Disclaimer: I am not Stephenie Meyer, so none of this is mine.
Charlie closed the book. It had taken him a long time to get through the several hundred pages, but it was well worth it. Each time he turned the page, he felt a little closer to Bella. A tear slipped down his face, but he didn't bother wiping it away.
He supposed that he wasn't the best father in the world. But he'd loved Bella, his only child, with a strength that surprised him. And he missed her so badly. Losing her had been the hardest thing he had ever faced.
He remembered the last time he had seen her. She was home over Christmas break. She was going to spend spring break with her mother. That worked for all of them, but only because Charlie had refused to argue about it. He didn't want to let on to how much he missed her when she was away.
But this last time, they had argued. She wanted to change majors, to go into music performance instead of English. He tried to convince her that an English degree could get her a lot more than music ever could. It had erupted into a full blown screaming fit.
She was in college now, old enough to make her own choices. Charlie knew that, and she didn't spare him that argument. But that didn't stop him from wanting the best for her. It just spilled out in all the wrong ways. And she had walked out the door without a second glance, just like her mother had done all those years ago. He wanted to call out to her, something that would make her come back, but the words hadn't come, his mind unable to form them.
Bella went back to Brigham Young University. When she had started there, she met up with another English major, by the name of Stephenie Meyer. They became good friends, even roomed together. That had been several years ago now.
The phone rang. Charlie stood up, and straightened the yellowing lace curtains of Bella's bedroom before he walked downstairs to the phone in the kitchen and picked it up with his free hand.
"Did you read it?" the woman asked.
"Yes. I just finished."
"What did you think?"
"I think you did a wonderful job. I just wish it was real." His throat began to close up.
"I miss her, too," the woman said softly. "That's why I had to write it that way. I had to give her a happy ending somehow."
"I know," he whispered.
"Did you read the dedication?"
"Yes. Yes, I did. Thank you."
"She loved you, you know. She talked to me when she came back that night, and was trying to figure out how to apologize. She never was able to hold a grudge."
A little laugh came out of his throat, startling him. He had never thought he would laugh again. "No. She was very forgiving."
"It wasn't your fault."
"It wasn't yours, either."
"I wish…" the woman said, her voice trailing off. When she began again, it was filled with tears. "I wish I knew what she would have thought about this. I wish she were still here."
"I wish that, too."
"Well, I'll talk with you later."
She hung up, and he held the phone in his hand for a few seconds before he put the phone back on the wall.
He remembered the first time he got a call from Stephenie. It had been several months, after… She had found something that belonged to Bella, notes for a story. There wasn't much, but enough to form a very basic outline. And Stephenie had wanted to know if she could write it, for Bella.
Charlie had said yes, of course, and then he hadn't heard from her for another week or so. But then she had called again, asking if she could use Bella as the main character. And then she wanted to know more about Bella, about Bella's childhood, Bella's likes and interests before she went to college. What was her hometown like? Who was she? And Charlie began to talk. When he couldn't speak before, he could talk to this stranger who had cared about Bella.
And in talking to her, he began to think about Bella in more ways than the last night he saw her. He remembered the way she smiled, the funny look on her face when she was three and got caught sneaking cookies, the way she wrinkled her nose when it snowed outside.
He remembered carrying her on his shoulders, and holding the edges of his coat out so that she wouldn't get wet from the rain.
That didn't wipe away the memories of the way she had stalked off that night. He could only imagine the way she looked when she had gotten back to the University, and driven out to pick up a coffee for Stephenie and herself.
He refused to imagine the way the other car had looked. He didn't want to see it. But he knew anyway. It was a van. Stephenie wrote about it in perfect detail. But in the book, a handsome vampire had saved his daughter. Sometimes Charlie wished that the vampire was real, that he had been able to save her. But nothing could change the fact that Bella was gone, and had been dead for a couple years now. No father should ever outlive his children.
Charlie walked back up the stairs, feeling a million years older. He walked back into Bella's bedroom, and sat on her bed, watching the sky turn dark as the sun set behind the mass of clouds.
He opened the book to the dedication, and reread it.
This book is written in loving memory of Bella Swan. May you rest in peace.
And special thanks to Charlie Swan, who made this possible.
I could not have written it without your guidance, and your strength is a monument of courage to me. Thank you.
Very gently, Charlie closed the cover, and set the book on the nightstand, next to the other three novels.
"Goodbye, Bella," he said softly, standing up. "I love you. I miss you. I hope you are happy, wherever you are. I'm sorry for the things I said. I was angry. But maybe you can forgive me eventually."
Then he very carefully walked out of the room, and shut the door, leaving Bella's room behind him. For the first time, he was able to say goodbye. For the last time, he had sat in her room all day and night looking at her pictures. Maybe life had some meaning to it after all. Maybe someday, he could look at each new day as a new start, not a new day to grieve again. With all of his heart, he wished it would come soon.
He walked into his own room. The sky turned dark. Twilight again. But maybe this time, it was a new beginning, and not an ending. The rain began to fall, and Charlie stared at the drops slipping down the window. A memory of Bella, seven years old, tracing the marks on that window.
"Look, Daddy," she'd said. "They're racing each other. Which one do you think will get to the bottom fastest?"
"That one," he'd said, pointing to a big fat drop halfway down.
Charlie smiled at the memory. He would never forget her. The memories would never leave him. But he would never stop loving her.
Please forgive me for what you have just read. It just came to me, and I had to write it. Also, I would really appreciate it if you'd review- I want to see what people think about it. I'm kind of nervous about this fic, so some reassurance is good. And I want it grammatically together, so if you notice anything... You know what to do.