This whole thing would never have happened if I had been driving my truck. But, of course, it was in the shop with some unnamed malady that was sure to cost me lots of money to repair. Angela had lent me the use of her Sentra until my truck was fixed, saying that since Ben brought her to and from school and drove her everywhere else, there was no point in me being without a ride while her car sat unused. Angela was such a good, sweet person and I felt lucky to have her as my friend.
I was driving through the green light at Marshall and Vanderbilt when I heard the squeal of the tires. A huge logging truck was running the red light, coming at me from the passenger side of the car, its brakes locked. The driver was staring at me, eyes wide with shock and terror. I could see that there was no way for him to stop before he hit me. I felt the impact in the next second. It felt like a battering ram. The truck continued to push the car to the left, through the intersection. The airbag deployed, pushing my head back, slamming it into the headrest. I heard the sound of squealing metal and glass shattering, but with the airbag in my face I couldn't see a thing.
I felt something hit me very hard on the right side. It felt like what I imagined being hit by a bull feels like. The impact sucked the breath from my body and I felt a searing pain in my lungs and ribs.
The car came to a sudden stop and there was silence except for my desperate gasps for air and the rumble of a diesel engine very close by. Suddenly I heard the excited shouts of people somewhere to my left. I thought it was the airbag obstructing my view but then I realized that I had my eyes squeezed tightly shut. I felt something warm and wet trickling down the left side of my face. Great, I thought. Bleeding again. The nausea did not bother me this time though, probably because the pain all over was too intense for me to focus on the smell of the blood.
I heard something knocking on the window to my left and saw the twisted face of a stranger looking at me. As I stared, I realized that it was not a stranger at all; it was Reverend Weber, Angela's father. He must be terrified that Angela was in the car, I thought absently. I thought I heard him say that they were working to get me out but my head was spinning at this point and I could not be sure. I felt the darkness enter in at the edges of my vision and fought to keep my eyes open and my head as clear as possible.
There was more shouting now and the sound of sirens getting closer. Something was still pressing hard into my right side. It held me against the driver side door and made it hard for me to breathe. With some effort I looked to the right and saw that it was a log, about seven to eight inches in diameter. It was stuck through the passenger side window. It must have slipped loose from the load at impact and momentum had carried it through the window into me. I looked at it in a daze.
My head wasn't getting any clearer but I found that I was able to register pain a little more clearly. My arms were hurting, burning. I looked down and saw several large gashes on my both my arms. One on my right went from the back of my hand almost to my elbow and blood was coming out in a steady stream. The nausea got stronger so I focused my thoughts elsewhere. Except for a few ribs it didn't feel like I had broken anything, a bit of good luck after all.
I heard a sound to my left and I almost fell out of the car as the driver's side door was pulled away abruptly. A pair of strong arms caught me and I looked up at the firefighter's face as he carefully lowered me to the ground. Things seemed to happen quickly then. I could not really understand the babble of their voices; the nausea and the darkness were warring inside me for control and it took most of my concentration to fight them both back. From far away I seemed to hear Charlie's panicked voice though I did not understand the words. I managed to say "I'm fine" before I lost consciousness.
I was floating. At least, that's what it felt like. I had no sense of my own weight; no sense of my arms and legs. My mind seemed to work fine and my eyes and ears worked but I had no other senses.
I seemed to be in a large grey space, though I had no idea how I had gotten there. I could not see walls or the ceiling and even the floor seemed nonexistent beneath me. There was a soft white mist around me. Suddenly the mist started to swirl and I felt myself pulled forward by some unseen force. It felt like I was swirling around too so I closed my eyes to keep from getting dizzy.
I came to a sudden stop and opened my eyes. I looked around and realized that I was in the cafeteria of Forks High School. How had that happened? No one looked in my direction and I had no voice to speak. I could only watch and listen. I seemed to be hovering a few feet above everyone's head. Out of curiosity I looked towards my regular table and was startled to see myself sitting there. But it wasn't me because I was here. The scene was vaguely familiar to me and I realized that this was a replay of my first day of school in Forks. Automatically I looked over to the Cullen's table. They looked the same as always, pale and perfect, sitting together quietly and not eating.
