Author's Note: Takes place after Edward leaves Bella. Bella never jumped off the cliff, but never got together with Jacob either. It's been almost five years since Edward left, Bella has graduated college and is about to move out on her own. She is spending one last summer with Charlie in the house in Forks.
Disclaimer: I own nothing of Twilight. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Damn, now I'm depressed.
It still hurts me to be in this room, even after all this time. I close my eyes and I can picture my Edward sitting there on the bed, holding me, kissing me, telling me that he will love me forever. It still hurts me, but the pain is now more of a dull ache, has been for a long time. Sometimes I think, no, I know, that ache will be with me forever.
I looked around at the boxes in the room, realizing that there was still more packing to do. It was the end of my last summer with Charlie. I graduated from the University of Washington with a major in English Literature two months ago. I was a fully fledged adult now, ready to move off and live on my own. I smiled, remembering how proud Charlie was of me that day. I know that he secretly bragged about his daughter who graduated Summa Cum Laude to anyone that would listen, even though he would never admit it to me. We still had our quiet, stoic relationship. It was the one consistent relationship I had in my life since I moved to this small town junior year. I would miss him terribly.
I got a wonderful job offer in Boston at a publishing house. Pay was not that great, but it was a great entry level job plus an opportunity to see New England. It also had the added benefit of getting me away from the Pacific Northwest. I realized how ready I was to move on with my life. While the ache would always be there, it's been a long time since it ran my life, dictated who I was. I am not the same Bella Swan of five years ago. I look back on her, not really sure if I even recognize that girl anymore.
For one, I am more jaded now. Love lost will do that to a person. I now know better and look before I leap. I am also not as naïve as I once was or as easily controlled. I think about all the times that I let Edward lead me around or tell me what to do, and I get angry. Not really at him, but more so at myself. I was not confident, and Edward truly had me believing that I was a fragile, breakable creature. It took me years to come to the realization that I am neither of those things. I survived his departure for the past five years and that makes me stronger than either he or myself gave me credit for.
I now have friends from college; I have even found romance, though they never lasted longer than a couple of months at a time. The boys were still too immature and still finding themselves. I did not find myself being challenged intellectually with them, and they were too eager to please. I guess that is how Edward viewed the me of five years ago. I was so eager to make him happy. Even when he was controlling, even when he was on the verge of being obsessive, I pushed aside rationale. Instead of acknowledging what I knew, that the combination of the two did not make for a healthy relationship, I simply ignored it, deciding that our love triumphed all and that was what love truly was and should be. How naïve I was.
Charlie's yelling from the downstairs pulled me out of my thoughts. "Bella! Dinner is ready!"
The beginnings of a smile began to trace my face, still amazed that while I was away at college Charlie learned how to cook for himself. "I'll be right there!"
I looked around the room again. In three days, I would be gone. In three days Bella Swan would leave Forks, Washington hopefully to never return again.
I spent the next three days saying goodbyes to everyone I knew. Mike Newton was back in town, he was moving soon to Southern California. Angela was still in Forks. She was now engaged to Ben. They were set for a wedding in the spring. Saying goodbye to them was sad, but not that difficult, as we had naturally drifted apart from four years in separate colleges. With a promise to keep touch, Angela and Mile each went back to their own lives.
The next person I had to say goodbye to was much more difficult. Jacob Black had been my rock, my sun for the past five years. He was the person to bring me back from the point of oblivion. I was the person who knew all his secrets, and he was the person who knew mine. We were each other's family. At one point, I had thought that Jacob and I would possibly get together. It was the summer after graduation. I had decided that Edward was never coming back and I did need to move on. Who else but Jacob could possibly come close to comparing to Edward? Who else would love me so completely, so honestly, and with all their heart? I knew that Jacob wanted more than friendship, needed more than friendship.
I remembered the day that Jacob and I finally kissed. It was on the beach at sunset. It was finally a sunny day at La Push and the weather was warm and inviting. The daylight was fading fast and my head was resting comfortably on Jacobs shoulder as it had so many times before. I knew at that point I could be content and happy with him. Maybe not with a love as all consuming as Edward's, but still filling and whole. With that thought, I had mustered up the courage to look Jacob in the eyes and leaned in to kiss him. The kiss was a gentle kiss, but it was filled with as much love as I could give at the time. Jacob pulled away a few moments after the kiss had started.
"Wow. Bella. You… so you finally decided that you want to be with me?" Surprised had lined his handsome face and a trace of something else that I could not put my finger on at that moment.
I had smiled. It was a nice kiss, and something I would not have minded repeating again. "I know it took a while for me to come around, Jacob. I really appreciate all the time you gave me to come to my own decision…"
Jacob placed his index finger on my lips at that point to shush me. It was then I realized what the other look had been, sadness mixed with anguish. "Bella, I have imprinted. It was just a couple of days ago. I was going to tell you tonight…" Jacob had continued rambling on at that point, but I had stopped listening.
And that had been that. With those words, the future that I had planned for myself and Jacob was no more. I knew what it meant to imprint and knew that there was no going around that. It was at that time that I had decided that I needed to attend college and begin to pull myself away from the life I had in Forks.
Even though our life was not one of romance, Jacob and I had still remained close friends. I truly did like Jacob's mate, Audrey, and seeing them together was like two pieces of a puzzle put together. It just seemed right.
Jacob had cried when I said my goodbye. I reminded him that I was just a phone call away and that he could visit anytime he wanted to in Boston. I knew that this was harder on him then it probably was even on Charlie.
After I had said my goodbyes to everyone, there was just one last thing I needed to do. As I pulled up to the end of the long winding driveway, I hesitated a moment before pulling in with my truck. I needed this. Even though the house would be empty, I needed to say goodbye once and for all to Edward Cullen.