The Twilight Twenty-Five
000ooo000ooo Fire and Rain ooo000ooo000
It was only mid-day when we arrived in Seattle but, after almost twenty hours of traveling, I was exhausted. Since Garrett’s death my sleep hadn’t been truly restful unless I took a Xanax but then I felt foggy when I woke up, so it was like I’d hardly slept at all.
Kate and I followed Edward down the jetway and through the airport as we made our way to customs. Advertisements and photos of Seattle attractions lined the walls. I tried to ignore them, but it was nearly impossible. So many of the pictures were of things Garrett had promised we could do together. I’d done a lot of sightseeing with Charlie when I was a kid, but Garrett assured me that I’d love the city even more as an adult.
“Coffee bars, nightclubs and loud music. Three great things about Seattle I’m sure Charlie didn’t show you when you were eight,” he’d laughed.
I stifled a sob and tried to bury the emotion that had welled up from just thinking about him. I would have given anything to have Garrett show me around Seattle, to have our picture taken with the Space Needle in the background for our change of address cards like we’d planned. Everything about Seattle had become a reminder that he was gone.
We stood in line waiting for our turn to go through customs and immigration and I let out a loud sigh, wiping at my eyes. Kate put an arm around me and gave me a squeeze, resting her head on my shoulder. Edward adjusted his backpack and looked over his shoulder to check on us, his eyebrow raised in question.
Kate gave him a small smile. “We’re okay.”
I wiped my eyes again and nodded. We were all exhausted and ready for our trip to be done.
Edward gave us a small nod and pulled his bag around to his front where he grabbed his passport and other forms out of the front pouch.
When it was our turn to talk to a customs agent, Edward presented our paperwork and quickly answered all of the questions about our ‘cargo.’ I was a little disgusted by the insensitive use of that term, but I kept my mouth shut. I didn’t want to cause a scene and I didn’t have the energy to argue.
There was some discussion, and at one point a supervisor looked at the forms Edward presented, but eventually they let us pass through. We continued on our way through the airport and I wondered again how I would have done everything without Kate and Edward. I was pretty sure I would still have been crying in the apartment in Italy if they hadn’t come to help.
We were riding the escalator down to baggage claim when I felt myself sway a little, shocked at who I saw waiting for us.
“Oh, God.” My hand came up to my mouth and I couldn’t hold back my tears.
Garrett’s mom and step-dad stood near the bottom of the escalator. We’d never met in person, but we’d Skyped a fair amount so I recognized them right away.
Carmen was crying too, with Zar standing behind her, his hands on her shoulders.
Edward caught my elbow to steady me. “It’s all right. We’ve got you.” His voice was quiet behind me and I felt Kate’s arm slide around my back.
“Come on Bella, mom can’t wait to hug you. Look at her, she’s about to rush forward.”
Edward’s laugh was more of a snort. “Right? Zar’s holding her back.”
I appreciated their efforts to calm my nerves. The entire situation was bizarre. I was terribly sad to be bringing their son home this way, but I’d been waiting two years to see them in person. I wanted to run forward and throw my arms around Carmen, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t let myself go like that or I would lose it, and I’d been doing relatively well since we left Italy.
It didn’t matter though, because Carmen broke away from her husband and pulled me into a hug.
“Oh, Bella,” she whispered. “It’s okay, honey. You’re home now. Everything is going to be alright.”
I had no idea how much those words would mean to me until she said them, yet it broke my heart to hear her comfort me when she had lost him too.
“I’m so sorry, Carmen. I’m so sorry…” I couldn’t finish and she simply shushed me and held on tighter.
We cried together. It was horrible and wonderful, and we didn’t let go until Zar gently pulled us apart. He switched places with Kate so he could hug me while she and her mom said their hellos.
When I stepped back from Zar I looked around, realizing that someone was missing.
“He’s talking to someone from the airline,” Kate answered, and I knew exactly what she meant. He was checking on Garrett and making sure the airline and the funeral home had everything arranged to bring him back to Forks.
“Come on, let’s get your bags,” Zar said, putting an arm around shoulder as he started towards the baggage carousel. I knew he was trying to distract me so I didn’t think about what Edward was doing and I just let him think it had worked.
Our ride in Carmen’s mini-van was fairly quiet. There were plenty of things that we should have talked about, but I think we were all too emotionally exhausted to even think about any of it.
It had been almost fifteen years since I’d been back to Forks, but not much had changed. The downtown looked exactly as I remembered it – wet and half vacant. As usual there were a few cars in the parking lot at the Lodge; it was always noon somewhere, right? We passed the fire/police station and I wondered for a second if my dad was working.
“I told him to come by the house tonight,” Zar said from the front seat as if he’d read my mind.
“He’s working?” I wasn’t surprised, just curious. I had no idea what his schedule was like.
“‘Til six. He’s probably out patrolling by the reservation about now.”
Carmen laughed, “That’s code for driving out by La Push to see how the Chinook are running.”
“I can’t wait to see him,” I said quietly, smiling as I thought about Charlie’s love of fishing, but it was bittersweet. Fishing with my dad was one more thing that Garrett and I had planned to do together that would never happen.
We drove out of town, turning on a side road that wound around through the trees. Eventually we pulled into a circular driveway in front of an old white farmhouse that I recognized from Garrett’s photo albums. Zar parked and everyone got out to unload the luggage.
I watched them from my captain’s seat in the van, unsure if I should follow. Garrett had rented us a small cottage in Forks, but I had no idea if it was ready or if I wanted to stay there by myself. I hadn’t even thought about it yet.
“Bella.” My eyes met my mother-in-law’s in the doorway. “Come inside. Stay with us—just for tonight or for however long you want. We can figure it out later. Let’s just get through the memorial, okay?”
“Carmen,” I started, but stopped myself. I didn’t really want to be alone, especially in the little cottage that Garrett and I were supposed to live in together. Resigned, I nodded. “Alright.”
“Good. I made up the guest room before we left.”
I swallowed hard. The guestroom, not Garrett’s old room. I was upset for a second, but then I realized I probably wouldn’t have been able to sleep in his room anyway. It would have been too much.
Grabbing my purse, I climbed out of the van in time to see Edward getting into a sedan that had been parked in the driveway. I was disappointed that I hadn’t gotten to thank him again, but I knew it wouldn’t be the last we saw of each other. If nothing else, he’d be at the memorial. Kate had mentioned that Zar asked him to speak.
I followed the family into the house and let Carmen give me a quick tour before I called my father from the guestroom. He said he’d come by after work, telling me again how sorry he was and that he was there if I needed anything. I was still adjusting to the idea of having a close relationship with him, but it felt really good to have someone that was mine to lean on.
I did my best not to focus on the pictures of Garrett as a boy hanging in the hallway and managed to make it back to the kitchen for a late lunch with Zar and Carmen. Kate had gone back to Port Angeles to spend the night with her boyfriend Demetri, or Tree as everyone called him. She promised they would see us in the morning.
We hadn’t been at the house more than an hour when ladies from the church began stopping by. They carried in casserole dishes and handed out hugs like candy. I was beyond uncomfortable and the thought actually occurred to me that Garrett owed me for putting up with his mother’s friends. I felt horrible as soon as the thought crossed my mind—for thinking it at all and because, for two seconds, I’d forgotten that I’d never get to tell him anything again.
It was only around four in the afternoon, but I excused myself and went to the guest room to cry myself to sleep.
000ooo000ooo Fire and Rain ooo000ooo000