I am very sad to say that this, everyone, is the last chapter of Life Is For The Alive, Not Dead.
But, thank you to everyone who has reviewed - lilmissrocknroll, filmgrl13, obsessivelyfanaticgw09, MoonlitSerenity, I LOVE JACK ATLAS, blky111, TheCatgirlQueen, hellsingfan101, A True Fallacy, Isabella248, xXEmoVampirateXx, M. Cullen Hightopp, WWW-Little-Angel, yuki-chi1018, Hlbur14, freakyfriday13, cello003, Halloween29, Lady Knight Of Spades, DayDreamer1236 and Sylverfire-Lilithe-Todd.
Also, thank you to anyone who has favourited the story or added me to their favourite authors. I honestly didn't know how this story would go down, but you have all made it amazing and brilliant fun with your reviews, comments and suggestions!
THANK YOU EVERYONE!
"Are we there yet?"
"Are we there yet?"
"Are we there yet?"
Ben let out an annoyed sigh as he glared out the window, his arms folded across his chest.
"You're not funny." He muttered.
"I love you too, Ben."
Ben's scowl grew whilst Nellie and Amy giggled.
"Are we nearly there yet?" I asked Ant, the persistent whining from the back of the car making me realise how bored I was as well.
"Nearly," He said, chuckling.
"Can we hurry up?" I whined.
"Not without breaking the law, no."
I sighed. "I'm bored."
"You're also worse than the children!"
I grinned at Ant, batting my eyelashes at him.
"But that's why you love me!"
"Of course." He replied, grinning back.
"Ugh, please." Ben moaned.
"I think it's cute!" Nellie announced, grinning.
"Yeah, you would."
"Mum! Ben's being mean to me!"
"For goodness sake you two, stop fighting!" I said, laughing.
"We're not. We're having a heated debate."
I raised my eyebrows at Ben, and he grinned back at me.
"Ok, how about some music?" I suggested.
"NO!" Ben instantly cried. "Mum, your taste in music is awful!"
"Says the boy who can't stop listening to Marilyn Manson." I joked.
"I like your music, Mummy." Nellie told me, and Amy clapped her hands in agreement.
"Music!" She cried.
"What about you, Ant? You like my music, don't you?"
"I'm sorry, love, but I'm going to have to agree with Ben. Your taste in music is awful."
I pretended to flounce away from Ant as Ben, Nellie and Amy laughed. Ant also laughed as he reached out and took my hand.
"But I've learned to enjoy it." He said, squeezing my hand. I smiled.
"Good, now both hands on the wheel, please."
Ant laughed, squeezed my hand again and then returned it to the front wheel of the car.
A small smile played on my lips as I gazed out of the window, watching the roads pass by me, some familiar and some I had never seen before.
I brushed a stray hair out of my face as I glanced in the mirror at my three children, each sat next to each other.
When I was fifteen, I would've never thought I'd be in this position. Not now. Not after what happened.
Benjamin James Hope was the oldest, fifteen years old. He was a beautiful boy, bearing an uncanny resemblance to his father. His thick brown hair went down to his shoulders; his long fringe swooped over his left eye.
He was glaring out the window silently, gently nodding his head to the music he was listening to on his Ipod. Wearing a band t-shirt and skinny jeans, he looked like a little emo, but denied it profusely if you dared ask.
Sat next to him, in the middle of my three children, was Eleanor Amy Hope. We called her Nellie for short. She also resembled Ant, her wavy hair being the same shade as his. Her eyes, however, were a mixture of blue and grey.
She was amusing herself by reading her book. Being ten years old, nearly eleven, she found her passion in reading as I had found mine in art. Having decided Ben was her ideal, Nellie wore a baggy t-shirt and her favourite black velvet skirt.
Sat on the end was Amy Grace Hope, the youngest at seven. Unlike her siblings, she looked nothing like Ant. Instead, her hair was blonde, with a slight curl to it, and her eyes were a beautiful shade of blue.
Amy looked like a princess, and she knew it, which is why she insisted on going through her wardrobe every day with me to pick out an outfit. Today she wore her favourite bright pink and white floral patterned dress over a pair of white tights.
"I want to look pretty for Granddad." She explained when I questioned her choice of clothing.
Of course. She wanted to look pretty for Granddad.
Though I wouldn't admit it, even I had made an effort with my outfit choice. Instead of my usual shirt and baggy jeans, I now wore a dark blue blouse over my best black trousers.
Red always used to be my favourite colour when I was fifteen, but I changed it to blue soon after.
Red reminded me too much of blood.
"Are we there yet?"
"Oh, Ben, please don't start that again!"
