Well here we are ... the end. It is sad to put another story to bed, but fear not our faithful readers there will be another story posting soon.
10 years later
I arrive home twenty minutes later than I had planned. I hate being late, but Bella already knows that this court case has been going on longer than expected. Thank God, today was the end of the testimony. Tomorrow, all I have to do is give the closing arguments and then wait, and hopefully for a guilty verdict.
"Hi, love," I say as I walk into our home. I hang up my jacket as all four kids run up to greet me. Even with being over ten years old, the kids all still run up and greet me when I come home.
"How was the first day back at school?" I ask walking with them to the living room.
"It was good; we've all settled well into our new year and classes," Elizabeth states. We now call her Beth for short, and she is often the spokesperson for the group. She is very much her mother's daughter. Out of our four children, she is the caregiver, and she's always watching after her brothers and sister. Even other children seem to flock to her if they are in need of someone to help, or to talk with.
Ethan still looks exactly like me, in every way. The only thing different between us, is our personality. Ethan's more of a homebody than me. He enjoys cooking and doing arts and crafts. Whereas, I was more into studying and academics when I was in school; he is more laid back.
Masen, our younger boy, looks like his mother, but is the one who seems to have a thirst for learning. Similar to me, learning has come relatively easy. Masen was offered to skip a grade, but refused not wanting to leave Elizabeth behind. Elizabeth is the mother hen, but she is a rather slow learner. She always has to work hard for her grades, but she gets by with help of an IEP.
Siobhan is the apple of my eye, and I think she's the apple of Bella's eye, too. She is the one that struggles the most with both school and learning. Currently, we are having her assessed to see if she falls into the ASD spectrum. Wherein, this is a little late in coming being that she is thirteen now; it is something we feel is needed. The school psychologist thought at first that her learning needs were due to Alice's drinking, and smoking while pregnant, not to mention the way she was treated after being born. However, over the summer, Bella put her foot down and told the school that she needed help. So our doctor agreed to refer her to a Child Health Specialty Clinic, to have full academic testing, as well as a written assessment. Of course, some people seem to think a child needs a label before they can give them the help they need, like the school, but we feel that is a cop out and a crock of shit. We are not looking for a diagnosis, we just want her to get the help and treatments she needs in order to be all that she can. Thankfully, Siobhan has a strong will to keep going, keep trying, and never seems to give up. Even when she is faced with hurdles she just tries harder, which reminds me of her mom—Bella. This is why I think she is the apple of both our eyes.
"Ethan has a girlfriend," Masen says with a chuckle, making Ethan's eyes go wide and my attention goes to him.
"You do?" I ask.
He shakes his head at me, but I raise my eyebrow and he sighs.
"Yeah," he mutters looking down at his feet.
I swallow, knowing that he is too young to have a girlfriend. "What did Mom say?" I ask.
Ethan shrugs. "She said that we—Kelly and I—should just be friends because thirteen is too young to be more than friends."
I nod at him and agree completely with what Bella told him.
"But, I am always behaved," he adds.
"I know you are, and you will continue to be, but you are still too young for anything more than friendship," I answer.
"You said it was cute when I was five," he retorts.
"That's because it was cute then, but now not so much. Don't argue about this anymore, we both agree, and that is the way it is," Bella says draping her arms around me.
"I have a boyfriend," Siobhan says with a huge grin on her face.
"No, you don't," I state making Siobhan narrow her eyes at me.
"Yes, I do, and we're getting married," she waves her hand showing me what looks like a ring from a gumball machine.
"No, you don't. No boyfriends and you will not be married before you are an adult," I say making her lips wobble.
"But he's my best friend," she whines.
I sigh and hold my arms out for her and she climbs into them. "He can be your best boy-space-friend, but until you're much older, he will have to just be your friend. Right now, I enjoy being the man you depend on, and no guy gets to do my job, until you're old enough to move out, okay?"
"Okay, Daddy," she says, and I smile kissing the side of her head.
