Thanks be to Ms. EBT, Tkegl, and JadaPattinson.
"This feels strange."
"I know. You get used to it."
"I can't imagine getting used to it."
"You'll feel differently once it's over."
"And how long will that take?"
"Until you're ready to go."
"What if I'm never ready?"
"You can't stay here forever. We're not meant to."
"I'm not ready. I wasn't ready..."
"Nobody ever really is, but this is your chance to say goodbye, Edward. Say your goodbyes while you're here."
"Will you stay with me, Nana?"
I'm in a room. It's quiet. Eerie.
There's only one person here, but he's dressed in scrubs.
The scenario is familiar, but I can't place it just yet.
The phone rings.
"Yes? Yes, I'm ready."
He flips a switch that causes the blinds on a large rectangular window to open.
And that's when I see her.
I don't know why I didn't notice it before, but there's a something encased in a white bag on a metal table.
All I can do is stand there and watch Katie's face as the man unzips the top portion.
As her eyes well up and her chin trembles.
As the color from her face drains.
As she steps back, fumbles, and nods her head.
"It's him," she says before she bursts into tears.
I don't even have to look.
I know it's my dead body in that bag.
I can't believe all these people are here. For me.
The church pews are full, the faces of some whom I haven't seen in years.
Dad's co-workers, my high school baseball coach, the girl who used to babysit Alice and me. Bella, Angela, Ben, Emmett, Rosalie, Tyler.
Jasper and Alice are holding on to Mom's hand while Dad stares straight ahead, his expression blank.
The moment Pastor Weber stops speaking, I see movement, a flash of red.
It's Redhead. A healthy-looking, very pregnant Redhead.
She's fine. The baby's fine.
Her face is stressed, her sobs quiet. She's shaking and distraught.
But she's alive.
She's breathing and unharmed. Her baby is fine.
Knowing that, I don't feel as cheated anymore.
She takes a deep breath and clutches the blanket Jasper placed over her.
Mom's finally calm, her face no longer full of pain.
I wish I could tell her that I'm fine, that she doesn't have to do this to herself. I know she's grieving, hurting. She loved me more than any other person in this world. Except for maybe Dad.
She was so good to me. She was the mom everyone wanted.
She baked and healed and whispered and disciplined and embarrassed and PTAd and chaperoned and supported and encouraged and loved.
Mom is love.
I want to find some way to tell her these things, but I don't have to turn to Nan to know that I can't, that I shouldn't. I should've told her when I could.
I hope she knows.
I hope Dad knows it, too.
He taught me how to swing a baseball bat, drive a car, shave. How he treated Mom was a lesson in how to properly love a woman. How he treated Alice was a lesson in how to properly be a father. How he treated Nan, herself and her memory, was a lesson in how to properly be a son. I learned more from my dad in one day than most kids learn from theirs in a lifetime.
And I know that makes me unbelievably lucky.
I don't know how, but I know it's time to leave her alone. I also know that Dad is about to enter the room from wherever it is he left to earlier. He's going to climb into bed, cry, and hold Mom while she sleeps off the sedation.
"I love you, Mom," I say, wishing she could hear me.
As I walk back toward Nan, I hear it.
"I love you, too, Edward," she mumbles, still asleep.
"Carlisle's here," Angela says as he hands her a coffee.
"I saw him head upstairs. Any longer and Emmett was heading out to look for him."
I watch as she drinks from her mug while Ben does the same, his eyes never leaving her face.
I don't know why, but it doesn't surprise me that it's the same look he gave her back in high school. Like he's in awe, in love.
I guess some things never change.
Angela stares into her coffee for a few seconds before she speaks.
"Do you think Edward would still be alive if he and I hadn't— You know..."
"Angel, stop it."
Ben immediately puts his drink down, taking her face in his hands.
"How is any of this your fault?" he whispers.
"I don't know," she replies, starting to cry. "If it hadn't happened, then he and Bella would still be together. They would've gone to Dartmouth. They would've gone to grad school together. He wouldn't have been in that deli, because he would've been in a completely different city."
Before Ben can even reply, Bella's taking her hand and pulling her out of her chair.
"We'll be back," she says to Ben.
I follow as Bella leads her outside, stopping at the edge of the backyard where nobody else is standing.
"What's going on with you?"
She's simultaneously pissed off and concerned. I'd recognize that expression anywhere.
