Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Suggested Listening: The Fray – Hundred; Gavin Rosdale – Love Remains the Same; OneRepublic ft. Sara Bareilles – Come Home.
This hospital room encased everything that mattered to me. The white walls and faded blue wallpaper bordered with clowns, balloons, and sail boats ridiculed my fears with excitement. Constant beeps from the machines surrounding us rhythmically matched the tiny thumping beneath my fingers. I smiled. A tiny pair of eyes stared up at me. From the bottoms of my feet to the top of my head, love exuded me. It was in that exact moment that I knew the true meaning of love and fear. I loved everything about this person staring at me, and I feared everything about her. With her came tasks and rules to be enforced. I could do that, but she also came with the fear of messing up, forgetting, hurting, scarring. She was the most precious thing in my life now. This tiny little being with coal black hair, almond-shaped eyes, and a broad nose was everything I could not be, but everything I should be.
Her plump lips opened and her nose scrunched as her arms stretched out above her head. A small exhale left her little body as she smacked her mouth closed.
"You tired, baby girl?" I asked, placing my forefinger just under her bottom lip and wiggling it, causing her lip to move back and forth. The corner of her lip curled up in a smirk that somehow caused my heart to skip a beat. My chest burned with excitement. I couldn't wait to see her smile fully or sit up on her own. Watching her move in the tiniest of ways made me want to video tape her 24 hours a day and go to the nearest store to buy the "Proud Dad" t-shirt I always used to poke fun of when I was little. I had no idea how a father could be so proud of something so small...until now. Somehow, seeing something that used to be a part of me yawn and stretch then smirk at me made me feel like walking on water was possible. I would do anything for her, anything.
My Dad used to tell me you never truly understood the love of a parent until you become one. I hadn't believed him until now. Throughout Bella's pregnancy he would smirk and laugh at the slightest bit of panic I felt. I never knew what that panic was. I never understood. Three days ago it all came into focus when the better half of me came into this world. All of the panic and fear was replaced with undeniable love. Although that fear and panic still pounded through my veins, love overcame everything.
A different type of fear encased me that day. The fear of loss - of never knowing - exploded in my chest. Things weren't supposed to turn out this way. We were supposed to leave with our daughter today. We were supposed to take her home, but Bella couldn't come with us. Bella was sick, pale, and tired. Always tired. Last night, she slipped into a deep sleep and this morning no one could wake her. The doctors said she had lost a lot of blood. The nurses started whispering as they walked past the room, and by the looks of pity and sadness on their faces, the outlook couldn't be too good.
I needed to touch her, to show her what we'd created together. So, I stood up with our daughter in my arms and took the two steps to the hospital bed where the beeping kept me from losing my mind. At least these machines would never whisper something behind my back. As long as they beeped, that meant she was alive and I would fight for her life. Fighting for her was all I'd ever known.
Bending over, I pressed my cheek against hers and cringed at the cold, clammy skin that touched mine. Our daughter was nestled in my arms that were now resting against Bella's chest. She didn't have a chance to see our daughter. The blood came just as quickly as the baby. It was everywhere and unexpected - so unexpected. The doctors didn't have a chance to ask me to leave the room or bark out orders to someone else to make me leave. It was a split-second decision that saved her life. And I could not thank them enough.
"I need you here," I whispered tenderly into her ear and left a soft kiss there. A tear trickled down my cheek as I glimpsed toward the bundle of perfection sleeping peacefully...just like her mother. She looked so much like Bella, but also like me.
My chest heaved with a heaviness that I'd carried around with me for the past three days. It was the "what ifs" and "maybes" that I would continue to carry until she woke up. Bella was everything to me. She always had been, but not exactly the way you would think. We may have created this beautiful and amazing child together, but it wasn't in the most "honorable" of ways.
Bella was my best friend, my confidant. Things changed between us our senior year of high school, and continued to change over the passing years. We were always there for each other even when in the toughest of times. In college, our friendship took a drastic turn – a turn that we could not overcome. And that's how this little miracle in my arms was here today. I wouldn't change a thing about how she got here. I was happy that she was here alive and breathing.
I swallowed back the questions in my throat. There was no need to think about that now. No need to think about the negatives. I had to be positive. I had to stay positive, because I'd never forgive myself if something happened to Bella. What if one negative thought was what took her away?
I needed her. I wanted her to come home. Not back to the "hole-in-the-wall" apartment she called a home, but the home I'd made for us. The home that was erected with nothing but her on my mind. Though, at the time, I may not have known what I was doing, I had built a home for Bella and me. She had been my inspiration for, well, everything in my life. Bella was responsible for all I had, and without her I'd be nothing but dust. I would choose to become dust if something happened to her.
A squirm in my arms and the smallest of squeaks left me feeling guilty. How could I think such a thing when the single most important person rested in my arms waiting to begin her life? She would be what I fought for now. She was my main reason for breathing. She was the first thing on my mind in the morning and the last thing I thought about at night. I would turn my life upside down for her.
