As the Spanish influenza ravaged through the city, I had hoped that we would be safe if we stayed within the confines of our apartment. Our housekeeper only went out when it was absolutely necessary and we did all we could to avoid it, but still it found it's way in.
My husband, Edward was the first to succumb, I nursed him throughout. As he worsened I could tell I was fighting a losing battle. For a time, even when he lost the ability to speak we could still communicate. They say that the eyes are the windows to the soul and that had always been my gift, I found reading emotions so easy, if I could just see the eyes.
I tried to keep our son, Edward, away from the room to keep him safe and he had done as he was told, I often heard him playing his piano, as his hands glided over the keys his music was one of the things that kept me sane. He hadn't played for a couple of days now and this morning he came into the room and I could tell instantly that he had fallen prey to this blasted virus.
My heart ached as I looked over at my son looking frail on the armchair. I would have gladly locked this door and died by my husbands side if I had thought that he was safe, but now I knew that I had to look after my son.
As my husbands chest rose and fell I looked into his eyes and they were blank, he was gone. It was only a matter of time that his body would follow.
I made my way over to my son and I squeezed his shoulder, as his hand patted mine I could feel the fever burning through him. Even though I too was running a fever, his was hotter. No words passed between us, Edward was just as good at me as reading a person and we didn't need to say what we were both thinking.
The housekeeper fetched our doctor, Arthur. When he arrived my husband, Edward, had stopped moving, his body had finally caught up with his spirit and he was dead.
"I'm so sorry, Elizabeth" he said solemnly
Arthur looked exhausted.
"How bad is it out there, Arthur?"
I watched him carefully as he started to think very carefully how to respond.
"Don't lie to me, I want to know" she warned.
Arthur frowned and sighed.
"You've always been far too good at reading people Elizabeth, I can't tell if that is a blessing or a curse."
I couldn't help, but smile at that.
"I've never seen anything to equal it in all my years in medicine, it is bad. The death toll is high and the hospitals are under strain..."
My son Edward entered the room and he was much worse than earlier, his strength wained and he stumbled to the floor.
I ran over to help him and I begged Arthur to help. As he checked Edward over I could read the concern in his face. He touched my hand and flinched as he felt the fever that ran through me.
"Elizabeth..." he gasped.
I looked away ashamed, I didn't want him to know that I was ill, I hid it well, I didn't matter, all tht mattered now was my precious son, Edward.
"That's it, we're getting you both to the hospital right away!"
"But you said they were strained" I argued.
"That as it may be, but money goes a long way Elizabeth, the wealthy have some perks you know."
Arthur hadn't been kidding when he said our wealth would have it's perks. When we reached the hospital Edward and I were given a private room. Even though we were together our beds were so far apart, but I didn't have the strength to get out of my bed.
Laying there, growing weaker as the minutes past I couldn't take my eyes off of my son. My heart ached as I felt powerless to help him.
Hours ticked by and several nurses and doctors came in to check on us, they were so impersonal, with their white overalls and white face masks.
I must have drifted off at some point, when my eyes opened again their was a doctor and a nurse in the room and they were arguing.
"We need the room" the doctor complained.
"That may be Dr. Carlson, but this room has been bought and paid for." replied the nurse.
"So what, she's practically dead already and he won't be far behind, if we take them out now, no-one will be any wiser and we can ease up some of the pressure on the ward."
The thought of being taken away from Edward filled me with dread and my breathing became erratic, I thrashed my head from side to side and started to moan.
The nurse came over to me and tried to calm me down, but I was inconsolable, I kept trying to reach out to Edward.
"Shush now dear" the nurse soothed.
The door opened and in strolled another doctor, this one was beautiful. His hair was blonde and his skin was so pale, his eyes were an odd butterscotch colour and he looked over at me very kindly.
"What are you doing here Carlisle" Dr Carlson snapped.
"I could hear how distressed this patient was and I was coming in to check on her"
"What business is it of yours, you needn't worry yourself over my patients, surely you have enough of your own upstairs."
I watched on in awe as Carlisle's eyes flashed with anger, but so very quickly he composed it.
The nurse interrupted the tense silence. "Dr Carlson wants to remove Mrs Masen and her son and free up the room."
"That is out of the question" Carlisle stated.
I watched Dr Carlson stiffen and glower at the nurse.
"They're all but dead anyway, so what difference does it make."
