A SINGLE RAY OF LIGHT.
I knew it was the end when I saw the glint of marble white skin and heard the vicious snarl. It was my destiny to die at the hands of a vampire. I always had been and who was I, a mere human, to withstand fate. All I could do was run. A futile gesture but I couldn't just stand there and wait for death.
It had been over a year since Ed ….and the rest of the family had left, destroying my life and shattering my heart. After the first few weeks which I spent curled up in a ball in a vain attempt to keep myself together I realised that it was hopeless. I would never recover from the pain but for Charlie's sake I had to try. When he threatened me with a move back to Renée I managed to pull myself together to function enough to placate him. I just couldn't leave Forks. I knew here at least I would have some memories of the family that had given me so much happiness before their sudden disappearance. I was sure I couldn't cope with sunshine and heat. In the sun I couldn't hold on to their faces and cool skin. The memories would disappear like shattering glass and that would destroy me entirely.
So I went back to school, enduring the looks of pity from my friends and the hurtful remarks from others. Every day was just as hard but once people realized they could get nothing from me I was left to myself. Even the ever persistent Mike got the message eventually and backed off. At lunchtime I would sit alone staring into space and conjure up the perfect faces of those I had lost. The pain in my chest would swell and threaten to overwhelm me but I couldn't stop myself as the tears hot and stinging ran down my cheeks.
Jacob had helped the most. He never asked for anything but was always there for me. When I was with him the pain dulled a little and for that I was grateful. I knew he would have liked to replace "him" in my affections but he realized it wasn't to be. His hugs and affection felt like that of a brother to me. My heart was shattered, there was no way to feel love any more just a dull ache where once I had burst for joy. I went to the reservation for a while, just to be near the warmth of my personal sun, which is how I felt about Jacob, but it only made the time alone worse. I felt so hollow with a dull ache which burst into flames when I dreamt about "him" or "them", which was every night. I would wake up screaming, in such agony that I woke Charlie. Eventually even my dad stopped coming into my room to comfort me. I know he felt useless but I couldn't do anything about it. I was so tired, so very tired, of my life. I even wished that Jasper had succeeded in reaching me that night. Then it would have been over for me. I would have been at peace, no more pain, no more sadness.
The only other person who never gave up on me was Angela. I don't know why but she continued to sit beside me in lessons, lending me her notes when I spaced out during classes. She never said anything, she was just there as a silent support and I appreciated that. I never felt she would try to push me into talking. not that I could explain in any case. There was no way I would put her at risk by talking about "them", besides she would probably have thought I had lost it altogether. Mind you, I don't think I would have bothered if she did.
Yesterday, the last day before school got out for Christmas, was different. I hadn't even noticed it was almost Christmas, the decorations and posters about the Christmas Dance at School had passed me only person I wanted to dance with was gone...wasn't ever coming back... Every day was the same, the pain, the loss, school, work, eat, sleep, wake screaming from the nightmares and start over again. When I heard a voice, someone talking to me directly I looked up in surprise. No one ever spoke to me any more, they just talked over me as if I were part of the fixtures. Angela was looking at me, waiting for an answer to the question I hadn't heard. Her face was kind but determined,as I turned slowly to look at her.
"I really need to talk to you Bella. Could we go get a coffee after school? It won't take long I promise".
My first instinct was to shake my head and look away. I couldn't talk. What was there to say? She touched my arm and I looked back.
"I really need to talk Bella. Please don't refuse me this".
I was too tired, bone weary, to argue so I just sighed and nodded my head.
At the end of school I considered just walking to my truck and driving home but I guess Angela had thought of that and was waiting for me, leaning against its beat up paintwork. I shuddered as she took my arm through hers and walked me firmly to her car, she felt too warm against my skin. Realizing I would look a fool if I tried to run now I heaved another sigh and she opened the door and pushed me gently into the passenger seat before making her way quickly to the driver's side. She motioned me to strap in and then drove slowly out of the parking lot.
As we drove away from the school I became more and more nervous, taking quick glances at Angela through the curtain of my hair. She glanced at me and smiled reassuringly.
"I know you don't want to talk about what happened with...well last year, but Bella...you can't go on like this. All your friend's are worried about you and Charlie is at his wits end. You won't talk to him...you won't talk to your mum...he's so worried that he asked me if I would try to find a way to help you."
She sighed and pulled into the drive thru at the local burger place and ordered two large coffees. After passing them to me to hold she drove on, pulling up at one of the picnic sites at the edge of the forest.
Turning off the engine she turned to me and took one of the coffees . As I opened my mouth to speak she shook her head. "No Bella. I talk first and you listen. You have got to talk about this mess with someone. I know I'm not the right person but Charlie did ask so I'm going to give it a shot. I miss my friend...the one I used to lean on ...the one who taught me about being a strong independent woman. What happened to her? I'm the self doubter not you. I won't ask any personal questions but I want to help you. Ed..."
I cringed and she changed her words,
"He's gone...and he's not coming back Bella. I know its hard but you have to move on. I don't want to see you destroy yourself but that's what's happening right in front of me. Let me help Bella...please."
She looked at me with tears in her eyes and I didn't know what to stay. I had tensed when she almost said his name out loud and the hole in my chest expanded taking my breath with it. I know she was right and it was hard to hear how worried Charlie was but what could I say? I couldn't confide in her about the C... them. I bit my lip and looked down, holding the coffee for warmth.
She waited until I looked up. My eyes were red and puffy from crying and little sleep and it hurt to look into her concerned eyes.
"I want to help and I don't mean by prying. I just think that maybe with a little help you could find some closure. I'm sure that would help. What I was thinking is...you haven't been back to the Cu...their house since they left have you?"
I shook my head as the tears started again. All I could hear was his voice in the woods "it will be as if I never existed". There was a long silence. I couldn't answer her...it was too hard. The huge lump in my throat was choking me and the tears were getting faster as I bit my lip again to stop from sobbing loudly. Angela put her arm around me and pulled me into a warm and comforting hug. The sobs started, loud and unstoppable, and we sat this way for some time until I regained control and pulled away, trying to wipe my face with my sleeve. Angela pulled out some tissues and handed them to me with a sad smile.
"We can get through this Bella, I'll help you. This weekend we are going to take a trip, just you and I, towards the Cu...house. We can stop when you want, for as long as you want, but I really think it will help if you can see the house. What do you think?"
I knew she was right I'd always stayed away from "his" house. While I still remembered it full of love and brightness...full of them...I could hold on to the dream, it wasn't final. I knew I should try to do more than just function, if only to keep Charlie off my back but I guess even he wasn't fooled. My life was over, I felt like a wraith floating in this world but not belonging here. All I knew now was pain and despair. I was alone...so alone. Even Jacob had been unable to keep me from falling. I was very grateful for his warmth and care but I'd had to cut myself off from him to stop him getting hurt too. He wanted me, my love, and offered me the world in exchange. A world full of warmth, love and peace...one that I needed so badly, but one that wouldn't be able to touch me. I'd explained that my heart was shattered and would never be whole again, that I couldn't give him what he wanted because I was empty, only a shell. He had tried so hard but it was useless.
Just perhaps Angela was right. it would be agony to see the house empty and cold but it couldn't hurt me more than I was hurting now. I would agree because I hadn't the strength to fight her and it would make Charlie happy. How much more could I take before my mind became as broken as my heart and did it matter anyway?