Disclaimer: Characters contained within do not belong to me.
Author's Notes: Well, it took over a year, but I finally finished this story. Thank you ever so much to everyone who read and reviewed; I really can't tell you how much I appreciate it. Especially you, Lisa, 'cause I know how you feel about Twilight;) Thank you again and enjoy.
What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?
by Kristen Elizabeth
The vision came to Alice as she was about to make her winning move against Edward in a chess game that had been going on all afternoon. It was a rare sunny day in Binghamton, New York, and the Cullens had confined themselves to the house until the skies clouded over once again. Emmett was watching Rosalie put the finishing touches on a '53 Cadillac she'd spent two months restoring, Jasper was engrossed in a recently released Civil War novel, "The Killer Angels," and Esme had recruited Carlisle into helping her re-paper the dining room walls, leaving Alice and Edward to their own devices.
The moment Alice touched the queen that would check his king, the image struck her like a lightning bolt.
Edward's head shot up as he caught a glimpse of the face in his sister's mind. "Alice, is that...?"
She was staring straight ahead without seeing anything except her vision. "Yes," she said, lost in the future. "It's her time." Blinking back to attention, Alice searched brother's face. I've already seen myself going, so you'll be wasting your breath if you try to stop me.
He leaned back in his chair, folding his arms over his turtleneck shirt. "I can afford to waste breath. And if I were you, I'd be more concerned about Jasper stopping you."
As if on cue, Alice's husband appeared in the doorway to the den, his book in one hand. "What am I stopping my wife from doing?" he asked his brother.
Alice stood up, her bare feet lost in the full legs of her bell-bottom jeans. "I'm going on a road trip, Jazz." She looped her arm through his, plastering her tiny body against his larger frame. "Please come with me."
Jasper shot Edward a look; the younger boy just shook his head. After a quarter of a century with her, they both knew there really was no point in trying to discourage Alice after she had made up her mind.
They left early the next morning, while it was still dark, with Jasper driving his recently purchased Thunderbird. It was a short trip to Maine, but one that neither of them had made in twenty-five years. Sitting in the passenger's seat, Alice unknowingly wrung her pale hands as she stared out the window at the passing landmarks through her oversized sunglasses.
Jasper took his eyes off the road for a second to glance at her. "You don't have to do this," he reminded her.
"I think I do," she replied softly. He waited patiently for her to go on. "You know, until yesterday I just assumed she was gone. After we left Bethel Hills, I never even looked to see if I could see her." Alice bit her lip. "I abandoned her."
Jasper waited until he'd parked the car in front of the building Alice had seen in her vision before he replied. Turning off the engine, he reached for his wife's hand. "Alice..." He let out a resigned chuckle. "Only you."
She brushed her thumb over his scarred knuckles. "Do you want to come in?"
"No." Jasper lifted her hand up to his lips. "I'll wait out here."
After adjusting her head scarf and sunglasses, Alice climbed out of the low car. Jasper watched her dart up a short set of stone steps and disappear into the Bethel Hills Community Hospital.
Once inside, Alice tucked the glasses and scarf into her hand bag and smoothed down the thin pleats in the skirt of her seafoam green paisley dress. She approached the nurse's desk. "Excuse me," she addressed one white-uniformed woman. "I'm here to see a patient of yours."
"Friend or family?"
Alice blinked. "Neither. Not exactly, anyway."
Frowning, the nurse looked her up and down. "Then what are you here for, dear?"
"I don't know yet."
Ten minutes later, after convincing the woman that she meant no harm, Alice found herself lightly knocking on the door to Room 14. A tired voice called out, "Come in."
Time and ill health had not been kind to her, but Alice could still see traces of the girl she'd known in the woman who lay dying in a lonely hospital bed. When she caught sight of Alice, the woman's yellowed eyes grew wide.
"My god," she gasped. "Alice?"
Marjorie grasped the oxygen tube that fed into her nose, as if reminding herself to keep breathing. "I never...never thought I'd see..." Her weathered hands shook wildly. "Twenty-five years," she whispered. "Twenty-five years...and you haven't aged a day."
Alice's smile was sad. "Trick of the lighting."
"No, it's not." Marjorie tried to swallow, but her throat stuck and she began coughing. Spotting a cup of water, Alice took it to her, offering her the straw. As Marjorie sipped, she stared at Alice. "How did you know I was here?" she asked when she was able to talk again.
