Beyond the Pale Contest

This Woman's Work

Nitareality

Bella

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SM owns Twilight and it's characters. Kate Bush owns This Woman's Work. No infringement intended.

This story contains mature themes including but not limited to extremely graphic descriptions of death and mental illness, marriage and motherhood.


Pray God you can cope.

I stand outside this woman's work,

This woman's world.

Ooh, it's hard on the man,

Now his part is over.

Now starts the craft of the father.

I know you have a little life in you yet.

I know you have a lot of strength left.

I know you have a little life in you yet.

I know you have a lot of strength left.

I should be crying, but I just can't let it show.

I should be hoping, but I can't stop thinking

Of all the things I should've said,

That I never said.

All the things we should've done,

That we never did.

All the things I should've given,

But I didn't.

Oh, darling, make it go,

Make it go away.

Give me these moments back.

Give them back to me.

Give me that little kiss.

Give me your hand.

(I know you have a little life in you yet.

I know you have a lot of strength left.

I know you have a little life in you yet.

I know you have a lot of strength left.)

I should be crying, but I just can't let it show.

I should be hoping, but I can't stop thinking

Of all the things we should've said,

That were never said.

All the things we should've done,

That we never did.

All the things that you needed from me.

All the things that you wanted for me.

All the things that I should've given,

But I didn't.

Oh, darling, make it go away.

Just make it go away now.

This Woman's Work – Kate Bush


As she opened her eyes, she was amazed at the scene that surrounded her. Splats, drips and pit pats of blood were everywhere. She looked down at her hand, finding it was wrapped tightly around a knife, almost in a lovers caress of an aroused cock; a knife firmly implanted into the life-source of her victim.

Without panic, she pulled the knife from his heart, the sucking suction stressing her muscles, causing her to grunt as she mastered the final yank. When the body finally let go of the blade, spurts of crimson landed on her face.

Satisfied, she stuck the knife in the wall. She ran her bloodied hands through her hair, taking a deep breath and squaring her shoulders. She walked out the door of the house, carried only by determination, as she had no strength left. She walked the well manicured side-walk, down past the beautifully tended front garden, and into the street. She sat then, curled into fetal position, and cried. She screamed and wailed and put the last burst of energy she had into alerting the world of her horror, her guilt, her pain.

In her perfect little subdivision filled with perfect little soccer moms, sitting alone on her perfect little street, it took 30 minutes for someone to stop and try to speak to her.

They had been drinking, not heavily, just enough to lube the machine of their affections. A tickle war had morphed into a fabulous kitchen floor dry hump, ending as a rough and passionate session in their marital bed. They'd made the decision, the decision of a lifetime, to stop using protection. They weren't trying, but they weren't trying not to anymore. Regardless, 10 days later, the testing began. Later, after three separate positive tests, she broke the happy news to her husband. He shed tears of joy and hugged her tightly.

Bella stayed rooted to the road, unmoved by her neighbor's pleas that she move. Like before he'd come, the cars just steered around her, speeding up angrily after they passed her, pissed that their trip home had been delayed by 60 extra seconds.

The good samaritan had asked Bella if she was hurt. She hadn't even raised her head, just wailed. "I've hurt for so long!"

He asked if anyone in her home was hurt. She slumped even further into herself. Her answer, "No." came out in an animalistic crooned moan. She looked up, finally taking the man in, not surprised to find that he looked like every other man in the subdivision. At that realization her affect changed dramatically. Her face fell flat, her voice even and dull. "No. No one is hurt. Just dead. One person dead in the house."

The man took a few steps back, motioning with his hands that she should stay where she was. He slowly pulled his phone from his pocket, holding it delicately, like a novice would hold a gun. She heard the three numbers dialed and placed her head back between her knees. As she listened to the man describe the scene to the operator, she started to float away, leaving him sounding like he was talking from the inside of a can.

They'd looked at 9 houses, none meeting all of the requirements that they had. They had decided to stop for lunch, and while eating, he made some calls and it just so happened a house down the street was open for showing. They headed over, skeptical as they drove through, the cookie cutter houses and teeny tiny trees evident of a new development. As they drove they whisper-talked words like "housing association" and "neighborhood organizations".