I saw Edward lift his head and look in the direction of my memory self and saw her blush when she realized she was staring.
Suddenly I was pulled again into the "vortex" and when I opened my eyes again I was in the Biology classroom. I saw the other me walk by Edward and saw him stiffen. Even though I knew the reason why now, I was still shocked by the hate and revulsion that seemed to pour out of him.
I was pulled again to the cafeteria to the day he came back after that first day in Biology. I saw him looking at me with that familiar frustrated look. I knew now it was because he could not read my thoughts. Then we were back in class and he was speaking to me for the first time. I saw the whole thing happen again with perfect clarity, except now I was the observer and not the participant. It was strange seeing it all happen again, watching both of our expressions as we spoke.
The memories started coming faster now, no sooner had one ended than the next began, though the memories themselves played out in regular time.
The parking lot when he saved me. The hospital. That day in Biology when he started speaking to me again. The next day at the lunch table. Blood typing. Port Angeles. Dinner and then the drive home. Our trip to the meadow and everything that happened that day. Visiting his home. Playing baseball. The encounter with James. Everything that happened in Phoenix. The prom. I relived every memory that I had ever had with Edward. It felt like a lifetime had passed; it felt like a second had passed.
The memories ended like a fade out in a movie and I was back in the grey space again. I could still see Edward's face, though it was blurred and fading and I panicked at the thought of losing even that indistinct image of him. Seeing him again in my memories reminded me of how it felt to be with him. The wonder, the fascination and the exhilaration I always felt when we were together. Seeing all of our moments together, complete and in succession, I realized how short the time we had spent together had been. It had seemed longer. My life had altered so completely when Edward entered it that it seemed as though I had not existed until I met him. It felt like he had always been a part of me; that's why I felt so empty now that he was gone. He had taken parts of me with him. I needed those pieces back. I needed Edward. Needed him like I needed oxygen. I had to have more time with him. At that moment I realized that no matter what it took or what it would cost me emotionally or otherwise I had to see Edward again. Being with him was elemental to my existence. There was no way I could not try to find him. It was a compulsion that had to be met. I knew I would have to fight. Fight my own doubts and insecurities. Fight for the only person in the entire world who made my life worth living. Fight for Edward. I hoped I was strong enough.
The grey room started to swirl around me again and I closed my eyes.
I woke up in a darkened room that smelled vaguely of antiseptic. I knew that smell. A hospital. I had been in enough to know the smell by heart. My eyes were still closed. I did not seem to have enough strength to open them. My mind was not completely clear either and I struggled to remember why I was here this time. Ah yes, the accident. I started to register my surroundings though my eyes remained closed. There was a rhythmic beeping somewhere to my left that seemed to be keeping time with my heart and a soft dripping sound to my right. I heard soft even breathing and registered for the first time that someone was holding my hand. Someone whose hand was cold and hard.
My eyes flew open and sitting next to the bed was the most beautiful sight I had seen in four months. Alice was holding my hand, a calm expression on her lovely face, and staring down at me with her liquid gold eyes. She was just as stunning as I remembered.
"Alice!" I croaked. My throat felt dry and scratchy.
"I'm so glad you are finally awake", she trilled in her wind chime voice.
My mind couldn't grasp that she was here.
"Alice, what are you doing here? I thought you and Jasper were in Denali."
"Well, we were, but I had a vision of your accident and I couldn't see the outcome. I left and got here as soon as I could to see what happened." Her lovely mouth turned down at the corners.
"You couldn't see the outcome?" I was shocked at the revelation. "Why not?"
"I'm not sure really, though it probably has something to do with the coma you were in. Because there was no way of knowing if you would come out of it or not, there was no way of seeing what your future was." She sounded frustrated.
"I was in a coma?" I asked, aghast at the thought. "For how long?"
"Only three days, not very long at all." She was nonchalant.
