Author: Truly Anonymous Twi Contest PM
Edward Cullen doesn't believe in angels. His mundane afterlife is proof of that. The residents of St. Isabel's hospital, however, prove to be anything but ordinary. AH E/BRated: Fiction M - English - Edward & Bella - Words: 8,804 - Reviews: 7 - Favs: 9 - Follows: 2 - Published: 03-18-12 - Status: Complete - id: 7935467
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Entry #46 – AU
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Title: Silent Angel
Picture Prompt Number: 13
Word Count (minus A/N and Header): 8494
Summary (250 characters or less, including spaces and punctuation): Edward Cullen doesn't believe in angels. His mundane afterlife is proof of that. The residents of St. Isabel's hospital, however, prove to be anything but ordinary.
Warnings and Disclaimer: This story contains subject matter that might not be appropriate for all ages, such as death, religion, illness, suicide, and mature sexual content. It was written with the sole purpose of telling an alternative, AH love story. I do not own the rights to the characters in this story, but I do like to dabble in the Twilight world. No copyright infringement is intended. Any likeness to another story is coincidental.
They say that when someone is about to die, their whole life flashes before their eyes. Visions of childhood laughter, adolescent crushes, family dinners, and even the math test that you cheated on in the fifth grade are supposed to come rushing back to you like some kind of beautiful nightmare. All I saw was a blur of green debris smacking into the cracked windshield, and constant explosions of rock and soil as the car violently plummeted down the embankment.
If I had to venture a guess, I'd estimate that I died approximately three years ago. Although, if you asked Rosalie—a gorgeous blonde who was ironically locked up in the psych ward—she'd probably say it was three years too many. Not that it mattered; time holds very little meaning now, and each day continued to pass me by while I remained unnoticed.
There were no spectacular fireworks set off in my honor, no grandiose funeral arrangements to celebrate the whole whopping seventeen years of my existence. Not to my knowledge anyway. I certainly hadn't been given an invitation to attend. There was just this—an endless maze of corridors that led to identical, boring rooms, day in, and day out.
Some of the others say that death is nothing to be afraid of. That somehow, someway, passing into the next life should bring me a sense of peace beyond my greatest expectations. So far, I had yet to feel that way. And again, it didn't matter. I could barely recall my life now. There were fragments and glimpses of memories still clear in my mind—including some very disturbing images of high school cafeteria pizza and a Yoko Ono concert—but all the other pieces of information remained concealed behind a wall of vapor that I couldn't push through. It was as if I had never existed at all, even though I felt like just the slightest nudge in the right direction would tear that barricade down. It was the only thing that kept me going. At least I could remember my name. Some of the residents in this godforsaken place didn't even have that.
My time here in this hell hole had started just like everyone else's—full of fear, uncertainty, and then pain once I realized that there was no valiant angel coming to my rescue. I used to believe in divine beings until I came to this place. As idiotic as it was, I could have sworn that I'd seen one just before my head collided with the twisted metal that was once my prized Volvo. She was standing—no, not standing, floating—in the middle of the Olympic Forest, surrounded by a circle of white fog that had seemingly formed out of thin air. Through the peculiar mist and the thrashing of my body as it was tossed around like a beach ball inside the car, a bright, white glow began to radiate around her. A brilliant display of pitch black wings swept out from her shoulders like something you might hear of in a fairytale. They connected with the haze and sent whispers of smoke into the forest canopy with every flutter of each intricate feather. Dark hair fell around her face, cascading down to the white dress that covered her body in a fine layer of silk. I hadn't been granted the opportunity to examine my obviously delirium induced apparition any closer, though. She was the last thing that I saw before someone turned off the lights.
Rosalie told me that the angel was meant to guide me into the next life, and that somewhere along the lines, I screwed things up. But what did Rosalie know anyway? Half the time, the girl was sealed away in a straightjacket up on the tenth floor. The rest of the time, she was completely infuriating, always babbling on about angels and demons. I peeked at her chart once, which caused a massive argument. But what was I supposed to do with my eternity? Sing songs with the only people that were crazy enough to notice the cocky dead guy roaming the halls of Saint Isabel's Hospital? I'd rather play checkers with Attila the Hun.
The tenth floor had vastly become my favorite hangout as of late. I spent most of my days scaring the absolute crap out of Rosalie Hale and her little psych ward buddies. I had all the time in the world now. The other spirits who were trapped in this place usually kept their distance from me; they were all waiting for their happily ever after. That was something that I'd never put too much stock in. If everyone received a fair shake after they died, we wouldn't all be stuck in fucking Seattle. They avoided me like the plague because if you hung out with Edward Cullen, you could expect a one way ticket down south.
