(The Black Balloon Contest. Title: Morning Has Broken. AliceEl1zabeth. Characters: Edward and Bella. Disclaimer: stephenie meyer wrote twilight not me.)

They had been humming along to the radio that morning, some choir pouring into Sunday, morning has broken, like the first morning.

The news had arrived from the phone. Hello Mrs Cullen I'm afraid it isn't good you're going to have to come back to the hospital.

He can remember where they were when she got that call. They had glanced at each other when the phone rang. She had put down her orange juice and gone to pick it up, with the air of someone heading for the guillotine. He remembers the way her face had gone all white, the way his heart had gone cold and dropped to his shoes. He remembers her slowly hanging up and lifting her eyes to his. Well, she had said. That's crap.

He remembers turning the radio off. Praise with ela- silence.

And then she'd smiled and laughed weakly. And then started crying.

It's a year later now and she's lying on the hospital bed looking like a corpse, eyes closed, unconscious, skinny breaths slipping out of a skinny body, wired up like a plug.

Behind her bed is a window and every morning there's a blackbird sat on it. He watches it as it hops across the wooden sill, watches it ruffle its wings and watches the sun glint in its eyes.

And then he looks down at her as she lies cool and quiet. Even if she isn't dead yet she looks it. She looks like someone's deflated her, like there's a tiny hole in her skin and she's leaking out of it. If only they could find it, he thinks, they could patch it up and she'd be fine. But you can find a pinprick on a person like you can find a pebble on a mountain or a fish in the sea. In the real world Neemo never had a chance. Oh how he wishes he was in a Disney film.

Her skin is like the paper in old bibles, so thin you can see light through it. She's just as pale and weak, like she's about to break apart at any moment; a well thumbed Genesis. He takes her hand and kisses it, and prays to her like a heathen. Wake up wake up I love you Amen.

The hospital room is silent and white, and it smells of sick and sweat and tears. He can hear the nurses laughing outside, calling out in harsh voices; did she really did she really what a whore and I thought I was bad. He wants them to shut up. He wants to yell at them, scream at them, make them realise this isn't the place nor time, that the love of his life is turning into dust before his eyes and he doesn't give a flying ape shit who shagged who, just shut up, shut up, shut up. Real life doesn't belong here. This is the corridor to the graveyard and it's fucking horrible. It doesn't need the assorted sex lives of every whore in the city to add to the depression of it.

He stares down at her. The sheets lie across her like funeral shrouds and her hair curls over the whiteness of them. He picks up a stand of it and winds it around his finger, leans forward and kisses one eyelid then the other, I love you I love you I love you.

The bird watches them from behind the window. The morning is clean as a bleached kitchen sink, fresh and stark. The sun crowns his feathered head as he hoots imperiously at the two figures in front of him. He flaps his wings impatiently and shakes his head. It's hopeless it's hopeless she isn't going to wake, he tweets. Green eyes meet black and the gaze is held for a long while.

Edward, a tentative voice calls out from the doorway, would you like a coffee or cup of tea or something? He turned and stares at the nurse, then shakes his head, no thank you he says. She smiles at him with pity swirling unwelcome in her eyes, and leaves. He looks down at the girl below him and rolls his eyes at her, she's such an idiot, Bella, I don't know how you cope. Coped.

He watches her and waits for her to reply, but she is just as still as before. There's so little life in her face he could almost believe someone had just painted it on her pillow. Isabella Marie, he whispers, shaking her arm. Isabella Marie, wake up. But all that happens is she shakes like a rag doll. He presses his fingers around the bridge of his nose. Isabella Marie, he tries again. She doesn't move.

He slides off his chair and kneels by her bed, crossing his arms on her pillow and resting his head on them. Isabella Marie Isabella Marie. Morning has broken. He curls his hand around her face, tubes sliding under his skin like poisonous little snakes. Like the first morning. She doesn't move as he whispers the hymn in her ear, but he's sure she can hear him still and he doesn't want her to feel alone. Blackbird has spoken.

But there's nothing. No movement. Nothing. Nothing nothing nothing.

Oh God, he whispers, and he has to stand up and step back, turn away, close his eyes and take a breath. The words of the song are echoing around in his head, ghostly and faint, spinning and spinning and making him dizzy. Like the first bird praise for the singing praise for the morning praise for them springing-

The words are mixing and twisting in his head like a mental soup of agony and frustration and terror and terror and terror.

He's trying not to panic as he turns back to her, trying to focus on the steady beep beep beep beep of the monitor, but still he can feel the blood rushing to his head and he wants to open the window and scream and scream. I can't lose you I can't lose you I can't-

And then the monitor next to her bed starts beeping like crazy. He can see her lifelines jagging up and down like mountain ranges and his heart stops. A huge alarm rips through the air and calls out like it's seven in the morning and the whole world is late for work, and the ward doors are crashing open and people are running in and shouting, a doctor sliding to her bed and leaning over her, nurses gathering in the corner and whispering.

What's going on, he asks, not able to move, staring down at the little figure on the bed, still as ever. What's going on. What's going on what's going on oh God what's-

She's failing, the doctor says, stepping back. Edward looks from him to the tiny still body in the bed. He shakes his head slowly, then moves forward, runs forward, pushes the doctor out of the way and leans over her, calls out to her, Isabella Marie Isabella Marie, wake up, darling, wake up-

I think this is it, Edward, the doctor says quietly, pressing a button behind the bed and muting the alarm. He glances at the nurses and they all nod and leave as Edward leans over his Isabella Marie and calls out for her as if he truly believes she's going to hear him and wake. The monitor is silent but the lines on it are lessening.

