Twilight: not owned by me.

The Hand That Rocks the Cradle

"The story began a long time ago," I explain, pushing my daughter's long brown hair out of her face and behind her ear.

"How long ago, Mommy?"

I quickly do the math. Then I gasp. "Twenty-four years ago."

"That's close to a hundred, right?"

"Closer to that than I'd like, Little One," I chuckle.

"And you were a girl then?"

"I was almost grown up, but not quite."

"Like a teenager?"

"Exactly. I was a teenager."

"And you lived with Grandpa and Grandma?"

I pause. It's hard to believe my parents ever lived under the same roof. I don't like to remember that time in their history.

"Yes. They still lived together, then."

"But not anymore, right?"

"Right. This story began when they were just beginning divorce proceedings."

"Divorce is what big people do when they don't want to be married anymore. Like Aunt Rose and Uncle Royce," she says with a confident nod of her head. I like how it's so clean cut and black and white in her little mind.

"Exactly," I say. Perhaps it can be as cut and dry as that for Rosalie and Royce, although I doubt it. Their story began almost twenty-four years ago as well.

"And that's when you heard them for the first time?" My daughter nods toward the rotating vinyl disc on the turntable. Them. Him. Yes.

"Uh-huh," I murmur, trying to put together the person I was when I heard them for the first time with the person I became after… everything.

My daughter turns up the volume. "You liked them the best of all, right?"

"More than that, I think. I felt like the lyrics spoke directly to me. Like they were written for me." I smile. I still think that. Sometimes more than others.

"Lyrics?" my daughter asks, furrowing her little brow. "The words, you mean?"

"Yes, the words."

She cocks her head to the side and long strands of hair fall across her pale face.

"Is he crying?"

I smile as I listen to the lilting moan and intricate guitars.

"No, Little One, he's singing."


I can tell she's unsatisfied with that answer. She prefers Lady Gaga and Beyonce, I'm sure. But she reaches over from the bed and turns up the volume a little more anyway. The melody still makes chills run down my spine. I still know every word. I hum along.

"I love it too, mommy. The most. Just like you do."

I hug my daughter. She holds her little arms around me as tightly as she can.

"Now it's time for bed."

She obediently presses the button that makes the needle rise from the spinning vinyl. Then she pulls the covers up to her chin. Her polka dot nightgown is quickly becoming too small and the sleeves no longer make it all the way to her wrists. She's going to be tall, just like her father.

"Tell me more one day, Mommy?"

"How about a little every day until the story's told?"

"Okay, Mommy."

"Okay, Little One. Night, night."

"Night, Mommy."

I gently close her bedroom door. I tiptoe to my room and find the box at the back of my closet. I haven't opened it since long before my daughter was born. I sift through a dozen little notebooks filled with the twisted cursive handwriting I carefully constructed as a teenager. The books are full of poems and quotes and lyrics and drawings. A handmade card flutters to the floor and my breath catches in my throat.

It was made for my seventeenth birthday. Thirteen watercolor irises float in a sea of green. There are thirteen for the date we were going to see them together, and also thirteen for the date I first met him. Lucky thirteen. Tears prick my eyes.

I tend to think just of the good pieces of this story, but so many of those parts only happened in my head. The reality of it all is stuck between pages of my fantasy, thrown away with old memories, buried deep in the sandy soil of Long Island, New York, and throw over bridges into the gray waters of the Hudson.

I know the story won't be the same without those bits.

I hope I tell it well.

I know one thing for sure: it all began with a question.

Do you know The Masens?

A/N: Hope you enjoyed the prologue. This fic is maybe very different than anything I've written before... We'll see how it goes. Reviews are like that melody Bella was listening to: they make me smile and hum. Some even make chills run down my spine.

xxx, M