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Edward leaves Bella for the second time...
Bella has suffered so much already, barely able to be called human almost...
She tries once again to lead a normal life as if nothing had gone wrong...
But when she goes off to college and meets some interesting people who could help her change her eternity, will memories be enough for her to accept?


14. The End of One, and the Beginning of Another

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The image was vivid. Not a dream I realized, though in the very back of my mind I knew I was asleep. It didn’t make sense anymore, what was going on?

Edward stared at the shadows of the trees, shaking, almost as if he were cold. There was no emotion in his eyes. They were blank, paralyzed almost. Numb. Lifeless.

It was dark around him, and you couldn‘t make out his surroundings, though there was the sound of water churning against land in the distance. He looked drained, paler than his usual pallor, and that was something. He was mumbling to himself in a harsh tone and suddenly his hands flew up to his eyes as a tremor crawled through him violently, scratching itself up his spine.

With a startling jolt I woke up, panting. The dream had been horrid, it seemed so real, like I was watching from a short distance instead of just imagining it. My eyes were wet and I realized I had been crying. “Aargh!” I mumbled, wiping furiously at the tears flowing out of my eyes. It was so irrational. I’d had worse, but really. “Just a dream,” I murmured to myself, but that didn’t help either. A sob formed in my throat and I swallowed, trying to push it down when it came out a choked whine.

I dropped to my side and curled up, breathing heavily. There was that pain in my chest, and as much as I tried to rid of it, it only grew. The dull ache reached out from that center point and spread itself through my body, making it that much more unbearable.

I have had worse, but I’ve also had a billion times better.

“Bella!” someone gasped, turning on the lights and rushing to my side. “What’s wrong?” Charlie asked, his hands stood away from him, searching for something to do. He settled with pulling my quilt over me and sat down on the edge of the bed.

“Are you okay, honey? Another . . . bad dream?” he asked, and it was just like before, all over again. He tried comforting me while he sat there, awkward and confused. “Why are you . . . crying?” he asked, hesitant. He was so much more used to my piercing screams than this.

I sniffled a little and wiped again at the stream of tears gushing down my face. I shook my head and gulped, trying to clear my throat, but it was no use, my voice came out jagged and hoarse, “Just a dream,” I gasped and buried my face in my pillow, shivering madly.

“Bella . . . “

“No, dad, really. That’s all it was, you can go. . . . I’m fine,” I muttered, breathing in deeply as to calm myself down.

“Bells . . . I,” Charlie started, but I cut him off immediately and turned to look at his worry-creased face.

“Dad, please,” I took in another deep breath and whispered in a low voice, “I’m fine. I think . . . I just need to be alone for a minute.”

He huffed lightly and stood on his feet, “You sure?”

I inhaled and blinked a few times before clearing my throat. I even managed to smile. “I’m sure Ch-dad.”

He looked at me curiously and walked back to his room, shoulders hunched as he tasted the despair in the room. It pressed down heavily overhead, like the ceiling was slowly compressing the air in the room.

The lights were off as I hesitantly tried to sink back into sleep.

. . .

When I awoke the room was bright, morning. I had survived through the night without another nightmare. I swallowed and rubbed my crusty tear-dried eyes with the back of my hand, adjusting them to the light around. It was too bright, unnatural for Forks.

I glanced at my window and sure enough, through the faded lace curtains, you could see the sun beaming half up in the sky.

I was so not in the mood for a sunny day.

With sluggish movements and a numb mind I made a small breakfast. Charlie had left early to arrange his schedule with the police station this morning, in order to be able to attend Jacob’s graduation at the small school in La Push. My mind seemed to be on vacation for a large portion of the day, my subconscious taking tabs on my activities.

I was just finishing putting the second load of clothes in the dryer when I heard Charlie’s cruiser drive in. It must be time to head out, I guessed.

Charlie came in the house and put up the gun and his jacket, heading upstairs to change; we would be eating at Billy’s place tonight.

I went ahead and trudged up the stairs, still only half awake. I dressed in the nicest shirt I had with me, a satin, blood red blouse and a pair of dark grey dress pants, slipping into a short comfortable pair of shoes with thick heels.