"I saw you," Alice replied carefully setting the cup aside. "I had a vision of you," she clarified.
Majorie let out a tiny whimper of fright. "Am I dying? I must be dying," she rushed on without waiting for an answer. "Today...and you've come..." Her face lit up in an expression that made Alice lower her gaze. "You've come to change me?"
"Marjorie." Alice lifted her lashes to look the woman straight in the eye. "I can't."
A shadow darkened the older woman's face. "You won't."
"I can't," Alice repeated, firmer this time. "I don't have the strength it would take to stop."
Seconds slipped by in silence until Marjorie looked away. "Had to ask," she whispered. "So, why did you come? Do they know you're here? Your family?" In a girlish gesture from the past, she reached up to tug at a thin lock of her hair, only to have the strands fall to her shoulder when she lowered her hand. "Edward?"
It was then that Alice noticed the only framed picture that sat on the table next to Marjorie's bed. It was a black and white photo of Marjorie and Edward on the night of the Winter Formal, taken by Esme and presumably passed on to Marjorie by Carlisle after he sent her to the cancer specialists in Boston. Her heart ripped in half for this girl...this woman in her forties who had spent the majority of her life in love with a memory.
"He knows." Alice gripped the metal railing that ran along the side of the bed. "But I came with Jasper."
Marjorie stared at the simple gold and diamond band on Alice's left ring finger. "You married him, then?" Alice nodded. "What did you wear?"
"Would you like to see?" When Marjorie lowered her chin, Alice reached into her pocketbook and pulled out an aging photograph taken only a few months after she'd graduated high school for the first time. She offered it to Marjorie hesitantly.
After spending a minute studying the captured image of Jasper in his black tuxedo and Alice in her pearl-beaded Givenchy as they cemented their marriage vows with a kiss, Marjorie handed it back to her. "That's the most beautiful dress I've ever seen," she mumured. Her eyelids drooped suddenly. "I'm glad...you got a happy ending."
Alice could smell the sickness in her blood now. Carlisle's colleagues might have been able to send the cancer into remission long enough to give her a chance at a real life, but their radiation therapies hadn't killed it off forever. It was back in full force and Alice suddenly realized that the rest of Marjorie's life wouldn't be measured in days, but in hours.
A tear trickled down Marjorie's cheek. Alice unconsciously reached out to brush it away. At the touch of her cold fingers, the dying woman shivered. "Will it hurt?"
"What do you mean?" Alice asked.
"Dying. Does it hurt?"
Alice could only shake her head. "I don't know. I can't remember."
Another minute passed. "Will you stay with me?"
"I will." Alice tried to smile. "It's what I came for."
It was well after dark when Alice emerged from the hospital. Inside, the nurses had already wheeled Marjorie's lifeless body down to the morgue and had started changing the sheets on her bed in preparation for their next patient.
As he'd been pretending to sleep in case anyone passed by the car, Jasper opened his eyes when she knocked on the window. He leaned across the empty passenger's side to pull up the lock. Alice gracefully slid onto the wide leather seat and closed the door behind her.
"She's gone, Jazz."
Her husband nodded slowly. "Are you all right?"
She shrugged. "You tell me."
Jasper sighed. "You're sad. And..." He frowned. "Guilty? Why? You didn't kill her, Alice."
"I didn't save her either."
"Neither did Carlisle. Or Edward. Or Silas, for that matter." He paused. "She wasn't meant to live forever."
"She was scared, Jasper," Alice whispered. "But then...right at the end...there was nothing but peace. And I couldn't help but think...that must be nice." She let that admission hang in the air between them. "But still," Alice finally continued. "I wouldn't trade a single day with you for even a moment of that peace."
Jasper pulled her closer for a long kiss. Even when he started the engine, he kept one arm around her, holding her against his side as he drove off to the haunting notes of the Peggy Lee ballad playing on the radio.
Alice tilted her head back to look up at her husband. "What are you doing the rest of your life?" she asked him, echoing the song.
Jasper answered with a smile. "Whatever you are."
To see Alice's dress, go to: http : / img . photobucket . com / albums / v510 / belismakr / 70dress5 . jpg
To hear Peggy Lee sing, go to: http : / www . youtube . com / watch?v = CcsoF1G3yAQ