They reached the address and saw a house, much like the others in the neighborhood. This was obviously one of the older homes in the new development, having trees with trunk circumferences bigger than Bella's wrist. Bella was reminded of "Poltergeist", while Michael was optimistic based on the immaculate condition of the lawn. When they got out of the car, it wasn't the home owners who greeted them, but the perfect blond children from the house next door, clamoring to know if playmates would be moving into the house.

Bella sat rocking on the pavement of the road, when a sudden image hit her. She saw her two beautiful babes at school, older, much older, being taunted by other kids. They were being teased about their mom in jail, mercilessly mocked and brutalized for something that wasn't their fault. Things had gone too far for a different resolution. She had two choices and needed to decide immediately.

She waited til the neighbor was pacing away from her and quietly sprang towards the house. Once inside she bounded up the stairs to Michael's walk in closet. Grabbing one of the silk ties hanging from a hook inside the door, she looped it around her neck twice, then sank down to the floor. She wrapped the other end of the tie around the door handle and knotted it, slumping down til the silk constricted her airway.

She spent the moment before she passed out envisioning her children's faces. Her heart felt like it was cracking as she said goodbye to them in her head. The pain of knowing she'd never see them again, and that they'd never forgive her, was far worse than the pain of feeling her body start to die.

Right as she began to slip she heard voices, whether real or imagined, that frightened and shamed her. "Here! Here! The crazy bitch is here!" Voices were nothing new to her, so they had no impact other than the usual guilt and horror at her inability to be who she was supposed to be.

She didn't feel the arms of the strong paramedic lifting her onto the stretcher, fastening a collar around her neck, intubating her, inserting an IV. She didn't feel his long, black hair float across her chest as he forced her eyes open to check her pupil's dilation. She didn't smell his spicy scent as he leaned over her, checking her respiratory sounds. She didn't hear him as he said, "Another fucking drama queen suburban princess, we're better off without you hon."

They started the move, hauling years of pack ratting with them in a rented truck. Bella was glad not to be experiencing morning sickness, though she was dismayed by her ravenous appetite. Cravings included: creamed spinach, creamed spinach and super cold ginger beer. Aversions confounded her, the smell of smoke, popcorn and fish making her sick to her stomach in the most literal sense, sometimes making her vomit. Her exhaustion started to fade as they settled into their new home, and she found that pregnancy suited her in so many ways. She was elated, so excited, and the rush of hormones seemed to jar her creative mind, spurring her on to finish many projects to pretty up the place.

Mike started on his job hunt, winding up taking both a full time and part time job, leaving Bella to herself more often than not. Bella tried to keep herself busy, reading, painting, then eventually getting sucked in to her new friend, the internet. She spent time researching; pregnancy, child birth, topics related to her books, anything to keep her mind moving, to push away the mind numbing boredom and loneliness of being alone in a new city, with Mike always gone.

. . . . . . . . . . .

When she woke, it was to the persistent beep of a heart monitor, and the tight squeeze of an automatic blood pressure cuff on her arm. The lights were dim, the television set to a station that showed an endless loop of fish swimming in aquarium and played oh so soothing classical music. A nurse stood at the door, whispering to a man who stood just outside of it. Bella tried to sit up, only to be jerked back to the mattress, her wrists in leather cuffs that were tied to the bed rails.

Her throat pricked as she felt a scream brewing in the pit of her stomach, trying to find it's way out but emerging only as a croak. Tears began to fall as she realized where she was and why, and the anger and shame of her latest failure overwhelmed her. One more thing she had not done right; one more way she'd failed her children. She closed her eyes, the remembered sound of Mike's exasperated sigh the last thing she heard for another few days.

She sat in the doctor's office, her massive abdomen rising and falling with every increasingly panicked breath she took. The nurse was leaving the room after having told her that the doctor would be back in a moment; but all Bella could process was that she would be alone in this room. Always alone. Often scared.

