The Never Ever Happily Ever After Contest
Title: After Five Years
Characters: Bella, Edward, Jacob
Word Count: 9224
Disclaimer: Due to the nature of this contest, you may expect content such as character death, adultery, abuse, illegal activities including drug use and underage drinking, etc in many of the entries.
The words seemed to stick in my throat as I forced them out. A promise. An oath. I was his forever. As I stood there, I knew I was doing the right thing but it felt so wrong. Promising myself to once man when I was eternally bound to another. But this was right. I was sure of it. Jacob loved me more than anything in the world – he worshipped me so thoroughly – wasn't that enough?
I forced my hand up so he could slip the ring onto my finger. I was shaking violently and he took my hand timidly. I tried to smile at him in the hope I could feign my fear as excitement and prayed he would not tell my heart was being shredded in my chest. I felt ridiculous. Why should I be so scared of my reason for living? I owed everything to Jacob. He had taught me to live again after... He made the pain stop. Most of the time.
I shuddered slightly as I felt the cool metal band come into contact with my skin. It felt so heavy, as though it was already weighing my finger down. Jacob clasped my hand tightly with both of his and I looked up to his face to see tears welling in his eyes. I forced a thin smile to my lips and I saw his expression was pained too. He must suspect my trepidation and know exactly what cause it. It broke my heart that I was breaking his.
In that instant, I swallowed my pride and banished my fears. I leant forward to kiss Jacob deeply, trying to let love flow through my lips. Who cared if it wasn't the time to do so yet? This was my chance of happiness with the man I loved. I shouldn't be dreading it and petrified of every moment. I should be celebrating that I was blessed to be have touched by love not once, but twice in my life and had been given the chance to live again. Who was Edward Cullen to think...?
I jerked, suddenly, as I thought of his name. I had avoiding it all day but I knew I couldn't run forever. He was part of me. I pulled away from Jacob and smiled at him as brightly as I could. I made my lips curve in a way that told him I promised him more later. Better for him to think my sudden withdrawal was just a poor attempt to control myself. Make him think I was waiting for tonight. The word resonated in my mind. I knew what he would expect from me. I had put it off for so long, making the excuse that I wanted to wait until we were man and wife so this it was more special. It was the lamest excuse in the world but Jake had gone along with it, regardless. But now there were no excuses. We were together forever and the first way to prove that was to express our love... physically.
I felt a cold sweat blossom across the back of my neck. I was so nervous. I would never be able to do it.
"I now pronounce you man and wife."
The sentence filled my head suddenly and I smiled automatically as though all my dreams had come true. In truth, I would never be happy if my dreams came true – I only had nightmares now.
I felt numb as Jacob took my hand in the crook of his arm and led my down the aisle while our friends clapped and cheered. Bella Black. Not the name I would have chosen. As we walked out of the church the sun broke from behind the clouds making the wet grass in the graveyard glisten with silver. This was a far cry from that day five years ago. How my life had changed. The day that had scarred me forever...
It had just gone midnight and I was starting to worry. Edward had promised to call round as soon as he had got back from Seattle at nine-thirty. Two and a half hours later and my doorbell still hadn't rung.
At first, I told myself that perhaps he was running late but that began to seem less and less likely. So then, I thought maybe he had forgotten but that wasn't something Edward would do. So, now I was just worried. I had tried to reach him three times on his cell and he hadn't answered. His parents told me they thought he was with me when I phoned his house. This was starting to get weird.
I sat in the living room in my old flannel pyjamas just waiting. Why would he be back so late? We had school tomorrow and he hated over-sleeping. Charlie padded down the stairs then and passed the open door. He stopped and looked at me while rubbing his eyes.
"You still up, Bells?" he asked, his words slurring together slightly.
"Yeah, Edward still hasn't called..."Saying it out loud just made me more afraid. "Can't you sleep?"
"Just need a glass of water," he replied. "Just don't stay up too late, kiddo, I'm sure he's fine."
I merely nodded and he headed off to the kitchen to get his drink. I sat in silence for the next few minutes, spinning my cell in my hands. Then, I heard a faint tapping, like a rap on the door. It must be Charlie in the kitchen – it wasn't loud enough for the door. I went back to fiddling with the phone absentmindedly. There it was again! A very faint tap, tap, tap coming from the hall. I got up and moved closer to the door, positive I wasn't imagining it.
*tap* *tap* *tap*
I froze. That one was louder. I stood listening for a few more seconds when I heard something that made my heart climb into my mouth.
It was Edward's voice, but it was so very wrong. It was raspy as though he had been shouting for a long time and was barely loudly than a whisper this side of the door. I strode forward quickly toward the entrance. Something was wrong. Hard, cold fear shot through my veins.
