Chapter summary: "This is how I'll do it," she told me so tenderly, holding my face in her hands.


"Okay," Rosalie enthused, "now let's see that beautiful butterfly!"

"Um, Rosalie ..." I said, "I thought I just signed that I had to ... you know ... go."

"Yes," Rosalie answered undeterred, "in a half-an-hour to an hour, right? So we have a few moments."

"But ..." I said. Then I looked at her.

I couldn't tell that hope-filled face that mirror time sometimes took longer than the expected 'few moments.'

"Okay," I sighed.

Rosalie's face turned down slightly, and I looked at her in confusion. What? She wanted me to be happy about mirror time?

"Would you do me a favor first, please?" she asked quietly.

I nodded, bracing myself for her to say for me put a smile on my face.

"Would you please brush your teeth?" Rosalie looked away.

"Oh!" I said. Then I blushed. "Okay."

I got up from the table and went to the sink, retrieving the tooth powder and brush, and set to work. I had forgotten to brush my teeth after breakfast, again, but I began to see her diligence had possibly more to do with her concern over my oral hygiene.

While I was doing that, Rosalie took the tub of water out the door and returned seconds later with it emptied. She refilled the pot of water on the stove with fresh snow, then she stripped the bed, taking the pillow case, too, and collected the pile of clothes.

"Wroza..." I spit out my mouth full of the paste and tried again. "Rosalie ..." I said, wiping my mouth with the back of my hand.

She looked up at me from her kneeling position by the stove.

"Could you ... would you save that shirt ..." I pointed down to the red-and-black checkered flannel shirt she had worn this morning.

She looked down at it, then looked back at me, grimacing.

"You like hand-me-downs, do you?" she demanded.

"No," I said quickly, "it's not that ... it's just that it was the shirt you wore the first day, too ... remember?"

"So it has sentimental value to you?" she asked, then her voice turned more sarcastic, "'Aw: that's the shirt she wore the first day of my capture!'"

She blinked her eyes three times, rubbing it in.

I looked down into the sink.

"It wouldn't be," she asked, quiet again, "because it has me embedded into every fiber of it, would it?"

I kept my look down, then went back to brushing my teeth, not looking at her.

A checkered red and black flannel shirt draped itself over my shoulder.

I looked at Rosalie over by the stove, feeding the fire the latest sacrifices of bedding and clothes, and not her shirt.

"Thanks," I whispered.

She didn't look back, but I knew she heard me. I finished brushing my teeth, rinsed my mouth with Listerine, then water, then blotted off my mouth with my new shirt, breathing in her heaven — from the shirt.

Rosalie was also done with her chores.

"Thanks for reminding me to brush my teeth," I said.

"You're welcome," Rosalie said quietly and looked away.

My eyebrows creased. "My breath that bad?"

Rosalie shrugged. "It's not that ..." she said.

"What is it then?" I asked. I didn't think her concern over my oral hygiene was that overpowering for the reminder.

"I'd rather smell something other than the food when you exhale," she said it as if she were embarrassed.

"I'm sorry, Rosalie," I said. "I didn't know it bothered you that much. I'll remember in the future."

"Thank you," she said.

It looked like there was more to it.

"Does the food smell that bad?" I asked her.

Rosalie didn't answer.

"How bad does it smell?" I persisted.

Rosalie shrugged.

"Wait." I said, it was starting to dawn on me. "Does it smell worst than the animals?"

I recall from my dream days ago how horrible animals tasted to her. Surely food couldn't be worst than that!

Rosalie looked back at me. "Yes," she said levelly.

"Wow!" I said. "Why? I mean, how? I mean ..." I didn't know what I meant, or what I was asking.

"At least animals are alive," Rosalie said. "The food is dead or preserved, but then, when it's cooked, it's more dead."

"So," I said, "that's what my breakfast smells like to you: 'more dead'?"

Rosalie nodded her head yes. "Putrid," she clarified.

"And ... but ... you cooked it for me," I said confused.

Rosalie shrugged. "How else are you going to eat? And you do need to eat: you keep losing weight."