I hadn't been able to move on like Claire—a sweet little girl who had shown up here about eight months ago. She was curious by nature, but then again most children are. In the short time that she haunted these corridors with us, she managed to conquer the hearts of my fellow spirits with that delicate smile of hers. Then one morning, she was simply gone. Nobody knew where we vanished to after the humming started, but I suspected that it had less to do with angels, and more to do with just fading from the world all together.
That was my biggest fear—that one day the ear piercing noise would come for me, and I would cease to exist completely. If I remained a ghost, then at least I would still have someone to talk to. I would know that I was once alive, and that at one time, I had been happy. I couldn't remember the reason for that happiness, but somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I felt that there was a kind of truth that I was meant to unravel.
I had avoided telling the others about this feeling on purpose—I was the bad boy of the bunch, and any kind of weakness would fuel their ridiculous notions of moving on. We didn't travel anywhere; we would always be wedged in between two worlds, held immobile within the confines of these dull hospital walls. We were doomed to watch the nurses waddle back and forth with their patients for all eternity, just like I was doing now.
I'd been observing Alice—the sultry little third shift nurse with the legs of a goddess—for about three hours. She'd managed to score another midnight rendezvous with Doctor Jasper Whitlock, and they were going at it like bunnies in the locker room. I found it amusing that they were completely unaware of the invisible witness to their charades. I could move freely around the wards without anyone noticing me, except for the head cases up on ten. They were the only people that could see or hear us, probably because they were living outside of the spectrum of what was considered normal.
With every slam of Alice's back against the wall of the brown storage units, I had to laugh. They were completely oblivious to the range of noises that were escaping the room. I could hear the heavy footfalls of someone approaching, and although I was more than happy to see them caught with their pants down, it would mean less entertainment for me in the future.
"The things I do for you people," I sighed, hopping off the counter.
As Alice began to climax, I brushed my hand across the wooden bench just behind Whitlock's naked, thrusting ass, concentrating on the objects that I wanted to touch. I'd found that the only way to make contact with a solid, tangible article was to envision myself grasping the item in question. Whether it was a chair, a pen—or in this case, a pair of men's dress slacks and Alice's shoes—the more I projected my reach, the easier the object was to obtain. The only trouble that I had run into was with doorknobs. Since I had the ability to walk through walls, it didn't really cause too many problems. There were a few rooms that we were apparently not permitted to enter which made the others paranoid, but not me. I got along fine without them. We had the rest of the hospital to fly around, so it didn't really bother me that we were supposedly banned from several places. Perhaps they were hallowed ground or something.
"Come for me, Jasper…" Alice's breathy moan silenced her words.
I rolled my eyes, focused on the clothing scattered about the long, wooden bench, and quickly sent them flying into the dusty mirror on the opposite side of the room. The moment my hand made contact, Jasper sprang back from his secret lover, grasping his dick as if someone was about to chop it right off. Alice fell to the ground with a massive thud.
"What the fuck was that?" Jasper asked, doing his best to hold in his orgasm.
"Damn ghosts!" Alice grumbled as she picked herself off of the ground. The staff were no strangers to the odd happenings in the building. "Thanks for dropping me, by the way."
He didn't look particularly sorry to me. In fact, he seemed down right freaked out which suited me just fine.
"Someone is coming," Alice shrieked, rushing about the room to gather her clothes.
"You mean was coming," Jasper groaned. I could tell that he was a little put out by my shenanigans. It wasn't like he had any control over the situation, though. What was he going to do? Tell the janitor that a ghost had interrupted his little fuck session?
"I dare you to say that," I whispered in his ear, hoping that he would hear me.
No such luck; Jasper just slipped on his pants and moved to the other side of the room, acting as nonchalant as he could. Alice did the same, only quicker. By the time Harvey—the overnight supervisor—came waltzing through the door, they were both dressed.
"You shouldn't do that to people, you know," a high-pitched familiar voice chided.
I jumped back, clutching my chest and feigning a mild heart attack. "Angela...you scared me to death!"
"Ha, ha, very funny." Angela was standing with her hands braced on her hips, staring at me through narrowed slits like I'd just sabotaged her latest science project. She had always been a little bit of a geek to me, but still quite pretty—even with her glasses.
"I was only having a bit of fun," I chuckled. "What are you doing down here anyway?"
"Nothing." She looked away.
I led us through the wall, blending in with the solid concrete as if it was nothing more than a thin layer of mist. I felt nothing as the transition was made. I never did. I barely felt anything anymore except for the cold. We reached the other side just as a patient was wheeled past on the way to the elevators.
"You were trying to get into that room again, weren't you?" I asked, accusation lacing my voice.
"I'm drawn to it. Don't tell me that you're not," she snapped in reply.
Angela had always been the studious one. She was the person that all the others gravitated to in times of stress. Much like me, she only had memory of her name, and one instance revolving around a boy named Ben that she'd gone to high school with. Apart from that, the only thing we had in common was our curiosity.
