ENTRY FOR THE PLOT BUNNY CONTEST
Story Name: Sixty Years of Love
Word Count (not including header/author's note): 2412
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Plot Bunny: Do you remember that moment? The one where you first realize you're in love? It's been sixty years, and I still remember it like it was yesterday...
"Hi Emma," Edward said. "How is she today?"
"She's not having a good day, Gramps," Emma replied. "She's pretty confused and that makes her upset."
Edward sat in the chair next to Bella. "Good morning, Bella. How are you today?"
"Do I know you?" Bella asked. She looked scared, and Edward knew that he had to be careful with what he said.
"I'm an old friend of yours, Bella," Edward said.
"I'm sorry, but I don't remember your name. I'm a little forgetful."
"My name is Edward."
"Just like my husband!" Bella said. "Do you know my husband, Edward?"
"Yes, I do," Edward said. "I know him well."
Bella stared at him and looked like she was starting to get agitated.
Edward stood and said, "I have to go see the doctor, but I'll be back to see you later. Why don't you try to eat your breakfast?"
Bella looked relieved that he was leaving. "Oh, I hope you aren't ill? The doctors here are very good. They had me all better in a jiffy, so I'm leaving today to go home to Edward and the kids."
Edward didn't really know what to say to that. He looked at Emma, and Emma shook her head.
"I'll be fine, Bella. Don't worry about me. I'll be back in a little while." He heard Emma start to read Pride and Prejudice to Bella as he left.
"This is a good book," he heard Bella say to Emma. "I can't wait to see if they get together at the end."
Edward walked through the hallways to the wing of the hospital where Bella's doctor, Dr. Dan Hill, had his office. Dr. Hill was the most renowned specialist for Alzheimer's disease on the west coast.
"Hi Dr. Cullen. How is Mrs. Cullen today," a young nurse asked as they passed in the hallway.
"As well as can be expected. Thanks for asking Jenny," Edward responded. Though Edward retired about five years ago to spend all of his time with Bella, the fact that she was at his hospital's long term care facility for Alzheimer's patients meant that he spent more time there now than he did when he was practicing medicine. He still knew most of the doctors and nurses, and many of them knew Bella.
Edward made some notes in a file marked "Bella" as he walked. He kept detailed notes on Bella so he could track her progress. "Or should I say decline," Edward thought. He shook his head to get rid of thoughts like that. That attitude didn't get anyone anywhere.
Edward knew that he and Bella were lucky that Dan practiced at a hospital in Seattle, though Edward would have moved with Bella wherever necessary to get the best care possible for her. Dan's location in Seattle meant that their kids and grandkids could visit Bella often. It was hard for them, because they had their own lives, but at least one of them managed to visit her everyday. The strain was catching up with them and their families though, and he knew it was just a matter of time before they'd cut back on the visits. As Bella recognized them less frequently, they were starting to question whether their visits did any good.
All except Emma, Edward thought. She'll still come as often as she can, even if Bella doesn't know who she is. Emma and her Grandmother had always been extraordinarily close. Bella used to tell Emma that the two of them had to be very close because Emma looked so much like Edward. Emma was Bella's other soul mate. That used to make little Emma scream because she didn't want to look like her Grandfather - a boy, and an old one at that.
"Hi Dan," Edward said, as he sat heavily in the chair across Dan Hill's desk.
"Hi Edward," Dan replied. "How's retired life treating you? Don't you miss the esteemed practice of medicine?" Dan teased. "Are you ready to come back again? You know you just have to say the word. Tanya would take you back in a second."
The fact that Tanya, the hospital's administrator, had been trying to get in Edward's pants since Edward started at Seattle General twenty years ago was a running joke amongst the hospital staff.
"Jesus, don't let Bella hear you say that," Edward responded out of habit.
They both were quiet then for a few moments, as they thought about the fact that Bella probably didn't even remember who Tanya was.
"How is she today? I haven't been in to see her yet this morning. She wasn't doing well yesterday," Dan said.
