This was brutal to write, but here's Charlies POV after everything. Enjoy, and let me know what you think. Two more epilogues and then that's it.

"How are you feeling today?"


"Can you elaborate?"


"Maybe we should reschedule?"

Rescheduling means another day of monotony. Another day of nothing. Another day I'll have to see her again.


Dr. Crawford leans forward on her desk, places her pen and paper down, and looks at me.

"Then we need to be open and honest with each other, Mr. Swan. When I ask you how you're feeling, I'm not looking for what you think I want to hear. I'm looking for how you're actually feeling."


"Let's state over. How are you feeling today, Charlie?"

She watches my face. I don't hate Dr. C, but she says a lot of stuff that makes sense and I resent her for it. "Tired."

"Is that unusual?"


"Are the sleeping pills too strong?"


She puts the paper down again. "Charlie, a little assistance with the session would be nice. If you think the dose is too high, I can recommend a smaller—"

"I can't stay asleep."

"Okay, now that makes more sense."

She goes on and on about the side effects of the other medication being difficult sleep patterns, so she actually increases the dosage of the sleeping pill she has me on. I don't say anything though… maybe I'll take it and never wake up.

"Have you heard from her?"

My teeth gnash against each other. The onsite dentist pulled my back molar a few days ago, and it's still sore, but I like the pain so I do it again.

"Your daughter, Charlie, have you—"

"I know who you're talking about," I spit. "And no, I haven't heard from her."

"How does that—"

I'm standing, pushing my chair back before I even know what I'm doing. "I swear to god if you ask me how that—"

"Security," Dr. Crawford calls into the phone system.

"I'm sorry," I tell her, sitting immediately. "I'm sorry."

Last time this happened, she called security and I was put in solitary for a week. I didn't even touch her! But I'm sure as shit not going back there. Solitary makes you wish you were dead—nothing to do, say, speak about. You don't talk to anyone for seven straight days, and then you go back to your cell and find your shits been ransacked.

I fucking hate this place.

When security arrives, Dr. C dismisses them.

"Tell me you're coping skills," she says.

Dr. C has been working with me for the last two years. She was kind and sweet at first, but I hated it. She says it was a trigger—reminded me of the other women in my life. My daughter and wife. I don't know if I buy it, but she's stopped since then. Now she's stern. I can relate much more.

I sigh and lean forward, resting my elbows against my knees, head supported by my fists.

"Deep breaths, taking a walk, reading a book."

"Perfect. When I say Renee, what's the first thing that comes to mind?"

I close my eyes. Pain. Hurt. Sadness. Disappointment.

"Nothing," I lie.

"Come on, Charlie. Give me something."

"How about Aro?"


She laughs. "I like it. Dimitri?"


"Perfect, Charlie!" she praises, crossing her legs under her desk. Her plump legs stick out the bottom. "What about Edward?"

I think for a minute.


Closing my eyes, I feel so much but so little.

Honest. Prick. Fighter. Bella.

I sigh irritably and tell her one of the only honest things I've ever said. "Caregiver."

"Interesting, Charlie. Caregiver for you?"

I shake my head. She's being dense on purpose. I need a drink. I need a fucking bottle. Two years and I still miss the burn of liquor as it coats my insides.

"To Bella."

Dr. C nods. "I appreciate the honesty, Charlie, thank you. What comes to mind when I say Bella?"

I'm immediately tense and irrationally angry at the thought.

The same thoughts as earlier.

Pain. Hurt. Sadness. Disappointment.

"The same things I thought about Renee," I tell her honestly.

She nods. "Good, Charlie. Can you tell me one?"


"You're hurt?"

"No, they're hurt."

"What makes you think they are hurt?"

"Because I fucking hurt them!" I bellow.

Dr. C doesn't even flinch.

"How did you hurt them?"

My teeth grind back and forth, and I fight the urge to throw the wooden chair I'm sitting on across the room.

"Something you did? Something you said?"


"Be specific."

"I hurt them both. I said bad things. I did bad things. I am bad."

"Let's break that a part," she starts. "I know your history with your daughter. You've expressed you made poor choices and that led to the current relationship, or lack of. Now… you're wife… I'm a little confused. What bad things did you do or say to her?"

The sigh is from deep inside, and it burns as I blow out.

"Not to her," I admit. "I hurt her because of how I treated Bella after she died."

"So you think you hurt Renee after she died because of your actions towards Bella?"