It could be worse I supposed. My "dream" was so vivid in my mind. It had seemed like so much longer as I had watched the happiest time of my life unfold before me.
I sighed with relief, "That's not too bad I guess. How badly was I hurt?"
"Bruised from head to toe, which is pretty normal for you." She grinned then continued more seriously. "You lost over half your blood they said. You have four broken ribs and your lung collapsed from the impact of the log. You have some pretty deep gashes on your arms that needed a lot of stitches and a deep cut on your forehead. Other than that, mostly just superficial scratches from the glass. You were very lucky."
As she spoke I looked down at myself. I saw the gashes on my arms; she was right about the stitches. I looked down at the IV in my right hand and groaned. I knew what the dripping sound was now.
"What is it? What's the matter?" Alice asked in alarm.
"Ugh, needles," I said, lifting my right hand for her to see.
She laughed her tinkling laugh and shook her head. "Bella you were very nearly killed in a major accident and you are worried about an IV?" She shook her head again.
My mind was becoming a little clearer as we spoke. I looked around the room for the first time. There was a window to my left with the curtains half drawn. It was daylight outside, though of course it was overcast and drizzly. In front of me there was a television mounted about six feet off the floor; it was on but the sound was muted. The only light on was the one above my bed but a little light came in through the window. I looked around and realized that something or rather someone was missing.
"Where is Charlie?" I asked.
"He and Renee and Phil are downstairs getting something to eat. Since I was here they felt more comfortable going. They were worried that you would wake up all alone. The doctor left just before you woke up. I'm glad you finally did. Not being able to see what would happen was very frustrating and was giving me a headache." Her perfect brow furrowed.
"Vampires can get headaches?"
"Well, not technically, but trying to decipher your future when I was not sure if you had one was difficult. It was only a little while ago when I could see you again."
"What happened just before I woke up?" I still could not believe I had been in a coma. It had felt like a vivid dream; I remembered everything. Especially the decision I had made.
"The doctor was in, checking on your progress. It was while I was talking to him that I started to see you again, so maybe it was my voice that woke you up." She laughed; it sounded like a bell. "I'm a miracle worker!"
"You are indeed, Alice." I said, laughing with her, and then wincing at the pain in my ribs. I was starting to register the pain for the first time, though it felt duller than it should have. They must have me pumped full of pain killers.
"Where are the rest of the Cullens?" I was desperate for news of Edward. He was my goal now and I needed all the information I could get if I was going to find him. I was not sure how to bring up my decision to Alice though.
"Carlisle, Esme and Jasper are still in Denali. And Rose and Emmett are somewhere in Africa on their "honeymoon", though most think that they are at Dartmouth." She paused, probably wondering if she should mention Edward.
I decided to help her out. "And…Edward? Where is he?" I held my breath and waited for the answer.
"The last time I talked to him he was in South America." She examined me closely, but I kept my face impassive. South America. This was going to be even more difficult than I thought. And I already thought it would be impossible. I was going to need some help with this. I could only hope Alice would agree.
"You should know that I am breaking a promise to him right now." She said, apologetically.
"He made me promise not to upset or bother you." She was contrite now.
"Oh, Alice you are not bothering me! I am so happy to see you here. I have been so lonely since all of you left." I didn't have to say Edward's name for her to know that he was the one I missed the most; Alice was my close second. She was exasperating and as hyperactive as a squirrel on espresso but I loved her.
"I'm happy to see you again too. I was worried that it would cause you more pain to have me around; that it would remind you of…before. But it felt right to come here."
"I'm glad you did. You are exactly the person I need to see right now." She looked quizzical at the slightly desperate tone of my voice.
I was not sure how to broach the subject of my coma/dream to her without sounding crazy. I needed her help if I was going to find Edward but I needed to know too if I was hoping in vain.
"Alice, have you ever
heard of people "dreaming" while they are in a coma?" I
squirmed inwardly. It sounded so silly.
She seemed surprised by my question. Then I saw her face go blank for a moment. It was the same face she always had when she was having a "vision" of the future. A second later her eyes refocused. She gasped and her butterscotch eyes were sparkling with excitement.
