After All These Years

Setting: 20 years after Edward leaves in New Moon.

Chapter 1

Unlike some people, I loved washing dishes. It was the time that I allowed my mind to wander freely; the time where I replayed the day in my head; the time when I allowed memories to wash over me. Maybe it was the warm water. Maybe it was the feeling of washing everything away. Maybe it was that the window over the sink faced the forest and brought Edward back to my mind each day.

I didn't push Edward from my mind anymore. The first year after he left, I couldn't even think of him without clutching myself in physical pain. I couldn't bear to say his nameā€¦couldn't bear to hear it. But that had changed over the years. I welcomed the memories now. For me, there would never be another love. I knew I had found my one true love as a young women. I knew Edward was the only piece that could complete me. Twenty years later, I still loved him.

Tonight, Edward was so clear in my mind. Jacob and his family and surprised me with a birthday cake. It was the first birthday since Charlie had died and they didn't want me to be alone. I preferred to skip over birthday celebrations. Like most women, the thought of getting older was offensive, but for me birthdays also signified the end. The end of Edward and me-----the memory of my eighteenth birthday party at the Cullen's was one of my blackest memories.

Jake and I remained best friends all these years. He imprinted on Anna when he was nineteen and they were married shortly after. Life had changed for Jacob after the Cullens left Forks. He no longer shape shifted. There was no need. Once in a great while, he would tell me that he smelled a sweet smell in the air, warning me to be careful. I think he thought it would scare me. It never did. I only hoped that meant that an old friend was passing by, or more importantly, Edward was near.

As I washed and dried the last plate, I replayed Jacob's last words to me tonight. "Lock up good tonight, Bells. I smell a strong sweetness in the air." He had no idea how I wished that were true.

I hung the dishtowel to dry and went out on the back stoop, staring at the forest. It was dark, but it didn't scare me. Before turning in for the night I spoke out loud, "Good night, Edward. I love you."