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Death And Where It Leads

DWYER (Renée) Quietly passed away in the loving arms of her family in Florida on 11/4/2039

The late Mrs. Renée Dwyer leaves behind a caring husband and a much-loved daughter.

She will be forever remembered most keenly as our sunshine in the darkest of days.

Rest in peace, Renée. You will be missed.

I wrote about 3000 words to this today and read through it just once, so there may be many typos and such in the text. I first intended the story to be a one-shot, but when I reached the 3000 word mark I realized that I couldn't post all of this at once. I've been trying to write a lot lately, but I've been losing my interest in Twilight fanfiction, for one because of my declining obsession, and secondly because of the lack of attention my stories have been getting. As you can imagine, it's difficult to write without feeling inspired. So, anyway, I wrote this and have no idea if it's any good. Please let me know if it's worth continuing!

3. Skeletons

Rating 5/5   Word Count 1650   Review this Chapter

Down in Lexington they walk in new shoes stuck to aging feet
And close their eyes and open
And recognize the aging street
And think about when things were right
When they were young and veins were tight
And if you are the ghost of Christmas past
Then won't you stay the night
-- Regina Spektor, Ne Me Quitte Pas


I had to wait until luncheon before I dared to rip open the mysterious envelope I'd received from my stepfather.

Were I a human, my hands would have shaken critically when I carefully slashed open the top of the colorless paper. Now my white fingers were only very stiff and rigid.

I retreated behind an old oak, hoping that none of the funeral guests would grow too curious and follow me. With a quick assessment of the crowd, I assured myself that I had gone unnoticed and breathed out in relief. Opening this letter right now in public was risky, just like everything else about the funeral. I was putting my family to shame.

And yet I failed to care as I finally reached for the folded paper inside the envelope.

The paper felt thin between my fingers, like it would turn to ash at any given moment if I gripped it too hard. I was especially careful when I unfurled it, my eyes immediately jumping to the words written across the first page. I recognized the handwriting at once.

My dear Bella, it said in the first line, My most beloved daughter.

It couldn't be!

I trust that if you've received this letter, our paths must have crossed at least once more before judgment day. That makes me happy, Bella. I'm glad you returned to say goodbye to your old mother. I hope that, wherever I may be, I will be able to look down on you and smile. I always told Phil you hadn't forgotten me. If you've received this letter, it means I was right.

And Phil had wanted to hand this to Renesmee! Did he know the contents? Had he thought that by giving me something in which my mother praised me for coming to her funeral, he could slap my disrespectful absence in my face? I sighed, now feeling even more convinced that my coming here had been the right thing. To hell with secrecy.

I hope you aren't too sad about me passing away, Bella. We must all depart one day, mustn't we? Or almost all of us have to, at any rate. You should know.

I gasped.

And there is more that you should know. That is why I'm writing this, Bella. That is the point of this letter. I must give you this knowledge, because the knowledge is what you deserve. It's what we both deserve, I suppose. It's what we both need.

You see… goodness, I do not know where to start. In the beginning, I keep telling myself, but where is the beginning? Doubt doesn't come in an instant. It grows over several years.

When you first started refusing to meet me in person, I thought it was just another teenage phase that would pass soon enough. But when it protracted over more than five years, I began to doubt your explanations – was it really your limited funds that kept you away from me? Were your numerous sicknesses really the true cause of your canceled visits?

You know me, Bella. When I get an idea into my head, I will pry around for weeks before I let the subject drop. So I tried everything I could think of, from hospitals to religious sects, and came back empty-handed. As you might imagine, at each let-down I grew more and more anxious for you. Sure, I could still call you and inquire about your day, but you were never much of a liar, dear. I knew something was wrong by your tone. Not only your tone, in fact, but by your voice, too. It was suddenly so musical…

Darling, I am not an idiot. I am not a blind fool. I am an anxious mother.

That is my excuse for what I tried next. I hope you will forgive me for digging up skeletons that should have stayed buried in their closets forever. I'm sorry if I ruined your plans for me by being nosy. But what else was I supposed to do?

