'Behind The Lyrics' Contest
Disclaimer: Rated M for sensitive subject matter. If domestic violence is a sensitive subject, please do not read. No copyright infringement intended, I do not own the characters or the lyrics, but I enjoyed using them.
Lyric prompt that you were given: 'I'm all out of faith, this is how I feel. I'm cold and I am shamed, lying naked on the floor.'- Natalie Imbruglia, Torn
Summary: Bella had learned the hard way that the fairytale wasn't always a given. Broken, alone and without any other options, she is finally forced to make a decision that will finally relieve her from the guilt and shame that has torn her apart.
'I'm all out of faith, this is how I feel. I'm cold and I am shamed, lying naked on the floor.'
That's the last conscious thought that I remember having.
Air. A swift breeze? No, this was much more than that.
The wind was whipping past me, much too fast. The flashing lights were much too bright and the blaring sirens were painful to my throbbing head and ringing ears.
"Bella? Bella? Can you hear me? Oh God, Alice, hurry!" I heard a voice scream, familiarity as thick and heavy as the panic within it.
I was confused considering that the last thing I remember seeing was the ceiling of my small bathroom.
My hand. My hand was warm and surrounded by something soft and supple and caring. Another hand. Someone was holding my hand, soothing me, but no one usually came to my rescue. The sounds around me were becoming louder and more frantic the more my jumbled and tired mind began to register what was going on.
I doubted that I was in my bathroom anymore.
More yelling; voices that I didn't recognize and more screaming in response. Orders being barked; my body being pushed, carried and moved. More screaming. Some crying, but these were not my tears this time.
I'd wished for death, but that wouldn't seem to be what I was granted. Purgatory, but I didn't think there would be this much hustle and bustle. As the noises and activity around me continued and the atmosphere grew more and more frantic, I decided to retreat into the place that I knew, the darkness that called to me, hoping that death would finally hear my plea for a release.
'I'm all out of faith, this is how I feel. I'm cold and I am shamed, bound and broken on the floor.'
I was not lying on the floor. I sat up with a jolt, unaware of my surroundings or how I had arrived in this place. I remember collapsing onto my bathroom floor, the pain and fear much too great to even consider venturing into any other area of the house.
My house. My small, war torn, beautiful little house. It wasn't much, but it was mine in every way. I wasn't there anymore; I wasn't sure where I was. The mirror had been shattered. The shower curtain was hanging haphazardly from the rod that had been ripped from its place in the wall. My face was sore and the blood had been evident on the white tile. Everywhere I touched was like Valentine's Day, everything pink and red.
I'd angered him again. I was sure that this would be the last time that I would ever do so, after all, he had said as much before he left me, but luck did not appear to be on my side. I prayed that he would have been true to his word this time.
I was lying in a bed, that much was clear, and everything surrounding me was white and sterile. Faint beeps, slight buzzing and the muffled noises that slid under the door along with a muted light were the only sights and sounds that I was able to fully register. I am in a hospital bed, but I have no clue of how I could have gotten here.
'I'm all out of faith, this is how I feel. I'm cold and I am shamed, lying naked on the floor.'
I grabbed at my chest, wincing at the pain that the movement caused. I was no longer naked. I had been covered with a hospital gown. I could only hope that whoever had found me had attempted to save the sliver of dignity that I was grasping for so desperately by clothing me in some form or fashion before I was brought here. Shame, yes, shame was still there, standing tall and proud. Resignation, yes, that was still there too. Faith, well, faith had been long gone, packed away tight with its associates love and hope. I needn't worry about whether or not any of those were around anymore.
'Illusion never changed into something real. I'm wide awake and I can see the perfect sky is torn.'
It was so good not all that long ago. We had met, he had courted me, we fell in love and we got married. We were happy. Our families were thrilled. We had a little house. I had made it into a little home. He had a good job. I had great friends. The baby carriage wasn't too far ahead of us. We lived a good life. I had given him the best that I had and, for one reason or another, it simply wasn't enough.
I wasn't enough.
It was evident in the little things. The small and affectionate kisses were replaced with orders and things to add to my to-do list. The tiny words of care and encouragement were replaced with complaints and areas in which I could always do better. The caresses and hugs were then soon replaced with consequences and submission. Being pulled down staircases and smacks to the face if enough Jack Daniels was involved became commonplace.
He had told me on a regular basis how much of a disappointment I was. He had described in excruciating detail how I was no longer the woman that he had fallen in love with. He had minced no words when letting me know that I was a complete failure in making him happy, that he would never dream of starting anything else with me, most certainly not a family.
