1. a song or poem expressing sorrow or lamentation especially for one who is dead
2. a pensive or reflective poem that is usually nostalgic or melancholy
When Charlie Swan approaches her a week before his daughter is to be interred, Angela Weber is surprised. It seems inappropriate to say that she is pleasantly surprised, considering the situation, but she might be. He mumbles something to her about a eulogy, and what “Bella would have wanted” and she finds herself saying yes, of course yes.
It also seems inappropriate that the bridesmaid’s dress she wore to Bella and Edward’s wedding only three weeks before is still hanging on her closet door, the cranberry hem fluttering in the breeze that sifts through her window as she tries to write. She gets up and takes the dress down, hanging it neatly inside the closet, under the pretense that the wind is blowing sprinklings of rain through her window and she doesn’t want the silk to be ruined.
But really, she can’t look at it anymore.
Isabella Sw—Cullen lived a full—
Even though she was only eighteen, Bella—
By the time evening rolls around, Angela’s wavy hair is more wild than usual, and her paper is full of scribbled out paragraphs and the grey-black marks of insistent erasure. She’s only managed to write one sentence that makes any sense.
She will be missed.
Dinnertime is a quiet affair that night, though it’s not for lack of trying. Angela can’t help but think that it has something to do with Bella’s impending funeral. Maybe the Weber family is more involved than they should be. She glances to her father, and can almost see the words forming themselves behind his eyes. He’s always been so sure of what he should say, how to guide people along the right path.
Is it wrong to want to search for eulogies on the internet?
It would be simple enough; she’d just need to pop a few key terms into a search engine: “eighteen, death, eulogy, teen”. How many results would pop up? Hundreds? Thousands?
“Angela, are you okay?” She looks away from her father’s face, now all too aware that she’s been staring, and finds her mother's eyes, nodding quickly before she realizes that she’s doing it.
“Of course I am.” That seems to be her answer to everything lately. Of course. “I was just thinking about tomorrow. What I’m going to say. You know I’ve never been good at public speaking, Mom.” A soft smile and a half-truth cover her real insecurities. Always the one of the shyer girls in her class, it was easy for Angela to fade into the background with her classmates, and then back out again when anyone needed a helping hand, or a stand-in friend for a few days. The thought of reading from a paper in front of any more than the seventy people in the high school class that she’d just graduated from awakens long-dead nervous butterflies in her stomach.
Who was it that said that weather determines the amount of people who mill around at a person’s funeral? Angela finds herself hoping that the next afternoon will not be a fluke.
But then she realizes that might be selfish, so she changes her request.
Dear God, I really think that rain might be appropriate for Bella Cullen’s funeral. If anyone deserves to be cried over, it’s her.
She leaves out the part about rain deterring crowds. God doesn’t need to know that.
Today is our chance to say thank you for the way you brightened our lives, even though God granted you but half a life. We will feel cheated always that you were taken from us so young and that we must learn to be grateful that you came along at all. Only now that you are gone do we truly appreciate what we are without and we want you to know that life without you is very, very difficult.
It’s nice, perfect almost. It’s also Princess Diana’s.
The pointer hovers in a space between the Earl’s words, before she moves to close the window. This is silly, least of all because Bella never in a hundred years would allow herself to be compared to someone like Princess Diana. Bella wouldn’t let herself be ranked with a tree stump if she could help it. The edges of her mouth lift up into a pseudo-smile before she realizes that that too is inappropriate, and she squelches whatever feeling happened to be swimming around inside of her.
A quiet thudding takes her from her thoughts rather abruptly, but she isn’t surprised to see Isaac standing just outside her bedroom door. For a moment, she thinks of the game that the twins like to play with each other: shoving their hands into each other’s faces as far as possible without making any actual contact, and then taunting, “Can’t get mad, I’m not touching you! Can’t get mad!”
Again, she squishes a smile before it can reveal itself.
“Angie, are you sure you’re okay?”
She’s forgotten that siblings are more perceptive than most. This might have something to do with the constant surveillance that’s always going on. One hair out of place, one misstep and they go running to the parents.
