Stephenie Meyer wrote Twilight.
Morgan Locklear wrote 62 disclaimers.
C'est la pomme de terre
Benjamin walked slowly into the small Manhattan cemetery with two white roses clutched in his weathered but strong hands. He looked up into the trees and saw the looming city just beyond them.
Countless windows appeared to be peeking in at his sorrow, but Benjamin held firmly to the hope that since it was evening he was likely well hidden in the shadows.
He was in an old fashioned cemetery surrounded by a tall iron fence and front gates that were as ornate as they were heavy.
He could see the group of people up ahead, their shadows walking through one another like ebony ghosts. The area ahead of him was lit by a big circle of lanterns resting on the ground.
He did not walk towards the group right away. Instead, he stepped off the path and walked over to a pair of headstones bearing the names of his grandparents.
Esme had been the first to pass away and Carlisle had been with her, holding his wife in his arms. With her last words, she told him that she saw a white bench covered with dark green ivy and that she was going to wait for him there.
She did not have to wait long. Carlisle was a strong man, but his loneliness overtook him like a rust. He joined her less than a year later and his son gave a touching eulogy, celebrating the life of an exceptional man and revisiting the grace and heart of his mother.
Benjamin placed a white rose on the grass in front of each stone and wondered where the time had gone. Although his last trip to New York felt quite recent, it had been six months since he had visited the city of his birth. Benjamin's family had been unable to make this particular trip from Virginia because his wife was pregnant with their third child.
He was an alert man and quickly turned around even at a vampire's approach. His eyes rested on his Uncle Edward. Although it was never mentioned out loud, it was not lost on both men that the uncle now appeared young enough to be mistaken for the nephew's son. The fashion of the Forties suited both fit men.
"Good to see you again, Ben," Edward greeted him. He noticed his nephew's laugh lines even before he noticed the four silver stars on his beret.
"Hello, Uncle Edward." The men embraced like brothers. "How is my mother?"
"Looking for you, but if you need more time with Mother and Father..."
"No. I was on my way." Benjamin took another moment to look back at the graves of his grandparents. "I like knowing that they'll be here with him tonight...when we all go home." The thought nearly brought on the cascade of tears Benjamin had been expecting but hoped to save until after his official duties were complete.
He was determined to speak well and honor the man who had given him his voice as well as his eyes. Benjamin swallowed hard and smiled bitterly as he told himself to keep his gentlemanly composure for the sake of his mother.
Edward waited patiently. He understood. The loss of his own parents still bit into his heart on a daily basis and it had been nearly ten years since their passing. That evening would see him suffering a third bite, but he knew that it was the price the immortal paid for a ticket to an eternal happily ever after.
After Benjamin took a moment to allow himself a few deep breaths and a good throat clearing, he tugged on his overcoat lapels. "Let's go."
The two men started walking together and when they entered the lanterned ring of light, Edward told Benjamin that his parents had used similar lighting at their wedding.
Friends and family filled six rows of pale green wooden chairs with a center aisle. The rows were rounded and they all faced a dark square hole in the earth. Above it, his father's casket was suspended by several wooden rods. The coffin was, of course, made of redwood.
Benjamin took one look at it and froze as he realized that the funeral was going to be more difficult than he originally thought. He breathed in through his nose and swallowed hard once again just as he felt a comfortable cool hand settle on his back.
You can do this, Ben.
It was as if Edward hadn't spoken to him at all, but his voice was there as a warm encouragement just the same. He remembered that happening a lot with his uncle when he was younger. The two of them had always shared a special connection.
Rosalie stood when she saw her son. Over time her hair had turned completely white but Benjamin found it an even more beautiful shade than the blonde color of her youth. Her eyes, however, still belonged to the twenty year old girl who had fallen in love with his father in Paris. He crossed over to his mother and felt like a child all over again. It was not unpleasant.
"I'm so glad you made it here alright, Sweetheart." She hugged him, clung to him actually, and did not let go until the priest approached the casket and began to pray quietly to himself.
Benjamin looked around and saw that Edward was taking his seat next to Bella. She smiled at him and she looked both beautiful and tragic. She quietly took Edward's hand as soon as he sat down and held it tightly in her lap.
