The Last Christmas by AMusefan77
I lay awake in bed for a long time that night thinking about the conversation I’d overheard between Renee and Phil. I knew that my mom had missed Phil when he was gone for his trips and away league games, but I was only just starting to realize how much.
I sighed as I pulled the blankets up to my chin. I thought of how I would feel if I had just gotten married and had to be separated from my new husband. I had never been interested in any of the boys at school beyond a casual crush or two, but I could imagine that if you were in love, that kind of distance would be painful.
As I drifted into an uneasy sleep at half past twelve, I decided that I was going to find some way to convince Renee that I would be alright on my own next week. The other alternative was too much for me to consider in my exhausted state of mind.
The last day of school before Christmas break was unstructured and full of anticipation. Everyone was excited that finals were over and the cheerful atmosphere on campus was contagious. I spent most of my spare time working ahead on some homework assignments for the next semester. It made me feel good to know I wouldn’t have to worry about it over the break. My friend Natalie and her boyfriend Scott kept me company at lunch, and before I knew it the day was over.
I was halfway home before I remembered that I’d promised Renee I’d pick up the pictures we’d taken the night before. I quickly turned around and made my way to the MotoPhoto. The clerk took my money and handed me a thick yellow envelope full of glossy prints.
I tossed the envelope onto the coffee table and I was getting ready to head to the kitchen to start dinner when I noticed that one of the pictures was sticking out of the top. I picked them up with the intention of putting it back in, but I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the image.
Renee and Phil were staring at each other from beside the fireplace, their faces were stretched into identical smiles and their eyes were alight with love and happiness.
It was time for me to let her spread her wings, not the other way around.
Before I had a chance to talk myself out of what I was about to do, I picked up the phone and dialed the familiar number that I called almost every Saturday evening
“Hi dad,” I said when Charlie picked up. He greeted me warmly as always, but there was an undercurrent of surprise in his voice. He wasn’t used to hearing from me on a weekday. My phone conversations with Charlie were always brief, to the point and usually consisted of us each confirming that we were still alive and healthy. I should’ve known that my unexpected Wednesday evening call would make him suspicious.
“Hey, Bells. What’s up?”
“Does anything have to be up for me to call my dad?” I asked in a falsely cheerful voice.
“No, but you never call me in the middle of the week,” Charlie replied simply. “So I just assumed you had something you needed to tell me.”
“How would you feel about me coming to Forks to stay with you for awhile?”
“Bella, you can’t be serious,” Renee said later that evening as I told her about my phone call to Charlie over dinner. Phil was at the gym and I decided it was best to bring up the subject of my plans to go to Forks when he was gone.
“I am serious, mom,” I replied with averted eyes as I picked at the uneaten lasagna on my plate.
“Bella, you hate Forks,” Renee reminded me as she took a drink of diet Coke.
“I haven’t been there in years, maybe it’s changed,” I said with a small smile in an attempt to lighten the mood.
“Forks never changes, Bella,” Renee said as she took another bite of her food. “It will always be tiny, damp and green.”
“Yeah,” I agreed. “But I think it would be a good idea for me to spend some time with Charlie, you know, before I go away to college and do the grown up thing.”
“Charlie did sound excited about the idea when I talk to him,” Renee conceded. “And Charlie never gets excited.”
“You’d be able to travel with Phil to his away games and training camps,” I said before I took another bite of my dinner.
Renee was silent for a long moment, and I could see the conflict in her eyes as she considered the idea of letting me go versus being with her husband. She wanted both, but she knew it wasn’t possible.
“If you’re doing this just for me, Bella…” Renee began as she got up from the table to rinse her plate.
“No, Mom,” I lied in what I hoped was a convincing tone. “I think I need a change too.”
She was silent for a long moment as she started to load the dirty dishes into the dishwasher.
“Okay,” she said finally, “but not until after Christmas.”
The week that followed my decision passed in a blur of phone conversations between Charlie and Renee about my impending move. After talking it over with the superintendent (who also happened to be one of Charlie’s fishing buddies) it was decided that it would take a couple of weeks after the term started for all of my transcripts to be processed. So it looked as though I would be moving to Washington sometime in late January.
Christmas Eve arrived quickly, and Renee had decided to try to make this holiday more special than usual since I was going to be leaving. She’d attempted to make blackened chicken , much to my chagrin. Needless to say, the curried chicken was way too blackened and inedible.
