At the Cliffs

My take on New Moon / Eclipse - written from Bella's perspective

← Chapter 2: Mourning      Chapter 4: Confusion →

Chapter 3: Deja Vu

The rest of the spring passed by quickly. I was buried under an avalanche of schoolwork as we headed into the last month of the school year and I had a ton of catch-up work to do around applying to colleges. I sent out a bunch of late applications to local schools – University of Washington, Washington State – hoping that my good grades and test scores would make up for my late entry.

Not that I knew what I wanted to do with myself once I got there, but it just seemed like a logical next step. And after spending half a year unable to see beyond the end of each day, it was nice to be planning for the future again. It was like exercising a muscle that had long atrophied. I was an organizer and a planner by nature – I had to be given that my mother was Renee – so it was soothing to click back into that role.

Everyone at school was excited about our imminent graduation. Making arrangements for prom, buying a graduation dress, and planning a summer graduation trip – in that order – was all that Jessica and Lauren could talk about at lunch these days. I was tacitly allowed to resume my seat at the lunch table after my many months of self-imposed exile. But the lunch table was clearly divided between those who were happy to welcome me back – Mike, Angela, Ben, Eric – and those who were less so – Lauren and Jessica.

I was surprised a bit by Jessica's thinly veiled animosity towards me, but it was just as well. I preferred Angela's company any way. I had been so focused on losing him the past few months, that it wasn’t until now that I realized that I also missed Alice too. I missed having a girl-friend to hang out with. And Angela was an easy - if not perfect – replacement. She welcomed me back with open arms, she was patient with my quirks, and most of all, she was understanding of my reluctance to talk about anything that had to do with the Cullens.

I went to her house one afternoon – the first time in many months - so I could help her hand-address her graduation announcements. Angela's mom was a bustling energetic woman whose shoes always matched her handbag, whose fingernails were always perfectly manicured, and whose house was done up in coordinated mono-chromatic shades of beige. She was a teacher at the elementary school, a pillar of the Forks Presbyterian church, and she would have been entirely intimidating given her OCD nature if she weren't also such a fabulous mother. It was clear that she doted on Angela, her youngest and only daughter. Spending time with her always made me want to call Renee when I got home.

We were sprawled out in Angela’s kitchen, eating some cookies that were still warm from the oven as we tackled the stack of a hundred plus cards and envelopes. Angela wrote up personalized messages in each card while I was assigned the task of addressing the corresponding envelopes. I marveled at how normal I felt at that moment. I could have been any girl across America who was looking forward to graduating from high school, as opposed to a girl who had been dumped by a vampire and was in an ambiguous relationship with a werewolf.

“So … “ Angela paused as she expertly flipped open another card to begin the personalization. We had been chatting away lightly about homework and our upcoming AP exams, but I could tell that she was restraining herself hard from asking me the question that I knew the others were curious about but were too shy to ask me themselves. “So … who do you want to go to prom with?”

Angela looked up at me just then with a twinkle in her gray eyes; eyes which used to be hidden behind thick wire-framed glasses before she got contacts last month.

I chuckled softly, not the least bit offended. I knew this conversation would be inevitable when I agreed to come over to help. “I don't know. I don’t think I'm even going. It’s not really my thing, you know?”

“That's cool,” she said with a nod as she looked back down at the card. Her easy acceptance took me by surprise.

“That's it?! No interrogation?”

“Do you want one?” I could see her smiling wryly as she carefully signed her name to another finished card. “I'm happy to oblige, though I could also just tell Jessica and let her harp on you about how this is,” she raised her hands to make quotation marks as she mimicked Jessica's voice, “the 'best night of your life' and how you'll 'regret it forever' if you don’t go!”

We both snickered slightly. “I know, I know. You're taking it easy on me.”

“Seriously, though, you're definitely not going? I was just wondering because my mom wants me to get a group together to rent a limo,” she rolled her eyes as she said that. It did seem sometimes as if her mom was more excited about Angela’s graduation than she was. “And if you don't go, I can just tell her that I couldn't find anyone to share one with me.”

“I don't know, I'm not really a prom kind of girl.”

“You went last year,” Angela pointed out

“Yeah, well that was because of ...” my voice trailed off. We had reached the forbidden topic. I never talked about him if I could help it. I could barely say his name still. I avoided it if I could help it, not wanting to deal with the gaping hole that still opened up inside me despite all the outward progress I had been able to make.

“Right,” Angela said softly, looking down suddenly at the table. She played with the pen in her hand a little, twirling it between her fingers, before she finally looked up. “I know you don't want to talk about him.” I nodded once, not meeting her eyes. “So I won't mention it again after this. But I do think it might be nice for you to go again – you know, have a prom experience without him – so that's not the only prom memory you have.”

“Point taken,” I said softly, still not looking up at her. “I'll think about it.”

“Okay.” Angela picked up another card and began writing in it. “But decide soon, please, because it would also ease some of the tension at our lunch-table if you could announce your decision.”

“Huh?” I had no idea what she was talking about.

She rolled her eyes affectionately. “Mike and Eric have both been hinting pretty heavily about prom to you, but you clearly haven't noticed. I think they're waiting to see if you want to go before they ask you. And Jessica and Lauren are waiting for Mike and Eric to ask them. So lunchtime has been a bit awkward lately.”

“Wow, I had no idea.”