I opened the door and pretty much had to catch Edward as he fell through it. The weight of him in my arms forced me to the ground with him sprawled across my legs. His shirt was sopping wet under my hands and I pulled them away sharply in disgust. Where had he been to get this dirty? That's when I realised my hands were covered in glistening, dark blood. It dripped from my fingertips and landed back on Edward's saturated shirt with a tiny thud. Blood coated the fabric from a point on the left of his stomach. It covered his arms and hands as well as smears of it dried across his face and caked in his copper hair.
"Charlie!" I screamed, rapidly, the word somehow escaping the panic that scrambled my mind. He came running almost at once.
"Bella! What... Oh my Lord..." he stopped a few feet away from me with a jolt and I heard him gasp. "I'll... I'll call an ambulance. You stay with him."
Then, he disappeared back into kitchen and I was left staring at Edward's blood-covered body and the darkness outside.
"Bella..." Edward breathed suddenly, breaking the stillness. He weakly tried to lift his arm toward my face and I placed my hand in his quickly.
"Edward, what happened?" I could feel the tears beginning to fall from my eyes as I realised how cold he was.
"I was walking... These guys... They had a knife," he wheezed almost inaudibly. I automatically looked at his torso. Sure enough, right at the centre of the pool of blood was a rip in the cloth and a deep red-brown slash in Edward's side. I sobbed loudly at the sight of it.
"Shh... its fine... doesn't hurt that much," Edward tried to soothe me. He didn't fool me in the least. If it didn't hurt why was he so pale?
"Edward, I'm going to leave you for one second so I can get you some towels," I told him in a shaking voice. His reply was almost immediate and much louder than before.
"No!" He swallowed loudly. "Please... stay with me. I'm really afraid," I could see tears beginning to well around his green eyes and seep into his thick lashes. "I'm so cold too. I came here straight away... walked through the woods to see you – it was faster. I thought I wasn't going to make it..."
"Oh, Edward, don't be silly!" I tried to laugh but the movement just dislodged the tears in my eyes and one splashed on his cheek. His white lips pursed together briefly and he got a little heavier in my arms.
"I promise to love you forever, Isabella Swan. Remember that always – I will always be yours. Look after my heart..."
Then, his eyelids fluttered wildly before falling shut and he became a weight pinning me down.
"Edward? Edward!" I shrieked while slapping his cheek trying to wake him up.
"Bella, the ambulance is on its way..." Charlie re-emerged from the kitchen.
I turned desperately to look at him, almost unable to see him through the tears. He rushed over to my side immediately and placed two fingers on the side of Edward's neck. He stayed frozen there for half a minute before letting his hand drop defeated and sighed through his mouth loudly. Then, he pulled me into his arms as I continued to cling onto Edward and I howled in pain...
It had been Jacob that saved me. I had known him all my life and he was there the whole way supporting me without a word of objection. He was my best friend; it was natural that we had fallen in love. But, I always knew he loved me more. My heart still belonged to Edward and he still held mine. I had put off marriage for as long as I could but after five years I had to admit Jacob was going to be with my for the rest of my life as I couldn't even contemplate opening myself up to anyone else, ever, and I finally accepted his proposal.
We were now in the back of the taxi, speeding toward the hotel in Seattle. We would stay there for one night before flying to New York for our honeymoon. Nothing fancy – just time together. Great. Nerves trembled in my stomach. We were holding hands across the seat and I hadn't realised how tightly I had been gripping onto him until the car stopped and he flexed his fingers awkwardly.
"Sorry," I apologised embarrassed. He smiled ruefully and gave me a wink before getting out the cab.
"I'll pay and get the bags if you check in?"
"Sure," I agreed as I followed him out the vehicle.
The hotel was nice – modern and spacey but still kinda homey. There was a large wood fire burning brightly in the reception when I entered.
"Good evening and welcome to Whitlock Hotel. May I take your name?" the receptionist asked me as I approached the desk. She had wild, flame red hair that seemed to quiver around her head.
"Mr and Mrs... Black," I stuttered.
"Ah, the honeymoon suite," she replied with a twinkle in her eyes. "Congratulations! I'll just get you the key."
She rushed off into a room behind the counter with an oddly feline stride as Jacob came in with his bags in our hands. The place was deserted apart from us. He set the bags down by the desk and came behind me to wrap his arms around my waist and kissed my shoulder lightly. In that one moment everything seemed right. Despite my nerves, I was pretty ecstatic – finally feeling as though I belonged in a world that had so brutally cast me aside before. A genuine smile spread across my face as I thought of the place I would always have in Jacob's arms from now on. Jacob and I forever. I no longer had to be alone ever again. Jacob had made sure of that.
The receptionist had returned with the key and we were now standing outside our room so I quickly unlocked the door to let us in. Jacob bustled in past me, placing our luggage on the side cabinet. At the centre of the room as a large, metal framed bed with dark iron roses woven into the headboard. The sheets were a silky gold as were the dozens of fluffy pillows that covered the bed. The bed. My stomach spasmed slightly.