The ultrasound technician's face had been solid stone non-emotion as she told Bella that she would need to lie there for a moment, alone, while she got the doctor, that an extra look was needed. Her doc came in, looked at the snapshots the tech had taken, them mumbled instructions about a few more views he'd like and left the room. When it was over, again, the tech wiped the cold jelly off of her belly, sending her back to the examining room.

Alone, Bella jumped when the doctor's resounding rap sounded on the door. She steeled herself for the worst. He sat down, his kind, glasses obscured eyes seeking to reassure her. "Bella, you're 32 weeks now, your baby is presenting as breech. Unless he turns, at 38 weeks we'll have to perform a c-section." Now, Bella was no masochist, and not someone well versed in the benefits of natural child birthing. BUT. The idea of surgery, something never experienced, coupled with giving birth to her first child? Scared her. A lot.

She woke again, this time not surprised by her immobility or her inability to speak. She was prepared. She waited, trying to ignore her ridiculous thirst, knowing that the nurses on this floor had more important things to do than cater to her dry throat. She stared at the swimming fish on her television, noting when the loop began and ended, memorizing their movements in a short time. Her IV site itched, and she wanted to pull it out, but knew that if she was going to be able to do what she wanted, she'd have to be compliant.

She'd been a good girl. She'd discovered that her hippie tendencies didn't end with pot and music. She'd delved into cloth diapering, and became a dedicated extended nurser. When she became pregnant with her second babe, she was still nursing her first...he was two and a half and still very attached.

She nursed through the pregnancy, and thought and believed with every fiber of her being that it was the right thing. Maybe it was, but sometimes mothers make decisions that will hurt them knowing it's best for their children.

She first felt it at the baby's six month well baby visit. She'd had a hard time leaving for it, but rationalized that anyone would be nervous about a well baby visit, isn't that where they looked for all of your faults? Isn't that how most kids wound up in foster care? She was still nursing. The doctor said on her way out. "You know, you're the only one who needs to keep nursing."

Mike had evolved to believe he was much more needed as an outside breadwinner than as an in house Dad, and that's how things went for a while. Bella tried to make friends, found local mommy groups, but never fit in. She continued to read, and became more involved in her online world. She took up hobbies that would be more beneficial to her family than the ones she'd had before.

In the bright light of day, she opened her eyes again. She'd been awakened by a gentle shake and a firm mention of her name. Upon opening, her eyes settled on a man, a beautiful man by any description. He was sitting in a chair, opposite the foot of her bed. His light brown eyes shined under concerned brows, his lips tightened in thought. Inwardly, she tensed at what was coming, the questions.

"Isabella. I need to ask you some questions, is that okay?" The outside corners of his lips turned upward, his eyes holding a kind warmth. "I'm Dr. Cullen. I'm a psychiatrist and I'll be talking to you through the duration of your stay here." He crossed his legs, balancing his clipboard on his knee.

"Bella." Her voice came out in a croaked whisper, and she cringed at the burn and pull that the effort of talking gave her.

"You prefer Bella? Okay then, Bella it is." He recrossed his legs, leaned forward, and with his elbow on his clipboard, and his thumb under his chin, he spoke. "Bella, what is it that brought you here today?"

Bella rolled her eyes. Bella shook her head. As if you don't know.

"Bella I understand that this is going to be very hard for you to talk about, but you need to. For your sake, for the sake of your children." Dr. Cullen gave her an encouraging smile while nodding for her to speak.

Bella screamed her half scream, a sandpaper scream. Bella cried and wrenched at the restraints on her wrists. She kicked her legs and thrashed her head coming to the full realization of where and what she was. Murderer. Embarrassment. Captive. Failure. Sinner. Colossal Fuck Up. Alwayswrong. Selfish. The UnMother. With that last word in her head she howled as loud as she could, for as long as her lungs let her.

She woke again, to the same lively eyes, the same crossed legs, noting this time the smoothness of his light blond hair. It was so similar to her daughter's. When she met the doctor's eyes, he spoke in an even tone. "Let's try this again Bella. I'll let you lead. Do you have any questions?"

She'd wanted to want something other than her scheduled, sterile birth, but really, no. She was okay. She'd investigated all of the avenues and at her age, no way would they do a vaginal birth after a c-section. So they scheduled the birth and walked, not hand in hand, into the hospital for her second c-section.