Dr. C nods. "I see you, and I hear you, Charlie. Thank you for the honesty. I know reliving past trauma is hurtful in so many ways, but I hope you can see how you've changed in the short time you've been here."

"It's been years," I tell her.

She agrees. "But when you were first assigned to me, you wouldn't even speak their names, Charlie. Now look at you."

She continues on talking about growth and goals and assistance in the coming years. I'm sentenced to 86 years in prison for the murder of Aro and Dimitri. Aro I claimed self defense as they did find a gun on him, but Dimitri I got the full sentence on. I could have fought. I could have told my story. I could have said everything, but they would have looked into Edward and Jasper and I figured that's the only thing I could give them—Jasper, Edward, Bella… a chance at life.

"Can we talk about a goal, Charlie?"


"How do you feel about writing a letter to Bella?"

"Not good."

"I understand and I appreciate your honesty, but in order to work through some of this trauma and PTSD, we have to try. Can you try with me, Charlie?"

I want to scream no, call her a dumb cunt, punch her in the fucking mouth for being so stupid, but I don't. I sit and breathe easily, warring inside myself.

"I'll do it on my own," tell her.

She nods. "Let me know when you are done. I'll address it, stamp it, and send it for you."

"I can—"

She shakes her head. "You know the rules."

Nothing comes in and nothing goes out unless it's okayed by a supervisor.

"Fine," I grumble, heading back to the door.

"Have a wonderful week," she calls.


During activity hour, I sit in the corner and write and rewrite a dozen letters. Nothing looks good. Nothing feels good. Nothing coneys the feelings inside.

I don't even know the feelings inside, honestly.

"Sup, Swan?" Benji asks, sitting beside me.

"Writing a stupid letter so Dr. C gets off my ass."

He laughs because he knows. He's in the same group therapy as me. He's much younger, but his story is way worse. That's how it goes a lot of the time in here. Sometimes I feel like a fucking idiot for what I did. These kids were born into it, and I just fucking created it myself.

"Who's the letter for?" he asks, changing the TV station.

Swallowing hard, I answer honestly. "My daughter."

"Oh shit, I didn't know you were a pops. How old is she?"

I shrug. How old is she now? "Twenty one maybe."

"Word," he says, eyeing me. "Not too close then?"

"Not really."

He stops talking for a while as I scratch out another letter.


Did you get the money?


How are you? Are you okay?


My therapist made me write this.


Did you graduate high school?


I hate myself

"Alright dude, I'll catch you later," Benji says, standing to leave. Before I can say goodbye, he says, "sometimes the hardest things to say are the best things to say."

His words sink in my heart like an anchor. I don't want to do this. I don't want to feel this. I don't want anything.

Slamming the workbook closed, I stand an push in the chair a little harder than I wanted to, and when the guards look at me, I raise my hands in defeat. "The chair got stuck," I lie.

They let me go.


Another week passes and I'm in group.

Benji isn't here. Last I heard, he got sent to solitary for jumping the new kid, so now I have no one to roll my eyes at.

"Charlie, how's that letter to Bella coming?" she asks.

She does it on purpose, I fucking know it. Her name in front of all these fuckers. Red blurs my vision. Anger erupts inside of me.

"Who's Bella?" a man my age asks.

"Would you like to—"

"No," I scathe.

"Your daughter?" the guy asks. I know him. I hear his story at least once a month. He killed his wife on a drug induced psychotic break. His daughter visits once a year. He counts down every 365 days.

I say nothing. They don't need to know. It's not their business.

The guy glances from me to Dr. C and shakes his head.

"It doesn't get easier until you accept," he says easily. "Nothing is easy when you won't even face the truth."

Fuck off I think silently.

"What's the truth?" Dr C asks.

"The truth is we all hurt someone. That's why we're in here. Some of us are in here for life and you can easily live out the rest of your time and not speak to anybody, but then you have to die with that on your conscience. You want your family thinking you're some fucked up loser for the rest of their lives? Write the damn letter. Say you're fucking sorry. If you're not sorry then what are you?" he asks all of us.

I think about what he says for the next few weeks, but every time I sit to write the letter, nothing comes out.

"Making and headway?" Dr. C asks a few weeks later. She's been keeping up with me and asking if I want help, but I keep telling her no.


"Why do you think that is?"

I shrug.

"Are you sorry?" she asks.


"Are you sorry for what you did?"

Images of Bella throughout the years rush through my mind. Learning to walk, smiling at her mom, crying at the funeral, locked in the bathroom for days when we moved, moping around asking me to take her to see Edward, crying when he came back into town, screams in the middle of the night, wetting the bed, her finger cut when she cleaned up the broken glass in the living room, my hand print on her cheek when she reminded me of Renee, the shell of a person she used to be.