My mom had sheepishly agreed to pick up Chinese takeout after her failed attempt at cooking, but the kitchen was still a mess. So I stayed up a little later than usual to clean up, insisting to a very apologetic Renee that it was no big deal. It really wasn’t a big deal; I’d been having trouble sleeping anyway.
An acrid smell lingered in the kitchen in spite of my efforts, and so I decided to open the French doors that led out to the back yard in an attempt to air out the house. It was a gorgeous night, and I stepped outside to do a little stargazing.
I stared into the endlessly clear sky for a long time, trying to commit the constellations to memory. I knew I wouldn’t be able to do any stargazing in Forks. The stars were always hidden beneath the ever present blanket of clouds there. I’d seen everything there was to see in Forks before.
I gasped as I witnessed a shooting star streak across the midnight sky without warning. I watched it vanish with a wistful smile.
Something deep inside me knew this would be my last Christmas in Phoenix.
“Just one more thing here and we’ll go,” Alice said as we walked through the crowded corridors of the Northgate Mall. We’d been here for four hours, and although it was impossible for me to be physically tired, I was sick of the cacophony of thoughts around me. There’s an antique store I want to visit at Pike’s Place before we go back to Forks.
“You’ve already bought half of the city, Alice,” I groused. “What more could you possibly need?”
“I saw something that I want to get for Jasper. I know they have it,” Alice replied with a wink as she pretended to juggle six large bags packed to the brim in a human way. I smiled down at her and took them from her tiny hands in a gentlemanly way.
I saw an image in her head of two antique Flintlock revolvers just like a set that had belonged to Jasper’s human grandfather. I smiled down at her. Jasper would be thrilled with such a gift.
“Fine,” I said in a falsely irritated voice. “One more stop but that’s it. Emmett is going to give me a hard enough time as it is.”
“Oh he’s going to be doing some shopping of his own tomorrow if he knows what’s good for him.” Alice smirked as we walked through the packed parking lot to the Volvo. “I’ve already told him that Rose is going to hate her gift and he’d better take it back and pick out something better before tomorrow.”
“I thought she told him what she wanted,” I said as I tossed Alice’s bags into the trunk.
“No she told him what she didn’t want and expected him to figure things out with deductive reasoning,” Alice snorted.
I laughed out loud. “Was she trying to find a reason to punish him?”
“You know Rosalie.” Alice rolled her eyes as we pulled away. “She likes to make everything complicated, even though she knows she has to keep it simple for Emmett. They’ve only been together for over sixty years now, right?”
“Sixty eight years,” I replied as I stared out of the windshield at several happy human couples crossing the streets of downtown Seattle.
I felt a twinge of familiar melancholy as we drove. Even after all this time, being alone at Christmas bothered me more than it did the rest of the year.
“Tanya got you a gift. She’s planning to give it to you in private,” Alice said quietly as I pulled into an empty parking space a block away from the shop she wanted to visit. I saw an image of a simple but elegant wrist watch in Alice’s mind. I sighed.
“Tanya, Carmen and Eleazar are going to come over tomorrow. Irina and Kate won’t finish their hunting trip for two more days,” Alice went on.
“I should get Tanya something as well,” I said with a guilty sigh as I turned off the engine.
“But you don’t want what she does,” Alice stated as we walked toward the little antique shop.
“I never have,” I said sadly. I opened the shop door and a little bell overhead tinkled to alert the store owner of our arrival.
“Can I help you?” a stooped old human man with neatly trimmed iron gray hair asked from behind the counter.
“Yes,” Alice said politely. “How much do you want for the antique revolvers?”
“Oh those are in excellent condition,” The man said shrewdly. “I couldn’t part company with them for anything less than 15,000.” They’re worth every penny. I bet she has no idea, though. She’ll probably balk at the cost. I kind of hope she does…could probably get at least 18 grand at auction.
“Take them,” I said in a voice that was too soft for human ears to hear.
“Sold,” Alice said with a smile.
The shopkeeper gaped at her. He’d been expecting Alice to move on to the next item in the display case.
“Umm…okay…wow,” the old man stammered. “Let me ring them up before we…”
“Is cash okay?” Alice said with a blinding smile as she pulled out her wallet. I snickered.