Benjamin sat down next to his mother, who took his hand in the exact same way.
When the priest concluded his private prayers, he welcomed everyone with a strong voice. He then read from a white Bible with a gold leaf flared cross on the cover before he introduced Bella Cullen.
He said only that she was his oldest friend.
If anyone thought that it was strange that Jacob's oldest friend looked like she wasn't even old enough to drink alcohol, Edward did not hear it.
Bella walked up and touched the casket behind her and whispered something only Edward heard. He admired her strength and how her thoughts were still focused on their friend instead of her own personal sadness.
She then turned to face the group of people, sixty or more, who came to pay their respects. In their faces she saw love, admiration, and loss.
"If there is anyone who deserves to sleep in peace forever, it is Jacob Black." Bella's voice was clear, but clearly emotional. "I urge you not to spend another moment worrying about his happiness," Bella continued. "He found that a long time ago, and that's the one thing you can take with you."
She looked lovingly at Rosalie. "He has you to thank for that...and so do I." The women shared an affectionate look after Rosalie wiped her eye with Benjamin's ready handkerchief.
Bella then glanced at a small white upright piano that sat to the right of the casket. "Some of you may not know that Jacob was a romantic and that he wrote hundreds of songs for his wife." She gestured toward Edward. "My husband and I were in Spain with him when he wrote a song called "Conspicuous Smile". They sang it together because he was too shy to do it alone." She paused. "But it was still one of the bravest things I have witnessed to this day. He thought that he had already lost his chance with her, but he sang anyway."
Bella looked over at the casket again. It was still close enough to touch, but she resisted. "He usually wrote when he was away from her and lonely, which happened a lot when they were first married and had Ben. He was on the road drumming up business for a business that practically made its own drums."
She received a big laugh and that both surprised and relaxed her.
"He would sing them to her whenever he came back home. Sometimes five or six at a time. He tried to keep it all a secret of course, so he played them for her on the piano in Benjamin's room at night when everyone was out."
She looked over at her nephew. "Ben ratted him out a long time ago."
This earned her another laugh and Rosalie felt intense gratitude for Bella's light approach. It was exactly what Jacob would have wanted.
"Edward is now going to sing one of Jacob's songs. It's Rosalie's favorite and she wanted all of you to hear." Bella began to walk towards her seat. Edward stood and he pulled his wife into a short embrace as they passed each other.
The piano had been carried into the cemetery by six of their vampire friends. Two of them could have easily completed the task, but they used six to make everything look good. Edward stopped next to the casket and placed his hand on the polished wood. When he looked down he saw his own face staring back at him, appearing distorted and lost.
Edward then took it in for a moment. He was going to remember what his reflection looked like in Jacob's coffin vividly throughout his very long life. He then glanced over at his sister. He wanted to make sure that she was ready to hear the song. Rosalie registered his look of concern and nodded her head. Her thoughts were clear.
Sing it just like you did for me last night...it will be perfect...but if I have to get up and leave... just know that I love you, baby brother.
Edward's lip quivered as walked over to the piano. He blamed his sister's unexpected sentiment for shaking the solid foundation he had built in order to get through such an emotional song at his best friend's funeral. Instead of getting his sadness under control, his quiver took hold of him and shook him like a rug. He faltered in his step and that alone told Bella that he was in trouble.
One never knows when one's emotional cup is going to overflow, even if one has preemptively exchanged it for a barrel. Edward began to sob, his chest heaving up and down and he turned to apologize to Rosalie, but could not see her through the force of his tears.
He lurched over to the piano and used it to steady himself. He had only one choice and as he reached into his pocket for a handkerchief that Bella had already stolen from him, Edward closed his eyes and went to a place in his mind where a great barnyard stood.
Animals were milling around when he opened his eyes. A few goats, some pigs, at least a dozen dogs and two cats that he had come to know as Greta and Grace. They were the guardians of his wisdom.
There were also plenty of horses and cows in the fields and a group of bats roosting in the barn beams. Edward did not know yet what the bats represented, and was not sure if he ever wanted to.
He scooped up what he came for - the "worry chickens." They were clustered all together, investigating something near the well. He was fortunate that he didn't have to search for them and made sure they were securely placed in a horse stall in the barn, where they soon bumped into wooden walls with soft thuds.