Jacob had come to stand back by my side and he cupped his hand around my face, forcing me to look away from the bed. He leant forward and kissed me delicately on my half-opened mouth. And, suddenly, I wasn't afraid anymore. I was Jake's wife – this was natural. I leant my weight against him and he pulled my waist toward him with his other hand. Our kiss grew deeper and I slide my hands over his chest to rest on his shoulders. Jake stiffened and pulled away.
"Do you want to get some dinner, or..."
"No." I replied in a gravelly voice. It was hoarse with lust and emotion. Jacob just nodded simply at me and led me over to the massive bed. I sat down on the edge and he loomed over me, pulling my face to his once more. After a minute he pushed me back and I scrabbled up the bed so he could hover over me as I rested against the pillows. He stroked my hair away from my face and kissed my forehead. He was being slow. He thought I would stop him.
But, I didn't want him to stop. Instead, I found myself wanting to reach out and run my own hand through his short black hair and kiss him. So, I did. I pressed the full length of my body against him and felt his hands tighten where he touched me. They began to slide up and down over my ribs and hips, tracing every contour. After a while, his hand lingered on the waistband of my skirt. A question. I let go of him and reached down to grab my skirt and pulled it over my hips. My reply. Jake bit my lower lip as I wrapped my bare legs around him. I realised I was shaking, though it wasn't because I was scared of betraying Edward anymore, it was because I was scared of finally allowing this to happen and knowing I wanted to let this happen. I could feel myself wanting him more and more, quivering in delight each time his fingers found somewhere new he could touch me.
Soon, we had undressed each other and were lying naked, still exploring every part of each other as our various limbs tangled together. I marvelled at how we looked together – his dark contrasting with my pale skin so violently. He pushed up above me so he could look at my face. It was time. There was nowhere else to go. I nodded my head minutely, telling him I was ready. A smile played on his lips and pushed slowly back down on me.
I gasped quietly as I felt him in me, the feeling so new to me but as though I had known it all my life. He was slow and deliberate, drawing out each thrust as he sunk further and further inside me. Edward and I had never got this far. He was kind of old-school with the whole sex before marriage thing. Not that he didn't want to; he just felt it was right that way. We had got pretty close though. I let my head fall back slightly as Jacob pushed into me harder and I thought how this would have been with Edward.
Once, we had gone too far with Edward's fingers pressed between my legs. I had welcomed them. I had pushed for more. But, we stopped. I couldn't force him to disregard his morals even for me. Though, I wish I had now. I was meant for him and now, I'd never have him. Tears rolled from the corners of my eyes and I was split in two – the pleasure that Jacob was administration to my body versus the sadness of what could have been in my mind.
A sudden flash of copper above me pulled me out of my reverie. I looked at Jake sharply, wondering where it had come from. But, he wasn't there. Instead, Edward leant over me, his green eyes boring a hole in me while his pale skin moved against mine. My breath rushed out of me. My Edward. In my arms again. He sped up, thrusting into me again and again and I groaned softly. Sweat broke across his faultless brow as he got closer to climax. The soft lights in the room made the droplets sparkle as though his skin was covered in a layer of diamonds.
I wrapped my arms around his neck instinctively and pulled his forehead to mine. I wanted to sparkle too. I closed my eyes as I moved with him, relishing the feel of him and imprinting it onto my mind for eternity. I felt my stomach turn to mush and I opened my eyes so I could see those heavenly green irises on me once more.
But, they weren't there anymore. Almost as quick as they had appeared they had disappeared again. His eyes were brown, almost black, and the skin around them had grown tan. It wasn't Edward. He had never been there in the first place – I had imagined it all. That feeling wasn't Edward touching me, it was Jake. And it suddenly felt very wrong. I tried to push Jacob away, the weight of him on top of me making me panic, but he misunderstood my struggles. He merely thrust against me harder and faster. And it hurt. I wanted him off me.
"Jacob!" I cried, desperately pushing against his bare chest.
"Bella," he replied in a half-whispered grunt and crushed me tighter against his body. Didn't he understand? Couldn't he tell he was hurting me? Each time he moved it was as though he burnt me. He froze slightly and bucked as he came and I cried out loud. Something that couldn't be misunderstood. A heart-wrenching, guttural sob that ripped out my throat like a growl. It worked. How dare he come inside me while I begged him to stop?
Jacob jumped off me instantaneously, his face worried. I continued to cry and clutched my knees to my chest protectively.
"Bella! Are you okay? Did I hurt you?"
He figures that out now. Now I felt like I was bleeding he had scarred me so much down there with his blundering thrusts. I said nothing to him just let the tears fall down my face. I didn't want to answer. What could I say? You're not the one I want? It would kill him. He crawled across the bed toward me when I refuse to speak and I flinched.
"Bella, what's wrong?"
