DESIDERATA

A/N: Desiderata is latin for "desired things or something that is needed, wanted." This story is meant to represent that state of feeling for both Bella and Edward.

Things I own, courtesy of my baby sister who loves to indulge my inner geek: An Edward Cullen action figure, which I refuse to share.

Things I do not own: Anything Twilight—that's all SM. And Desiderata of Happiness belongs to Max Ehrmann.

Prologue

The Desiderata of Happiness is something I ran across years ago. I may even have been in elementary school, I can't remember. What I do remember, though, is that even back then, it struck me as a really good life philosophy. If only I could strive to achieve those ideals, I would always be striving to be happy and fulfilled. That's the idea, anyhow…

My name is Bella Swan. I'm 21, and I've lived in Forks, Washington, the rainiest spot in the continental United States, my entire life. My day-to-day life consists of an early start in Alice Brandon's coffee shop, "Alice's Wonderland Café and Mad Tea Party," where I make all the baked goods, including my famous "Bella's Buns." I didn't come up with the name, of course; much to my consternation, I tend to blush furiously whenever someone asks for "one of my buns," the double entendre never lost on me. Alice and her brother Emmett started the shop as a way to support themselves after their parents died, and I've been working along side them ever since. It hardly feels like work, being with my BFF, and I love to get totally lost in thought as I mix and bake. So I get to be quiet and alone with my thoughts, while Alice handles the barista duties. She is so tiny, quirky, bubbly, energetic, and cheerful that the customers eat her up. Vivacious would be an understatement. Emmett's role is to balance the books and be our administrator; he completed his degree at Port Angeles Community College while Alice and I finished our education at Forks High. Working together with them is actually a lot of fun, but it is exhausting work. I tend to fall asleep every night by 8:00. As you can imagine, my social life is pretty much non-existent, just the way I like it.

Alice, who I love like a sister, has been my best friend since we were in kindergarten. We are as different as night and day, which is probably why we get along so well. She lives with her older brother, Emmett, who long ago took me under his wing as his little sister, too, since I have no siblings of my own. He always looks out for us. When Emmett was 18 and Alice and I were 16, their parents were killed in a car accident, by a drunk driver who plowed into their car. Sadly, it was my dad, Charlie, as Forks' Chief of Police, who had to break the news to them. In the aftermath, Emmett hung around Forks to take care of Alice. Naturally, he is a little over protective when it comes to both of us. He is a huge guy that no one in town would choose to mess with, so no one ever does. Alice and I both recognize that he is total marshmallowy goo on the inside; he doesn't fool us one bit. We love that big lug to death.

I both love and hate my daily existence here in Forks. Hate it because it is so small and stifling, and there is no room for anonymity. I do love it, though, because it is so closely linked to all the people I love—Alice, Emmett, and Charlie. It's where my heart is. My mom has been pretty much out of my life since I was a baby. She had a torrid affair with a minor league baseball player, and left my dad and me to fend for ourselves; it was apparently quite the town scandal at the time. She lives in Arizona now, and I hear from her from time to time. Her baseball player is long gone, and my mom apparently keeps moving on from one boyfriend to another. Most of the time, when she does write or call me, the main focus is always on her. I learned long ago to ignore most of what she says as a way to insulate myself from being hurt by her narcissism. Although my dad has had to work very hard to keep us together as a team, we've been able to roll with the punches. After Alice and Emmett's tragedy, he kind of took them under his wing, too, so I consider the three of them to be my family. Someone famous once said, "Friends are family you choose for yourself." I'm not sure who said it (it is listed in my quote book as "anonymous"), but I just know I couldn't have chosen a better family for myself if I tried.

My dream has always been to be a writer, and I would love to go to college, but there is no money for that right now, or in the immediate future. Even if there was enough, I just cannot envision leaving Charlie, Alice, or Emmett behind. Our bonds are so deep, our lives are so interwoven, that it would just feel wrong to be apart from them. Instead, I lug around my journal, writing down every quote I can find, every snippet of fun dialogue I overhear or read (not that there is much in the way of snappy dialogue here in Forks). There is just something magical in finding a quote that describes exactly how you feel about something in a way that completely captures your thoughts or beliefs. I love finding little gems like that and have collected quotes for as long as I can remember. Wherever you find me, you will find a tattered Moleskine book; we just go hand in hand. I have dozens of them, completely filled with my chicken scratch, piled high in stacks in my bedroom closet. They are my biggest treasures in the world.

And that pretty much sums up my life, except for one thing: At some point, I forgot to heed the caveats contained within the Desiderata. I was cynical about love. I did not believe the universe was unfolding as it should. And that would prove to be my undoing…

"Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to the dull and ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

"Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals and everywhere life is full of heroism.

"Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

"Beyond a wholesome discipline be gentle to yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars and you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

"Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

The Desiderata of Happiness by Max Ehrmann,
1874-1945