When Edward reopened his eyes the piano appeared blurry, so he wiped his tears away with his thumbs as he made his way around to the bench and sat down. The piano was short enough to allow him to face his listeners and he did so with drying cheeks.
Edward cleared his throat and smiled sheepishly. "Sorry about that. I thought I forgot the words for a minute there." The small joke let everyone know that he was alright and those in the audience were all visibly relieved. "Jacob told me once that music helped him feel closer to Rosalie. I hope it will now help you feel closer to him."
He peered down at the two wet thumb prints on his pants before he began to play and knew that his trip into the barnyard was a wise decision. Still, his hands were ready before he was and released the music waiting inside the piano almost immediately.
The notes were mournful and Edward played with a seasoned touch. His voice however, remained sweet and innocent sounding.
"I like to hear you breathing when you're sound asleep.
It has me near believing...images I'll keep...
with me in the car...when I have to travel far away from you.
And the radio... Says 'I told you so' over and over too.
I like to hear you breathing when you're sound asleep.
And when you wake up you look at me with heavy eyes
And your sleepy smile takes a while to rise."
As Rosalie listened to Edward sing the second verse, she remembered back to her time with Jacob in the gardens of Versailles. They had been alone in the Temple of Love at midnight when she suggested that they be married by the moon with the stars as their witnesses.
They had made love right there in the gazebo and afterwards they had jumped naked into the river and let the cool water carry them back to the Queen's hamlet they were staying in.
Edward indulged in a small interlude after the second verse and began the third with a new warmth to his voice.
"I like to watch you dreaming when you're sound asleep.
With your subconscious streaming...Images I'll keep...
With me to the end...where you'll always be the friend down to my soul
And I won't forget all the times you never let me lose control.
I like to watch you dreaming when you're sound asleep.
And when you wake up you look at me with heavy eyes
And your sleepy smile takes a while to rise."
Edward had been singing with his eyes closed and when he opened them, he was looking directly at Benjamin. He was a handsome man whose hair was still dark but had a salt and pepper Van Dyke beard. When they had spoken at the graveside of Edward's parents he had seemed quiet and run down, but he was the first to put his hands together to start a modest round of applause and smiled with bright eager eyes.
Benjamin stood and shook his uncle's hand as he passed. "You did him proud just now, Edward. Thank you."
Benjamin remained standing and turned to deliver the eulogy. He spoke with certainty and reverence.
"My father was born in a different time. More than that, he was born in a different world." He knew that the metaphor would strike his family members as more of a pun. "He came to America in 1892 with a girl he had just met and they were soon married at St. Patrick's. The very next year, I was born."
He looked at his mother and smiled. She had held up well during the song and seemed almost at peace. Her resolve gave Benjamin the strength to continue, even though he felt he felt his face grow hot. He spoke quietly.
"The span of my lifetime was almost all the time they had together on this earth...and I'm not even fifty."
He let silence fall on the graveyard like frost.
"Fortunately, I've learned that time is not the only way to measure things. There's love for instance. And if you measure their time together in love, my parents lived a thousand lifetimes."
He looked over to Bella and Edward and suddenly wondered who had it better - a couple who got to have a happy ending or a couple who would never end?
"My father's contribution to the great city of New York is now a landmark and I am pleased to say that my family and I will be moving into the Theatre of the Heart this month. We will see to it that the stage is always lit on Friday nights." A thousand memories of a hundred performances snuck by Benjamin in a fraction of a second. "My children can't wait to move in and my wife received more books in the will than I did."
This brought out a healthy chuckle from the crowd.
"I can think of no better way to spend my retirement from military service, and my mother is positively delighted to have her grandchildren in her home."
He took one last look around. "My father's presence will always be felt in this city."
Benjamin took his seat.
The priest then rose and said the proper prayers to commit Jacob's body to the earth. The casket was then lowered into the dark by those same vampire friends who had brought the piano in. It was all done in silence and it took far too long for Rosalie. If it had to be done at all, then she wanted it done quickly.
