I know it feels like no one's around,

But baby, you're wrong.

Just get rid of the fear,

Promise that I'm here,

I'll never be gone.

March 29, 2016

She never felt good enough for him.

Never.

Since the day they met, it had always been him taking the lead, him taking her hand, him kissing her forehead and reassuring her that everything would be all right. Her role in the relationship had been simply going along for the ride, appreciating his unfailing loyalty to her across an approximated 5400-mile distance.

After their mutual one-year break and following reunion, the feeling only got progressively worse with the time they spent apart. And then it was times like these when she was alone that the fear settled in. What if she was making a huge mistake?

He deserved more than her, a simple girl from a nameless town in the middle of nowhere. He deserved someone like him. Full of life, exuberant, lively, daring... Mischievous.

A hint of a smile teased her lips as she fondly remembered all the times he and Lucas had gotten away with murder by pulling their highly effective, matching puppy dog looks.

Just as quickly as it came, the ghost flitted away and her depression returned stronger than ever.

Her roommates were out, thankfully, and thereby spared her pitiful wallowing across the couch. Textbooks were piled in a neat stack on the end of the coffee table before her, this time by subject, size, and author. Just ten minutes prior, she'd arranged them by color like the 4-year-old child she felt like she was rather than the 22-year-old adult - college student, really - she actually was.

The status light on her phone flared red, reminding her of the missed notifications she'd purposefully left unread, unreplied. She had memorized them twenty minutes ago: two from Luke, one from Eleanor, and three from him. As she watched, the phone skittered a few centimeters across the table. Added height from her elbow allowed her a glance at the screen. This time, it was from James.

She could just imagine how things were playing out on their end.

His texts had come in at every hour: 2, 3, and then 4. It was 4:49. He generally went to bed at midnight, but James was a completely different story. It'd been years since she'd discovered that her best friend essentially had no regular sleeping schedule, years since she'd started shooting him midnight calls because she missed hearing their voices.

It being almost 1 in the morning for them, she could only assume - fairly safely - that Edmund had voiced concerns to James for the past two hours, hence the text now.

The decision to ignore the text had just settled firmly into her mind when the phone rang with his ringtone. His ringtone.

She stared, face completely void of emotion, as the ringing ended a long minute and a half later.

Not a second later, it rang again.

"What are you still doing up?"

"Hello to you, too..." he commented sarcastically. "Forgive me for worrying that something had happened to you since you haven't replied my texts for, what has it been now - the past almost three hours."

Guilt lodged in her throat. She replied with complete silence.

"Stop being depressed."

"...I'm not."

"You're a horrible liar to me, did you know that? I can literally see you sat on your sofa, in sweats, with a pile of textbooks in front of you arranged as if someone had far too much time on their hands."

"No!" But even as the denial escaped her lips, a pointed foot extended to nudge the top half of one of her piles off center.

"Oh, no, sorry, you just messed up your stack. So you've just been in sweats on the couch with a slightly off-kilter pile of books."

Her half-accusing, half-whining response didn't go through the filter before it left her lips. "Well, I'm sorry for missing you so much." She regretted the words as soon as the last syllable had sounded. "No... I didn't mean that..."

"...Elizabeth, go... When we hang up, I want you to go for a walk, okay? Can you promise me that?"

"I'm so-"

"Promise me."

"I promise. Edmund, I'm-"

"I know you didn't mean it. I know, love, I know. I swear it'll get better. It will. Just another 47 days and then we'll have another three months together, remember?"

She poked at the carpet sullenly with her toe before retracting it to cuddle her knees to her chest. "How do you always stay so optimistic?"

A sigh came over the line. "Because I know, no matter where I go, no matter where I am, I will always have you to come home to. It doesn't matter where both of us are right at this moment, because in the future, we'll find each other at home, regardless of where home physically is on this planet." When she didn't reply, he pressed on. "I know it's hard, love. I know. It hurts for me, too, especially seeing Luke and El together all the time, but I promise I'll always just be a phone call away."

"...kay..."

"You know?"

"Hmm?"

"I sleep with my phone on nowadays. It's always sat on my bedside table because I want to be sure that if you ever call, I'll be able to pick up even if it's 3 in the morning for me."

"...really?"

"Mmhmm. And Pooky's always next to me."

The smile hung on for longer this time before she finally finished her apology. "I'm sorry I'm always so depressed."

"Don't you ever, ever apologize about this. It's not your fault. Just...promise me this."

"Yeah?"

"Promise me that the next time you're really, really upset about this, that you'll call me. I don't care what time it is. I just want you to call me and know that if I don't pick up, it's because I'm in the middle of something I can't drop at that very second. But I just want you to know that I will always be here for you until we're together again. Got it?"

"Got it."

"Pinky promise?"

"You can't pinky promise over a phone, Edmund," she giggled.

"I don't know about you, but my pinky's touching my phone..."

She pressed her own free pinky to her phone and kept it there for a second longer. Her emotional pain told her to feel stupid, to roll her eyes at his eternally childish, wishful nature. Her hopeful heart urged her to say it, to say it and to keep her pinky there until she hung up because it was his endearingly simplistic perspective that was the one constant that never failed to motivate her.

"I love you."

His response followed without delay. "I love you too. 47 more days. I promise."