For those of you who follow my other story It's Not Over, I don't think I will be able to update again before the year ends. So in the mean time, I'm sharing this one shot with you as an early Christmas gift.
It's rated Angst for a reason, so if tear jerkers aren't your thing, you might want to skip this.
All recognizable characters and quotes are owned by their respective owners.
The Lovely Bones is owned by Alice Sebold.
Goodnight Moon is owned by Margaret Wise Brown.
Twilight is owned by Stephenie Meyer.
No copyright infringement intended.
"Sometimes you cry, Susie, even when someone you love has been gone a long time."
- Alice Seabold, The Lovely Bones
October 1st 2009
Bella's back ached slightly as she raked the autumn leaves on her front lawn. The ground was covered with various colours of red and gold, and the sound of children enjoying the weather before winter kept them indoors surrounded her. Autumn had always been Bella's favourite time of the year. The days were not too warm and not too cold. The evening light was a sight of utter beauty. Even the job of raking leaves, which to some was tedious, thrilled Bella. She loved autumn, or at least, she use to. Now it caused a deep ache within her.
Autumn had been a season of change, and not in a good way. Glancing up, Bella looked towards the street corner. It was late evening, and people were returning from work. Just across the street from her, Mrs. Black was greeting her husband as he pulled into their driveway. Their young children, Seth and Leah, ran out of the house as well to greet him. Their squeals of delight could be heard over their mother's repeated attempts to calm them down. No sooner had Mr. Black opened the door did the children surround him and begin telling him all about their day. Mrs. Black reminded them to give their father some space while she herself came forward and greeted him with a kiss. It was a Kodak moment, and Bella's eyes prickled with tears at the memory of when her own family had had moments like that.
With a heavy heart Bella remembered when October days would find her raking these very leaves into a pile, and her children would suddenly bound out of the house and jump in them, messing up the pile she'd spent half an hour creating. Bella would fuss and complain that she would have to rake it all over again. Masen and Marie would ignore her as they jumped into it over and over.
"Wait until your father gets home," Bella would say in an attempt to get their attention, but both Bella and the children knew that was an empty threat.
This was the time when Edward would pull into the driveway. The sound of his truck always announced his presence. Bella had tried time and time again to get him to sell it, but Edward had refused, saying it was a family heirloom.
Her children would call for their daddy to join them in the leaves, ignoring Bella's grumbles. Edward, ever the carefree person he was, would answer their requests and dive in, further ruining the pile that Bella had painstakingly put together.
"You're such a child," Bella would comment with a frown.
Edward would just laugh. He'd always had a beautiful laugh. It was only of the things that drew her to him. Then, when she wasn't looking, he would pull her into the pile as well.
Even though she would complain about the mess, deep down, she loved it as well and would make sure the piles were always within her children's view so they could repeat the process again.
Often times Bella would see Mrs. Black fuss over trivial things such as her husband walking into the spotless house with soiled shoes, how chatty her children were after school or how chaotic things had become. Even though Bella listened to her complaining patiently, deep down she wanted to tell Mrs. Black to embrace it. Bella's own children were grown now, and so often she wished she could have those moments back with them. Now spending time with their mother was a scheduled event.
With a heavy sigh, Bella turned her back on the happy family and walked into her house. Edward would be home soon, and she wanted to make sure everything was perfect, even though he never seemed to notice it. Actually, he never seemed to notice much as of late.
June 10th 1950
"One-two-three-four-five." The sound of a boy's voice startled Bella. The voice was soon followed by the boisterous laughter of another. Bella had been sitting on the swing set for quite some time, and she'd thought the park was empty except for her. She didn't want to be in the park now, but her father wasn't in a good mood, so Bella tried to remain scarce by hiding out for a while.
From her spot, she could hear shouts of laughter and the slightly muffled sound of children playing. She was going to ignore the voices, but curiosity got the better of her. Hopping off the swing, Bella followed the sounds to the other side of the basketball court. Standing beneath the shadow close to the fence that surrounded the basketball court, Bella saw him for the first time.
His back was to her as he repeatedly attempted to dodge his older brother's tackles. The boy looked a year older than her— maybe eight years old— and his reddish brown hair seemed the glow in the sunlight.
"You cheated!" the elder of the boys was saying as he tried again and again to knock the younger to the ground.
"I did not! You just suck at this game." Hearing the younger boy's voice made Bella's heart race.
"Who's that?" the larger boy said, pointing behind his brother's back to where Bella stood.
"What?" the younger boy asked, turning. He realised his mistake too late. The second he tried to turn back, the older boy caught him off guard and knocked him to the ground.
"Get off me, Emmett," the younger boy said. Emmett just laughed in response.
"Not until you admit you're a cheat, Edward."
"I did not cheat!" Edward screamed back.