I wonder how she knows that.

"Would it help you if I cooked the food? You could go somewhere else and I could ..." I started.

Rosalie was shaking her head in a no. "It wouldn't help," she said, cutting me off.

"Why not?" I asked.

"I would rather cook. It would be more unpleasant for me to scrap you and your skin off the stove when you consummate your love affair with it." Rosalie said coolly.

I rolled my eyes. "I don't have a love affair with the stove, Rosalie," I said with a touch of humor, colored with irritation.

Rosalie crossed her arms. "Mmmhmm," she answered, her lips twitched upward.

I sighed. "Where were we again?" I asked.

Rosalie moved to the mirrors. "Here," she said. "We were here."

Oops.

Rosalie waited for me, so I went to her ... and to the mirrors. It'd probably be a bad start if she had to drag me there.

Rosalie regarded me thoughtful.

"Remember after you combed my hair I said beauty isn't only skin deep?" she asked.

I blinked. "So you're saying I'm beautiful on the inside, is that it?"

A smile touched Rosalie's lips. "I think we both know what that means. So, I'm not going to say anything at all about your inner beauty, nor about your beautiful soul. You wonder how I can see you as beautiful, when you apparently do not see that, so now I will show you your beauty on the outside. But just remember that beauty on the outside is one thing, beauty on the inside, another. You have both."

"Rosalie," I tsked. "How can you say that when you're ... and I'm ..."

There was just no comparison between us. She's a goddess, and I'm not. I'm definitely not.

Rosalie's brow darkened. "You are comparing yourself to the wrong person."

I already knew that. "Because you're too beautiful?" I asked humbly.

"No," she said annoyed, "because you are."

"Huh?" I asked stunned, but then tried to recover. "I mean, pardon me?"

Rosalie explained: "You are too beautiful to compare yourself to others. See yourself worthily and correctly as that. As beautiful."

I sighed. "Yeah, right."

I glanced at the center mirror, then looked away. There was somebody beautiful in the mirror, but she had blond hair. The person standing next to her ...?

"Why do you do that?" Rosalie demanded, staring at me intensely.

I dropped my eyes.

"What is it that you see in the mirrors?" she pressed.

I sighed, looked at her again, then waved at the image in the mirrors, top to bottom, in one angry sweep.

Wasn't it obvious what I saw? Me. That's what I saw. Plain, little me.

This displeased Rosalie. "That's not very descriptive, nor helpful," she chided.

"Jeez, Rosalie!" I burst out. "I see me, okay? That's what I see. Just me. Just nothing me, okay?"

"No, it's not okay to see 'just nothing you.'" Of course it wouldn't be okay with her. Nothing I did or said ever was, so why would she change now?

"Besides," she continued, "what's wrong with seeing 'just you'?"

I shrugged.

"What are you afraid of?" Rosalie asked.

I looked at her. "Of me, right?" I hated it that she always had to show me that I was less than her when she was saying how wonderful I was.

Rosalie crossed her arms.

She shook her head. "That's not it."

And I hate it when she already knows the answers to her 'questions.'

I'd have to restart that list.

"Describe yourself to me," Rosalie said.

I sighed.

"Rosalie, can we please ..." I began.

"We can please describe ourselves," Rosalie commanded. She waved to the mirrors.

I turned to the mirrors. No sense in arguing with Miss Royal We.

But I looked back at her and shrugged. I knew what I looked like; she knew what I looked like.

Rosalie grimaced. "Not a very good description."

"Rosalie," I said, "what's the point?"

"Stay here," Rosalie commanded.

She left my side, and I saw her go to the table. She picked up my journal and a pencil.

I worked on not losing my cool. But maybe I should have put that dig about her saying 'um' after all.

She came back to my side and opened up the journal and read my essay out to me.

"'The cabin. The end.'" Her voice was flat and disapproving.

I winced. "So?" I asked petulantly.

"So," she explained, "how can you live if you don't open your eyes and see what's around you?"