"How was Mom's day?" I ask, smiling at my beautiful wife. I am so fucking proud of her. Bella kept working at the diner, but started to take online courses also. It may have taken her a little longer than others to graduate, but just three months ago she passed her last test, and got a job almost immediately at Port Angeles College. She's specializing in therapy in the workplace. She is a campus therapist, for employees and students. The college has also given her a room to use on campus, where she holds seminars, twice a week. This is a rather new program that Bella, Rose and Tanya developed for Bella's thesis. Port Angeles has been the first campus to provide therapy at work on a full time basis, so I am rooting for her that it works.
"My first day was good, only a few people came in to see me. My schedule is filling up, but the semester just started. I'm hoping it will get busier as more students, faculty and administration learn about what I do."
I kiss her and give her a hug. "Do you need help with dinner?" I ask and of course she shakes her head at me.
"No, the kids are helping. You go get changed," she says with a grin.
I quickly kiss her and make my way to our room. I take off my suit, and place it on the dry cleaning pile. I pull on some comfortable jeans and a t-shirt before heading back out to help Bella and the kids.
"Lauren and Jasper are coming for the weekend," Bella says as we pull back our bedding to get in.
It was clear that Jasper needed a fresh start and to reconnect with his parents. Lauren is the one that took it upon herself to arrange things for Jasper and her. She planned for them to go to Texas where his parents were living. When they went, Jasper seemed so much better, and Lauren loved the ranch so they decided to move.
Within a year of living there they were married, and then came their son, James. They added to their family twice more with a second son, Frank, and lastly their daughter, Faith.
As they now own the ranch and make a shit load of money, they come here every other month for a week. We also visit them during the summer, so we're all still pretty close.
Jessica and Mike did almost what we thought they would do. They called us all one day asking for us to join them for dinner. We all thought it was just to celebrate Mike becoming a detective. But no, they stunned us by announcing they had eloped. Jessica and Mike have two girls, Apple and Ava, and they seem to be happy for now with just the two kids.
Next to get married was Emmett and Rose, and it was the wedding of the year. They both wanted and had what I would say was a fairytale wedding. Their wedding was followed a short eight months later by the birth of their son, Robert.
"I can't wait to see the kids again," Bella carries on with a smile, pulling me from my thoughts.
I grin back at her, and she crawls across the bed to me. I lean down kissing her lips as I start to undress her.
Bella and I make love often, but there are still times even after all these years, that she suddenly freezes and I can see she is trapped back in that dark, cold alley. It just makes me hate Angela and Benjamin all over again.
Alice is still in the state hospital, and clearly off of her rocker. Benjamin wrote us a letter a few years ago, apologizing. It was strange reading it. The whole letter was strange, more so when I got to the end. I was glad I was sitting down as I read it since he asked—well begged me really—to find a way that would stop him from being released from prison. He told me that he couldn't trust himself. He stated that he did not want to hurt anyone else. Despite the massive amounts of therapy and treatments he has undergone, he still feels that he is a monster and always would be. I didn't know what to say or even do, but I found myself sitting across from him, at the prison. He told me face to face that he never wanted to do the things he did, but he had no control over his thoughts. Even when he tried to stop, Angela had the ability to feed the monster inside of him. He was in fear that the monster would no longer be controllable if he were to be released.
I left still feeling weird, but I knew that he needed help. It took me a few weeks but with Aro's help, we had a statement from a psychiatrist saying that he believed that Benjamin may be a danger to the public. The doctor agreed to continue working with him, and he is meeting with him on a weekly basis. If after a year, Benjamin still feels this way, then the doctor promises him that he will make sure he is not allowed to be paroled.
Angela, on the other hand, is dead. Right up to the time she died, she continued to say that she was innocent. Even her parents sang that song; they still do in fact. We see them every once and again on TV trying hard to clear their dead daughter's name. We still don't know the full story, but what we have heard is that she got into a fight with a guard. Another inmate went to help the guard, and Angela was stabbed in the heart with the shank she was using to attack the guard. She slowly bled out with a toothbrush stabbed through her neck, while the medical response team was saving the life of the guard. Her parents think that the guard or other inmate was a friend or a family member of one of Benjamin's victims, and blamed only her daughter for the rapes, but that's never been proven. It was, however, proven by surveillance inside the prison, that Angela was the one who started the altercation, and that the toothbrush made into a shank was hers.
I stand as the judge comes back in and then take my seat. My eyes flicker to the victim and I give her a small reassuring smile.