The pain in his eyes made my heart tremble. It wasn't his fault. I was like a broken car – I was never going to run right – but it didn't mean I had to blame him. I reached out to him to take his hand and he wrapped his arms around me in a tight hug.
I knew he hadn't really hurt me. It was all in my mind, of course, as most my pain had ever been. A self-inflicted, psychological wound as my mind had revolted against Jacob's touch. My body knew who it belonged to and it wasn't the person who held me close. It would never accept him the way it had accepted Edward. We had been to parts of the same puzzle. We had fitted so perfectly that any other just wasn't right. I sighed defeated. For one brief moment today, I felt as though I was beginning to finally move on. I could see myself content with Jacob and his love for the rest of my life. But, the feeling had been short lived, as it always was.
When would this torture stop? Five years later and I still woke screaming from nightmares painted red with blood. I had seen a therapist when it had first happened, but when nothing improved I was discharged. Too scarred. Past help. I just couldn't get over him. It pained me to hurt Jacob by forcing myself to love him to compensate for my loss.
"I'm sorry," I whispered, almost inaudibly. I was pressed against his chest and he kissed my head firmly.
"It's okay, sweetheart," he murmured. "You weren't ready. There's no rush – I understand."
My chest hurt. How could he love me so much despite knowing I ached for someone else? He knew my trepidation had been because of Edward since day one and he still stood by my side. How could he bare to know that I dreamed of another man?
A splash of wetness hit my forehead then and began to roll down my face. It was a tear. I inhaled quickly as I realised Jacob was crying. I had hurt him. I had wondered how he coped knowing I didn't love him as much as I loved Edward. The answer? He didn't.
TWO MONTHS LATER
Mine and Jacob's life hadn't changed much after the wedding and we soon settled back into our normal lives when we got back from our honeymoon. We had lived together before in a small bungalow in Forks, so it wasn't odd going back there. Life was just as it had always been with the exception that I now wore his wedding band on my finger night and day.
We hadn't attempted sex again after the disaster on our wedding night and I knew how tested Jake was becoming. But, I just couldn't make myself do it again. As well as the pain, I felt oddly violated. He had carried on when I wanted him to stop. It wasn't his fault he didn't know that, but I still felt accosted and wrong all the same. Plus, Edward haunted my dreams even more recently, but now he would lean over me, his flawless body pressed to mine. It was just as bad as any nightmare.
So, we lived our lived quietly – waking-up, going to work, eating dinner, going to bed – as though we were flatmates not man and wife. But, recently, I had reason to think that would change. A tiny beacon of hope on the horizon that could save us both. The month after our wedding I had missed my period. I had though possibly that it was the trauma of feeling attacked. Stuff like that blew your body out of sync – it was totally naturally. But, now I was late again this month, so I decided to take a pregnancy test. Just in case this wasn't some weird coincidence.
Jacob was still at work, so I sat alone on the bathroom floor watching the second hands on the wall clock tick by. One more minute and I would know. I had made sure I had bought a really high-tech one that told you it straight, so there would be no confusion over blue lines or pink lines or no lines at all. It had cost me a fortune but I felt if it saved some misunderstanding it was worth the extra cents.
The minute passed and I grabbed hold of the stick that was sitting face down on the floor beside me. Butterflies filled my stomach as I prepared myself for the result. Even though the baby would have been conceived in such terrible circumstances, I would still love it with all my heart. The idea of having a little girl or boy to hold and care for gave me hope in my silly, sorry life. A child would make my family complete.
Summoning all my courage, I flipped over the test swiftly and my heart skipped a beat. There, on the tiny screen, plain to see was the word I had wished for. Pregnant. I laughed out loud and jumped to my feet. I was going to be a Mom! I started to jump around ecstatically but stopped suddenly, petrified I might damage the baby. Could that happen? I didn't know!
I slumped back down on the floor; my back leant against the side of the bath. Who would guess this would happen? I had never seen myself as the mother type, but faced with the situation, it seemed as natural as breathing. It made sense that my life should progress this way – Jake, me and our baby. Or babies. Why stop at one? I laughed manically at that. We could have DOZENS of babies! A whole house full of mini-Jacob's! I liked to think my plain features would be left out of their genetic make-up and they would all be born with dark skin and dazzlingly deep eyes.
I heard the front door open downstairs then and Jacob called to me. I jumped up, forgetting my earlier worries about harming to baby and ran to the top of the stairs. I could tell my whole face was alight with euphoria. It felt peculiar to have my features stretched that way after so many years of grief. I hung off the banisters at the top of the stairs so I could peer down at Jacob.
"Bella?" he looked at me quizzically. I wondered if he could remember me ever looking this keyed up before. The last time would have been while Edward... that didn't matter now. This had nothing to do with him.
The words came out in a high pitched squeal and I saw Jacob's mouth drop open. I propelled myself down the stairs and launched myself into his arms. He held me tight against him and I relished in his embrace.
