Monday, January 2, 2017 | By: Drotuno

Even In Death Chapter 4 & Pics

Chapter 4 – No Colors Anymore
I see a red door and I want it painted black
No colors any more, I want them to turn black
I see the girls walk by, dressed in their summer clothes
I have to turn my head until my darkness goes

I see a line of cars and they're all painted black
With flowers and my love both never to come back
I see people turn their heads and quickly look away
Like a newborn baby, it just happens every day

I look inside myself and see my heart is black
I see my red door I must have it painted black
Maybe then I'll fade away and not have to face the facts
It's not easy facing up when your whole world is black
“Paint It Black” by The Rolling Stones
The bustle of the hospital cafeteria was loud, from the food line to the conversations around me. I stirred my cup of coffee slowly, gazing blindly out the window. The day was dreary, rainy, and pretty normal for Seattle. Fall was in full swing, so the rain was cold, almost biting. Droplets landed against the glass by me, rolling downward as they collected other drops along their way, and it all pooled along the window ledge.
Bella had loved rainy days. She used to tell me that it made for perfect reading. She’d say that curling up with a good book on a rainy day was just about her favorite thing. Curling up with me and a good book on a rainy day, she’d told me, was the “perfectly perfect” day.

I missed her more and more as time went on. And I tended to procrastinate just about everything to do with removing her from my life. I tried to sort through clothes, only to break down and merely move them from the master bedroom closet to the spare-room closet. I called about the mortgage and thanked the insurance company for their false sympathy. However, I still hadn’t called about the cell phone. I knew I needed to, but every time I’d pick up the phone and hear the automated menu, I’d hang up.
Shaking my head at my own cowardice, I focused back on my cup of coffee. Everything in my life was conflicted. Everything. In my mind, I knew I needed to push on, keep going, and say good-bye to my wife. In my heart, I missed her, and I wanted and needed to cling to everything she left behind. Bella’s things at the house still sat unused, untouched – toothbrush, shampoo, razor, the lotion on her nightstand, and even the books she’d been reading. I left it all where she’d put it. I left it like it would bring her back to me.
I’d even started driving her car. At first, I reasoned that it needed to be tested since Charlie had gotten it fixed, and then it really was just the fact that I was temporarily enveloped in her on my way to and from work. I could still smell that fruity flower scent inside that car, no matter how long it had been since she’d sat behind the wheel. It didn’t even matter that Jacob had driven it. She still permeated the air of that Volvo.
Then there was Steve, and I snorted softly to myself at the mention of our cat. Steve was a living, breathing, furry little reminder of Bella’s love – and the closest thing to a child she’d left behind. She’d adored that cat and had spoiled him with love and attention since we took him into our old apartment. He was a product of that love, too. He was calm and easy and perceptive occasionally, especially when I woke up from dreams that left me heartbroken and scared. He’d stay with me until my heart calmed down, though he usually slept on Bella’s side of the bed.
My phone buzzed, signaling a text from Jacob, who was asking if I was coming down to Forks for the next football game. I answered him yes, smiling a bit at how my Bella would’ve loved that I was still keeping in touch with Charlie and Jake. But honestly, all my family was gone. Aside from Roxy, who checked on me like a mother hen, I didn’t have many people in my life that I saw outside of work. And I hadn’t really seen Carlisle since I’d found out he knew about my wife’s small hometown. He’d been out, some sort of family obligation. Despite the fact that he’d given me his private cell number, I didn’t feel comfortable calling him if he was with his family.
“Edward?” I heard to my left, and I tore my gaze from the rainy day outside to see the man who’d just crossed my mind.
I smiled up at him. “Carlisle,” I greeted, but I noticed he wasn’t standing there alone.
Two women were with him, and one I recognized as his wife from the framed pictures in his office. They were both almost disarmingly beautiful and completely opposite from one another. Carlisle’s wife had hair the color of caramel, with fair skin and a warm smile. The other one was tiny – a bit shorter than Bella if I was estimating correctly. My brow furrowed at the sight of her. Her short, raven-black hair and knowing smile made me nervous, and I couldn’t figure out why. But beyond all of that – their beauty, their stillness, and their fair skin – the one thing I noticed was that all three of them had the very same color eyes. And that didn’t make sense to me. I was fairly sure all of Carlisle’s kids were adopted or foster children.