For the first time in a very, very long time, I can feel the tingles of something in my nose, the wetness against my eyelashes, the heaviness of my actions.

"Yes," I whisper.



I'm in a therapy class and the lady said I should write to you, so I am. There's not a lot I can say to make up for the wrongs I've done. You deserved better.

I'm sorry.



Inmate number 9-13531

It's the best I can do.

I want to ask her what she's doing, where she's at, if her and Edward at still together, if she used the money I left for her, if she went to college. My biggest fear is that she's in the house, following in my footsteps. Stumbling around the same stairs I've fallen down dozens of times before. I think about the shambles of a room I left for her to clean. Dirt, beer cans, garbage everywhere.

I shake my head in disappointment.

"I don't know who to send this to," I tell Dr. C honestly. "I don't know where she's living."

Dr. C nods. "She stayed with Mark Brandon after you were arrested. Does that name sound familiar?"

Mark… Mark… not really.


"Oh, I think her friend was Alice Brandon."

"We can have it sent there, and if not, it'll be returned here. I'll let you know, okay?"

Dr. C wraps my letter in one that she has written that simply says Isabella Swan so that no one else reads it.


A week passes.

"Anything?" I ask Dr. C.

"No, but it's still very early."


A month passes.


"Not yet," she says with a smile.


Six months pass.

"Still nothing?"

Her smile wanes. "It takes time especially if she's not ready."


One year.

"Remember that the letter wasn't for her, Charlie. It was an exercise in trauma for you."


Eighteen months later, and not a peep from anyone.

I've moved on, I've accepted, I've dealt with the trauma.

"How are you feeling today?" Dr. C asks.

"Not too bad, I guess," I answer honestly.

"Last week you were having some internal pain. Was the doctor able to schedule you for an exam?"

"They're doing some kind of test next week," I tell her.

"What would you like to discuss during today's therapy session?"

I scratch my head, thinking of all the options. It's taken me so long to get here, but I've faced ever difficult thing I've ever done head on.

"I think I'd like to discuss my wife," I tell her honestly.

It's taken me so long to finally call her that, my wife, and not Renee.

"That's what she is," Dr. C would say. "She died, but she is still your wife. Why would you think otherwise?"

"I guess because of what happened after she died. She wouldn't have wanted to be married to me."

"Do you think you would have become an alcoholic and abused your daughter if she didn't die?"

I shrug. "I don't know. I like to think not."

"We all anticipate and work through grief in our own ways. You chose to ignore the trauma and grief and lashed out on anyone and anything that reminded you of your old, happier life," she explains that same day. And since then, it just clicked.

Dr. C smiles now. "And what about her?" she asks.

"I just… I miss her," I tell her honestly. "It's her birthday next week, and I just… I really miss her."

"Charlie, thank you for sharing that. What do you miss most?"

I smile at all the memories I allow myself to see now that I'm no longer angry and blocking them. Now that I can see clearly.

"She loved sprinkles so much that on Bella's sixth birthday, she put them in everything. Not just the cake and ice cream, but her eggs for breakfast, and peanut butter sandwich for lunch, and mashed potatoes for dinner."

Dr. C laughs and it feels good to talk about these things again.


Four years later.

"Charlie, good to see you," Dr. Jones says with a smile. He walks in quickly and shuts the door. "We just got your most recent round of tests back. Looks like the spot on your liver has grown."

It's not sad or apologetic. He says it very matter of fact, and I appreciate it.

I nod in understanding. "Where do we go from here."

"Couple of options," he says quickly. "But first we'll start with a biopsy. I have you scheduled for Friday at ten."

"Will it hurt?"

He nods. "You'll be uncomfortable afterwards, but nothing too bad."


"Charlie, lovely to see you," Dr. C says as I enter the room.

Over the years, after meeting most goals, I've graduated from twice a week, to once a week, to once a month therapy session. It's required of all inmates who engaged in homicidal acts to be enrolled in a therapy session once a month, so I'll never not have Dr. C.

"I have something for you," she says, pulling open a drawer and handing me a thick manilla envelope.

"What's this?" I ask.

In all the years I've been here, I never once received a letter let alone a package.

She shrugs with a smile. "Open it."

But I don't. Not yet, anyways. Instead, I study the crisp edges of the envelope. It looks new.

"You didn't read it?" I ask.

