Title: Memento Mori

Author: Girl Who Writes

Characters: Alice; Jasper

Word Count: 4105

Rating: PG

Genre: AU, Angst

Summary: AU. The first time I saw my death, I was seven years old. Mary-Alice Brandon has always known where she would die.

Notes: So, there was an unintended hiatus. But I finally finished my degree, which is exciting! Shadow to Light is being difficult, but I hope to get the next chapter up before the end of the year! Memento Mori is completely done, so it will be updated regularly, and completed before Christmas.

Memento Mori was written to put a spin on the usual 'human and vampire' fic tropes (not that I don't love 'human!Alice' fics. They are like catnip, honestly. I've started like 4.) Most of the notes will come at the very end, or will be found on my twilight tumblr.

You can find me on tumblr as lexiewrites or goldeneyedgirl (my twilight-only blog), and I'm happy to chat about all things Twi-fic related.

Disclaimer: Twilight belongs to Stephenie Meyer; I'm just messing around with the characters.

"Seeing what scares you for what it is does not lessen the terror.

It still has the power to break your heart, over and over again."

Teri Terry

If you knew how you were going to die, how would you live your life?

Would you do anything special?

Would you do it for yourself or for others?

Would you greet it with fear, or with grace?

I don't think anyone really knows, honestly.

Not until they face it.


The first time I saw my death, I was seven years old and I was at my grandmother's funeral; it was just a flash of images, of blood and fear and the rain. I remember crying so hard, my father had to carry me out of the church.

Everyone thought my tears were for Grandma - even though I barely knew her, lost amongst her other grandchildren.

Or maybe it was the trauma of the open casket, even though she just looked like she was sleeping, and I barely glimpsed her.

I remember my father trying to calm me down in the rain; not being able to catch my breath, or even really explain what the matter was.

It was still hazy back then, like a water-smeared photograph, since nothing was set in stone.

The future could still change.

I could still live.

The second time I saw my death, I was nine, and putting on my bike helmet. My neighbour Carrie was already riding her bike around the street; I was too slow, she said. We both wanted to be good enough to tackle the ramps and jumps down at the park; the neighbourhood boys said girls weren't good enough to ride there.

I remember her perfectly, in those moments - her long blonde hair that was so beautiful and perfect; her pink and white cruiser with tassels on the handles, a white basket on the front, and an endless collection of beads on the tires was all so wonderful. It all matched her pink and white outfit perfectly. I had longed for her beautiful bike and clothes and hair. She was the girl I wanted to be.

But instead, my black hair was tightly cinched in plaits, and I was restricted to riding my bike in my 'play clothes': worn out t-shirts and shorts. My bike was a cacophony of neon colours, but I had no tassels or beads, and my basket was a disappointing brown. My helmet was green, something that could not be made up with my name spelt out in glitter-glue letters. I fell far short of the mark within the social hierarchy of fourth grade girls.

The street I grew up on was a cul-de-sac, often the place for the neighbour kids to gather and play kick-ball or softball. We had annual street-wide celebrations for all the big holidays, and more than once had we transformed the road into an endless, coiling hopscotch game with rainbow chalk. There was minimal traffic so deep in suburbia, and no reason to pay attention when Carrie turned her bike off the curb to ride across the street.

I don't remember what she called out to me as she went – was she going home, had I taken too long? Was I no longer a desirable playmate? Was she getting something to drink, a snack?

The flash of blood-pain-fear hit me suddenly, and all I could smell was wet forest and dirt; the rain falling onto my face and rolling down my cheeks. I remember gasping for breath, as if I couldn't get enough oxygen in; that it wasn't my shoe laces tangling in my fingers, but leaves and moss and roots of this terrible forest.

The sound Carrie's body made when the car hit here wasn't loud enough for anyone else to take notice, but it was enough to break me out of whatever had come over me. It sounded dull and unimportant: the time my basketball landed on my mother's windshield had sounded more dangerous.