"That's amazing..." he murmured into my hair. I pulled myself away from him and grinned at him like a lunatic. He laughed at me and I pushed my face to his. It was the most contact we had had in two months. He froze briefly at my show of affection before melting into the kiss, his arms wound tightly around me the whole time.
My life had got so much better after I found out I was pregnant. I was no longer afraid of showing my love to Jacob and I felt filled to the top with happiness. But the best thing by far was that I no longer pined after Edward constantly. Granted, the first night I hadn't dreamt of him, I had been petrified I was forgetting him but I realised that would never be possible. I w as merely content with my life and no longer needed him to survive. It was so calming to feel peace at last after all these years.
Jacob and I had told everyone I was expecting after three months and our family and friends were just as excited as we were. It was something we deserved after barely coping with the last five years. It had changed everything. Charlie had cried when he had seen my glowing face after all those years of my own tears. It made me uncomfortable to see him react this way but Jacob had just pulled me closer to his side, so I guessed it was a good thing.
It was just a few days after we had told everyone and I was home alone. It was mid-afternoon and Jake wasn't due back for hours because of an evening shift. So, after I had finished all my housework, I decided I could relax on the sofa and get lost in a book I poured myself some orange juice and grabbed Romeo and Juliet from my dresser, then, I made my way to the front room and snuggled down in the corner of the coach. I absentmindedly stroked my belly as I began to read the words I knew all too well.
I read for a good couple of hours before I drifted off to sleep. I hadn't been planning to fall asleep but I was just so comfortable and relaxed that I let the book fall from my hand and thud to the floor.
I woke up again in a forest in the middle of the night. It was the woods in Forks –I knew that instinctively, as is often the case in dreams. There was little light coming from the partially covered moon, which I could see through the tree tops. I climbed up from the ground I was sitting on and looked around me. About thirty foot away was a large, wet rock that glistened in the moonlight. I walked toward it, intrigued as I watched a sliver of silver moon move across the surface.
As I got closer, the shape became much clearer. It was long, about six feet in total, and slightly narrower at both ends. There was a branch embedded in it near the right hand side, which was lying against the floor. It was an odd shape. It reminded me of something but I couldn't think what. Everything around me stilled as I got closer to the rock. The sound of the wind in the trees, my boots crunching on the twigs under my feet, the animals scurrying in the undergrowth – all silent.
My body locked solid as I finally found myself as the side of the rock and realised what it was. At my feet, Edward lay stretched along the damp ground. He was shirtless and there was a large gash along his left side that oozed thick, dark blood. It was just like that night all over again. Blood coated his body, shining in the moonlight. I could tell he was dead from the way his face was so relaxed despite his horrific injuries. He might as well have been sleeping. I dropped to my knees beside him, reaching out so I could stroke his cheek. It had been so long since I had touched him, but fear made me pull my hand back. It was only when I did this did I realise there was something nestled in his arm which I had assumed was a branch before.
Tucked against Edward's torso was a tiny baby. No more than a few weeks old, whose body had been punctured with half a dozen perforations. It too was covered in blood and I thought for a moment it had dripped off Edward and onto the sleeping child, so I reached toward it too move it out the way. No child should be subjected to this. Only then did I realise that the blood came from each of the holes on its torso. Six copies of Edward's wound. Six stab marks that had killed this little thing. I bit my lip to stop myself from screaming and breaking the unearthly silence.
I stared at the baby, my baby, and revelled at how this could have happened. It could only be my baby Edward had pulled into his arms before he had died. Where had I been? Why wasn't it me protecting my baby – dying for my baby – my already dead baby? I felt nauseated. My own child lay broken mere inches in front of me, mutilated so unnecessarily, and I hadn't even been there to cradle it as it died. It was a baby – a tiny human that had done nothing wrong. What could have done this to a child? It was my life, everything I had pinned my future on for the past month.
I became aware then that I was grasping something tightly in my right hand. It was beginning to hurt where its sharp edges began to dig in to the soft skin on my palm. I brought my hand up to see the long, smooth object I held. A whimper escaped my lips as I saw the blade flash in the moonlight. The knife was only small, similar to one I used to cut vegetables with every day. Blood dripped from the tip of the dagger and landed on the damp earth. I wanted to know who had killed my baby? It was me. My hands were slick with red and my clothes streaked with it.
Both these people, who I loved, had fallen by my hand. I knew it. I had known it all along. If I hadn't insisted Edward saw me that night he wouldn't have been out when those people found him. He would have been at home with his family and he would've picked me up for school the next day as usual and everything would be the same. We would have lived our lives together and this baby would have been ours. I killed him with my insatiable want of him. It was all my fault. I might as well have driven the knife home myself.
And this want I had, and still had, for him would ruin my life forever. I couldn't escape him, couldn't escape my guilt. I was broken – I didn't fit in this world anymore. I was incapable of love. Tragedy followed love in my mind and that's why my child was dead too. I couldn't bear to subject myself to the happiness, couldn't accept life was getting better because it meant losing him. So, I destroyed the one other thing that gave my life purpose.