"Bella, I don't-"
Angela can't seem to meet Bella's eyes. She's fidgeting and shifting from one foot to another. This isn't the Angela I saw rescue Bella yesterday at the wake. This isn't the Angela Bella always used to tell me about.
This is the Angela I remember from when... Timid, scared.
"Bella, I'm sorry. He'd still be here. He'd be happy," she whispers.
Bella sighs, frustration on her face. She looks back toward the house before she sits on the grass.
"Come on. Let's... hug it out."
It's a phrase I haven't heard in forever, but I know its meaning, its importance. Bella's instituting something they did when they were still best friends, sisters. She's being there now for Angela when she needs her.
The two of them talk and cry and say their apologies. I know they had one of these before in my bedroom, and they had a moment as we watched my body be buried. But it's important they do what's necessary to start becoming friends again, to be there for one another again.
A little under an hour later, they finally stand, wiping grass off their clothes and sniffling.
They hug, and Angela goes back inside, right to a waiting Ben.
Bella takes a few minutes to compose herself. She takes a deep breath, straightens her clothes, and tilts her head back to look at the gray clouds in the sky. She closes her eyes and stays quiet.
"I miss you, Edward."
It's quieter than a whisper, but I know I heard her correctly when she opens her eyes and smiles.
Suddenly, she's being watched. I know, because I can feel it.
And I know who it is without having to look toward the doorway.
He flew here to be with her, to be here for her. She's surprised but grateful. The smile on her face says it all, and I know she's happy.
And by the way she hugs him, I know she'll stay that way.
It makes it easier to go knowing that fact.
"Alice, calm down," he whisper yells. "And put the banana down!"
"You promised me ice cream, Jasper. Do you really wanna fuck with my hormones right now?"\
"I didn't do it on purpose. I forgot!"
Alice stops, her face in utter shock, and Jasper groans, because he knows he's just said something to piss her off. She's wearing her patented "Oh, no, you didn't" face.
"You forgot? What if I just happened to forget to pop this kid out? Oh, wait. I can't! I have a duty to squeeze your kid out of a place that will stretch out and make you not wanna touch me ever again just like your duty is to buy the damn ice cream that keeps me from throwing this banana at you!"
And she throws the banana at him.
She takes a seat on one of the island stools and starts sobbing.
Jasper waits to approach Alice, his fear evident in his eyes, but finally puts his arms around her when she grabs his shirt and pulls him in.
"I'm sorry," she cries into his shirt.
It breaks me to say my baby sister this way.
"My body isn't my own anymore. This kid wants ice cream. I can't help it. Please don't be mad at me."
She sobs louder into his shirt, and he strokes her hair, shushing her.
"It's OK, baby. I'm not mad. I know he's not making it easy on you, but you have to try and stay calm. I don't want you ending up in the hospital again."
He? Alice is having a boy? I'm going to have a nephew?
I'm elated and devastated at the same time. She's having a little boy, and I won't be around to see him. There's going to be a little mini-Jasper or mini-Alice running around, and I won't be a part of it. He'll be the best part of both of them, and I won't be there to witness it first hand.
But I know that Jasper will take care of Alice and the baby. I know that the three of them will remain happy for the rest of their lives. I just know. And that's all that's really important.
Because Alice deserves it all.
I watch as she talks to Dad. I watch as she checks up on Mom. I watch as she easily becomes friends with Bella. I watch as Alice tells her my most embarrassing moments.
I watch her beautiful face take it all in.
I watch her laugh and cry, smile and frown.
All I want to do is hold her hand, tease her about her ears she thinks are too big. I want to hug her, kiss her stomach. I want to fall asleep together while watching a bad movie she picked out, learn something new every day.
I should've told her how I felt, but I can't do anything about it now.
I could spend eternity regretting this and wondering about that. I could spend forever full of doubt and wishing away mistakes. But my relationship with Kate is better than that. It's too important to me to allow it to become something negative.
She's sitting in a corner of the living room by herself. One of Mom's many photo albums is in her lap. This particular one is of my high school days.
Baseball games, Homecoming King, camping with the guys, Disneyworld the summer before my sophomore year, cheering from the bleachers at Alice's volleyball games, the water balloon fight Rosalie and Emmett started with the next door neighbor's kids.
She's going through some of the best times of my life.
Those who aren't staying with my parents have left. Those who are have gone to bed, and the house quiet.
Nan left me to do this part on my own.