Angela knows she has to watch what she says. The twins know that Bella is gone, but at the same time they don’t really know. They don’t know how or where or when, and no one really knows why exactly.
So she looks at him for a beat or two, and then glances back out at the window, running rapid fire through all of the responses tumbling around inside of her head. Of course is getting a little bit old. And Isaac’s lie-o-meter is top notch.
“Did Dad send you up here?”
But her evasion tactics are better.
The sun is shining outside the next day, and Angela thinks that maybe, somewhere, someone is laughing at her. The telltale purple-gray of approaching thunderheads is so far off in the distance that it’s more like a mirage somewhere near the mountains than anything else.
You should have expected this, the little voice in the back of her head tells her. Since when has anything that has to do with Bella ever been normal?
She tells the voice to shove it, and moves inside of the little chapel to call Ben. The stained glass windows throw interesting shapes onto the wood in the morning sunlight, and for a second, she thinks about the odd way that Alice Cullen’s skin had almost glowed at Bella’s graduation party.
The humming ring in her ears echoes slightly in the large room, and she chooses a pew near the back, where she can see everything clearly. The service is to be held outside in the sunlight, Charlie having said something about how Bella always complained that it rained far too much in Forks, but Angela has always preferred the cool quiet of the indoors.
He doesn’t pick up, and she thinks maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe he’s on the road, and he doesn’t want to pick his phone up. Maybe he’ll just be a couple of minutes late. Maybe it’s all a misunderstanding.
So much for God happening to overhear her conversation.
“They’re going to start in a few minutes, dear.” Her mother’s voice is a soft sigh in her ear, comforting like clothes that have just come out of the dryer, warm and clean. The hand on her shoulder is enough to make her snap her cell phone shut. Her father probably wouldn’t approve at all.
But she sees it coming this time.
“Of course. Yes.”
It’s impossible not to notice Jacob Black. He stands apart from the rest of the mourners, just beyond the sea of white chairs that Angela is trying her best not to count. She’s sure that if she starts, she’ll end on a number much higher than seventy, and then Lauren or Jessica will have to be enlisted to read what she’s finally decided she’ll say about Bella.
That thought earns a grimace.
She can see the two girls quite clearly from her spot in the shadows, both of them looking far too eager to be at a funeral, especially one for someone they’d once called a friend, however sparingly. Despite Lauren’s questionable adherence to the unwritten dress code, and Jessica’s blatant disregard of it, Angela finds her gaze fixing on Jacob once again.
She can’t think why she’s never noticed him before. He’s always been there on the fringes of her life, looming just out of sight with his friends flanking him like watchdogs. Or prison guards. She can’t remember what their names are. Actually, if she’s honest with herself, the only reason she remembers who Jacob is, is because of Bella.
The next few minutes are a rushed blur, so much so that her head is spinning when she finally alights on a chair somewhere near the front, her mother’s hands touching her shoulders and patting at her hair. She doesn’t notice that she’s been sandwiched between Jacob Black and Charlie Swan until the low, reassuring rumble of her father’s voice begins.
“Let us pray. O God of grace and glory, we remember before you today our sister, Isabella. We thank you for giving her to us to know and to love as a companion in our pilgrimage on Earth. In your boundless compassion, console us who mourn. Give us quiet confidence that we may continue our course in faith; through your Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ.”
Jacob’s suit is pinched tightly, as though the last time he’d needed a suit was when he was fourteen, and Angela finds her hand reaching out to smooth the puckering around his shoulders, before she remembers that he’s probably got no idea who she is. And the way in which his jaw is clenched tightly, as though he’s about two seconds away from punching whoever or whatever happens to be nearest tells her that now would not be the time to remind him.
Her hand drops to her lap.
It takes no more than a nod for Angela to know that it’s now her time to stand. The piece of paper in her pocket feels too thin, as though she’s rubbed her fingers over the creases one too many times. As if it might crumble into dust, if she’s not careful. She takes a shaky breath and nods back almost imperceptibly.