“Of course,” he croaked, and his shock was replaced with pleasure. A cash sale two days before Christmas would be a huge help to him. “Would you like to examine them first?”
“Oh no,” Alice said with a dismissive wave of her tiny hand. “My husband has been boring me silly over finding a set of these. Believe me, I know what I want.”
She looks awfully young to be married, the man thought.
He was right, but Alice and Jasper had married for the first time in 1945. They’d been together almost as long as Rose and Emmett. I felt another twinge of loneliness.
“We’re newlyweds,” Alice said sweetly as she followed him over to an ancient cash register.
“Congratulations,” the man said with a large smile as processed her payment. “I hope he enjoys them.”
“Can I come in?” I heard Tanya’s soft voice say from the other side of my bedroom door.
It was Christmas Eve, and the other couples in my family had already retired for the evening for their customary alone time. I was lying on my familiar leather sofa, listening to a CD I’d picked up when Alice and I were in Seattle the day before.
“Yes,” I answered quietly. I didn’t bother to adjust the volume on the stereo as Tanya came inside. I had been bracing myself for this conversation ever since Tanya had arrived earlier in the day. I knew from what I’d heard in her mind earlier what she was planning to ask me.
“How have you been, Tanya?” I asked in an attempt to make small talk as she sat down beside me on the sofa.
She laughed. “Fine,” she replied, her gold eyes twinkling. “And you?”
“The same,” I said with a small humorless smile. She didn’t miss the double meaning in my words.
“Aren’t we always,” she said with a knowing nod.
We both stared out of the large window wall in my room for a long moment. She was being careful with her thoughts, but I got the gist of what she wanted to say to me anyway.
“I have something for you,” she said at last. I didn’t speak as she held out a small rectangular box wrapped carefully in shiny gold paper.
“You shouldn’t have gone to any trouble,” I said as I reluctantly slid my finger underneath the tape.
“It was no trouble, Edward,” she said with a smile as I removed the last of the gilded paper to reveal a deep blue box. Inside it was a simple but elegant stainless steel Rolex. There was an inscription on the back.
“I’ve always got time for you, Edward” XO, Tanya.
“It’s a wonderful watch,” I said softly. “And so is the meaning behind it, but I can’t return your feelings. It wouldn’t be fair for me to pretend otherwise.”
Hurt flashed in her caramel colored eyes, and I instantly felt a terrible surge of remorse. I reached out and took her hand.
“Why?” she asked in a choked whisper. “We’re both alone, Edward, why can’t we just be together? You could come to Alaska for awhile.”
“Oh Tanya,” I said sadly as I squeezed her fingers. “How I wish it were that simple.”
“It could be simple,” she countered in a whisper.
“You’re a beautiful and amazing woman, Tanya. You deserve more than I can give you,” I said gently. “Someday, you’ll meet someone and you’ll realize that.”
She hung her head in resignation and nodded before getting up to leave. I placed the blue box back in her hand.
“Come to Alaska if you change your mind,” she whispered.
Maybe someday you’ll meet someone, too, Edward; Merry Christmas, she thought.
She closed the door behind her, leaving me alone again.
I sat still and silent in the darkness for awhile, trying to ignore the sounds coming from the other rooms. After a time, it became too much for me and I decided to go for a run, as was my custom when being the solitary man in a house full of mates overwhelmed me.
I ran past the river and through the trees until the only sounds I could hear were of running water and rustling pine trees that danced in the wind. It was a surprisingly clear night for the Pacific Northwest, and I could see a small cluster of stars peeking through the ever present blanket of clouds.
I stopped to sit on a fallen spruce tree and stared into the sky, wondering why I couldn’t find it in me to return Tanya’s advances. Was I really too young when Carlisle changed me, as Esme suspected, or was there something more?
I sighed heavily, realizing that it didn’t matter. There was nothing I could do about my lot in…life...for a lack of a better term. I couldn’t change who I was or what I felt. I was literally as set in my ways as the stone my body seemed to be made of. There could be no one out there for me. Surely I would have found her by now. There was nothing new for me to discover in this world.
A brilliant flash of bluish white light soared across the sky like a divine argument to my thoughts. I stared at the trail of light that blazed in its wake and smiled.
Maybe I hadn’t seen everything after all.