"So blind people aren't alive?" I countered.

"Seeing people are often more blind than blind people; I can quote you Bible verses about that," Rosalie lectured. "But we aren't talking about blind people, we are talking about you."

"I see what's around me, Rosalie," I said defensively.

"You do look and you do ponder," Rosalie agreed. "You do, in fact, see deeply, more so than most, but if you don't examine what you've seen, you will continue to make wrong conclusions and you will continue to act wrongly. And," she continued relentlessly, "if you are unable to express what you've seen, how will you show others what you've seen, be it terrible or beautiful, plain or extraordinary?"

"Who would want to know what I've seen?" I asked her pragmatically. I mean, come on!

"I would," Rosalie said resolutely.

"Why?" I demanded right back.

Rosalie raised a condescending eyebrow and crossed her imperious arms.

"So I can find my way around the cabin should I have difficulty seeing on my own," was her sarcastic reply.

I sighed, but her comment brought me right back to when she took that first breath of me in again after my period. So her comment, contrarily, didn't lighten my mood at all.

"So," Rosalie continued unabatedly. "Describe the cabin to me."

I blinked at her.

She raised my notebook. I saw it was my essay page.

"What kind of floor does it have?" she asked.

"What do you mean by that?" I asked, confused.

"Is it a dirt floor?" she clarified.

"Well, no, Rosalie, it's wood." I said, still mystified.

"Does it have a table?" she continued.

"Yeah," I said.

"Is the tabletop resting on a pedestal?" She scratched with her pencil as she talked.

"No, it's on four legs," I said.

"Hm," she said, "so is it a fancy table? Ornate?"

"No, it's just a plain old table," I said. Maybe she really was blind.

"Does it have chairs or stools?"

"Chairs," I said.

"How many?" she asked.

I'm sure she could count them, but I said, "Four chairs, Rosalie," to answer her question.

She looked up from what she was writing. "So we've established that the cabin as a wooden floor and a table with four chairs. Tell me, in detail, everything else this cabin has."

"Okay," I said. And I told her. I told her about the triptych and the water basin she brought in, as well as the kerosene lamps. I told her about the stove, the sink with the tiny mirror above it, the bed in the corner near the entrance and underneath the sole window the cabin had.

Rosalie wrote at a furious pace as I told her these things.

When I had finished speaking she looked up from her writing. She turned the notebook so that it faced me.

"From four words to an essay that occupies a page and a half in your book," she said.

I looked down. It was my chicken scratch; my writing exactly.

I looked back up her.

"So?" I asked.

"So," she answered patiently, "now you have source material to write from. Has anything happened on the bed?"

I blushed.

"You could write a complete story about what's happened there," she said.

Oh, boy, could I ever! But she'll never read that one. Me, searching for vampire bites, down there? That one wasn't going into my rather public private journal.

She continued apparently obliviously, "How about at the table? Anything ever happen there?"

Or beside there ... on the floor ... with her on top of me, tickling me. I blushed again.

"Or by the mirrors?" she continued.

I hoped-hoped-hoped an adventure like the other ones wouldn't happen here, too!

"Do you see the worlds that open up when you express yourself lucidly?" she asked. "Those worlds won't exist if you don't breathe life into them with your words."

"So, let's open up the world that is you," she commanded.

My eyes were now very firmly fixed on the floor.

"Humor me, please," she said, indicating the mirrors again.

I turned back to the image.

She gently put her hands on my shoulders. "May I say you are doing better at looking into the glass," she said.

"Go me," I said sarcastically.

"Well," she smiled faintly, "baby steps. Now," she continued, "I'll help you with your description of yourself. Are you taller than me?"

I looked at her image. I guess we were going to do this. "No, Rosalie, you're taller."

"So, how tall are you?" she asked neutrally.

"Five feet, four inches." I knew my height. Rosalie stood a head taller than me.

"There," she smiled, pleased.

"What color are your eyes?" she asked.

"Brown," I said.

"What color is your hair?" she asked, equally noncommittally.

"Brown," I said again.

"And your skin?"