"Tony Walker, stand up please," the judge orders and he stands. "You have been found guilty by a group of your peers of first count of rape, first count of sexual assault, and unlawful imprisonment. By the state of Washington, I am sentencing you to the minimum for each crime to be served. The sentencing is as follows, two years for unlawful imprisonment, four years for sexual assault, and six years for rape. You are hereby sentenced to a total of twelve years to be served concurrently."
I smile letting out a breath, with a lot of work and fighting, and, of course, with David Blake as our Governor, we have to be able to fight the law statues in Washington to help raise the penalties for crime. The minimum sentence for sexual assault cases was increased from two years to four years. If there is a minor child involved, then the sentence is automatically doubled. Whereas, these are a step in the right direction, the judges tend to now only issue the minimum sentencing in these types of cases.
When court is adjourned, I walk over to Annie. "How are you?" I ask softly.
"Not sure," she says looking at me blankly. "I feel as if he still got off too lightly for everything that he put me through."
I nod, knowing that she's hurting more because he was her boyfriend. She trusted him; trusted that she would be safe with him. She had no reason to not trust him giving her a drink, or when she fell asleep. She thought she would be okay with him. "If you need to call me about the case, or about what any of this means – then please do," I say handing her my card.
She nods at me and takes the card. "Thank you," she says quietly.
I give her a nod and she walks away. I watch her the whole time as she makes her way down the hallway and let out a sigh. She seems to still be fighting her demons, and she's still clearly in the dark place that he took her to. I have told her about the many places that are open for her to get help, but to date, she has refused saying she isn't ready.
I arrive home, feeling both defeated and empowered. The night passes with Bella and me helping the kids with their homework and then getting them off to bed. Only Siobhan still likes to be read a story before bedtime, and I enjoy the time we spend doing it. After the story, I head off to our room and Bella smiles at me as I enter.
"What's wrong, Edward, I though you won your case?"
"I did, but he only received the minimal sentence. A total of twelve years," I sigh as I lie down on the bed.
"I know it's not much, but it's better than what it used to be in cases like that," she soothes me.
I nod at her, knowing this is true. Ten years ago, men who were sentenced to prison for raping either a woman, or a man, were let off with performing community service and time served. "I am just really worried about Annie, she—" I stop, and let out a deep breath. "She looks like she's letting the darkness win."
"You can't save her, she has to save herself," Bella reminds me.
I sigh kissing her lips. "I know, and as much as I hate it, I know, that it's a fight she has to do on her own."
That night, Bella and I slept holding each other close as I was again reminded just how strong my wife is. She fought everything and brought up our son that first year on her own, but she overcame the obstacles and did not let it drag her under.
I smile broadly when I see Jasper, Lauren, and the kids walking out of the airport with a luggage-filled cart.
"Hi," I say with a smile.
"Uncle Eddy!" gets yelled by the kids who all look happy as Lauren hugs me. I let her go and hug each of the kids before moving to help Jasper put their cases in the trunk. I get into the car just as Jasper joins me sitting in the passenger seat.
"How was the flight?" I ask, as Lauren helps buckle in the kids.
"It was all right" Jasper states with a smile on his face.
Looking at him now, I still can't see the man I shared an apartment with, but he's more present than he was when he was with Alice. This is an older more mature version of the Jasper I knew back then. However, the mental scars Alice left him with are still there. I am proud of him because he is using those scars to help other men who have gone through the same experiences that he had. He holds a men's group for battered males of any age at his ranch. His youngest group member has been twelve, and the oldest has been in his seventies, but any male victim can attend for free.
We pull up to the house and the kids all run out greeting their cousins as Bella and Lauren lock arms, I help Jasper with the cases.
"Jazz!" Siobhan says from the side of me. She gives him a huge smile before moving to him and hugging him.
"How's my pumpkin?"
"I'm great and I have a BBFF!" she tells him excitingly.
"What's a BBFF?" Jasper asks.
Siobhan rolls her eyes. "Best Boy Friend Forever," she exclaims.
Jasper's head snaps around to look at me.
"That's right, honey, he's your friend forever," I say.
Siobhan giggles as she nods before skipping back inside the house.
I clasp Jasper's arm. "They're just friends," I chuckle and he shakes his head and smiles.
