Thank you all for those who have stuck with me throughout this story. Much appreciation.
I own nothing Twilight.
I park my Volvo along the curb, behind Rosalie's red convertible and in front of Charlie's SUV. The sky is overcast, a perfect setting to match mood of the day. I step out of my car, shutting the door behind me. The noise seems to echo, repeating itself throughout the aisles of tombstones that make up the cemetery. I can see a group of people ahead of me, marking my destination. I don't need them to know which direction to go, however; this place, this destination is more familiar to me than any other. True, I haven't been here in months, with graduation and med school applications taking up the majority of my time, but I'd spent enough hours of my life here to never forget it.
"Glad you could make it," Charlie puts his hand on my shoulder, welcoming me into the circle.
"I wouldn't miss it for the world," I smile sadly at him, a hand sliding into my own as I do.
I look over to see Alice next to me, a pair of dark sunglasses over her eyes. She rests her head on shoulder, sighing deeply as she stares down at the ground. Everyone else in the circle follows her gaze; Rosalie, Charlie, Renee, Emmett, Esme, Carlisle, Angela, Jessica. Over the years, the circle has grown smaller but the core parts remain the same. I, myself, finally will my eyes to look down. Down at Bella's tombstone.
Isabella Marie Swan
September 13, 1987 - April 16, 2005
Beloved Daughter & Friend
It's been exactly five years since that day, the day that Bella died in my arms. I can't help but think of everything that has happened since. How each of our lives have changed, but stayed the same in so many ways.
Rosalie is in her third year at the University of Washington, studying Criminal Justice. She lives off campus, with Charlie and Renee. They moved to Seattle shortly after Bella's death, not wanting to be in Forks any longer. Not wanting to feel the pitying stares, the judgment. They took Rose in when she decided to leave rehab, but refused to go back to her hometown.
Emmett moved back to Chicago for college and stayed after he graduated, marrying a girl he began dating his sophomore year. He only comes back for holidays. And every year on April 16th.
Alice just graduated from the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, now working at an internship for some designer whose name I could never remember. She's spearheading their new venture, The Bella Foundation, which focuses on domestic and intimate partner violence, raising funds and awareness.
Carlisle and Esme remain at the Lake Mansion, Carlisle still working at the hospital. Esme volunteers there, as well as helping Alice organize The Bella Foundation. Having known the designer from running in similar social circles, Esme was crucial in getting Alice her internship and inspiring the foundation.
Angela and Jessica both went to the community college in Port Angeles, opening up a coffee shop near the campus a few months before they graduated. Both girls came to me shortly after the funeral, admitting to me that they had known something was off about Bella as her relationship with Jacob progressed. Their guilt consumed them both after her death, resulting in a personality change that I can only say was for the better.
Jacob, having only been 17 when Bella testified against him, when he was put away, was released on his 21st birthday. It was proved that he had no connection to Bella's death, his friends acting on their own accord. He moved to North Carolina after he got out, leaving behind his father, his reputation, his sentence. He works at an auto-body shop outside of Charlotte. He is dating a woman named Theresa, she has a young daughter. I watch him, having hired a private investigator in the area. Going down every couple of months to check on him with my own eyes. Waiting. Waiting for the day he slips up.
Paul and Seth, the boy who shot and killed Bella and the boy who watched, both still sit behind bars. Seth, having not physically shot the gun, received a reduced sentence for testifying against Paul. Paul is serving a life term, with no possibility of parole. I watch him too.
I went with Emmett to Chicago for school, needing an escape from Forks and all of the memories it holds. Coming back every couple of weeks to visit my parents, I often found myself drawn back to Bella's old house. Currently sitting empty, the weeds grown up around the windows. No one wants to live in that house.
I sit on the porch, in the exact spot where she took her last breath. Where the blood flowed out of her small, helpless body. The spot where she had looked at me in those few seconds before the gun went off and I saw her face. I saw the hope in her eyes, the happiness, the freedom she finally felt after being terrified for so long. I saw that freedom turn back to that fear in an instant, when the bullet hit her.
Inevitably, I would leave the porch and make my way the few miles to the cemetery where her body lain in eternal rest. Underneath the cold earth, she laid. And I would find myself wondering, as I do now, what she would be like had she lived. What kind of student she would've been in college. What kind of woman she would've become. What kind of wife. What kind of mother. What kind of lover.
I always wonder what if, what if, what if. But in my head, she will always remain frozen in time. That perfect, beautiful seventeen year old girl. Whose brown hair fell onto her shoulders, covering her eyes as she leaned forward, laughing. Who would look at me like I was her saving grace, when in reality, the whole time, she had been mine.
And always, always her last words haunt me.
Forcing me, even with her last breath, to understand that no matter how good or bad things are, they will end. It is inevitable.
I remember her confession to me, that she never thought she would make it to graduation. That she knew, somehow, that she was meant to die young. That no matter how good things were getting for her, she still held onto that fear.
She was right. Everything ends.