I was sick – masochistic even. I felt better knowing that I couldn't reach my happiness anymore. I didn't deserve it. It felt good to fall apart without Edward. So, who next? Jacob? Charlie? I couldn't be stopped; I was a liability, whose brain had hit the self-destruct button long ago. It was only a matter of time until I killed again.
I was panting now, suddenly afraid if my own mind. I let the knife numbly fall from my hand and looked at Edward, my eyes wild. He was staring back at me, his green eyes bleak and dead, I reached toward him without fear this time but couldn't seem to get near him. His lips parted minutely and I saw his jaw clench for a second.
His voice was so clear it was as though he had never left me. I tired to speak but I couldn't. The words got lost in my throat. What could I say? There was so much to say! He was alive – he was here once more. I choked over my words unable to think straight. When I didn't reply, Edward's eyes grew cold and he spoke once more.
I felt my breath rush out of me as though someone had punched me in the stomach.
"No!" my mind was screaming. "I couldn't help it - I'm sorry! Please!"
But, it was no use. Edward was no mind-reader so his eyes slipped back shut and he was gone. The sound of a baby crying filled the air and the ground gave way, throwing me into a sea of red and my dead family.
I woke with a start in the pitch black room. My body was covered in a sheen of cold sweat and I couldn't get the image of their blood covered bodies out of my mind. I got up from the sofa and felt my way along the walls to find the light switch. I was shivering and had goose bumps all over me. I flicked on the light, the sudden brightness hurting my eyes. I looked at my watch. 8:50. Jacob still wouldn't be home for at least two hours. What was I going to do until then? I was terrified, the silence of the house suddenly very ominous to me.
Dinner. That's what I would do. Take my mind off the matter by making something and filling the house with the sound of cooking. Not that I was hungry. I bustled toward the kitchen, regardless, fuelled by the desire to do something –anything – to shake off the nightmare. I opened the fridge and scanned the shelves. Hmm, what to have? What took lots of preparation to distract myself with? I settled on stir-fry and grabbed a handful of vegetables and some spice paste for good measure.
It felt good to be cooking. The water that I cleaned the vegetables with also seemed to wash away my fear. I had not just been the dream that had scared me. It was the realisation too. The one where I had realised I had killed Edward. It seemed ridiculous now because I know I didn't – not literally at least – but the weird part was that part of me still clung to the guilt. The same part of me that had the ability to conjure up images of that night again and again, highlighting and re-running the bits I could've done differently. I shut it off and dried the vegetables. I was meant to be forgetting about it. I patted my ingredients dry, appraising their vibrant colours. Maybe, the baby carrots were a bit too long. They would never cook at the same time as the rest of the food. I'll chop them – really makes no difference.
I laid the bobbley orange sticks side-by-side on the chopping board and opened the cutlery drawer to get a knife. And there it was. The dagger from my dream sat on top as though it had been waiting for me. Which was impossible – it was just a knife.
I ground my teeth together and grabbed the knife. It was just a coincidence. Your mind takes things you have seen in your life and recycles them for use in your dreams. I used this knife almost everyday! Of course my mind would use this one. There was nothing to worry about.
I lined up the first carrot and placed the edge of the blade along its middle. Just a bit of pressure and it would cut right through. Carrots. Onions. Chillies. Flesh… I wonder.
I took the knife away from the carrot and set it down. It seemed disturbed but it was only intrigue. Just to know. To know my dream was wrong. I paused for a moment longer thinking. I could do this. It wouldn't harm. I lifted my sweater and pulled it over my belly. My stomach was slightly rounded now – a prominent lump jutting out between my hips.
I pick the knife back up and the blade seemed to flash as it moved. It suddenly looked very menacing and I almost set it back down, but curiosity drove me forward. I brought the sharp edge to my body and placed it on my stomach. I shivered slightly when the cold metal touched me but it was good. I felt powerful, knowing the harm I could cause but choosing not to. And I felt fearless. Knives were dangerous – we had been taught that at school since kindergarten – so the feel of it against my skin made my heart race.
I pushed the blade further against me, pleasure tickling me as the edge dug in even more. I could really hurt myself and my baby. I could recreate the dream right now, see my unborn baby's blood splash across the kitchen tiles - feel the slick warmness of my own blood as it coated my arms. I would massage it into my skin, watching how the red shifted and pooled differently under my touch. I could imaging it was that night again, pretend it was him in my arms once more.
I felt the knife bite into my side and I gasped at the sudden pain. I hadn't realised how much pressure I had been putting of the handle. I dropped the knife automatically and it landed on the floor with a clank. The pain throbbed in my belly and I looked down at my stomach. A vivid crimson line had appeared just above my right hip. The blood was seeping from the cut and rolling down my side. I gagged. What had I been doing?