"Sorry," he says sounding sheepish. "I just know if she gets a boyfriend then Faith will start asking about when she can have one. Why can't they all just stay too young to date?"
I shake my head. "I wish I could press pause, too, they're all growing up so fast."
"I know! Faith's nine, and it feels like only yesterday that I held her as a newborn swaddled in a hospital blanket." Jasper stops and turns looking at me. "I know James came first, but it wasn't until we had Faith that I really saw the difference between how a mom, should be … you know? Hell, I saw what I should have done. I want to protect my boys and show them how you treat a woman—all women—and a great way to do that is to see how I treat their mom. I tell you man, when Faith came along, I saw it wasn't just about how men treat a woman, but how that woman treats a man. Thank God Lauren has already shown them that in order for women and men to be equal, it's about respect. It's about knowing that there are just some things a man can or has to do, likewise a woman can do things that men just can't." He stops and looks at me. "You get me?"
I nod at him because that's how we are raising our children, too. "Come on, let's get inside and help them parent our children," I say, grabbing a few cases.
Jasper nods and follows me in with the rest.
The weekend is spent with having fun together. We go to the Olympic Game Farm, Olympic National Park, and on a trip to see a child-friendly movie at the IMAX Theater. Saturday night my parents take all the kids, as Peter, Charlotte, Frank, and Sasha went to their home, too. They decided to watch the kids and let us parents go out for the night.
When Monday afternoon came around, I was sad to be dropping Jasper, Lauren, and their kids off at the airport to go home.
"We'll see you all at Thanksgiving," I say as I hug Jasper.
"Tell Bella I'll call her tonight," Lauren says hugging me.
I wave as they walk through security and then smile. Even with the sad feelings we all have when Jasper, Lauren, and the kids leave, or when we leave them, we know that just like us, the best place for them and their family is in Texas.
Bella POV – Same timeframe.
I take some deep breaths; I know I am doing the right thing by telling these people about what I have lived through. With all that happened to me in the past, I still feel panic about being so open to people that don't know me, but this is about helping others. I let out a deep breath knowing this is as relaxed as I am going to get.
I walk in standing at the desk. My eyes flicker around the room and almost right away they land on Edward, who is sitting in the middle of the fourth row.
He gives me a smile and a wink, and I look at the rest of the people here. I am a little taken aback to see I have so many people in attendance. The hall looks full, and it's not just women as there seems to be a lot of men here, too.
"Good afternoon. I am Bella Cullen," I say feeling as if my throat has dried up. I take a drink of water from the glass on the desk. "I am grateful that so many of you have turned up here for this discussion. I am not promising for this to be insightful or even have you leaving with a life altering knowledge you didn't have before. I am, however, going to share something about my past with you. Whereas, I don't want any of you, or anyone to go through what I experienced. I only want you to know my story and to know that you aren't alone. I am here for you if you need someone to talk to, or to simply listen. But first let's discuss the word consent. What does consent mean?"
I look around the room seeing a few hands are up. I point at one of them with a smile. "Yes, the lady in the blue top; how do you define consent?"
She stands up and places a smile on her face. "Consent is something a man needs to have in order to have sex with a woman."
I tilt my head a little as the other women in the room nod in agreement with her.
"So, it's just women that have to give consent?" I ask, knowing this is a stigma of many people's beliefs.
"Well, if the guy has an erection, it's kind of a dead giveaway," another woman calls out.
Turning to her, I direct my response to her. "So, if a man has an erection, then he has given consent for a woman—any woman, man, or anyone else who thinks his erection is for them—to have sex with him?"
"No, but, you can't really rape a man—well, a woman can't rape a man," she stammers.
"And here we are," I say shaking my head. "We draw a line in the sand about who can and can't be raped. If a man has an erection, and falls asleep and a woman just carries on, it is seen as being okay, no problem. He just missed out on the fun, right? How about if he has an erection, and he suddenly has a man or woman forcing him to have oral sex? This is an issue that has come out over the last few years. These things seem to be classified as harmless fun. However, in these same cases, if you flip the man into a woman, it is considered to be rape or being violated. Did you know that a woman can have an orgasm when she is being raped? If she has that type of reaction, is it still rape? Just like men's bodies react to stimulation, wanted or not, a woman's does also. If a man does things to a woman, it is rape, hands down, but the same applies to men. Just because the gender of the victim or perpetrator changes doesn't mean the crime does. Rape is considered to be any nonconsensual sexual activity." I stop and swallow as some people look at me stunned.