"No," she says honestly. "I think it's best if you do."

When I turn it over and run my hands along the black scroll of ink, the name sticks out:

Isabella Marie Cullen

So she married him after all.

Tears obliterate my eyes and senses. I can't stop them. It's relief and sadness and regret and apprehension. The tension pulls at my shoulders as I place the envelope in the chair next to me.

"How are you feeling?"



"Why is she sending me something after all this time?" I ask softly. "After, what's it been, eight years since I've been in here? Why now?"

"Those are all very good questions," she tells me. "If you'd like, we can read it together, or we can schedule another session this week to talk things over."

I nod. "Maybe."

We continue the session, but all I can think about is the weight of whatever is in the envelope next to me.


It takes me two days to grow a pair and open it. Inside is a worn journal with pages that look like they've been flipped through a lot.

After the first page, I can't read anymore.

It's exactly what I thought it would be.

June 15th

I hate you.

June 19th

Why didn't you just give me up for adoption when mom died. That would have been the best thing you could've done for either of us. I forgot though, you're so selfish.

I really hate you.

June 22nd

Were you like this when mom was alive and I just didn't notice, or did you hide your true self from her too? Why are you like this?

I hate you.

June 27th

My therapist told me these should be more productive. I should tell you my feelings and not just blame you, but how can't I? I had to raise my damn self because you certainly couldn't do it. Do you know what it's like to be fifteen and worry about the heat turning off in January? I do. Do you know what it's like sleeping with THREE locks on a door because you fear your father is going to beat you? I do.

You made me feel weak and powerless. I am neither of those things, Charlie. I am Renee's daughter. I am strong. I'm not you.

I hate you for making me feel pathetic.

You are the pathetic one.

July 1st

I'm moving today and you're wherever you are. You probably don't even think about me, why would you? I'm nothing to you. You've proven that over the years. I just wanted to let you know that I'm never coming back. The house is gone, and so am I. Thinking about you makes me so angry I wish I could—

I wish I could change everything. I wish it was you who got cancer and died. Mom would never treat me like this. You've ruined everything.

I hate you because you're the worst father ever.

I have to close the book after every few entries. The first dozen are hard to read. I can feel her pain. She writes until thanksgiving that year, blaming me, hating me, wishing death on me… and I understand.

Then she doesn't write until Renee's death the following year.

May 31st, 2022—

I'm writing on mom's death anniversary. I used to wish it were you instead. I still do, but only because I miss her so much. Have you even thought about her since?

Yes! I want to scream. Yes! I miss my wife so much that it feels like I'm dying.

July 7th, 2022—

Edward told me I'm so angry lately, and it has to be because of you. My therapist says to write more, but there isn't anything to say.

I still hate you.

August 12th, 2022—

My therapist says it's a good idea to ask a question each entry and answer it from my point of view. Here's todays: Why did you hurt me?

I think you hurt me because you're selfish only cared about yourself. You hurt me because it was easier than feeling. You hurt me because I looked just like her. You hurt me because you didn't want to hurt yourself. You're selfish.

I grab a pen and write in the space under her entries.

I hurt you because I wanted to hurt myself. I did only care about me, that's the truth. I did what was best for me and that's all. I numbed the pain with drinking, drugs, anything I could afford. I didn't want to take care of your after she died. I wanted to die too. Losing you both at the same time was easier than being reminded all the time that she wasn't there. I should have been better. I should have got us both into therapy. I should have tried harder. I should have let you be a kid and not worry about the things you did. I should have been better.

September 7th, 2022—

Why did you throw all of mom's things away? Did you think I wouldn't want them? Of course a little girl who just lost her mom and is grieving alone would want anything to remind her of her mom. You're so selfish. I feel like you did this stuff on purpose—just to hurt me.

This one hurts a little… a lot. I truly take in her words. Did I do it on purpose? I don't think so. Did I know what I was doing? Yes, but it just hurt too much to keep it all.

Bella, I realize now the mistakes I made years ago. After your mother died, I had nothing… I'm sorry, that's wrong. I had you, but you didn't want me and I knew it. Having her stuff around, being in the same home as her, reminders everywhere… Bella, I couldn't. I'm sorry.

For the first time that I can remember, I'm apologizing to my daughter. It hurts, and it's embarrassing, and my fingers squeeze the pen as I write, but I did it.

Did you get the box full of your moms stuff? It's the most important parts of her I couldn't throw away. It's been a very, very long time since I looked in there, and I can't remember what I even packed away, but I hope you got it, and I hope it brings you peace.