Pastors, Preachers, Reverends, Priests, Rabbis—they’ve all got the uncanny ability to seek out exactly what it is you’re hiding, and then guilt you into revealing it with just one look. Angela’s father is no exception. In fact, he might even be better, because he’s got the double threat of Father and Holy Man going for him.
He looks at her as though he wants to say something, before thinking better of it as he realizes that in front of one hundred mourners at Bella Cullen’s funeral would be neither the place, nor the time.
Her hand alights on Jacob’s shoulder as she tries to stand—accident, or divine intervention? Their eyes lock for a second, maybe less, and she finds herself wondering, is it really supposed to feel like this?
The tightness in her chest, the way that everything looks so much farther away than it actually is, the endless sadness in Jacob’s eyes, like he’s lost something more than just a best friend. Or maybe it’s more than just losing her. And then she remembers. Oh. Oh.
“I see the way Jacob Black looks at you.”
Her knees lock, and she’s sure she must look like an idiot. Because she hasn’t even cried yet; not really. She hasn’t done anything except write a speech that Bella would probably laugh at and tell her wasn’t true. So she stands, all six-foot-nothing, legs and honey-colored hair, paralyzed in the middle of the churchyard, as it hits her, what exactly grief is.
Her gaze swings around the semi-circle of faces, a kaleidoscope of emotions and expressions, and she can’t find the one that she wants.
Where is Ben?
Suddenly, something is around her arm, warm, too warm, and her gaze moves to the sky, as she wonders if the sun has shifted.
But she can’t see the sun, because Jacob Black is in the way.
Is it common for receptions to be more painful than the ceremonies that precede them? Angela is beginning to think that it just might be.
Reception might not be the right word. Receptions are usually reserved for celebrations, like weddings, or graduations, or bat mitzvah’s. And this, what’s going on right now, is anything but a celebration.
She hasn’t seen Jacob Black since her impromptu Statue Game in the middle of Bella’s funeral litany, and she thinks that’s maybe for the best. She doesn’t want to confront the irrational way her heart sped up for a split second as Jacob held her upper arm, guiding her firmly but gently in the direction of the podium so that she could speak.
She also doesn’t particularly want to think about the fact that when he’d been touching her, her arm felt as though it’d been on fire. And not an imaginary, hormonal sort of fire, either. It’d been all she could do not to jerk her arm away at the strange sensation burning just below her skin.
And then just as quickly as they’d appeared, the flames receded as Jacob’s hand left her skin.
No. It would not do to dwell on any of that.
But she isn’t sure what else to focus on, exactly.
Being at the Swan home feels strange to her, and she’s sure she’s not the only one feeling slightly uncomfortable. Her eyes lock with Chief Swan, just across the room, and she can tell by the way he fidgets that such a turnout is as unexpected for him as it is for her.
She wonders if he’d had the same plea about the rain on the evening prior as she had.
He smiles at her but it seems slightly off, not that she can blame him, and she turns her eyes elsewhere, feeling the beginnings of a flush creeping into her cheeks.
“You were really late.”
Her voice is so far away, it doesn’t even sound like her own, and she’s having a hard time keeping her head down, eyes trained on Ben’s inky black ones, because all she wants to do is stare straight over his head, and search out an escape.
She does her best to push away the thought that Jacob and his fiery warmth would be a comforting alternative. But it doesn’t work very well, so she convinces herself that she’s only thinking like this because she and Jacob are linked now, through Bella.
Except that she wasn’t in love with Isabella Cullen, but really that’s just a minor detail in the grand scheme of things.
“I needed you there, Ben.”
She’s even quieter than before, but the unspoken and I didn’t have you hangs heavy and loud in the space between them.
She’d seen him slip in late, sometime during the middle of her eulogy, smiling at her encouragingly, and even then, she could taste the apology in the air. Ben would never intentionally do this; never leave her alone in a sea of people that she didn’t know, to fend for herself. But it doesn’t change the fact that he’s managed to do it all the same.