I had offered to leave. I was no happier with being his unwanted burden than he was, but he would not allow me to go. He would not set me free because he would rather I suffered for my shortcomings. He could not make sure of that if I was not there.
He was sick, but I had to wonder who was more disturbed because I had seen his desire to control me as hope for turning things around. I was wrong. So very, very wrong.
Have you ever heard someone say that every day that you saw them, that day was the worst day of their lives? That had become my life in a nutshell, carrying me faster and more swiftly downhill with every day, each moment that passed. I knew that there was only one way out.
My friends had grown tired and taken a backseat to my 'marital issues' long ago. My family had tried to be there, but my father was known to turn a blind eye to the private goings on between a married couple. My mother did her best to let me know that I was entirely capable of making the numerous changes that would keep my husband happy and contented with all of my female imperfections and tendencies as she had so eloquently put it. Needless to say, trying to escape to my parents' home had failed miserably, multiple times.
If I were to ever find a way out of this hell, this horrible existence where I meant nothing to anyone, it would have to be complete, concise and efficient. Clean. I would have to die to ever truly escape James.
'My inspiration has run dry. That's what's going on. Nothing's right. I'm torn.'
A single teardrop burned my flesh as it seared its way down the cuts along my cheekbone. I attempted to wipe it away with my free hand as the door to my room opened, ushering in several people clad in white coats. They made no motion to gain my attention. They simply read over my medical charts, discussing my medical history and the many injuries I had sustained that caused this particular visit to be necessary. A nurse pulled away from the group in order to check my vitals, never once making eye contact with me. I would have been embarrassed if my presence had ever been acknowledged. I listened as they made mention of various lacerations, internal bleeding and substantial scarring, among other things.
Emboldened by my absence from the discussion, I took a moment and looked at all of them. A few of the gentlemen were older, more distinguished looking than the rest. The majority of the group was comprised of younger men and women that had to be residents. I had spent enough time in hospital emergency rooms to tell the difference.
One resident in particular had caught my attention. It wasn't the chiseled jaw line or model like features that had held my attention. It wasn't the lean, tall frame that called to me either. It was his eyes. His eyes were a radiant, emerald shade of green that were transfixed to mine as soon as I took a second visual sweep of his face. His heightened awareness of my existence was both startling and exhilarating.
We held each others' gaze for only a few ticks of the clock before he turned his attention back to the discussion. If I had blinked, I would have missed the exchange entirely. Once they were satisfied with their findings, the group took their leave, exiting just as quickly as they had all come, leaving a slight crack in the doorway.
'You're a little late. I'm already torn.'
I had resolved that my plans needed to be made if I was going to end this madness, once and for all. I turned over in my bed, settling in and wrapping myself tightly in what little comfort the cold, sterile blanket had to give. I would find a way to rid my life of this shame, just as James had rid my life of all of its faith, its hope and its love.
Slivers of sunlight warmed my sleeping face. It was morning and I'd slept the night away. I'm sure I had the pain medication that flowed throughout my system to thank for that.
A new day brings reality and my reality dictated that I set my plan into action, sooner rather than later. The satisfaction of finally finding a suitable reprieve had lifted my spirits, allowing a small smile to play on my face. The perfect plan had come to me during my dreams. I had enjoyed a peaceful, restful night of sleep, one that I had not experienced in months.
"Someone looks happy this morning," said Rosalie as she regarded me thoughtfully. I was shocked to find her sitting in the small chair in the far corner of my room.
I had not expected to receive any visitors during my stay, especially since I had no idea how long I would be here. The staff had maintained a blissful silence since I had woken up the day before, my only updates coming from what I was able to overhear. From what I could pull together on my own, I could be here for a while.
"Rose, how long have you been here?" I asked, unable to hide the surprise in my tone.
"I haven't been here too long. Alice just left to grab some coffee," she said, the determination in her blue eyes never wavering.
The tension in the room was palpable. I hadn't seen Rosalie or Alice for the better part of two months. They had attempted an intervention and I was ill equipped to handle it. The horrendous state of both my life and my marriage had taken its toll on me. I knew that I was to blame, but I didn't know how to fix it and I was drained, both physically and emotionally, from putting on the charade of everything being fine. Instead of admitting defeat to my dearest friends when they called me on it, I lashed out and they had been forced to sever ties with me.
"I can bet that you're wondering what in the world we are doing here," she said. It was a statement instead of a question.
"You want to ask me. Even with all of the swelling and discolor around your eyes, they still show everything that you're thinking." She took a pause, but still played with the blonde curl that she had trapped around her finger. "You are desperate to ask me why we would care enough to be here, why now, but you're still just too damn mousy to say what's on your mind. Even with us."