"We're all drawn to that room, but you know what happens when you try to open the door," I grumbled, jerking her away from the hallway that led to the one place that we were not permitted to enter.
"The noise starts, and someone goes missing," she sighed, reluctantly following me onto the elevator.
"And we can't have that happening to the infamous Angela Weber, now can we?"
She laughed as the doors closed, sealing us inside the cramped space with the nurse and her patient. "No, Mr. Cullen."
The chrome steel of the bed railings reflected off of the matching walls of the lift, casting brilliant prisms across the nurse's tan skin. Each small refraction of light was unique to my eyes, and completely mesmerizing in every way. Like a bird attracted to a shiny object, I couldn't divert my attention.
"Stop staring," Angela said with a huff. "You'll give her a complex."
"She can't see us, you know that."
"Well, I can see it," she complained, turning her face away from me.
"Why, Miss Weber, are you jealous?" I purred.
"Me?" Angela looked offended, but I saw a hint of the truth ripple across her brown eyes. She wanted me. "I am not jealous, Edward. Don't make me gag."
I leaned in and touched her cheek. My fingertips ghosted through her skin like wisps of grey smoke. "Don't hide your true feelings. I know you want me. Just let it out."
She jerked back. "No wonder you can't move on. You're such a pompous ass sometimes!"
"And what about you?" I angrily called out as she disappeared through the elevator wall. "You're still stuck here too!"
As aggravating as it was, Angela had a point. I was never going to be the kind of person that spent their days meandering through the halls of this ghastly facility like some mindless drone. I needed excitement, and if I was destined to remain here, then I was going to make the best of what I had.
"Stupid girl." I gave the nurse a sour look, and followed Angela's lead, ducking out of the elevator and floating from room to room, all the way up to the tenth floor.
There was only one thing that could improve my foul mood, and that was a visit to the most eccentric human being in the hospital—Rosalie. Entering the mental ward, I immediately located the sound of her bitter voice. She was seated on a pile of crumpled up bed sheets, jabbering on about the lack of toiletries at her disposal.
"Boo," I whispered in her ear.
"Jesus Christ, leave me alone," she spat back, throwing a pillow in my direction. The lumpy cotton flew right through my chest. Tendrils of the same grey smoke that had accompanied my touch in the elevator exploded from within me, leaving a momentary square hole in my body where the pillow had entered and had subsequently exited out of my back onto the floor by the bed.
"Your aim is getting better," I smirked, crossing my legs Indian style as I hovered above her. "What's got your panties in a bunch this morning?"
Rosalie tossed her golden hair over her shoulder, and gave me a sour look. "New resident."
"Oh? One of mine or one of yours?" I asked.
"If you must know, she's human. But I wouldn't try anything if I were you. She's out of her fucking mind," she answered as she bent down to pick up the pillow from the floor.
A passing nurse shot us a worried glance. Her eyes were trained on Rosalie as if her words had been loud enough for the entire ward to hear, though they had practically been barely above a whisper. Rosalie caught the nurse's glare at the last second, and quickly scrambled back into her bed, shutting her eyes tightly. I stuck my tongue out at the nurse as she carried on down the long aisle of beds, clicking her heels as she went.
"You're going to get me locked up again, you know," she growled under her breath. "Just go away."
"Would you be referring to your time in isolation?" I grinned. It had been because of me that Rosalie had ended up in a straightjacket not more than a few days ago. She'd been caught arguing with nothing but thin air, and then had refused to take her medication on the basis that she was having a conversation with ghost, claiming that she was not crazy. That didn't go over too well with the hospital staff for obvious reasons.
"Yes, the very same," she snapped. "Now do us both a favor and get lost."
Floating soundlessly, I circled around to the front of the bed, a smug grin still fixed firmly in place. "I'm already lost. Besides, I've got gossip. Don't you want to hear it?"
One of Rosalie's eyes cracked open a smidge, revealing the luminous blue color of her irises. She really was quite beautiful, just not really my taste. I preferred a sexy brunette.
I knew she couldn't resist a bit of gossip. "Whitlock and the nurse were at it in the locker room earlier. Harvey interrupted them."
"Precious," she laughed. "That guy is such an ass. He never listens to me. I hope they got caught."
"Nope," I said, concentrating my energy into picking up the new resident's chart attached to the next bed and mindlessly flicking through it. The words made no sense to me, almost as if they were written in another language. "I couldn't risk that. What would I do to entertain myself?"
"Well, you'd still be able to torture me," she groaned. "And put that down before someone sees you. The last thing we need is for one of these freaks to start shouting about a flying clipboard."
"As you wish, your highness," I chuckled, dropping the notepad on the floor for someone else to pick up. Rosalie just sighed in annoyance. "So where's the newbie?"