Bella wanted to go over and knock Emmett off of Edward, but fear kept her rooted in place. Both boys were older than her and could easily overpower her if necessary.
"Fine, if you won't admit it, I'll just have to find another way to get you to," Emmett said. Then with one hand holding Edward down, Emmett stuck his finger into his mouth and held it close to Edward's ear.
"If you don't admit it, I'll stick my finger in your ear," Emmett threatened.
"Gross! I'll tell mom on you."
"Fine," Edward shouted. "I cheated. Now get off of me!"
Letting go of him, Emmett stood up. "See, was that so hard?"
As Edward was about to stand up, Emmett picked up a soccer ball that had been laying on the grass near them and threw it at Edward. It missed his head by inches and instead bounced over to where Bella stood. Realizing the ball had missed its target, Emmett shoved Edward one last time to the ground before walking off.
Bella was an only child, and often times she wished she had an older sibling. This was not one of those days.
"What a jerk," Bella heard Edward mutter to himself. There were grass stains on his pants and a small cut on his cheek from where Emmett had shoved him. Bella hesitated for a moment, then, picking up the ball, she walked over to where Edward was still sitting on the grass, attempting to rub dust off his knees.
He didn't notice her until she was standing right in front of him.
"What do you want?" Edward snapped at her.
"Here," she said softly, holding out the ball. His eyes narrowed at her. Now that she stood so close to him, she saw that he had green eyes.
Standing up, Edward reached over and grabbed it from her.
"Are you okay?" Bella asked.
"That's a stupid question. Do I look okay?" Edward's voice was harsh.
She knew Edward was still upset because of what his brother had done, so Bella tried not to be to put out by his attitude. She turned to leave, but Edward reached out a hand and stopped her. Her arm tingled where he'd touched it.
Taking a deep breath he said, "I'm sorry for yelling at you. Mom says it's never right to yell at a girl."
"It's okay," Bella said with a small smile.
"It's just that my brother can be pretty mean, and he makes me mad." Edward frowned, a small crease appearing between his eyebrows.
"I understand," Bella assured him.
"You have an older sibling?"
Bella shook her head. "No, but when my dad is in a bad mood he can be mean sometimes."
Edward looked confused. He really didn't see the connection.
"Guess I'll see you around then," Edward said, as he turned towards where Emmett had disappeared.
Bella didn't want him to go, but she didn't know what she could say to make him stay.
"Bye," was all she could muster up. She turned to leave, but his voice stopped her.
"Wait! Where do you live?" Edward asked.
"On Twenty Sixth Street," Bella replied.
Edward was surprised. "Really? I live around the corner from there. I'll walk you home then."
"You don't have to," Bella said.
"It's no problem." Edward assured her with a smile.
Bella walked up until she was beside him.
Holding out his hand, he said,"I'm Edward, by the way."
"Bella," she replied, shaking it.
October 1st 2009
The ding of the oven timer pulled Bella out of her memory. Grabbing the pot holder, she carefully extracted the pot from the oven. As she began slicing the roast beef into portions, a deep sense of nostalgia gripped her when she remembered the day she and Edward had met.
Glancing at the clock, Bella saw that it was almost five in the evening. Edward finished work at five, and it wouldn't take long for him to arrive here. Quickening her step, she quickly finished preparing their dinner. It was Edward's favourite, and she hoped that it would be enough to pull him out of the funk he had been in lately.
By half past five, Bella was seated and waiting for him at the dinner table. She'd put out a plate for him as well and was just waiting for him to return home before she ate.
Five minutes passed. Ten minutes passed. Fifteen, and then twenty, and still Edward had not arrived.
Figuring he was caught up in traffic, Bella ate without him. The only sound in the kitchen was the clatter of silverware against plate and the ticking of the clock over the oven. Compared to how it had been when her children were younger, the room was eerily silent.
While their two children were still growing up, Edward would often talk about what it would be like with just the two of them in the house.
"It would be so quiet," Bella had said. "Wouldn't we be lonely?"
Edward had just laughed. "How could we be lonely when we would always have each other?"
But it hadn't turned out exactly like that. The children had moved on, and she was lonely. Edward had become a sort of stranger to her.
Edward still had not arrived by the time Bella had finished eating or while she cleaned up the mess from making dinner. Taking the microwave cover out of the cupboard, she covered his food for him. He would have to reheat it when he returned.
Bella contemplated waiting up for him in the living room, but she was already tired, despite it being just before seven. Shutting off the kitchen light, she walked into the living room to shut off that one as well. Before she could flick the switch, her eyes landed on Edward's piano sitting in the corner. Formerly belonging to his grandparents, when they'd first bought their home, Edward had insisted they bring it to their house. His grandparents had passed away, and Edward's mother had no use for it. Bella had complained of the extra cleaning that had to be done to keep it in good shape, so to appease her, Edward had promised to be the one to care for it. Also, the living room was cramped as it was and adding a piano to it would deplete what little space they had, but Edward had insisted, so after much convincing, Bella had obliged.
