As soon as I turned the corner to Port Angeles' main street, I froze. Standing three feet away from me, staring vacantly into a store window, was Jessica Stanley. My first instinct was to turn around, but then her murky black eyes caught mine and her face filled with recognition.
"Bella Swan?" she demanded, smiling widely. I, halfway turned around, pretended to act surprised.
"Jessica Stanley!" I exclaimed, aiming for appropriate enthusiasm. At first glance, Jessica had looked the same. She was still tiny with mountains of curly hair, but as I observed her, I could tell that something was different. There was a sadness in her eyes that the old Jessica had never had, and something about her smile told me that she did not normally look happy.
"Yes, Bella," Jessica giggled, shaking her head in shock, "It's me but- but you look so different!" I couldn't tell whether this was a compliment or not, so I merely shrugged and muttered, "Well, it's been six years since I've seen you, Jess." Jessica's smiled faded, and she appeared hurt.
"Yes, I know," she muttered, "About that- I called you Bella. Angela and I called you, but your father didn't know your number and- and it was like you disappeared off the face of the Earth. We missed you, Bella. We were worried about you." She glanced up at me, her face troubled. My instinct was to cry, but then I remembered that I couldn't produce tear glands.
"We moved away, Jess," I lied, "Carlisle, Esme and the other stayed here, but Edward and I went to Alaska for a bit." Jessica furrowed her brow in confusion.
"Bella, I know we've grown apart but even I know that you hate Alaska," she pointed out. I shrugged.
"Edward loves to go ice-fishing," I said, making my life up as I went along, "And it's not all that cold there. Not much colder than here." Jessica smiled a bit, shrugging in defeat.
"I suppose so," she decided, "So how are the Cullens?"
"They're great," I replied, trying to shift the attention off of my self, "How is your family? Are you... seeing anyone?" Jessica opened but then closed her mouth, staring down at the cement.
"Um- no, actually," she admitted, blushing crimson, "I was married to Mike for three years, but he... It didn't work out." I had to stifle a gasp; Mike had married Jessica? And they were divorced? Phrases like 'divorced' and 'didn't work out' were not commonly used in my world. It upset me to know that I had forgotten how much suffering there was in the human world.
"I'm so sorry," I murmured, dumbstruck. Jessica pulled her coat tighter around her, shivering. It had started to rain. There was a moment of awkward silence, and then my old friend jerked her head towards a small coffee shop one door down from where she stood.
"It's going to downpour any second," she pointed out, "Would you like to go grab a cappuccino or something?" I hesitated. Food. Jessica already thought that I had fallen victim to some bizarre plastic surgery scheme, and now she would have new gossip when she returned home with news that I was anorexic. It wasn't like I cared what she told anybody though. After all, I didn't know anybody that she did. Or at least, I didn't know them now.
"Yes, that'd be nice," I replied, following Jessica inside as the drizzle turned into a downpour.
We took a seat in the front by the window, and we sat in silence for a couple of minutes simply watching the rain. From what I remembered, Jessica wasn't one for the quiet. As if thinking the same thing I was, she began prattling on about seemingly pointless things that captivated my attention. There were constant little reminders of my human life that made me smile internally.
"Yes, and Eric is CEO of some business in Seattle," Jessica explained, "And Angela and Ben are still together. Angela won't admit it, but I think that they're going to get engaged soon." I inhaled sharply.
"Engaged?" I repeated, overjoyed with this news, "That's wonderful! God, I've missed so much." Jessica smiled sadly at me, taking a sip of her coffee and sighing.
"It doesn't have to be like that, Bella," she pointed out sorrowfully.
"Actually, it does," I responded instinctively. I froze. Had I really just said that? Jessica furrowed her brow, casting me a quizzical look.
"Bella, what's going on with you?" she demanded, clearly doubting my sanity, "I haven't seen you for six years and then all of a sudden you appear out of nowhere wearing Jimmy Choo boots and a designer jacket." I glanced at my footwear in shock. I couldn't tell Jimmy Choo from Sketchers; I left that up to Alice.
"Well, Alice wants to be a fashion designer," I muttered awkwardly, "I let her play dress-up when I'm feeling nice." Jessica shook her head, annoyed.
"No, that's not it, Bella," she replied, "You're even paler and- and Bella, did you get plastic surgery?" My chair slid out from beneath me and I grabbed the window sill in horror. People were starting to stare, but it didn't matter.
"'Plastic surgery'?" I repeated, dumbstruck, "No, Jess. God, no." Jess shook her head doubtfully, idly stirring her coffee. I settled back into my chair, folding my arms over my chest.
"Enough about me," I said slowly, after a minute of silence, "It's obvious that things have changed. For the both of us." Jessica nodded, rolling her eyes slightly.
"I didn't mean to be in your face about the whole plastic surgery bit," Jessica muttered shamefully, "My life's pretty screwed up and, well, let's face it- I've never been the most thoughtful person." She turned her head towards me vaguely, a small smile on her face. I couldn't stop myself from grinning either, and then we were both laughing. We laughed at the irony of meeting like this, of being here. We laughed at memories of prom dress shopping, and we laughed at memories of our old friends that I had forgotten.
Sitting in that claustrophobic coffee shop with Jessica, I realized something. Not everybody lived like I did, and not everybody lived forever. They would die, like they were supposed to. Like I was supposed to. That was my old life, however, and it was gone like the clouds after a storm.
I hugged Jessica sincerely and walked through the doorway, the bells tinkling over my head. As I walked towards the dock, I felt like I was leaving Port Angeles that day with a lot more than when I had arrived.