Jasper threw the first shovel of dirt on the coffin. No one else wanted to do it at all, let alone be the first, but he pointed out to everyone how important it would be to them later on that they were a part of Jacob's eternal resting place. "All we have of him now is the earth," he had told them. "Use it."
Everyone took a turn. Some, like Bella, dropped a sliver of dirt on the casket and moved away quickly while others, like Emmett, put their backs into the task and worked for several minutes.
When it was all over, Edward found his sister.
"I'm glad that Ben is moving back in."
"Me too," she admitted. "But you're staying too, aren't you?"
"I know you're worried about me Edward, but this is what Jacob wanted. I was there with him and this is what he wanted. As long as I know that he had the life he deserved then I can't be sad."
Edward had always admired his sister's pragmatism. "You gave Jacob the best gift anyone could. You know that?"
"What was that?"
"He never had to lose you."
She looked pointedly at him. "But you will."
Edward no longer admired her pragmatism and bristled.
"I know what it feels like to lose a sibling, remember? I cleaned up your blood in the parlor that night and Mom and I were both certain that you were dead. Are you going to be alright?"
"I don't know," he answered honestly. "But I'll have Bella. I'll always have Bella."
Benjamin approached just then and escorted his mother to his car, where he drove her back to 34th and Eighth Ave. He and his family lived with her for the rest of her life as the laughter of children once again filled the happy halls of the majestic theatre.
Edward and Bella remained in New York until Rosalie passed. Soon after her funeral, they moved to a remote town in Washington state that was located near an indian reservation. They spent their days in the dense forests and Edward loved that he could hear only his lover's voice in his ear.
Jasper and Alice were happy in Kentucky. They had a small farm, but they liked to travel and showed up at least four times a year at Edward and Bella's home in the Pacific Northwest, usually staying for several weeks at a time. They saw Emmett even more than that.
Emmett had moved to Chicago with Melissa and love gave his live new purpose. His efforts in New York, however, had ushered in a new era of vampires opting to drink pig blood as a matter of course and had therefore made the most significant contribution to their kind that any vampire could recall. Others soon grew to respect the humans they shared the planet with.
New York grew up even more around that little city cemetery but Jacob's faded tombstone stands there still, alongside Rosalie's.
Inside his casket, a small red book rested securely in his arm. Jasper had placed it there for safe keeping, certain that Jacob would forever guard its secrets.
Tucked in the crook of his other arm was a wine bottle that Jasper had brought over with the rest of his blood cellar collection during the move from Paris. It was filled with a dark, red liquid and the word 'Black' was etched into the cork.
Meanwhile, Jacob was having such amazing dreams that he didn't even know he was dreaming.
I have always felt that Jacob was the hero of this story and the hero always sacrifices something to save his friends. That's what makes him the hero. In this case however, I think Bella put it best: "If there is anyone who deserves to sleep in peace forever, it's Jacob Black."
There is a link to the song Sound Asleep on my author's page. I hope you have enjoyed all the music produced for this tale.
This has been the first work of fiction I have ever shared with an audience and I appreciate you all coming along for the ride. Now I am very excited to finish reading The Singer and the Sorrow by MG2112.
Although I will continue to update Cockeyed Optimist and will even begin a new story with my wife, RandomCran, called EXPOSURE, I am excited to slow things down and work on a very funny and very gory zombie book I started way back before the Twilight books distracted me. I have at least eight more ideas after that and I'm sure that this experience has turned me into a writer for the rest of my life.
Thank you Jennifer for your encouragement and your diligence.
Thank you Josie for your attention to detail and all your wicked ideas.
Thank you ShabbyApple for your constant timely updates.
Thank you Daizie for creating my fun Twilighted thread.
Thank you Adamanta Banks for your insight on so many things.
Thank you Amy Morgan for two years of advice and counsel.
Thank you Just Duckie for making my Big Spoon, Little Spoon and Baby Spoon avatars.
Thank you Betti for designing my blinkie.
Thank you Rick, Betti, Dany, and Brian for making Bella Parole music with me.
Thank you Mingo for making those songs available for everyone to hear.
Thank you Raum for all your help with Italian, especially the title of this story.
Thank you SR for bro support.
Thank you Readers and Reviewers. Your presence and your words have meant more than this writer could ever express.