I didn’t bother with make-up, only spreading a little dab of rosy blush across my cheeks for color. My hair was pinned half-way up, the rest of it fell freely down my back, only reaching the half-mark since my last haircut.

I went and sat on the couch, waiting for Charlie to come down.

“Ready, Bells?” he called, coming out of his room in the same pair of tux he had worn to my graduation.

I smiled a small smile, trying to cheer myself back up and not end up sounding like the zombie I felt like. “Been ready, dad.”

He chuckled a little, the small crease of worry still etched in place between his chocolate eyes. “Huh, guess you have.”

The drive to La Push was quiet and short as ever, but still left my mind wandering in and out, floating a million miles away only to be reeled in forcibly by me every single time.

We arrived at Billy’s to give him a ride to the miniature school on the rez. He sat in the back, amusement coloring his majestic eyes as he looked through the fiberglass of the chief‘s police car. Memories came back once again as I tried to repress them, but it was all to much of a familiar scene.

I heard the car wheels screech against probably the only pavement in La Push, idling to a stop in front of the school building and looked up at the place.

It looked like any other small school. Two light-colored brick buildings made up the campus: one, the main building and two: the gymnasium, where the ceremony would be held. It almost looked like the elementary school in Forks.

I got out along with Charlie, helping Billy out of the back seat.

I recognized some of the arriving people. Kim and Jared, and Maria, Quil and Quil’s grandfather, Quil Sr., were hanging around near the front. Maria and Kim were talking quietly to one another while Jared had his arms around Kim’s waist. Quil Sr. was just helping Quil with his graduation cap near the door to the gym.

We sat near the back, the student’s taking up only one third of the audience. I was sure everyone in La Push was attending, a few hundred people in counting.

The ceremony started much the same as mine, the principal of the school saying a few words, followed by their valedictorian, a shy looking light brown haired girl.

My mind strayed for a few minutes until the name-calling began. Quil was the first I recognized, the third person called to the miniature stage. I clapped along with everyone else, still transfixed with my strange illusions.

“Jacob Black . . . ” I heard a faint voice call. I looked up, distracted, to notice Jake crossing the wooden stage, bigger than everyone else up there, about two heads taller than his principal. He turned around and faced the crowd, gleaming a smile so bright and contagious. I smiled back at him and followed in the roar of whoops and hollers surrounding me as he switched the golden tassel from the left side of his cap to the right.

Embry came not so much further behind, and a few others that looked familiar. Two or three from the bonfire I had attended when I first arrived in Forks.

The class of 2010 stood up in unison, a blending of greens, browns, and golds. Hands stretch out towards the sky, many flinging their graduation caps upward toward the white ceiling, one or two clashing against it; one of it Jacob’s, I noted.

The audience also got up, cheers exploded and broke through the warm air, hands clasping against the others and claps booming throughout the building.

I walked with Charlie, he pushing Billy’s chair with him, toward where Jacob stood, chattering happily with his classmates. Maria was already there, of course. Jake’s arms wrapped around her tiny figure and he pulled her up to kiss, ignoring the many shades of red coloring her cheeks.

When he set her down, I noticed something. On her left ring finger lay a silver band with a miniature diamond in place. An engagement ring. But wouldn’t Jacob have told me? Charlie? Someone should have. Or had he already mentioned something? I, too busy with my own devastating thoughts of gloom. I did drone easily in and out of memories. What if he had said something and I had missed it entirely? I hoped that wasn’t the case. What kind of friend would that make me out to be?

Charlie was oblivious for the most part. He continued to walk forward, hugging Jake awkwardly and shaking his hand. “I’m proud of you Jacob! You’ve made it!” he said, patting Jake’s arm.

Charlie seemed genuinely happy, as did everyone else. I wondered at my own expression. Did I seem happy for him? Or again, was I just the same zombie of all this time? I didn’t know whether I cared.

I followed sheepishly behind Charlie, looking at the ring on Maria’s soft little hand. It complimented her fair skin very nicely, like it had been meant for her, and only her.

Jacob saw me standing behind Charlie and rushed over quickly, towing his fiancée by the bare hand. “Bella! Hey! Aren’t you proud of me?” he asked, clearly uttering a rhetorical question. Of course I was proud!

