It has been 20 years since Edward left. Bella never stopped loving him.
This story is now complete. Hope you enjoy it.
After All These Years
Setting: 20 years after Edward leaves in New Moon.
Unlike some people, I loved washing dishes. It was the time that I allowed my mind to wander freely; the time where I replayed the day in my head; the time when I allowed memories to wash over me. Maybe it was the warm water. Maybe it was the feeling of washing everything away. Maybe it was that the window over the sink faced the forest and brought Edward back to my mind each day.
I didn’t push Edward from my mind anymore. The first year after he left, I couldn’t even think of him without clutching myself in physical pain. I couldn’t bear to say his name…couldn’t bear to hear it. But that had changed over the years. I welcomed the memories now. For me, there would never be another love. I knew I had found my one true love as a young woman. I knew Edward was the only piece that could complete me. Twenty years later, I still loved him.
Tonight, Edward was so clear in my mind. Jacob and his family had surprised me with a birthday cake. It was the first birthday since Charlie had died and they didn’t want me to be alone. I preferred to skip over birthday celebrations. Like most women, the thought of getting older was offensive, but for me birthdays also signified the end. The end of Edward and me-----the memory of my eighteenth birthday party at the Cullen’s was one of my blackest memories.
Jake and I remained best friends all these years. He imprinted on Anna when he was nineteen and they were married shortly after. Life had changed for Jacob after the Cullens left Forks. He no longer shape shifted. There was no need. Once in a great while, he would tell me that he smelled a sweet smell in the air, warning me to be careful. I think he thought it would scare me. It never did. I only hoped that meant that an old friend was passing by, or more importantly, Edward was near.
As I washed and dried the last plate, I replayed Jacob’s last words to me tonight. “Lock up good tonight, Bells. I smell a strong sweetness in the air.” He had no idea how I wished that were true.
I hung the dishtowel to dry and went out on the back stoop, staring at the forest. It was dark, but it didn’t scare me. Before turning in for the night I spoke out loud, “Good night, Edward. I love you.”
I still kept the bedroom at the top of the stairs. I had repainted and gotten new furniture along the years. But in all those years, I never replaced the mattress. It was there that we talked for hours; there that he held me, and that we kissed. It was worn now, and honestly my back would most definitely benefit from a new mattress. I just couldn’t part with it.
I got ready for bed and turned on the bedside lamp. I opened my window a crack, like I had every night since he left. Then I took out my journal. I always wrote in it on nights that I felt particularly preoccupied with memories. I learned years ago that writing my thoughts down would often ward off the nightmares I had so often. Somehow I wasn’t sure it would help tonight. My journal, like anything else about my life, was not a typical journal. I actually wrote letters to Edward. I had filled over a dozen blank books with letters to him. Maybe someday, when I was gone, he would read them and understand the depth of my love for him. He would know that I figured out why he really left and that I eventually forgave him. Tonight was a night I knew I needed to write to him. And so I began…
My Dearest Edward,
I’ve missed you so much today. It’s my birthday. I turned thirty-eight today. That means it is almost 20 years to the day since you’ve been gone. I never would have believed that I would be without you after all these years. On days like today, I still feel the hole in my chest. I know it was your love for me that allowed you to leave. But, I wonder, do you still think of me? I love you, Edward...as much now as ever before.
I stopped there because tears were making it difficult to write. I cried myself softly to sleep.
Shortly afterwards, the nightmare began. It was always the same when it came. Wandering in the forest. Calling out his name. Crying. Never finding him. Feeling so alone. And then…waking up in a cold sweat, sobbing for what I would never have again.
I tried to calm myself, counting my breaths, in and out.
Then I heard his voice, “Bella.”
I sat upright and looked around the room. It was empty, of course. But, I didn’t feel alone in the room. Oh, God. Tonight was particularly bad. I was having delusions again. It was years since I had heard the delusions this clearly. I tried to concentrate harder. Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in…
I felt a cool breeze in the room and instinctively pulled the blanket higher to my chin.
“Edward?” I whispered into the dark room.
Table of Contents
Chapters 1 & 2- on header of each page
Chapter 15 -This is not clickable....look for it near p. 34
“Rose,” I started after waiting several minutes, “Seth will be at the house shortly. If you have something on your mind…”