“Edward, I’d like you to meet my wife, Esme, and my youngest daughter, Alice.” He gestured to each woman, and I stood up to shake their hands, which were cold due to the weather outside.
“It’s nice to meet you both,” I said softly.
“You, too, Edward,” Esme replied. “Carlisle’s told us so much about you. He speaks most highly of you.”
Smiling at that, I nodded that I’d heard her but added a soft, “Thank you,” in return. I then gestured to the table. “Please take this spot; it’s filling up in here pretty quickly.”
“Are you due back? Or can you join us for a moment, son?” Carlisle asked, taking the seat across from mine.
I glanced at the clock on the wall and nodded. “I have a few minutes.”
“Excellent,” he praised. “I wanted to see how you were doing.”
“Hangin’ in there. It’s almost my weekend.” I smiled at that, which made them all chuckle.
“Any plans?” he asked.
I nodded, sipping my coffee, noting that the three people around me weren’t really touching the things they’d set down on the table. Esme held a cup of coffee she’d yet to drink, and the same for Carlisle. Alice, however, toyed with the straw of a soft drink cup.
“Yeah, I’ll be visiting my father-in-law in Forks to watch some of the football games,” I explained, sipping my coffee again. I was hoping to wake up a bit more for the rest of my shift. My sleep the night before had been wrecked with dreams – both good and bad.
“Carlisle,” Alice gasped, her mouth open in shock. “You didn’t tell me Edward was from Forks!”
“Umm,” I started, shaking my head. “I’m…I’m not from Forks. My wife is – um…was.” I frowned at that but then smiled sadly her way.
Carlisle gestured to me as a defense, which made me chuckle a bit, but Alice rolled her eyes back my way. “Who was your wife?”
“Bella. Isabella Swan.” Just saying her name aloud made my heart hurt and my voice crack.
Alice’s brow furrowed, her lip trembling. “I knew her,” she whispered, looking up at me. “I went to school with her. I just heard about her accident, Edward. I’ve been away visiting family. She was a beautiful and sweet girl.”
Tears stung my eyes at hearing that, and I nodded a little. “She was all of that. And then some.”
Alice shook her head. “Her father was the chief of police. He must be devastated.”
I nodded again, looking back to my coffee cup, which was slowly emptying. “He’s strong – stronger than me, I think.” But I looked to Carlisle, wanting to know a few things. “He knows you, your family. You didn’t mention that you used to live there.”
“My apologies, son,” he stated sincerely. “We left Forks for Seattle some time ago, and my house there sits empty. Most of my children have gone off to school or to follow their own careers here in the city.”
My brow furrowed as I swirled the last of my coffee in the cup. Somehow, that sounded like a bullshit answer, but I wasn’t sure I cared. Though, I couldn’t understand why he’d lie, because why would it matter?
Esme, however, piped up softly. “I’m actually going to check on that house soon. There’s been some pretty nasty weather as of late, and I wanted to make sure the house is holding up. Maybe I’ll stop by and see the chief. I’m sorry for your loss, sweetheart.”
Smiling sadly her way, I nodded, draining my cup of the last bit of coffee. Standing up, I said, “I should get back. It was nice meeting you both.” I smiled, even though I could tell it was halfhearted at best.
“You, too,” they both said at the same time, and Alice waved.
I waved back, looking to Carlisle, “See you upstairs, sir.”
My sneakers pounded rhythmically on the wet cement, my heart thumping in my chest. I’d had a few extra beers the day before with Jake and Charlie, so I’d decided to run it out of my system this morning at the park. My goal the last day of my weekend was to unbox some of the many books of Bella’s. I’d been dreading that particular task, because Bella’s books had always been her pride and joy, and she’d always put them in whatever order made the best sense to her – favorite classics, favorite series, favorite new books – not in alphabetical or chronological, which always made me tease my little librarian, but she’d simply roll her eyes, kiss my lips, and tell me that she wasn’t as OCD as the library.
