Hi friends! No matter what you celebrate, I hope you had a wonderful holiday season and are ready to make a mark on 2015. Woo!
This chapter has been ready for a while, but I held it over the holidays because the content is heavy and comes with trigger warnings. If you're sensitive to discussions of self-harm and miscarriage, please skip the latter half of the chapter. Please know that I approached these topics with careful care, consideration and respect. If you'd prefer not to read this chapter, I'm happy to send you an overview - just PM me!
It was 2 p.m., but Alice's words still rang in my head 12 hours after she had spoken them. She wasn't surprised when I called for help with Bella, but she was honest about the realities of the situation.
"Get ready. This is going to be very… Messy."
I suppose all the background activities outside Bella's bedroom happened quickly after my call to Alice, but to me, time drifted by as slowly as gentle fog rolling across a placid pond. I was mesmerized by the breaths that shifted her sleeping form up and down in its curled position underneath her blanket. Breaths meant she was still with me.
Several hours later, the peace was disturbed as loud voices rippled through the air. Bella's parents. I watched Bella's mom gently crawl into bed with her and gently rock her still-sleeping form as she choked back sobs. Her dad surveyed the scene, shaking his head.
The scene played out before me, but I had no words. I barely felt conscious. I was there, but not an active participant until her father gripped my shoulder and told me it was time to go home.
Instead of getting up, though, my eyes subconsciously followed her mother as she quickly grabbed clothes off the floor and stuffed them into an abandoned tote at the foot of Bella's bed. She worked quickly and seemingly randomly – a shirt here, a pair of pants there. They were taking her somewhere.
"Where is she going?" I croaked, voice thick with concern.
"To get help."
"I want to be there."
"You've done enough by being here. I'll show – "
"No. I'm not asking, I'm telling you I want to be there."
"Edward, right?" asked her dad. I nodded.
"I understand you've been a good friend to Bella. And I appreciate that you kept watch over her last night. But she needs professionals to help her get past this."
"To get past what?"
"Charlie, I have her things – can you carry her down the stairs? I'd rather not wake her if at all possible; It's always easier when she's asleep."
"What happened to her?" I whispered as I watched Charlie carry her down the stairs, reverently gazing at her the whole time.
"Don't forget those bottles, Renee," he called up as he made his way through the living room.
Renee – beside me in the doorframe – watched them exit the front door until she crumpled to the floor in a sobbing heap.
"Can you – can you get the pill bottles, Edward?"
As I stuffed all the bottles I could find into a bag cluttered with what looked like receipts, I locked eyes with her.
"This is bad, isn't it?" I asked.
"Maybe not any worse than last time," she confided while she used her sweatshirt sleeve to wipe the tears from her cheeks.
"I didn't – I don't – I'm not sure what happened," I admitted.
"It's all so messed up."
A pregnant pause hung thick in the air as I handed her the bag.
She shook her head sadly and used the door frame to pull herself up. I handed her the sack of pills.
"We're taking her to Thornhille,"she told me as she turned and made her way down the stairs after her husband and Bella.
"Thank you for your help."
The harsh fluorescent lights burnt my eyes, already weary from not having slept in over 36 hours. An unfunny talk show chirped on the TV set behind me, but I had no interest. My eyes remained trained on the door that separated me from Bella.
"Edward, they're not going to let you see her today."
Alice – or, rather, the shell of Alice – was seated beside me, arms wrapped around my elbow.
"What if she asks for me, Alice?"
"I gave her parents your phone number. They know where to find you."
"What… What happened that summer, Alice? I need to know."
Her eyes searched mine and she let out a low sigh.
"She didn't realize she was pregnant. She just thought she was feeling the after-effects of senioritis stress from trying to find a job. When it hit her, she immediately scheduled a doctor appointment. She asked me to go with her. She -" She began to cry. "She'd had a miscarriage somewhere near the middle of her first trimester."
"Oh my God."
"She lost her mind in the doctor's office, Edward. She had a total breakdown. She blamed herself," she explained. "He doctor couldn't tell her why she miscarried; most miscarriages happen during the first trimester, so it could've been anything. But all she could focus on was that she'd drank while pregnant. Of course she didn't KNOW she was pregnant – but she took all the blame."
"The doctor reminded her watched nervously before asking if she'd like the name of someone to talk to. I drove her home and she didn't speak a single word the entire time. I asked if I could stay the night once we got back to her apartment, but she locked the door and wouldn't let me in. Everything was very quiet, so I thought maybe she went to sleep. I sat outside until Riley came home about an hour later. He knew something was up, but I didn't think I should be the person to break the news to him," she continued.
"I told him she was bad, but he assured me he would take care of her. I planned to sit outside a while to make sure – but I heard his screams not even a minute later. He found her… in the tub. There was a letter apologizing for being such a terrible fuck-up."
Alice trembled and cradled her head in her hands. I could tell that the burden weighed heavily on her. My mind raced as I thought about Bella.
"She stayed with her mom and dad and went through therapy for a while. I didn't hear from her much while she was gone. When she came back, though, it was like she was a different person. A revolving door of guys with no attachments."
I was one of those guys.
"I think Bella has a bit of a road ahead of her, Edward. She has to find a way to work through her pain and forgive herself. She has to learn to love herself before she can even begin to think about loving anyone else."
"I just want her to be okay, Alice. It kills me that she's been going through this on her own. I'll be there for her any way I can. As a friend."
"That may mean not being there for a while – do you understand, Edward?"
I nodded my head lamely.
"Go home. Talk to Brittney. I'm going to stay here a while and will let you know if anything changes, okay?"
Leave it to Alice to take one Psych class freshman year and end up the most emotionally mature out of all of us.
All I could do was wait for Bella and be there when she was ready.