There was a squeal of surprise from Carrie's mouth, the crunch as she hit the windshield, the clunk of her beautiful bike dragged under the car, and finally – finally – the thump-crack of Carrie's poor head meeting metal.

It took only a few seconds but it was too much, as if something so horrible shouldn't fit into the time it was allowed.

I knew the driver; he was a neighbour. He should have known better than the drive so carelessly into our street. It was only a few years ago that he would have been playing softball with us. He was struck dumb, bone-white, in the driver's seat as if he could not process what had just happened.

Carrie's body slid slowly off of the front of the car, to collapse on the wreckage of her beautiful, ruined bike. Her eyes were wide, her lips parted and blood-smeared. White bone stuck out of her dress obscenely, and her pretty blonde hair was smeared with blood and other stuff I did not want to consider.

The front wheel of her bike was still spinning.

And I finally screamed.

My death still didn't have a time or place, but I finally understood what I was being shown.

Death comes for everyone in the end.

I was ten when my fate was sealed.

I saw it all, as crisply as if it were happening at that moment, as if I could reach out and touch the leaves and the mud, could taste the rain on my lips. Smell the blood that leaked from me, leaving me feeling as cold as ice.

Whether or not such a thing as destiny existed, this was to be mine.

It would happen and there was nothing I could do to change it.

There was no point screaming anymore.

There was no one who could save me now.

I'm sure you think that I had a very disturbed childhood, from my recollections.

It's not normal to see death everywhere. It's not normal to watch your friend get hit by a car on a fall afternoon.

Or to know that you were going to be buried in a shallow grave.

But I knew nothing else.

And anyway, my upbringing was kind of ordinary back then.

I had two parents, a younger sister, and a dog. My father ran a huge import-export company; my mother had been an Olympic-hopeful volleyball player before she got pregnant with me, and now juggled housewife-duties with motivational speaking, and training other potential prodigies.

Every Friday night, we'd go to the movies and out for pizza; every Saturday we'd go to one of my sister's swim meets, and every Sunday we'd go to church. I loved ballet and gymnastics, and my sister loved swimming and dance. The summer I was nine, we went to Disneyland. The winter I was eleven, we went skiing.

We were nothing special. The biggest problems my parents had when I was young were my father's long work hours and impromptu business trips; my mom's hit and miss cooking, and my sister and I bickering.

There was never any sign that it would all fall apart.

And there was never a reason for why I was such a freak.

It was the very worst-kept secret that Mom regretted never making it to the Olympics, not even once.

She'd trained for years with her team; some of them had grown up together, gone to high school together, and they'd finally made it. Years of blood, sweat and tears; all those hours of training and they finally had their chance to win the gold and live up to the incredible potential they'd had when they were just blonde freshmen, wanting to be better than the cheerleaders.

Her best friend had been on that team – my 'Aunt' Jaime. They still had coffee twice a week, spent hours on the phone together; our families celebrated holidays together. Jaime had made it to the games, twice, and had the bronze medal to prove it – framed and hanging in her sitting room. She'd married a fellow athlete, and produced three blond sons - who were equally as athletic - and was content as a housewife.

I often wondered if Jaime could hear the edge in my mom's voice, every time they spoke, the sugary sweetness in my mother's voice, that covered something that wasn't sweet nor kind. It was a vile jealousy, a desperation to prove that her potential wasn't wasted, her life hadn't been ruined because of me. That she wasn't the posterchild for someone who peaked in high school.

I knew – we all did - that if she could do it all over again, I wouldn't be here. A trip over state lines and I would have been nothing; a wisp of a thought; a blunt lesson - it wouldn't have been a decision that weighed her down for very long.

But maybe that's what it was. She knew, instinctively, that I was abnormal. A freak. And she wished and regretted hard enough that the universe finally heard her.

And I had to go.

Up until I was ten or eleven, my freakishness was easy to hide. The visions were very rare, and I could easily conceal them as me not paying attention. I wasn't stupid enough to tell anyone yet. I thought, maybe, they'd go away.