He was better at bringing baby to her breast. She was better at expectations. High on the morphine, given due to the spinal headache, she was floating in a haze of love and amazement at the miracle of birth. She'd become so involved with her internet friends, that she had brought her laptop and live blogged her time after her birth.

She was welcomed home by her three year old, who snuggled into her side as she nursed her babe, needing the reassurance of touch to find his place with this new addition to the family. Mike took less time off from work this go round, and Bella's return to her normal routine was expedited accordingly.

About six weeks post postpartum, she first felt it. She was crushed by a feeling of helplessness. She was used to feeling overwhelmed, but this was different. She'd had the "baby blues" with her first pregnancy, and had taken anti-depressants for a year, but this was very different. On top of the feelings she was having, was a thought, sharp as a pin point. Her kids may very well be better off without her.

"Can you take off the restraints?" Bella jiggled her hands a little, showing the restraints to the doctor. "I won't try to get away."

The doctor leaned forward, tenting his fingers. "Do you think that is why we've restrained you?"

Bella shrugged her shoulders, leaning back on the bed, staring out the window.

"Bella, we need to talk about why you're here before we can discuss further actions like removing the restraints. Do you think you can do that for me?" The doctor gave her an encouraging nod, one she'd seen from another doctor, not so long ago.

She cried every day. Mike would leave for work, she'd pour the cereal, nurse the babe and cry. She'd sweep the floor, the same one she'd swept the day before, and cry. She'd do the laundry, the same exact loads, over and over and she'd cry. She cried at the redundancy, she cried at her loneliness. She cried at how no one cared that she cried.

Mike would leave for work, stop in after, not even bothering to eat before leaving again for his other job. His other family. Coaching athletics for other people's children. Being a father figure for other families. She'd begged him to stop. Told him that she needed him, that his kids needed him just as much as those other kids. He didn't hear her.

Her own mother had had a tough go at motherhood. A single mother, she'd never had it easy. Her reminders that Bella should feel blessed to have a husband at all, led her to wonder if she was just selfish, ungrateful, something Mike latched onto in the never ending battles they were starting to have over his time out of the house.

"There isn't really anything to say is there? Where are my children?" Tears rolled down Bella's face, following a well worn path down her cheeks. She looked to the doctor, who regarded her with a face that held steady in a practiced mask of kind concern.

"They are with their aunt in Seattle. Your family decided that that would be best, and the courts agreed. They will remain there for the duration of your stay here." More encouraging nods from the doctor. Bella wanted to knock his friendly bobble-head across the room.

"Perfect," Bella whispered, "Rose is a perfect mother." She turned her head into the pillow in an attempt to hide her face as she began to sob.

It was when she was watching the news that she became scared. There would be reports of an accident, a shooting, war casualties. A voice would sound, clearly not her own, but in her head. "They're better off dead anyway." She'd shake her head to try to clear it. Another report of a death, "Good riddance," the voice would say. This voice celebrated the worst of happenings, thought the worst of people, and was not quiet about it. She'd look in the mirror and the voice would rip Bella apart. No one was safe from the awful rantings of this voice, no one except the two. The voice never touched her children, and Bella prayed every day that it never would.

Her friends had already been encouraging her to go see the doctor about the crying. She didn't go because she was afraid. Afraid that the doctor would see she was unworthy and take her children. Afraid that the car would crash and her babies would be dead and it would be her fault. Afraid that the people outside of her house could see right through her, to all of her failures, see what an ugly person lived inside of her.

She knew better than to tell anyone about the voice in her head. She'd learned that lesson when she told Mike some of the thoughts she was having and he laughed. She knew better than to tell anyone that the burden of living was becoming something she couldn't bear. She knew better than to tell anyone that she had come up with more ways to kill herself than she had rooms in her large suburban house. She went to the doctor, and she told him she felt a little depressed. Armed with some prescriptions, she tried again.

"Do you have any children Doctor?" Bella was rubbing her wrists on the edge of the mattress, the skin underneath chafed and itchy from the restraints.

The doctor sighed. "Yes, Bella, I have three."

