A/N: Confession time. I pretty much hate Twilight. Why? Because it's just so full of wasted potential. It could have been a great story, but the execution was terrible. Therefore, I decided to mess with it and change a few things, hopefully for the better. I'm no professional writer, but I'd like to think I could make an improvement.

So, this is going to be a Bellice fic. Why? Because it's adorable. If you don't like to read femmeslash, then don't read it.

And yes, I know that I skip around fandoms more than my cousin skips around penis, and I fess up to it. My muse has the attention span of an ADHD squirrel, I know. I have a problem. I should probably get some medication for it.

I don't own anything, nor would I admit it if I did.

Pivotal Moments: Chapter One
The First and Second

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Bella POV

A single event, significant or no, can change your life forever. One heart-stopping moment –one brief pause in time—can be the turning point around which your whole life revolves, and you'll know. You'll know. On instinct, as soon as that moment hits, your body screams at you that your life will never be the same. Maybe that's a good thing, and maybe it's bad, but there's nothing you can do but be pulled along in time like a hapless puppy to wherever life takes you. A new direction. These moments happens to everyone, and sometimes more than once. They are everything, and nothing, and special.

I had never experienced such a moment until the beginning of my sophomore year of High School. I suppose you could say that my life was all too normal until that fateful word escaped from my mother's trembling lips. Cancer.

Time stopped, and everything changed. It was a pivotal moment in my life, and I was never the same.

She was dying. It was hard. So senseless. She knew it, and I knew it, and we both had to live with it.

One week after diagnosis, Phil, my mother's boyfriend, left. She was utterly inconsolable. I think she had hoped that one day he would marry her, but that dream was taken from her along with everything else. Everything else but me, that is. I was all she had left.

I had to be so strong. Stronger than I thought I was capable of being. I took care of her, and drove her to the doctors. I read to her during her treatments, and held her hand when she could barely lift her head. I held her in my arms when the doctors finally told her that there was nothing they could do, and I wept over her when she died.

How could this happen? Why did this happen? I was so young, and so alone. My childhood had ended in that first pivotal moment, and I would never get it back. My grades had plummeted during the last months of my mother's life, and I had spent my time in isolation and found new friends. False friends. Friends who were shallow and self-centered and who would never ask about my mother or myself. I didn't want to talk about it. I hated that they didn't matter to me.

Phil should have been there, but he wasn't. It was small comfort that Charlie, my father, flew down to attend the funeral, but I was just glad I was going to move in with him in Forks, to be honest. I never wanted to see Phoenix again. The span of time between my mother's diagnosis and the moment I dropped my suitcase on the floor of my bedroom in Charlie's house was a little over five months. Such a short time.

I was so numb.

It was the summer before my junior year, and I had a full two months before its start to make a new life for myself, but at the same time, I didn't want to see anyone. My mother was gone, and I couldn't handle it; she had always been there for me, and now she was gone. I would wake up every morning hoping to hear her voice calling 'Bella! My Isabella! Wake up, darling, or you'll be late!' But I never heard it, and I never would again. In all my young life, I had never felt such pain.

Numbness? Agony? I would prefer to feel nothing.

For the week after my move to Forks, I didn't speak much. I was listless: going through the motions of my life. I kept the house clean, and made the meals (Charlie was utterly hopeless for cooking) and took long, winding walks through the nearby forest for hours at a time. It was peaceful, amidst the trees. It was the one place that I could be something besides miserable.

I never cried though. I hadn't shed a tear since the day of my mother's death. I felt like a glass; full of cracks, and perilously close to shattering into a million different pieces. It was all I could do to hold myself together.

Charlie left me to it, which I was grateful for. We were very similar, he and I, and we both needed time. He did do little things for me though. He painted my bedroom a soft blue (my favorite color), and brought home fresh flowers daily (daffodils—my favorite flower). He even bought me a little used Toyota Corolla. It was a faded red, and ran a little loudly, but it was such a thoughtful gift that I couldn't help but love it.

However, I wasn't snapped out of my depression until I experienced my second pivotal, life-changing moment. I didn't feel remotely human again until I met Alice Cullen.

And yes, I do see the irony in that in hindsight.

I was perusing the grocery store for something edible to stock Charlie's empty pantry with on the day when it happened. My second moment.

Being my klutzy self, accidents were a fairly common occurrence for me. Collisions with those people unlucky enough to stand too close to me were the norm. This being the case, I didn't waste much time in apologizing when I crashed into a rock-hard body and tumbled to the floor.

"Oh my God, I am so sorry!" I gasped, scrambling back to my feet. I had run into a woman, who was shopping with a girl that looked to be her daughter standing behind her. I didn't have more than a split second to take this in, however, because the woman was already talking.

"It's fine dear. Are you hurt?" she asked, concern clear in her voice.