I felt Carlisle look over to me and he looked pained. It was as if he could sense the panic in my eyes, I needed to be with my son till the very end.
"That is out of the question" Carlisle snapped.
"Now see here, Carlisle, they are my patients, I call the shots, why don't you go back up to the cushy ward up stairs and keep out of it."
I looked away from the arguing doctors and focussed on my son, if we were to be separated I needed to memorise every last bit of him.
"She's no dead yet and can't you see that she needs to be with her son, if you move them out of this room, then you will kill her."
I flinched at the anger in Carlisle's voice as he spoke.
I heard a shuffling of feet as Dr Carlson headed to the door.
"Carlson, look go up to my ward and tell the sister that we've traded places."
"You trade me these patients for your time on the ward?" Carlson asked.
Carlisle didn't respond with words, but some sort of communication must have happened as seconds later the door slammed shut.
Silence filled the room for a few moments.
"Help me move her"
The nurse helped Carlisle move my bed till it was next to my sons. I heard a two loud clicks as the side barriers were lowered and I held out my hand and reached out to Edward.
Edward was delirious and consumed by the fever, but somehow his hand found mine and I held on tight.
Carlisle dismissed the nurse and stood over us, I looked up to his golden eyes and he oozed compassion, it radiated through him, it was all consuming.
"Thank you" I mouthed.
I suddenly realised that he was no longer wearing his face mask, I was confused by this, but I was soon glad as he flashed me a beautiful smile, his teeth were a brilliant white. My heart was heavy as I feared for this doctors health, but it was oddly comforting seeing a full face again.
As time went by, Carlisle, visited often, he always arrived dutifully wearing his mask, but whenever we were alone in the room he removed it. I wondered if he realised how much comfort I got from seeing his full face.
I held up my free hand and he held it, his grip was so cold and I began to crave his soothing touch. I caught him looking over at Edward a few times and he seemed so concerned, it was good to know that someone cared for my son so much.
I must have drifted off at some point, but when I woke up Carlisle was still holding my hand. I looked up at him and he was barely moving, suddenly he put on his mask and I was confused, until seconds later a nurse came into the room.
Carlisle stayed where he was, the nurse engaged in some idle chatter and went to open the blinds. As the blinds began to open I felt Carlisle's hand tense, I looked down and I was mesmerised, his hand appeared to be glimmering, it looked like he had millions of tiny diamonds on the back of his hand.
I looked up at him and his eyes were searching mine. I managed to crack a smile and he seemed to relax a little.
He asked the nurse to close the blinds and stated that I was sensitive to the light, as she did so I looked back down to his hand and it had returned to normal.
When the nurse left, Carlisle and I stared at each other for a long time. I tried to fathom what had just happened, but my mind could not come up with any reasonable explanation and then I realised that whatever the reason it didn't matter, this man was the only person who had shown me and my son any compassion and I craved his company.
Carlisle had to keep leaving the room, but he came back frequently, whenever he did I studied him closely. He never seemed tired, there was something different about him and I couldn't work it out, but the only certainty is that he genuinely cared about me and more importantly my son.
As my strength wained and I felt myself slipping away I decided to make my move. I saw Carlisle looking over my son, when he realised I was awake he came over to my side and held my hand.
I licked at my lips and tried to find my voice, I pulled at Carlisle's hand and he leaned down towards me.
"Save him" I pleaded
I felt his grip on my hand tighten and his eyes searched mine.
I squeezed my hand as hard as I could.
"Whatever it takes, Save him, I know that you can do it."
Carlisle appeared to be conflicted, his eyes flicked from me to Edward and I could almost sense his indecision.
"Promise" I croaked.
"I promise" he murmured, so quietly I barely heard it.
Carlisle let go of my hand and moved to the door, my breath hitched as I thought he was leaving, but instead I heard a loud click as he locked the door. I heard a rustling sound as he closed the blinds.
My eyes followed his every move as he moved over to Edward. He looked up to me and I used every last ounce of my energy to smile at him and nod my head.
I watched on as he leant down and appeared to nuzzle my sons neck. I flinched as Edwards eyes snapped open and he began to buck against the bed, I heard him groan. It was hard to see my son in pain, but something inside of me knew that this was not his end, but his new beginning.
As darkness finally overtook me, the last sight I saw was Carlisle looking down at my sons writhing body with adoration. I knew as I took my last breath that whatever happened next for my son, he would never be alone.