Chapter 1 ~ The Return
Was it a dream?
Somehow I was back in the place it all started.
Many things had changed since I was last here, most were rather unexpected.
Two things hadn't changed; one was my love for my husband Edward. If anything, my love for him had intensified, if that was remotely possible. The other thing that hadn't altered was my hatred for surprises and celebrations in my honour.
Today was a momentous occasion that my family insisted on celebrating, my vampire family that is. The event was my 100th vampire birthday.
My first century of immortality.
One hundred years of vampirism.
Technically I am 118 years old in three days time if you include the human years I have lived through. Personally, I didn't see the point in celebrating; I expected to live for many, many centuries as long as I had Edward by my side.
But, my gritted razor-sharp teeth were my only protest as today was a double celebration. Not only was it my birthday, it was also 100 years since I gave birth to my beautiful, adoring daughter Renesmee. I did gain a little pleasure in the fact that we could share this unique day together; mother and daughter sharing the same centenary, and although I was very enthusiastic to celebrate Nessie's day, to mark the day I gave birth to the most perfect being (besides, Edward, of course) I wanted my own birthday to be forgotten. Unfortunately, that was impossible with an excitable daughter, a husband dedicated to providing me with everything and more and a sister in law that loved any excuse to party plan.
I was helpless.
Being back in Forks – the rainiest town in the United States – brought back old memories. Mostly they were good memories, but there were some awful ones thrown in too. They were a mix of faded blurry human memories and vividly detailed recollections held in my super sharp vampire brain.
One person flashed through my memory with comforting regularity.
Charlie, my father.
The last time I saw him was on my last visit to Forks. He has been gone for over fifty years now and I still miss him. I remembered the day like it was yesterday, and I felt myself tremble ever so slightly as I slipped into the memory. My step-mother Sue had called me to inform me of Charlie's deteriorating condition.
Sue was originally from the Quileute reservation of La Push, and was married to Harry Clearwater before he died. Sue found comfort from my dad, and vice versa and they eventually married. I was glad that Charlie had found someone to care for him after I was changed and had to maintain my distance. They had a long happy marriage; their union a happy result of the existence vampires and werewolves. Sue's children Leah and Seth inherited the werewolf gene, and I, their step sister was a newborn vampire. Mortal enemies joined not only by love but also by family ties. Everything had changed, whilst the old enmity was not entirely forgotten by everyone, it was seldom an issue.
After Sue called me I wanted to return to Forks immediately to be by my father's side. I was worried though. Concerned at what Charlie would think of my unchanging appearance. Sue knew about my kind, she knew what I was, as did all the Quileutes. The only one out of the loop was Charlie. He knew there was something wrong, something different. I wouldn't use the word 'wrong' myself because everything about what I had become felt so right to me that it was my human life that seemed wrong. Charlie just used an extreme form of pretence to keep me and Nessie in his life. Despite my concern, I returned. I had to see my dad one final time.
My vampire family and I were living in a small town on the outskirts of Northern Vancouver at the time, so the trip wasn't far. Edward, of course, had insisted on accompanying me on my visit. We both encountered anxiety when we were apart from each other for any length of time. Alice too, had insisted on coming. She had always cared for my father – and he had returned her feelings of affection. I had not wanted to bring Nessie with us; however she matured entirely approximately six years after her birth, although even at 100 years old she was still my little girl. But she had her own mind, which at the time was made up. She wanted to say goodbye to her grandpa. How could I deny her that? I simply couldn't. So Nessie came, that meant Jacob had to come too.
In the years before old age and ill health prevented it, Charlie had occasionally visited the various locations we inhabited, but returning to Forks was not an option for us. Raising suspicions in the small town where word travels fast would be dangerous, it would most likely scare the life out of some of the citizens of Forks who would certainly recognise us. We did not wish to cause havoc.
We arrived in the early hours of the morning to avoid attracting any unwanted attention. Charlie's condition was worse than Sue described. He was so old and frail and fading fast. He passed away just a few hours after we arrived, with me holding one his hands and Sue holding the other. I couldn't physically cry, but tearless sobs shook my body as I grieved for my wonderful father.
I was so grateful I got the chance to see him one final time, and I hope he knew that I was happy with my new life and family. Edward was of course the only person with any way of really knowing and he assured me that Charlie knew of my adoration of life. Although, who knew whether Edward was telling the truth; he was more likely to tell me something to make me happy rather than be honest.