I mean, some of my teachers thought I had attention problems, and sometimes my parents got frustrated because I was always distracted. But that was okay. I was just dreamy, vague Mary-Alice Brandon, who somehow managed to be hyperactive and absent-minded at the same time. I had 'imaginary friends' longer than was probably appropriate, and a vivid imagination, but nothing that made me look anything worse than quirky.

I thought they'd go as I grew up, the way magic powers in my favourite movies and fantasy books were only for the 'pure of heart'. But they didn't. I knew about toys that hadn't been released, new students, the weather – I even won several school contests guessing the amount of candy in a jar because I looked ahead to find the answer. I didn't have enough control of them to use them for anything helpful, like school tests or accidents, like when my father broke his foot.

For the most part, though, I was just normal. Overlooked by my parents, unimportant to my teachers, and with no particularly special relationship with my extended family. When I got older, I did idly wonder what my life would have been like if I hadn't had visions.

I didn't need to: my childhood wouldn't have really changed that much.

By the time I was fourteen, I felt like life was going too fast, that we were speeding completely out of control.

My visions started striking me anywhere, anytime. Not just the death one – that was triggered by certain things, like the rain. No, these were new. Like, I'd see Mom lock her keys inside her car, or Cynthia sprain her ankle.

My mother talking about me with my aunt.

My eldest cousin taking something in a club, and ending up in a coma.

Our neighbour stoically punching his wife for some forgettable error.

My father in bed with a diminutive blonde.

And… I couldn't take it anymore. I couldn't. I had to tell someone. My mom. She would help me, I was certain, even with the slight worry in the back of my mind. She'd hug me tight, and tell me it was fine, I was special. We'd talk it out, and then get ice cream, because that's how she always fixed problems Cynthia and I had.

It didn't happen like that, when I confessed everything. I don't know why, exactly, I didn't tell her about the death vision. But something stopped me. I only told her about the ordinary visions, about the smaller things that I saw. She stared at me as I confessed, my words tripping over my tongue, tearstained and frightened.

I thought she would help me, reassure me that it was okay, even if it wasn't fixable.

But she didn't. There was no hug, no proclamation of love, or ice cream. Just my mother's pinched face, her hand gripping the dish towel, and the silence in the wake of my confession.

I heard her telling my father that night, crouched on the landing. My father sounded waspish, annoyed, and I realised with a sinking feeling that my instincts had been right. I never should have told them.

Afterwards, Mom dragged me to doctors, who spoke of tumours, epilepsy, all manner of terrible diseases, until all the tests came back negative.

When they sent me to a shrink, I tried to learn not to tell what I saw, to smother it down like dirt on a fire, because no one believed what I was seeing what true.

No one wanted to believe what I was seeing could be true.

And if I wasn't sick, then I had to be crazy.

Mom and Dad never spoke about it again with me. It was just never mentioned. The shrink appointments didn't last long, and other referrals were discarded. But suddenly I was strictly supervised – certain books were confiscated, television shows banned; I had to be getting my wild ideas from somewhere.

Everyone thought that it all went wrong for me on that last day at school, but it was before then. Things very rarely go wrong all at once, like a fantastic cataclysm. No, misery is made out of one hundred tiny actions, death by a thousand cuts.

It wasn't all my fault, really.

We were, essentially, a normal family. That doesn't mean we were a happy family. Not by then, at least.

Really, our last good day was when Cynthia went to her swim meet and won. I mean, she won a lot of her meets – her bedroom was crammed with trophies. I preferred not to compete in gymnastics, so it was Cynthia that Mom focused all her energy on, encouraging her to be the best. The top coaches were hired, and she was at the pool so often, the smell of chlorine seemed to permeate the house.

