I wouldn't have been able to get anywhere with this story without the help of two betas: Twilightzoner and Hannah81. Much thanks to both of them.
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a Japanese Chin that thinks he's part cat and part human. Oh, and the tweaks. I own the tweaks. All characters and familiar content of Twilight belong to SM. Also, lyrics are used quite frequently throughout this story. Any lyrics used belong to the respective artists - no copyright infringement intended.
CHAPTER 1: PHOENIX PARTING
Lightning crashes, an old mother dies
her intentions fall to the floor
the angel closes her eyes
the confusion that was hers
belongs now, to the baby down the hall
I closed my eyes and let the words and music of the Live song flow through me for what seemed like the hundredth time. I had put it on repeat hours ago when I finally gave up my futile attempts at sleep. God, how could I sleep? The memories washed over me as I thought about the absolute senselessness that characterized these past two weeks. The phone call that started everything. The hospital. Phil collapsing. Honestly, it wasn't until I saw Phil slump to the floor of the hospital when the truth finally hit me. I heard the doctor's words, but I didn't let them register. How could they? He obviously didn't know what he was talking about. He had no idea who he was talking about. Clearly, anyone who has ever met Renee knows how alive she is. Dead is not an attribute ever meant to describe her. But here he was - this doctor- saying those words to Phil and me as if his apologetic tone could ever forgive him for using such an undeserving word to describe my Mother - the woman was more full of life than anyone I had ever known.
The doctor had mistaken my anger towards his poor choice of words as anguish over his news. It would have been much easier for me to disregard the doctor completely had it not been for Phil. Phil, who was almost as full of life as my Mom, was now crumpled on the floor sobbing. It took a full minute of watching him like that for the pain that was radiating off of him to register in my brain. Something was very wrong. Why did Phil keep repeating "she's gone" through his sobs? She wasn't gone. She had an accident. People survive accidents all the time. Hell, I've had more accidents than I can count and I'm somehow still alive. If anyone should be dead from an accident, the obvious choice was me. But then I remembered the phone call. Something about Cave Creek Road. Her Toyota. A drunk driver. I had to admit, although some of my accidents have been pretty disastrous, none of them included automobiles.
oh now feel it comin' back again
like a rollin' thunder chasing the wind
forces pullin' from the center of the earth again
I can feel it.
I hummed softly to the melodies. I didn't want to remember anything more from the hospital. That moment, when I finally let go of my denial and let the truth seep in, was too painful to think of again. The numbness that soon followed was much easier to recollect. The cemetery was a blur. I remember Phil asking me if all the plans he made were okay. After trying to get me to help him choose a casket, I finally told him that it just didn't matter to me, his choices with everything would be fine. In a way, I had always taken care of Renee. Now that I needed to take care of her in one final way, to lay her to rest, I couldn't find the will in me to do it. I didn't care about what casket she was in - why did it even matter? Phil's words crept up like bile rising from my stomach - but I couldn't let them out. I refused to say the words. No matter how much I protested, and despite not being able let the words leave my lips, I knew the words rang true. She's gone.
I let out a deep sigh. Today was my last day in Phoenix. Phil assured me again and again that I could stay. He was worried about me. He thought my moving to Washington would be too much change to endure, and I needed stability now more than ever. But seeing Charlie at the cemetery decided everything for me. My Dad and I don't talk much. I haven't been to his home town of Forks in more years than I could count. I didn't want to move. I liked Phoenix. I liked the sun and the warmth. But I knew things would be hard on Phil, even harder if I stayed with him. I knew as soon as I left, he would flee Phoenix just as fast as he could. Somehow, I knew we both could benefit from a change of scenery. Not because I wanted to forget my home with my Mom or because I wanted to escape her memory - I could never do that. I knew my Mom's memory would stay with me no matter where I went. It was everyone else I wanted to escape from. The pitying looks from my teachers. The curious stares and whispers from my classmates. Going back to school that first day was suffocating. I called Phil to pick me up at lunch, and I haven't been back to my school since. I couldn't go back. It was then that I realized that there was nothing left for me here.