Once Charlie had gone I couldn't stand to be in his house or in Forks for one second longer. Without him it felt empty, it was no longer a home to me. I told Edward I needed to be alone for a few minutes and left the house. I wandered into the woods that had once made me so uneasy. All it took was one minute staring at the moss covered trees and I was off running. Away from my family, away from my dead father, away from my old home, away from Forks, the place where it all began.
Alice would have seen my decision and told Edward. He was faster than me and would catch up with me quickly, but he didn't, which I was grateful for. I wanted him to stay with Renesmee, to comfort her. And for the first time in many years I really wanted to be alone.
As the trees whooshed past me I wished I could be human again – just to be able to cry and properly grieve for Charlie. I had never before wished for, or wanted my human life back; not even for a second. I truly believed I was destined to become a vampire. I thrived on my immortality.
I ran and ran without stopping for countless miles. The rhythm of my feet hitting the ground was strangely soothing and helped me think.
Charlie died from pure and simple old age. My lifestyle choice had not had any adverse affects on his health as I had once feared it would. Renee met her death quite awhile before Charlie; she died with her husband Phil in a devastating car crash. I could have saved them if Alice had foreseen the event more than a few minutes before it happened. Although I didn't get to say goodbye to my mom, I was glad she was not alone when she died. She left this world with her loving husband.
Charlie's death affected me differently than Renee's. Yes, I was sad when my mother passed and I grieved for her. But in the years since I had first moved to Forks and become a vampire I had become closer to my father. Renee hadn't been a part of my life for a long time, she wasn't strong like Charlie, and she wouldn't have been able to handle it. I saw her just once after I was changed and she freaked out, Renee style. It was a good job we brought Jasper along because his mood control was the only thing that calmed her down. I never saw her again after that; I always made excuses and then eventually we convinced Charlie to inform her that Edward and I had died in a freak accident. My only regret was that she never got to spend any time with her granddaughter.
In Charlie's case, he was still involved in my life. He knew enough for me to see him. He was on the verge of the mythical world I belonged to, and when I lost him, it felt like I had lost a piece of my heart and some of the humanity I had left had been stripped from me.
Edward once said to me when I was human that it would get easier losing my family and friends because every few decades they die. It wasn't easier. I missed them terribly. I still had my vampire family, but my human family were my only connection to the human years I lived through. I needed that connection. I needed to remember it. I wanted to retain all my human memories forever but they had faded over time and the loss of my parents seemed to dim them even more.
I wanted to remember my childhood and my life pre-vampire.
I wanted to remember when and how I met Edward, every word we exchanged, the exact moment I fell in love with him and all the things we did together, good and bad, everything.
I wanted to remember my parents and how great they were, where I got all my qualities and traits from.
I had to remember.
I didn't often think back to my childhood, but now I forced myself to retrieve any memories I had.
I don't remember any time of being with my parents together as a family living in Forks – my mom left when I was too young. The first memory, fuzzy and typically human that I can recall is when I was four years old and both Charlie and Renee are reading me a story together – not a bedtime story, this was outside with the sun shining. A happy memory. Now I think about it there must have been an air of awkwardness between my parents as it was only two or three years after my mom walked out on Charlie, but I was too young to notice I suppose.
As I grew older I became more reserved as a person, taking on a parental role with my mom, always cautious and guarded, never adventurous, just like Charlie really. I don't know what I wanted out of life, like my mom. I never really had any aspirations for a career or a family. I enjoyed taking care of Renee; the responsibility gave me a sense of worthiness.
Most of my other memories are with Renee and all her spontaneous acts – others are vague brief visits to Forks where I spent most of my time reading Charlie and I were both too restrained to take the lead in our father-daughter relationship.
I mourned Charlie's passing far more deeply than other family members I had lost. His being so close to the truth of my immortal life made him almost a part of it and consequently this strengthened our relationship and made me love him even more.
Becoming a vampire righted every wrong in my human life and made everything else more wonderful. And although I had lost everyone from that life, I was still the luckiest girl who ever existed and now being back in Forks – I was home.
I tried to contain my emotions as the car sped up the driveway to the first Cullen house I'd known. All was silent except for the purr of the engine and the breathing of two beings in the back seat.