edward 2.0. He’s still hot, but it doesn’t cheer Bella up. Looking at them together she feels uglier by comparison rather than hotter by addition. She folds the picture in half and puts it in the book, Edward facing up. I’m thinking maybe instead of a picture of a shadow being cast by the number four I should just have a “cymbal” sound effect or something for symbolic moments like these.
One day the axe just falls. Edward asks Bella to take a walk with him in the woods. There’s a lot of stuff about smiles not touching/reaching eyes and Edward speaking in an “unemotional tone”—clearly this is not going to be a walk to a surprise party or something. Bella’s been waiting for a chance to talk through whatever the fuck is happening, but now she’s seized with panic.
I didn’t like this. Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, shit, the voice in my head repeated again and again.
Well, that’s not exactly an accurate quote, but you get it.
They only walk a few feet into the woods before Edward stops. “We’re leaving,” he says. Bella, not understanding what he meant with the “we,” starts pushing him to wait a few months until graduation. When he starts talking about how Carlisle is trying to pass for thirty-three, the awful truth dawns on Bella. It gets pathetic real fast.
“I’m not good for you, Bella.”
“Don’t be ridiculous.” I wanted to sound angry, but it just sounded like I was begging. “You’re the very best part of my life.”
The problem is, the rest of this chapter has turned me against Edward so much, I’m kind of excited he’s leaving. I’m not stupid—I know Bella is about to get fucking miserable—but this motherfucker is more trouble than he’s worth. Good riddance (for now) to bad rubbish (at the moment) is what I say.
The fight hits some predictable beats:
- Bella brings up his promise in Phoenix that he’d stay—he reminds her that he said, “As long as that was best for you.” Bella knew that was going to come back and bite her in the ass one day.
- Bella brings up the soul stuff: “You can have my soul. I don’t want it without you—it’s yours already!” Nicely played, Bella. That would have worked on me!
- Edward’s eyes aren’t “liquid topaz” anymore—his eyes are harder, “like the liquid gold had frozen solid.” If Edward is leaving I hope he’s taking the eye metaphors with him. We get another one in a page or so: “His eyes were like topaz—hard and clear and very deep.” Why is this written like it’s the first time we’ve ever heard about the topaz?
- Edward delivers the crushing blow when he tells her, “Bella, I don’t want you to come with me,” somehow emphasizing the subtext. “You…don’t…want me?” Bella says. Don’t you just want to give her a hug? Where’s Esme when you need her?
Bella kind of goes numb for a while, and Edward gives a big speech about how he’s sick of being human.
“Don’t.” My voice was just a whisper now; awareness was beginning to seep through me, trickling like acid through my veins. “Don’t do this.”
I really wouldn’t be able to break up with Bella! That would have totally broken my resolve! But Edward is a stronger man than I. He does eventually break out of the super-cold mode for a second to plead with Bella to take care of herself, and she promises that she will. He says he’ll make a promise in return. “I promise this will be the last time you’ll see me. I won’t come back.” That doesn’t seem like a fair promise-for-promise exchange. Don’t act like you’re doing us a favor, Edward! “It’ll be as if I never existed,” he says.
I know what you’re thinking: what this really needs is a patronizing coup de grace—that would really complete the asshole package. Edward delivers:
“Don’t worry, you’re human. Your memory is no more than a sieve.”
Hey Edward, didn’t you say you were going to leave or something? For one of my seminar papers this year (you know, the thing I should be writing right now) I’ve been looking at rates of “don’t know” responses in public opinion pills. Clyde and Lolagene Coombs found that among the usual expected lack of information, apathy, and similar factors that contribute to levels of “don’t know” responses, rates are also just correlated with time. Longer surveys wear people down, and don’t know responses go up as survey length does.
There may be something of that going on here, because the worst moment for Bella seems to come when Edward says, “We won’t bother you again,” and Bella realizes that Alice is gone too.
“Alice is gone?” My voice was blank with disbelief.
It might just be correlated with time, but I hope not. Bella gets dizzy, and Edward bails, but not before pecking her on the forehead. Thanks, Edward. I’m sure that made the girl feel so great! Don’t let the forest hit you in the ass on the way out!