“Yeah, I know. That's why I thought I would mention it. If you want my two cents, you should ask Jake to go with you.”

“Jake? But he's a sophomore ...” I sputtered, coming up with the first excuse I could, even though I knew I wasn't fooling Angela by the way she grinned at me.

“So? The guy is bigger than all the seniors we know. And he's head over heels in love with you.”

“He's not ...”

“He is,” Angela said pointedly. “I've only seen him with you a handful of times, when he's come by after school to pick you up. And trust me, he's besotted. Ben agrees with me.”

“You and Ben are just so happily in love that you think everyone else is too.”

Angela had a goofy expression on her face as she tossed the card she just finished signing into the pile. My heart wrenched suddenly. The sight of someone so ridiculously happy in love hurt. It hurt a lot. It felt like a mockery of my own naivete. That was how I looked last year, foolishly thinking that he and I would be together forever. Beyond forever. And now, here I was. My eyes began to smart with tears.

Angela looked up in alarm at the sound of my choked whimper. Her face fell immediately and her eyes were filled with concern as she reached out to me. “Are you okay? I'm sorry, I didn't mean to upset you. We don't have to talk about this anymore.”

“No, no, it's okay, “ I wiped my nose with the back of my hand and swallowed deeply, blinking away the tears that had been about to rush forward. “I'm sorry, I don't mean to be so ...” I gestured helplessly at myself.

“Don't shoot me for saying this,” Angela said tentatively, “but I think this is a good sign. It's the first time I've actually seen you cry over Ed-” She saw me wince. “-him. Up until now, you've just been this indifferent shell. You refused to talk about him, much less show any emotion over him. I think it's a sign that you're beginning to get over it. It's the next step in the mourning process.”

I nodded, more to assuage Angela's earnest face and entreaty than anything else, but maybe she was right. In some ways, I felt as if I was thawing out after a long winter of being frozen up inside, afraid to feel, afraid to think, afraid to live – because I didn't know if I could handle the thought of a life without him. And now, I was letting myself open up again. Just a little. But it was something.

“Please think about it. I do think it would be good for you to go. And selfishly,” Angela continued with a wistful smile, “I want you to be there.”

“Ben will be there,” I pointed out.

“Yes, but he's a guy. It'll just be Jessica and Lauren and you know how … ahem … worked up they get over these things. I'd love for you to come so that I'd have someone to make snarky comments with.”

I laughed, “I'll think about it. Really, I will.”

“My mom's taking me prom dress shopping in Seattle next weekend. Do you want to come along? It’ll be a fun to have you come even if you don’t need to buy a dress”

“Sure,” I agreed readily. I had been feeling a bit claustrophobic lately – it was the first time in a long time that I had wanted to do anything but wait around in Forks - so it would be nice to have get out of town for a day.

“I told my mom that we should go to Seattle, since our trip to Port Angeles was such a bust last year,“ Angela commented as she started matching the personalized cards to my addressed envelopes.

I froze suddenly as I flashbacked to our prom dress shopping trip last spring. I hadn't thought about it – or any really any memory that included him - in ages. I hadn't let myself think about it. It hurt too much. But now the memory flooded through me with the force of a tidal wave.

I closed my eyes as scenes flashed through my head – the out-of-the-way bookshop where I had bought the book on the Quileute legends, the drunk frat guys who had harassed me, the shock that went through me when his silver volvo skidded to a stop in front of me, that first dinner together – mushroom ravioli and coke at La Bella Italia - and the drive home to Forks where I learned what he truly was. It was the night when everything began …

“Bella? Bella?” Angela’s voice broke through my trance.

I opened my eyes and looked at her in shock. The flashback had been so vivid, it felt as if I was there once again, with him in the car. And it was painful being ripped out of that moment. To be reminded, yet again, that it was just a memory and was no longer my reality.

But I had survived it. It was possible to think back on all of that and not completely fall apart. A few months ago, this episode would have put me into another downward spiral followed by my retreat into a state of numbness that was my only defense against having to relive the pain of his leaving. But this time, the moment passed – not easily – but it passed. And I wasn't sure what to make of it other than relief.

“Bella, are you okay?” Angela asked me again as she grabbed my arm forcefully.

“Yes, yes, I'm fine,” I assured her as I shook my head in an attempt to clear it. I gestured to the empty box next to me. “I think I'm done with addressing the envelopes.”

“Okay,” Angela said slowly, looking unconvinced. ”Are you sure?”

“Yes, I am. I really am,” I said as I reached over to grab the stamps. “Let's finish up.” I glanced up at the clock on the wall. “I need to head home to make dinner for Charlie in half an hour.”

Angela opened her mouth to say something, but then closed it just as quickly. I gave her a pleading look. She nodded once. We didn't talk about anything of consequence for the rest of the night and we finished stuffing envelopes shortly after. I said my goodbyes and headed home through the misting rain.

← Chapter 2: Mourning      Chapter 4: Confusion →

About Me

I'm a Twilight fan who believes that Jacob Black is better for Bella than Edward, so I wrote these Team Jacob fanfiction stories to try to convert as many people to my side as possible. :)

I've tried to stay as faithful to the original books as possible up through At the Cliffs, which is when I break off from canon and write out Eclipse the way I wish it had happened!

So ... what do you think? Good? Bad? Ideas for other stories?

Please let me know!

Jane

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