She was glad that Edward had convinced her to bring it home. Many memories had been made on that piano. Him composing a lullaby just for her shortly after they were married. He often played it as a way of comfort to her when she was heavily pregnant with first Marie, and then Masen. Even now, when they were almost strangers to each other, Bella would often times hear him playing it. He only did it when she was already in bed. Bella didn't know if that was his way of saying he still loved her even though they'd grown apart, or it was his way of reminding her of what they'd had. Either way, the sound always brought a sense of grief and deep longing.
With one last sigh, Bella shut off the light and climbed up the stairs to her bedroom. After changing into her nightwear, Bella slipped into bed and shut off the lamp beside her. She had been in a light sleep, when Bella felt the bed dip beside her. She breathed a small sigh of relief. He'd come home.
"Edward?" she called. Her back was facing the door so she had yet to see him. There was no reply from the other side of the bed.
"Edward, darling. Please answer me." She wanted to turn and look at him, but she couldn't bring herself to. She didn't know if he was angry or upset with her, and she was afraid that one look at his face would confirm something she'd already expected. That he didn't love her anymore. That somehow, despite the promises of being together forever, they'd grown apart.
Bella squeezed her eyes shut, but a few tears still leaked out.
"You promised me you would stay. That you would always be there." Her voice was filled with a deep sorrow, but still her companion did not respond. She wasn't surprised. Every night was the same routine. She'd call out to him, but he never replied. There was a time when her tears would have made him fall to his knees to comfort her, now they meant nothing to him.
"Edward, please," Bella begged, finally turning to face him, but before she could turn Edward's side seemed to shift, as the weight was removed. She could hear the sound of footsteps retreating and the sudden feel of his absence. He was gone before she could even turn around.
Her tears fell faster. Her heart was weeping, but he didn't seem to care. She couldn't understand how they had become like this. How after the thousands of times he'd told her he loved her, he'd just stop suddenly.
The only sound in the bedroom was of Bella's cries. It was soon broken by the soft playing of the piano downstairs. It was her lullaby.
July 13th 1950
"You can play?" Bella asked as she took a seat next to Edward on the piano bench.
"Only a little," he replied.
Just outside of the living room, Bella could hear Edward's mother moving around in the kitchen while Edward's brothers played out in the yard. They'd refused to let Bella play with them so Edward had refused to join their game.
Since the first time they'd met at the park, Edward and Bella had become inseparable. Not a day went by when one wasn't at the other's house. It was an accidental friendship that had blossomed into much more.
"Can you play something for me?" Bella asked.
Edward hesitated for a moment. "I don't want to."
Edward passed his fingertips gently over the keys before he answered. "I haven't played since my dad left. It was something he and I used to do. It doesn't feel right playing without him."
"Where's your dad now?" Bella asked.
"He doesn't live with us. He lives in California with his new wife." Edward shrugged like it was no big deal, but Bella could see a hint of sadness in his eyes.
"Oh. Do you miss him?" Bella asked.
"Sometimes. We use to visit him during the summer, but now we don't anymore. Some days I miss playing, but I don't like to play alone. He was the only one who'd play it with me."
"I'll play it with you," Bella said. "You'd have to teach me first, but I'm willing to learn."
Edward looked at her, surprised. "Really? My mom and brothers aren't interested. You're the first person actually willing."
Bella shrugged. "Of course. I would like to learn." Deep down, she really didn't. Playing the piano was not something Bella was interested in, but what she was interested in was making Edward happy, and if pretending to want to learn how to play was what it took, she was more than willing.
Edward gave Bella a heartwarming smile that caused her to smile in return. Bella found that she really liked his smile, and at that moment she swore she would find more reasons to make Edward repeat that happy expression.
October 2nd 2009
The spot beside Bella was cold by the time she'd woken up, indicating Edward had been gone for some time. Walking into the kitchen for her morning tea, Bella's gaze went to the kitchen table. Sitting on the table, as a constant reminder of how far they'd drifted, was Edward's untouched dinner. It had long since grown cold. Bella tried not to be too put out with him.
"Maybe he'd eaten something before," she said to herself, but even to her that excuse sounded flimsy.
Not wanting to dwell on it for too long, Bella submerged herself in her daily chores. Dinner was made before five this time, and the house was spotless. With nothing more to do, Bella went outside with a plate of freshly baked cookies in hand, to wait for Edward on the porch. They were his favourite. Sitting on her chair, Bella breathed in the autumn air. It chilled and comforted her at the same time. She and Edward had lived in this neighbourhood for quite some time and whilst everything else had changed, the seasonal smells had not.