Loud, angry music blared in my ears, helping to push me to keep my pace. Cement gave way to wet dirt and some steps. The trail was a tough run, a bit of woods and water not far from the bustling city. It was a winding trail, and now with fall in full swing, the air had a cold bite to it.
My thoughts trailed back to my day spent in Forks. It had been good to see Jacob and Charlie. A few of Jake’s friends from the reservation on La Push came by – young Seth, Embry, and Quil. I didn’t know the three all that well, but I hadn’t seen any of them since Bella’s memorial service. They’d known her a long time. The boys were so chatty and fun and gave each other all sorts of jibes left and right that it was hard not to stay laughing while they were in the room. It had made for a good day. The only thing that would’ve made it better was if Bella had been there to join in.
Thighs and lungs burned as I pushed myself up the last steep steps, coming out onto a tree-covered trail. This was the last leg of my run, and I slowed down to a fast-paced walk to cool down before I had to drive back home.
It was early in the morning, with patches of fog still lying low on the ground in the trees. The sound of Puget Sound met my ears from not that far away as I pulled out my earbuds. I wasn’t the only one on the trail. I’d passed by a few women working out together and a family taking in the trail. There had even been a man with a dog back at the beginning when I’d stretched. The big black lab had been friendly enough, until he’d sniffed something out just inside the woods, causing growls and teeth and hair to stand on end, and the owner took him another direction.
My breathing started to even out as I slowed down a bit more. The trail ahead disappeared into a tunnel of dark trees that were slowly changing into their fall colors. The parking lot wasn’t far, and I started making a mental note of the things I wanted to get done for the day.
The trail turned a bit, and I found myself surrounded by tall trees, climbing up a hill on one side with a sloping drop on my other. The hair on the back of my neck prickled, and I scanned around me, because it felt like I was being watched. I wanted to blame the fog, the Halloween season, or the fact that I wasn’t normally a woodsy person. I’d been born and raised in the city, but this was the better trail for the harder run.
Shaking my head at my own musings, I glanced up when the parking lot was just visible through the next bend. As I drew closer, I could see my car, which calmed the eerie feelings I’d just experienced. I took a deep breath, trying to slow the weird heartbeat that had nothing to do with the run I’d just taken.
It wasn’t until the end of the trail was in sight that I saw her. She was a splash of bright color in comparison to the brown foliage around us. Her hair was shockingly red, and I’d have bet it was a paid-for color, except the pale skin and spattering of freckles seemed to complement it perfectly, not to mention her eyelashes and eyebrows were exactly the same bright shade. However, it was her eyes and her smile that were disarming, and I found my brows rising up in a touch of surprise. She looked predatory and fierce, but something about her stillness and ethereal beauty reminded me of Carlisle’s wife and daughter.
“Good morning,” she sang, eyeing me up and down.
I nodded once, muttering, “Mornin’,” back without much inflection. I had never been much of a flirt, until Bella. All I wanted, when I met my beautiful girl, was to see her smile, laugh, and blush, all because of something I’d said. Anyone else, though, not so much. And despite the fact that I’d been told – repeatedly by my wife – that I was good-looking, I never put much stock in the female opinion of my looks. To me, it was just the outside.
I made to walk by her, but she stepped in my way, blocking the path, and instantly, I felt threatened. I shouldn’t have felt that way. I was a full-grown man, just over six feet and in decent shape, but something about this woman was frightening. I felt like a mouse trapped by a cat.
She didn’t say anything, simply stared and assessed. And that was even more unnerving. I took in her appearance. She seemed to be dressed in a hodge-podge collection of clothing. She looked down on her luck, but then…not. Her attire was a bit like a gypsy or wanderer, something like a character in one of Bella’s books.
Finally, she stepped back enough I could get by, and I heard her mutter, “No wonder she guards you… Simply delicious…” She grinned, which caused my heart to sputter, and not in a good way. “She’ll leave you alone soon enough.”
