Thinking of You
I walked up the front path to the porch of Carlisle and Esme's house to find my soon-to-be brother- and sister-in-law sitting on the porch swing overlooking the garden. As I approached the house, I noticed that something seemed to be lacking in their normal personalities; Emmett sat with his arms wrapped around Alice's small frame, while she rested her head on his shoulder, both of them silent and staring at nothing.
I climbed up the steps and across the wooden slats of the porch, coming to a stop in front of the porch swing. I leaned back against the railing behind me and crossed my arms in front of my chest.
Neither of them even blinked at my arrival. I wondered what had them both so unhinged; I had never seen either of them in a state anywhere near their current ones. It had me slightly unnerved.
"Hello, Earth to Emmett and Alice," I said waving my hands in front of their faces.
A flicker of recognition in their eyes appeared to bring them back to the present. Something extremely odd was going on.
"Hey Bella," Emmett mumbled, rising mechanically from the swing and pulling me into a hug. It could have been my imagination, but I swear his hug was more forceful than usual. I think I heard my ribs crack.
Was that a tear I felt drop on my shoulder? As Emmett pulled away from me, I scanned his face for any sign of tear tracks. There didn't appear to be any, but his eyes did look a little red and puffy. Had he been crying? Maybe he was just tired. That must be it … he and Alice must have had a late night last night and were feeling the effects of it today. It wouldn't be the first time.
But still … their behavior irked me.
Emmett returned to his seat beside Alice as I walked over to her, giving her a quick hug and a peck on the cheek before returning to my spot against the railing.
"Are you guys okay?" I asked. "You don't look too good."
Alice opened her mouth to say something, but words seemed to fail her. She shook her head and kept her gaze glued to the floor. It was then that I noticed she hadn't made eye contact with me since I'd arrived. Come to think of it, neither had Emmett.
"Okay, seriously, what is going on? You look like someone died."
A small gasp escaped from Alice.
"Oh my- Carlisle and Esme? Did something happen to them? Is that why you're here?" I asked, my mind going into overdrive, all thoughts saturated with worry.
Emmett shook his head, saying, "No! No, they're both okay. Well, as okay as-"
"Oh thank goodness!" I exclaimed, letting out the breath I hadn't realized I'd been holding. "You scared me for a minute there. I'm actually glad you're both here. I came to see your parents, but you'll probably be more help to me. Have you heard from Edward, or do you know where he is? We were supposed to meet for dinner after we'd both finished classes last night, but he didn't show up. I thought maybe he got caught up with a professor or some classmates, but when he didn't come home at all last night, or return any of my messages, I started to get a little worried. The last time he didn't come home was when you and Jasper took him out after exams and got him so drunk he couldn't remember his own name, Emmett."
Alice made a small noise that sounded like a sob. I looked at Emmett, worried. He avoided my gaze, but shuffled over on the swing a little to make room for another person.
"Bella, you might want to sit down."
"I'm fine where I am, thank you. Can one of you please tell me what's going on?" I demanded. "You're both acting so strange."
Emmett looked up suddenly, and as his eyes connected with mine, I felt a jolt of fear run through me. His eyes were so lifeless, dark and empty. It was a haunting look, one I hoped never to see again. It scared me.
With a shaky sigh, Emmett got to his feet and took my small hands in his own bear-like paws.
"Bella … Edward … he's … Edward's dead."
I gaped at him, my mouth hanging open, for an immeasurable amount of time.
My brain was trying to process Emmett's words. Edward was … dead? No, I mustn't have heard him right. I'd only just seen him not even twenty-four hours ago.
Suddenly, a fit of giggles overtook me. Alice looked up at me with a look of horror on her face.
"Ha! You're good Emmett. You nearly had me going for a minute there," I gasped, the giggles becoming uncontrollable. "Seriously, you couldn't have come up with something more original? That was a poor effort, even for your standards. I must admit though, your acting skills have really improved a heap since your last prank. Now come on, where is he really?"
Emmett gripped my hands tighter, his eyes boring into mine.
"I wasn't joking, Bella."
My giggles began to rapidly decrease at the realization that Emmett was being serious. I turned my stare to Alice for confirmation. She burst into tears and buried her face in her hands, her small frame shaking with the power of her sobs.
I pulled my hands out of Emmett's grasp as though burned.
"No, I – I don't believe you," I said, stepping back from him.
I shook my head, feeling tears prick behind my eyes. I wouldn't believe it. Edward couldn't be dead. He just couldn't!
"No, Emmett! You're lying! Edward's not … he's not … he can't be!" I choked, the tears now welling in my eyes and threatening to spill over. "I only just saw him yesterday morning! He made me breakfast, and he drove me to class, he kissed me goodbye … he can't be dead ..."
The slight constriction that had started tugging at my chest when I first realized that Edward had not returned home last night was now crushing me from the inside out. I couldn't breathe; it felt like my lungs were being flattened.
I was vaguely aware that I had fallen to my knees and was gripping onto the railing for support. Emmett was still standing where I had left him, tears now cascading down his cheeks.
"How?" I managed to choke out.
Emmett took a tentative step toward me, a look of pure agony masking all traces of the man I knew. This made my chest constrict even more, if that were possible. I could feel the tears streaming down my face as sobs wracked my body. I was falling to pieces.
"He- the- the charred remains of his Volvo were found on the back road from your house to the university early this morning. He must have lost control of the car and hit a tree. The car … it exploded on impact. There wasn't much – there wasn't much left, Bella."
I distantly heard a horrible cry of agony, and then realized it had come from me.
His beautiful face, those stunning emerald eyes, his smile … all gone.
"But he drives a Volvo!" I screamed, "A Volvo! One of the safest … It can't have been him, Emmett! It just couldn't! He never would have lost control … he can't be … Edward ... no, Edward! We're getting married! He made me wear this ridiculous ring …"
I tore at my finger, trying to get the damn thing off. He had insisted on giving me his great-grandmother's engagement ring, one of his most precious family heirlooms, and I was constantly paranoid that I was going to lose it or break it, or damage it somehow … and now that's exactly what I wanted to do. I didn't ever want to see it again.
I kept pulling at it, tears blurring my vision, but I couldn't get it off. I felt two sets of arms wrap around me, and then all the energy in my body just disappeared. I fell into Emmett's arms, sobbing uncontrollably, my constricted chest now being torn apart as my heart was ripped out from within it.
"Edward ..." I moaned.
Then everything went black.