"Hi, Mrs. Cullen," a voice called.
Looking onto the lawn, Bella saw Mrs. Black's youngest, Seth, waving at her. Bella indicated for him to join her. "How are you?" she asked. She held out the plate of cookies, because they both knew that was why he was there. Seth had an uncanny sense of smell. Mrs. Black often joked that she never needed to call Seth home for supper. All she had to do was start cooking.
"I'm good," he said as he took one.
"How is that sister of yours?" Bella asked.
Seth made a face. "Still mean," he grumbled.
"Why are you sitting out here?" Seth asked as he helped himself to another cookie. "Aren't you cold?"
Bella shook her head. "It is a bit chilly, but I like to sit out here and enjoy the autumn air while I wait for Mr. Cullen to arrive home."
Seth's eyebrow shot up at her words. He filled his mouth with cookies to stop himself from replying to her. Mrs. Black had drilled it into her children that they were not to tell Bella anything about Edward.
"She's not ready for that heartbreak," Seth had heard his mother tell his father over dinner one night. "One day she'll find out the truth, but until then, it isn't our business or our secreat to tell."
So even though Seth wanted to, he knew better that to ruin the poor woman's night with the truth. After devouring the last cookie, Seth bid Bella good night and returned to his house. Bella had allowed him to have all of the cookies except one. That one she was saving for Edward.
After Seth was gone, Bella stayed outside, watching the autumn light slowly fade away. She began humming softly to herself. At first, the tune she hummed was unfamiliar, but then she recognized it. It was the first song Edward had taught her how to play. She'd been a horrible student. She lacked the skill and dedication it took to learn to play properly, but Edward had been patient with her the entire time.
Bella stayed outside as long as she could, but when the chill in the air became too much, with a deep sigh she returned inside.
Just after five, Bella sat at the table, and just like the night before, she waited for Edward. A plate had been prepared for him, and it sat opposite to her on the side of the table where he usually sat. She was going to wait for him to arrive before she ate, but her hunger overwhelmed her so she began eating. Edward still hadn't returned when she'd finished.
"It could be traffic," Bella said softly to herself as she washed up the dishes. "He'll be home soon enough."
In anticipation for his arrival, Bella covered his plate and left it out for him.
After clearing up from her meal, Bella went into the living room to wait for him. At some point during her waiting, it began to rain. Bella could hear the patter of raindrops against the roof. Edward had always loved the rain.
While Bella would grumble about illnesses and dirt tracks in her house, Edward would take Masen and Marie out into the yard to play during summer storms.
"Edward, it's raining," she would point out to him, every time he insisted they go out.
"It's raining joy. How can you not want to go out?" he would reply, his green eyes sparkling. Then, armed with both children, he would convince Bella to let them go out. She would oblige, as she always did, and before the day was over, she too would be outside, soaking up the moment with her family.
That was before. Now, just like everything else, the rain brought a small sense of grief. Bella briefly wondered if there would ever be a moment when mundane things didn't bring a sense of sadness to her. She doubted that. Before they'd drifted apart, she and Edward had been entwined in their daily lives. They did everything together. Their moments together had been imprinted into her memory, and she knew it would always be there, even though her partnership had long ago faded.
When Bella fell asleep on the couch shortly before nine, Edward still hadn't returned. As she slept, she dreamt, and in her dreams, Edward was playing her lullaby again.
March 12th, 1960
"Quick," Edward said, laughter in his voice as they tried to dodge the raindrops. Hand in hand, they ran towards the school's bleachers. It was the closest shelter available. They were both completely soaked when they arrived underneath them. Other than the pitter patter of rain against metal, the only other sound was of their laughter.
"I'm soaked," Bella exclaimed as she squeezed her hair dry.
"You were the one who insisted on exploring the forest," Edward replied, playfully tickling her sides.
"It was a good idea until that rain showed up," Bella laughed.
She attempted to dodge him, but grabbing hold of her hands, he pulled her towards him. As he pressed his lips against her forehead, Bella inhaled the delicious scent that was Edward Cullen. She began to shiver so in an attempt to warm her, Edward rubbed his hands up and down her arms.
"We have to try to get back to the car so I can get you home. You'll catch a cold."
Bella rolled her eyes. Typical Edward. Always worrying about her.
"I'll be fine." With her hands pressed against his chest, Bella pressed her lips against his.
Edward smiled against her mouth. "Stop trying to distract me. I need to get you home."
"We can wait until the rain stops. I like it here with you."
Edward wrapped his arms around her. She sighed contently.
"Even though we are soaked, and there's a very real chance we might get hypothermia, it's sorta romantic here," Bella said.
