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Funerals are always rainy, gray affairs in the movies. It's appropriate, you know? The last thing you want is sunshine when you're grieving.
But it's hot today, almost sweltering. It's the kind of sultry heat best enjoyed at the beach, with a drink in one hand and a good book in the other. The lady next to me lazily swishes her program back and forth, fanning herself. She's been doing it for so long I doubt she realizes she's still doing it.
The preacher drones on and on, and I wonder if everyone but me has been lulled in to a stupor. Like a dying heart, time slows until it is standing still, and if it wasn't for the sweat running down my back or the play of light through the trees I'd think maybe we were stuck here, in this awful sadness.
A sharp sob breaks the monotony, the kind of cry you just know has been suppressed for so long it had to come out. I know without looking it's his mother, and when I do look I see her in the front row, shuddering in to the arms of her other son. His twin, the one I've never met.
I don't want to meet him.
It's bad enough that we never met, even though I was with Masen for nearly a year. Looking at him will be like looking at Masen's ghost, and I'm not sure I can handle that right now.
It's bad enough that I, apparently, don't belong here. Masen's other girl, the wispy strawberry blonde up front, sniffling in to a tissue... she belongs here.
It's bad enough I went from love to grief so quickly I hardly got the chance to process the betrayal in between, leaving me blindsided and wrung out.
I really don't even want to be here, but I had to come. For closure, I guess, and because regardless of how things ended I loved him. And he didn't deserve to die.
Not this young, anyway.
People shuffle to their feet and I follow, blinking back in to the here and now. The lady next to me smiles as she eases by, patting my arm as she does.
I want to offer my condolences, but in the end my own selfish fear of having to explain who I am gets in the way and I wander back toward the parking lot. I won't be attending the gathering that's sure to follow at the family home; I wasn't invited and even if I had been, I need to be alone.
My heart startles and I spin around, clutching my purse to my chest.
He looks so much like him that it hurts. My stomach coils and I sort of fall back against my car, trying not to double over.
"Bella?" he says again, whispering this time. "I'm Edward. I know we've never met…"
I look up at him again and it's obvious he knows that his looks are a problem right now, that everyone who looks at him sees his brother. The fresh pain in his eyes makes me feel even worse, because I can't imagine having to deal with the loss of someone so close and then contend with everyone else's grief on top of it.
"I'm so sorry," I say.
He shakes his head slowly, looking down. "Thank you."
We stand there for a moment, and I hate myself for noticing how beautiful he is, even with wet eyelashes and circles under his eyes.
It's confusing, feeling this way.
I'm wondering how he even knows who I am, when he reaches over and presses a square of folded paper in to my hand. I know without looking it's probably one of many notes written by me to Masen or written by Masen to me. What started out as a coy joke in class led to casual flirtation and finally, dating. Even when we'd moved on to separate universities in different cities, we'd continued writing little notes like this – even with phone calls and emails. I'd saved all of mine, but I was surprised he's saved any of mine.
Especially knowing he'd been seeing someone else for the past seven months. And not just seeing her, judging by the ring on her finger.
"It was with his stuff…" Edward says.
I tuck the note in to my purse. "How'd you know who I was?"
I nod, not sure if that makes me feel better or infinitely worse.
"I'm sorry he was…" he trails off, frowning. "Doing whatever he was doing."
"Doesn't matter," I lie, shaking my head. "It's… too late for that, you know?" Too late in every sense.
A breeze blows through the trees overhead, ruffling the leaves. It's a soothing sound, a summertime sound, and for a second I want to pretend myself away.
Someone calls his name across the lot, and he turns briefly, waving at them.
"Will you be coming by?" he asks, hands in his pockets now.
He nods like he understands.
"Thank you for giving this to me," I say, nodding toward the note in my purse. "You didn't have to."
He smiles, shrugging. "No one really has to do anything."
I don't know how to respond to that. Nodding, I turn to unlock my car door, more than ever ready to leave.
"I wish I'd met you under better circumstances," I say, sliding in to the driver's seat.
"I feel the same way, Bella."
There is something in his voice that pulls at me. I glance sharply up at him, but he's already walking away, looking more like he's on a stroll through a park than on his way out of a cemetery.