50 Years Later
Bella and I sit cuddled together on the tiny loveseat. Her fingers toy with the wrinkles on the top of my hand, and I can't help but smile at her amusement.
"When did we get so old?" Bella asks, wrinkling her nose before running her fingertips across her own aged skin.
"It just kind of snuck up on us, didn't it?" I laugh at her, squeezing her hand.
There are days when we feel exactly the same that we did at twenty years old. Bella can be heard giggling from somewhere in the house, and I my heart still skips a beat at the sound. I can still picture her exactly as she was back then.
Other days our age is nothing but apparent by the creaking of our joints. Bella's face is weathered with wrinkles. Laugh lines around her eyes and mouth, worry lines etched into her forehead, and the small bags under her eyes from her recent trouble with sleeping. She is so different now, but still just as beautiful to me.
"Edward, what's your favorite memory?" Bella asks me, this is her new favorite game to play. She is afraid that she will forget it all; forget us. So everyday we remember our favorite memories, forcing ourselves to remember the life we've lived.
"Everyday that you've been here with me." Bella sighs because she hates this answer. She says it is just me taking the easy way out from having to think of something real. But every memory I have with Bella is very real.
"Do you want to know what my favorite memory is?" She goads me.
"Do I have a choice?" She smacks my chest and I laugh even though it stings a little thanks to my old body.
"When we renewed our vows on the beach. Do you remember that?" Her eyes shine brightly and I know that she is back there, her feet buried in the warm sand.
"How could I forget?" I whisper, wrapping my arm around her shoulders again.
Every five years we had taken to renewing our vows, but I knew which time she was speaking about in particular. It was the first time that my parents were unable to be there, both having passed away the year before.
Bella had worked so hard to make sure I still enjoyed myself. Emmett, Jasper, Alice and Rose were all there, smiling at us. They were still suckers for getting a good vacation in for any reason. It was also the first time renewing our vows that Jessica had attended, although we had invited her every year. She always told us we were her favorite couple.
"I miss Jessica," Bella's voice interrupts my thoughts.
She had become a good family friend over the years, so her passing almost a year ago had been rough on us. It didn't help that of the family we were the only ones left. Rose had passed away almost eight years ago after a heart attack, and Emmett had followed shortly after. There was no explanation for it, but we all knew it was because he just couldn't live without her.
Jasper had passed away about five years ago after suffering from dementia for so long that he didn't even recognize his own reflection. Alice thought he may have had a moment of clarity and realized he just couldn't live like that anymore. Somehow Alice had managed to live for another two and a half years before she had finally given up, unwilling to be without Jasper any longer.
"Alright, I know what my favorite memory is," I cut in knowing that Bella hated thinking about one of us dying and leaving the other one by themselves. It would leave her in a funk for days if I didn't pull her out of it now.
"Okay?" she asked, quirking an eyebrow at me obviously intrigued.
"When we almost got divorced." Bella wrinkled her nose at my response.
"Why?" She sounded almost disgusted
"Because if it hadn't happened we may have either lost one another forever, or never realized just exactly what we had in front of us." I told her, brushing my thumb across her cheek bone. She smiled sadly, a drawn out silence hanging in the air between us while her fingers traced the bottom of my jaw.
"I don't want to be without you," she whispered finally, tears filling her eyes.
"I know baby, but I have no control over that." I told her honestly, because it was something that scared me beyond belief too. What I wouldn't give to be able to go with her, or take her with me, but I knew the world didn't work that way.
"Can you just hold me?" Bella asked me, resting her head against my chest and I tightened my arms in response.
"Always. I will always hold you."
Why did I write an angsty sad epi? I don't freaking know! lol. Honestly it wrote itself around about chapter 14 when I woke up in the middle of the night and had to write this chapter down. I just had to take some time to refine it.
It is bittersweet to see this story end after having it stuck inside of my head for so many years. Thank you all for taking the journey with me.