But I could only stare. Her simple, elegant hairstyle, her kind, adoring smile, the gentleness in her soft golden eyes… I felt like I had been hit by a truck. I didn't see her—I saw my poor mother.

Clearly, some of this showed on my face, because the woman really did look concerned for my health now and gripped my wrist to steady me as I reeled back as if struck. "I'm sorry," I gasped, whimpering like a wounded animal. "It's just… you look like my mother." I hadn't cried in so long, and suddenly, the weight of that crashed down upon me, and I knew I had to get out before I fell to pieces. "I… I have to go," I squeaked as my vision blurred. I extracted my wrist from the woman's gentle grip and fled the store like a bat out of hell, leaving my cart behind and the woman and her daughter gaping after me.

I didn't get far. Couldn't, really. I burst from the store and darted across the parking lot and into a nearby alley, where I sank to the ground, my back pressed up against the soothing cool of the wall and cried quietly.

I missed her. I missed my mother.

I couldn't do this. How could I finish growing up without her? I loved Charlie, I really did, but he was my father, and he couldn't replace my mother. No one could. I couldn't do this. I couldn't do this. I couldn't. I couldn't. I…

"Are you all right?"

I froze, surprised. Whoever had spoken had a beautiful voice, like tinkling bells. In spite of myself, I felt a little bit of my panic ebb away as the voice washed over me, so I looked up.

A short, slender girl about my own age –maybe a little older—stood in the mouth of the alleyway, not five feet from me. She was also probably the most beautiful girl I'd ever seen in my entire life. I realized that this girl was the one who had been shopping with the woman who had reminded me of my mother. She must have run after me.

Not trusting myself to speak, I just nodded shakily, gripping my knees harder into my chest.

The girl slowly floated closer and settled cross-legged in front of me, giving me a good view of her face. She was pale –even more so that I was—and possessed fine, chiseled features that wouldn't look out of place on Tinkerbell. I got the feeling that she was someone you'd be hard-pressed to find without a smile, but she wasn't smiling now. In fact, her honey-gold eyes held such a well of sadness and empathy that I felt comforted just looking at her.

"Esme is very sorry for anything she did to make you cry," she told me solemnly.

I shook my head, eyes wide. "It's not her fault," I whispered. "I just… couldn't handle remembering right now, and lost control. It's not… It's not her fault."

The girl nodded equitably, her spiky black hair bobbing with the movement. "I understand," she sighed. "I'll make sure to tell her." I shot her a watery smile, which was returned instantly. "If you don't mind me asking," the girl begin delicately enough that I tensed. "Why does Esme looking like your mother make you so upset?"

I sucked in a breath and looked away. This was a total stranger. She didn't want to hear about my sob-story, and I shouldn't tell her, no matter how tempting it might be.

"It doesn't have to be me you tell, but I think you should talk to someone," the girl offered. "Do you have anyone else?"

Blinking hard, I shook my head. This wasn't something I could talk to Charlie about, and I didn't have any friends here. Or in Phoenix, really. I hadn't spoken to any of my old friends in months, and the new ones wouldn't care. Literally the only person I had to confide in was this supermodel off the street who had followed me into an alley. And yet… something about this girl made me feel… comfortable. Safe. I didn't know why. Maybe it was her compassion and empathy in her eyes? The way she sat so still? The sweetness in her voice? I told her what she wanted to know. "My mother… she died," I whimpered, choking back the fresh wave of tears rising in my throat. "She got cancer and she died a week and a half ago, and I came here to live with my dad. I… I miss her."

For such a little thing, the girl could sure move quick. I was wrapped up in a tight hug almost before I'd finished.

It felt wonderful. I hadn't had a hug from anyone but Charlie… in so long. And this girl hugged with such passion, as if she were trying to force my pieces back together into a whole. Her spiky hair tickled the side of my face, and I wondered what shampoo she used to grant her such a pleasant aroma of butterscotch and jasmine and vanilla. I couldn't help myself, and hugged her back tightly, trembling as I fought to regain control of myself again.

A cool hand stroked through my hair. "It's okay to cry, you know," she whispered.

The dam burst, and I fell apart, weeping. I was just glad that I had never been one of those noisy, blubbering criers, but rather a silent one. The previous would have been mortifying. It was embarrassing enough as it was, but this girl didn't make me feel too bad about it. She just held me tightly and let me ruin the collar of her blue cotton blouse.

Thankfully, I only needed a few minutes, and soon pulled away, wiping my eyes. "I'm sorry," I apologized. "I've never… I normally don't go to pieces like that. You must think I'm insane."

The girl frowned and placed a hand on my leg. "I don't think you're insane at all!" she cried, scandalized. She softened in sadness. "I would be crying too, in your position. I'm just glad I was here."

A chuckled weakly. "You know what? I'm glad you were here too."

Clearly not expecting me to make a joke, the girl stared at me for a split second before unleashing a pleasant giggle.