Bella nodded. "Have they ever been sick? I mean, not a cold, all kids get colds, but really sick?"

He shook his head and recrossed his legs. "No. I've treated many very sick children though."

"Well, it's just kind of amazing, you know? How differently people cope with something like that."

It started with a chest cold. Common enough for a four year old. Even though he'd had some issues with asthma, it wasn't unmanageable. It lingered though, and then it was pneumonia, and then they couldn't manage his breathing at home. He was admitted to the hospital. It was heartbreaking, to see him in that big bed, tube in his arm. To see him so weak and pale.

Two weeks later and he was still sick. He'd contracted a new illness in the hospital, a bacteria that was running rampant in his compromised little body. Treatment wasn't going well, and contact precautions meant his baby sister couldn't see him.

Mike and Bella had to make choices that a parent shouldn't have to make. How do you choose time with one child over another? Who needs you more? The nursing baby or the sick four year old? What do you do when your doctor has you consulting with the hospital ethicist. How does that effect your brain?

Bella made decisions, and with every decision she made, that Mike made, the cracks in their relationship turned into dangerous fault lines. Mike finally stopped working his second job to be able to spend time at the hospital. The boy healed over the months, eventually coming home.

As the doctor sat again, in the same chair, for the third day since she'd been conscious, he eyed Bella closely. She felt the scrutiny, shrugging it off mentally. This doctor had nothing on the people who'd been judging her for years. "So?"

"The judge has issued an order for you to be transferred to the psychiatric unit here, under my care of course." His eyes darted from her neck to her eyes and her wrists as he talked. "You'll be taken in your bed with the restraints, but once we get on the unit the restraints will be taken off."

Bella gave him the weak smile he expected. "What then? Will I be weaving baskets?"

The doctor laughed. "No, no baskets, but we have a nice ceramics program. I'll meet you there shortly Bella."

After their son came home, Mike became an uber-presence. Four years of almost single parenting had left Bella with routines and a certain sense of privacy in how she dealt with her failings, her character flaws. No one had been around to observe her, as she had no friends. Now, she could feel Mike breathing from the other side of the house. They'd grown distant in the time their son had been in the hospital, and she just avoided him.

Kind eyes were replaced by angry, suspicious ones as the security guard and police officer pushed her bed through the halls. They were buzzed into the the locked unit and Bella was rolled up to the desk. The security guard spoke in hushed tones to the nurse behind the desk, glancing over at Bella periodically. Bella sat back on the hospital bed in the hall of the unit as patients walked from place to place in groups.

A nurse headed over to Bella, clipboard in one hand, box in another. She placed them on the bed, then placed her warm hands on Bella's arm. "Bella, I'm going to check you in. I'm going to untie you now, and I'm going to need you just to stay on the bed for a sec after I do that, okay?"

Bella nodded her head, almost scared for the ties to come off after all this time with them on. "Don't worry" Bella said, as much to herself as the nurse.

As the nurse untied her she spoke. "Bella my name is Esme, and I'll be your nurse on weekdays. What we have to do now is get you all settled in your room." Esme had grabbed the shoes that were on the top of Bella's bag of belongings, stowed under her bed, and began pulling the laces out.

Months go by. Bella has now perfected the avoidance techniques needed to keep her functional. living in a house with a man she barely knows anymore. They share a bed, with their children between them. She is still nursing, as she has been since her son was born over six years prior. Her body hasn't belonged to her for more than that. She showers with kids, eats with kids, shits with kids.

Still, there were two lights in her life, her children and her friends, the ones Mike scoffs at because they met online. They aren't real.

. . . . . . . . . . .

Bella sat in the day room, writing in her journal. That the journal would be entered as court documents at her hearing wasn't supposed to effect her ability to pour our her heart and soul on the pages. Instead she drew. She was drawing an apple sitting on the table, when the table rocked and she felt a rush of air. She looked up across from her, and met a pair of green eyes.

"You're Bella." His eyes drilled into hers, it was an accusation, not a statement of fact. "You killed your husband."

She raised an eyebrow at him. "No ID badge, you're a patient too."