No. I shook my head, trying to clear away all traces of anxiety that was suddenly flaring inside of me. I felt like a card house that had been pushed over, and now all the cards were stumbling down, collapsing into a heap of chaos…

I went to the Quileutes, Bella.

Thirty years of Renée's oblivion turned into my own.

Why couldn't she steal from comic books the way I had?

Please understand that I didn't go there with mythical creatures on my mind. I only remembered how you used to spend time with one of the boys from the reservation, Jacob Black. I thought you might have confided in a friend.

I didn't meet Jacob there, however. They said he'd moved away.

With the Cullens.

I sank to the ground and gripped the letter dangerously tight in my fist. Had Phil read this letter? What would I do if he had? The law would claim his life, I realized in horror. As all this mess was my fault alone, it would practically be my job to end it.

Could I do it? Could I kill Phil?

I went to his father, Billy Black.

He recognized me from when I was still a young woman. He'd been at my wedding when I married Charlie. And he knew who my daughter was.

Don't blame him, please. He, too, is only an anxious parent. He could relate to my disquiet and did only what a normal human being would do. He told me some of his tribe's stories.

My first reaction was disbelief. Bella, you know I have always seen you as a responsible woman with perfectly infallible common sense. That you should run off with a… I can't write it, let alone say it – vampire, sounded uncharacteristic to me. My smart, beautiful daughter wouldn't do that. You had a whole future ahead of you! You were not the type to throw it all out of the window!

I told Billy just that. "Not my daughter," I said, "She isn't like that."

He accepted my denial. He let me walk away.

That's how I knew he wasn't lying.

I thought about it for a while. Bella, I am ashamed to admit that I was angry at first. Angry and sad. I was disappointed in your choices, because they weren't the ones I'd always taught you to take. Then I blamed myself – maybe if I'd been more of a mother, you wouldn't have felt the need to rebel against me by marrying a monster. Yes, Bella, a monster. That's what I thought you'd become.

Nevertheless, I went back to La Push the next day. You see, being a mother is a strange thing (you should know that). Even when I was repulsed by all you were, I still felt the need to learn more about you. I wanted to know how you looked like, how you felt like, how you lived… I was willing to listen to hours of horror stories in order to just learn more about my distanced daughter.

I'm so sorry, Bella! You aren't the monster here – I am! How could I think all of that rubbish? I know you. If I'd just stopped to think for a minute, I would have fathomed what a fool I was.

For you, Bella, would never do anything that goes against your morals. I knew that then, but I know it even better now. I apologize.

Billy showed me a picture of your daughter. She's beautiful. She's perfect. How could you not show me such a lovely grandchild? I must say that I am still a little cross with you for keeping her away from me. (Have I ever thanked your for the name, Bella? Well, here it is: Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.)

She has your eyes, you know. And your – our – face. I wish I could meet her personally so I could see just how much she's inherited from our side of the family. Is there any Aunt Maggie in her? Or Grandma Lynn?

I hope she has your courage, though. That is the best legacy that she could get from anyone in our family. You are truly one of a kind.

If you're holding this letter now, my dearest Bella, it means I never got to know her. And still I can't bring myself to be mad.

I haven't told anyone, rest assured. The envelope has a small circle on the top left corner. If someone has switched it, you won't find it there. I hope I haven't caused anyone any inconvenience, and I hope no one will suffer from what I've learned. Billy told me you might get in some trouble if you found out that I'd known. But I couldn't take the knowledge to my grave. I can only hope that this way the problem has been disposed of in the most natural way (I can't reveal your secrets from heaven, can I?).

Smile, my little baby girl. I am not angry at you. I am not repulsed anymore.

I understand. I'll love you for as long as I may grace this world with my presence, and for eternity beyond that!

Best regards,

Your loving mother
Renée Dwyer

P.S. Is it immature of me to be glad that you've finally given yourself some slack? You've always been so needlessly uptight. I hope the recklessness has done you good.