Edward laughed. "Only you would find something romantic in this."
They were quiet for a moment. Both of them were lost in the sounds of the season.
"Do you ever worry that this feeling won't last?" Edward asked.
"This deep feeling we have for each other. Do you ever worry that it will fade?"
"Nice way to kill the mood," Bella said, pushing him away.
Edward laughed. Taking her hand, he pulled her back to him.
"I didn't mean to kill the mood, but it's just something that's been on my mind."
"No, I don't worry about that. Why should I?" Bella asked.
"It didn't last for my parents or yours," Edward pointed out. "How do we know we won't end up like them?"
"I don't, but just because we came from broken homes doesn't mean we will have one. It just means we've seen the mistakes our parents have made, and we won't make them."
Edward sighed. "Did you know that the woman my father married was the woman he'd cheated on my mother with?"
Bella's eyes widened in shock. She hadn't known that.
"Growing up, I never would have guessed it. My parents were so in love. Just like we are now, but something changed. One day, he just started coming home late. They never slept in the same room. Then one day, he left and never came back. My mother was heartbroken when she found out. She never recovered from it. I'm afraid I'll do the same to you."
Bella pressed her lips against Edward's to silence his words.
"You are not him. I trust you. I know you'll never hurt me." Bella felt the truth of her words resonate deep within her soul. She trusted Edward with all her heart.
"I love you," Edward whispered against her mouth. "I'll love you forever."
"As I love you. As I will always love you. Forever," Bella promised.
October 3rd, 2009
Before she'd even arrived at the park, Bella could hear the sound of children playing. Their laughter was carried to her by the autumn wind. When she'd turned the corner, the park came into view. She spotted a few children with their parents, on the very swings where, many years ago, she'd sat. The basketball court looked just the same with its peeling paint and withered net. Just beyond that, she could see the area of the park where she'd first spotted Edward playing with his brothers.
Even after all this time, the memory of their first meeting had not dimmed. It had instead been strengthened. She could remember vividly the feel of the wind, the smell of grass and the sound of his voice. She missed his voice.
Sitting on one of the benches, Bella could still feel the cold seeping through her coat. Edward had left again this morning before she had awoken. Just like the night before, she'd briefly felt his presence beside her as she was lying in bed, but he hadn't spoken to her. No matter how much she pleaded with him.
When she'd woken that morning, she'd searched the house for any sign that Edward had remembered. That somehow, despite the distance he'd been keeping from her as of late, he'd remembered how special today was. Today was their anniversary. Surely he'd remembered, and he'd left early to surprise her later with something. She briefly wondered where he would take her. To her it didn't matter. All she wanted was one more moment with him so she could ask him what had changed. So she could tell him how much she loved him. Even despite how he'd treated her lately.
Bella could only stay out in the cold for so long. Eventually, the chill seeped through her jacket and became too much. With one last deep breath, she stood up to begin to trek back to her house. Before she did, she took one last look at the small area in the park where she and Edward had first met. She could see a boy and girl, who looked about the same age that she and Edward were when they met, playing with a flying disc. A woman sat nearby watching them. Bella smiled briefly to herself, pleased to see that despite her own heartache, there was still happiness somewhere in the world.
Instead of taking her regular route home, Bella walked the mile to Edward's work. She didn't want to sit at home waiting for him anymore. She wanted to go out, find him and bring him home. She was tired of waiting around. Despite the chill that seeped through her skin, and the aching of her feet, Bella kept walking on.
She took the route that he always took to and from work just in case he left before she arrived. She was sure to keep her eyes on every car that passed, so she could flag him down in case he didn't notice her.
When she arrived at the old brick school building where Edward worked, Bella's eyes immediately swept the bleachers on the other side of the soccer field where she and Edward had taken shelter during the rain. She smiled briefly at the memory. His eyes had been filled with such love for her; she felt as if her own heart would explode. Not even when he expressed his worry about them falling apart did she ever doubt how much he loved her. Looking back on it now, Bella wondered if what he'd said had been his way of warning her that he couldn't love forever. That somehow even then he'd known that they wouldn't last together.
Taking the path up to the high school, Bella looked towards the car park. She paused when she realised that Edward's truck wasn't there. She doubted he'd left already. Surely she would have seen him as he passed by. Edward's truck made so much noise the whole town knew when he passed by. Figuring he'd finally taken the old thing to be fixed and had walked to school, Bella continued up the pathway.
The school yard was quiet. It was late so it didn't surprise her that there were no children outside. She knew Edward stayed late at the school most days because he often tutored students in one of the labs.
The clock that hung on the wall said it was almost five. Edward's tutoring finished at five so she only had a few minutes to wait for him. Bella chose one of the seats just outside the front door. He had to notice her as he passed by. He couldn't avoid her now.