"Down in the chapel. Apparently the girl likes to play the piano and they thought that it would be good therapy. Please—for her sanity—don't screw with her. I saw her hoarding some pills earlier, and I bet you money that she's going to do something drastic with them. I was thinking of telling the nurse were it not for the fact that she'd probably lock me up again."
"Since when have you ever done the right thing?" I grinned.
Rosalie huffed. "You don't know anything about me. You presume that I am crazy because I'm locked up here with these other miscreants, but I assure you, I am only slightly insane. Mark my words, one day you will be begging for my help. I seem to be the only one around here who can make sense of you people."
"The day that happens will be the day that I miraculously come back to life."
"You're infuriating, you know that?" she scowled. "Where's that blasted nurse? I'll show you who can do the right thing!"'
As I listened to her, a flicker of mischief played at the corners of my coy smile. With a roll of her eyes, Rosalie slapped the pillow over her face and moaned something about how the poor girl had no warning. A minute later, I was soaring weightlessly through the corridors towards the chapel in search of my newest victim.
I found her with barely any effort. The old, oak doors of the chapel were partially opened. Inside, I saw the ten pews that lined both sides of the red carpeted aisle, all shimmering in the glow of the candles that surrounded the altar. Off to the left sat a young woman with dark, brown hair that held traces of a reddish hue mixed into the long tresses. Her back was facing me, but I could still see the fragile nature of her body as she carefully placed her hands on the piano keys. Her skin appeared to be almost translucent under the lights, as if she was either malnourished or had simply lost her luster for life. The skeletal outlines of her long, pale fingers were braced on the upper end of the piano, just paused in mid stroke like she had forgotten how to play.
In the front pew, there were two people that I recognized—Doctor Whitlock and his associate, Carlisle, whose last name I had never been able to recall—just watching her attempt to remember the chords for whatever melody she was contemplating performing. The way that they were surveying the sickly girl made my insides churn with a feeling that I hadn't had for a very long time—I felt nauseous, which was an impossible feat for me. But there it was nonetheless, stabbing me in the gut as if to serve as some sort of warning to me—one that I couldn't understand. It made me feel alarmed, unnerved, and slightly worried that I was suffering from some kind of otherworldly disease. Could ghosts get sick?
"We should let her be for a few minutes," Carlisle said to Jasper. "Perhaps our presence is affecting her."
Jasper nodded and moved to the girl's side, leaning down to whisper that they wouldn't be far. They both turned then, and walked straight through me as if I wasn't even there, never faltering in their heavy strides. I was now alone with the dark haired girl who suddenly began to play a familiar tune, though I couldn't find any reason for the connection in my mind.
"Where did you learn to play like that?" I inquired as I did my best to beat down the flames of panic licking at my insides. Why did she have this effect on me? I shouldn't have been feeling anything at all.
She didn't look up.
"It's rude to ignore people," I stated, taking a seat on the long bench next to her.
Again, she didn't answer.
"Look, I have an eternity to haunt you so you might as well answer me. I'm not going anywhere."
Suddenly, her hands came straight down on the piano keys with a thunderous crack, sending a wave of terrible noise booming across the chapel. The sound seemed to echo around the room, soaking into every lifeless pore in my body and causing me to flinch away from her. My brows shot up, knitting together in confusion as I stared at her taut face.
For the first time since entering the room, I was able to view her features clearly. She looked roughly about the same age as myself, but her face was sunken in with long, dark shadows running the length of her cheekbones, showing weathered creases of stress that seemed out of place. Deep blue circles encapsulated her chocolate eyes, making her appear more ghostly than even I did. My earlier assumption of malnutrition seemed to be spot on. The girl looked like she hadn't eaten or slept in a very long time. Even her plump lips had lost their color and shine.
A flicker of recognition jolted through my heart, eliciting another wince as I sharply turned away from her. Somewhere in my subconscious, I knew this girl.
"Grant me the strength to get through this day without him," she whispered to no one in particular.
"Without who?" I asked. A pang of unease quivered in my chest the moment that she spoke the words. For some reason, I felt guilty about the way her hands trembled as she returned to her melody. But why should I care? What was this girl to me?
"Shut up," she cried. Tears spilled over her eyelids, cascading down her cheeks like a waterfall.
Could she really hear me? Had she just been ignoring me all this time? My transparent heart burst into action, thumping away in my chest as if she had suddenly brought me back to life. I wanted her to hear me so badly. I didn't know why, but I found myself instantly attracted to this broken girl.
"What song is that?" I asked as she struck up the tune once more. I needed to place the classical piece almost as much as I desired this patient to hear my pleas for an audience. There was something so memorable about the music that my mind wouldn't stop trying to process the sound.
"Our song," she sobbed. "I miss you. This is the only way that I can feel you anymore."
What was she talking about? My breath hitched—though the need to breathe was irrelevant to me now—causing spams of pain to slither their way into my usually calm body. It felt like my heart was being torn clean out of my chest.
