"They brought her straight to the hospital morgue, though, somehow, her heart was still beating." -Twilight, pg. 252
This is the sound of all the kingdoms of the world laid out at his feet, of angels to do his bidding and just one taste. It's slow and faltering and impossible, really, and the very unlikeliness of it whispers seductively. It's as if he was meant to walk by and hear.
Her body is the scene of some cataclysmic conflict, to his eyes, something too terrible to possibly be the loss of a single life, the destruction of a single creature. She is a battle lost, a plundered city, a civilization brought to ruin - pelvis visibly shattered, legs broken in multiple places, one hand a pile of forgotten rags, skin holding in the remnants of bones but forgetting its shape. She must have tried to break her fall. It's instinct, to throw your hands out, sacrificing them to the greater good.
Her lips are just slightly parted, as if she's about to speak.
His nose tells him more – that she fed a child at her breast, sometime recently, though not recently enough. The smell is faded, overlain with the sour, trapped-animal scent of fear; too faded, too long for a child so young to go without feeding. Her body can't tell him what happened to her child, but it can tell him that there was one, and that he's gone on ahead of his mother.
There is the faded shadow of a wedding band on her hand.
He's seen suicides before, and for reasons far more inexplicable. He's let them go, before, to whatever fate awaits them. He isn't God, but he believes God is merciful, more merciful than his earthly father would have allowed. He was taught that suicide is a mortal sin, but then, by all accounts, he is an abomination himself. A hopeful abomination. He knew better than to return to his father expecting mercy, but he tells himself that perhaps she leapt not in despair, but in trust. Perhaps she knew her Father would forgive her.
He wonders how long she'd been living here, right here, so close and he didn't know. He wonders if there was something he could have done, for her, for the child, something, anything –
- going to miss the clock!
She's going to be with her child, very soon. Perhaps with her husband – dead in the war, maybe? He tries to imagine her life, wants desperately to be able to picture it – to see it, in full color and clarity, to believe that her existence was rich and full and wonderful before it was over. That there's sense in this, somehow; that whatever she was meant to do on this earth is done and that her merciful Father in heaven will welcome her home, that she is expected in this moment.
Even with one side of her face caved in and her eye an open, bloody ruin, she is the most beautiful thing he as ever seen. It's still her face, her face, and how can there be sense in this?
He is not alone in the world. There is Edward, his son. He is well thought-of among his peers and has the company of the great thinkers of all ages. He would not count himself among them, not nearly, but books are becoming much easier to come by and he has their words. Even those philosophers who spent their lives spewing heresy bring him comfort. He prays for their souls, lacking any better way to repay the favor they've done him by writing their thoughts down – by letting him know that other men have found the world as he has found it. Full of reason and purpose, shattered into incomprehensibility, but begging to be pieced together.
He is not alone, and yet seeing her again . . . her face, her beautiful, ruined face is everything that is temptation. He walked away from her once; it was enough that she existed in the world, this improbable, tree-climbing kindred soul, savior of clocks. He liked to think he was a rational being, and as such told himself that he'd romanticized the idea of her to the point of absurdity. She'd been a child, and a drugged and pain-addled child at that. Whatever moment of communion he thought he felt, it was surely only that, just a fleeting moment.
There was no sense in feeling she was somehow his. Clearly, she has not been. The faded circle of skin around what remains of the ring-finger of her left hand tells him this unequivocally, half-obscured by livid bruises though it is.
She's had a life, in which he has had no part, and now her life is done and he must accept. He must accept.
There's been no thump in several seconds now.
He feels his own still heart seizing up in his chest, something like a scream strangling itself in his throat.
- the clock, the clock, the clock!
I could fix it –
It is done, he tells himself firmly. All there is to do now is pray. It is done. She is gone, God have mercy on her soul.
- could fix it and it wouldn't have to be thrown away . . .
Heavenly Father, I beg thee have mercy on the soul of your child, your daughter Esme, who fell – who fell –
- not my leg, the clock!
If all the kingdoms of the world were laid out before him in this moment, he would laugh, and bitterly.
I'm going to miss the clock! I could fix it –
He has spent too much time there with too little excuse, he tells himself firmly – how on earth would he explain this, if he were discovered here, just watching her still corpse? Be practical, orders the portion of his mind that is not wailing, the last thing you need is the suggestion of the macabre about you. You cannot linger in the morgue.
Heavenly Father, I beg thee have mercy on me. Let me see your will in this. Let me see sense in this, let me just see why, how this can possibly be your will, how this can possibly -
He looks up, just happens to look up, before he leaves.
A clock hangs over the door, and though Carlisle knows it is nearly eleven o'clock at night, this clock believes it to be just a minute shy of two. One minute, and the hand shimmies back and forth, caught, broken.
He turns back to her instantly, inhumanly fast but feeling all too humanly weak, nauseous, full of despair and dread. Her heart isn't beating – it's too late, now, he's a blind fool and it's too –