October 3rd, 1967
The sound of laughter and music surrounded them as they swayed on the dance floor. With him dressed in a tuxedo and her in her wedding dress, they fit the profile of happy couple and newly married bride and groom.
Surrounded by her family, and in the arms of the man she loved, breathing in his scent, Bella now understood the meaning of happily ever after. In that moment, she felt like a princess who'd found her prince.
"You look so beautiful tonight, Mrs. Cullen," Edward said. Bella felt her cheek warm at his words. Her reaction only caused Edward's smile to grow wider. He loved making her blush. His green eyes sparkled as he looked at her.
"You don't look too bad yourself, Mr. Cullen."
"That's only because I have my beautiful wife by my side." Lifting his arm, he twirled her beneath it. Bella didn't think it was possible for him to make her blush even more, but somehow he did.
"Our forever begins now," Edward said holding her tightly.
"Forever is a long time."
"Not when I'm with you. Forever doesn't seem like enough."
Edward stopped moving her for a moment. He gazed at her for a briefly, and when he spoke, Bella could hear the conviction in his voice. "I'll always be there," Edward promised. "I'll never leave you."
Pressing his lips against hers he whispered, "Never."
October 3rd, 2009
"Mrs. Cullen," a voice called from behind her. Turning, she saw Mrs. Black climb out of her car and run towards her. A sense of relief could be seen on the woman's face. When she was at Bella's side, she wrapped her arms around Bella and helped her stand. It wasn't until she'd moved that Bella realised how cold she was.
Mrs. Black led Bella back to her car. Once inside, she began speaking, "I've been looking for you everywhere. I saw your porch light had not come on so I went over to see if you were okay. I knocked for some time, and when you didn't answer, I let myself in with the spare key you'd given me. When I couldn't find you, I began to worry. Why are you out here?"
"I was waiting for Edward to finish work," Bella explained. "It's our wedding anniversary today. I probably missed him, and he's back at the house."
Mrs. Black gave Bella a sympathetic look. It was the same look her son had given Bella the day before.
"I'll call Marie and Masen to come stay with you," Mrs. Black said. There were tears forming in the corners of her eyes.
"Why? They're busy nowadays. They don't have time for me. I just need Edward. I have to get home. He must be so worried."
Mrs. Black opened her mouth to reply but shut it after a moment. She knew Bella wasn't currently in the right state of mind so it wouldn't make sense trying to explain anything to her. She would leave that to Bella's children to do.
When they arrived back at Bella's house, Bella was dismayed to see Edward still hadn't arrived home.
"He's always so busy," Bella grumbled to herself. Mrs. Black put a comforting hand on her shoulder.
"I'll wait with you until Marie and Masen arrive, okay?" She'd called them from the car, and they had both promised to be there the next day.
"Okay," Bella said. It would be nice to have company that actually spoke to her for a change.
Marie and Masen arrived before Bella woke the next day, so Mrs. Black quietly slipped out once she was sure Bella was taken care of.
It was a joy for Bella to see her children again. They hadn't visited in months, and with each of them living so far away, their time together was always far apart.
"Your father would be so glad to see you two," Bella said. They were sitting at the kitchen table. Marie and Masen watched as Bella tossed Edward's untouched meal away. "He misses you both. He should be home later."
Her children exchanged a look. After all these years, their mother still hadn't accepted.
"Mom," Marie said, but she hesitated. Her mother seemed so obviously happy that she didn't want to break her spirit.
Masen, sensing his sister's reluctance, chimed in there.
"Dad's moved on," Masen said.
"What do you mean?" Bella asked. Her back was to them as she washed Edward's plate.
"He's not coming home," Marie said.
Bella turned and looked at her, confused. "Of course he is, silly. He has to come home eventually."
Masen shook his head. To Marie he said, "Telling her isn't going to work."
"What do you want to do then?"
"Maybe we can show her," Masen whispered. "Seeing is believing, right?"
"I don't know. It would hurt her."
"We have no choice," Masen said. "You heard what Mrs. Black said, we've let her live her fantasy for so long, but she needs to move on. She almost died last night, from that cold air, waiting on him. She has to accept it. She has to see that he's moved on."
Marie didn't like it, but she agreed. She didn't relish the thought of breaking her mother's heart all over again.
Marie and Masen held firmly onto Bella's hand as they walked beneath the metal gate that, seventy years after it was made, was worn by both time and weather. The soft crunch of leaves beneath their feet and the crisp October air accompanied them as they walked through the deserted grounds. The ground was littered with broken leaves of various colours.
When they were a few minutes into their walk, Bella, who had been silent the entire journey there, finally spoke. "What are we doing here?" she asked as she pulled her hand out of Marie's in an attempt to tighten her coat around her. She didn't like this place at all. Even though it was still light out, it felt dark.
