“Goodbye, Bella.” He whispered, before closing his eyes again. His hand began to lose its grip on mine, and I held it tightly to me like it could somehow stop him from leaving me. Bella has always known this day would come, but that hasn't prepared her any better for it. Can she handle saying a final goodbye to someone so important in her human life, whilst she lives on forever? And why is Edward absent in her hour of need?
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I held his withered hand in mine, and tried to keep the fake, plastic smile on my face. I wouldn’t let his last moments be filled with my pain- this time wasn’t about me. He tried to smile back, but the tears coursing down the rough lines etched into his face ruined all his efforts. His lips quivered a few time, as if he was in pain. His hand was suddenly tighter on mine, but I couldn’t do the same for fear of breaking the ancient, brittle bones holding his hand together.
The tears dripped off his face and onto the simple hospital bed sheets that were pulled up tight to his chin. He did nothing to try and brush them away. Instead he blinked once more, for longer than was necessary, and stared straight into my anxious golden eyes.
“Goodbye, Bella.” He almost whispered, before closing his eyes again. His hand began to lose its grip on mine, and I held it tightly to me like it could somehow stop him from leaving me.
It was too late- he was gone.
I had always known this day would come. I would do anything to distract myself when the topic found its way into my mind again, but in truth it never left. If I could have slept, it would have been the subject of my darkest nightmares. Instead, it took refuge in my subconscious- ready to emerge at any time.
When Alice had told me that it was near, it took me too long to believe. I spent so much time alone, trying to come to terms with what was going to happen when I could have been fighting it. I should have been spending those rapidly dwindling hours with him before he left my life forever.Just like how I had left his.
I blamed Edward. I could barely even admit it to myself, but that didn’t make it any less true. If it wasn’t for him, I would never have to worry about saying goodbye to any of my family and friends like this, whilst I lived on immortal and unstoppable. If he hadn’t been so irresistible, I could have lived life the way it was supposed to be lived. My human existence had seemed like a fine exchange when the time had come for me to join the Cullens. It still did, most days, when Edward and I would spend hours in our own happy little world. We would talk about everything and nothing, travelled to the greatest sights and to the corner shop. It still surprised me how in fifty odd years of such a life, we had never for a second been bored together. It was the complete opposite- whenever he absolutely had to spend time away from me, time suddenly meant something again. Seconds, minutes and hours added up and sat heavily on my shoulders. Nothing would hold my interest longer than a few minutes. If it ever stretched to days, the distance itself would become unbearable. Thankfully, he had only ever had to leave me once for such a length of time.
Now someone else I loved would leave me for even longer.
It was one of the few occasions I didn’t miss my old truck. I drove to the airport, as I couldn’t risk running down the busy city streets. Edward and I loved New York- his family’s bottomless bank account meant that we could live close to the centre of the city in comfort. I hardly ever had to see green, unless I took a shortcut through Central Park whilst Edward could keep up with the ever-shifting music scene. La Vie Bohème still attracted many hard-done by musicians to the city’s many night venues. I barely missed sleep, as there was so much to do here at all hours of the day. It was a longer way to travel to hunt, I reminded myself as I fixed the rear view mirror and caught a glimpse of my darkening golden irises, but it was most definitely worth it.
The plane journey was uneventful. The enclosed compartment reminded me momentarily of the journey back from Italy, with Edward. My hand brushed across the empty seat beside me. There had been two tickets in my bag, but only one of them ended up being used. He couldn’t read my mind but he didn’t have to to understand what I felt about his connection with what I was doing here today. I was careful to keep my face empty of emotion whilst I was so close to other passengers- my features attracted enough attention already. I swallowed back the pain, along with all the water the air hostess would bring me (a poor way to slake my thirst), and wished that I could just sleep the next few hours away.
It was hard to get a rental car when I landed in Washington, seeing as I was so obviously still in my teens. I had to flash my passport at a number of suspicious officials before they would believe I was anything close to twenty-one. Finally, I was handed the keys to a blue Honda. It annoyed me that trivial things cut down my already limited time- why hadn’t I left before? When I was at home with Edward, it had seemed like such an impossible idea. Now I was in Washington, everything felt so much more real. The endless ferns at the side of the road pressed in on me as I sped to my final destination, making me claustrophobic as well as edgy.
The La Push hospital almost exactly as I remembered it- a few more potted plants had been put around the place and the receptionist was new, but otherwise it was the same. I had been here when Jake’s first child had been born, though he’d had no idea. Edward had told me, with a grimace, that if it was a girl he was set on calling it Bella. He had seriously edited the thoughts Jake was having when he held his little child for the first time, which had annoyed me. I had understood, though. It had been hard enough getting him to come with me. In the end, Jake had a little boy. They called him Billy, after his granddad, and he was nearly sixteen now. I kept an eye on him, especially since his dad went through his second divorce- and had bought him his first motorcycle.
“Room twelve, up the hall.” A thickset male nurse had told me, when I asked for what room the patient I was searching for was in. “I don’t think he has much longer left in him, I’m sorry to say. You got here just in time.”
I bit my lip with all my strength to stop me crying out. I nodded quickly, and almost ran in the direction he had been pointing in. How had it come to this? I wondered silently as I counted the doors. How had my decision to move to Forks ever ended with this?
Finally, the pair of dull numbers stuck onto the bland hospital door told me to stop. I could lift skyscrapers, swim oceans and run marathons without breaking a sweat- but pushing open that thin plastic door took more strength from me than any of them.
The figure on the bed was scarily thin. It didn’t suit him, the way his hair had only been reduced to a few wisps surrounding his ears. The shadows under his eyes were almost as pronounced as mine, and my stomach turned to lead when he focused his tired, yellowing eyes on my face.
“Hello, Charlie.” I whispered, closing the door slowly behind me.