"I suppose." His eyes softened as he spoke. "Edward."

"Well Edward, I'd say I was glad to meet you..." Bella trailed off.

"Why did you stab your husband?" Edward said the words, directly, looking her right in the eye, his voice soft but commanding.

"Why are you here?" She asked sternly, meeting his gaze.

"This isn't about me, Bella." he said, slowly shaking his head.

From across the room she could see Esme writing away on her clip board. Her room mate Alice walked over and asked if it was alright with Bella if she sat down next to her for dinner. Bella exchanged a questioning glance with Edward, who shrugged his shoulders. "Sure Alice, um...do you know Edward."

Alice looked where Edward was sitting and frowned. "Huh." Then she got up to grab her tray from the cart that had been rolled in.

More months passed. Though Bella kept taking her prescriptions, nothing really changed. Isolated and scared, she went back to the doctor. She requested more meds. Different meds. Anything to stop feeling the way she felt.

The doctor looked at the notes she'd brought with her saying things like PMDD, major depression, therapy. Bella heard defect, defect, financial drain.

She came home with an extra script. She let Mike know, so he could anticipate the cost, and he rolled his eyes. She sat down at her computer, saying a little prayer that in two weeks the meds would work a miracle.

Bella sat on an uncomfortable chair, watching their group leader, Jasper, evaluate the group members one by one. "Good afternoon everyone. Today we're going to talk about responsibility."

Bella almost jumped out of her seat as she felt a tickle on her ear and the hot breath of someone whispering. "Today you'll have to tell them Bella. Today is all about admitting your failures for the world to see. Jasper there will take notes for the judge, your mother will get to hear them, and the newspapers will pick them apart."

Bella whimpered at the thought. She turned around to see Edward, his eyes soft and sympathetic, no longer accusing.

Mike stood in the bathroom, getting ready for work. Something seemed off, so out of habit Bella asked what was wrong.

His pause was longer than usual, and it sucked the air out of the room.

"This isn't working Bella," he said, "I'm sorry to have to tell you like this but I can't pretend anymore. You have to leave."

"But the kids, where am I supposed to go?" Tears sprang to Bella's eyes as she pictured herself alone with her kids in the cold.

"Bella, the kids are staying with me. You're barely a mother to them. You care more about the computer than you do them." He turned his back on her.

Bella reeled. She thought about her pregnancies, for which he was absent. She thought about her births. She thought about 14 hour days nursing two kids and trying to keep a house presentable while he was out parenting other people's children.

Bella walked down to the kitchen. She placed her hands on the counter, her elbows locked, her head hanging down. She tried to collect herself. She tried to catch her breath. She would think after he left for work. She just had to keep it together til he left.

Bella heard him come down the stairs. Bella heard as he walked by the kitchen towards the door. Then she heard him walk back and into the kitchen. She prayed to the God she hated that he would just grab some coffee and leave without another word.

"Bella! Pay attention! Now is no time to go dazing off!" Edward's harsh whisper sounded in her ear.

"Sorry..." she whispered, tuning in to her peer as she absently described her decision to buy crystal meth on the way to pick up her kids from school. She wanted to run. The room, there was no air for her to breathe, she wasn't supposed to be here. Her heart sped as she tried to pluck words from her head and heart to put out into the room, anything to make them understand.

As a tear slipped down her face, she looked up and saw the circle of people staring at her. Jasper's mouth was moving, but she couldn't hear anything but the blood rushing through her body. Jasper got up and walked over to her, grasping her wrists, moving his mouth and shaking his head. She looked down at her clenched fists to see blood dripping from them and the room started to spin.

In her ear, cool and soothing, "Bella breathe while I count...10...9...8..." Edward counted, and for each breath, each number, another trickle of tears. "3...Bella you can do this, 2...come on...that's it...1. Talk, you have the words, just let them out."

With a shaky breath she started to speak. "I wasn't strong. I wasn't involved. I wasn't enough. I wasn't right. I wasn't positive. I wasn't enough. I wasn't present. I wasn't active! I was not enough! What is it that you want me to say! I failed in every possible way! Even the medicine couldn't fix me!" Bella slid down to the floor, her knees pulled into her chest, her head tucked in and her bloody hands in her hair, pulling on it as sobs and screams racked her body.