"There's something we think you should see," Marie said, as she took Bella's hand again. Masen nodded in response. "It's just over there." He indicated a place just in the distance.
Bella wanted to argue with them, to demand they take her home. She didn't have time to play their games. Edward would be home soon, and she wanted to have dinner ready for him. Even if he never ate it, she wanted him to know that she would always be there. Waiting. Waiting for him.
She opened her mouth to explain to Marie and Masen that they would have to cut their walk short, when all three stopped suddenly.
"What is it?" Bella asked.
Masen met Marie's eyes, and again they exchanged a look.
"Mom," Marie said, pointing to something in front of them. "Look."
Bella's eyes trailed to where she was indicating. At first she couldn't grasp why they had brought her all the way here to stare at a piece of polished rock, then the words that were written on it began to slowly make sense. Pulling her hands from her children's grasps, Bella walked closer to the headstone. Kneeling on the cold grass, she reached out and passed the tips of her fingers over the words.
Written in a cursive writing was an epitaph.
In Loving Memory of
Edward Anthony Cullen
June 20, 1942 - October 3rd, 1994
"The day which we fear as our last is
but the birthday of eternity." - Seneca
Like a flash of lightning, like a stab to the heart, like the flicking of a light switch, Bella's memory returned.
October 3rd, 1994
The beep, beep of the monitor was irritating, but she held onto it. It meant he was still with her. It meant he was still there, but deep down, she knew it wouldn't be much longer. In the depth of her heart, and all the corners of her soul, she knew this was her last moment with him. Marie and Masen had left the room, wanting to let her have these final moments alone, but also unable to bear it themselves.
As he lay crumpled on the stark white hospital sheets, a number of wires and tubes running in and out of his body, there were so many things Bella wanted to say to him. She wanted to yell at him. Demand to know why he'd chosen today to take a different route. She wanted to scream at him that he'd taken the same route home all these years, why did he have to change it. If he had just stayed on the usual path that drunk driver would have missed his car. There would not have been a headlong collision. She would not have gotten that phone call from a dreadful woman that her husband of had been in an automobile accident. She wouldn't be sitting next to his bed, holding his hand as he took his final breaths.
The bouquet of roses, the only thing that survived the accident, had given a small testament as to why he'd chosen that route. He'd wanted to surprise her on their anniversary. When the officers had shown her the flowers, she couldn't even look at them for long. They were intact and whole, while her husband was bruised and broken.
Now was not the time to yell, now was the time to tell him she loved him. Tell him that she would always love him. To beg him not to leave her. But Bella couldn't bring herself to say any of that. She felt numb. The knowledge that this was their final moment together had not sunk in. Her brain seemed to already shy away from the truth.
Reaching out, she passed her hand through his soft hair. She'd always loved the colour. She wished she could see his eyes. The green eyes she'd fallen in love with, even when they were kids. He'd been her first love. Her first kiss. Her first everything. He would also be her last. Edward would always be her last.
A soft breeze in the windowless room surrounded Bella suddenly, and it was like a message. Her time was almost up. Standing, she leaned over and very softly pressed her lips against his.
"I love you," she whispered. "Forever."
The beeping that had irritated Bella before, cut off and was replaced by a long drawn out sound.
October 4th, 2009
With the memory came the grief all over again. It was as though a hole had been opened beneath her, and she was falling. Falling into a deep darkness. Her heart felt as though it had been ripped out of her chest, and it truly had. It was now lying in a coffin beneath the earth. This was grief at its finest.
Masen and Marie fought back their own tears as they watched their broken mother weep over the grave of her beloved. Each of them wondering if they'd made the right decision in bringing her here. Maybe it was better to allow her to continue living in her state of denial. After all, fantasy was much better than cold, hard reality.
It was a few years after their father had died, when their mother was still deep in her grief, that one day she stopped accepting. She'd stopped fighting and instead had gone back to a time when he was still there. They hadn't had the heart to tell her the truth. Instead, they'd asked Mrs. Black to keep an eye on her. To let her live her fantasy. A small part of them regretted allowing her to go on for so long.
"You promised me," she whispered brokenly as the tears ran down her face. "You promised me we would grow old together. Why did you leave me?"
Bella desperately wished that the soft tears that fell from her cheek onto the hard earth could somehow reach Edward and bring him back to life. That somehow her tears would be enough.
Her words came out in broken whispers. "You promised me you would always be there."
No answer came. Edward had not answered her in ten years, and he never would again.
To Bella, it felt as though she was learning to swim, while drowning in despair.
As she knelt on the earth, as the sun slowly began to sink. That was one of the harshest things about this life— while she was feeling the deep overwhelming pain of losing the love of her life, somehow, the world just kept on turning. It didn't wait for her. Marie and Masen walked forward then and held onto her. It was getting late. They had to leave. Neither one of her children wanted to pull her away, but they had to.
