The doll's skin was pale, and hard, with cheeks that were a faint pink. Her blonde curls clung to her head, and extended no further than her shoulders. Blue eyes gazed from beneath long, fake lashes. Her scarlet lips curled upward in a slight smile. The face of the doll was round and pudgy, like a child, but it was even more beautiful and still. It would always be this gorgeous, frozen in time and in place exactly as it was. Beautiful. Never changing. But always beautiful.
Sort of like me.
When I was a child, I had a million dolls. The expensive kind, the best kind, the kind I always got. I got one every birthday and one every Christmas from my mother. She was the type who collected things, and she encouraged me to collect, too, but when I showed no interest, she decided to collect things for me—these baby dolls. These fine-looking little dolls. They were everything perfect you could want visually in a child. And whenever I got one, Mother would scribe inside a little card tied to the doll's wrist, and it would always say the same thing.
"One day," I would read, every Christmas and every birthday, "One day this little baby girl will grown up to be as beautiful as my baby girl. Much love, Mother."
But Mother was wrong.
The baby wouldn't grow up.
Bella was downstairs now. In her arms, I knew, was a baby girl, even more handsome than the one I was holding. Her baby girl was warm, too, with a glow to her cheeks that was real and honest. Her baby girl blinked and moved and laughed and smiled. Her baby girl was alive.
I clutched the last doll in my collection to my chest. It was my favorite, the one that looked most like me, the one that felt the most like me, the only one who I truly found company with. My baby girl's skin was cold. My baby girl's eyes were frozen and empty, with a mouth that would not move to laugh, nor talk, nor breathe nor smile nor scream.
My baby girl was lifeless as she rested idly against my chest.
There are often times one wishes they could cry when they realize they cannot. When I first realized I could not weep, I resolved it to be a good thing. Until Bella's child was born.
That was the first moment that I had truly wanted to cry and to scream with wrath I had kept dormant. I wanted to tear the rest of them limb from limb and keep the baby for my own. I wanted to cradle its warm, sweet body in my arms and feel heat from its skin slowly enter my heart—which was the coldest part of me. Colder even than my skin. I wanted Bella's greatest possession, the one which I had never truly been able to have, the one thing I desperately craved more than anything.
And now I felt it again. The urge to cry and weep. The urge to explode. I was kneeling on my bedroom floor, the finest, softest carpet underneath my knees. The lights were off and I was in darkness, but I could still see the picturesquely charming baby in my arms staring up at me with the solid, unmoving expression.
A scream ripped apart my lungs, and tore my lips open. It echoed in my room, and I knew they would be able to hear me downstairs, but I did not cease. I screamed again, staring down at her, the baby, the child I wished was real, alive and breathing in my arms. I shrieked with misery. Dry sobs reverberated through the room in between my screeching. I tried with every ounce of effort I had to squeeze saltwater out through my eyes, I wanted something to come out of me, I wanted to know that this agony was leaving my body in the only form I could think of: Tears.
I yelped and shouted and screamed, but no matter what I did, everything around me stayed completely still. No one even came up the stairs to see what was wrong—but they probably knew. Edward had probably already read my mind and told them what was going on. Much as I loathed him and his new family, I begrudgingly thanked him for this, because I did not want to be interrupted right now.
The darkness suffocated me in anguish, clasping down hard on all sides and gripping me fiercer than anything I had ever known. I squeezed the perfect child so hard in my arms I was sure she would burst from the pressure, but she held, still watching me with those blank, but lovely blue eyes.
This baby knew me better than anyone had ever known me. She was my first one, still untouched in appearance by all the years we had been through. Mother thought she knew me. My ex husband thought he knew me. Esme thought she knew me. Even Emmett was mistaken when he thought he knew me. No one knew me like this doll did. No one else had seen me fall apart like this. She was the only one who I whispered secrets to in the dead of night, when I was sure no one else could hear.
It was understandable, then, that I should want to keep her close. I held her fast, gripping her around the middle with one arm, while the other wrapped around, my hand buried into her blonde curls. The curls so like my grandmother's. The curls so like my mother's. The curls so like mine. But the gene stopped with me.
I moaned, holding her gently, as though I was holding a real baby. I might have sat there for hours, minutes, or even days. I howled and bellowed in suffering, my useless, pitiful suffering.
I must look pathetic, I thought, sniffling.
Then, there was a faint knock on the door. It opened before I had the chance to say anything more.
My back was facing the doorway, but I could still see the tiny sliver of light fall in a neat stream over my shoulder. It illuminated the doll in my hands. I touched her delicate cheek, for what seemed like the millionth time that night.
"Rose?" said a voice, full of warm concern. "Rose, are you alright?"
Emmett. My breathing relaxed, like it always did when I heard him. My strong, stable Emmett, come to comfort me and hold me and care for me and tell me everything would be okay. Emmett always had the right thing to say.
I looked back down at the shard of light falling upon the dolls adorable cheeks. It lit up her eyes, making them look animated and alive.
I opened my lips and spoke.
I heard him shuffle his feet uncomfortably, and then the door closed.
The light disappeared, and the doll's face was dead once more.