"Actually, we are!" Ant suddenly announced, the car rolling to an eventual stop.
"Really?" I asked incredulously.
I stared out of the window, suddenly nervous.
I knew that Dad had forgiven me, a long time ago. It was a slow, working progress, but we got there.
Well, Grace and Toby had their ups and downs, but they were still together, just like me and Ant. That was the trait of the Peterson girls. Once they had a boyfriend, that was it.
Her twins, Amelia and George, were the same age as Nellie, and the three were very close, which was always nice to watch.
I looked up, mildly surprised as Ant uttered my nickname in a soft tone. Joey. No one had called me that for years. I was Johanna. Johanna Hope.
Ant smiled gently, holding his hand out.
"You coming, Joey?" He asked softly. I smiled and took his hand.
"Yep. I'm coming."
Weaving his fingers through mine, Ant and I walked towards the shop. Through the window, I could already see Dad hugging Nellie and Amy while Ben lurked, obviously too old for hugs.
Dad looked up as we entered, his smile faltering slightly. But his eyes, filled with love and hope, stayed the same.
"Ant! How are you?" He asked, shaking his hand.
"I'm good, cheers, James. How are you?"
"I'm good," Dad turned to me, and a small smile played on his lips. "Hey, Jojo."
I smiled, blinking away the tears that had sprung to my eyes.
"Hey, Dad." I said softly, stepping forwards to embrace him. No matter how old we got, Dad and I would always have a special bond.
And nothing could break it.
While Ant and Toby exchanged a few words, the twins and Nellie played with Amy quick on their heels.
"Hi, Joey." Grace said.
"Hi, Grace." I replied. The two of us smiled before suddenly giggling and embracing each other.
"We're nuts." Grace murmured in my ear.
"And for me, that's literally!" I whispered back.
"So, how's about I serve lunch, hey?" Dad suddenly asked, grinning at Amelia, Nellie and Amy.
"Ooh, can I help Granddad?" Nellie asked.
"Me too!" Amy added, desperate not to be outshone by her sister.
"Oh no, this is a grown up job," Dad said, giving me a quick wink. "No, I want you two to sit down with your big brother and look beautiful. Can you do that?"
"Yes Granddad!" The said in unison, each of them grabbing Ben's hands and dragging him to the table Dad had set up in the middle of the room.
"Special Sunday lunch, hey, Dad?" I asked.
"You could say that." Dad said with a chuckle.
As Dad brought back our Sunday lunch, all of us threw our heads back and laughed.
Fish and chips from the chip shop.
After lunch, which we all devoured eagerly, the twins, Nellie and Amy went outside to play while Ben went into the back room to go on the computer.
"Is it ok if I…" My voice trailed off as I gestured towards the side door. Understanding, Dad smiled.
Giving him a quick kiss on the cheek, I left the room.
As I stepped out of the side door, memories came flooding back to me, a tsunami of recognition.
Placing my hand on the banister, as I had done so many times before, I wandered up, taking it one step at a time. I wanted to, needed to savour the moment.
I didn't know when I would ever get the chance to do it again.
The steps creaked under my feet, letting out load groans of protest. I ignored them, and continued walking.
I paused as I stepped onto the balcony. A cool wind blew, playing with my hair gently, as if it recognized me.
Suddenly confident, I strode across the balcony and stopped by the door. My confidence faded.
Was I doing the right thing?
"Yes." I spoke aloud to convince myself, and then giggled.
Talking to yourself was the first sign of madness.
It was odd. I, now a grown woman, could make jokes at my expense and be completely at ease. I could never do that before.
Taking in a deep breath, I brushed my hair off my shoulders and reached out with a shaky hand. I was nervous, I wasn't afraid to admit it. Revisiting the past was a risky thing to do.
Especially with a past like mine.
Before I could tell myself otherwise, I opened the door and walked into the shop.
It was clear that Dad hadn't been in it since…I couldn't tell, really. Years, probably. I was the only one that bared an attachment to the shop. Dad and Grace had no reason to come up.
I walked inside, not even blinking as the dust stirred beneath my feet. Carefully shutting the door behind me, I paused, waiting.
I sighed as I sat myself on the chest. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe they wouldn't come. Maybe they were all gone for good.
"There's a hole in the world like a great black pit, and the vermin of the world inhabit it, and its morals aren't worth what a pig could spit, and it goes by the name of…""London."
I looked up, a wide smile spreading across my face.
Sweeney Todd, the demon barber of Fleet Street, stood in front of me once more.
Unlike the first time, I wasn't scared. I was ready to jump up and run away screaming. I wasn't going to beg for my life to be spared.
He grinned back.