"White," I said.

"Just white," she challenged.

I shrugged. "Okay, pale white, but not as white as yours." Because hers had like this glow. It wasn't glowing, but it was so pale as to be, like, well, pure white.

"May I tell you what I see?" she asked my image in the mirror humbly.

"Okay ..." I said cautiously, bracing myself for the 'you're a beautiful princess' fairy-tale.

She moved her left hand up to my head, and moved it gently through my hair, fanning it.

"Your hair is brown?" she asked.

"Yes," I said.

"Just brown?" she clarified.

"Okay, so there's a little bit of red in it," I answered. I felt I was giving ground, but I couldn't tell why I felt this way.

"'A little bit of red in it' ..." she said quietly as she gazed at my hair.

The way she was looking at my plain-brown hair? It looked admiring. I felt self-conscious.

"Okay, Rosalie," I couldn't stand the building anticipation anymore. "What do you see it as?"

"Your hair ..." she said reverently, "is brown, but a rich chocolate brown, and the red? There's more to it than that, it's a maroon, a crimson, but, on the other side of the brown is an indigo, but it takes discernment, for your hair is full-bodied, so one sees 'brown' in the thickness of your hair with lighter and darker tints, but when caught in the light, like this, see?"

I looked at my hair in the mirror as she fanned it.

And it began to happen, just like I feared ... she was working her magic powers on me, for I didn't see that ratty mop on my head, I started to see something, maybe, that she saw.

"Your skin is 'pale white'?" she returned her hand to my shoulder, and paused.

"Rosalie," I said, "you said that yourself. Remember when you were telling me about your rule outside?"

"Yes, I did say that," she answered. "And I meant it, too. But not industrial, not sickly. The paleness of your skin has a softness to it ..."

She brought the back of her right hand against my cheek and stroked it. My face burned at her touch.

She smiled lightly.

"And a creaminess, when you aren't blushing," she finished.

"Like soap," I said, remembering her not-Cinderella story.

"Yes," she said, unperturbed by my implication, "like soap, a creamy ivory, soft and comforting. Perfection."

I blushed harder.

"And your face," she continued.

I sighed.

"Well, you wish to compare, so then let's compare," Rosalie retorted to my silent protest. "My face, look at it."

I did, relieved that she wasn't directing all her attention at me.

"Noble, isn't it?" she preened, turning her head in profile.

She moved her right hand to her own face.

"It has patrician lines, so I have what is called classic beauty."

I raised my eyebrow at her. I loved when she was being so humble like this.

"Yes," she said, seeming to answer a question, "I am beautiful; it's easy for all to see."

"But," she continued, "your face ..."

Her hand when from her face to mine, and now her fingers traced my profile.

"It's not as angular as mine ... it has softer lines," she said, then looked into my eyes in the mirror: "Your face is heart-shaped."

"Jeez!" I exclaimed and tried to look away, but her right hand held my chin, gently, in place.

"Reflecting," she continued through my outburst, "a kind and generous nature."

I rolled my eyes and tried to control my breathing.

"And your eyes," she said.

Then the next thing she said surprised me.

"Here it gets hard for me," she said.

As if anything was hard for her, I thought incredulously.

"For I'm supposed to be talking only of outward beauty, but your 'brown eyes'?" she said, again, with awe, "they open up right to your soul, and how can I describe the beauty of one without touching on the other?"

"Rosalie ..." I said. She was just taking this too far.

"You do believe you have a soul, don't you?" she asked quietly.

"You know I do," I responded quietly.

I wonder, when she consumed my soul, how it tasted to her.

"Yes, I do," she confirmed, "do you?"

And now I knew what she meant by 'faith,' because I sure knew I had a soul when she took it from me, and nothing since should have convinced me otherwise, or should have made me forget that.

I simply nodded.

"So when I say your 'brown eyes' have an innocence to them, an openness ... well, what does 'trusting' and 'pure' look like? One need only look deeply into your eyes to know."

"Rosalie," I said, falling further under her spell, but trying not to, "this is too much. Stop it, please."

