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How did Edward spend Christmas away from Bella and his family?
Yes, it's sappy. Yes, it's predictable. But it's Christmas; what do you expect?
by silly bella
The little girl looked directly at me as she passed with her mother. Her eyes caught mine, trapping my gaze. She turned her head, still staring at me. Finally, with her free hand, she wiggled her fingers and waved before she turned back to watch their path down the dusty darkened street. It was her eyes that ripped out what was left of my heart. Their dark brown depths reminded me of Bella. I sighed.
I missed her terribly, even though I knew leaving her in Forks was best for her. She would have a normal, happy, human life. She would move on, already had, I'm sure. Who would take her to the Christmas dance at school? Who would kiss her on New Year's Eve when the clock struck midnight? I hoped not Mike Newton, but I had no say in the matter. As long as Bella was happy.
Meanwhile, I needed to concentrate. I wasn't much of a tracker. Locating Victoria had proven more difficult than I'd ever imagined. I'd last seen her in Texas. Whatever had possessed her to head to Mexico, I had no idea. But she had, and following her had led me to this small town as they prepared for Christmas.
It had been years since I'd spent Christmas away from my family, but I wasn't feeling terribly festive. As much as my absence might darken the holidays, I doubted if it could compare to my presence, given my current mental state. It was better for everyone if I stayed away.
When the sun peeked from behind the clouds, it surprised me. Today should have been cloudy all day. I had to get inside, fast. I glanced around, looking for some shelter. The only real option I found was a church. I hurried inside before the sunlight revealed my secret. I sat in the back, wondering how long I might be stuck here. It might be hours before it was dark enough for me to go back out on the street.
I felt guilty in the church as people's prayers, their private discussions with God, rang clearly in my mind. An old woman lit candles at the Virgin Mother's altar, asking her to carry prayers to God that her daughter might have a child. She prayed fervently. In the corner, another woman prayed for her father's health. Others prayed, some with desperate need, others with true desire, and a few with deepest gratitude. It was a busy sanctuary, filled with believers. The rhythms of the local Spanish dialect beat soft patterns in my mind.
The priest crept silently around the room, stopping briefly with one believer, then another. He nodded to me as he passed, and I nodded back politely. I heard him, comforting those he could, praying with others. It shocked me when he came to stand beside me. "You seem troubled, son. Such sorrow I have not often seen in one so young." I didn't respond. Sad eyes. Such sad eyes. So dark and troubled. No one so young should feel such sorrow. "Perhaps a prayer would help?"
He wanted to pray for me? On one hand, I saw no harm. I certainly needed all the help I could get. On the other, it seemed rather ironic, praying for a creature with no soul, no hope of redemption. Carlisle might argue otherwise, but Carlisle wasn't here right now. Which is why, I suppose, I relented. After mild shock as the fluency of my Spanish, the priest pressed a rosary into my hand. When he felt the cool flesh, his eyes darted to mine with a look of horror. I held the beads, crucifix in my palm, as I smiled at him. He visibly relaxed.
I listened as he murmured prayers for my well-being. I retained a respectful mask when he for God's guidance and protection for my soul. My soul. As if I had one. His prayer dwindled off, but before he ended it, I whispered, "Pray for her. For Bella."
He raised his eyebrows and met my gaze. So it is love that brings him so low. With a nod, he began to add the same supplications for her. These prayers actually did make me feel better. While there was no reason for God to listen to my prayers, to anything out of my soulless mouth, this was a priest, a man of God. Perhaps his prayers would be answered. His prayers to keep Bella safe. Something neither I nor my prayers could do.
I eyed the crèche near the front of the church, the manger empty until Christmas morning, two days from now. I noticed that a mother and child – the same pair I'd seen earlier, in fact – entered the church. This time I saw the mother's face, lined in darkness. "That woman," I whispered to the priest, pointing to the mother, "Why is she so sad?"
The priest shook his head. "Her husband died earlier this month. He was so young. And she has the children, not just that angel there, but three others, to care for. It will be a bleak Christmas for them."
Once more, the little girl turned and smiled at me. Again, she waved. I mustered a smile and wiggled my fingers in her direction. Her face brightened and her eyes lit up. So much like Bella's eyes.
"What do they need?" I asked. I knew that nothing could replace the lost life, but I could make their Christmas brighter. Bring a smile to the face of this little girl whose eyes reminded me of Bella.
"They have nothing," the priest said. "They sold what they had to care for Homero. There is nothing left for Elena or her children. Come the new year, they will not even have a home."
I listened to their thoughts. The woman, Elena, focused on what she might feed her children tonight. There was an orphanage nearby, and she was praying, hoping that somehow, she would be able to care for her children instead of leaving them there at the new year. The angels and saints of the Christmas story filled the girl's head. Again, she turned to smile at me. This time, I waved at her before her fingers fluttered in my direction. This made her smile even more and her eyes lit up. I smiled back.
Nothing could make my Christmas better, but I could help this family. It would take so little. I spoke briefly to the priest, who smiled and nodded. Yes, he knew of a house nearby; he could find the furnishings. It could be ready for tomorrow night's Posada. His eyes grew large when I removed the cash from my wallet and gave it to him. "You may keep any that is left for the church," I assured him. There would be time to find Victoria after Christmas.
The next night, I waited in the back of the church as the Posada began. A small group of families left the church, carrying pictures of Mary and Joseph as they wandered through the nearby streets, knocking on doors and seeking shelter. I followed, watching. Door after door denied the group entrance, each family slipping out to join us as we moved on to the next home to ask for shelter. Finally, we reached a small house and knocked on the door. I slipped into the back of the house and opened the door, allowing people to come inside.
I watched as the people placed the pictures of Mary and Joseph into the shrine and the priest led the prayer and lit the incense. He blessed each person present in turn, including me. When it came time to bless Elena and her children, he spoke to her quietly after the blessing and she looked around the room before she began to cry. She couldn't speak, but I could hear her thoughts as she rejoiced about prayers being answered and keeping her family together.
By then, the people were ready for the celebration. The adults drank a thick punch, Ponche Navideño, and the children batted about a piñata in the yard. I watched as the little girl joined her older sisters and brother batting the decorated jar around with the other children. My smile was as real as theirs. Perhaps I would call my family after I left, to let them know that I had been briefly happy during this holiday.
A small tug on my arm disrupted my thoughts. The little urchin who seemed always able to find me had pulled my arm away to make room on my lap. Most people avoid me by instinct, but she sought me out. "I told my mama that you were an angel," she whispered. Then she kissed me on the cheek. "I told her that my papa sent you from heaven to help us." She smiled and gazed into my eyes with those dark brown depths of her own, so like Bella's. I could do nothing but smile back. Then she closed her eyes and leaned against my chest before she fell asleep.
The priest saw me holding her and laughed. Her mother saw and shook her head. "I'm sorry, sir," she murmured as she made her way closer to me. "Isabella. Isabella," she sang in an attempt to wake up her daughter. The child's name was Isabella? "Isabella, wake up." The little girl opened her eyes briefly and smiled at me, kissing my cheek once more before reaching for her mother.
"I told you I saw an angel yesterday, mama," she mumbled. "It's him. He's my angel. He glows, mama." The girl's mother and the priest laughed as they carried the girl away.
"You're wrong, Isabella," I whispered. Her eyes opened at my words. "You are my angel." I smiled at her and waved one last time before I disappeared into the night.