Rosalie had always had me pegged.
"When did that happen, Bella? When did you decide that you weren't good enough to fight for? When did you decide to stop fighting for yourself and why did we ever let you?"
I took her silence to mean she was waiting for an answer, but she had looked up as Alice quietly made her way back in with their coffee. They had a silent conversation, so brief but so clear. I missed having that. I used to be so in tune with my best friends.
The tears welled up behind my eyelids, but I willed them with all that I had within me not to fall. Rosalie deserved answers to her questions; I just simply did not have those answers. I had no clue what they were myself.
"Rose," I whispered, but she would not be interrupted.
"No, you need to hear this. You need to understand that we have never given up on you. You need to accept that whatever that bastard has instilled in you is not real. You are worth so much more than him. You mean something to me and you mean something to Alice and, whether you like it or not, we will not stand by and allow him to kill you even though he is trying to, piece by piece."
'So I guess the fortune tellers right. Should've seen just what was there and not some holy light.'
I blinked hard, but I couldn't stop the tears. They flowed freely with every word that she spoke, with every point that she made. My tears shed like my heart was breaking for the millionth time. It was if every emotion that I had shut away in my soul had unlocked itself and had no other option but to spill. Truth has a funny way of doing that to you.
Alice was by my side in an instant, pushing my matted hair from my forehead and holding the hand that wasn't in a splint.
"You guys are the ones that found me?" I asked.
"Yes," Alice said softly. "Renee called us when she couldn't reach you. She didn't want to admit that she was concerned, but she really didn't have to."
My mother had been the one to ultimately come to my aid. I never would have guessed it, but she wasn't as obtuse as I thought she was or wanted herself to be. Thank God she had had the forethought to call someone.
"Bella, honey, we are not going to let you go back to him. You can understand that, can't you?" Alice asked hesitantly. She spoke to me like a child that needed consoling and, I can think back to another time, another life where I would've been offended by her tone. At this moment, however, I couldn't find it in me to be anything but grateful.
I grabbed onto her with all of the strength that I could muster as my body was wracked with tortured sobs, loud and wet and snotty. Rosalie joined us on my little bed. We all just sat there, rocking together and crying. No one spoke, no one lectured and no one made excuses. The time for all of that had passed us. Right now, we were releasing the stress and the fear that had threatened to ruin our friendship and a huge part of my life, a part that still meant a great deal to me. It felt damn good.
I thought that I had lost the two people that I had grown up with, the only ones that were ever truly in my corner with no phoniness or pretense. Turns out, I had never really lost them. It was more a problem that I had lost myself. The gaping hole that had taken residence in my chest amongst all of the loss that I felt and all of the blame that I shouldered had only made it that much easier to come to terms with the fact that this life that I was living was not worth it; that I wasn't worth it.
But even in my darkest hours, my well orchestrated plan to calmly and quietly take my leave from this existence had not been properly thought out. I hadn't counted on having anyone that would actually give a damn and would try and talk me down from the ledge. I would have to come up with a new plan to change the crash course that had become my life.
I was the first to break the silence that hung in the room. It wasn't an uncomfortable silence this time, but there was much that needed to be discussed now that I had my girls back. "So, when are you guys planning to bust me out of here?"
We all laughed a bit, Alice wiping at her mascara in the mirror and Rose pulling her hair up into a ponytail. The mood had lightened exponentially, but they knew that I meant more than just getting me out of this hospital room. Much more.
"You know, I've actually given this some thought and I think that I may have a plan that will work," Rose said.
"Knock, knock," a masculine voice called out as I awoke from my nap.
After discussing strategy with Alice and Rosalie, they left to give me some time to rest after our emotional morning. I hadn't felt this good about anything in so long, it was hard to see them go, but they were right. I needed to get better and out of this hospital quickly if I was going to successfully make a go at starting life anew.
"Come in," I called out, my voice hoarse and scratchy from all of the crying I had done.
"Hello there, Mrs. Hunter?" The man behind the voice asked as he came into the room fully. It was the resident from yesterday, his voice as smooth as silk and his eyes as green as I remembered them.
"Yes, that's me," I replied as he went to pick up my chart.
"Mrs. Hunter, it's nice to finally meet you. I'm Dr. Edward Cullen and I am assisting Dr. McCarty in your care while you are here with us. How are you feeling today?"
"I'm fine," I said. "A bit sore, but I would imagine that is to be expected, all things considered."
Suddenly I was feeling extremely uncomfortable. I wanted to ask why he couldn't have sent in whoever this Dr. McCarty was in his place. Surely his eyes weren't nearly as piercing.