That weekend, it was the finals. It was either the beginning of the real competition – kids from all over the state were swimming – or the end of the competitive season. The lucky kids were just grey from nerves – the rest were in the bathroom, puking. I knew a lot of the families in the swimming set, thanks to Cynthia's many years in the pool, and a lot of them were making their kids sick with the sheer pressure. Hell, Cynthia and I had both noticed friendships dissolve when Cynthia's rank in her swim team started to rise. But Cynthia was quietly confident. I always envied her of that – the total assuredness that whatever she threw into the ring wouldn't just be enough, it would be the best.

And she absolutely demolished the competition. She was the smallest on the podium, with a pageant-worthy smile, clutching a fistful of gold metals, a trophy that came up to her knee, and the knowledge that she'd be representing Mississippi in the nationals. Mom was teary, clutching her camera, and Dad bought her a big bunch of yellow roses. I stood on the railings and held up a sign with 'Cynthia Brandon' written on it in gold and blue letters, and later, helped her rearrange her bookcase so she had somewhere to put her trophy.

Her photo was in the paper – local and state – and on the cover of several regional sporting magazines. Mom bought half a dozen copies of each, and framed each picture, each article, hanging them prominently around the house.

Walking around our house, it was almost like my parents only had one daughter. My presence was shuffled to a couple of aged family portraits, and one posed photograph of me at a ballet recital.

Mom just told me that when I won a medal, she'd put my photos up, too.

That's when the bad days slowly crept in. My dad was travelling back-to-back, striding in to refill his suitcase, and leave behind discontent and laundry. When Cynthia wasn't at school, she was at the pool, endlessly training. My mother's resentment at being left behind by my father, and playing chauffeur to an increasingly tired and bratty Cynthia, seeped into every room.

It was inevitable that I'd be drawn into the bubble of unhappiness.

And in the end, it was something completely inane. I walked into my parents' room to ask mom where my pink sweater was. She was just sitting there on the end of the bed, with one of my dad's shirts in her lap.

The collar stained with deep red lipstick. Not the cheery pinks and nudes my mother favoured. This was the colour of wine, of roses, of sin.


She looked up at me, her eyes red. She wasn't wearing any make-up, and she just looked… old. Worn out, and faded. Raw and vulnerable, without her armour.

"Did you know?" she asked in an unexpectedly sturdy voice, looking at the shirt again.

Was she asking me as a daughter, or as the girl who saw the future? She hadn't believed me before, and now her nephew was learning how to talk again; our neighbour kept blaming her black-eyes and broken limbs on 'the basement stairs'.

And I knew exactly what she thought of me.

"Does it matter?" I asked, with that special brand of teenage haughtiness, born out of resentment, guilt, and fear.

She shook her head and looked back down at the shirt. "I don't know where your sweater is, Mary-Alice," was all she said in response.

I wore my blue sweater instead.

That was the true beginning of the end: a shirt stained with lipstick, and the closest either of my parents ever came to acknowledging my visions. Mom clearly decided I had taken Dad's side, and treated us both like traitors. Dad blamed me for Mom discovering his dirty little secret.

As if I were at fault, and not my mother throwing too much money at coaches to make Cynthia the high queen of teenage swimmers, or my father fucking a blonde younger than mom.

Cynthia was still blissfully ignorant, so they both fussed over her – shopping trips, concerts, movie trips. Trying to win her over to their side, their campaign. I was left to suffer in the stilted world of parental not-quite-silent treatment; ordered around, rather than asked, barely looked in the eye, only spoken to when entirely necessary.

It was… it was hard.

Fall came, bringing more rain than snow, and left me flashing to my own death multiple times a day, until I gave up leaving the house unless I was forced to. One of my aunts finally intervened in my parents' Cold War against each other, and Mom and Dad went to counselling, and started talking to each other in creepy, new-age phrases that probably only sounded good on cheap get-well-soon cards.

No one did anything about the Cold War against me.

I knew we were headed for disaster when I noticed the new routine; it was unnerving, fake, and unsustainable.