I ran down the hall and up the stairs as fast as I could. I wasn't going to make it. I was revolted by myself. Truly sickened to the core of me. I burst through the bathroom floor and flung myself across the room to land by the toilet just in time. I heaved and gripped the seat as vomit raced up my throat and hit the back of the porcelain bowl. Sick bitch! There was definitely something the matter with my mind. Why had I even thought of trying that? I wretched until my stomach was empty and slumped back against the wall. I was sweating all over and my side still stung. I summoned all my strength to peel back my clothes and look at my wound. It was still bleeding; the blood now smeared around it turning the skin a dirty brown colour as it dried. But, its centre was still scarlet. The color of my dreams. In a moment of madness, I reached down to touch the thin line with the tip of my index finger.
It stung as I touched it and I winced a bit but it wasn't unbearable. The wet blood clung to my finger as I lifted it to my face to inspect. That little smear was oddly beautiful. It pooled in the tiny crevices of my skin creating intricate patterns that seemed to ebb and flow ever so slightly. How could something so mystifying always represent something so terrible. I could smell the metallic smell it gave off and bit my lip in disgust. I had never liked blood. It made my head swim and my heart pound for some reason. I wondered if the repugnant smell would still be present in the taste. It was an interesting thought. Something that had never come to mind before.
I lifted my finger slowly and smeared the blood over my bottom lip. I paused for a moment, questioning my sanity for one short second. Then, quick as lightening, my tongue poked out my mouth and licked the drying blood off my lip. It had a hollow taste, slightly like sucking on a rusty nail. It was disgusting and I fought the urge to heave over the toilet once more. I dragged my teeth across my lip, pulling every last bit of blood into my expecting mouth. I hated the taste but it felt so right. So right to have it back in me – to taste something so primal. It felt instinctive to me, as though it was ingrained into some bit deep inside of me. As though I had been born to taste it.
I wondered why I chose to do this now; why I had decided now was the time. Had I finally lost my mind? Was my mind so askew from everything that had happened now that it seemed normal to me? A dark thought crossed my mind. Why hadn't I chosen to do it five years ago? When his blood coated my hands and dripped off me. If my mind had been straight, not muddled by panic and grief maybe I would have thought of it. What it would have been like to taste his blood... A bit of him in me forever.
But, now I would never have him. He was lost to the earth and I was lost to the world. Stuck in time, falling over that night over and over again, unable to pick myself up and move on. Who was I kidding? Not me for one. I knew deep down I needed him. I would always want him. Forever. Why did I ever think a marriage and a baby would change that? I was just sucking everyone else down into my abyss by trying to carry on.
Tears fell from my eyes and my chest heaved with the effort of breathing. I didn't want this. I didn't want any of it. I wanted Edward. I wanted my destiny. I wanted... I wanted to be with him. I got up from the bathroom floor and felt my way to the door. The cold metal handle felt like nothing in my hand. I knew I wanted. Tonight was the night I would surrender.
I got back down to the kitchen, still numb to the world. Would I even feel it in this state? I hoped so. I held my belly protectively. I would give Edward the baby too. We would be together for eternity that way. The knife I had used earlier for the carrots was still of the floor so I bent to pick it up. It was small. It wasn't right. I flung open the cutlery drawer and reached right to the back. I knew what I needed. I pulled out the long carving knife and smiled at the weight in my hand. Yes, this was the right one. I turned it end on so I was staring down at the blade, measuring the width with my eye. It was about right. Almost exactly the same sized blade.
With the knife in my hand, I made my way back to the hallway. Tears washed my cheeks, making them burn. I heaved a sob as I reached the front door. They were tears of joy, I knew, at the final realisation of what I wanted. I heaved the door open and smiled at what I saw. Edward. Standing on my step with that crooked smile on his face.
"Long time no see?" he offered amicably.
"Something like that," I agreed with a laugh, before sinking to my knees. He came and knelt beside me and placed a hand on my arm.
"Bella... You don't have to do this," he cautioned.
"Yes, I do. How can I have you any other way?"
He had no answer for that, so he pulled me close to him and kissed my forehead tenderly. I squeezed my eyes shut, forcing more tears to roll down my face.
"I'll be waiting," he whispered and then he was gone. I whimpered slightly. I had hoped he would stay with me. It was the right thing for me to do, I was positive, but it didn't mean I wasn't afraid. As afraid as he had been knowing what was going to happen. But, now there was light. He wouldn't be alone this time. He would be with me. Finally.
I took a deep breath, clearing my mind. There was some kind of inner peace I felt now and I called on it to help me. Courage made me lift my left arm and bring the sharp edge of the carving knife to its wrist. In one swooping action, I pulled the blade across my pale skin and crimson blood instantly sprung from the wound. I laughed at the pain. It was nothing. Nothing compared to living any more without him. I brought my hand to my chest and held it against my heart. I thought of Jacob. What would he do when he found me here in the open door? I shunned the image from my mind. This wasn't about him. I was being selfish. I only wanted what was best for me. Screw the rest. Screw all of them! I wouldn't need them when I was with Edward forever.