Edward knelt in front of her now, pulling her hands out of her hair, a look of determination on his face. He massaged her arms with his cool hands, then held her arm out as a nurse plunged a needle into it. As she slipped into darkness, he was there, stroking her hair, his eyes encouraging her to give in to the sedative.

Bella steeled herself. He was standing behind her, his eyes burning into her spine. He sighed, the same exasperated sigh she'd heard every time she had failed him over the past decade.

"Bella you cannot possibly be surprised by this. You don't even try."

She lifted her head, keeping her eyes on the grain of the wooden cabinets in front of her. "Shut up." Just a whisper.

"What? I can't hear you when you're not even looking at me. Bella could you at least turn around if you want to say something?"

Her voice cracked, but she managed to find it. "Shut up."

"You're fucking psycho, you know that Bella? What the fuck, it's like you're mentally ill, seriously."

Bella started to laugh. Her eyes landed on the knife rack in front of her. She slowly reached for her favorite tomato slicing blade and pulled it off the rack.

Mike sighed a puff of air through his lips. She didn't need to turn around to know he'd rolled his eyes and was shaking his head.

She turned slowly, keeping the hand with the knife behind her. Her eyes pouring tears, her mouth turned up in a sarcastic grin. "Ya think, Mike? Do ya think that's why I take all those meds?"

She laughed as she watched his jaw set in anger.

She watched as he started to open his mouth to speak.

She slid her hand from behind her and in one fluid, word stealing moment, sliced his throat open.

Mike crumpled to the floor. She kicked him in his chest, knocking him onto his back as his mouth moved, but no words were issued. All that came forth was a gurgling noise.

She straddled him, yelling, laughing. "What's that Mike?" She plunged the knife into his chest, the blood spraying up into her face. "I can't understand you!" She stabbed the knife into his stomach with each word.

She stopped abruptly, looking at the mess before her, her near dead husband's horrified eyes paralyzed, staring at her. She curled down and put her face on his chest, her breaths coming out in wailing screams. After a few minutes her breathing had slowed and her cries stopped. She drifted off, vague thoughts about picking up her kids from their weekend at Grandma's house going through her mind.

. . . . . . . . . . .

Bella woke in her bed, the light of the moon shining in through the hospital window. Her room mate Alice made little snuffling sleeping noises in the bed next to her. Her eyes scanned the room and she jumped when she saw Edward leaning against the wall opposite the foot of her bed. She gasped and he leaned forward, putting his fingers over his lips, shushing her.

"What are you doing in here, Edward?"

"I can help you Bella." He walked forward, his hand extended, signaling for her to stay where she was. "I can make it go away Bella."

He lifted the blanket from her bed, revealing the sheet. He put the corner of the sheet in his mouth as he pulled it from the bed and ripped a strip straight down. He handed it to Bella.

The first time she made eye contact with her baby boy, the inky black eyes sparkling up at her before he started rooting around for her breast.

Edward ripped another strip and handed it to Bella, smiling and nodding at her as she tied it to the first strip.

Laying in bed, reading a story to a now older baby boy, sniffing her baby girls new baby head.

Another strip. Another knot.

Sitting in the hospital chair, hearing from the doctor that the infection had cleared and her baby was well enough to go home.

Edward stroked her hair, tears running down her face as she doubled the length of tied together strips and twisted it into a sturdy length of rope.

The boy coming home from his first day of school, running to Bella, arms open for a hug from his sister and her.

Edward walked with her, arm around her shoulders, to the closet. She tied the length of fabric around the bar that spanned the closet length and pulled to be sure it would hold. She went back and retrieved the bedside chair.

The last time she saw her babies. Smiling faces and saying "I love you" before they ran into Grandma's house.

She had wrapped the rope around her neck several time, carefully, much more carefully, then tied it in a knot. She looked at Edward, he took her hand and squeezed it.

She smiled at Edward. "Thank you."

He smiled back at her and she toppled the chair.


Thank you to Lamb, Amelie, Jules, CK and Kimberly.