A Second Chance
Once every year, one day in every three-hundred and sixty-five days, the same thought always came to mind. I should have died.
1. A Second Chance
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I sighed, half in bliss, half in pain and regret.
Children could be so fickle. One moment they were angels from heaven, and the next, demons from hell.
My dead heart inside my chest seemed to crack open as I let my mind wash over memories of my dead child... my poor, quite dead child.
Just as I was.
A tearless sob broke out from me, and I bowed my head.
This was the only day I let my thoughts stray to the end of my human life, and the beginning of my vampire one.
The one time I wished for the tears to fall, the one time that a part of me wished to go back years back to when I had first looked upon my baby. A forgotten happiness...
And of course, like all good things, it did not last.
I recalled the joy that had flooded my entire being, the warmth that seemed to emanate from my person... the despair and grief that had overwhelmed me, the coldness I had never been able to shake off...
And finally, the falling.
The numb determination that had conquered me, the feel of the frosty wind on my skin as I plummeted...
The feeling of being broken... broken on the rocks, and yet, still not dead... still not with my son.
A laugh trilled melodically. I looked up; a small, bitter smile formed on my face involuntarily at the sound.
Seven vampires were huddled in a circle, conversing quietly as snowballs flew overhead, seemingly oblivious to the masses of pure white piled on their heads. A few tall, russet-skinned men were ferociously chucking handfuls of snow at each other. A slim, graceful figure wove in and out between the figures, adding her own two cents occasionally.
My smile turned genuine, as it always did whenever she was mentioned. My warm, cheerful, unique daughter.
A flash of bronze caught my eye. I turned my head to find a pair of topaz eyes staring at me for a fraction of a second. My breath held as I mentally berated myself at my silly mistake.
And then they were gone. Blinking, I noticed my first son immersed in their debates once more.
Granddaughter. Not daughter, granddaughter. A silly, unthinking mistake, to be sure, but one that meant the world to me.
My vampire life had practically consisted of everything I'd longed for before that fateful day. I had a loving husband and seven beautiful children. And now, against all odds, I was also blessed with an utterly exquisite granddaughter. With a beating heart.
I watched as my newest daughter momentarily broke out of the circle to hold out her arms to her child, and jealousy flared up inside of me until I was sure my face was a lovely shade of jade. Despite the motherly affection I felt for all of my so-called children, I couldn't help it. A child of your own making is different from a child as a pretence.
Children will be children as long as they believe they are. But most of my children, six perfectly healthy vampires, could take care of themselves. Which really leaves a mother hanging there, feeling a bit torn.
But Renesmee was different. She needed to sleep, she needed to eat, she needed to breathe... she wasn't able to function perfectly by herself. So when I was able to step in and help out, it made me feel two contrasting emotions: pure bliss and irrational envy.
I forced myself to observe as Renesmee leaped into her mother's arms, and as her mother smiled gently at her and ran a finger through her long curls. Again, the jealousy flared up, but subsided after a moment or two.
Because honestly, when I'd jumped off the cliff, I'd prepared myself for death without a second glance. Had I known that this would be the life that followed my attempt at suicide, I would've still taken it. Because this was more than I'd expected. Carlisle was more than I deserved. Seven children, all loving, all unique in their own ways, they were far too great. And now, a granddaughter.
I'd accepted long after I'd joined this family that I wouldn't be able to have children, nevertheless have grandchildren. Because if I couldn't have children, how were my children, of the same new... species, how were they supposed to do so?
So I accepted it. Not without a bit of bitterness, but still, if that was the only way to keep myself happy today, then so be it.
Still, as I stared out at my family, I felt a little grief well up in me at the sight. The werewolves and Renesmee had joined in on the secret, of whatever it was. They were all hunched over and whispering so I couldn't hear them. Had they forgotten what day it was?
No. Surely not. Of course not.
But my foolish side persisted in saying fearfully, But what if they did?
I silenced it, but it was too late. They'd infiltrated my mind already.
As I wallowed in my sudden self-pity, a movement out of the corner of my eye caught my attention. Carlisle.
A smile came to my lips at the sight of him. I couldn't help it - it was an involuntary action. His blond hair was tousled from the wind. An angel.
"Hello, dear," he greeted me in his soothing voice. I nodded back at him and managed to muster up a bigger smile. No need to cause them anguish if I could help it.
My intentions, however, were ruined by the next words that came out of his mouth.
