“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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It looked the same as ever. Not any smaller, definitely not any bigger. The house where I had spent almost every summer since I could remember had not changed at all since I had gone. The same old police car sat out front, the same bushes fought each other for the most growing space across the front step. The door was still a washed out shade of grey and through the window on the second floor, I could see the light fitting of my old room dangling forlornly.
It was like I’d never been gone.
I walked at human speed to the front door, still unsure whether or not I should go in. What Jared had asked me to do could be done from out here. I didn’t need to go in, to rake up all those old memories. It would just mean more pain, on top of the abnormally large amount I’d already been served today.
Still, this was the last time I would ever walk through this front door. I’d thought that once before, when I’d packed a bag and run away with Edward. I’d told Charlie dutifully that I was off to the college of Alaska, that I would see him come Christmas.
I’d told him not to worry, and he’d worried himself twelve feet under.
My decision made, I took the spare key from under the eave and opened up the door to the past.
The smell hit me instantly, like a slap on the nose. I still couldn’t get used to my over-endowed senses. I could discern a few scents that I didn’t want to underneath the first; the smell of weak, elderly humans; of burnt food encrusted onto kitchenware that is used in turn to burn other food; sweat and air freshener in equal parts, a hellish mix.
I stopped breathing for a while as I walked around our old living room. I trailed my fingers lightly along the back of the sofa where the leather was cold and sticky. I flicked on the television a moment and watched the tiny sports figures run around aimlessly after balls and sticks and other tiny players. I smiled briefly.
Then I threw the remote so hard at the screen that the glass splintered off to the other side of the room.
The wires crackled angrily in protest until I ran across and flicked it off at the plug. What the hell had possessed me to do that? The anger had come so quickly, making me hate all the time he had spent in front of that stupid little box. All the seconds piling up into hours and days that he could have spent differently, we could have spent differently…
The smell hit me again, and I realised that my anger had made me start breathing again.
I began to pick up all the little pieces of glass and plastic before giving it up for a bad job. I let the little crystalline pieces fall from my hand in a rainbow of sparkling colours…The light which refracted off my skin was beautiful. It struck the grey strands of his hair with full force, so they shone in a dazzling shade of white…I shook my head to dispel the thoughts. I would have to deal with the sooner or later, I knew. I decided quickly that it should definitely be later.
My eyes were still focused of the little pile of glinting glass when I realised that there was mess all over the floor. Charlie was never a particularly tidy person, but he generally cleaned up after himself eventually. There were huge pieces of shredded paper, upside photographs, the glass I had added, a lot of rips in the carpet…
It was then I saw the huge claw mark across the wall over the mantelpiece.
I had already guessed that a wolf or two had been here in my absence, but what reason would they have to trash the place? It wasn’t until I picked up the photos that I realised that they had a very good reason to indeed.
My face was crossed out in black marker pen on every single one.
All my school photos were marred with scribbles over my eyes, lips, and nose. I dropped them back to the floor calmly. Charlie would never have let Jake in to do this. I could imagine him in a rage, circling the room slowly with all my eyes from first grade watching his every step. I could see him burst across the room, suddenly a huge pile of fur, and bat everything off the shelf with a single paw.
It killed me to think that he was still hurting after all this time.
I picked up the picture of me, Charlie and Renée at the hospital just after I’d been born. I could see a dot where he’d pressed the pen down, and then stopped. My purplish newborn face was untouched. I wondered if he knew I’d be back for it someday.
I slipped it into my pocket along with my parents yellowing wedding photo, and then pulled out Jared’s parting gift.
The matchbox felt cool and rough in my hand where the sandpaper rested on my palm. With shaking fingers, I pulled out a single wooden stick and struck it along the side of the box.
The tiny, flickering flame reflected in my amber eyes and brought a strange peace with it.
I breathed in one last time, trying to make out the smell of home under thick glutinous reek of gasoline. I could see it in puddles on the floor and pooling on the top of the leather sofa, making it cool and sticky. I knew Jared and Paul must have done this before they went to the hospital, ready to chase me off and then frame me.
In the end they went one better. They got me to do it for real.
My shaking hand opened and allowed the flame to slip between my icy fingers…