Come to me...
I heard her whispered plea on the edge of the forest surrounding our home – the home that was to have been ours, anyway. "Bella..." I rasped, the photographs in my hand crinkling until the sound reminded me to be more gentle with the only memories I could keep of us.
I jerked my head toward the house, seeing the glass that reflected the forest, seeing myself. Was that her among the trees? "No, I can't, Bella, I can't."
Never quite convinced I wasn't seeing or hearing things, I cradled the pictures in my hands, as I might a wounded bird, and crossed the lawn to the back door. It was a nearly invisible door – I had designed it to be so, long ago.
. . .
"I can make this happen," I had assured her. Flush with a new architectural degree and a once-in-a-lifetime job, I thought I could build a world that would make her smile every single day. "The doors, see, will close, glass in glass, just like that. I can make it mechanized or something, see? Then there will be less danger of anyone slamming a door shut..." My smile, I recalled, had been sly.
"Oh, you! I did it once!"
"And broke the door!"
She huffed out a breath before smiling up into my eyes. "Fine. Okay." Wrapping her arms around me, she said, "I made it up to you, didn't I? On my knees?" Her cheeks pinked with her memories, as mine did.
"First time for that," I had said, enfolding her more closely against me.
. . .
Come to me...
White mist seemed to brush past the glass in front of me. Was that condensation? In a horizontal stripe...? Three stripes?
Chilled, I felt my breath catch in my chest. "Bella..."
"No!" Tearing myself away from the descending night, I all but ran to my room. It had never quite been our room – I wanted her to be my wife, to share my name, before we shared an address. We had been young, and she had agreed...
Our meadow, Edward. Come to me...
. . .
We had been out with my family, the day I asked her. My brother Jasper had his camera – the vintage Polaroid. Where he got the film was a secret known only to Alice, his wife. I had been twenty; Bella, just eighteen, and that afternoon in the meadow had been perfect.
"People make movies on days like this," Alice declared, climbing up a tree.
Her husband grinned in his slow way. "I'll just take pictures, if that's all right with you, Madame Producer."
The first picture in the batch had been of Alice, sticking her tongue out at my brother. The next one had been of Jasper himself after he tossed the camera to her.
While they had been fooling around, Bella leaned into me. "I love you. I love your family."
"They love you, too." I kissed her, with the sunshine playing behind us and my brother and sister-in-law nearby. "Always will."
Holding her hand, I stepped back as the wind blew her hair around in a crazy way. "Always. I plan on making you Mrs. Cullen someday, you know." My heart almost stopped. I let the big secret out. Something I hadn't planned on saying for at least another year. Or two. I half expected her to run screaming.
Instead, she stood there, staring, before nodding slowly. "I'll hold you to that."
"I don't have a ring or anything," I admitted past the lump in my throat.
"I don't need a ring. I'll take flowers."
Laughing, I snatched a double-handful of wildflowers and presented them to her from one knee.
Alice almost fell out of the tree. "You asked her? You asked her!"
"Yes!" Bella shouted, waving the flowers in the air.
"Jasper! We need to take a picture!"
. . .
Edward, I miss you...
Was that a rattling I heard, on the special door I had created? Or just the wind? Maybe a bird had flown into the glass. Heart pounding, I forced myself to see. It was too eerie not to at least check. Too strange... So many things had been strange, of late.
But every year, I thought it was the same. Every year on the anniversary. Every year, I brought Jasper's pictures out to the clearing behind the house. To see the meadow. To remember.
"I miss you, too," I said out loud, my voice steady, even as I watched two more ghostly figures appear in the shadows of the twilight.
. . .
Girls' Night Out was a tradition, Alice had declared. "And I'm her maid of honor, so I'm taking her out!"
"I'll go along as designated driver," Jasper assured me with a clap on my shoulder. "And tomorrow, you and me? Our turn." He winked and I rolled my eyes.
"No strippers," Bella teased.
"Too passé," my brother retorted. "I've got some guys lined up for an all-night poker game."
Alice had snorted most indelicately "Uh huh."
I never found out if that was true or not.
Witnesses had been pretty clear on what had happened. Two white males had approached them in the parking lot and tried to smother them with chloroform. They were already intoxicated, which didn't help. My brother had been held up by a third man, but Jasper had caught sight of the attempted kidnapping and ran to wreak vengeance.
Someone caught it on their iPhone. The gunfire, the screaming, the blood. The recording had been picked up by the local media.
. . .
Bring me flowers...?
"It's been ten years," I reminded the voice I thought I heard. Talking to incorporeal mist, Edward?
Please, Edward. Come to me.
In my head, I know I shouldn't. In my head, it's insanity.
But in my heart, there is hope. Hope to be reunited with the woman I never stopped loving.
Closing her door behind me, I snatch flowers from my garden and follow her ghost.