There could be a million reasons why he was late; in fact there are, because he’s going through each and every one of them as they stand together in a corner of Chief Swan’s cramped living room. She surprises herself by realizing that she doesn’t really want to hear them. Because she knows she’ll believe him, forgive him, just like she always does.
It isn’t his fault after all.
“Ang, I’m really sorry. You know I am.”
She does, and that’s what makes things hard. Nodding at him, she begins to push away from the wall she’s been pressed up against for the past fifteen minutes, mumbling something about expressing her condolences to Renee and Charlie.
She hasn’t tasted punch this bad since she was in fourth or fifth grade (since she’s not exactly one for the dance circuit) and she thinks that’s probably a good thing, if the sugary explosion going on in her mouth is anything to judge by.
Several poorly disguised grimaces and two quick gulps later, she’s drained the small plastic cup, and believing she’s done her due diligence by at least pretending to like it, she feels no need to go in for seconds. That might just be taste bud suicide.
Suicide. It’s not how Bella died, of course, but it’s the entirely wrong thing to think in this moment, and her mouth turns down into a frown once more.
“That good, huh?”
Jacob’s voice is like the low rumble of a car with a shot muffler in her ear, and she stiffens beside him before relaxing. She hadn’t realized how close he was. She hadn’t realized he was anywhere near her.
But the heat that seems to almost radiate off of his body and onto hers (even though they’re at least a foot apart) is a dead giveaway.
She’s let him get even closer than Ben, and for a second, she feels slightly guilty about this. And then she realizes that she doesn’t need to, because there’s nothing going on between her and Jacob Black.
They’re merely conversing over badly mixed punch. Isn’t that what people do at funerals? Speak in low voices with each other, and nibble at food that nobody really wants to eat in the first place? Angela isn’t sure. She’s rather new at this, after all.
“Oh. Yeah, it. Yeah.” She’s too distracted by the fact that he seems to be emitting warmth like a space heater to answer his sarcasm back with any of her own. Unsurprisingly, snark is something that takes rather a lot of effort for Angela Weber to muster up.
“I should…I wanted to thank you.” He looks confused, and she can’t blame him. She’s acting like, well, Jessica is the first thing that comes to mind when she reviews her behavior, but that’s ridiculous because she’s not in love with Jacob Black. She hasn’t even said more than a handful of words to him, how could she be in love with him?
“For earlier, when I…well, you know,” she elaborates, surprised to find that when standing next to him, if she ducks her head to blush (which she does), he has to duck his head as well to see her face (which he does).
Being the average height of many a seventeen-year-old boy, this doesn’t happen often for her.
He’s not smiling at her, but something tells her that if they were talking in a situation other than this one (although why they would be thrown together in a situation other than this very one is a mystery to her), he probably would be.
“I probably looked so stupid standing there that way. Bella w—”
“Bella would help you.” The effort that it takes Jacob to grind her name out of his mouth is poorly disguised, and she also doesn’t miss that he’s still using the present tense when it comes to their deceased friend.
But she probably would have done the same. Going from blissful bride to charred remains isn’t a journey that most teenagers, no, most people make in three weeks. It’s all a little bit overwhelming.
She nods, looking slightly chastised. Of course Jacob would know, he’d know better than anyone.
“You’re, uh, Angela right?” When he scratches the back of his head, the too-small jacket hikes up to somewhere around the middle of his ribcage, and she has to suppress the urge to laugh.
Jacob notices, of course, and mumbles something that sounds like, “It’s Sam’s,” tugging on the sleeves and the hem alternately. She blinks up at him (up at him! This is a new sensation too) and he takes this as a cue to explain.
“I didn’t have one that fit. Most people I know aren’t exactly in the habit of dying.” He smirks as he says this, and she feels like she might’ve missed a joke somewhere along the line. There’s an underlying annoyance there too, and his brow furrows, mirroring the puckering along the shoulders of his suit jacket.
Angela feels the urge to smooth both out, again. And he doesn’t look quite so inclined to punch anything this time.
She smiles at the attempted humor even if she has no idea what he means, because everyone dies.