I stand in the kitchen, living room, Dad's study.
These rooms used to scare me when I was little and all of the lights were out. Now, I take in each feature, each characteristic that makes it special to me:
Mom's apron in the kitchen.
Alice's Disney DVD collection in the living room.
Dad's stethoscope strewn on his desk.
They're little things, but they're special to me.
I know I don't need to, that I can simply will myself there, but I climb the stairs to the second floor where my family is sleeping.
I head into Mom and Dad's room first. I've already said my goodbye to Mom, and Dad and I always had a rule about never saying the word "Goodbye." It was always "Be seeing ya" with us.
So, I hang out at the foot of the bed and watch them for a few seconds, and I turn to leave.
"Bye," I whisper.
Because Mom is Mom, I know she heard me. I don't know how she does – maybe it's a mom thing – but I turn to leave before she can respond.
"Be seeing ya, kiddo."
I guess dads have that same ability, too.
I'm in Alice's room, not surprised to find her fully awake. She's sitting up against the headboard as Jasper snores away with his head in her lap. She's rubbing her stomach and groaning.
"Go to sleep," she says to her stomach. "I'm exhausted. How are you not exhausted, too?"
Jasper shifts a little, but his arm around Alice's waist doesn't budge.
It's the only thing I need to see to really know that my baby sister and her son will be OK.
"I know you're here," she suddenly whispers.
I freeze, because there's no way she could be talking about me.
"I can't… I can't see you, but I can feel you."
"I miss you so much already, Edward," she whispers, fresh tears on her face.
There's a long silence in the room, and I decide it's better to go than to do something, though I don't know what, to let Alice know that she's right. It'll make things more difficult on her to know that I am here. I don't want her to forget me, but I need her to let go.
And with that, I leave Alice to her family.
I knew Mom would insist on having Kate stay at the house instead of a hotel room. For a split second, I wonder if she'd sleep in my bedroom or in the guest bedroom, but I know that sleeping in my room would be strange for her, for everyone.
That and the pull I feel toward the last room at the end of the hall let me know that Kate's in the guest bedroom.
She's awake, the bedside lamp on, and going through her suitcase. She looks exhausted but absolutely beautiful. She stands and heads into the bathroom, coming out in sleep pants and a plain t-shirt. Her hair's in a ponytail, and she's washed her face clean of the day's make-up.
She takes my breath away.
She moves the suitcase from her bed to the floor and crawls into bed, pulling the blankets up to her chin. She sighs as she turns off the lamp.
She adjusts herself and then stills.
Because I know her so well already, I wait for it. And when she starts sniffling, I know it's only the beginning of a long session of tears.
She cries into her pillow for almost an hour, and I can do nothing but watch. It makes my soul ache to know that she's in so much pain, but it also makes my heart whole to know that she cared about me so much.
Her tears, her being here…
After she quiets down and finally falls asleep, I kneel next to her bed and take in her face. I know I need to say what I need to say and go back to Nana before I convince myself to stay here for eternity, to go against what's meant for me.
"I'm so sorry, Katie. I'm sorry that you're hurting. I'm sorry I can't do anything to make it stop. But I'm mostly sorry that we never got to find out if this was the real thing between us. I… I think it was."
She moves and readjusts, and all I can do is marvel at her simple beauty, remember the good in her heart.
"I could've loved you so much…"
And I know it's true. I was on my way there when I left this Earth.
I stay in the same position for a long while, memorizing every aspect of her face. It's not until I see the sunlight starting to peek through the curtains and I feel Nana's presence that I know I've stayed too long.
It's time to go.
I step away from the bed, inching my way backward until I know Nana's beside me again.
"Are they going to be OK?" I ask her.
"You know I can't answer that, Edward."
"I know. I just wish you could," I whisper. "I need them to be OK, Nana."
"We'll peek in on them from time to time. The good part about the bad part is that you'll see them again soon enough," she smiles sadly.
I nod, preparing myself to finally leave.
"Do you think they know how much I love them?"
Nana doesn't say anything, because she doesn't have to. I know the answer. And I also know that I was lucky in life. I was never left wanting for anything, especially love. Blessed.
I could never be anything but grateful for the life I had.
"I'm ready, Nana," I say, looking at her always familiar face. "Let's go home."
The titles from these F4NKH outtakes were taken from the LOST season one score.
Thank you for staying with me throughout it all. You're truly amazing. :)