After the End
Bella left with Edward ten years ago, and Charlie and Renee haven't seen her since. They both know they never will. This is their story.
1. Chapter 1
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I was curled up in bed, alone, in the dead of the night. Still and silent, my eyes drifted in and out of sleep, letting my mind empty and disconnect, in order to let it soar to her.
I flinched. Her voice was calling to me from downstairs, like she was home, like she was back. I knew I was dreaming, but I didn’t care. My Bella… Bella….
I wanted to call back, I’m here, come to me! But I knew that calling out would only wake me up, and bring me back to reality—the reality that I was 55, alone, without my daughter forever.
The door burst open. Bella, please come, I’m here!
The light flickered on. I wasn’t dreaming, and it wasn’t Bella. Renee stood in the doorway, looking weary yet angry.
“Charlie, stop it. Stop it! Wake up!”
I sat up as quickly as possible.
“I come here to check on you and you’re practically screaming!”
I guess I had been calling to her out loud. “I know. I know. I’m sorry. Why are you here at this hour anyways?”
“Because you avoid me like the plague if I try to come at any other time. That’s all you do now, is avoid. You sit in this house, and you stare at the kitchen wishing Bella was in there making you food, or stare at the staircase wishing Bella was coming down the stairs.”
Couldn’t she see? It was too painful! And I hadn’t been avoiding her, I just never answered doorbells anymore… Bella?
“Charlie! I’m not Bella!”
“Stop it. Stop it! Don’t say her name!”
Renee practically threw something at me at that. “Why should I stop!” she screeched. “Why, Charlie? I miss her just as much as you do, and I know she’s never coming back as much as you do, and I secretly hate him as much as you do for taking her away, but can you honestly look at me and tell me we should have stopped her? I saw what she was like without him, when I tried to take her away after he left her. And I know you dealt with 10 times worse. Would you have wanted that for her? Aren’t you glad you at least got a proper goodbye, instead of her walking out in the middle of the night? Because that’s what she would have done! Are you glad knowing she is happy now, she’s right where she wants to be, and that she did everything she could? She was broken, to say goodbye to us! But she knew she had to! She loved him more than she ever would have loved anyone else ever! Surely YOU should understand that!”
Her words stopped abruptly. I didn’t know what to say. My mind couldn’t process anything. It worked slowly, mulling over each of her words, finally making sense of the last thing she said.
“You talk about her like she’s dead.”
Renee’s angry face cracked. I shouldn’t have said anything; should have taken longer to mull over her words.
“She’s not—he wouldn’t let that happen. But she’s not here, and she’s never going to be.” With that, she turned and stormed out of my room. I couldn’t let her go—the scene was all too familiar, and the wheels in my mind had finally started turning again. I ran after her, falling down the stairs, just to call to her before she slammed the door behind her.
She turned, and I stopped at the foot of the stairs.
“I—I miss her. And I know you do too. Please, don’t—don’t go yet. Just sit. Please.” I begged like a peasant begs for food, ready to throw myself on my knees to make her stay, and just talk to me. Nobody ever talked to me anymore.
She hesitated, but then obliged. She followed me into the living room, sitting on the couch while I sat in the chair. Bella looked so much like her. I had missed them both, Bella for 10 years, Renee for a lifetime.
I didn’t know what to say, or what I wanted to hear. She sat so carefully, so softly. Her face had withered slightly with age, but I could still see her laugh, her smile, the way she made everything so much brighter… I felt as if I could stare at her forever.
She spoke. “Tell me about her. What was she like, the last two years?”
I smiled, for the first time in years. It was a painful smile, but it was a start.