Phil called my name from the porch, and I slowly sat up. I had brought my Mom's quilt out to the backyard and was taking in as much sun as I could before I had to suffer the enveloping clouds of Forks. I got to my feet and walked slowly back to the house.
"I'm sorry to wake you, kiddo, but it's time." Phil truly did look apologetic. His eyes were just as bleary and bloodshot as mine, so I knew I wasn't the only one that was lacking sleep.
"It's okay. I wasn't actually sleeping. I put my suitcases in the trunk this morning, so I'll just grab my bag and I'll be ready."
I tried to give Phil a smile. I knew my face couldn't quite capture the right expression, so I looked down and hurried to my room to get my book bag. I picked my bag up off my bed and slung it over my shoulder. I took a long look at my room before I walked out for the last time. The walls were empty. I didn't have much in the way of decorations to begin with, but my walls had previously been plastered with pictures. Pictures of Renee and me. Pictures of Renee, Phil, and me as we slowly became a real family. I was still numb as I carefully peeled each of them off the wall. That was over two days ago. Now the walls were blank. It was almost comical how my room seemed to mirror the way I felt on the inside.
I don't remember much of the drive to the airport. Phil and I said our good-byes, and I found my way to the right terminal where I sat and waited. It felt weird being on my own. I knew Charlie would be meeting me at the airport in Seattle when I arrived, but for now, in this moment, I was alone. Despite the tragedy that plagued this moment, and the obvious pain that accompanied it, I also felt something else. Something I almost didn't recognize. As I boarded the plane and took my seat, I realized what emotion was coursing through me. For the first time in my life, I felt free.
The feeling lasted for a nanosecond before the grief came in its place in a crippling blow. I let out a dull but loud moan as all eyes on the plane directed themselves to me. It hurt too much to feel self-conscious. That fleeting moment of feeling freedom, and what else? Relief? It ushered in a new emotion almost instantaneously in its wake. Undeniable grief. How could I feel happy - even in the slightest bit - about getting a fresh start, when my mother got nothing but a horrible end? After two weeks of keeping them at bay, I finally took advantage of not being around anyone I knew on the plane and let the sobs take over.
By the time we touched down in Seattle, I had little energy left to get me up and moving. I could feel all eyes on me as I hurried my way out of the plane and into the terminal. I found my way to the luggage pick-up and recognized Charlie standing in the corner. I gave him as big of a smile as I could muster as he grabbed my suitcases from the luggage carousel and walked me out towards the airport parking lot. We exchanged a few sentences. He asked me about my trip. I asked him about work. He nodded his head in the direction of the cruiser parked in front of us at that last question. Of course, we would be riding in the Chief's car. I sighed. I had a feeling being the daughter of the Chief of Police in a small town like Forks was going to get interesting. The ride to Forks went by faster than I thought it could sitting in virtual silence with Charlie. But I enjoyed the silence. Charlie never felt the need to fill up space with hot air just for the sake of comfort. Phil did. It was one of the reasons I knew I needed to leave Phoenix.
We drove through town and finally came to the house I suppressed from so many memories. It wasn't that I hated Charlie. I just hated Forks. I stepped out of the cruiser, drifting my eyes upwards to the sky as I stood up next to the car. I couldn't suppress the giggle that tumbled from my throat and lips. I'm sure it must have sounded more like a gurgling noise that a dying animal would make, because right at that moment Charlie whipped his head around and stared at me. I abruptly cleared my throat and pulled myself together. I felt the dampness creep in through my sweatshirt, which reminded me why I felt the urge to laugh in the first place and looked back up at the sky.
The sun was gone. Misty grayish-blue clouds took her place up above, and I couldn't help but get this feeling that this is the place I truly belonged. Just as the walls of my former room mirrored my feelings as I walked out of it for the last time, this sky that covered this entire place represented everything that currently filled my soul. Gloomy and cold - most people would hate a place like this - but for some strange reason people still lived here, despite the less than desirable weather. And now I was living here. I had never liked Forks. In the years that I remember visiting, I never related much to the people or the town they called home. Now, as everything inside of me was reflected in the clouds above, I realized it was probably the only place on earth that related so well to me. Like everyone else that lived here, it was now my home.