"You are going to find Edward!" she trilled. Well, that solved the problem of asking her. Psychics could be so convenient.
"I want to, but I am not sure how to go about it or even if it is a good idea." The last words he had spoken to me resonated in me with perfect clarity. Was I being stupid now? Allowing my dream to overrule my common sense? What if I couldn't find him? What if he broke my heart again? I crushed those thoughts with a vengeance. I had made this decision and I would stick to it. I was strong enough to do this. I could tell that this was going to become my mantra. Be strong. Just do it. Great, now I was an ad for Nike.
"Of course you should!" She was practically bouncing with excitement now. "Wow, we need to shop and to get you a plane ticket and-."
"Alice! Alice! Wait a minute!" I had to rein her in. "What about Edward? I mean he already told me he didn't love me anymore, that he didn't want me. Is it stupid to go after him now, after all this time? Is this a good idea, trying to find him? How can I convince him to change his mind? To love me again? What if he still doesn't want me?" I could hear the desperation in my voice and tried control it. Be strong, I told myself.
"Bella, trust me, this is a good idea." She must have read the indecision on my face. She squeezed my hand encouragingly.
"I know that Edward hurt you when he left but he had his reasons. I also know that he still loves you." I wanted to believe that so much but his words in the forest were still etched in my mind. Why would he have left if he loved me?
"All it will take is for him to see you again to realize that you are still all he ever needs and wants. That leaving you was a huge mistake. This will work, I promise. If I am wrong you can come back and cut up all my credit cards."
That was practically a promise written in blood as far as Alice was concerned.
"What were his reasons, Alice?" I could think of nothing important enough to justify having my heart ripped out.
"You will have to have him explain that himself. I have really already said more than I am sure he wants me to. It is better coming from him anyway. I will say that he has never, ever stopped loving you." I wanted to believe that more than anything in the whole world.
Alice seemed so sure that I felt hopeful for the first time since making my decision. Now it was time to plan.
"So what is the best way to go about this? I mean, I have never been farther than Albuquerque in my life."
"Hmmm, you will need a passport, unless you already have one?" At my nod she continued. "We will have to come up with a story to tell Charlie about why you are leaving the country."
Charlie. I had forgotten about him. It would have to be a good story to convince him to let me leave the country, especially since I could not tell him the real reason that I was going. I hoped Alice had some ideas; my mind was blank.
"I've got it!" Alice exclaimed. "It is going to take a while for you to heal enough to travel anyway and by that time school should be out for summer vacation. I will tell Charlie that you, Jasper and I are going to do some volunteer work abroad. You know, to fluff out your college applications. He won't object if he thinks we're traveling with you. And work in foreign countries is always so much more impressive than volunteering at the local soup kitchen. He will agree." She was perfectly confident. I knew that even if she was not psychic that she would know his response. Charlie loved Alice and could not deny her anything, especially when she made up her mind to be persuasive.
"What do you mean, thinks your traveling with me? You mean you're not?" I was abruptly terrified. Wandering around in a foreign country where I didn't know anyone and barely spoke the language was my idea of a nightmare.
"Don't worry, you'll be fine. I'll travel with you until you get to where you need to be. Then the rest should be fairly easy. It is better for you to see Edward, and more importantly for him to see you, without me there." If he had made her promise to stay away from me I could just imagine how furious he would be to see us together. I would have to do this alone but I knew Alice would take care of me. She really did have my best interests at heart and not just Edward's or her own.
I felt a little better but still worried about the prospect of seeing Edward again. And I was not sure what fairly easy meant but I was sure it would be a lot harder to find him than Alice thought.
"Jasper is coming too?" I had not really thought about Jasper since my birthday. Not because I was angry or resentful; I had not really thought about anything since Edward had left. I had been a complete mental zombie. I realized now that I had never felt any bitterness or ill will towards Jasper. I knew that he had a hard time with his chosen lifestyle and that he had acted completely out of instinct.