January 3rd, 2023—

I haven't written because I've been dealing with my own stuff. My therapist has been helping to heal the holes that my childhood has left. I blame you less and less, but a part of me still resents you, and that's okay. My therapist says I have a lot of trauma and PTSD to work through. Sometimes I feel like this is pointless, stupid, senseless… I know I'll never send this to you. I don't even know where you are… is it helping me? I don't know… I guess. I read through the previous entries and hate myself for it. Was I being too hard? But then I think no I wasn't because I remember all the things you did and said to me. Do you know what it's like to go to school as a sixteen year old and hide the bruises her daddy left on her face? The best thing I ever did was meet Jasper. He helped me realize I'm not your punching bag. See… I started off content in this entry. I was going to talk to you with a level head, but now look… maybe I'm just not ready.

It's okay. You can be mad, be mean. I treated you worse than garbage. It's not undeserved, I promise. My own therapist helps me work through the trauma I put us both through as well. She has said a lot of useless but useful things in the past few years. I'm sorry, Bella.

The next few journal entries are much the same… trying to move past the hurt, but unable to. They're hard to read, but my response is always the same: I'm so sorry.

I take my time to read about Bella throughout the years. Sometimes she writes very little, others she writes pages and pages. Some years there are only a handful of entries, other years it takes me an hour to get through. She goes through highs and lows, and I hate myself as I feel her sadness radiate off the paper. Occasionally, I run my fingers over the crinkled, smeared-blue lines where I know her tears have splattered.

December 30th, 2025—

Edward and I celebrated our wedding last week. It was small, private, but everything I hoped for. You weren't there. Mom wasn't there. No one was there. Alice walked me down the aisle, did I tell you she's pregnant again? Her and Jasper are having a little girl. Rosalie and Emmett are pregnant too, but they're not finding out the gender until he or she is born. Edward treated me like a princess, just like he always has. In a perfect world, you would have been there. In a perfect world, you would have had to discreetly wipe your eyes from the emotion of seeing your only daughter—only child—on their wedding day. In a perfect world, you would have done the father-daughter dance, not Mr. Cullen. But it's not a perfect world, is it, Charlie? You're in jail, and I'm out here. Sometimes I wonder if you ever think about me?

All the time.

Over time, she stopped talking at me like she hates me and started talking to me like a friend. In my head, I know this is cathartic for her… she doesn't think I'll ever read this, and I actually like that. I get to hear her thoughts as no one else does. It's selfish of me, but I like it. Bella and I have never had a relationship like this and we never will, but it feels nice to pretend.

So that's what I do.

The cup in front of me isn't white paper, it's ceramic and filled with coffee. The table in front of my isn't surrounded by other inmates on activity break, it's a dining room table in the home I shared with Renee. The notebook in front of me isn't filled with regret, it's snail mail from my daughter who misses me.

March 19th, 2026—

Mr. Cullen and his girlfriend are engaged. They haven't been dating very long, and Edward's a little nervous, but I told him his dad is finally happy.

July 4th, 2026—

Do they set off a firework show in jail? I always wondered… what about a Christmas tree, or thanksgiving dinner?

No fireworks, but there's a tree they set up for Christmas, and there's a thanksgiving dinner that is a little less traditional than you'd think. I wonder what your Christmas tree looks like? Is it real or fake? Do you collect ornaments like your mother did?

Over the next couple days, I try to take my time and read each passage, responding with as much room as I can manage between entries. Her most recent one stuns me though.

February 14th, 2028—

Edward and I are pregnant. I found out on Christmas, and told him the same day. Of course he cried, he's Edward. What do you think about that, Charlie? I'm going to be a mom.

It takes a little while, and I have to read the words repeatedly, but I can finally answer.

He or she is very lucky to have you both as parents.

I want to say because she raised herself, but I choose not to.


The biopsy goes as well as expected. I have a feeling… I just have a feeling.


The following Tuesday is a pretty sunny day. During activity hour, I sit at the table outside talking to Benji about his sister coming to visit him. He waits for her all day. She never shows.


Bella's last journal entry was February, and Dr. C gave me her journal in May. I wonder what she's been up to since then. Last week, as soon as I could, I gave the journal back with all the entries I had written so she could mail it to Bella.

"You sure you don't want to keep it?" Dr. C asks.

"I'm positive."

She smiles softly.

"Okay, Charlie."


