well, i've decided to continue; all because of the wonderful reviewers who took time out to let me know how much they wished i would. to you i offer all my thanks.

truly i did enjoy writing the previous chapter--as well as this one--so little convincing was needed...

i hope you enjoy this chapter as well; it is a good bit shorter than the first, but i felt it reached a point in which stopping was necessary--you fellow authors understand, of course. ;)

enjoy, fellow literary addicts, and much thanks.

-a.


a bittersweet memory.

After the morning's antics I returned to my study and attempted to immerse myself in literature. I've discovered a certain soothing element to the concreteness held in the truths of the written word.

However, I soon found myself unable to focus on the task in front of me, day dreaming of my sunny human past as I gazed out the murky, dirt stained window.

---

"Bella, dinner's ready!" I heard my mother call from downstairs.

I groaned. Hopefully tonight's catastrophe would not result in food poisoning. I tromped loudly down the stairs, careful not to slip. Stairs and I go way back—my rump can testify. Why my parents decided to put my room on the second floor is a mystery to me.

Surprisingly I managed to make it down the stairs without any major disasters, and I rounded the corner to find the kitchen dark, lights off. My eyes narrowed suspiciously, realizing a moment too late what would happen.

"Surprise!" my parents shouted, flipping the lights on as they stood from behind the thick wooden table.

I jumped and cursed under my breath, then groaned loudly, "Geez, guys! You know I hate surprises!"

"Aww, Bells, you know it's only because we love you!" my dad grinned, wrapping an arm around my mother's waist. "Happy birthday, sweetheart."

Outwardly I fumed, but secretly I was pleased with the casual display of affection he had just presented. My parents had been going through a rough patch in their marriage, but thankfully my suspicions of divorce were inaccurate.

I harrumphed and looked away from their teasing eyes, noticing the decorations for the first time. Our kitchen was small and quaint, old fashioned. Streamers hung across the beat up, mustard yellow cabinets, partially hiding the chipping paint. On the wall across from me was pinned a giant banner, hanging crookedly and drastically off center. A plastic tablecloth screaming the words happy birthday was draped across our kitchen table; it was sporting a tear the length of my arm that probably was a product of Charlie's frustration and nervousness.

My eyes returned to the idiotic grins of my parents, and I noticed a small black box with a bow tied around it clutched tightly in my mother's hand.

"Oh, no. No. I said no presents! You decided the surprise party wasn't torture enough?" I growled.

My mother shifted nervously from foot to foot. "Well, honey, we couldn't just not get you anything. And it's small. You'll like it," she smiled.

I shook my head. "I don't need anything! Really. Whatever it is, you can just return it—no harm done."

"We can't return it," my mother said quietly.

"And why not?" I snapped. If they had taken the tag off of it out of spite I would never forgive them.

"Your grandmother's dead."

My jaw snapped shut. It was my grandmother's? I had never known my mother's mother; she had died when I was an infant.

My mother slowly extended the small velvet box in her palm, and silently, hands shaking, I took it. With deliberate fervor I peeled the silky bow from the soft box and lifted the lid.

I gasped softly. Inside rested an oval locket, no larger than a silver dollar, polished and shining brightly against the black velvet.

Carefully I lifted the delicate silver chain, relishing the weight of the heavy platinum against my fingertips. I daintily slipped my fingers behind the oval and brought it closer to my face for further admiration.

Engraved beautifully into the metal were two circling doves, mid-flight. The symbol of freedom. I ran my thumb over the picture, the corners of my mouth lifting slightly. Someday I would be free.

I flipped the cool metal over and squinted to read the elegant script on the back.

This love is Eternal.

The inscription looped and laced just like the birds on the front. I marveled at the capitalization of eternal, and wondered at the meaning. The period at the end rang with finality, and I felt my eyes fill with tears as I slid my fingernail between the halves.

The catch popped open, and inside I found two pictures in black and white.

The first, on the left, was a picture of Charlie, Renee, and myself. Renee had her arm wrapped tightly around my waist, as if afraid I would disappear, and Charlie stood slightly behind us, swollen with fatherly pride. I stood between them, smiling with a happiness long since forgotten and a mouthful of braces. I felt myself smile again.

The photo on the right, however, was infinitely more precious. It was me, no more than two weeks old, in the arms of my grandmother herself. Her hair was thin and silver, and her skin was paper thin, but her chocolate brown eyes were so completely consumed with love as she gazed down at me that it took my breath away. I felt betrayed, hurt, not getting to know this woman who could love me so much without knowing me at all.

I felt the tears spill over onto my cheeks as I looked up at my parents. My mother was crying as well, and as soon as I met her gaze she broke down and became a big blubbering mess as she crossed the room to envelop me in the hug only mothers can give. I buried my face in her neck and cried silently, out of happiness, love, and regret.

I heard her voice in my ear as the tears poured relentlessly. "Happy eighteenth, my Bella."

---

Those words rang in my ears as I fingered the gift that still hung around my neck. The metal was no longer refreshingly cool against my skin.

That had been my last birthday.

If I had known, I would have been more appreciative of the effort they put into the surprise.

If I had known, I would have told them how much I loved them and how I wished they would stay together forever.

If I had known, things would have been different.

But I didn't know. And things aren't different.

I was changed two and a half months later and ripped out of my life and away from my family. Charlie became the living dead, devastated with the loss of his only child, and Renee filed for a divorce the next year. She moved to the opposite end of the country and has tried and failed countless times to start over. I watched her heart get torn to shreds by each pointless one night stand as she trusted strangers with her love. I watched her cry each time she woke up to an empty bed. I watched her die, alone, 19 years ago at the age of 54 as she suffered from Alzheimer's and forgot everyone she ever knew.

Charlie took up drinking and was fired from his position as head of police. He died not two years after my disappearance from alcohol poisoning. I couldn't even properly mourn at the funeral for fear of being seen; I had hid in the trees at the cemetery and watched him being lowered into the ground—overwhelmed with the agonizing realization that my tears would never be spilt for his loss.

My hand wrapped tightly around the metal locket that held my family forever near to my heart.

Never again will I so deeply love. Never again.


now that i've thoroughly depressed you, care to review? yell at me for ruining your mood?

i haven't decided whether or not to bring edward into the tale in the next chapter or wait a few... any opinions on the matter? you, as the readers, do have a large say on the subject, so let me know.

thank you always for reading.

-a.