13 - Dreams
Someone was calling my name. Bella, Bella. At least the people of Forks had finally stopped with all the Isabellas. There was fog surrounding me, pushing down on my limbs, and making them too heavy to move. I was tired, so tired. Much too tired to figure out where all this fog had come from. Maybe my paranoia was not uncalled for, maybe Forks was really out to kill me, and this heavy mist was the current tool of this evil, wet place.
I was not alone in my murky surroundings. Alice was here but I was having a hard time trying to figure out why she was dressed like a giant chicken. Was it October already? Alice was the closest to me but she was not the only one moving around in the mist that surrounded me. Huge shadows weaved in and out of the grey fog and occasionally I would catch a glimpse of a giant wolf. As far as my tired mind could determine there were at least three if not four of these lean and hungry looking creatures, and they were eyeing Alice like she was lunch. These haggard looking creatures were much larger than the wolves I had seen in zoos so it made me think they were the notorious werewolves I had read so much about. I tried to tell Jake to stop, hoping he was amongst the slobbering monsters, but all I seemed to get out was his name.
"Bella, can you hear me?" out of the fog came the very insistent voice of Carlisle. His normally crisp and clear words sounded muffled and quiet. I tried my best to listen to him since Carlisle always gave good advice but it was too hard to fight the haze.
Carlisle's voice came again this time a little more persistent. "Bella, I need you to wake up a little bit more." He sounded worried and I don't know why but I knew that it was somehow my fault. I only created problems for the people around me. Wherever I went mayhem followed closely behind.
I tried to reassure Carlisle but my mouth was not being cooperative. Finally after a few false starts I was able to push the fog away and speak, "I'm fine."
Carlisle's laugh was beautiful and I wanted to hear some more of it but the humor soon left him. "Bella, what happened to your head? Did someone hurt you?"
Head? There was nothing wrong with my head except for the fog that refused to go away. "Carlisle? What are you doing in my room?" I asked completely confused as to why it was Carlisle and not Alice waking me up. "I don't feel well, I don't think I can go to school today."
"Bella you are delirious, we need to get you dry but first let me fix your forehead." It was not until I felt Carlisle pick me up off the ground and felt the rough fabric of the couch under my hands that I realized I was in the living room of my father's house and not in my bedroom.
"Esme, is she okay?" My mind was still very fuzzy and working at the rate of molasses but I remember being very worried about her. Why would Esme be in trouble?
"Esme is doing well. She is waiting right outside," Carlisle's voice moved away from me. I heard the crackle of the plastic followed by Carlisle returning and putting his cool fingers on my forehead.
"Ouch," I cried out as he dabbed at my tender forehead.
"Well this certainly explains your x-rays. What is the longest you have gone without bumping your head?" The next moment there was a pinch on the same spot above my left eye followed by the burn that I had learned to associate with the injection of local anesthesia.
"I will need to put in stitches, this gash is far too large for steri-strips." Carlisle's words were followed by the sound of more plastic being ripped. I cracked my eyes open a little but the light hurt my eyes too much.
"I have a headache," I told him quietly. As the fog receded from my limbs I realized that it was not just my head that was hurting but my entire body. The morning started to come back to me starting with my nightmares, the headache, the conversation with Jessica, and my somewhat haphazard trip home. "I fell and bumped my head."
"I suspected as much," His words did not interrupt the rhythmic tugging at my forehead. I assumed each tug was him putting in another stitch, how many stitches did I need? Soon Carlisle was announcing that my forehead was stitched up and telling me he was going to get Esme. "I just need to clean up all the blood so that Esme can come in." The scent of bleach permeated the air, it was so strong that it was starting to burn my nose. My eyes might have been playing with me or it could have been vampire speed because Carlisle instantly disappeared and was replaced by a very worried looking Esme.
She touched my head, "Carlisle, does she have a concussion?"
"That is highly possible but what concerns me more is the fact that she is soaked to the bone but her body still feels slightly warm. She must have had a very high fever to have kept such a temperature. We need to get her changed and take her to the hospital so that I can figure out what might be causing this temperature."
"I will call Charlie when we are headed that way." I was able to fully hear their conversation but it was very hard to keep my eyes open. I sort of remember Esme using a towel to dry my hair and helping me get into some dry sweats and an old t-shirt. Next I was being carried to a large black car that I recognized as Esme's and I fell asleep one more time.
Wading waist deep through what was once a picturesque meadow I looked around confused. My jean clad legs protected me from the sharp edges of the dry grass. Occasionally a dried seed pod would attach itself to my clothing proving that once this meadow was a vibrant green filled with wildflowers. The sea of nothing but dead plants was a startling view especially when beyond the meadow was an emerald green forest. Though forest was an understatement, it was more like a lush, verdant wall of life. Above me the view of the sky was blocked by a mass of grey clouds that moved and churned in an ominous way, promising rain soon. The parched looking meadow certainly could have used some of that water but it might have been too late.