"She seems to be getting worse." Edward said quietly, as if it wouldn't be true if he didn't say it out loud.
"Well, we knew that was going to happen, Edward," Dr. Hill said gently. "You have to just take every day as it comes."
"Spare me the platitudes, Dan." Edward said. "Isn't there anything else we can do?" Other medicines? Anything? I hate losing her like this." Though Edward appeared angry, Dan saw the tears in his eyes.
"Edward, you have to try to move on. I'm concerned about your health."
"You're not my doctor. I'll worry about my health. You worry about Bella," Edward snapped.
Dan sighed. "Edward, I may not be your doctor, but I am your friend. You're running yourself ragged. You aren't taking care of yourself at all. You don't look like you've slept in … well, forever. You know, it was only 5 years ago that you had a heart attack, and Emmett is worried sick that you're headed for another one. If Alice were still here, you know she'd tell you that you have to move on and concentrate on taking care of yourself. "
"That's a low blow, Dan," Edward yelled. "Bringing Alice into the conversation is a low blow! Alice loved Bella. If Alice and Jasper were still here, they'd be right by Bella's side too. Right along with me."
They looked at each other silently for a moment, until Edward put his head down. He began tugging on his hair and then rested his head in his hands.
"How am I supposed to forget 60 fucking years, Dan?" Edward sobbed. "I remember the day I realized I loved her. It's been sixty years, and I still remember it like it was yesterday. How am I supposed to 'move on' from that, Dan?"
"Edward, just calm down. Nobody is suggesting that you forget Bella. But the time is coming quickly where the person in that bed isn't Bella anymore. She's having fewer and fewer good days, Edward. When was the last time you had a conversation with her where she recognized you? When was the last time she recognized Emma? Or one of your kids?"
"She recognizes us, Dan," Edward said. "She recognizes us." He repeated it, as if saying it often enough made it true.
"No, Edward. She doesn't. I'm sorry if this sounds harsh. But she doesn't recognize you. Any of you. Her brain won't let her. The connections in her brain are gone. Now you can sit there and waste away along with her, or you can concentrate on the people in your life who need you. Your kids need you. Your grandkids need you. You aren't doing anyone any good wasting away in this hospital."
Edward jumped up so fast that he knocked his chair over. "I'm not giving up hope." He slammed the door.
After spending all day with Bella, Edward drove home. He stopped at a Wendy's and got a burger, fries, and a milkshake to take home with him.
"Bella would have a fit," he mumbled to himself. But who cared after all. At this point, another heart attack would probably be the best thing for him. That he survived the heart attack only to have Bella diagnosed with Alzheimer's that same year was probably the cruelest fate imaginable. If he had died, he wouldn't have had to live through Bella forgetting about him. About their whole life. Their children. Their love. After all, Bella wouldn't even miss him.
"Hell, she doesn't even know that I'm alive anyway."
"Sorry Sir?" The boy at the drive through window asked him.
"What?" Edward asked testily. He caught himself talking to himself more often these days. Emma said it was from loneliness. He felt guilty for snapping at the boy. He was wound so tight constantly, and he was so tired.
"I'm almost 80 years old," Edward thought. "If I want to get snappy every once in a while, I've earned the right."
The kid looked at him and yelled "That'll be $7.74!"
"I'm not deaf, and I'm not an idiot," Edward yelled back. "Oh God, I've turned into one of those old people."
Edward slept fitfully that night. He dreamed of his and Bella's wedding night. They had both been virgins, because Edward had wanted to wait until he and Bella were married to have sex. Edward had spent 2 solid years jerking off until he thought he had carpal tunnel, and when he finally entered Bella that first time, he was so excited he lasted about 10 seconds. It had felt so unbelievably good. He couldn't believe the difference between his own hand and being sheathed in Bella's warmth and wetness. They were both so clueless. There had been some blood, and Bella was a little scared. But they caught on fast. They spent the whole honeymoon in bed, each getting to know the other's body. By the time they were finished with the honeymoon, they were screaming each other's names as they came over and over again. They had tried just about every position at least once, and Bella was talking openly with him about which positions were her favorites. He had been so pleased that Bella wasn't shy. He woke with the biggest erection he'd had in years. And he started to cry about everything he had lost.