"I'm right here," I said automatically and without much thought. I didn't know why I'd said it. I just wanted to comfort the bawling girl beside me.
"Always right there," she sighed, diving into the chorus of the song. "Never right here."
I reached for her white sleeve, only wanting to reassure the weeping girl that whatever pain she was going through could be shared by someone like me. The need to soothe away her upset was overpowering. But as I brushed against her shoulder, I found myself unable to physically touch her. My hand simply drifted through her body like she wasn't even there, much like the two doctors had done to me earlier as they exited the church.
Jerking my hand back, I tried again—focusing all of my energy into the action. Once more, I suffered the same result; my hand just floated straight through her, leaving trails of grey smoke in its wake. I just couldn't get a tangible grasp on her body, no matter how hard I concentrated my efforts.
"What are you?" I begged, attempting to understand why I couldn't reach out and touch this person—she was definitely alive, that much was certain—when I could torment every other human being in the hospital.
She ignored me, humming along to her enchanting music as I sat there staring at her in disbelief. I knew the song now; it was one that I used to play when I was alive. I didn't know how, but the chords had triggered a memory, and they had also sent my mind spiraling into chaos. It was Claire De Lune.
"Hey!" I shouted, starting to get extremely irritated and scared about the entire creepy situation. "Answer me!"
"Goodbye, Edward," she moaned.
"Bella, I'm right here! Look at me, I'm right here!"
My hand instantly slapped across my mouth. The force was so strong that it knocked me completely off of the bench and my body tumbled onto the floor. It took all that I had to not slip into the room below. How did I know her name? How did she know mine? What was she to me?
Suddenly, and without any warning, the entire room became filled with the horrific, screeching hum that indicated that one of us was about to be taken. I slinked away from the ear piercing sound—the one that always sent me running for cover whenever it happened to show up—and I crawled along the red carpet towards the door. I barely noticed the two doctors come rushing into the room. I only had a split second to watch them reaching for Bella's limp body before I found myself descending through the floorboards.
I was falling now, plummeting through five floors of the exact same scene—sick patients wrapped up in itchy, blue blankets while they coughed and sputtered germs of different infectious strains, nurses rushing about the halls with their mauve scrub pants strapped too tightly around their waists, bland passageways of no significant importance or value, and finally the corridor that led to the place that we were forbidden to enter.
My body came to a hard stop just outside of the door that Angela had been trying to open earlier, smacking off of the linoleum tiles as if I had been made concrete once again. The agony that pounded through my chest was too much to handle, and I doubled over, dry heaving through the searing spasms shooting up and down my legs.
The noise was as relentless as it was terrifying, reverberating off of the drywall and slamming into me with a deafening precision. Against every desperate urge that I had to run, my legs would not cooperate. They remained crouched on the floor, vibrating with each sickening pulse of that wretched alarm. It had finally come for me. In a few minutes, I would cease to exist completely.
"You can't have me!" I bellowed, struggling to pull myself away from the large door that had always been just out of my reach. It didn't seem fair to me that I was about to be taken from this world after just finding a small sliver of hope. I had recognized someone from my past after all these years of waiting. I had a new purpose now, and I needed to return to Bella. My mind started to replay the scene of Bella falling backwards into the waiting arms of Jasper Whitlock. Was she okay? Had Rosalie been right about those pills? Had Bella done something to herself?
The shrieking sound pummeled me once more, growing louder and harsher with each second that that I uselessly tried to fight against its call.
"LEAVE ME ALONE! I'm not ready!" I yelled again, already knowing that whatever force was dragging me towards that room wouldn't listen. Every unnecessary breath that I took seemed to pull me closer, beckoning me towards the desolate doorframe with a relentless force.
The air around me was heavy, crushing me under its weight as the shrill noise continued to batter me, increasing in its intensity with every reluctant shuffle of my body. Then, just as my hand unwillingly reached for the knob, the door flew open for the first time and the sound receded into the darkness. I tried to run, but I couldn't. I was paralyzed by fear, completely stuck as I glanced into the room beyond the threshold.
A slight hint of curiosity began to replace the immense fear that had been present only moments ago. I had always wanted to see what rested behind this door, so I couldn't help but take another step, even though I knew that I was not coming back from this.
As I passed through the door, it slammed shut behind me. A radiating blue light wedged its way between the door jams, flashing only for a brief moment before it too disappeared just like the humming noise had before I'd so foolishly twisted the knob.
I was now alone in another corridor that was unnervingly silent, except for the constant beeping of machines that spilled out into the white space from several open doors along the wall. As I slowly walked past, my head automatically turned to peer into each room, viewing the disturbing scene like it was something of out of a horror movie. In the beds lay a handful of faces that I recognized—Angela, Peter, Eric, even the old man that everyone referred to as Pops. And there, in the very last room on the left surrounded by at least five vases of roses, was my own body.