"Consent is not the absence of the word 'no', but the presence of a free and willing word of 'yes'. So does a 'yes' have to be said verbally for sex to be allowed?"
"Yes," most people call out.
"Really? I have been married for ten years, and my husband and I engage in bedroom activities regularly, but I don't always ask him if he consents, and he doesn't always ask me. So, is it considered rape if a person doesn't say the word 'yes'?"
The group of people in the room just looks at me. "It's not, because 'yes' can be given by the way the person you are with is acting. However, for those of you who are new to that person, a verbal 'yes' should always be sought by both parties. Now, how about if one party says 'yes', and then falls asleep. Is the 'yes' still accounted for if the person is now unconscious?"
"That depends," a man says and I look to him, and give him a motion of my hand to continue. "Say she was awake and you're doing it doggy style, and she falls asleep, and the guy doesn't notice because he's in the moment; that's not rape."
Before I can respond, a woman has jumped up. "Yes, it is, and you should be ashamed to not have noticed that she has fallen asleep."
The guy just looks at her and I wolf whistle before anyone can start arguing. "What would you have done if you knew she was asleep?" I ask the guy.
"Well, I would have stopped, but … that's not rape. I just love my girlfriend, and like her coming with me. I just mean a guy not noticing that the girl is asleep or passes out is not always his fault."
"Okay, moving on," I say.
"Aren't you going to tell us what you think?" a girl calls from the audience.
"No. Because every case is different. From what he said, that couple was having consensual sex and at the peak, the girl just happened to fall asleep as he came. No, I don't think that's rape, but maybe he needs to up his game to keep his girl in the groove, so to speak. However, things like this happen; hell I've fallen asleep during sex, too. It took my husband a few minutes to notice before he stopped, and that wasn't rape. On a side note, it was not that it wasn't exciting; it was that we both were very tired, and we chose the wrong time to try to be together. In each case, we have to look at things from each point of view."
I move the talk on, and we bring up many topics about safety. Some of which the men who were present had no idea that women feel the way they do about certain topics, and were shocked at some of the thoughts that go through our heads.
I then spent almost an hour telling my story. There were tears shed by both woman and men alike. When I'm finished, we talk about safety a bit more, and things we can do to watch out for each other. We discuss how to stand up for ourselves, and to also stand up for someone when they can't.
I saw many hands taking notes, and knew that it wasn't just men that needed to make a stand, take responsibility, and change what everyone thinks, but women, too. We all have to work together.
"You were amazing, love," Edward say as he hugs me.
Edward joins me for lunch and I feel sad when he leaves, but my next class starts almost right away causing my mind to focus on the job I'm being paid to do.
I'm at the cemetery, and the only time I have hated visiting one was several years back when I went to the cemetery in Forks. I really had nothing to say to Charlie, but I did tell Renee that I forgave her. Though her actions would forever remain on my mind, I refused to let thoughts of her or him control me. I don't dwell on the past, but I grow from it daily. I will always better myself and treat my family the way they should be treated. The best thing about Edward is that he treats me with love and consideration and never tries to control me.
I don't like thinking about that day in Forks very much, but a lot of things came to light for me. After the way Emily talked to me, I felt the need to discuss it with Tanya. She helped me to get past the feelings of hate I had faced, and in turn, helped me send information to Sam about helping Emily. Thankfully, he got Emily into therapy, and one year ago they adopted three orphaned children. Their parents, who had died in a car crash, were their neighbors. They had requested in their Will that Emily and Sam be named as the children's guardians should anything happen to them.
Shaking my head, I make my way to my lunch date. "Hi, Pops," I say sitting down. I take my sandwich out as I look at his headstone. I'm eager for our weekly lunch date, so I can talk to him. "It's been a long week, but things are shaping up. The kids are all settled in at school, and we have a meeting tomorrow for Siobhan. We have been starting to worry about her, so she is having a full educational assessment performed including a written expression test."
I sigh rubbing my head. "She needs help, and not just academic help. I wish they would teach her life skills. You know: money, cooking, and how to deal with people."