I had no idea what she was talking about, so I stayed quiet and hurried to my car. Just as I opened the door, a thundering crash and low growl made me spin back to the trailhead, but the redhead was gone. There was no sign of her anywhere – no movement on the trail, no crunching of leaves in the woods, not even a car cranking. The strange woman had simply disappeared.
With a shake of my head, I got in my car and left the park.
I still couldn’t shake the creepy feelings, even after I’d gotten home and showered. Rubbing my head with a towel, I took a deep breath and let it out slowly. The woman with the red hair had unnerved me to no end. Even more, she’d simply disappeared. The sound I’d heard prior to her vanishing was strange. It wasn’t unlike the dog prior to my run, but then again, it had sounded alien or a bit feline.
Rolling my eyes at my own crazy musing, I tossed the towel into the laundry basket, picked the full thing up, and toted it downstairs to wash a load or two while I worked in the music room.
Steve was sitting passively on the kitchen counter, eyeing me shrewdly as I started a load in the washer.
“I’m losin’ it, Steve,” I told him, rubbing his head on the way by. “I’m pretty sure of it.” I looked over at him, snorting when his ears went back a bit. “It may be inevitable, buddy. Both of us are pretty lost and useless without her.”
Hmm,” he seemed to muse, but he hopped down from the counter and followed me into the music room, where he made himself comfortable on the piano’s closed lid as I lit a fire in the fireplace.
“Sweetheart,” I muttered to the empty shelves, “I have no idea where to even start with these, so forgive me the damned order they go up…”
Blindly, I opened boxes and started at the top shelf. Bella and I had agreed that the den would end up a small escape for the two of us – a library for her and a music room for me. Sadly, this was not how I’d seen owning our first house. As I set books on the shelf, straightening them as I went, I fought tears at the reality of my situation. I was in the house I’d bought for my wife, a place I’d seen us growing in all ways – family, life, retirement. All of it. And now I was alone. I hated every second of it. It was all I could do not to start throwing her books like I’d thrown my CDs the day Charlie and Jake had brought Bella’s car to me. But I didn’t.
I finished a box and went to move on to the next one. When I reached for it, the box had already been open, the tape cut, and the contents made me stop and focus. These books had been shifted, riffled through. Glancing around, I frowned. I didn’t remember Jake and Charlie touching these boxes when they’d been here, especially since I’d told them to leave the books. I also didn’t remember cutting the tape on this one – or any of them for that matter.
When Bella had packed her books, she’d done so with spines up so that her titles could be easily seen when she opened the box. And while most of the books inside this box were on their sides, there were two thin books stacked flat atop the others. It was like I was supposed to see them, find them specifically.
One was small, old, a leather-bound collection of poems. The other was a history of the Washington legends. Both books had bookmarkers in them. I wasn’t sure if it was my crazy morning or what, but I couldn’t bring myself to look at them just yet. I set both books down on the top of the piano next to Steve and finished out the boxes. I looked over the shelves, shrugging one shoulder. I wasn’t sure it was how Bella would’ve done it, but all her books were present and accounted for as far as I could see.
Once I threw out the empty, broken-down boxes, I picked up the two books and stepped back into the kitchen to grab something to eat. As I munched on a quick sandwich, I pulled the first book to me. The Legends of Washington State. The bookmark was a small piece of paper with my name on it, which made my brow furrow.
“Baby, when did you do this?” I whispered to the scrap paper.
My name was in dark ink, heavily scripted so that it pushed through to the other side. But the page she’d marked for me was about the Quileute people – Jacob’s tribe – and I popped the last bite of sandwich into my mouth as I read a story about a tribal elder who needed to protect his people from an unusual threat. Cold ones. I devoured the story about how the Quileute tribe learned of their ability to transform into wolves in order to protect everyone from these cold ones. People were dying, going missing, and the cold ones were to blame. They were the only natural enemy of the Quileute. Cold ones were dangerous and deadly, a demon without care as to who they killed.