This little girl had won my heart over in the past nine months of gestation. I couldn't begin to explain the way I felt watching her become a part of this world, and I couldn't imagine what the rest of my life would be like. I couldn't wait to get to know this perfect little person sleeping in my arms. I smiled down at her and hoped someday she would get to know her mother.
Then, just like that, the beeping that had kept me sane, that had kept the hope alive and beating in my chest, stopped. A long steady beep circled the room jerking my attention to the monitor. My daughter twisted in my arms as she began to cry and scream with the loud buzzing of the machine. I glanced up through the glass windows of the ICU to the nurse's station. Panic-stricken faces stared into the room and past me to the baby in my arms who would probably never get to meet her mother. They moved quickly, but it was all in slow motion to me.
I glanced back down at Bella, the woman I'd…loved…for so many years, then to the baby in my arms who lay there screaming and wiggling in discomfort. I couldn't do this alone. My chest tightened and burned. God, I could not do this alone.
Was I breathing?
I looked back to Bella. Her chest lay still. Her face was a peaceful pasty white. I swallowed. "Bella."
The door to the room pushed open. My eyes shifted to the doctor and then back to.. "My Bella." My heart pounded deep in my chest. I looked down at my daughter, and back to Bella. "No."
"Someone get Mr. Black out of here." The white coated man spoke slowly – his voice deep and drawn out to my own ears.
"Mr. Black," a cool hand floated to my arm bringing with it the presence of time. "I'm Esme. Why don't you and your daughter come out here with me."
I nodded. My mouth was suddenly dry. I tried swallowing, but had somehow forgotten how to do that. Esme clutched my arm and began to lead me toward the thick glass doors. Where was I going? I didn't want to leave Bella. I couldn't leave Bella. She…she…she had to come home.
Roots seemed to shoot out of my feet and planted into the ceramic tile below. My upper body swayed as Esme pulled my shoulder, but my feet stayed put. I kept my eyes on the maneuvers the doctors were performing on Bella. It was all sinking in, slowly absorbing into my pores, my muscles, my veins, my heart, my brain. Bella was giving up the fight. She'd given me everything she had wanted to give, and I reluctantly and selfishly declined her the most important request.
Bella didn't want our daughter to grow up with separate parents in separate states living separate lives. Her only wish for us was to stay together. "Even if you don't love me..." her voice rattled in my brain, but I couldn't... No, not couldn't, wouldn't. And why wouldn't I?
My daughter wriggled in my arms as a screaming cry left her tiny little body. I looked to my little girl, my everything, and time stopped. Nurse Esme's fingers still grasped my shirt, but she was frozen - her body stiff and rigid with the lack of time on her side. My eyes moved across the floor to the curtain hanging next to Bella's bed. The curtain curved around the pushing hand of the doctor next to it. Their timeless figures stilled in the night. Then I saw the doctor hovering over Bella. His hands pushed down on her chest. His body frozen like stone. And Bella...
She lay there lifeless like a marble statue. The roots holding my feet vanished, and I unconsciously walked to her bedside. The lights dimmed with every footstep. My eyes never left her peaceful face even as the room faded to black. As I approached her bed, my hand reached out and grabbed a hold of hers. Forcefully, I shoved my fingers into her palm. She was cold, so cold.
The little girl in my arms wiggled and my attention diverted to her, as she had become the most important gift to me in less than three days. My eyes fixated on the moving baby and the room faded to black. The only light left in the room was a blaring white light searing down upon the three of us. That too slowly faded from Bella's cold, stone-like body, pulling her life further from reach. Intently, I watched as the light drew back over her cold, pale skin until there was nothing left but a pit of blackness. Suddenly, I was left alone with my daughter resting snugly in the crook of my arm. Her screaming had stopped and her face relaxed into a peaceful slumber. The invisible tears she cried ceased. Her plump lips turned up into a smile and then, swiftly, the searing white light yanked my daughter into the darkness.
A gasp of air escaped me. "What? No!" I yelled out into the black abyss, not entirely sure of what was going on or if anyone could hear me. I did not care, because I had lost the two most precious things in my life. Faintly, though, if I stopped and concentrated, I could still feel the coldness of Bella's fingers and the warmth of my daughter bundled in my arms. That feeling eased the pain in my chest and the blood in my eyes.
"What's going on?" I whispered, dropping my head and letting a few tears of weakness escape me.
Wind blew across my body so quickly that my clothes clung to me. My hair gusted behind me in a thick, stringy mess. I brought my face up to the wind as it briskly blew a warmth over me. It heated my skin, though my insides were like ice.
A circular white orb of light shot out of the dark as warm wind floated around me. I didn't move. I didn't breathe as the light picked up speed and soared through the air. The orb continued its swerving path around the dark room across the crook of my arm that still held my invisible child and around the hand that was clutching Bella's fingers. The light surrounded my body once more and returned to the center of the blackened room. The light began to illuminate the darkness. The round orb morphed vertically until it reached the indistinguishable floor beneath my feet.