"Esme, dear... why don't you go hunting? It's been a few weeks since you last went..." he floundered under my intense gaze.
Because I couldn't stop staring at him. Carlisle, the man that loved me, was telling to go away? Because that was basically what his words and tone implied. I wasn't wanted here.
It was a perfectly reasonable excuse, sure. My eyes were black, yes. My thirst was a little uncomfortable, yes. But it wasn't unmanageable.
But who was I kidding? He'd made it perfectly clear that he didn't want me here. The sobs almost broke out of my throat, where I was keeping them locked up tight. No need to cause pain on my account.
My mood shifted wildly from a brief joy to sudden agony.
Carlisle swore softly when he saw my expression. I didn't know how I looked, but I was pretty sure that I didn't look too darn happy. "No, Esme, I meant-"
I managed to choke out in a somewhat even voice, "No, Carlisle, you're right. I'll go hunt."
With that, I turned around and fled out of the house and for the woods, fighting the instinct to curl up on the ground and cry.
- - -
When I started my run back, eyes now a light shade of topaz, my thoughts were suitably composed as to not reveal the amount of heartache I was going through. Instead, I thought hard about how sorry I was for running out on them.
As I'd expected, Edward, being the fastest of us, halted fluidly in front of me first. He held up a hand before I could speak and murmured, too low for anybody else to hear, "Esme, don't worry about it."
I kept silent. After all, he could hear with perfect clarity my apologies inside my head.
The rest of my family and the werewolves stopped at the edge of the trees, giving me a reasonable distance to cover.
We walked slowly back to the others, me trying to keep a hold on my thoughts but not succeeding, him keeping silent and most likely trying to give me my privacy.
I knew he was still listening, however. But if he was, he made no sign of it. And for that, I was grateful. Thank you, Edward.
He acknowledged this with a short incline of his head and continued ambling beside me, expression blank as he stared into the trees intently.
Carlisle, dithering between the light from outside and the darkness of the woods, suddenly broke free of his apparent resolve and dashed forward. He hesitated, as if gauging my reaction, and threw his arms around me. I hesitated as well, but responded in like kind.
Edward had respectfully given us our space by returning to Bella and his... daughter.
A chorus of "Awww's" sounded, and I grinned in spite of my misgivings. But apparently, this was cue for Carlisle to realize what he was doing and step away.
The awkward face he had on looked so bizarre on his perfect features. He was always so confident, so sure of himself... this was new. What was going on?
"Come, Esme, we want to show you something," he stated gently after a moment, pulling on my arm. I consented, and we flew back with the others following at their own pace to the house.
But instead of entering the house again like I'd thought, he led me to the backyard. I frowned in consternation, but allowed myself to be pulled along. Hmm.
We reached the backyard, and with anticipation, I watched as he pushed open the door and propelled me through.
Rose petals were scattered around the backyard. In huge, block letters, the words ‘Happy Mother's Day, Esme' were written in the snow. I tilted my head as I read the words, distress evaporating as I did so.
The words were slightly marred by all the other marks around it... which I realized were intentional.
Everybody had scrawled their names all around it. Here and there, I even found a few, unexpected names of the werewolf pack. Surprising.
If I could cry tears of joy, we'd be standing in a lake.
Someone moved behind me. "Jeez, Mom, getting a little melodramatic, aren't we?" Edward muttered teasingly. A loud smack told me that either Alice or Bella had slapped him. Hard, it seemed like it.
A chuckle burst out through my mouth. I hoped it didn't sound too hysterical.
And then suddenly, we were all laughing. Most of my children fell to the floor dramatically and writhed on the snow, sinking in it, as if laughing too hard to get up. Even the werewolves were clutching their sides.
As our laughter finally died away, I made eye contact with each of my children and the pack. "Thank you," I murmured quietly, bending down to stroke a velvety petal. "Thank you..."
I didn't tell them that I'd thought that they'd forgotten that today was Mother's Day. Only Edward knew, and he had the decency not to blurt it out, at least.
The sound of footsteps made me turn around. Renesmee was gliding across the snow gracefully, rushing into my arms. Her abnormally warm skin, well, warmed me; it seemed to heal me, slowly but surely.
But automatically, my eyes flickered to Bella's amber ones. She met mine and smiled. In her, I saw that she understood a little of what I was going through. Her hand twitched - the barest gesture, but I got the feeling that she was telling me to go on and do what I needed to do. She was giving me what I needed.
A second chance.