My eyes sear with pain, throbbing as I clench them tightly shut. The heat burns through my lids and I'm forced to turn away, but not for long. The fire draws me back, pushing open my eyes with its impenetrable blaze. Someone is screaming. I focus on the barn that's caught fire. The screaming is coming from inside of it, nearly drowned by the hiss of the inferno. But it's distinctly a girl, distinctly in horrible pain. There are people everywhere, pouring buckets of water on the sides of the crumbling barn. Some are shoveling dirt. It's not helping. I want to help too, but going any closer burns my skin. I hear the screaming again. There's an earsplitting roar, and the attic of the barn crumbles, shooting fire out sideways, striking people who are too close with debris.
Tears fall down my cheeks. The fire is not responsible for these. I feel my insides disappearing, leaving behind them an aching void that can't be healed. My shoulders slump, trying to ease the pain. I can't hear the screaming anymore. It's gone. She's gone. I shriek as loud as I can into the night, but not even I can hear myself over the disaster. I'm too weak. My legs give. Tears fall to the dirt below me, staining my hands as I feel myself dying inside. Then all's quiet.
My head lifts at the silence. Everyone is standing still. Even the flames seem to have muted themselves. A shadow appears in front of me. They're exiting the flames, carrying something. Carrying her. My legs find their strength as I bolt from the ground toward the shadow. The man sees me running, and places her on the ground, stepping away as I fall to her side. I can't find her face. She's so black, so burned. Cautiously, I touch what I think is her shoulder. Her eyes shoot open, brightening and defining the rest of her body. She panics, her eyes frantic before they rest on me. Then her white teeth appear through a strained smile. She tries to lift her hand but can only wince. I place mine gently on top of hers instead and hear her sigh as I wipe the char from her face.
"Hey, Alice," she whispers as I clean off her face. I try to smile but only manage a choked sob as I pull her into my arms.
"Does it hurt, Annabelle?"
"No, I don't feel a thing." She coughs. Something comes up but I dare not look at it. Instead I pull her to me, my cheek resting upon hers. It's so hot. But I can't pull away.
"I told you this would happen."
"Yes, you always know what's going to happen."
"Then why'd you go in there?"
"I had to save Jasper."
I manage a weak laugh, raising my eyes to the smoked sky. "Stupid horse,"
"Hey, you know I love that horse." She smiles up at me, wincing as she brings her hand up to rest on my face. I push against it, closing my eyes at her touch. It's so warm, so rough. She coughs again, more comes up. Again I refuse to look. I scoff, tearing away from her touch.
"Why didn't you listen to me? I can't live without you!" My voice cracks as I angrily brush my tears away. She closes her eyes, taking ragged breaths.
"Don't be angry, Alice. I don't want to fight right now."
"I don't want to, either."
"I love you, Alice. I always will."
"I love you, too, Annabelle."
I smile as I lower my head, pressing my lips against hers. They're chapped. She smells so strongly of ash. It gives me a headache. I release her lips, listening to her pleasant sigh as she lets her head fall. "That was bold of you to do with all of these people around."
"They're taking me away anyway."
"Alice," her eyes pour into mine, "we'll see each other again. I promise. You'll see it. You'll see me. And then it will be forever that we're together."
I smile again, placing my lips to her cooling forehead. By the time I pull away, she's gone. My head bows to her chest. My heaving sobs feels like her breathing against me. I stay with her until someone puts a hand on my shoulder. The person lifts me up, steadying me as I sway to the side. He says something to me. Everything's a blur. All of the noises meld together in an annoying drone. I can't take it anymore. I run, darting away from the light of the flames and into the darkened forest. Branches claw at my cheeks while shrubs gnaw at my ankles. I can barely feel it. All I feel is the wind, humming inside my ears, sounding like her laugh. A distant voice calls my name, echoing through the trees. Alice, Alice, Alice…
My eyes fly open as I shoot up in bed. Edward, my brother, stands above me with a crooked grin on his features. "Were you…sleeping?" I sigh, relaxing back onto the bed. My eyes sting but no tears will come. They've long since gone.
"Of course not, but I was dreaming."
He doesn't respond. He's given up on try to say anything that will make me feel better. I am grateful for this. I don't need anyone's apologies for something even I know nothing about. That dream is all that I have of my past. And it provides me with the worst torment I've known. He sighs, hanging his head for a moment before offering his hand to me. "School is starting soon. It's a new day."
'Just like yesterday was,' I think to myself. He frowns. I forget that he can hear me. It's been about 80 years since that dream. I can tell from the world I'm looking at through the dream. From the dialogue, it was just before I was committed. And that's all I've been able to figure out. I first had the dream just days after I'd awakened as a vampire. It's been reoccurring ever since. Every time I close my eyes, there's a part of it playing for me. I don't know what it wants from me.
Jasper smiles at me as I head down the stairs. But it's hollow. It's been hollow for awhile. The one I return to him is just the same. I thought he'd been it. When I'd seen him in my vision, the name ringing through my ears in hervoice…. I thought he was the one for me. However, decades later, we've both realized that it was just cruel coincidence. Now, he's just a brother to me, just a friend.
The others sense my mood. The ride is quiet to school. A new day, the same dream. My beginning classes are a blur. I can't work up enough will to pretend to pay attention. Jasper puts his arm around me as we head to the lunchroom. I shrug it off politely and he sighs. I thought he'd given up trying. Emmett, the first to open the door to the cafeteria, turns and gives us a foreboding look as he holds it open for us. I'm the first to step through. And then it hits me. A scent. It smells of burning flowers. My throat aches with thirst as I scan the cafeteria for the bearer.
She's sitting with her back to me. Her straight brown hair stops just past her shoulders. She's wearing plain jeans and a t-shirt. I close my eyes, smelling again and releasing an airy moan. It's so familiar yet so foreign. I feel her staring at me now.
Slowly, I open my eyes.
And I see it.
I see her.