Somehow, I felt better. I hurt a little less. "Thank you," I sighed, smiling genuinely, if exhaustedly. "Could you… could you tell me your name?"

The girl brightened. "My name's Alice," she informed me. "Alice Cullen."

"Well it's very nice to meet you, Alice," I said. "I'm Isabella Swan, but you can call me Bella."

Alice positively beamed at me. "Isabella," she tried, rolling the name around in her mouth. "I like it. It's pretty."

I cocked my head to one side, considering her. She was strange, Alice, but in a good way. I liked her, a lot. I just hoped I hadn't just ruined any chance of friendship with her by bawling on her shoulder, but to be fair, she hadn't seemed to mind much.

"Are you feeling better, Bella?" Alice asked gently, pulling my hands into her lap. Her skin was very cold, but very smooth. "We can stay here if you aren't ready to leave yet."

"I'm feeling much better, actually," I admitted sheepishly. "I guess I really did need to talk to someone."

"Well, I'm here any time you need to talk," Alice assured me, squeezing my hands in hers. "Really I am. Talking is my best quality because I never shut up, according to my brothers."

I had to laugh at that, and Alice hauled me to my feet before handing me a slip of paper. "That's my number," she informed me almost shyly. "You will text me, won't you? Even if it's just to keep me company?" Her large, pouting eyes were utterly irresistible, and I knew I'd text her outside of a mental breakdown.

It was another pivotal moment then, my gazing into those honey-gold eyes. I knew Alice was special, and that my friendship with her was going to change my life. I knew that this moment was special, and that it would define me just as much as my mother telling me that she had cancer. I couldn't explain this feeling, but I knew.

"Yeah," I answered with a smile. "I'd like that." I gave her my number as well, at her insistence.

Alice gave me another winsome smile. "Come on. I'll walk you to your car," she offered. "I think Esme brought your groceries out for you."

I blushed heavily, both mortified and mystified that the poor woman would do that for me. "She didn't have to do that for me," I muttered. I didn't have any cash with me: just my card. I wouldn't even be able to pay her back.

"Maybe not, but she wanted to," was the only comment Alice gave as she began to walk with me back across the parking lot.

Sure enough, the woman –Esme—was waiting for us, leaning up against the side of a canary-yellow Porsche. Two grocery bags rested at her feet. Alice danced right up to her, gave her a peck on the cheek (which even with the red pumps she was wearing was a tip-toed stretch for her—she was absolutely tiny) and snatched up the bags, which she shoved right into my waiting arms.

This time, as I looked upon Esme, she didn't bear as close a resemblance to my mother as I'd first thought. It didn't hurt as much to see her. The distressed expression on her face certainly didn't smack of my mother at all. (My mother wasn't ever distressed like that. Something about positive energy in life and other such nonsense.)

"I'm sorry I freaked out a little back there," I spoke before she had a chance to. "It wasn't your fault, and it was really nice of you to bring my groceries for me. You didn't have to do that."

Esme gave me a radiant smile, and I suddenly realized how much I'd worried the woman. It was almost unfathomable. She didn't even know me, and yet here she was, fretting that she'd offended me. Hell, the woman was casually leaning against a very, very expensive Porsche and she was afraid that I, the rather ragged-looking street urchin, was upset with her! Her altruism astounded me.

"It was no trouble at all, dear," she assured me. "It was the least I could do. Will you be all right to drive home?"

I nodded, touched. First Alice, and now Esme? They were… wonderful. And for the first time in so, so long, I felt more than miserable or apathetic. I felt, for a moment, happy. It was beautiful. "I'll be fine," I promised, hoisting the bags into a more comfortable position and fumbling into my bag for my keys. "I don't live far, and I'll probably see you around anyhow. Forks isn't very big, after all," I pointed out in a frankly pathetic attempt at humor. Still, both Esme and Alice renewed their smiles and waved to me. It didn't escape my notice that their eyes followed my little Toyota's progress until I turned safely out of sight. It was comforting.

This story is not a story of my life. It's not a story of how I grew from a girl to a woman. It's not a story of adventure, or even of romance. It's a story of love, in all its many forms. Humans live passionately, burning their candle from both ends and yet burning all the brighter because of it, and with immortality involved, it's all too easy to see that flame gutter and die. Love's the only thing that can keep it going, and perhaps that sounds too cliché, but it's the truth. Life is full of opposites, and while the world is full of hatred and pain and suffering and things so horrible that I can't even understand how they could exist, it's love that makes it worth it.

I am Isabella Swan, and this is my story.

A/N: A little dark to start off with, I know, but I want to stick with the theme of little (or big) events changing lives, and this is my best friend's story. I was one of those friends she abandoned, even though we later reconnected, and I know exactly how her mother's death changed her, so I feel pretty comfortable writing about her healing process. Reviews are very welcome! I'd love suggestions, and any comments are appreciated. Hope you enjoyed so far!