Endless thanks to the incandescent Liz (anything I post should really be under the name AnnaLiz) and the wonderful Holly (wish her luck as she disappears into the Land of NaNo) and the lovely Annetteinoz. They're the best friends I've never met.
I began writing this for an "Angsty" contest but fell way short on the minimum word count so I didn't submit it. So, it's angsty.
Please be warned: people die so it may not be your cup of tea.
Stephenie Meyer owns everything.
~ Seraphim ~
I didn't want to jump but everyone else had. One by one they ran at the cliff's edge, their voices caught and briefly held by the ocean breeze, before falling away to the crashing waves below.
Jake held his hand out to me and I took it, trembling and uncertain.
But still, I took it.
"We're flying," Jake screamed as we leapt from the cliff toward the white caps below.
But it didn't feel like flying to me.
It felt like falling.
The flying came later.
My house is crowded with people.
I stand amongst them, my feet not quite touching the floor, as they walk straight through me.
They come with food and flowers and faces bleached white with shock. They sag on chairs or hunch in doorways with bowed heads and murmured words, avoiding my father's eyes.
They've come to offer him comfort, but as he moves slowly from group to group, with a whispered word and a steady hand, it's they who stand taller as he passes by.
My clothes are dripping wet.
I lift a hank of hair and hold it above my palm as the ocean falls from it like rain, the drops disappearing before they reach my skin.
Jake sits round shouldered, his dark skin as pale as the white lilies before him on the kitchen table.
But no one looks at him.
Darkness has drawn in. The murmurs of condolence are silenced and the house is filled with empty spaces.
I stand above the carpet in the hall, listening at the bathroom door.
There are distant sounds.
A car on a road and a dog barking.
Rain brushing gently against the window.
A softly moaning wind and a hooting bird.
And the other, closer sound.
My father's sobs from the other side of the door.
Sue Clearwater makes coffee in the kitchen. I hold a hand out as she passes by but leave no watermark on her sleeve.
The phone rings and she glances toward my father in the next room before answering.
She raises a white-knuckled hand to her mouth, her voice a whisper.
No, you can't speak to her. Who is this?
Her eyes dart to my father, talking in a low voice to a sombre suited stranger.
He's busy. You can't speak to him right now.
She listens, her pale lips open, aghast. Another glance at the living room where Charlie is on his feet, shaking hands with the dour stranger, saying he'll see him at the church.
Sue's voice is firm but her fingers tremble at her mouth.
I don't know who you are, and if I don't know you then I'm certain Charlie doesn't either. Bella Swan is dead and her father can't speak to you. Please don't phone again.
I wring my t-shirt but leave no puddle on the floor.
The lilies have scattered yellow pollen amongst the brown petals on the table. My father watches as Sue wipes them away.
I wonder where I am when I'm not here.
My fingers twitch at the air and Charlie turns his head away from Sue, towards me.
"Do you smell that?" he asks.
"No," she says.
"The ocean," he says. "Sometimes I think I can smell the ocean."
A beam of morning light falls through the window and disturbs Sue as she sleeps. She turns away from it, seeking shadow, and Charlie follows her.
I move to the window and the light shines through me, falling softly on his cheek.
I remember what the sun felt like and, for a moment, it's as though it radiates from me, as though it's me who warms my father's skin as he sleeps.
His cheek twitches as he turns away.
The house is almost empty. Charlie's belt and jacket are gone from the hook by the door. Sue's coat and bag are gone.
Life goes on.
The walls creak in the mid morning gloom and a tap drips in the kitchen. I hold my hand under the water and it drips straight through.
I peer in the mirror above the fireplace but no one looks back at me.
Why am I here if they are not?
I gaze at the ceiling and wonder who is in my bedroom.
He's on my bed, a beautiful stranger with a small woman curled at his side.
"Alice," he says. "What do you expect me to do?"
He is incandescent against my pillow. Red lips and golden eyes and bronze hair on a backdrop of skin paler than my own.
She is like a black and white photo next to him.
"All these years of searching for her. Decades of looking and waiting and trying to find her. You saw her, Alice," he says. "You saw her in this room standing with me. How could you be so wrong?"
She frowns. I watch her mouth but it remains as still and silent as I do.
"No," he says. "Don't show me that again. I can't bear to see her again."
"It has to be Voltera," he says and she clings to him, a choking sob as she utters his name, the only sound I have heard her make.
The ground is wet beneath the tree. Rain roars in sheets through the early morning gloom, soaking my father. The fresh pile of dirt next to him turns to mud.
I feel for this brief moment as though I belong in the world again.
Charlie lifts his face to the sky in a gesture of silent gratitude as the rain washes his tears away.
The pale figure standing silently behind him doesn't move.
"If it's what you feel for Alice, how can you ask me to exist without it? Without even the hope of it?"
His eyes are as black as night, as though the sun that shone in them will never rise again.
The man by my window says nothing.
"There's nothing here for me without Bella."
The figure at the window turns, begging eyes and pleading hands and silent mouth.