"Mr. Swan," Dr. Jones says loudly as he walks into the sterile room. "We got the results of your biopsy back," he says, sitting in the chair and swiveling over to me. "We're looking at late stage liver cancer, Charlie."

"What's that mean?" I ask plainly.

He's quiet for a moment before sitting up straight and continuing.

"Probably 2 years without treatment. With treatment it'll be closer to 5."

"And treatment means…"

"Chemotherapy, possibly radiation if needed. Chemo entails a surgery to place a port in your vein to inject the chemo into. Depending on the route we decide and taking into consideration the aggressiveness of the cancer, it'll be a weekly injection. Side effects include nausea, diarrhea, mouth sores, hair loss, dry eyes and skin, loss of appetite, extreme fatigue, bruising—"

"Okay," I say, stopping the onslaught of information. "Okay."

"Okay?" Dr. Jones asks.

"Yeah!" I tell him angerly. "When you basically tell a person they're dying, they need a minute."

Dr. Jones nods. "Take all the time you need, Charlie. The side effects are extremely severe but they can buy you some time."

"Some time for what?" I snip at him. "To sit in my cell and wait out my days? What's it matter if I die in 3 years, 5 years, 40 years? I'll be in the same exact place." I don't mean to, but I laugh. It's absolutely ridiculous. "I mean, I'm in prison. Do I even get the choice of receiving chemo?"

He nods. "You are a united states citizen, Charlie. You have the same constitutional right to health care. I'm going to give you the day to think about it. I'm also going to recommend in your chart a session with your psychiatrist before consulting with me again this week."

Recommend is code for required in this place, so I don't even fight it.

By dinner time, Dr. C has called me into her office.

"There's my favorite patient," Dr. C says with a smile. She's got her coat on and her desk locked up.

"No notes?" I ask.

She shakes her head. "Not this time. Tell me what's going on?"

"I'm sure you know."

"I'd like for you to tell me."

"I have cancer."


"And I'm dying."

"We're all dying, Charlie."

I roll my eyes. "I'm dying at a faster rate."

Dr. C nods. "And how do you fe—"

"I feel scared," I tell her honestly.

"Rightfully so."

"I feel like I've made all this progress for nothing."


"I've made progress to turn right back around and what? Die in a year?"

She lets me vent everything I've been thinking in my head all day no matter how ridiculous. I tell her I have no one and nothing and that's all. No one will miss me, or care. I'm not even sure if anyone will be notified.

"You mean Bella?"


"Would you like to tell her together?"


"We can try calling—"

"I don't have her number."

"Let's write her a letter."

I stand and push my chair in.

"I'm tired of writing letters, Doc."

Dr. C shakes her head with a grimacing smile. She's at a loss. When I turn to look out of her window that overlooks the courtyard, I notice she swipes at her cheeks quickly. The only person to cry for me in a decade, and it's my god damn psychiatrist.

Pretending like I don't notice, I keep staring out the window.

"Do you think it's selfish if I deny treatment?"


My head nods automatically. "Like taking the easy way out."

"Charlie," she starts, clearing her throat softly. "I don't think there's any easy way out here."


The next morning, I feel pain. Who knows if its all in my head, or if my cancer is actually painful, but I can feel it now. My hand goes to my stomach, my side, my back hoping to find something… a lump, or line, anything to tell me it's real.

I just have the doctors words to go off of.

So many times I've prayed for this. So many times I've wished and hoped and begged for it to be over, to be with my wife, to be out of here, to end it all… and now my prays are answered just when I don't want them to be.

"Swan," one of the guards says. "Visitor."

In the eight years I've been here, this is a first.

He takes me through the lunch room, past the bathrooms, through a hallway of guards, and buzzes me into the visitor room.

Inside the room are round tables, a guard at each corner of the room, and other inmates with their family members. It's loud, but manageable in here.

I don't even try to make guesses as to who it would be because there's literally no one.

But when the door at the other end buzzes open and a female guard escorts Edward into the room, I can't help but laugh.

Edward smirks like he doesn't want to but is anyways.

"Charlie," Edward says evenly, standing before me.

He's taller than I remember, less scrawny, more stubbly, and little wiser around the eyes. A gold band wraps around his ring finger.

"Or should I call you dad?" he laughs, sitting down.

"What—" I start but can't finish. "How? Does Bella know?"

"Sort of."

"Sort of?"

"We talked about me coming to visit you the last few years, but she doesn't know I'm here today."

I nod in understanding. "How are you?"

Edward smiles. "I'm fucking awesome."

And he looks it.

"Good," I tell him awkwardly.

