"Also remember, sisters make the best friends in the world. As for lovers, well, they'll come and go too. And babe, I hate to say it, most of them - actually pretty much all of them are going to break your heart, but you can't give up because if you give up, you'll never find your soul mate."
- Marilyn Monroe
Emmett reluctantly went back to work on a part-time basis. He had to make an overnight trip to San Fran to close a deal that had been waiting for his attention since before the crash. I'd stopped calling it the accident. It wasn't a fucking accident. He'd then have the rest of the week off to deal with the sentencing.
It was just going to be Ben and me for two days. My film project was finally a go, and I had some edits to work on when he was napping. I had to go to Los Angeles next month for a week of pre-production meetings. They'd picked the filming locations of Bainbridge Island and Portland. A week in LA was going to be enough of a challenge so I was glad that the months of shooting were nearby. I wouldn't have to be there very much, but I'd be on call if something wasn't working or needed changing. Fortunately my mentor and the author had helped my first real screenplay along, so the studio seemed confident that we had it right. I wasn't ready to decide where my career was going to go from here. The opportunity had been a fluke.
I sat down on the couch with a cup of coffee to watch Ben on the floor with his blocks. I soaked up everything he did, both so I could tell him when he was older, and for Rose. I could see her so clearly with him; hear her words of hopes and joys and little troubles. I can't wait to chase him around the park. I can't wait to give him a sibling. She was missing this; the least I could do was pay perfect attention to what made Ben, Ben. It scared me that I hadn't seen her smile or heard her laugh for three months. It was permanently ingrained in my memory, yet still I worried I would forget it.
I dug out her wedding DVD and put it into the player. She was so fucking beautiful. We were always told the three of us looked very much like sisters but I tended to think that our parents got the recipe right with the first two. Rose was probably most like Renee's side of the family, and the fairest. I was the darkest and, though still short, I had more of Charlie's height than Alice, who was petite and quite striking. "The Swan Sisters" were fairly well known when Alice and Rose were both at high school. I was the little sister who their guy friends teased them about, claiming I was going to be trouble once I hit puberty.
I smiled at shots of us in our bridesmaids' dresses - Rose hadn't been wrong about the yellow, surprisingly. Turned out Alice and I looked okay in such a bright color. Her face filled the shot, relaxed and laughing at our dad's father of the bride speech. What I would give to hear that sound fill this room again…her laugh was contagious. Then Rose became a blur and her baby son was pushing himself up onto his feet, taking two wobbly steps to grab the TV cabinet and planting his tiny hand against the screen. I clasped my hand to my mouth and started bawling my eyes out, before I had the sense to take a photo. I got down on the floor and tried to coax him to walk back to me, but he plopped down on his bottom and looked from me to the TV. I was fucking gutted Emmett wasn't there to see it, and it was probably a good thing he didn't try it again. He resumed crawling as if it hadn't happened.
I didn't sleep that night. Instead I began work on creating a scrapbook for Ben of his time with Rose. Alice and I were both camera nuts, so there were thousands of photos right through her pregnancy, of when they created his nursery, the birth, and nearly every day up until she was gone. I made sure there were pictures of her framed on the wall of his room so he'd always know her face.
The morning after Emmett returned, I lay in bed tossing things around in my head while listening for sounds of Ben waking. I was staring at the baby monitor when there was a faint rap on the door.
"Come in," I said.
Emmett popped his head around the door then slipped through, making his way to my armchair.
"How's it going angel?" he asked, sinking into the cushion.
"Can't complain, big bro," I said with a sigh.
He nodded a little, clear that he knew there was more that I should be saying, but wouldn't.
"I was talking to Jasper last night," he began.
"Oh yup," I replied, wondering where this was going.
"He, um, mentioned that you and his friend Edward had seen a bit of each other?"
He said it as a question, but he knew everything that was going on in my life. I just took care with exactly the level of depth I gave him, not wanting to rub salt in any wounds with my shallow issues.
He was looking at the photo of me and Rose on my bedside. It was taken by Alice on a weekend trip to La Push beach a few years back. We were deliriously happy, our faces squished together and hair all wavy and blowing from the salt air.
"Bella, do you think that if I had known that Rose would die so young I never would have kissed her in the park that day, or asked her to marry me, or been overjoyed to watch her glowing as we met our son?"
He swallowed audibly and then looked to my eyes.
"I would never give back any of those moments, even knowing what I know now, that Ben and I would lose her much too soon."
He looked at his hands momentarily, then back to me.
"If I can give you anything for what you've done for me, it's to tell you that you mustn't hold back from something that could be magical just because you're afraid. You know what Rose would have said – after she'd watched you fuck it up and let you finally figure this out for yourself...she would have said that it's better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all."