"I thought you would understand, Jasper. I thought you, of all people, would know how I feel."
The ocean trickles down my face and I wonder why I took Jake's hand.
"There's nothing to worry about on that score, Carlisle. I won't be burning in hell."
The blonde haired man kneeling by the bed says nothing, his face twisted in anguish.
"I have no soul," Edward says, "The only consequence of suicide for me is death."
But he's wrong.
The glow that surrounds him, shining like starlight, is clearer, brighter, than anyone else's.
He stands at my desk, a photo in his hand. It's torn down the centre, the half that Jake occupied in shreds on my desk.
He stares at me as I smile back at him from the paper in his hand.
I stand at his shoulder, only an inch separating us. An inch and eternity and forever.
But somehow I cross it.
"It's you," he says, the photo fluttering to the floor. "Bella."
"It's me." And this time, for the first time since I took Jake's hand on the cliff's edge, my words are heard by someone other than me.
"Alice was right," he says.
My clothes are dry and when I touch him, my hand on his cheek, I feel it.
"I've come to tell you something," I say, as his hand reaches slowly for my face. "I've come to tell you that you mustn't, that you're wrong."
"Bella," he breathes as his skin touches mine.
"I see it," I say, lifting my hand to the white light surrounding his head. "Your soul. I feel it."
"You – my soul?" he says. "You feel it?" His eyes, as black and limitless as the midnight sky, widen.
"Everything," I say. "That's what it feels like. It feels like everything."
His lips part to speak again but there is not enough time.
I feel a lightness, a lifting and I begin to drift on it, to let it carry me away to wherever it will.
"Please don't," I say, my hand full on his cheek for this one last moment. "Please. There's no need to rush. One day you'll come to me."
His beautiful face is unmoving, frozen in a silent scream.
His hand reaches for a space that is no longer filled by me.
"One day," I whisper. "Don't be afraid."
But it's too late. He doesn't hear me.
The clock tower creaks and groans toward noon.
My mind claws out over the piazza and along the road that passes over the hills beyond the walls and onwards, outwards, yearning for a whisper of Bella on the air.
But she's not there.
The scent of warmed stone and ancient vampire and wild blood rises in tendrils through the heat, but the fragrance of Alice is strongest.
She whispers from the shadows, through the veil that shields her thoughts.
"Edward," she says. "Don't."
Her words drift through the languid air, beneath the murmur of the red cloaked crowd, almost lost before they reach my ears.
"Show her to me, Alice." I hear her gasp behind me at the sound of my long silent voice.
"I will," she says, "if you give me your word."
She'll hold me hostage forever with the visions she has locked away from me. The torment of the brief glimpses she's allowed me, guarded snapshots of what she saw when Bella touched my face, of what could have been, my life with Bella had she lived, had I found her before she died.
Alice will deny me for eternity. She'll release, one by one, the vignettes locked behind the screen in her mind to hold me here forever.
The clocks creaks on, another minute gone.
"She told you not to, Edward."
"She didn't know, Alice. She wouldn't have asked me not to if she'd known."
She allows me a fleeting glimpse, like peering through a keyhole, of Bella in an ocean soaked with moonlight.
Alice's final plea.
I sway on the stone steps as the vision washes over me, rushing like warm blood through my veins.
"All the places that Jasper has taken you, Alice. Those secret places, only yours and his. You didn't even know they existed until you journeyed there together."
"I can't bear it," she whispers.
"Yes, you can, Alice."
I turn and take the few steps to where she waits beneath the stone arch, taking her shoulders.
"You can bear it and you will."
"No. Edward, please."
"Yes, Alice." I shake her gently, as though it will help my words penetrate her clouded thoughts. "Don't you see, Alice? Don't you understand? You can bear it because you have Jasper."
"Oh," she whispers, her shoulders slumping beneath my hands. "Oh."
I turn away quickly, before the misery in her eyes traps and holds me, inert and helpless, in the murky half-light.
"I know how much you want me to stay, Alice," I whisper, my gaze locked on the clock towering above the heaving crowd. "I know. But it's nothing compared to how much I need to go."
A clang vibrates slowly through the air as the red cloaks weave before me, drawing me on and out.
I touch a hand to my cheek, the burn of Bella's finger still pulsing on my skin.
"Goodbye, Alice," I say.
Alice whispers "I love you" and "goodbye" and I do not turn around.
The faces of my family swim before my eyes as I take my final step into the sunlight and the final curtain falls as Alice reveals everything, her farewell gift as we part forever.
Bella alive, warm and fragrant in a meadow of flowers, Bella in a white dress, Bella in a room filled with feathers.
Bella in love.
The ancient scent is stronger now and the iron grip of limbs and snap and grind of teeth is moments away.
The sun recedes and shadows fall across my face.
A moan of heartbreak echoes across the cool stones at my back.
A moment of pain and doubt.
And then there is nothing.
I know now where I was.
Those times when I was lost and wasn't there, when I wasn't anywhere.
I was here, flying.
Flying and waiting.
Nothing, for a time I can't measure.
And then –
My heart beats.