My Dearest Bella,
I miss you like nothing else in this world. Some days I lose myself in the memories of you. They get foggier with each passing year, but they’re clearer than most of my human memories. I remember the smell of your perfume, the faint taste of perspiration as I kissed your neck in the summer gardens. I vividly remember how your brown eyes looked up at me under long lashes, your fluttering smile after we kissed.
It’s been over ninety years now. The pain doesn’t subside, but it becomes easier to live with I suppose. Some days it flares up more than others, when I watch my siblings happily in love.
I love my siblings and I’m grateful they have their soulmates in this long, lonely life we live. I’m envious of them. I’m not ashamed to admit that.
Often times I think about what our life would be like if I hadn’t gotten sick. We probably would have had children and lived a gorgeously pristine life out together. Sometimes I think about what life would be like if you were here with me now. You’d love my family. Esme would dote on you much like my own mother did. You and Alice would become fast friends - regardless of your feelings on that, Alice wouldn’t give you a choice. I think you’d enjoy Jasper’s company most of all - you’re both wonderful intellectuals. You’d play chess with him and probably debate on the great literary works of our time. I’d like to see the side of you that Rosalie and Emmett’s playful demeanors bring out of you.
I’ve tried to find out when you died, but to no avail. No records that still exist, anyway. Once every five years, I stroll through Chicago cemeteries to see if your name is on any gravestones. It never is.
What did you do with your life, my love? Did you marry someone else? As much as it hurts, I hope you did. You didn’t deserve a life without love. Did you have children? Did you end up a teacher, just like you always wanted? You would have been a brilliant teacher.
I miss you terribly. Please come back to me.
I love you.
Another night I survived by daydreaming. It was better than plain disassociation or losing myself in the pain. Jasper in particular hates those days, and usually choses to excuse himself from the house.
I suppose I’m being dramatic, saying I’m “surviving” as if every day is an uphill battle. It isn’t anything like that. My family is wonderful, and if I didn’t have them, I likely would be just surviving. But some days are worse than others, and today has been awful on that particular front.
I’ve laid on the couch all night, staring out the floor to ceiling windows into the wilderness. I was faintly aware of my family buzzing around me, putting the final touches on the house décor and personalizations that Esme can’t quite plan for. My room is still a collection of boxes; I couldn’t will myself to unpack what little possessions I carry with me from home to home.
I already know that Alice has unpacked my wardrobe for me, organizing it from light to dark. I know that Esme has set up my daybed and my study, as well as my piano room. So it doesn’t bother me too much to allow myself a few hours of bliss, lost in human memories that fill me with both euphoria and unfathomable nostalgia. This is the only time I can truly block out all the distractions around me and dim the thoughts that project themselves unwillingly into my head. It’s some of the only peace I get.
I sigh, allowing myself to float out of my daydreams and shift into awareness. The blast of thoughts, louder than I was prepared for — and really, I can’t ever prepare for it — isn’t as overwhelming as it once was. Standard operating procedure.
I slink upstairs to finally unpack, knowing that I can’t put it off forever. Unpacking is always an emotional experience for me, and never an easy one. It’s simple things that do it for me. My mother’s ring, the one I was going to marry her with. The ribbon she used to tie up her hair on our first date.
I still wore my father’s wedding band on a chain around my neck, polished silver.
Isabella Marie Swan had been my fiancée, once upon a time. It had technically been an arranged marriage, as was custom during the time, but oh, how deeply we fell in love. We were absolutely enamored with each other. She liked to say that she had gotten lucky to fall in love in the person she was set to marry; I always said it was fate. I used to be a lot more optimistic.
But my parents fell sick to the Spanish Influenza, and so did I. Carlisle turned me in the heat of my sickness, and by the time I had woken up we were far from Chicago and I was in no state to try to find Bella. I went back several years later, and could not find any mention of her anywhere. No marriages in the newspapers (or deaths), and her childhood home had been sold. She had effectively disappeared, slipping completely out of my reach in a cruel twist of fate.
“Rough day?” Alice asks in a soft voice, breaking me out of my reverie. I look up, delicately placing the dark blue ribbon on my desk. “Let’s go hunting. We should before school tomorrow.”
I nod, allowing her to pull me with her down the stairs, where the rest of my siblings were.
“Are you two joining us?” I ask, turning to Carlisle.
“I need to go get groceries,” Esme responds with a wink.
We couldn’t eat of course, but grocery shopping was part of keeping up small appearance in a small town. Esme enjoyed getting to mingle with the rest of the town — she was delightfully charismatic, a perfect complement to Carlisle's charming compassion that the town adored.
I didn’t particularly understand why Esme was so fond of our Forks home. She modeled the home from the ground up, sure, and she was very proud of that, but the cons of this dinky small town far outweighed the benefits.