When they made it back to the house, Bella was terrified to enter. She was afraid to be inside of the place that held so many memories. It had been easier before, because her mind had protected itself from the pain by blocking all of it out. Now that she was really beginning to see, she was afraid of the sight that awaited her.
With Marie and Masen close behind her, Bella walked up the porch, then to the front door. She didn't have it in her to unlock it, so after a brief moment, Masen came forward and unlocked it for her.
Reaching forward, Bella turned the doorknob slowly. She pushed the door open, and there was a small thump as it hit the wall behind it. The sound echoed throughout the empty house.
There was no direct evidence of Edward's absence. In fact, everything looked exactly as it had been the last time he'd been there. His shoes were still in the hallway. His favourite jacket hung on a peg next to the door. Walking through the house, Bella could find no signs, no indication, that someone was missing. It wasn't until she'd stepped into the living room that she saw it.
There was a layer of dust on Edward's piano. She hadn't cleaned it before or after his passing, and it stood just as he'd left it. It was a harsh reminder that the owner would no longer play it again. Even as she stood looking at it, Bella could hear the tune in her head. She'd heard it hundreds of times before, and it was so clear in her mind that she hadn't needed to hear the actually playing. Her mind had done that on its own. Fooling her into thinking Edward had actually been playing it. Even now, as she watched it, she could hear it so clearly in her head.
Walking over to the piano, Bella sat on the old bench and passed her fingers along the dusty keys. It wasn't until then that she understood why Edward had neglected playing it for so long after his father had left. The instrument held bittersweet memories that should be left alone.
Bella didn't even realise when her tears began to fall again. She didn't even think she had any more tears left, but somehow, she managed to conjure them up, and she wept again for her departed beloved. She noticed that as her tears fell, they landed on the piano keys and slowly began to wash the dust away.
Masen and Marie stayed with their mother that night, but the next day, they checked her into a nursing home. They had wanted her to stay with one of them, but they knew she needed around-the-clock care which was something neither one could provide. They'd allowed her fantasies of Edward to go on undisturbed before, but now, they decided, it was time for her to face reality.
Bella hadn't put up a fight when they'd told her that they were going to send her. The only thing she asked them was what would become of Edward's piano. Marie promised she would take care of it.
Laying in bed during her first night at the nursing home, Bella felt a small sense of peace come over her. For the first time in a long time, she felt comfort. It was an odd feeling because she knew she shouldn't be feeling it. The day before she'd been reminded that her husband was dead. She was then forced to leave her home, and because neither one of her children could find the time to care for her, she was stuck in a nursing home. A place where death lurked at every corner. It was like a final race for its residents. It was like the last stop before they too joined their loved ones in the elsewhere. While for some, it brought a sense of sadness that their lives were over, for Bella, it brought a sense of relief. She'd been running the great race of life for so long, she welcomed the relief with open arms. The relief also brought her one step closer to Edward. She just wished she could see him.
Looking out the window opposite her bed, Bella saw the moon peek out from behind the clouds. It reminded her of the bedtime story Edward use to read to Masen and Marie when they were children.
Laying in the quiet room, she whispered the words to herself.
"Goodnight, stars. Good night, air.
Goodnight noises everywhere."
Closing her eyes Bella felt a familiar presence in her room. She smiled slightly to herself. Her soul recognised the person right away even though they were on different sides of the spectrum.
Opening her eyes slowly, Bella was met with a familiar pair of green eyes.
"I knew if I waited long enough, you would come. I knew if I was patient, I would see you again," she whispered. The Edward in front of her just smiled.
Her mind had recreated the perfect materialization of Edward from his tousled reddish brown hair, to his sparkling green eyes.
"I promised you I would never leave," he whispered. Bella's eyes were growing heavy. Sleep was weighing on her now.
"I miss you," she whispered. Her speech was slightly slurred from exhaustion. She fought to stay awake, but it was a fight she knew she would lose.
"I missed you too," Edward whispered. Unable to keep her eyes open anymore, Bella closed them. As she did, she heard Edward begin to hum. Even in her sleep-heavy state, Bella's heart recognised it long before her mind did. Just like a mother would always recognize her child, or she would always recognise Edward, and her heart would always recognize that tune.
It was her lullaby.
A couple songs inspired this one.
Fiction by Avenged Sevenfold
(Anyone that follows me on twitter is probably rolling their eyes at this one ;)
So Far Away by Avenged Sevenfold
Open Your Eyes by Daughtry
Can't Cry Hard Enough by Bellefire
Memories by Within Temptation (the music video for this song also inspired it)
Thanks for taking the time to read, and reviews are always appreciated.
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