The green trees combined with the cloudy sky made me suspect that my location was somewhere in the vicinity of Forks. Unless there was another place in the world where the sun refused to shine - well maybe Antarctica, but I did not see any penguins around me so I was going to go with Forks. It was kind of ironic that I had spent the past few months complaining about there being too much green in Forks but now it bothered me that I was in a field of brown grass. This clearing should have been filled with thick green grass and dotted with flowers in various hues of pink, yellow, and orange. This dead section of the world in the midst of an ocean of emerald hills was an abomination.
The meadow was relatively round making me suspect that it had been created by human hands in an attempt to push back the forest. Two majestic trees had been spared the axe. Why had they been saved? Was there something special about them? Maybe it was simply a matter of their size. The two ancient specimens' long gnarly limbs reached nearly from one side of the meadow to the other. These two would have been more than enough to imbue the area with a little green, but unfortunately like the grass these trees too were dead. They twisted limbs reminded me of an aging set of servants who would still give their lives in order to protect their masters. I might not be a botanist but from the looks of things they may have already given their lives for such a purpose. There were very few leaves still clinging to the branches and like everything else in the meadow these too were brown.
Suddenly a small gust of wind shook the few remaining leaves. This was the only sound in this place and it was the sound of death, the death rattle of these former glorious specimens. As I circled them I noticed they had been hiding a decrepit old building. Clearly nothing lived in this place anymore. I found myself at the place that was strangely familiar but I could not quite put my finger on it. Ahead of me the steps were half rotten so I took extra care when I stepped up to the front door - or what was left of it. The large front doors had fallen flat and no longer offered any peace or security against the elements. The large windows had once been flanked by large shutters but now half of them were gone and the remaining ones were barely hanging on. Their rusty hinges were not going to last much longer and soon they would fall down just like the door.
"Hello, anyone home?" I was not expecting an answer so much as trying to break the tomblike silence. Obviously nobody had been home for a long time. The windows were missing panes and gave glimpses of an interior that looked to be in worse shape than the exterior. Moth eaten sheets covered what remained of the furniture and so perhaps the people had left with every intention of coming back. My ever present curiosity carried me across the threshold and into the skeleton of a house. My footsteps made little noise as I walked across the remains of the front door but I made sure to test the floor beneath me before I proceeded. There was a very good chance that if I took a wrong step the floor could collapse underneath me.
Through the large holes in the furniture covers I could see the hints of what had once been very elegant furniture but now was now housing various insects, reptiles, and most likely a few mammals as well. Due to time and water the original color of the walls was indiscernible but I doubted it was anything close to the current shade of drab, grey-green. How long had this place been abandoned? Surely this level of deterioration did not occur in just a few weeks - it had taken several years to build up to this amount of decay.
In the center of the room was a raised dais with another cloth covered object placed on top of it. It looked too tall and flat to be a couch but it was not rectangular like a table. My feet carried me towards it before I even made the decision to go investigate. All caution had flown from my mind as I was pulled towards the platform that stood in a place of honor at the center of the house. I did not even think about what creatures I was disturbing as I grabbed handfuls of the cover and tugged away the old cloth to reveal what was hidden beneath. The sight before me brought me to my knees as recognition flooded my system. A piano stood in front of me, more specifically Edward's piano, the keyboard was missing several keys and would never be played again. It was this final realization that brought forth the tears. I would never get to hear Edward play on this instrument. The Cullens had abandoned their home here and more importantly they had abandoned me. My second family, the group I had found that accepted me as is. My only chance at being around people who did not make me feel like a freak. They were gone, along with my dreams of not having to play a part in order to fit in. Maybe they had realized that I was ordinary and not worth keeping.
Tears blurred my eyes and blocked out the horrible sight in front of me. "You left me, why did you leave me? I love you." I don't know who I was speaking to, maybe Edward, or maybe it was Esme and Carlisle. The fog came back and this time I was completely and utterly alone. Alice in her chicken suit was gone along with the large wolves. I tried to fight the fog but it was too strong and my body was too weak.
"Bella, wake up, you are just dreaming," a voice that rivaled the angels in perfection called me from the fog. Edward was here? Maybe I had not been abandoned just yet. I listened to his voice and tried my best to follow his command. I would do anything that voice asked.
