Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (Page 137)

In the crowd, I saw almost every person I knew from school. Most were in black, and lots of them were holding each other and crying. It kind of surprised me—I didn’t know many of them very well. I guessed they were just crying because it was sad in general, someone dying when they were only seventeen. It probably made them think about their own mortality and all of that.

One group of people stood out—Carine, Earnest, Archie, Jessamine, Royal, and Eleanor, all in light gray. They held themselves straighter than anyone else, and even from a distance their skin was obviously different… at least to a vampire’s eyes.

It all seemed to take a really long time. Lowering the casket, the reverend giving some kind of speech—a sermon?—my mom and dad each throwing a flower into the hole after the casket, everyone awkwardly forming the obligatory line to speak to my parents. I wished they would let my mom leave. She was sagging into Phil, and I knew she needed to lie down. Charlie was holding up better, but he looked brittle. Jules wheeled Bonnie over so that she was behind him, a little to the side. Bonnie reached forward and took Charlie’s hand. It looked like that helped some. This put Jules in a position where I could see her face really well, and I kind of wished I couldn’t.

Carine and the rest of the Cullens were near the end of the line. We watched as they made their way slowly to the front. They were quick with my mom—they’d never met her before. Archie brought a chair up for my mom to sit in, and Phil thanked him; I wondered if Archie had seen that she was going to fall.

Carine spent more time with Charlie. I knew she was apologizing for Edythe’s absence, explaining that she’d been too distraught to come. This was more than just an excuse for Edythe to be with me today, it was laying groundwork for the next school year, when Edythe would continue to be so distraught that Earnest would decide to homeschool her.

I watched as Bonnie and Jules left while Charlie was still talking to Carine. Bonnie threw a dark glance back at the Cullens, then suddenly stared in my direction.

Of course she couldn’t see us. I glanced around, trying to figure out what she was looking at. I realized that Eleanor was looking at us, too—she had no trouble spotting us, and she was trying very hard not to smile; Eleanor never took anything seriously. Bonnie must have wondered what Eleanor was staring at.

Bonnie looked away after a few seconds. She said something to Jules. They continued out to their car.

The Cullens left after the Blacks. The line dwindled, and finally my parents were free. Phil took my mom away quickly; the reverend gave them a ride. Charlie stayed alone while the funeral home employees filled the hole in. He didn’t watch. He sat in the chair that my mom had used and stared away to the north.

I felt my face working, trying to find the expression that went with my grief. My eyes were too dry; I blinked against the uncomfortable feeling. When I took my next breath, the air hitched out of my throat, like I was choking on it.

Edythe’s arms wrapped tight around my waist. I buried my face in her hair.

“I’m so sorry, Beau. I never wanted this for you.”

I just nodded.

We sat like that for a long time.

She nudged me when Charlie left, so I could watch him drive away.

“Do you want to go home?” she asked.

“Maybe in a little while.”

“All right.”

We stared at the mostly empty cemetery. It was starting to get darker. A few employees were cleaning up chairs and trash. One of them took away the big picture of me—my school picture from the beginning of junior year, back in Phoenix. I’d never liked that one much. I hardly recognized the boy with the uncertain blue eyes and the halfhearted smile. It was difficult to remember being him. Hard to imagine how he must have looked to Edythe, back in the beginning.

“You never wanted this for me,” I said slowly. “What did you want? How did you see things happening—going with the fact that I was always going to be in love with you?”

She sighed. “Best-case scenario? I hoped that… I would get strong enough that we could be together while you were human. That we could be… something more than just boyfriend and girlfriend. Someday, if you didn’t outgrow me, more than just husband and wife. We wouldn’t be able to grow old together, but I would have stayed with you while you grew old. I would have been with you through all the years of your life.” She paused for a second. “And then, when your life was over… I wouldn’t have wanted to stay without you. I would have found a way to follow.”

She looked startled when I laughed. It wasn’t a very robust laugh, but I was surprised that it felt good.

“That was a really, really horrible idea,” I told her. “Can you imagine? When people thought I was your dad? Your granddad? I’d probably get locked up.”

She smiled hesitantly. “That wouldn’t have bothered me. And if anyone had locked you up, I would have busted you out.”

“But you would have married me?” I asked. “Really?”

Now she smiled wider. “I still will. Archie’s seen it.”

I blinked a few times. “Wow. I’m… super flattered. You would really marry me, Edythe?”

“Is that a proposal?”

I thought for half a second. “Sure. Sure it is. Will you?”

She threw her arms around me. “Of course I will. Whenever you want.”

“Wow,” I said again. I hugged her back, and kissed the top of her head. “I think I could have done better with the other version, though.”


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