Bella tries to follow him, but soon she’s just walking through the woods in a daze. “Love, life, meaning…over,” she muses. She walks for hours, trips over something, and then just stays down. It’s dark out. She gets the feeling a lot of time has passed, but she can’t tell because there’s no moonlight.
A new moon. I shivered, though I wasn’t cold.
I know, Bella. The symbolism knocks me out. Not really though. More like symbolis-meh, you know?
Eventually Bella starts hearing people call her name, but she doesn’t answer. She realizes she probably should, but she can’t summon the energy. She falls asleep and wakes up again when it starts raining.
She hears an animal-like “snuffling sound” nearby. Bella again notes that she should probably do something, but she doesn’t give a fuck. She is so beyond giving a fuck. A dude shows up with a propane lantern (retro!) and tries to get her attention. He’s like, “I’m Sam Uley,” and Bella is like, “Fuck off.”
But then Sam mentions Charlie and Bella snaps out of it. She ends up allowing the dude to pick her up and carry her home. “Some part of me knew this should upset me…but there was nothing left in me to be upset.” Bella totally gets off on all this misery, and I am right there with her. Sam brings her back to where a big crowd of people have gathered; Charlie put quite the search party together. There’s a sweet moment when he runs up to Sam and carries Bella into the house, even though he can’t quite manage it gracefully. He wraps her in blankets and puts her on the couch. There’s a doctor there, but uh, it’s not Carlisle. Forks has more than one doctor?
Bella pretends to have gotten lost in the woods, but she’s sort of very obviously having a nervous collapse. It seems like most of the males in Forks are in her living room—even Mike Newton. It’s got to be embarrassing to have so public a breakdown, but if Mike Newton is anything like me it will just make Bella seem hotter. Maybe I’m weird. Well, I definitely am.
Bella overhears in the swirling, hushed conversation going on around her that the Cullen family has come up with a public alibi for their exit: Dr. Cullen got a job offer in LA. Bella is like, well obviously they are not going there, but she seems to be forgetting that just a few months ago the Cullens came up with the brilliant strategy of making it seem like she was running to Phoenix so that it wouldn’t seem like she was going to Phoenix so that she actually could go to Phoenix. I wouldn’t eliminate that LA possibility just yet. The search party leaves and Charlie answers a bunch of worried phone calls while Bella zones out on the couch. Eventually she hears a tense conversation between Charlie and Billy Black—it turns out they are having celebratory bonfires on the Reservation.
At this Bella gives us a weird paragraph of backstory about how the Quileutes hate the Cullens. We’re still doing summary this late in the game? Page 81? I was enjoying wallowing in your misery, Bella. Don’t interrupt!
Charlie obviously wants to know why Edward dumped his daughter several miles into the forest, but Bella explains that she tried to follow him. It turns out Edward forged a note in Bella’s handwriting explaining that they’d gone for a walk in the woods that afternoon. So Edward knew she’d probably wander off all devastated, and would, you know, probably require a search party, but he didn’t care enough other than to leave a clue for Charlie? What a dick!
And Edward isn’t even done with his dick moves—Bella goes to her room and all the pictures of him in her album are gone. Her birthday CD is gone. Every artifact she could associate with him is gone. Fuuuuuuck.
Whoever edited this video is a fucking CHAMPION. I was looking for the original 2Gether video and I found it. Same wavelength, whoever you are.
The whole “give me back my stuff” thing is a particularly callow way to end a relationship. This, as most of the other stuff, is kind of a subtle perversion of normal break-up tropes, and I can appreciate the sitcom-level cleverness of it. Obviously it doesn’t remind Bella of an episode of Seinfeld or something, though. She collapses onto the floor.
I hoped that I was fainting, but to my disappointment I didn’t lose consciousness. The waves of pain that had only lapped at me before now reared high up and washed over my head, pulling me under.
I did not resurface.
Like I said, I kind of enjoy Bella’s misery. Not that I want to see her suffer—I think it’s more like how some white people probably felt watching Precious or something. I have a feeling I won’t be so jazzed after a few hundred pages of this, though. And that’s exactly what we’re about to get.