"I like this book," Bella said. "What's it called again?"
"Wuthering Heights," Edward told her. "It's one of my favorites too."
He usually read from Pride and Prejudice, because it was guaranteed to make Bella smile and sigh and talk about love, but he knew that Emma had read that book to her yesterday, and he didn't want to repeat it.
"Not that she even remembers," Edward realized. He could read the same chapter over and over and Bella wouldn't realize he was repeating it. Things like that made him so sad. Bella used to be able to quote whole passages from her favorite books.
"Do you think these characters have any redeeming qualities at all, Bella?" Edward asked her.
"What a question!" Bella snorted. "Their love is their redeeming quality. What else do they need? Their love will last forever."
"Is that all you need?" Edward asked her. He got tears in his eyes at this point.
"Of course it's all you need," Bella looked at Edward with pity. "I remember when I first realized I was in love with Edward. It seems like yesterday. And it only got better from there. If you haven't experienced a love like that, you haven't lived."
"When did you know you were in love with Edward?" he asked her. This was what kept him coming back every day.
"I knew the first time I saw him that I loved him. We were lab partners in Biology in high school. I was new at Forks High School, and I didn't know anybody there. I moved from Phoenix to live with Charlie. Charlie is my father."
"Our hands touched that first day during our lab, and we both thought we had shocked ourselves with the lab equipment. Then we realized it wasn't even plugged in yet." They both laughed.
"I remember looking at you that day and knowing that you were the girl I was going to marry," Edward told her.
Bella's smile faded and turned to a frown. Edward realized his mistake immediately. He grabbed Bella's hand to try to calm her, but she grabbed it back and started frantically pressing the nurse call button. "Who are you? I don't know you. Who are you? Where is Edward?" She was scared and crying now and looking around the room like she wanted to get away from him.
Two nurses came running into the room. "Mr. Cullen, why don't you go get a cup of coffee? We'll take care of this," one of the nurses said.
"No, I don't want to leave her like this," Edward was crying now too. This had only happened a couple times in the past. It broke his heart when Bella looked at him like she was terrified of him.
One of the nurses pushed him out the door. "We're going to have to sedate her, Mr. Cullen. She'll soon be sleeping peacefully. Everything will be all right," she said.
"No, everything won't be all right," Edward thought as he tried to get another look at Bella before the door slammed in his face. "Nothing will ever be right again."
"Who is that man?" Bella asked Emma. "He's pretty hot."
Emma laughed. "Don't you recognize him?"
"No. Have I met him before? I think I'd remember it if I had. He'd be pretty hard to forget, even if he is too old for me." Bella watched Edward as he left the room to get them all something to drink. "Nice ass."
"Gran!" Emma said as she giggled.
"What? I'm sick. I'm not dead," Bella laughed.
"How old do you think he is, Gran?" Emma asked.
"He's at least 75. Maybe 80?" Bella replied.
"How old are you, Gran?"
""Me? I'm old enough to know better. Is he married?" Bella asked.
Emma smiled, "Yes, Gran. He is very much married. To a wonderful woman. He loves her more than life itself."
"Hmmm. If I didn't have Edward, I'd tap that."
Edward came back into the room. "What are you two laughing about?"
"Oh, nothing. Just discussing the scenery here at the hospital," Bella smiled at Emma.
Edward smiled too. It was going to be one of Bella's good days. He settled into his chair next to Bella's bed and opened up Pride and Prejudice.
"This is a good book," he heard Bella say to Emma. "I can't wait to see if they get together at the end."
A/N: I wanted to do something different with this plot bunny than what I assume was expected. I was trying to stay away from the sappy 60 year love story that was my immediate reaction the first time I read the prompt. I hope it worked.