"Why?" she demanded. "What's too much," she clarified, "is you looking in the mirror and hating what you see. That's too much, and entirely too mystifying. How could you look in the mirror and see ugliness. It's criminal to call beauty ugly, but that's what you did. That's wrong, and I'm righting that wrong."

"Rosalie, ..." I pleaded.

"Just a bit more, and then we're done," she scolded.

"Okay," I said in defeat.

But I knew what she meant by 'just a bit more,' because the rest of me? There was really nothing there to admire, so I felt I could weather her wrap-up.

"So, how would you describe your figure?" she asked.

Now, this was no fair. She was supposed to do all the heavy lifting, so I could deny it.

"I don't," I said, very conscious of the figure next to me.

"Why not?" she asked.

"Because I don't have one," I answered shamefacedly.

But this was one point she couldn't possibly argue with.

"Hm," she said, nodding.

See? I thought sadly: she couldn't argue with plain facts.

"So, you're flat back here?" Her left hand went south behind my back and rested on my rump.

I absolutely screamed in shock, and would have knocked over the mirrors in a leap from her electric touch, but her hands, her right on my shoulder and left back there, kept me gently anchored in place.

Her hand returned to my shoulder as I sucked in rapid gasps of air, trying to refill my lungs from the shock she had given me.

"No," she continued, a faint smile on her lips and in her voice, "you're not. You're not flat, nor sagging, but rounded. You have a pert little rounded butt; very cute."

I could not believe what I just heard. Maybe I was imagining things in the euphoria of my hyperventilation. That's the only reasonable explanation I could come up with. I hope I didn't faint from the oxygen rush.

"And your front ..." she continued, looking down.

Now I really had her.

"Now that is flat," I said ... flatly.

"Hm," she said again, thoughtfully.

That was the same hum she gave for my butt.

I was suddenly afraid she'd touch my breasts. Well, I mean, my chest. I don't have breasts: I have mosquito bites.

She didn't. She turned me away from the mirrors to face her.

"You think I can read your mind, don't you?" she demanded.

I looked away from her. I disagreed: I didn't think she read my mind; I knew it.

She gently and irresistibly turned my head to face her again.

"I don't have to read your mind to know what you are thinking," she said. "So let me tell you something that you know. I'm going to say this to you, and you are going to hear it, but you must hear everything that I tell you."

"Look at me," she demanded. I was looking at her.

Her cobra eyes transfixed me, again.

Then she said it: "You have tiny breasts."

The shock of it rocked me to the core. My face stung as if she slapped me. Hard. And I felt my insides shrivel up as I wished my outsides would now do.

"Listen to me," she commanded, almost angrily. "Your breasts are small."

Boy, this just got better and better, didn't it?

"I... I know," I whispered past the lump in my throat.

"But, but," she continued fiercely, "You know that I've had to save your life several times. I've had to strip you and reclothe you. You do have breasts, and they are beautiful. They are perfectly proportioned to your body, and ... AND!"

Her anger demanded my attention. I took my eyes off myself and looked into hers.

"And," she continued. "What is the fixation on large breasts, anyway? What is their advantage?"

"Easy for you to say," I whispered regretfully.

"Yes, it is," she snarled. "Yes, it is," she repeated more moderately. "So let's pretend. Let's have you be Rosalie Hale of the full breasts for a moment, shall we? Let's have you be at one of the many social gatherings that I've attended, hm?"

She let go of my shoulders, and took a small step back.

"You are me, now, and I'm a bank executive, okay?" she demanded angrily.

Her whole comportment changed. "Oh, hello," she said smarmily, "you must be Rosalie Hale, Mr. Hale's daughter, how do you do?"

She extended her hand to me, the whole time she was talking, however, she was looking right at my chest.

I took her hand, confused. "Um, fine?"

She pumped my hand vigorously, her eyes remained fixed on my chest. "Great, well, it's a pleasure to meet you," she was still pumping my hand, staring right at my chest. "If you ever have any investment questions, I'm your man, I'd be happy to discuss ... options ... with you, just give me a call!"