A gust of wind blows causing me stop talking. I smile a little.
"I still miss you old man," I cough out.
It has been four years since he passed away, but it still feels so raw, and new. I know that it didn't help that we had just lost Granny the week before him. We were at her funeral when Pops took ill. The next day he passed away in his sleep, with Edward, Esme, Carlisle, Rose and I around his bed.
That night was strange; we were just sitting around and talking. I glanced at the clock and frowned as it had jumped an hour ahead. As time passed, I looked back at the clock to see that it was going backwards really fast. I looked at Edward to tell him, but he was already looking at the clock. Our eyes met and then went back to the clock. It was moving forward again, but stopped suddenly. Neither of us could say a word because right then Pops took his last breath. When I looked back at the clock, it was at the time it had been when I first noticed it. It was sad that he was gone, but I couldn't help but smile. I just knew deep down that it was Elizabeth letting us know when she was coming to take him with her.
I shake my lingering hurt away and launch into telling Pops what he has missed over the past week.
"Hi, love, hi, Pops." I turn seeing Edward walking slowly toward me. "You ready to come home?"
I nod at him and stand.
I look at Edward and he holds my hand as both the child educational psychologist and the doctor look at us from across the table.
"We have performed a number of tests, and it would appear that Siobhan has ADHD, ASD, and DCD."
The ADHD I expected, and the Autism spectrum I suspected, but the other one I am unsure of. "DCD?" I ask.
"DCD is Developmental Coordination Disorder, it was also called Dyspraxia. Children with DCD have memory problems," the doctor pauses and seems to be thinking. "I am sure if you asked Siobhan to get you something and said 'it's the blue book in the living room, on the table next to the window, she would not be able to carry out the direction."
I nod in agreement, knowing we've all done this, but she just forgets or seems to not be sure what she was doing.
"That's too much information for her to hold in her working memory. She would forget most of it as soon as you said it. If given a list—not just Siobhan—but other children with DCD, they will maybe remember the first and the last things you asked for, but would forget the rest. Most children with DCD have poor coordination. Most of them are clumsy and have difficulty performing basic skills. It can be difficult for them to perform skills such as tying their shoes, telling time, and retaining information in general. It also adds to the fact as to why she's not able to pick up new skills. Even adults with DCD need to be shown something new many times before they begin to understand even a little bit."
I nod at him, trying to take in all of what he is saying. He hands us some pamphlets as he carries on talking.
"Now, as for our recommendations for her schooling…"
I swallow hearing the tense tone in his voice.
"I believe that she would do much better in a school for children with special needs. Not because she is stupid, but because she can get help from specially trained teachers to help her. We feel this is best for her, considering her diagnosis, in order to get the skills she needs to become a functioning adult as she gets older."
All I can hear is the thrum of my own heart as he carries on talking about the benefits of her moving schools. He also tells us the benefits of her remaining where she is.
After he has explained it all to us, he tells us to go home, talk it over, make our choice and let them know what we would like to do. He gives us a lot of paperwork to look over, and asks us to get back to him in the next week or so and let him know our decision.
We stand and shake both of their hands, and hold hands with each other as we walk out. We have a lot to discuss, but other than the unknown diagnosis, we are not shocked by what they had to say.
"So what do you think?" I ask Edward as we get into the car.
Edward sighs and rubs his face. "Not sure, she still has some friends at school, but …"
I nod at him, knowing that she is starting to struggle more and more. Whereas, she does have friends, she has lost some over the years due to her issues. When it became clearer that she wasn't developing like her peers, some of them dropped her. It's really thanks to Ethan, who still looks after her, that she has kept the small amount of friends she has.
Through the grapevine we were told that he told others if they had issues with his sister, then they had issues with him. To him nothing comes before family, and if they couldn't see that just because someone struggles doesn't make them a bad person or friend, then they weren't who he thought they were.
"We can sleep on it; besides Mrs. Martha wants to see us tomorrow about Beth and we can talk to her about it, too." I say and stroke his cheek with my fingertips.
Edward just sighs again. "Okay, I should be happy this is getting cleared up, at the beginning of the school year rather than the end of it, but I am still sad and worried."
I nod at him and we head for home.
That night when we climb into bed, he holds me close the whole night.