The center of the elongated, glowing orb changed from pitch black to a dark gray. From the orb, a darkness appeared and stretched the sides of the glowing oval. I continued to watch as the darkness, now floating toward me, took the form of a person. Its vague figure stretched and contorted into a tall, moving being. As the being walked toward me, the darkness of it faded away and a glowing, healthy golden light emitted from her. This woman – being - walked toward me in a flowing white dress. Her hair floated around her face in the thick, warm wind that now engulfed all four of us. I glanced down to my bent arm to find it still empty and then to the hand in Bella's to find nothing but my imagination holding it in place.
"Jacob," a warm, sweet voice filled the darkness with light.
I knew that voice. I would have known it anywhere. I turned my eyes toward the glowing figure in front of me. She was just as beautiful as I remembered her. Tears pooled in my eyes. My throat felt like it was going to cave in on itself. Air pushed into my lungs and escaped me frighteningly loud.
"Mom?" The crack in my voice broke the dam holding my tears at bay. Soon they flooded my cheeks with years of grief.
"Jacob," she smiled and reached her glowing hand to my cheek. I closed my eyes at the warmth spreading across my body.
"I don't know what's happening," I whispered, leaning into her hand.
"I know, son." Her voice was deeper, and somehow softer than I remembered. But still, it had a ring to it that I couldn't forget. I didn't want to forget.
"Open your eyes." I obeyed her request, afraid that she might disappear again, that I might lose someone else important to me. I blinked a couple of times as the tears seemed to be in never-ending supply. Her glowing thumbs wiped across my cheeks just like she used to do when I'd scraped my knee or hit my head. "Do you love her?"
"I...I don't..." I cleared my throat, "I can't."
"Son," her smile faded. "Sometimes, there are people meant to be with us our whole lives, and sometimes there are people who come around long enough to provide you with what you need."
"What are you saying?"
She ignored my question and continued. "Just like me, Jacob. I was only meant to provide you and your father with what you needed, then it was time for me to go. I didn't want to go, but I had to. I was needed elsewhere. Son, I know that it's hard to let someone you love go..."
"Haven't I let go of enough, Mom? I mean..." Suddenly, I was embarrassed that I'd been so straightforward with my glowing angelic mother. "How many people do I have to lose until I have one that stays?"
"Jake," she whispered. "You have a choice."
"Yes," her voice was now deeper and more solid.
"What is my choice?" I was confused, maybe a tad bit crazy, and scared.
"Your choice, my son, is love or fear?"
"Wha...what? How does that bring Bella back? How does that give me..."
"Again, I ask you, do you love her?" My mother's voice pleaded me to answer.
"Of course I love her, she's my best friend." My answer was the best I could do in the situation. How could I make a decision like that when I had everything to lose.
"No, son." As if she were interrupted by the glowing light still floating in the center of the room, Mom turned toward the light and nodded.
"Mom, how can I chose when I have so much to lose? This decision...it'll take from me someone important, someone that I can't live without..."
Those words were true. I couldn't live without Bella, and I couldn't live without the wonderful little girl we'd made. Surviving without either of them was like trying to live without oxygen. It was impossible. I would die without them both.
Suddenly, my mother placed her hand above my heart. Her warm presence seemed to warm the fabric of my shirt. That warmth bled down through the fabric to my skin, where the heat became almost unbearable. I glanced down to my mother's hand. Smoke rose from around the form of her fingers as the heat became hotter and my skin begin to sizzle. The fabric of my shirt seemed to disappear under her palm and the raging heat seared through my veins like lava. I gasped and grabbed her wrist as the fire began to burn inside of me. My body was burning, sizzling with inferno-like heat. It coursed through my veins, but my heart still beat radically. I cursed under my breath. The burning of the fire in my veins forced down my limbs, over my back, across my chest, through my heart, up my neck, around my face, and exploded in my eyes as a fiery ring of searing white-hot heat.
"Before you make a choice, let me show you," my mother's voice whispered in the wind. "Open your eyes and see the truth that's always been there."
My burning eyes opened to a movie screen. I glanced around me. I was seated in a theater that could fit more than 500 people. To my left, my mother sat with a bucket of popcorn and her eyes fixated on the screen. To my right, I could see the glass doors of Bella's hospital room. My figure stood frozen next to her bed, our daughter in my arms, and my hand grasping onto hers.
"Mom," I asked, my voice croaking with anxiety.
"Shhh..." she laughed and bounced slightly in her seat. "It's starting!"
"What's starting?" The question floated out of my mouth without a second thought. I rolled my eyes at myself and turned my head to the screen.
"I wonder what's going to happen?" Mom whispered into my ear.
I smiled at her sweetly and threw my hand into the bucket of popcorn as the ticking of the projector starting pulled my attention to the screen.