A/N: This story is more intense/adult than my usual writing style. If you've read my HP fics and aren't sure how you'll feel about this, or you're new to me as an author, I encourage you to at least give it a try.
Edit: This isn't based on a real, existing film. The film aspect is a part of the story.
I don't own this world or these characters, just my plot.
If you're reading this, I know what you're expecting to read. You want the heartwarming story that they made a film out of. You want the beautiful actress Rosalie Hale and her best friend Jess Stanley falling in love with the dashing investigator Emmett McCarty as she finds her true parents in Aro Volturi and Charlotte Randall and escapes from Victoria James and Irina Laurent. Well sorry, but that's not what you're going to get. For one thing, I will never be as beautiful as Rosalie, though I think Edward kicks Emmett's ass any day. Jessica Stanley alright, but my Alice is a shorter, and nicer person by far. Victoria James doesn't capture the essence of Tanya at all, and while Charlotte's alright if Aro Volturi turned out to be my father my life would've gone very differently. No, my name is Isabella. Swan, Denali, the last name is negotiable. The point is, this story isn't a fairytale. It's real life. It's my life. If you want to keep reading it's up to you.
I know you want to jump right in on the day that my whole life began to unravel, because that's where the film starts and Rosalie Hale has beautiful weepy eyes of disbelief. But I'm telling this story, and so we're going to start off with my earliest memory of my mom. And yes, for right now, I mean Tanya Denali.
I remember I was about 3 or 4 years old, so this was 2 or 3 years after she and my aunt Jane took me. I remember sitting in a cart in a grocery store, and this woman comes up to me and my mom. She leans down over me and pinches my cheek, and I remember looking up to my mom in confusion.
"Your daughter is so beautiful." The woman said. My mom beamed like it was the nicest thing anyone had ever said to her. She picked me up right out of the cart, and held me close to her.
"Her name is Isabella." She told the woman. "But my sister and I call her Bella because she's so beautiful."
"Are you raising her all alone?" The woman asked. I remember this, because of the way the woman's face curled up in disgust. She took a step back, like she was afraid my mom and I were going to contaminate her. But my mom wasn't even phased. I remember looking up at her, at this bright smile she got on her face.
"Isabella is the best gift that God ever gave me. I knew it from the moment I saw her." The woman got all huffy and walked off, and to be honest I don't remember much after that. But I remember that moment because it was the first time I really understood how much my mother loved me. Holding me close like that, I could feel it in her voice and in her heart.
I know I'm not supposed to say that. Believe me, one unglamorous thing you won't see in the movie is how much therapy you go through when you find out that the mother who loved you for your whole life actually stole you from a group of perfectly sane, wonderful people who were also willing to love you but never got the chance. But it's true. It was an obsession, it was unhealthy, and I am finally able to admit that it was crazy. But my mother loved me more than anything else.
I remember a lot of other things in my childhood. I was always kind of a small kid, which makes perfect sense now. My mom was very protective of me. I remember any time something happened to me, whether I was sick or had a scrape, my mom brought me to see Aunt Jane. As a licensed nurse, Aunt Jane was more than qualified to take care of it. Besides, it wasn't too long before I gave up most physical things in exchange for being a huge nerd.
That's another thing they got wrong in the movie. You know that scene about that cute brunette little girl asking her pretty redhead mother why she doesn't look like her after soccer practice? If that had ever happened at all, if I had ever thought to ask my mom why I wasn't a pretty, fair-headed little girl like her or Aunt Jane, it was more likely to happen in a library. My mom pushed me to love reading and academics, and I did.
I could be cynical and say that it's because she didn't want me to get hurt and see a doctor, or anything that could get her found out, but that really doesn't make sense to me. From what I know about my mother, she wanted me to be beautiful and smart. Tanya Denali wanted me to have an amazing life. She always had time to help me with my homework, no matter what job she was working. She taught me how to do my make-up, how to curl my hair, and when I didn't have an interest in those things she taught me how unimportant they were.
I wish I had a more exciting backstory sometimes. On the days that I dislike her especially. Sometimes, when I'm getting breakfast with Charlie and Renee, or when Nessie and I are hanging out, I wish I could tell them that they did something better than my mom. That they understood me better than Tanya, or they let me be my own person, or they were less demanding. My relationship with Tanya was not perfect. But there was never a second in my life that I doubted that she wanted me to feel loved and cherished.
