Disclaimer- Stephenie still owns the usual suspects.
I own my original characters and original story.

*My new story…hope you like it. Many thanks to aurellacullen & pixiekat7 for taking the time to help make this chapter purty. Ladies..Mwah!

FULL SUMMARY:

'That which does not kill us, only makes us stronger', at least that's what they say. Bella and Edward meet as children while on vacation with their families. A lifetime of summers follow, and their relationship is tested beyond its strength. Follow their story through the years as they come to learn that each day spent with someone we love is a gift not to be taken lightly, but to be cherished forever.

*************P*S****************

Prologue-Popsicle Sticks

I was unconscious, half asleep
The water is warm 'til you discover how deep
I wasn't jumping, for me it was a fall
It's a long way down to nothing at all

-U2 Stuck in a Moment

I felt nothing as I floated. I knew that I wasn't asleep because there were no dreams.

Only darkness.

It was as if I temporarily existed in a void, leaving me sensory deprived, and isolated from all memories, especially those which would bring sorrow or pain.

Briefly, I wondered if this is how it felt to be dead. No physical pain, no feeling of hot or cold, no emotions, no memories, no gnawing worries, no matters demanding attention, no concept of time, no sound of life, not even the sound of one's own breaths.

Silence.

And with it numbness.

Everything in me wanted to embrace the nothingness and have it pull me farther down into the abyss.

Maybe, my brain reasoned, just maybe, if it carried me far enough away, I wouldn't have to face what was coming. I couldn't quite remember what that was, but I knew that it was bad.

Horrific.

The stuff of my worst nightmares.

I had no idea how much time passed as I pondered this and allowed myself to be swept further and further away from consciousness into sweet oblivion.

There I existed for a time but, as with everything in life, it didn't last. Soon, much too soon, I began to become aware of sounds in the darkness around me.

At first, it was difficult to discern exactly what I was hearing, but then as the sounds grew steadily louder, my mind registered that I was hearing the hiss of whispered voices.

The fog was beginning to subside and the outside world was starting to make itself known.

No, please.

Let me stay here where it's safe just a little longer.

I started to make out bits of the whispered conversations in the darkness around me.

'been out quite a while now'

'suffered a terrible shock…'

'… sedate her'

'help her to sleep'

'….safe….. '

'Her Mom's on her way'

'We love her too Charlie…'

Charlie? My Dad was here?

At the thought of my Dad, I felt myself relax again. My Dad would take care of me.

My Dad would never leave me.

Unhappy memories came then, unbidden to my mind, making my heart ache.

My Mother leaving….

At the memory, I wanted to curl into the fetal position and cry just as I did then, not understanding her reasoning any more today than I did at the time. 'She had to leave us in order to find herself.'

The next flood of memories were even more difficult. He'd been an integral part of my life for more years than my own mother had been. There was even a time when he was my future…

In the wake of his departure, my heart was left torn and bleeding.

It shouldn't have mattered as much as it did.

It shouldn't have hurt as much as it did.

It shouldn't have changed me as much as it did.

To be honest, by the time he left, he'd become someone I barely knew any more, possessing no recognizable qualities of the boy I'd loved for most of my life.

It was best to forget him, but I knew I never would.

And now I'd been left again. My heart felt like a dead weight in my chest as the events of earlier today came flooding back.

Esme's distraught expression as she spoke the words I couldn't comprehend. I remembered shaking my head as I'd challenged the impossibility of what she was telling me.

There had to be some sort of mistake…

Fate wouldn't be this cruel would it?

Impossible

I sat numbly as Alice wrapped her arms around me in an effort to comfort, never realizing that I was there in body only.

I felt nothing, my mind a blank. When I went to stand, my legs gave way, and the next thing I knew, the floor was coming up to meet me.

I remembered Carlisle carrying me after I collapsed. The soft feel of Alice's bed under my hands. The sting of a needle, entering into my arm. Esme's hand running comfortingly through my hair as she kissed my forehead and spoke softly into my ear.

And then, the blackness had taken me.

'Services to be arranged'

My mother's voice was unexpected. Either I was dreaming, or I was beginning to wake up.

'What the hell Renee?'

Dad sounded angry.

'Renee, I don't think we should speak of that in this room. We don't know how much she can hear…'

Esme's voice calmed me.

'Bells honey, I don't know if you can hear me, but I'll be here when you wake up'

My Dad sounded as if he'd been crying.

I didn't like it.

He was the strongest person I knew.

I let myself slip back into the nothingness. Having to face things would be difficult enough, but now with my mother here….

I never wanted to wake up.

Time passed.

The hushed murmur of voices continued now and then. I sensed that I was never completely alone in the room.

'You should rest. I'll stay.'

This voice jarred me, and I almost opened my eyes to prove to myself that hearing it had been a dream.

When I heard him sigh before shifting in his chair, I almost stopped breathing.

When I felt his hand cover mine, it took every ounce of strength in me to keep from pulling away.

'Oh Bella.' The voice said with a defeated sigh. 'I don't know if you can hear me, but I want you to know that I'm here. I meant what I said before.'

'I'm so very sorry. Sorry for what's happened. Sorry for your pain. Sorry for the pain that I caused.'

'Sorrier than you will ever know….'

I felt his lips press against the hand that he held.

The voice was the one I remembered. The voice of my friend. The voice I'd missed for so many years…

At that moment, I knew that the sound of that voice was the only thing that could pull me from my safe haven of forgetfulness.

I had to know if it was real.

I had to prove that my mind wasn't just playing some cruel joke on me.

I could feel the warm hands still cradling mine.

I turned my head slightly in the direction of the voice and slowly opened my eyes.

*********A/N*********

A/N The location for this story is a little closer to home for me. Most of the story will take place on Chincoteague Island (Virginia).

If you've never been, it's a lovely place. Chincoteague Island is bordered by the mainland on one side and by Assateague Island on the other. Assateague is a wildlife preserve therefore no hotels or houses are permitted to be constructed there. As a result, the beach is beautiful and not marred by the modern world. The drive from Chincoteague Island to Assateague beach is beautiful as well.

The famous Wild Pony swim is conducted once a year from Assateague to Chincoteague.

For this story, the Swan family lives in Waverly, Virginia; the Cullen family in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Until next time…. I love reviews…