"Oh, God," I moaned out, slowly taking a few steps towards the eerie vision of myself lying unconscious in the bed. My face was ashen with grey bruises resting under my closed lids. My hair lay slack against my skin, showing a complete lack of styling products which would have been comical were it not for the fact that I was staring at a dead man. Tubes jutted out from practically every orifice of my body, and the sight caused a shudder to ripple down my spine. "This can't be real."
"It is as real as you are," a breathy voice whispered in my ear.
I spun around, prepared to defend myself. We weren't supposed to be in here, and everyone knew that you didn't come back once you went through the door. I was determined to fight my way back into the real world—the world where I was nothing more than a spirit, but I was still alive; the place where I could walk, talk, and drive Rosalie up the wall. I didn't want to disappear like the others.
As I turned, a pair of hands steadied me. I struggled for a moment before my eyes adjusted to the brilliant scene before me. The angel from the accident had gripped me by the shoulders. The smile that encompassed her face was breathtaking, as were the pair of coal streaked wings that flapped in the air behind her. My angel was real after all.
"Are you here to take me?" I asked, a sob finding its way into my voice. I knew now that everything I had held dear was about to be taken from me. I was going into the abyss. The world as I knew it was gone.
"I am here because you have been awakened," she softly answered. Her black eyes surveyed me with an understanding—a look that implied she had been waiting for me for a very long time. "I have watched you for many moons, Edward. I had begun to lose hope for you, but I see now that you are ready."
"Ready for what?"
She motioned to my lifeless body lying on the bed beside me. A chart hung limply at the end of the bed railing, and as if acting on some sort of impulse, I reached out to grab it. The cold metal brushed against my fingertips, giving me a slight shock as I thumbed through the pages, briefly reviewing the information.
Name: Edward Anthony Cullen
Patient Notes: July Eighth, 2008, MVA, classified as a coma. Contact parents, Carlisle and Esme Cullen if condition worsens.
My eyes lingered over the front of the chart, just attempting to soak in the information. Three years—I had been like this for three years. I could remember the accident in full detail, but hardly anything else. Was I really in a coma? Was Doctor Carlisle my father?
"Yes," she answered my thoughts. "When one has been taken from the world in such a manner, one forgets the details of their past until something jolts their memory. It must be something strong enough to make the walls of your pseudo-reality come crashing down. Only then will that person be ready to face the truth."
"I'm not dead." The words were monotone and flat as they left my lips. I just couldn't believe that all this time, I had been running from the truth. I was not dead.
"You will be if you don't choose to go back into your body," she replied, urging me towards the bed. "There is only a short window of opportunity now that you are here."
"What happened to Bella?" I asked, glancing to the beautiful angel with tears in my eyes.
"She is slipping away by her own doing. If you do not intercede, she will fall prey to the same pain as you face now." The angel turned away. "The choice is yours."
"How do I do that?" I belted out. But the glowing vision of the angel was gone. A small trail of glittering embers remained in her stead.
I understood now that I had never really died. I had simply slipped into a coma, just like the others. When the noise came, it wasn't to take us from the world. It was bringing us back to it. All the people that had disappeared over the past three years had been awakened. The door that we all shied away from contained our living bodies. We couldn't enter this realm without realizing that we weren't actually dead, and that we had something to live for. Bella had jogged my memory, and now I had to do whatever it took to get her back. I knew who she was now—the love of my life. She was the reason I needed to go home.
Glancing down to my body, I drew in a deep breath and took the biggest leap of faith that I had ever taken. The moment I felt the impact, sparks of electricity shot out from my skin, creating a blanket of fireworks around the room. Heat flooded my chest, suffocating my lungs as the flames seared throughout my body. I couldn't breathe. I couldn't talk. I couldn't even see the lights of the room anymore. The pain was overtaking anything else in my subconscious. It felt as though I was being snapped back into my body like a rubber band. And then everything went dark.
My eyes flew open, and I could suddenly breathe again, only this time I felt pure oxygen running down my windpipe and coating my lungs with an unfamiliar taste of forced air. I had the vaguest recollection of speaking with someone of importance only minutes ago, but I couldn't recall who that person was. With a jolt, I tried to sit up in bed, unsuccessfully attempting to rip the tubes from any place that I could reach and setting off a plethora of alarms from the machine beside me in the process. My throat began to ache with a dry, burning sensation, and then I realized that the air I had been breathing only moments ago was connected to a long object that jutted out of my mouth. Instantly, I started to choke on the tube that was lodged in my throat, panicking as I gagged on the twisted plastic.
The room quickly burst into motion. Nurses and doctors rushed into action, coaxing me to lie down and let them examine me. I had the faintest inkling that there was something I was meant to be doing, but again, I couldn't place the foreign emotion.