His smile was huge, it stretched from ear to ear, and that wasn’t an exaggeration. It literally touched each end of his face, contrasting against his darker skin perfectly. He looked to be the most joyous man on the face of the Earth. I couldn’t say half for myself.

“Of course I’m proud Jacob!” My eyes seemed to tear up, brimmed with salt water. For more than just his graduation, though I wasn’t informed of anything other than to be proud of.

“Thanks Bella; I’m glad you could make it, with college and all’ that stuff,” Jake muttered, pulling me into a crowded one-armed hug, Maria still linked to him by the hands. “So umm . . . I have some good news to tell you.” His smile turned timid and he and Maria shared a look of anxious excitement.

I smiled, already knowing the good news. “Really?” I questioned.

His cheeks flamed for a few seconds, the red dying down soon after. “We’re getting married,” he breathed, looking from Maria to my unsurprised expression. He frowned then, “What, aren’t you happy for me?”

From the corner of my eye I saw Maria smile up at Jacob, reassuring him with the joyed gleam in her eyes. I smiled as well. “Yes, I am very happy for you.”

. . .

The night air was cool and humid, a perfect evening floating above the greenery. The fire crackled in the center of gathered friends, a soft orange glow cast upon everyone’s faces. The night sprinkled with twinkling stars. I felt at peace, my thoughts had drifted yet again, and it seemed, for the moment, that they wouldn’t come back.

I was not having the strange dreams for right now, and it almost felt like a distant story out over the mountains in a world of fairy tales and fantasies. Despite how horrid the fantasies seemed to be at times. I didn’t remember it clearly, it was as faint as my good memories from a few years back. I was starting to think it really had been a dream, and I was finally waking up.

The music and conversations buzzed in the background, I was oblivious to all else around me at the time, watching the embers rise up only to fall again. Like my hopes had risen, only to be crushed by a force greater than me.

"Hello Bella," a oddly familiar voice called. My head abruptly cleared and my eyes came into focus, taking in my surroundings. I turned to see Leah Clearwater, the very same Leah that had resented me all this time. I was shocked, but numbed down to bear no feelings, I didn't care for her sudden change of attitude towards me.

I felt myself nod involuntarily, letting her know that I had noticed her presence.

She sat down next to me, offering me the drink in her toasty hands, holding out a hot-dog for me as well. I took it.

She smiled then and I felt even more shocked now, my face thawing out to express my feelings of surprise. She kept the expression before taking a deep breath, settling her food on her lap before shuffling over to face me. She looked into my eyes and took my hand in her abnormally warm fingers. "Look," she whispered, a look of deep morose flitted across her black eyes. "I know we've had our differences, and I know that you don't exactly like me, but I . . . want to give you a piece of advice." She paused and threw her head back, inhaling again. Determination colored her tone and she looked like she meant business. "I know what it feels like to be rejected Bella; I know what you're going through and-"

I withdrew my hand immediately, jumping up and pushing away from her. My eyes filled with tears again, blurring. "How dare you bring that up?!" I screeched at her, my mouth agape as I tried to regulate my gasps and muffled cries. Every feeling I had put off coursed through me, carving its way out, burning, itching, scratching its way out. My tissues teared, as well as the rest of me. Consciousness soared high and I felt utterly alert. She wasn't the only one with wide eyes now. It looked like at least half of the company here was looking at me, the others trying not to stare so rudely.

"You know nothing! The fact is that you don't understand! What I'm going through is nothing like what you went through, Leah! Nothing! You didn't lose everything. At least you can know he's happy! At least you can know he's safe! At least YOU get to see him!" My voice broke, and the lump in my throat exploded. For a minute I couldn't talk. When I did finally speak up, it was in a soft, hushed tone, trying to keep out the undulating whimpers. "I don't get any of that. I wake up in the middle of the night and wonder if any of it was even real. You get a confirmation every day. I ponder if it was all a dream, some sick joke the world has thrown at my shoulders. I think for minutes, hours, trying to make myself believe that he exists. And I can never ever be sure." I wiped my eyes and stared at her frozen face, trying in vain to go back to the numb.

Truth is, I think I liked the pain even better.