"Hey Charlie," Mark said to me as I was packing up to leave the station. "How's um…how's Bella doing?"
My eyes tightened. "Same," I responded gruffly, turning away as I shrugged on my jacket so he couldn't see the pained expression on my face. I knew he meant well asking; it would do no good to make him feel guilty.
I heard him sigh softly. "Well…I hope things get better." As always. "Um…see ya tomorrow Charlie," he finished, obviously unsure of what else to say. Us police force…yeah, we're not men of many good words.
I nodded to him as I left, pushing open the door of the station and heading out of the bright light of the office and into the dark downpour, getting in my police cruiser. Everyone seemed to know about my daughter's…condition. I mean, it was hard not to, in this tiny town. But as I put the keys in the transmission and started the engine, I felt an amount of fury well up from deep inside my chest. I'd heard the way some people had talked about Isabella - what I liked to call her, since I thought it was beautiful and mature, just like her, though she didn't like it. They mocked her, scoffed, even, at what she was going through, lapped up their desperately needed drama and misery with simpering, false tones of concern. When secretly, they gossiped together, reveling in another person's pain. My daughter's pain. It made me slightly understand Renée's perspective as why she had left this place.
I swallowed hard as I drove carefully through the constant rain in the town I knew I would never leave, heading to my house where I knew I would find my empty daughter. Renée…I still loved her, even after all this time, and I knew I always would, or at least a part of me. None could understand why, and I couldn't explain it right. It was just how she had entered my average life like a hurricane, taking apart everything I had known and showing me a different point of view in the world. With her, I had felt young. I had felt fun. I had felt like a man, for the first time.
And it was because I still loved her that I thought that I could understand Bella's pain…be able to comprehend fully - and then some - what she was going through, because hadn't I gone through the exact same thing? And yet…sometimes I couldn't help but to wonder if I really did know. Of course, I'd had that same lapse in sanity, those months of unbridled pain when the world seemed to be ending after my wife had run out my front door with my only child, screaming at me about how it hadn't worked out; how she couldn't take this place, how I was holding her back, how this - and, invariably, I - wasn't enough. Wasn't worth the sacrifice of the sun and excitement of big places. I took in a shuddering breath then - that memory still cut through me like a knife; still made me wake up gasping sometimes.
But still…it had been months since that…that…bastard had left her, and there was absolutely no improvement. She was still dead; there was no other way to put it. I couldn't even talk to her anymore, because I was so worried I'd break her already fragile state. I didn't - couldn't - hurt her any more than she had been. And I had no idea what to do. The thought of hospitalizing her had me shuddering, scared. Isabella…
I swallowed thickly as I ran out of the rain and under the shelter of the porch, opening my door. I shut it quietly - loud noises just weren't fitting for this house of the living dead. I didn't bother calling out Bella's name, because she was too far into herself to notice it anyway, and there was no point in sending myself into a panic when she didn't respond. I looked up then and saw that calling her would've proved unnecessary anyway. She was right there, setting out dinner for me, as usual. I winced and shut my eyes, but she was there behind my eyelids anyway, as she always was. I could never ignore or erase the sight of her: detached enough to be dead, her naturally beautiful brown locks limp and unkempt, ragged from her constant clawing at it. Her face was sallow like spoiled milk, instead of it's old cream. And her face was so thin…her cheeks hollowed in. Just like the rest of her body, that scared me to death over her falling nutrition level. And I knew tonight would be the same, where she pushed her food around on her plate more than she ate it. And her eyes…her dark, beautiful eyes that used to bring so much humor and light and sarcasm into my otherwise empty home…they were gone. Just like her.
Now, I was a quiet man, no one would dispute that, and nothing scared me more than tears or deep emotions. But this…seeing my daughter like this cut me deeper than words could describe. They say the worst pain a parent could ever know is having to bury their child…but what the hell is it when you have to be bury them alive?
