I've been reading Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, and we've finally made it to the epilogue. Previous entries can be found in the directory.
Epilogue: An Occasion
We join our heroes a few months later; Edward is helping an elaborately dressed Bella into his car. She’s still wearing a walking cast, and doesn’t know where they are going. He just gave her flowers, she’s wearing a nice dress, and it’s late spring. Uh, I’m a paragraph and a half in and I already know where you’re going, Bella.
Edward is in a tuxedo, and Bella admires the contrast of the black against his skin. I only remember Edward being written as dressing in tan and other skin tones before, probably out of necessity. Vampires can’t wear black much, can they? See Bella? Vampire life is difficult! Are you sure you want this? The fashion details are sprinkled throughout the opening paragraphs—stiletto mentioned here, silk chiffon there—the fashion conscious among us are getting literary blue balls. Don’t me such a tease, S. Meyer! If there was ever a forgivable time to drop brand names!
Bella is wearing something with French tags; she spent the day getting dressed up in Alice’s “staggeringly vast bathroom” (do vampires need bathrooms?) essentially at her mercy. It doesn’t sound like a lot of fun (Bella describes the experience as being like “Guinea Pig Barbie,” an inspired mixed-metaphor) but in Alice’s desire to dress Bella up I can at least see a deep and abiding love forming. Plenty of healthy sexual relationships between two women start in dressing rooms, am I right Joey?
The nice clothes make Bella nervous.
Nothing good could come of our formal attire, of that I was sure. Unless…but I was afraid to put my suspicions into words, even in my own head.
This is a clever little device, because it seems like Bella is thinking she’s going where we know she’s going. But uh, that is NOT AT ALL what she is thinking. Edward’s cell phone rings (cell phones? clearly Forks has had some infrastructure upgrades in the intervening months) and it’s Charlie calling. A few things happen at once when Charlie puts Edward on the line with Tyler. Bella realizes that:
A. It is prom night.
B. Edward is taking her to the prom.
C. Tyler is somehow so deluded as to think that he was actually taking Bella to the prom, which is why he is at her house, with Charlie. What.
Remember that like six fucking months ago Tyler, fresh from being rejected by Bella to some other dance, said something to the effect of “there’s always prom,” and Bella acknowledged that as much was true. And like the extremely-poor-social-skills version of The Butterfly Effect, that little seed somehow wrought this: Dumbfuck Tyler, in a tux on Bella’s doorstep. He is so stupid that at this point it is really straining the credulity of the whole book. I hope he dies soon. Seriously.
Bella is naturally appalled at going to prom; “Didn’t he know me at all?” she laments. Once again, I can relate. I did not go to my prom, and I am glad I did not! No shame in being an outcast, Bella! We grow up to be the cool ones!
"Did someone say cold ones?" –Jacob Black
"Did someone say cold one?" –Charlie Swan
Bella starts crying, and it’s kind of hilarious.
“This is completely ridiculous. Why are you crying?” he demanded in frustration.
“Because I’m mad!”
Edward turns on the sex eyes (hasn’t used those in a while—they must be supercharged!) and Bella agrees to go quietly, but worries she’ll break her other leg.
“You have to admit, it could happen.”—words Edward already regrets
“Look at this shoe! It’s a death trap!” she says, holding up her leg. Edward stares at it awhile, and says “Remind me to thank Alice for that tonight.” I know she’s not really his sister, but that’s weird. “Thanks for making Bella so fuckable tonight, sis!”
The Cullen Kids are all going to be there, including Rosalie, who apparently still hates Bella’s guts. Rosalie and Esme are really blank slates, aren’t they? Esme is maternal and Rosalie is a hot bitch. That is all we know. That is all there is to know.
At first, Bella won’t even get out of the car in the parking lot. The school parking lot, by the way; this prom is happening in the gym at Forks High. Bella was right to want to avoid this. She observes the tacky decorations and balloon arches and crepe paper with a withering eye. I like Negative Bella, I wish she was even bitchier! “This looks like a horror movie waiting to happen,” she quips.
On the dance floor, the Cullen family is burning it up—Jasper and Emmett are “intimidating and flawless” in tuxedos, Alice is “striking in a black satin dress with geometric cutouts that bared large triangles of her snowy white skin” (if I know my high school, that dress would not have been allowed—couple the skin with the suggestiveness and feminine empowerment of the triangle shapes—my god, what would the community think?) and Rosalie is in a backless, scarlet, hot, bitchy number.
Bella asks if Edward wants her to bolt the doors so he can massacre the townsfolk. She is goth as fuck. They head to the dance floor and Edward puts Bella’s feet on top of his and dances for her. Isn’t she wearing at least one heel? Ouch. Also, he must have big shoes to accommodate that walking cast…ladies.
So they’re dancing and it’s great and everything is perfect (except for the lingering tension over the whole “make me a vampire” thing) and then who the fuck shows up? Jacob Fucking Black, looking like a dipshit in a shirt and tie. I forgot that dude even existed. He walks over to Edward and Bella while they’re dancing (how bold!) and asks to cut in (how bolder!). I’m honestly a little concerned about the socialization deficiencies on the Indian Reservation; as Bella dances with Jacob this happens:
“See anything you like?” I teased, nodding toward a group of girls lined up against the wall like pastel confections.
“Yeah,” he sighed. “But she’s taken.”
Uh, awkward! What’s the deal Jacob, do you just say whatever you are thinking all the time? He’s there, it turns out, because Billy Black paid him to go warn Bella to stay away from Edward.