"You look like hell."

I scoff and nod. "I feel like it."

We sit in awkward silence for a few minutes as we take one another in.

"Did Bella get the journal back?" I ask.

He nods. "Well, sort of. I opened it and read it. She's pregnant as you know, so I don't want anything sending her into premature labor until he's ready."


Edward smiles. "He."

"How is she?"

"She's… much better."

"How was she?"

Edward's face contorts painfully for a brief moment before he looks back up at me. "It took some time to undo a lot of the stuff that was done."

My fingers rub against my face in irritation. It's hard to hear this firsthand.

"Tell her I'm sorry," I say to Edward.

He nods. "Okay."

We spend the next few minutes talking about where they are in life, careers, their wedding, everything. He talks animatedly about Bella and her intelligence and everything she's accomplished.

When he leaves, I almost think about telling of my cancer, but I don't. He doesn't need to know yet.

He promises to give Bella the journals as soon as it's safe for her and the baby. I nod in understanding.

There's a permanent smile etched into my face the rest of the day.


I don't see Edward again until July.

By then, I've decided to do treatment, and I've lost almost all my hair. The port in my chest doesn't stick out, but there's a scar there and Edward can't stop looking at it.

"I have cancer," I tell him.

"What stage?"


"Where else is it?"

"It started in my liver and spread to my lungs. We're doing chemo to buy some time."

Edward looks away but nods.

"How is she?"

He smirks. "Very swollen."

"Does she know—"


"Why are you here?" I ask curiously.

"To tell you I forgive you."

"For what?"

He stares into me. There's a flash of anger before resignation takes over.

"For fucking up my wife's life."

I nod. "Thank you."


Edward doesn't come in August or September. It's almost the end of October and my hairs starting to grow back.

Unresponsive is the word Dr. Jones used yesterday in the office.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Swan. Your cancer is unresponsive to the drugs."

Now, I'm waiting to be put on a more intense round of chemo next week. In the last few weeks, my coughing has increased, and I can't help but think this is it. And then the blood starts. It's not a lot, not like you see in movies, but I can taste it in my mouth. Coppery-saliva mixes against my tongue and it's so fucking scary.

"Swan, you have a visitor."

I follow the guard back to the visitation room and wait for Edward. It takes a while today. They must either be back up or running behind. I know those security guards take really long lunches too—

"Charlie?" a soft voice asks from a few feet away.

It looks just like her.


Both of them.

Renee and Bella merged into one.

Tiny frame, arms wrapped securely around her middle, nervousness as she bounces from foot to foot.

"Bella?" I ask, meeting her eyes.

And then I hop out of the chair and stand next to it.


"What—how—why—is that really you?"

"Yes," she says softly, slipping into the chair at the table.

I follow suit.

"You look… different," she starts.

"Uhm, did he… did Edward tell you…"

She nods gently. "He told me everything."

"How's… what's his name?" I ask realizing Edward never told me.

She smiles, glancing down. "Forrest."


It's enjoyable to sit and listen to Bella talk. She doesn't say much, and that's okay, but I listen to everything and anything in between. She seems happy, and full of life, and smiles when she talks about Edward.

"Where is he?" I ask.

"Watching Forrest."

I want to ask if they can all come next time, but I don't. I won't. It's not up to me.

"So it's bad?" Bella asks, glancing up to my balding head.

"Yes," I tell her honestly.

She nods, swallows, and looks away.

"I got the journal back… the one you sent back with your additions. I just… I wanted you to know that I got them."

"Okay," I tell her. "Good."

"And, uhm," she says uncomfortably, licking her lips and looking around. "I wanted to tell you that if you wanted to, you could, like, start writing more. I mean, if you want. I'm okay with it." She speaks nervously, but her words make me smile.

"I will," I tell her, nodding my head.

"Okay. Well. Uh, I'll see you?"

And just like that, Bella walks right back out of the same door she entered.


I write to Bella three times before she writes back. At first, I didn't think she was getting them, but Dr. C says she wrote the address perfectly.

And when Bella writes back, she includes two pictures. One of Forrest curled up in a crocheted outfit sleeping peacefully, the other a family picture of her, Edward, and their son. All smiling happily.

I place them on top of my pile of stuff in my cell.


In January, Bella and Edward come together. We talk about a lot of stuff. My cancer that hasn't grown since starting the new treatment, Edward's job as senior vice president of his company, Bella's job as a teacher, and his dad's wedding.

Before they leave, Edward and Bella share a glance and I know they're talking through their eyes. Bella rolls her eyes and faces back to me.