Growing up in a small town in Massachussets, I never had a reason to leave the state. We would go on vacation to Boston, and no matter how many times we'd done it before my mom always let me walk the freedom trail like a geeky tourist. We would go on duck tours, explore the art and science museums, or relax in the park. This is how I decided that I wanted to go to MIT, seeing all of the MIT students relaxing in the park, working on cool projects or riding bikes they'd made themselves.
With the same fervor, obsession probably, that she dedicated to all of my goals, Tanya made sure my dream would happen. Even when I realized that I wanted to do something more creative, she helped me be the best student that I could be. By the time I was a senior in high school, MIT was all but a guarantee. When I graduated High School, my mom helped me decorate my graduation cap with MIT or Bust in sparkling rhinestones. When I graduated from MIT with my Business degree, my mom was ecstatic. She was the proudest parent there by far.
I remember her just holding me and crying, telling me how proud she was of me. I knew that my mom had never gone to college – she never got the chance. My aunt Jane went back for her nursing degree, but my mom was content to work odd jobs and dream. When I graduated, she told everyone that it was like one of her lifelong dreams had been accomplished. I felt so loved that day, it almost hurt.
The only decision I ever made that Tanya didn't immediately support with her whole heart, was my decision to move from Massachusetts to Seattle for a job. I knew that my mom hated the West Coast. I thought it was because she hated the small religious town in Montana, where I was "born," and that she and Jane never wanted me to go back to. I convinced my mom and Aunt Jane that I would never even set foot in Montana, and when that wasn't good enough, I told them I wouldn't so much as leave Seattle without letting them know first. For obvious reasons my mom was terrified about me living so close to where I was actually born, but I didn't know that then. It was our first real fight, but when my mom realized that I had made up my mind, she let me go with her blessing.
In the interest of full honesty, my therapist has made it clear to me that this need to have control over my life and dictate my activities is not actually characteristic of love. On a rational level, I completely understand this. It is crazy, and as therapy has taught me, if I hadn't been conditioned for my whole life to see Tanya's obsessive control over all of my wants and actions as normal, I'd be able to see that. But the truth is, it feels like love. It feels like love that my mom cared enough to want to watch over all aspects of my life, and make each one as perfect as she possibly could.
Still, done was done. Unlike in the movie, once my mom realized that I had made up my mind about Seattle, she tried to be excited for me. She helped me in the roommate search, and was delighted when I found Alice and Angela looking for a third. She joked that Angela was my little guardian angel while I was so far away. She laughed at the jokes Alice told me over the internet and on the phone. She sent both of them care packages when we signed the lease, a month before I even moved. When I left, she didn't drive with me – letting my then-boyfriend Paul take care of that. However, she did give me armfuls of pictures of me and her to decorate my new room with, as well as enough food to last the first week. She told me to call her at the first sign of trouble, and reminded me to keep my nose clean and stay on the straight and narrow.
I knew I would forever be friends with Alice and Angela from the second I walked in the door. Back then Angela had just started her copy editor position at the newspaper, and Alice was working at the same PR firm as me, although she was branding and I was analytics. I loved my job almost instantly as well. For that first year or so Seattle was perfect. Seven months into us living together Alice met Jasper, who soon became a near-permanent fixture in our lives. Southern, charming, intelligent, and kind he swept Alice off of her feet, and it didn't take long for us to all know he was her one.
I'm not writing all of this to guilt or goad anyone, or to try and make people love Jane or Tanya. I believe that people deserve to know the truth about them, and the truth about me, more than a film can convey. What happened to me has touched a lot of people out there, who have been through various but still painful situations, and I want them to get a picture of the crazy variation of emotions that surround this all. I'm not perfect, nor Edward, Alice, Angela, Jasper, Tanya, Jane, my Swan parents, or Nessie. It's tempting to draw lines on who is good and who is bad, or who was right and who was wrong. But the truth is, everything is messy. Sometimes all of us were right, sometimes none of us were.
Life is difficult, we faced it, and now I have two loving parents, an amazing sister, my best friends, and a mom and aunt out there who gave me the best life they could give. This book is my chance to say what happened and make peace with it. Consider it the final chapter of this moment in my life – my Swansong.