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Stephenie Meyer

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner

An Eclipse Novella

For Asya Muchnick and Meghan Hibbett

INTRODUCTION

No two writers go about things in exactly the same way. We all are inspired and motivated in different ways; we have our own reasons why some characters stay with us while others disappear into a backlog of neglected files. Personally, I’ve never figured out why some of my characters take on strong lives of their own, but I’m always happy when they do. Those characters are the most effortless to write, and so their stories are usually the ones that get finished.

Bree is one of those characters, and she’s the chief reason why this story is now in your hands, rather than lost in the maze of forgotten folders inside my computer. (The two other reasons are named Diego and Fred.) I started thinking about Bree while I was editing Eclipse. Editing, not writing—when I was writing the first draft of Eclipse, I had first-person-perspective blinders on; anything that Bella couldn’t see or hear or feel or taste or touch was irrelevant. That story was her experience only.

The next step in the editing process was to step away from Bella and see how the story flowed. My editor, Rebecca Davis, was a huge part of that process, and she had a lot of questions for me about the things Bella didn’t know and how we could make the right parts of that story clearer. Because Bree is the only newborn Bella sees, Bree’s was the perspective that I first gravitated toward as I considered what was going on behind the scenes. I started thinking about living in the basement with the newborns and hunting traditional vampire-style. I imagined the world as Bree understood it. And it was easy to do that. From the start Bree was very clear as a character, and some of her friends also sprang to life effortlessly. This is the way it usually works for me: I try to write a short synopsis of what is happening in some other part of the story, and I end up jotting down dialogue. In this case, instead of a synopsis, I found myself writing a day in Bree’s life.

Writing Bree was the first time I’d stepped into the shoes of a narrator who was a “real” vampire—a hunter, a monster. I got to look through her red eyes at us humans; suddenly we were pathetic and weak, easy prey, of no importance whatsoever except as a tasty snack. I felt what it was like to be alone while surrounded by enemies, always on guard, never sure of anything except that her life was always in danger. I got to submerge myself in a totally different breed of vampires: newborns. The newborn life was something I hadn’t ever gotten to explore—even when Bella finally became a vampire. Bella was never a newborn like Bree was a newborn. It was exciting and dark and, ultimately, tragic. The closer I got to the inevitable end, the more I wished I’d concluded Eclipse just slightly differently.

I wonder how you will feel about Bree. She’s such a small, seemingly trivial character in Eclipse. She lives for only five minutes of Bella’s perspective. And yet her story is so important to an understanding of the novel. When you read the Eclipse scene in which Bella stares at Bree, assessing her as a possible future, did you ever think about what has brought Bree to that point in time? As Bree glares back, did you wonder what Bella and the Cullens look like to her? Probably not. But even if you did, I’ll bet you never guessed her secrets.

I hope you end up caring about Bree as much as I do, though that’s kind of a cruel wish. You know this: it doesn’t end well for her. But at least you will know the whole story. And that no perspective is ever really trivial.

Enjoy,

Stephenie

THE NEWSPAPER HEADLINE GLARED AT ME FROM a little metal vending machine: SEATTLE UNDER SIEGE—DEATH TOLL RISES AGAIN. I hadn’t seen this one yet. Some paperboy must have just restocked the machine. Lucky for him, he was nowhere around now.

Great. Riley was going to blow a gasket. I would make sure I wasn’t within reach when he saw this paper. Let him rip somebody else’s arm off.

I stood in the shadow behind the corner of a shabby three-story building, trying to be inconspicuous while I waited for someone to make a decision. Not wanting to meet anyone’s eyes, I stared at the wall beside me instead. The ground floor of the building housed a record shop that had long since closed; the windows, lost to weather or street violence, were filled in with plywood. Over the top were apartments—empty, I guessed, since the normal sounds of sleeping humans were absent. I wasn’t surprised—the place looked like it would collapse in a stiff wind. The buildings on the other side of the dark, narrow street were just as wrecked.

The normal scene for a night out on the town.

I didn’t want to speak up and draw attention, but I wished somebody would decide something. I was really thirsty, and I didn’t care much whether we went right or left or over the roof. I just wanted to find some unlucky people who wouldn’t even have enough time to think wrong place, wrong time.

Unfortunately tonight Riley’d sent me out with two of the most useless vampires in existence. Riley never seemed to care who he sent out in hunting groups. Or particularly bugged when sending out the wrong people together meant fewer people coming home. Tonight I was stuck with Kevin and some blond kid whose name I didn’t know. They both belonged to Raoul’s gang, so it went without saying that they were stupid. And dangerous. But right now, mostly stupid.

Instead of picking a direction for our hunt, suddenly they were in the middle of an argument over whose favorite superhero would be a better hunter. The nameless blond was demonstrating his case for Spider-Man now, skittering up the brick wall of the alley while humming the cartoon theme song. I sighed in frustration. Were we ever going to hunt?

A little flicker of movement to my left caught my eye. It was the other one Riley had sent out in this hunting group, Diego. I didn’t know much about him, just that he was older than most of the others. Riley’s right-hand man was the word. That didn’t make me like him any more than the other morons.

Diego was looking at me. He must have heard the sigh. I looked away.

Keep your head down and your mouth shut—that was the way to stay alive in Riley’s crowd.

“Spider-Man is such a whiny loser,” Kevin called up to the blond kid. “I’ll show you how a real superhero hunts.” He grinned wide. His teeth flashed in the glare of a streetlight.

Kevin jumped into the middle of the street just as the lights from a car swung around to illuminate the cracked pavement with a blue-white gleam. He flexed his arms back, then pulled them slowly together like a pro wrestler showing off. The car came on, probably expecting him to get the hell out of the way like a normal person would. Like he should.

“Hulk mad!” Kevin bellowed. “Hulk… SMASH!”

He leaped forward to meet the car before it could brake, grabbed its front bumper, and flipped it over his head so that it struck the pavement upside down with a squeal of bending metal and shattering glass. Inside, a woman started screaming.

“Oh man,” Diego said, shaking his head. He was pretty, with dark, dense, curly hair, big, wide eyes, and really full lips, but then, who wasn’t pretty? Even Kevin and the rest of Raoul’s morons were pretty. “Kevin, we’re supposed to be laying low. Riley said—”

“Riley said!” Kevin mimicked in a harsh soprano. “Get a spine, Diego. Riley’s not here.”

Kevin sprang over the upside-down Honda and punched out the driver’s side window, which had somehow stayed intact up to that point. He fished through the shattered glass and the deflating air bag for the driver.

I turned my back and held my breath, trying my hardest to hold on to the ability to think.

     

 

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