"Uhm, if you want, I can give you our phone number and you could call?"

It puts a smile on both my face and Edwards.

"I'd like that but first," I say, scooting my chair in. "I just… I need you to hear it," I tell her.

"No," she says automatically.

"Please," I whisper. "Please let me say it."


"Bella," Edward says, hand around her forearm, whispering in her ear something I can't hear.

Bella glances up and swallows what looks like thorns in her throat.

"If I lived one hundred lifetimes, it wouldn't be enough to tell you I'm sorry," I start. "I'm sorry for abandoning you, hurting you, hurting myself, not being who you needed. Two words will never make up for the hurt that I've caused, but I can try my best to use the time I have left to make sure you know it's real. I'm sorry, Bella."

She puts her hand up to stop me, but her eyes are on her lap.

"Can we go?" she asks.

Edward nods and she practically bolts through the doors.

Edward him haws around before explaining, "she's trying her best to accept."

I nod in understanding.

"Geez," the guard says as I stand to leave. "She doesn't like you much, does she?"

"No," I tell him honestly.


The next letter comes, and in it is their home number. The first time I call, there's no answer.

The second time, a few days later, it's just Edward. We speak briefly before the baby wakes up, and then he hangs up on me.

And it goes like this all over spring. They don't visit again, I only speak to Edward if I call, and Bella only writes to me twice in the last few months.

But I write to her.

I write to her almost every day.

"You're going to run us dry of stamps," Dr. C jokes as I hand her yet another letter. "How is everything?"

"It's pretty good," I tell her.

"You seem better. How are you feeling?"


"Your cancer?"

"Hasn't grown."

"That's awesome, Charlie."

I decide to give Edward a call one afternoon in May. It asks my to state my name before connecting to the call. The phone rings as I think about what to say.

"Hello?" a female voice asks.


"Hi, Charlie."

"How are you?"

"Good, just getting puked on by the baby."

I laugh into the phone. "That doesn't sound fun. Want me to let you go?"

"No, it's okay," she says softly.

I haven't been excited in many, many years, and it almost feels foreign, but this is it. Excitement.

We talk for twenty minutes about all the things I've said in my letters, her work, Edward, Rosalie, Alice, kids that I don't have any reference about but I pretend like I do to keep her talking. Mae slept over last weekend and she's still recovering from lack of sleep, Edward's promotion giving them more time together, going on a vacation this summer… everything.

She laughs and I stop breathing so I can remember the pure sound forever.

By the time we hang up, she promises to visit in the next few weeks. Bella doesn't know this, but now it's all I can look forward to.


She doesn't visit until July, though, and that's okay because at least she came.

"My therapist helped me write down some stuff to talk about," she says evenly.


"First," she starts, tears already streaming down her face. "And most important… I forgive you."

It's a weight that lifts off us both. Bella nearly gasps when she says it.

"I forgive you, Charlie," she says again. "I practiced that so many times," Bella cries in relief. "I forgive you but I don't forget, okay? I don't forget that the things that happened."

It takes everything in me not to cry, but when she reaches over to place her warm hand on mine, shaking from nerves and adrenaline, I can't help it.

"I forgive you," she whispers again.


In my final days, years after Bella's revelation, I think back to every little moment of significance in my life.

I'm half alive as I glance around slowly before zoning back out. The constant beeps and talking wake me from the depths before I'm pulled back under.

After Bella's forgiveness, she and Edward started visiting once a month. Some months were great, others not so much. I especially loved the months Forrest would come with them.

He didn't have much interest in me in the beginning, but when he turned three, he asks me, "grandpa?"

And Edward says, "that's grandpa Charlie."

His little smile and blue of his eyes shine so clear it's beautiful under the stark light of the visitation room. He's loved wholly and without question.

During the last visit a few days ago, one of my last memories, Bella and Edward tell me they're pregnant again. This time with a little girl.

"Meadow," she whispers, glancing at Edward.

"Meadow," he whispers back.

"Any significance?" I ask, feeling left out.

They both laugh into each other, sharing in on the joke. It's wholesome and honest and good to see Bella's light flicker strongly. In the same moment, my head starts to feel dizzy.

"Are you okay, dad?" Bella asks when my eyes get a little droopy.

"I'm okay," I tell them. "Just a little tired."

It was more than that, though.

The next day I'm rushed to the hospital, barely conscious and unaware.

My last real thoughts surround Bella.

Dad, I think to myself.

She called me dad.