Twilight and its characters belong to Stephanie Meyers. This particular plot belongs to me.
Infinite thanks for antiaol for beta'ing and bmango for prereading. Without these amazing ladies, this story would be a very different thing.
In the Twilight of My Life, Chapter 1:
My Jacob died on a Wednesday.
His feet were sticking out from under the old VW Rabbit he'd been restoring since the day he retired. When the EMTs pulled him out, there was still grease under his fingernails.
Even though those fingernails had started to turn blue.
I'd been calling him for what felt like forever, my voice getting ragged, his lunch getting cold and me tired of waiting for him. Finally I got impatient and wheeled myself out to the garage to look for him.
Because my Jacob had never left me waiting before.
But this time he'd left me waiting. Waiting for I didn't even know how long. Waiting for this old and useless body to finally finish its sad shriveling, for the wrinkled skin of my hands to finally grow too thin across the spiderweb network of my bones.
He'd left me waiting until I could join him.
On Thursday, our girl Carlie came, all my grandbabies in tow behind her. She asked me if I would watch them while she and Embry went down to the funeral home, already having written me off as too catatonic to speak to the funeral planners.
I never answered.
On Friday, I went to bed.
By Saturday I thought I might never get out.
My daughter's voice, her nagging insistence and the push of a spoon against my withered lips cut through the darkness. In the fogging haze where my life before and my life left waiting mingled, I felt my Jacob's presence in our bed. As he had for almost forty-five years, he wrapped his phantom arms around me, a memory of a memory. I lived in that place where dreams became reality, knowing full well that I would never live again.
One day Carlie's voice broke through more brutally, her worry and her love and her lack of patience meeting my indifference and my haze. And I knew she was exasperated with me. Again.
All at once the cocoon around me rippled, then broke, darkness peeling away.
And everything was gone.
My life was gone.
I looked around at the four bare walls surrounding me, all the trinkets and reminders of my life and my Jacob having been stolen away in the long dark weeks of night, and I huddled closer into a ball. My aching, knobby fingers reached for the pillow beside my head, for the place where my Jacob had slept.
And I swear I felt a twisting swirling, a rush of air like an exhale. Like something expiring.
And his presence, the one comfort in my nighttime was gone.
"Mom," Carlie's voice called, the high shrillness of it piercing through the fog around my brain.
"Mom," she said again, all worry and exhaustion and pain. "Mom, it's time."
My new room smelled like disinfectant and rust, like blood scrubbed off the floor just moments after it had fallen. My daughter unpacked the things that she had seen fit for me to carry with me, but the only things I needed were in my heart.
I tried to summon the phantom presence to my bed where I rested, still waiting, but it refused to come. The bedrails against my spine were cold, my body thin and giving out, time weakening everything.
And still I was stuck with nothing but time.
The nurse's name was Angela. I remembered that much.
Each day she dragged me out of my bed, made me wash and dress, even though I was supposed to be living "independently."
"It's not a nursing home, Mom," Carlie's words had echoed through my numbing brain, knowing full well her eyes were rolling even though I wasn't looking. "It's assisted living."
Because something as simple as living was something I needed assistance with now.
Angela made sure I went to my meals on time, wheeling me to a table in the corner and respecting my wishes to sit alone.
And, most importantly, she wheeled me out to my tree.
My Jacob had proposed to me under a tree. We'd driven out past La Push, away from rocky beaches and the ocean's roar, making our way through swaths of green and trees. Beneath that old willow, he'd asked me to spend my life with him, the arching branches making rainbow patterns against the dark grey sky.
He'd been so young then. So full of fervor and energy and life.
When I'd agreed, crying, he'd pledged his life to me.
And that was one promise he fulfilled in spades.
Each day I sat under my tree in the gardens behind the nursing home, a willow, drooping branches sweeping almost to the ground. It was like I was pulled there, half thinking my Jacob might be there, waiting for me like I was left waiting, always waiting for him.
Sitting there, the brake on my wheelchair secured before Angela left me, I imagined I could hear him breathing.
But of course that was only me.
I smoked American Spirits because that was what Jake had smoked. I breathed them in like I breathed his breath, the little filter pack of cigarettes tucked clandestinely amidst the blankets Angela arranged for me. If she saw them, she didn't comment on them, and every time Carlie came to visit me, she gave into that one request.
More of Jake's air to breathe.
I sat there for hours on some days, just watching the subtle play of leaves and of dying things against the dimming sky. Angela would check on me every couple of hours, but mostly she left me alone.
Without my Jacob there was nothing for me to be but alone.
In my room at night, I tried to summon his presence, finding his smile in the photos our daughter had packed for me. I regarded them dimly, my own lips lifting up, dry and cracked as they were, the skin settling hard into the lines they had known when my Jacob was alive.
And that hint of a smile was too much for me. I took the three or four agonizingly slow steps from my chair to my bed.
And I didn't get out of it for a week again.
The next time Carlie came, she found me sitting by my tree, staring into the sky, the cataracts that were starting to form fogging my eyes the way the tears had done.
I asked her to take me shopping, and she perked up immediately, a smile on the young woman's face that reminded me so much of how she'd looked as a little girl.
The smile faded, slowly, as she wheeled me through the store and I selected nothing but black. I reminded her that I was a widow now, that there was nothing left for me to live for.
And a sad look came over her eyes as she told me how she hoped that maybe someday there would be.
A/N: Thanks so much for reading! Not all chapters will be this sad, I promise, but the stage needed to be set.
This story will be told in 21 short chapters, posting three times per week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Reviews mean the world to me.
See you Wednesday...