“He said to tell you, no, to WARN you, that—and this is his plural, not mine”—he lifted one hand from my waist and made little quotation marks in the air—“’We’ll be watching.’”
First of all, that triple-dash thing is some pretty audacious punctuation. Second of all, doesn’t “this is his plural, not mine” not seem like a phrase that Jacob would have at-the-ready? I’m not saying he’s stupid, but, the Algonquin Roundtable at Jacob’s house is from Pottery Barn and it's where he and Billy eat cheeseburgers, if you know what I mean. Jacob still seems bemused and embarrassed by his father’s rhetoric, but the gist of the message is “break up with Edward,” so it’s not like Jacob doesn’t gain anything from it. (He’s also getting money and car parts.) When he leaves Edward returns and sneers, “He called you pretty.” Edward was reading his thoughts and that’s all he heard? I feel like Jacob’s thoughts would be way worse.
“He wants to bend you over the bleachers and bite your ass,” Edward said darkly.
They dance toward the back door of the gym, and Bella name checks most of the characters from early in the book. Jessica, Mike, Angela, Kelly, Slater, Harry, Ron, Ginny, Avon, Stringer, McNulty—they are all there, and they are all dancing. Wasn’t there once a dude named Eric? I guess he’s dead now, or something. He gets no mention in the epilogue. Better luck next time, Eric.
So Edward and Bella walk out into the parking lot. Edward looks up at the sky. I think he’s about to get thoughtful:
“Twilight, again,” he murmured. “Another ending. No matter how perfect the day is, it always has to end.”
“Some things don’t have to end,” I muttered through my teeth.
Zing! The title metaphor comes full circle, there’s a little meta-nod to the fact that we’re about to run out of pages, and they launch back into the argument from the last chapter. This is the “summation of themes” conversation.
Edward says he brought her to the prom because he doesn’t want her to “miss anything.” He wants her to be a normal human. Is it me or is this a really paternalistic attitude to be taking with your girlfriend? You are not her dad, Edward! Making sure her life adheres to the stereotypical middle-class American template is really not in your purview! I don’t want to tell you how to be a high school boyfriend, but at the moment you should be concerning yourself with how to get to third base tonight, dude. Find the easy-access points on the dress, that sort of thing!
He says he wants her to live as she would if he didn’t exist. Bella smartly points out that if Edward didn’t exist she wouldn’t have gone to the prom.
He smiled briefly, but it didn’t touch his eyes. “It wasn’t so bad, you said so yourself.”
“That’s because I was with you.”
Edward changes the subject—he wants to know where Bella thought they were going if not to the prom.
“Okay,” I confessed in a rush. “So I was hoping that you might have changed your mind…that you were going to change me, after all.”
Dear God, Bella! Really? It’s one of those credulity-straining moments of stupidity again (the vampire conversion semi-formal?), but it has a kind of interesting effect. Until now, I was totally on Bella’s side about the whole vampire thing. But doesn’t her obsession with having it done seem kind of girlish now? I’m thinking of a kid in a store, obsessing over some toy and becoming completely oblivious to everything else. Bella is in the middle of a slow-motion tantrum. I’m still not on Papa Edward’s side, either—we’ve got some shades of gray now. Kind of like the sky at twilight! Get it?
You laugh, but Edward basically pulls the same figurative-language gymnastics.
“So ready for this to be the end,” he murmured, almost to himself, “for this to be the twilight of your life…”
I’d say it’s more like the midnight of her life, right? Like if you made her into a vampire tonight or the next day or something? Edward sucks at metaphors. “It’s not the end, it’s the beginning,” Bella counters. So yeah, this scene basically works as a condensed version of the conversation that just occurred in the hospital, in case you missed it or something. It would be irritating, but it’s actually pretty well written.
I’ll be the first to acknowledge that something strange has happened over the three months I have been writing about this book: it has sucked me in! I really enjoyed these last few pages, and I’ve been genuinely excited to get started on New Moon. Part of that is writing about it—I look forward to starting a new book and trying new angles. As mostly plot-less as Twilight is, we’ve been stuck on one track with these characters for a good hundred pages or so. I’m interested to see where they go now. I like these characters. A few of them, anyway. I still hope Tyler dies.
Edward pretends to agree to Bella’s request and makes like he’s going to vamp her.
If he thought I was bluffing, he was going to be disappointed. I’d already made this decision, and I was sure.
He pulls away and laughs, says he can’t believe Bella would think he’d give in. “A girl can dream,” she says.
“Is that what you dream about? Being a monster?”
“Not exactly,” I said, frowning at his word choice. Monster, indeed. “Mostly I dream about being with you forever.”
His expression changed, softened and saddened by the subtle ache in my voice. [paragraph break sic:]
“Bella.” His fingers lightly traced the shape of my lips. “I will stay with you—isn’t that enough?”
I smiled under his fingertips. “Enough for now.”
I very much enjoyed the first sentence of this book; it was free of extraneous punctuation and simple and declarative and great: “My mother drove me to the airport with the windows rolled down.” The last sentence is similarly pleasing to my aesthetic sensibilities.
And he leaned down to press his cold lips once more to my throat.
So concludes Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer. More of this, please! I suppose we’ll see if I get my wish very shortly. Next time I’ll say some concluding thoughts on the cultural phenomenon and literary something-else that is Twilight. In the meantime, let’s just admire the wonderful economy of that last sentence. I know that a good opening sentence and a good closing sentence do not a Western classic make, but it’s still an achievement.