Dad would bring flowers home for Mom every Friday night, and Mom would make a roast dinner. A proper, sitcom-era family meal. Dad would kiss Mom on the cheek when she served, and then he'd carve the meat. We'd talk about our days, and chat about potential holidays, and say absolutely nothing to each other. I often wondered what would happen if I had put down my fork and told them the truth.

"I took the garbage out last night and stood in the rain for nearly ten minutes, thinking I was being buried in the woods somewhere, dying slowly. I could taste the dirt, and the mould in my mouth, I could smell blood, and I was so cold. I couldn't even scream."

Or, "Mom, the only thing I did wrong was sass you when you asked me if I knew Daddy was having an affair. You never believed my visions before, why would you believe them if I came to you and told you Daddy was fucking some blonde? Dad, you gave yourself away with a lipstick stain. None of this is my fault. You were the one cheating on Mom."

I never did. I ate my food, voiced my enthusiasm for a holiday in France, and kept my head down.

The night Mom burnt dinner, it all went to hell.

Dad was home late, angry as a bear about something that had happened at work; I had fled the second he stormed through the door. Cynthia was pouting about something; I don't remember what. Mom was on the phone to her sister the whole time, trying to cook at the same time and failing miserably.

When we all sat down, Mom slammed the pan on the table to reveal the ruined bird – blackened charcoal on the top, pink and oozing on the bottom. The heat of the pan left a scorch mark on the dining room table too; black, ugly and permanent, no matter how hard I scrubbed at the wood.

Dad looked at it and sneered, before he stood up and left the room. Mom just sank into her chair, with her head in her hands. Cynthia and I simply looked at each other, and began to clear the table, dinner sliding into the garbage with an inelegant 'plop'. We made sandwiches, and hid in her room, watching TV.

Neither of us slept that night, listening to the screaming arguments from my father's study, muffled enough that we couldn't quite make out what was being said, but enough to keep us awake.

I had to tell Cynthia then. About Dad, the blonde, and the lipstick.

I don't think she ever forgave me.

On Monday at school, my nerves were already shot from a very long weekend trying to avoid crossing the battlelines at home. It was full-on warfare, now the counsellor-induced spell was broken. Dad had made dinner Saturday night, pork chops with all the trimmings, and placed the food on the table with a smug smirk.

"Perfectly cooked - not that difficult when you pay attention."

Mom had glared at him, before seeing me, and a beatific smile graced her lips.

"You know Mary-Alice despises pork."

My father glared at me during the entire meal, and I had silently eaten vegetables as my mother simpered at me and promised to make me something delicious the next night.

Endless sniping, insults, muttered commentary – it had ruined the weekend, leaving Cynthia and I to lock ourselves in our respective bedrooms and do homework. But being alone only encouraged them to yell, so it wasn't much of a haven.

For Cynthia, it had been one terrible weekend. For me, it had been months and months of uncomfortable silences, glares, and resentment. Of seeing both my parents turn away from me because I was an easy scapegoat, a disappointment, a freak.

I stood at my locker, pulling out books when my friend Bree came up to me.

"Hey, Mary."

I turned, pasting a smile on my face, and gazed at her for only a second before I began to scream.

At the perfect dime-sized hole in her head, at the blood that was seeping through her dress, from her skin, dripping silently from her hair. The dark bullet holes that dotted the chest of my homeroom teacher, who immediately came to my rescue.

The single hole through my little sister's throat, as she ran to my side, looking terrified.

Of blood-splattered students, the slick floors, the hell that I had descended into.

When I turned around, to run as fast as I could, I saw him. Riley. I could see the gun in his hands, and then I couldn't, the image flickering in and out as he stared at me, just like everyone else.

"Riley has a gun."

Four words that changed fate and saved my sister, my teacher, and my friend.

Four words that I couldn't explain, just that I knew Riley had a gun and was planning on hurting a lot of people.

Four words that had my father drive me to Oregon the next day, to the best and furthest hospital my parents could find, because I was 'sick'.

Four words that meant Riley got suspended, and then shot himself in the head a week later.

Four words that changed my life.