"Hmm, I suppose you're right, but I think we can up your pain medication slightly to make you more comfortable while you are healing," he said. I didn't sense any judgment or speculation in his demeanor. He was simply addressing my statement, no more no less. I took that as a positive sign.
"Dr. Cullen, I haven't had the opportunity to ask many questions since I've been here, but I was wondering, how long do you think I'll need to stay here?" I asked.
"However long it takes you to get better I would say," he said with a bit of humor lacing his tone. I appreciated his upbeat approach, but I was really looking for information that would help my cause.
"I'm sorry; you just looked like you could use a laugh. Honestly though, it really is up to you. It depends on how quickly you improve and this is the best place for you to be to make sure that happens." He stated as he looked at me shyly.
I fought hard not to roll my eyes at his bashful expression. Now would be the time where he would have to address the heart of the matter, whether he wanted to or not. The type of injuries that I was brought in with truly pointed to only one possible cause and most of the doctors that I had seen over the last few months usually glossed over it or ignored it entirely. I could see the discomfort practically seeping from his pores, but he soldiered on.
"Your cuts and various abrasions will heal over time, that is a given, but thankfully, all of those things are superficial despite the amount of skin in question. Any permanent bruising and scarring should be minimal." He took a moment before he continued. "Our major concerns are your internal injuries, Mrs. Hunter, which are quite extensive. I'm sorry, but I have to ask. Were you brought in yesterday due to injuries from a partner? Do you feel safe at home?"
He had done much better than I thought he would. His inquiry was very textbook and professional, but I found that I was completely at ease with answering him truthfully. I'm not sure what it was about him, but I could tell that, for some unspoken reason, he actually cared about my answer.
I shifted my position on the bed slightly before looking him square in the face. Admitting my situation was a huge step, but it was one that I was ready to make. I took a deep breath and straightened my posture as much as I could as I answered, "Yes, Dr. Cullen, I was brought in due to abuse by my husband and no, Dr. Cullen, I do not feel safe at home because I am not safe at home."
The expression on his face evolved quickly. First there was shock, and then there was anger. Rage was next, and then pity became sympathy laced with a quiet sense of conviction. I waited patiently while he took a moment to compose himself. "Thank you so much for giving me an honest answer. This will enable me to provide some valuable assistance and resources, if you would like," he said as he softly touched my hand with his, both showing me his support and sending a spark of electricity up my good arm.
My eyes began to water as I felt the tears starting to form. I had cried a river today as I was sure I would for many days to come, but that was alright. I imagined it was just a part of the long process of healing.
"Yes, I would like that very much, Dr. Cullen."
The next two and a half weeks went by fairly quickly. I was a bit stir crazy, but my injuries were healing and I was feeling substantially better compared to the first 24 hours of my stay. Rosalie and Alice had both become permanent fixtures in my room, one usually being here when the other could not, but most evenings, there were the three of us, catching up and keeping me occupied and generally distracted.
Dr. Cullen was true to his word and I had been visited by several caretakers that offered assistance in various specialties. I had met with Dr. Jasper Hale, one of the hospital psychiatrists, and we discussed some of the changes in my mental and emotional state, spanning the time before my marriage to the present. It was a long, intense, and draining first session, but it was necessary. We focused on my more immediate needs, mainly my depression and thoughts of suicide along with the gigantic sense of blame that I felt for the state of my affairs.
I would be seeing him twice weekly after my release from the hospital and I felt pretty good about it, especially since he had an office in Seattle. That is where I would be moving immediately after my release. Rosalie and Alice shared a beautiful condo there and they promised their third bedroom to me. Alice was a little sad to be losing her extra dressing space, but she claimed that she would get over it. It would be a fresh start and it wasn't too far from home. While Forks had always been home for me, Seattle was far enough away to provide some space and breathing room as I tried to pull the pieces of my life back together. I even had a little job waiting for me at the boutique that Alice managed, when I was ready.
I had also met with a social worker, a self defense instructor and a couple detectives from the Port Angeles Police Department, filing official charges against James for the abuse that he had been subjecting me to. I know that a part of me should have been doing it to be vindictive and to get revenge, but deep down; I really just wanted him to get the help that he so desperately needed. My first order of business upon leaving this hospital would be to file for both a restraining order and a divorce at the Forks courthouse.
In the meantime, the detectives had escorted the girls to get some of my belongings from the house so I wouldn't have to go back there and to make sure that they were safe in the event that James was home at the time. I hadn't heard a word from him, so I had no idea where he was right now.