I opened my eyes to semi-darkness but even in the low light I could see the beautiful face of Edward hovering above me. "Oh Edward," in a moment of foolishness I attempted to reach out and touch him - just to make sure he was really there in front of me and not just an apparition. Fortunately my impulsiveness did not cause any trouble as my muscles refused to listen to me. They made a half hearted attempt to obey my orders but they were far too weak to propel me towards Edward.
He noticed my struggle to move.
"Bella you need to calm down, you are sick," his smooth voice tried to reassure me. I was mesmerized by the movement of his lips as each sound was formed. My distraction did not last as memories flooded back to me at a much faster rate than last time. I had woken up with a headache but still had gone to school. I could not make it past math class so I had attempted to walk home. Looking around the strange room I recognized the sterile aspects of a hospital room.
"So..." my voice sounded harsh especially in comparison to Edward's. I cleared my throat a little and tried to asses the damage. My entire body ached and felt weak with that shaky feeling that comes after a fever. There was a general ache in my head signaling the fact that I was not completely finished with that headache that started everything but now there was and extra sharp quality to it over a section above my left eyebrow. My hand trembled as I lifted it to touch the thin bandage over the spot. It seems I had been sick, and hurt... again. "What is the damage this time?" I asked with a heavy sigh as I let my hand drop back down onto the coarse hospital sheets. At least I was not hooked up to an IV.
"You have influenza, a large gash on your head, and are starting to get the beginnings of a pneumonia. By some miracle you managed to avoid getting a concussion." His voice got louder with each offense as he glared down at me. "How could you have walked home by yourself?"
"Sorry," I was a very sick girl that I was happy that Edward was angry with me. At least he was acknowledging my existence. He did not offer any explanation as to why he was here with me in the hospital room instead of my father or come to think of it one of his parents. I was not going to remind him of the fact that we had previously not been on speaking terms. Instead I acted like a foolish teenage girl with a major crush and just stared at him. I had never really had the opportunity to really look at him because he was usually moving away from me as quickly as possible. Was I shallow for falling in love with the most beautiful creature I had ever met? Was it really love or something closer to lust? I would have been worried about loving him only for his looks had I not fallen in love with the man even before setting eyes on him.
"Are you all right?" he asked after a long awkward pause. I could hear the tension and worry underneath the smoothness of his voice. How was it possible that I could discern his moods so well?
A large hank of hair had fallen across my face as I turned my head to face him but I was too tired to reach up and move it. "I'm fine," my voice sounded weak. The lack of energy went beyond my limbs and had leached into my soul. I was exhausted with the constant stress of trying to remain strong and tired of trying to constantly fight the tears. And I was tired - tired of fighting to keep ahead of the dire predictions of the book, tired of keeping all these secrets, and tired of trying to hold it together while keeping up the pretense that everything was normal. For once I wanted to be myself, to tell the truth, and let someone fully in. A part of me was fighting very hard to continue to keep it all inside of me but that part was quickly being drowned out by the voice of reason. Why had I been hiding something as important as the books from the Cullens? Suddenly the thought of exposing my thoughts to the entire family was a small cost to pay for preparing them for the appearance of James, Victoria, and the Volturi.
I looked into Edwards dark eyes, happy to notice that he had not moved from my bedside. The books had claimed that they became frozen in time during the transformation into vampire. Physically I could see that nothing marred the perfection that was Edward's face but what about his soul? How many scars did his dead heart have across its stone surface? What battles had he fought against himself and his vampiric nature to be standing here next to me? I was his natural prey, in fact I was his singer and yet he had gone out of his way to protect me from harm.
"Do you think you have a soul?" I don't know where that came from and neither did Edward. If I had not been watching his face so closely I would not have seen the moment of anguish before his face cleared of all emotion.
"Bella, I will find my father. You are delirious."
This time I did gather enough strength to reach out and grab his arm. "No I am fine, just answer the question. Do you think you have a soul?" All thoughts of Alice's plan of seduction and subterfuge went out the door. The truth was far to important for some poor attempt at flirtation on my part.
For a moment we both stared at the spot where we touched. That electric current was zinging and twirling between us, getting stronger with each second. I looked up and quickly hid a smile at his expression. Though I was not sure which one of us was more surprised at my audacity - I had touched Edward Cullen. We might have had several layers of clothing between us as he was still wearing a jacket but I could still feel the stone hard muscles moving underneath my fingers.
What would it feel like to have all those muscles moving around and above me? The unbidden thought came bursting out of nowhere and for a moment I could not catch my breath. Bad, bad Bella. There was no way I should be thinking things like that but those thoughts were there nonetheless. I was a healthy teenage girl and while my personality might be that of a forty year old my body was definitely reacting the way a seventeen year old's would to a good looking boy. My heart beat furiously, pushing blood into my cheeks as I hoped that Edward interpreted my blush the wrong way. But in the book he had always had a hard time reading me. With luck he would think my blush was due to the impertinence of my question instead of awareness of his body. He gently slid his forearm out from underneath my fingers.