"Bella, Edward, thanks for coming in. Mr. Davies said we could use his office," Mrs. Martha says and Edward and I stand and follow her into the office.
"Okay, I am just going to get straight to the point. I know you are aware that Beth struggles with some of her school work. When this year started, I decided to try something different with her, so I gave her this," she hands us a tablet.
I hit the screen and see work popping up on it.
"I put the work the class was going to be doing on this and gave it to her. If you can hit the math icon?" she asks and I do. When it loads the first question pops up and I jump as a computer voice asks the question. I chuckle looking at her, seeing she knows it surprised me.
"So the question is read to her?" Edward asks.
"Yes, and if she is unsure on how to do the problem, she can press the '?' icon. It will give her directions as to how to work through the problem step by step. Now, this part is good as she can add her own notes, too, so that she can put prompts for remembering it," Mrs. Martha adds.
I touch it seeing that not only does it show you how to do the problem, but provide examples, too.
"If she goes back to the question, it allows her to write in her answer. If she gets the answer wrong, it will tell her to look again. She can enter an answer either by writing it or saying it verbally and the tablet will acknowledge it."
I look back up at her in awe as she takes both Edward and me through the other subjects.
"Beth knows this and she understands the questions; she even has the answers. Her issue is getting the answer from her brain to her paper and that is the area in which she is struggling. I cannot diagnose her, but I would say that she has a form of Dysgraphia."
I nod at her because I know this to be true about her. "If you agree with this program, then with your permission, I would like to see her do all of her homework, take all of her tests on this tablet. I am hoping this makes a difference and with Beth as well as a few other students who are struggling with similar issues. I can talk to the education board and request that she use this any standardized testing as well. However, that has to be done in small group settings with a teacher reading the test to the students."
She takes a few seconds break before she starts to talk again. "This brings me to my second subject. I want to start an after school homework and educational skills class for the kids who are struggling."
I raise my brow. "What would these classes entail?"
"We would do things such as learn how to prepare food, and use games, storytelling, and reading to help improve their skill levels." She stops and opens a folder. "For example, say the class on Tuesday is food prep. We will split everyone into groups of two. They then have to get their ingredients and make whatever the recipe is for that day. Not everything would be actual cooking; we would teach them how to prepare both cold and hot foods, and follow a simple recipe in a cookbook. The idea is that one student reads the recipe, and the other gets the ingredients, so they help each other complete the task. A story will be included as well as games each class as well. We are trying to provide a fun way for them to learn the skills they will need in life. Not only am I asking you to sign up Beth, but Masen, too."
"Masen?" I ask knowing he has no troubles academically at all.
"Yes, he's one of the best students in the school; not only does he help Beth as you know, but he's been helping others, too. He helps with homework, and practices taking tests with other kids all the time. I was trying to get a few students who have no problems to attend also, in order to help the others that need the help. In my opinion, students learn very well from peers, and it also teaches those who can help that it is good to help others in need."
Edward and I look at each other and smile nodding.
"So if Masen and Beth agree to enroll in this new program, do you two agree as well?"
"Yes," we both answer together.
"Thank you," she says sounding happy. "Now, how is Siobhan getting on in junior high?"
I sigh a little and let her know everything that has been happening.
"If you're asking me what I think, I would visit the school the doctor recommended. If you like it, then visit again with Siobhan and let her see the differences between the two schools and let her make her own decision as to what she feels is best. She may have some disadvantages, but she will know where she feels the most comfortable. She could try the new school on a two week temporary basis and see how it goes. After all, she is the one that has to go to school, and it would also be a good way to help her learn how to live in the world and make her own decisions."
I chuckle about how simple she makes it seem.
"Bella, sometimes being a mom we don't always see the answers that are right in front of us."
I cover her hand with my own "Thanks," I say, and Edward echoes his thanks also.
She grins at us both, but winks at me in a way that only moms seem to understand.
Edward, Siobhan, and I stand outside the school the doctor recommended. We did just as Mrs. Martha had suggested and Siobhan asked to try it on a temporary basis. After her two week trial period, she never wanted to return to the regular junior high class at her current school. I think it helps that the new school had a swimming pool and horse riding stable, and she has classes in both twice each week.