I swear to god if I ever saw that asshole again I would strangle him on sight. Though he deserved much worse. I wondered if he ever thought about the damage he'd left behind. Not that he knew. Not that he would care. I couldn't understand why he had left her anyway - how anyone could. Bella was the best thing to happen to that…boy, the best thing that could happen to anyone, and he threw her away like she was nothing. She was everything.
"Hey Bella," I said, my voice thick, but I knew she wouldn't notice. I hung up my gun and sat down at the table, being careful not to let the legs of the chair squeal on the linoleum. Loud noises always startled her. After a long moment, I saw her brow contract and she shook her head slightly as though clearing it. She looked up at me and nodded slightly, her eyes dark and confused, a delayed reaction to my greeting.
I took a deep breath and looked down at my food quickly without seeing it, trying to distract myself from these heartbreaking moments that seemed to happen every other god damn second. Especially knowing it didn't used to be like this, and knowing exactly whose fault it was that it was like this now.
"Why won't you talk anymore?" I whispered. But it wasn't meant for her to hear, and she didn't; too wrapped up in her protective shell, I suppose.
I ate my dinner quickly without tasting it, desperately needing to leave the room. I felt guilty, but my hopelessness outweighed it for the moment. Every time I was too near Bella, or even in the same room with her, I felt the overwhelming need to catch her up in a spine-breaking hug, and promise her that one day everything would be alright again. I had tried that once - in the beginning - but it hadn't worked out. She had shied away, visibly afraid and shocked at the human contact. She didn't want to be touched anymore. She didn't want to be talked to anymore. She didn't seem to want to be anymore…
I washed my dishes hurriedly - anything, even a small nothing, to make things easier for Bella - and went to go sit on the couch in the living room. I turned the TV on, but it was merely habit - I hadn't actually been able to watch anything that was one ever since…ever since this began.
After about half an hour of worried misery, my guilt at ditching my daughter because I wasn't strong enough to handle it overcame me. Taking a deep breath to prepare myself, I got up and walked over to the kitchen. But I stopped dead, shocked, in the doorway.
My eyes widened as I took it in. There was Bella, leaning on the hall entrance to the kitchen, gazing contemplatively at my gun hanging up. Her face was devoid of emotion, her eyes still dead, but…I thought I could see longing behind the flat expanse of brown.
"B - Bella?" I gasped in a strangled voice. No, god, no, please…please don't tell me she was contemplating…I couldn't even finish the thought.
Slowly, Bella turned her head to look at me. There was nothing - no emotion - to behold there in her face, and she gazed at me a moment. Without a word, she turned slowly and headed up the stairs.
I was staggered. That image of her staring at my gun…I knew I'd never be able to erase it. With my breathing noticeably quicker, I walked over to my gun and picked it up from the wall, setting it on the counter. Swallowing thickly, I began to unload it. This was something I thought I would never have to do again, not since she got older. Something I never thought I'd have to be worried about…no…
Bella…Bella, oh my god no, how could you even be thinking…? Did she have any idea what that would do to me? She was my whole world now, and if I had to bury her…through suicide no less…Oh Bella; my beautiful, broken, baby girl…
The gun slipped through my hands, and fell with a dull thud to the counter, unloaded now. It was getting hard to see through the haze in my eyes. Unable to hold the tears back, though I tried, I set my elbows on the counter and my face in my hands and I sobbed. I hadn't cried in years, but I couldn't stop it. Just like I couldn't stop Bella's pain, couldn't stop the hurt she was going through, I couldn't do anything.
My tears flowed relentlessly and I hated it. I was not a man of tears; I was supposed to be stronger than that, just like my father had always taught me. But then, my father had never known the pain of having to see his only child try so god damn hard every god damn day and for what? She was still broken, still lifeless, still no sign of recovery to behold.
Oh Bella…honey…what did that son-of-a-bitch do to you?
I miss you Bella…I miss you so much…it's hard without you here. Please come back.
I went up to my bedroom sometime later and layed down in my bed. But I knew it would be hours before I could get to sleep. First, I had to get through the worst part of the night.
Tonight, it was around one in the morning. I layed there glaring at my ceiling and trying not to cry again as the screaming began.