(Edward Edward Edward I can hear you, can't you hear me can't you hear me? I want to tell you I love you I love you I love you, can't you hear me? I love you I love you-)

The doctor steps back and watches the scene with sad eyes. Edward has fallen to his knees by the bed and he's taking strands of her hair and wrapping them around his hands, pressing his lips against every part of her face, taking her hand and squeezing it. I'm here I'm here darling I'm here and I can't lose you so stay with me, okay, stay here- he turns around to the doctor with eyes wide as plates and yells at him, do something! Don't just stand there like you've given up! Do something!

The doctor says quietly that this was always going to happen, there's nothing we can do, her immune-

Shut up shut up shut up he says, shut up and do something. He looks back at his Isabella Marie and panic floods his senses like an emotional tsunami and suddenly he's drowning, please oh God please-

(Edward hey Edward I'm here, I'm going to be fine, I just know I'm going to be fine, I love you I love you can't you hear me? Don't get upset, you always get upset over the stupidest things, you idiot, come on, laugh- )

He stands up and takes her shoulders and shakes them, Isabella Marie Isabella Marie, sweet the rain's new fall sunlit from heaven hey you can hear me I know you can. Answer me, tell me what comes next-

(Like the first dewfall on the first grass, trust you to bring that stupid song up now, oh Edward I do love you-)

Tell me Isabella, tell me come on please and there are tears dripping down his face. He takes her face in his hand and kisses her softly but this isn't a fairy tale, she isn't Snow White and he isn't the Prince and there's nothing he can do, he knows it but he can't help himself, he kisses her again.

The doctor has his eyes fixed firmly on the monitor, don't get attached don't get attached, he is thinking, but it's difficult because he can remember the way Isabella Cullen smiled and it was something that brightened your day. Don't get attached don't get attached.

(I feel all warm and happy, Edward, I wish you could feel it too-)

He's leaning over her and crying and telling her to wake up and his tears are falling on her face. Bella Bella Bella, come on, praise for the sweetness of the wet garden-

(Sprung in completeness where his feet pass. But think how close I am to that now, Edward, I can see it, I'm going but I do love you I do I do-)

He can't speak because he's lost his words, but he's crying so heavily that the words aren't needed. The mountains on the monitor have become molehills, and the doctor is glancing at his watch, trying to remain professional. Only seconds now, he thinks, thirty at the most.

Isabella Marie-

(I'm going, I love you. I'm going I'm going, goodbye, goodbye. Love you.)

The lines have gone.

Edward freezes, looks down at her. There's something wrong. Isabella Marie? he whispers. He stares at her. There's something missing. She doesn't look the same. Her chest has fallen and she's so still. He shakes his head, no, he whispers, no no no no-

The doctor sighs and calls it out, time of death five fifteen.

Edward turns and stares at him, turns back to the body beside him, stares down at it. He lifts a shaking finger, and pulls her eyelid back. Her eyes stare forward and don't see him. She's dead, he thinks. She's dead.

And he can feel his heart pounding in his chest and he puts his hand to his mouth and he can feel himself shaking, shaking, and he can't control himself and a sob tears up his throat and he can't breathe he can't breathe I can't breathe-

His hands clasp around her shoulders, twist down her arms, and he's shaking her and screaming at her and tears are pouring down his face like a storm in his eyes.

The doctor runs his hand through his hair and the ward doors open. Looks are exchanged and the doctor clears his throat. She's gone, Edward.

He knows it. But he doesn't look away from his Isabella Marie, he doesn't stop shaking her, he doesn't stop calling out to her. He feels cold, like wherever she's gone she's taken all the warmth of the world with her, and he wants her back he needs her back I want you back I need you back Isabella Isabella-

He collapses against her bed and holds her hand so tight he can feel her bones moving in his fist, dead hands dead bones dead dead dead. His whole body is possessed by his tears, shaking shoulders and a raw throat and a wet face.

Hands close around his shoulders and someone is pulling him back, and he screams no no no and hits out, stands up and takes her hands, pulling her up and against his chest, feeling her flopping against him, lifeless, truly really lifeless. Isabella Marie Isabella Marie, he wraps his arms tight around the shape below him and kisses her head, Isabella Marie-

Pull him back.

And this time it's someone stronger and he can't get free. His Isabella Marie falls back on the bed as he is dragged off, and mad eyes watch the sheet being pulled over her face and he slashes out, falls to the floor, hits the lino and screams and screams, fists pounding, sobs screeching out around the walls. A nurse runs from the room crying.

The bird on the windowsill watches from behind the glass. The sun is high now, a burning ball of gold suspended in the ethereal blue of newly spun sky. He hops along the wooden sill and tweets cheerily at the man. Cheer up, he is saying. Didn't you hear her? She was happy she was happy. The man doesn't look up. The wind whistles through the bird's feathers. He ruffles them, shakes his head, and chirps. Mine is the sunlight! he calls, and jumps out into the air, wings spreading and catching the wind. He pushes down and flies, up, up into the sun. Mine is the morning! Born of the one light Eden saw play!

Praise with elation. Praise every morning. God's recreation of the new day.

She loves you she loves you she loves you, the bird calls as he flies.

Isabella Marie Isabella Marie-

( )

Morning has broken.