"Someone call for Doctor Cullen!" A nurse shouted as she carefully urged the tube up my trachea. Coughing and sputtering with every movement, I gasped for air the moment that my throat was cleared. "The boy is awake!"
I was hit with an intense urge to vomit, but I kept my stomach strong enough to push away the mass of hands forcing me back onto the bed. The mention of Carlisle had sparked a flame of recognition in my mind.
"Dad!" I exclaimed hoarsely, startling the nurse who was attempting to fix some sort of catheter. I tried to speak again, but I couldn't. My throat felt parched, and I could taste a hint of blood in my mouth.
A hand gently brushed against my temple, while another began to take my pulse. I knew that it was racing, but I had to get somewhere. The feeling that I needed to help someone was echoing through my thoughts.
"Bella!" Her name flew out of my mouth before my mind could grasp it, scorching my throat as I pushed the words past the pain. I suddenly knew without a sliver of doubt that she needed me, and my heart began to protest with a frantic, thumping sensation, setting off even more shrieking alarms from the machines beside me. I could remember now. "I have to see Bella."
One of the nurses pressed her hand to my cheek. "Calm down, sir."
"No, you don't understand," I croaked. The fire in my throat was almost unbearable, but I had to make them listen to me. "She's…hurt."
I tried to move one of my legs, but I was met with an immense spasm that made me feel like my entire body had just been struck by a bolt of lightning. The crippling force of the tremor caused me to moan out in sheer agony. Gripping the white bed sheets, I dug my fingertips into the fabric as I attempted to still the torturous sensations to no avail. I simply could not move—three years of inactivity had atrophied all of my muscles. Any movement again on my part would end in the same result.
"Don't worry," someone whispered in my ear. I couldn't tell who it was, but the sound of her voice had ceased any wincing on my part. "They are well aware of her condition. You need to rest."
"Where is she?" I asked. My words sounded so raspy, and I began to fear that my voice would never return to me. However, it was the least of my worries at the moment.
"Bella is lucky to have a friend that cared enough to look out for her. The doctors are working on her now, and I must say, you have impeccable timing, Edward."
I squinted through the haze encompassing my eyes. Things were becoming a little clearer, even though I was still trying to wade through the sea of different faces hovering above me—ones I recognized, but I couldn't place. As my eyes turned to the woman who was bent over beside the bed, my memory instantly protested. I knew her—the blonde hair was unmistakable.
She cracked a small smile—one that lit up her face, but still showed a hint of the same dry sarcasm that I was accustomed to. My travels over the past few years were becoming more and more cloudy the longer that I struggled to remain awake, but I would know Rosalie's face anywhere. She had been the only splinter of sanity in an otherwise absurd world. Perhaps Rosalie wasn't as crazy as I had first perceived her to be.
"The one and only," she beamed back at me. "You have no idea what I went through just to get down here."
"And you shouldn't even be here now! Who allowed this person to come in here?" One of the nurses snapped. Rosalie tossed her a sour look before setting her sights on me.
"I did." My attention immediately turned to the face of the man that waltzed through the door. The look of utter shock rippling across his features brought a fierce torrent of tears to my eyes. I knew now that I hadn't been able to remember his last name because he was someone of importance to me. He was my father.
"Dad?" I asked gruffly, trying to sit up. My body stiffened, contracting slightly as my muscles objected and complained. I couldn't do it.
"Lay back, son," he sighed, placing his hand on my shoulder. My back fell against the sheets, causing the tense aching in my body to mildly retract. "How are you feeling?"
"Like I just got run over by a truck," I chuckled. It sounded more like a flock of squawking geese were tumbling out of my mouth rather than my usual free floating laughter.
"Your body needs time to adjust." I saw a tear slip down his cheek, but he wiped it away before any of the other staff noticed. "I need to call Esme. She's been a complete wreck without you."
The mention of my mother caused a swell of emotions to come rushing to the surface. Through the hazy fragments of my memory, I saw her green eyes staring back at me with sadness as I stormed out of the house after our argument. We'd been discussing having Bella come to live with us because her parents were getting a divorce. We were practically engaged to be married anyway, and although my mother thought that it was a good idea, she had been upset about the way I had approached her.
I'd never meant to upset her that night, and I had planned on going back to apologize after I took a drive to clear my head. That was three years ago. I never got the chance. Oh God, I could remember everything now. The last thing that I had said to my mother was not kind. In fact, it was downright hurtful: I would rather die than spend one more second in this house with you. I had been given my wish.
"I'm so sorry," I wailed, coughing through my words. "I never meant for this to happen."
"We both know that," my father said, leaning down gently to place a kiss on my forehead. When he spoke again, his words cracked and broke with every syllable, and I knew that he was holding back sobs of his own. "You're back with us now, and that's all that matters."
"You were with Bella," I stated, trying to divert his attention. I didn't want to see him shed another single tear because of my foolish actions. "What happened?"