For one, we had to deal with the mutts on the other side of the treaty line. Never usually an issue, but sometimes if the wind hit just right, we would all collectively gag. The toxicity and rampant hormones of the high school populations always soured our moods for a good while. Jasper and I were especially affected by it, swirling in other’s thoughts and emotions with no viable end in sight. The gossip was always high in regards to our family, but here more than others thanks to small town mindsets. We could always usually make an acquaintance or two we didn’t mind talking to for the purposes of school, except here. Here we felt more isolated than ever.
But this move was Esme’s choice, and her choice was Forks. None of us got to dispute it, no matter how much we wanted to.
The landscape was beautiful, I thought, racing through the brush with my siblings. This I couldn’t deny. Lush trees, clear, trickling steams and vibrant underbrush made Washington to be a gorgeous place. Our home was in the thick of it, set away from prying eyes and allowing us to have a place to be ourselves. Easy hunting access and the luxury of privacy. Esme did do well on that front.
Jasper and I ended up racing, weaving through the trees like thread. We ended up collapsing in a heap, too busy throwing jabs and trying to trip the other to notice a huge boulder, crashing into it and shattering it in where it stood. We laughed, even with Rosalie’s frustrated huff.
“You guys scared everything away!” she complains, crossing her arms. “Why is everything a competition with you men?”
“Cause its fun,” Emmett replies with a grin.
She rolls her eyes, flipping her long braid over her shoulder but smiles anyway. He can always get her break the irritated ice queen façade she allows herself to fall into. She’s surely gotten better throughout the years - Emmett’s boisterous personality and cheeky demeanor truly brings out the best in her. We had brooded together a lot in our early days, before she had Emmett.
We still had a strong bond even now. I was the first person she had opened up to about the Royce incident, the first man she allowed herself to trust — a privilege that Carlisle didn’t even have. We were still therapy buddies sometimes, venting and airing our grievances with the past when they bubbled up inside us beyond containment. We were able to discuss it violently, scathingly and vulnerably, a phenomena we could do with no other, bonded by the decades of being each others only companions.
Emmett was a bright light in all of our lives. He was funny and smart as a whip. We have enjoyed and been victim to his practical jokes, but never in anger. He was the light of reasonable optimism - unlike Alice, who was pure positivity without reason or abandon. Though, being able to see the future would do that to a person.
Hunting is both one of the most pleasurable experiences and one of the most disgusting. Obviously, hunger is one of the few mortal needs I still feel, and finally filling up that raw need was satisfying, even with animal blood. But after, staring at the carcass of an innocent animal before me, I’m always filled with disgust at myself. That feeling has diminished over the years, but there is always a twinge of pain as I feel a lifeless body in my hands. I try not to look too hard as I shuck it into the soft moss.
Today is a day I think with regret about the monster I’ve become, far from the optimistic, love-struck boy I used to be. I wonder what Bella would think of me if she saw me now — my once flushed face pale as snow, my eyes no longer a twinkling green but a disconcerting blood red. How she would shudder at my icy touch, and relish to hear the heart beat in my chest only to turn in horror as she realizes that it has stilled forever.
“Are you being a drama queen again?” Jasper asks, eyeing me through the tree lines. “The guilt coming off of you is nauseating.”
“Perhaps.” I smile wryly at him.
He’s good at catching me like that, and I’m thankful for it. It’s easy to get caught in my thoughts like that.
I allow myself the pleasure of laughter again, refusing to allow myself to wallow any longer. Laughing with my family is easy, like breathing. We have all known each other for so long that our edges have softly melded together, fitting like a jigsaw puzzle. I hear Esme’s tinkling laughter as we sidle up to the house.
As Rosalie opens the door, a smell wafts by that hit me like a brick wall. It smells like strawberry scent of Bella’s soap, like the gentle scent of her hair after a day in the sunlit garden. The smell wrenches my cold heart in my chest, and I am drawn back to years past.
I remember her laughing in the garden, smile wide and free. I can hear her breathing heavy, clutching her Sunday hat to her head after we got caught necking at the side of the church. I can imagine her lips, wet from the thunderstorm we had gotten caught in on a June afternoon.
A quiet rustle bring me back to the present. It is unfamiliar, and such things are an oddity in our home. I have come to know each of my family’s quirks, from how heavy their step to the way they hold their shoulders. This sound is gentle, nervous, scared. I flit my eyes open to find the source of this unfamiliar creature before me.
We don't have to breathe, but I find the air being knocked out of my lungs. On instinct, I blink several times, in disbelief of the sight in front of me.
We lock eyes, and they shine the same golden hue I have become familiar with. It feels as if my whole body is simultaneously tensing and trying to melt into a puddle — it's not sure what to do, or how to react.
"Bella?" I whisper in a shaking breath.
Her lips quiver, soft and pink and perfect just as ever.