"It might take a little bit of convincing on my part but I think he will agree. He was against my coming here. He thought I was interfering, which is true, but I had to see how you were." She paused, looking hesitant.
"What is it Alice?" My mind immediately jumped to the worst conclusion: she had changed her mind and wasn't going to help me.
"Well, I was thinking about Jasper." I almost sighed with relief at her words.
"What about him?"
"Are you, well, are you afraid of him? Of being around him? It would only be natural after what happened and I wouldn't want you to be uncomfortable."
"Oh, no, Alice! I'm not uncomfortable." I rushed to reassure her, and then winced when I moved to fast and my ribs ached. "I have never blamed Jasper. I have always known that in his heart he would never wish me harm. If I hadn't cut my stupid finger, he would never have had reason to lose control. You all work so hard to control that side of your nature. Harder than I can ever imagine. It's more my fault than his anyway; only I could manage to hurt myself opening a present."
"Bella, none of this is your fault! It was an accident, pure and simple. Jasper feels so completely wretched over what happened. He hates himself for losing control and is so mortified that he might have actually killed you. He could not even stand to be around Edward after we left. He could not face looking at him knowing this was all his fault."
"Well, I never considered it his fault and if you don't consider it my fault then we will call it even." I smiled at her. She seemed to relax a little, now that she knew I was not afraid of Jasper.
"Jasper will be so happy when you bring Edward home. He has missed him so much. We argued a lot, Jasper and I, before I left. He didn't think I should thrust myself back into your life, even to see how you were. But, now that I know that you want to find Edward, I know that coming here was the right decision. I know that you of all people can bring him home." She was perfectly confident.
I wasn't so sure but I had made up my mind to try at least. Alice had given me hope again, something that I had not felt in a really long time and I was clinging to it with all my might. She had planted the seed in my head that Edward still loved me and might want me after all. It was up to me to cultivate that seed or let it die. I had to know, once and for all. If he rejected me again, well, I would deal with that. Finally put him aside and live my life the way I should. I knew that I could not continue to go on the way I had in the last four months. Being a walking zombie was not the way I wanted to live the rest of my life. If I got hurt this time it would be my fault, but not knowing would hurt me more. I would forever wonder "what if".
"Can you maybe look ahead, to see what Edward will do?" I needed some kind of reassurance to cling to besides her confidence.
"Hmm, not really, I'm sorry. All I can see is your decision to go but not his decision if you find him. You know I can only see the path people are on while they are on it. Since he has made the decision to stay away that is the only path I see him on right now."
"I see. Well, it would have been nice to know if I was about to make a huge fool of myself." I tried to laugh but it hurt my ribs. It wasn't really funny anyway.
"Bella, I know Edward. This will work, trust me."
"I will do my best. Thanks for understanding Alice."
"I still consider you my sister, Bella. I will do anything I can to make you happy. And I know that this will make both of you happy."
I felt tears form in my eyes at her words. No one ever had a better sister than I did in Alice. But before I speak, the door of the hospital room opened quietly and I saw my mother poke her head in.
She saw that I was awake and practically ran into the room.
"Bella! Oh sweetie, you're finally awake! I was so worried! Charlie called me when you had the accident and I flew here as soon as I could. The doctors didn't know when you would wake up and we have all been sick with worry." She reached down and gingerly gave me a hug, being careful of the multitude of wires that were attached to me. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Alice get up and move to the other side of the room, giving my mother the chair next to the bed.
No sooner had she sat down than Charlie came in.
"Bella!" he exclaimed. I could see the sharp relief on his face. "You gave us quite a scare there, kiddo." His voice was gruff but I could hear the concern under the surface. I reached out, took his hand in mine and gave it a gentle squeeze. Neither Charlie nor I were good at expressing our feelings but this small gesture seemed to be enough.
"Sorry, Dad. You know I have always had the worst luck." I smiled gently at him. He seemed to relax a little, seeing me smile.
I hoped my luck was getting better. I would need all the luck in the world to make this plan of mine work.