He inched away from me, and as our eyes locked, I saw a flicker of disbelief flash across his intelligent eyes. "How did you know that? I don't think I said anything, did I?"
Rosalie shook her head, and shot me a worried glance—one that suggested I should cover up my little indiscretion or else I would end up in the mental ward with her. "It was just a guess."
Carlisle glanced back to me through thin slits that were still damp from tears that he had yet to shed. "Do you remember anything from when you were unconscious? Were you dreaming? Did you see anyone? What was it like?"
Internally, I had to laugh. The physical replication of that laughter was impossible for me at the moment. Carlisle had always been the kind of person to have his medical curiosity come boiling to the surface at the most inappropriate times.
I heard Rosalie clear her throat, and then I watched as she tossed a witty, charming grin to one of the nurses that was placing a fresh, blue blanket across my lap and eavesdropping on our hushed conversation. I hadn't noticed before, but all the fuss in the room seemed to have died down for the moment, though I had no doubt that it would be a constant trail of commotion for the next few days.
"Not a thing," I lied. I could still remember a few parts—conversations with Rosalie, the people that I met along the way, and Bella's body as she fell backwards off of the piano bench. There was also a glimmer of something important that I couldn't seem to grasp, pulsating in the corner of mind like the thrum of a pager. Every time I tried to reach out and touch the memory, it just slipped further away from me. I had the faintest recollection of wings and black eyes, but that was about it.
"Forgive me," Carlisle halfheartedly chortled. "You need rest, and I need to make some phone calls. There are a lot of people who have been watching over you."
"And who is looking after Bella?" I asked dryly. "I need to see her."
The smile that embraced his face caused my heart to cease its urgent beats. "She's one floor up, and thanks to Miss Hale here, she will be just fine. I don't understand how you two know each other, but I suppose life is full of mysteries that we aren't meant to comprehend. If we did, what adventures would remain?" Carlisle turned to Rosalie as he continued. "You did the right thing, sweetheart. I'll give you two a little time to chat, but the orderly will need to take you back upstairs shortly."
And with that, my father drew in a deep breath and reluctantly walked out of the room. I was now alone with Rosalie. It felt rather odd to be able to converse with her this way—corporeal, and without any physical barriers.
"Please, help me," I begged, painfully tilting my head so that I could look her in the eyes. "I need to know that she's all right. What happened?"
Rosalie's lips curled into a purse line of amusement. "I told you that you would be begging me for help, didn't I? I had no idea that she was your girlfriend when I did exactly what you told me I was incapable of. Shame really, I was hoping that you and I might end up together."
"You told the nurses about the pills, didn't you?"
She nodded and tossed her golden hair over her shoulder, grinning smugly. "Do you know how many times I have done this very thing? It's why they keep me here, you know. Every time one of you spooks gets close to waking up, I'm always the one to proclaim your return. They think it's freaky, but it comes with certain privileges."
"Like being able to come down here," I breathed out. My head was starting to get fuzzy from whatever medication someone had slipped into the I.V. when I wasn't paying attention.
"Something like that," she laughed. "I told the nurse about Bella's medication, and she alerted Doctor Whitlock. From what I gather, they got to her just in time."
"Thank you," I cried. It was ironic to me that the one person I had written off as being completely crackers, had been the person that had saved the lives of both Bella and myself.
"Oh, don't thank me," she mused. "I'm as crazy as you think I am. I just had to prove you wrong."
I managed to form a smile, though it took an incredible amount of effort. I was so tired, and I was fighting the urge to drift off to sleep for fear of lapsing back into the coma that had claimed three years of my life. "I guess I got my miracle after all."
"Keep telling yourself that," she chirped back as she stood up. "Life is just as hard as the false reality that you chained yourself to, Edward. I'm living proof of that. Don't waste what's been done here today."
I reached out for her arm as a shadow of grief swept across her face, but my hand fell limply to the mattress instead. I just didn't have the strength. "I'll come by to see you."
"No you won't, but it's appreciated all the same." Rosalie gave my foot a little squeeze, and left the room without another word.
I made a solemn promise to myself as my body finally succumbed to the intense buzzing in my mind. Whatever happened from this point on, I would always keep Rosalie in my life. She had single handedly brought me out of the abyss, saving Bella in the process. My Bella was going to be all right—the thought of that alone causing peace to envelope my heart—and the moment that I had enough strength to stand, I would never leave her side again. I had been given the gift of a second chance thanks to Rosalie. A gesture of that magnitude could not go unrewarded.
Despite my muddled remembrance of the things that rested beyond this dimension, I knew now that angels really did exist. They may not come in the form that we are used to. They may not have wings, halos, or even wear a white dress. But they were as real and as tangible as the blankets that were tucked in around me. Rosalie Hale was one of them.