Dr. Cullen had made it a point to pop in a few times every day, checking in on me and evaluating my progress. The more at ease he became in my presence, the more I wished that we could have met under different circumstances. Another lifetime would have been spectacular. One would have to be blind to miss how obviously attractive he was, but he seemed to be just as beautiful on the inside. He was kind and caring, protective even. He laughed at my corny jokes and I found his quick wit and personality intoxicating. I was hypnotized. And that spark, I absolutely had no words for that spark that seemed to constantly crackle and pop between us.
I was a far cry from being alright, but I had to admit that things were looking up and I felt really, really good about…everything. I was breathing easier. I was smiling. Carefree would be pushing it, but I felt powerful. I felt like I had control and my fire had returned. My eyes glimmered and it wasn't from my unshed tears.
Not too long ago, I had wished for the peace that came with death. Now I wished for a new beginning; a second chance to live this life and be happy with the peace and calm that could come with it as well. My, how quickly things can change.
I had showered, dressed in a simple white t-shirt, skinny jeans and sneakers that Alice had set out for me. I curled my hair and put on a small bit of makeup. I was being released from the hospital today. I was going to a new home, starting a new chapter.
"Wow," I heard from the doorway, low and husky, as I placed my toiletries in my bag.
"Hey, Dr. Cull – I mean, Edward. I was hoping I would see you before the nurse brought my discharge papers." I had forgotten just that quickly that we had decided that a first name basis was more appropriate.
"Bella, wow, you look…" he stammered. In all of the time that I had spent with him, I had never once heard him stammer. "I don't have words."
I could feel the blush creeping across my cheekbones.
"Yeah, I hear slings are pretty hot this season," I giggled, lifting my arm for emphasis.
"I had no idea," he said, giving me that lopsided grin that could have melted the sun. "So, do you have everything? I can imagine you're excited to be getting out of here."
"I can't even begin to tell you how good it feels to be leaving and feeling hopeful about it," I said honestly. "I was such a broken mess and, while there is still a boat load of work to be done, I feel like a new person. I have you to thank for a majority of that, Edward. Thank you."
He stepped a bit closer to me and gently cupped my cheek in his large, soft hand, stroking it with his thumb.
"Bella, you don't have anything to thank me for. It's my job, my duty and my pleasure to help someone that needs it and is ready to receive it. You have a tough situation, but I know you'll come out clean on the other side of it," he said. His smile was so bright and so genuine; I couldn't stop myself from throwing my good arm around his neck and pulling him into a hug.
"Well, I'm very grateful for the support and I thank you anyway, even if you don't think you deserve it." I said.
He laughed as he cautiously wrapped his arms around my waist. "Then I'll gladly take it."
I pulled away and went into the small bathroom to make sure I had grabbed everything. Rose came in to let me know that she and Alice would be in the lobby waiting for me as she carried my bag out to the car, stopping to waggle her eyebrows at me on her way out. She could be such a dork sometimes.
As I walked out of the bathroom, I noticed that Edward was still in the room, standing by my door.
"Hey, I thought you'd be long gone after I'd attacked you," I joked, wanting to keep the mood light. I probably shouldn't have jumped him like that.
"Oh yes, I was on my way out to finish my rounds, but I wanted to ask you something before you left."
"Sure, what's up?"
"Well," he looked nervous, rubbing the back of his neck and pinching the bridge of his nose. He was utterly adorable. "I wondered if, maybe after you got settled in and everything, I wondered if you would maybe want to meet out for a cup of coffee or something?"
I was flattered. I was a married mess of a basket case, but I was flattered all the same.
"Before you say anything, Bella, I just want you to know that it's just coffee. I know that you have a great deal ahead of you and that your hands will be beyond full, but I feel this connection with you that I'm finding impossible to ignore, and, I guess, I just don't want us to lose touch as you find your way." He spoke quickly, the fear that I was about to turn him down apparent on his gorgeous face.
I walked over to him and stood on my tippy toes so I could give him a kiss on the cheek. His skin was so warm and soft as my lips made contact. I closed my eyes just to enjoy the feel of it. I took a few steps back and grabbed his hand lightly. "I would love to meet you out for coffee, Edward. I would love nothing more."
He gave me that heart stopping grin and we just looked at each other for a long, blissful moment.
"Bella, Sweetheart, are you ready to go?" I heard faintly from the outside of the doorway. There was no way that it could be the voice that I thought I had heard, but it made too much sense for it not to be.
I took a few more steps back from Edward, as was the routine whenever I heard that one particular voice in that one, firm particular tone.
Edward looked at me with a confused expression before he turned to see what had made my face that had been so flushed with my ever present blush just moments ago, drain so completely.
"James. What are you doing here?"