She pretended to take out a business card, and extended the imaginary card to me.

Staring at my chest.

I blushed, I couldn't stand the intense scrutiny. The leering.

She kept her hand out, waiting for me to take the card.

I "took" it quickly. "Um, thanks," I said, thoroughly embarrassed, seeking a way to make my escape.

Rosalie finally gave it to me, she returned to being her, raising her eyes back to my face.

"That's what it is like, the unrelenting attention, the constant fixation. They aren't interested in the person that I am, they are interested in only one thing." Then she sneered and spat out spitefully: "'Look at those knockers!' That's all they care about."

She said the last phrase dismissively.

"But you," she returned her attention to me. "Do you desire that attention? No, of course not: nobody does; that is, nobody, unless they are lost to narcissism, nobody with a healthy self-image desires that."

"You don't have a huge chest for people to leer at, but what you do have is a perfectly proportioned body. You are not flat, you are nymph-like; elfin. A subtle beauty that requires study because that it does not attract undue attention, but requires the person knows you before they admire the hidden beauty of your body."

I stared at her; gaping.

"Rosalie," I said disbelievingly, "I didn't think it was possible, but only you could say that and believe it."

She shook her head. "No, you, too, can say that and believe that."

She reached out and turned me back to the mirror.

"You are beautiful," she commanded, then added softly: "Do you see it, your beauty?"

"I..." My breath caught in my throat. It was becoming too hard to breathe.

"Do you see that I see you as beautiful?" she asked quietly.

I looked at me. I looked at her, looking at me.

I couldn't believe that I was beautiful. But I did see that she saw me as that.

I nodded my head yes solemnly.

"Good," she said, firmly.

And then: "Now."

She turned me back to face her.

And then.

She wrapped my head in her perfectly smooth and cold hands, looking at me so tenderly ...

Oh, my God! The realization hit me. She's going to kiss me!

She had just called me beautiful in a way that only a lover could call the loved one beautiful. That is: blindly. She saw me in a way nobody else in the world possibly could, because nobody else saw me like that.

Not even me.

That meant she ... she ...

She did love me.

And so she was going to kiss me now, I could see it in her eyes, I could see it in her.

"This is how I'll do it," she said.

I couldn't breathe, even though I heard myself panting in desperate gasps.

"Dooh ... do what?" I asked, looking into the depths of her coal-black eyes.

"This is how I will kill you," she said.

I didn't understand what she said.

"What?" I asked, confused, but coming down from my heightened sense of awareness to this confused reality of Rosalie holding me.

"I will take your beautiful, heart-shaped head into my hands, and then ..." She paused and smiled sadly at me. "I will bring my hands together, and you will be no more."

"When?" I gasped out, looking into her impenetrable eyes.

"Before the Volturi can touch you," she responded, so remote, so distant.

My tears wet her hands. But I knew why I was crying this time: I was crying the tears she couldn't.

She let go of my head and patted my cheek once, affectionately, dropping her hands to her sides.

She didn't taste my tears.

"Will it hurt?" I asked. I didn't know what else to say.

"I will try to be quick, but ... every change is painful, and the change from life to death is the hardest one of all ... I will try to make it as painless as it can be, but ..."

She looked away.

"Oh," I said.

I looked at her. She looked so despondent.

"Thank you," I said quietly.

She looked back at me. She shook her head.

"You are welcome," she said quietly in reply.

We looked at each other in silence, both saying nothing. And in that nothing, saying everything.


Chapter End Notes:

"And I Am Not," in Jocelyn Torrent's story "Rose Read" explores in depth Rosalie's god-like beauty to Bella's feelings of ... not.

The "woe" condemnations of Jesus are enumerated in Matthew 23, including particular vilification of 'blind guides.'

I was inspired to use our girl's rather very self-deprecating term of 'mosquito bites' from Alice's self-description in chapter 6 ("in which I hope you'll forgive me") of Lion in the Land's story: "Survivor: Vampire Island."