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Chapter 1: Autumn
"Like drops of rain in April, tree leaves fall in autumn…"
Charlie died in a shooting nearly two years ago, only a year after we left. And though I wished to god that this wasn't true, it was. He died in autumn as it is autumn now, and on this very day.
Charles Isaac Swan
April 2, 1970- August 26, 2009
Best Chief of Police ever
I read the tombstone over and over, hoping that if I read it one more time that the name would be wrong, that my father's name would not be engraved on this dreadful stone. That if I read it just one more time, my father would be alive and well and not 10 feet below.
I felt my eyes burn and prickle as venom filled tears started to pool and glaze over my golden eyes. I grimaced at the feeling; it made me angry that I would never shed another tear for the man I loved. For the man who had given me life, who had raised and cherished me with everything he had. Though it may be odd to anyone else, I felt that not crying, not being able to fully mourn this man, was in fact one of the most disgraceful and disrespectful acts that I could possibly imagine. It hurt to know I could never fully mourn his death as a loving daughter should, as I should.
I stood there, frozen and still as any other statue in the cemetery. I closed my eyes and did the only thing I could do. I cried. I gave in to the misery that was eating its way into my frozen heart, taking out a huge chunk as it made its way through it, scarring it with a loss and a pain that could never be replenished. My knees buckled and as I was about to fall to cold ground below, I felt a pair of steady arms surround me. He pulled me to his chest as we slowly sank into the earthy soil, gently rocking back and forth in a soothing motion.
Edward didn't say anything, he didn't need to. He just held me there, gently soothing me, like I needed him to. We sat on my father's grave and grieved in the best way we could. We sobbed tearless apologies and cried out painful revelations and memories. We were oblivious to the world around us as it continued on, but we knew couldn't ignore our responsibilities as parents and as a son and daughter. I sighed as I touched the grave marker, caressing it lovingly as if it was my father's cheek.
I felt the autumn leaves bellow and whip around us in a sorrowful ballet as if it were honoring the dead. "I'm sorry dad, I love you. Where ever you are I hope you can forgive me." I whispered and then I kissed my hand and pressed it to his name in a final farewell before we took our leave.
But just as we were about to exit the cemetery, something told me to turn around. And there, on the hill next to the drooping willow tree next to my father's lonely grave, was what looked like a man, and with a quick rustle of the wind I heard the faintest whisper of, "I do."
…One year ago…
I was running, running, running. But from who or what I do not know. All I knew is that I need to run and never stop running. It was instinctual I was sure, somewhere in my new body, the predator in me was telling me to save myself but I ignored it. I knew that if I lost escaped, then I would give them time to look for her. I need to find and warn her…before it's too late…before they find her.
Before they take her back.
I watched, silently from where I sat, hidden beyond the forest trees. I knew that they could not hear nor smell me. I was too deep into the shadows for them to do so. I watched in pain, as I listened to my daughter cry for me, as I watched my daughter and my son grieve for my death. And in that moment I wanted nothing more than to run to them and tell them everything, to run to them and show them that I was alive and well. But I couldn't. I had to stay here, in the shelter of the shadows and wait. Wait for an opportunity, for an absolution. For the promise of safety, and security for my family.
I will not be a danger to them. I will not let anything harm them. As long as it is in my power, I will protect them with my existence.
I was about to leave when I heard Bella whisper, "I'm sorry dad, I love you. Where ever you are I hope you can forgive me."
I hesitated. She was sorry for lying to me, for choosing love and happiness over me. And though, I knew she wasn't regretful in the slightest, I knew she was sorry for the way things had to be in order for her to be happy.
And before I knew what I was doing, I was at my grave watching my son and daughter leave the cemetery.
And just as Bella turned my way I whispered, I do, before fleeing into the trees again.
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