"Remember that Harry said that if you need to call us just to go to his office," Edward says reminding her again. He likes the new school, but being the protective father he is, he tells her this every day.
"I know, Daddy," she says with a roll of her eyes.
"We love you," I am able to say as the school bell rings.
"Love you, too," she says before hugging us both.
"Siobhan, are you ready?" Harry asks. He is the Principal of the Children's Institute for Learning Differences, and he always has a warm smile for each student.
"Yes," she calls. She looks at him and then to me and Edward. "How did you remember my name?" she asks him.
Harry chuckles lightly. "I remember everyone's name, both students and teachers."
"Oh wow, that's amazing. Mom and Dad only have four of us, and they only sometimes get our names right. Normally, they have to shout all our names before getting the right one," she laughs and looks only at Edward who looks embarrassed. "Sometimes when Ethan or Masen are being silly he shouts Emmett, and that's our uncle."
Harry looks at Edward, and I know my face has gone a deep shade of red along with his. "Well, that is a parent thing, because my mom used to do that, too. After she had her fourth child, she would just point and say 'hey you there,' and not even try to call out our names."
Harry smiles and we all laugh together. He shakes our hands as he does each time we see him. Harry looks back down at Siobhan and holds out his hand. She takes his hand, and they walk into the school. As they enter the door, I can hear Siobhan laughing again, and I know she is happy going here.
"We made the right choice," I say looking at Edward who is now back to smiling.
"You know what, love, I think we did." I feel him kiss my head. He walks me back to my car and kisses me one last time before leaving me to head to work.
Edward and I both take a half day so that we can be here to meet Siobhan after she gets out from school, but first, we pick up Beth and Masen.
Beth gets into the car with a huge smile on her face.
"Why are you so happy today?" I ask
"I got three stars on my test," she says showing it to me. I look at Edward before looking at her.
"Well done," I say, so proud of her.
The grading system they are using for her is a star system; she can get up to five stars per test. So having four on a test is high for her. The new tablet system she is using seems to be helping her quite a bit.
Masen hands me his test and I see the A+. "Well done Masen," I tell him and he just shrugs.
"I think Beth will do better next time, she ran out of time and couldn't do three of the questions, so Mrs. Martha is asking for Daniel, Bobby, and her to get an extra half hour as the questions are being read to them." He stops and looks at us. "I said that next time I can help them all study. Mrs. Martha said that she would include ten minutes into our after school club to do it then. She even said she may add an extra fifteen minutes twice a week to help study after lunch, which I think is an awesome idea."
I look at Edward seeing that he, too, is proud at how eager our son is willing to help others.
"That's a great idea," I say.
Beth and Masen keep talking to us on the journey to Ethan's school. He gets in and starts to tell us about his day on the way to pick up Siobhan. When we arrive, I watch my daughter come out of school looking happy. She runs to us, holding a bag.
"I made a cake," she says, and hands it to Edward.
He looks in the bag and smiles. "This looks yummy enough to eat," Edward tells us.
"You're meant to eat it, Daddy," she tells him frowning.
He chuckles shaking his head. "How about we order Chinese and for dessert we will eat the cake?"
The kids all yell in agreement and we drive home. My eyes flicker to Edward, and then to the kids. I have the feeling of hope as it seems like things are going to get better.
Siobhan may not end up being a doctor, lawyer, or a rocket scientist, but she has a heart of gold. Beth may only just barely pass her tests, but she will always try her hardest. As for my boys, they both are happy to show the world their hearts and know right from wrong.
No matter what our children choose to do in life, I know that they will always be there for each other.
We go into the house and get changed out of our school and work clothes. Edward calls in our order, and when it arrives we sit around the table to eat. I watch as Siobhan climbs on Edward's knee, asking him yet again to show her how to use the chopsticks. His eyes meet mine and he mouths that he loves me. I mouth it back to him before grabbing the chopsticks I can finally use without help and dig in.
A/N: So we hope this gives you the ending you wanted. We are grateful for all of the suggestions, comments, recommendations, story love, story hate, and questions we have gotten from you all. It is wonderful to have such a lovely loyal following, and be sure to watch for more from us, coming soon. You can join us on Facebook to see info on upcoming projects. Our group name is TeamAllTwilight & AndTAT Fan Fiction.
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