When the next chapter was on Bigfoot, I closed the book, shaking my head. I tried to remember as many things as Jacob had told me – that he was “Alpha,” that he was bound by his tribe not to tell everything, and that he was the direct descendent of Ephraim Black. Flipping the book back to the marked chapter, I saw the name was the same. Shaking my head, I remembered Jake trying his best to tell me that “death isn’t always final.”
Sighing heavily, I pushed that book away and pulled the little black book of poems my way. This bookmark was a satin ribbon, marking a specific spot, but pressed in there was a petal of a rose. Closing my eyes to fight the tears, I picked the petal up and brought it to my nose. It was still soft, not completely having lost its pink-and-white color just yet. The fragrance brought back the scent of the church the day of Bella’s memorial. I’d had pink and white roses surrounding a beautiful photograph of my wife. Frowning at that, I looked down to the poem she’d marked.
“Do Not Stand At My Grave and Weep” by Mary Elizabeth Frye
Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft star that shines at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there; I did not die.
I dropped the book onto the counter, backing away from it and shaking my head slowly. Things were suddenly overwhelming and too much to think about all at once. Everything I’d heard and seen and felt since my wife’s death was starting to snowball into something I couldn’t straighten out into anything linear.
With a shaky hand, I brought my bottle of water up to my lips, chugging the whole thing. Dribbles dripped down my chin and onto my T-shirt, but I glared at the poem as things started to repeat in my mind.
Death isn’t always final. Cold ones. Descended from wolves. Fresh rose petals. Notes. Phone calls.
“What if it’s not kids, Edward?”
My eyes narrowed at the question he’d asked, and I picked up my phone to call Jake, but there was no answer. In fact, it went straight to voice mail.
“J-Jake… Call me when you get a moment, please. Thanks,” I mumbled into the phone and then hung up. Turning my phone over in my hands, I ran over everything, finally opening up a search on the browser.
I searched for the words “cold ones.” Google gave me back the exact legend I’d just read about the Quileute. But it was the second thing listed that had me backing away from my phone.
Apotamkin or rather, The Cold One… Vampires.
“No,” I said firmly to the damn thing. “Just no.”
I shook my head back and forth slowly, barely glancing at Steve, who had hopped up onto the counter in front of me. He sat down, wrapping that red-and-white-striped tail around his feet. His eyes were watchful and calm as he stared me down.
“That’s it, Steve. I’ve lost my mind. I’m so…so…fucked up without her that I’m willing to believe any damn bullshit!” I raged in front of him, but he barely flinched, merely an ear flickered.
We stared at each other for a few heartbeats, and finally, I reached for my phone and clicked the link. Blood drinkers, cold skin like a corpse, super strength, strange eyes, and immortal.
My eyes narrowed – immortal.
I spread everything out that I’d just found – the two books, the marker with my name in Bella’s writing, and the rose petal. I ran my finger across my name, thinking I was a doctor, that I shouldn’t even consider entertaining it, but there I was, grasping at anything that would give me answers. I pulled out my wallet and then took out the wrinkled note I’d found on my piano and set it next to the marker with my name. It was the same pen, the same heavy hand, and I tried to remember if Bella had always written so hard.
On the counter was a little organizer basket with stamps and pens and notepads. I found the last grocery list Bella had made. The handwriting was the exact same, except slightly heavier-handed in the newer notes.
My phone began to ring, vibrating across the counter. I just about jumped out of my skin, causing Steve to flinch a little. I was expecting it to be Jake returning my call, but my wife’s beautiful face lit up the screen.
Everything hit me at once – the idiocy of the stuff spread out in front of me, the mere idea that I was trying to believe anything to explain that my wife wasn’t gone, and the sickly quiet of the house around me. With an angry sob, I swiped my thumb across the screen.
“Whoever this is, stop calling me!” I yelled into the damn thing. “Keep the damn phone, but stop calling me! It’s cruel. Don’t you have anything better to do?” My nostrils flared as I tried to get a grip on myself, but the other end was silent.
The only thing I heard before the call ended was a very soft, very sad, “I’m sorry.”
My breathing stopped cold when the call ended with a beep, because I’d have recognized that voice anywhere.


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