I bit my lip and kept eye contact to make sure he would not pull another disappearing act - Edward was really good at those. I was trying to be patient and give him enough time to answer the question. I could see that he was taking my question seriously or it could have been that he was just indulging the crazy girl while he waited for help to come. I did not regret the question since I needed to know the answer - with one word Edward could slam the door shut on our future together. But I would not think like that, I would fight him with everything I had including the beautiful future the book had promised us so long as we fought to stay together.
After what felt like hours but was probably just a few minutes he took a shallow breath. The answer was clear just by the lack of emotions showing in his face.
"You are wrong," I interrupted before he could say anything. "Someone without a soul would not feel as much guilt as you do." This was something that I had not only read about in the books but had seen for myself as I interacted with the Cullens. There was a general air of guilt that followed Edward. Carlisle displayed this as well but he had become a doctor to help people, to atone for what he was. I was willing to argue that Carlisle had nothing that needed absolving. From day one he had all by himself not given into instinct and had led a morally just life.
"That is your opinion, but you are still young and have not really lived yet." His voice sounded harsh, he was able to keep the emotions off of his face but his voice gave him away.
"No matter how hard you try to be good, or how much you work to better yourself it will never be enough. Do you know why? Because it is really hard to obtain atonement for the sins you have yet to commit."
"I will go get Carlisle," he said walking towards the door. At least I had managed to get him to show emotions again. This time it was concern but it was better than nothing.
"Guilt and insecurity." I blurted out my epiphany. Just like Darcy and Elizabeth - pride and prejudice had kept them apart but for Edward and I it was guilt and insecurity. It seems all those night of insomnia had payed off but it took a fever to really make things click in my head. "I guess both of us have our share of insecurities. I think you are far too perfect for a plain boring mortal like me and you think yourself unworthy of love. You are wrong."
"Bella you are very special, you clearly know things." I could see the pain in his voice as he spoke. I was right, he did not think he deserved love.
"You think I am special because I know things?" I said the last two word like a curse. He thought I was special because of the predictions of the books. Well I was about to burst his bubble. "I have one skill Edward, and it is of Olympic level." If I was not so nervous I would have laughed at the level of anticipation in his face. "I can read really well, that is my one and only skill. Right before coming to Forks I received a set of books predicting my future here. That is all I am, that is why I know things. So you see I am nothing special."
"Is your fever coming back?" He moved back to stand next to the bed and reached out to touch my forehead to ascertain how sick and delusional I was. Revealing my secret at this point was probably not the wisest decision I had ever made especially since I was still sick but I had finally managed to get enough sleep to remove the cobwebs from inside my mind that had been there for weeks due to my bout of insomnia.
"No I am not, there is a box under my bed. Inside are all the books. Go read them but promise me you will not leave. Nothing good ever comes from you leaving." I looked up at Edward's eyes trying to convince him that I was telling the truth and not in the midst of fevered delusions. There was an aching feeling in the vicinity of my heart as I waited for him to realize the truth. I was concentrating so hard I could see the exact moment when he finally started to believe me. "I am no one special. Just a boring human that somehow managed to get her life tangled up in something extraordinary."
"Bella you are wrong. You are ..." His words were intense along with his face but he did not continue. While I was being truthful I let the extent of my love for him show in my face. The man who was not perfect but was fighting tooth and nail to get there. The poor fallen angel who had made mistakes and was still beating himself up over it. I could have been actually delusions but for a split second, a nanosecond really, I thought I saw the same level of love reflected in his eyes. It was like he too felt the same way. I did not know if this was the end or the beginning but at this moment I did not care. In this second everything was perfect, it was everything I wanted. Of course it did not last very long.
"Your father is coming and it would look untoward if he found a man in what could be construed as your bedroom," he said softly as the walls came up again.
A/N: Thank you so much for your patience and all the lovely reviews. I really like the encouragement and the insight that some of you put into it. I am sorry if I forgot to reply to some of yours, but usually in the past couple of weeks when I was at my computer I was busy staring at the story. I know it does not look it but I promise there are parts that I spend an entire day on just one paragraph.
Generally I don't complain about guest reviews (honestly I love them too) but if you are going to ask me a question on a review it is really hard to answer when I have no one to reply to. :D Someone asked about Bella getting the rest of the books, she found one at the airport but located the rest in her bags when she got to Forks. That is how she has all 4 books. So here is a reply to your review, have a good day.
Any suggestions as to how Edward will react to the books? Or will he not believe her and go on ignoring her as usual?