I flexed my hand away from me and watched the blood roll off my wrist and land in my lap. It stung now. A lot.
I closed my eyes to steady myself. Now was the time, I felt it inside. I opened my eyes and retrieved the knife from the floor beside me. I aimed the tip at my belly, just below my ribs on the left hand side. I pressed the tip to my skin. Was this what Edward felt when those people pressed the knife to his side? I hoped so. My breath quickened in fear and I almost bottled out. So, I shut my eyes and thought of Edward. Not the bad stuff. Not the stuff I had been dwelling on for the last five years. But, the good stuff. The first time he had kissed me in my bedroom. Watching him walk across the school parking lot toward me. Sitting in our meadow, studying for finals. All of it. His face. His scent. The way his eyes dazzled me every time he looked at me. And then, when I felt safe in my memories of him, I pushed the knife in.
A sharp jab on the handle and it instantly sliced through my side. I screamed at the pain and fell forward. My eyes flew open in shock and I stared at the bottom of the door, unable to move. I had already lost a lot of blood from my wrist and everything was growing dimmer. The pain was unbearable. I grunted, trying to make as little noise as possible in case someone came looking for me. I wanted this. The pain was momentary compared to the bliss that was waiting for me. My arms were wrapped around my middle and I moved them away to inspect the wound.
My side was ripped open and blood pumped out of it. It would only take a matter of minutes. Only minutes left of this sorry excuse for a life. I smiled a little. That was good. I closed my eyes lazily. Not long, Bella, not long. And then, think, you and Edward together again as it always should have been. Even more pain ripped through my abdomen then and I couldn't help but scream. I clutched myself, trying to squeeze out the pain, but it was no use. When I removed my hands they were covered in even more blood. This pain was even worse that being stabbed. My jeans were soaked with blood and it felt like I had wet myself. It was as though I was being beaten from the inside, blow after painful blow crushing against my stomach. My baby was dying. This pain, so worse than any other pain, was the little child dying inside of me.
I cried out loud, great moans that filled the air. I began shaking with the little energy I still had. Oh God, it hurt! Where was Edward? I needed him, just as he had needed me when he died, his life ebbing away in my arms. I couldn't bear the pain alone, not even for another minute. He had been here and he had chosen to leave me knowing what I would go through. He was so selfish, he had always been selfish! Could he not stand to see me like this, dying for him? Did it hurt him too much?
"Edward!" I screamed his name. Maybe, he didn't realise how much pain I was in. Maybe, if he just knew he would be here. I sucked in a huge breath. I could feel myself going and the breath offered no relief.
"Please, Edward, I need you," I panted, wrapping my arms around my middle again, trying in vain to hold myself together. Everything was blurry now and it was difficult to keep my eyelids from drooping shut. Darkness threatened me on every angle and I fought it as much as I could. I would not go until he was by my side. I began sobbing his name over and over again. He would have to come. I was always meant for him. How could he leave me now?
The pain had almost disappeared now as the blackness crept toward me further. I just felt the struggle, the battle to stay alive for him. As I had always done. Just as everything was finally disappearing I saw him.
He was walking up the driveway – I could see him from where my head hung limply over the threshold. He ambled along, not a care in the world, and I gritted my together into a natural smile. This is what I wanted. He would be with my while I passed and then... forever. Finally, my happy ending, the way it should have always been. He knelt down beside me and twisted a lock of hair behind my ear.
"Edward," I breathed, trying to feebly reach toward him. Just one last touch. He caught my hand and planted a kiss on my palm, before folding my fingers inwards and placing my hand back by my side.
Why wouldn't he touch me? What had I done wrong? I tried to search his eyes for a reason but found nothing but hostility. He stared at me for a moment with those cold eyes before speaking to me.
The last of my breath flew out of me in shock. I no longer had the strength to speak, so I whimpered at him. What? What did he mean?
"I'm not coming with you, Bella. I left five years ago for a reason. It was fate – you always believed in that. Believe in that now. Look what you've done to yourself. How could I still want someone like you? Bella, I don't... want you. Now, stop calling for me... please."
His jaw locked and I began to choke as his words slammed into me. I was doing this for him and he didn't want me? This changed everything. A lot. He moved forward and stroked my cheek tenderly and I leant into his hand. He let his fingers trace around the edge of my blood stained lips and I tried to breath in the smell of his skin. Then, he whipped his hand away faster than humanly possible. He stood up straight to look down on me. Pathetic in life. Pathetic in death. No one wanted me. No one at all. A bubble of heat spread across my chest as I got angry. It gave me the strength I needed to say my piece.
"You... gave me your heart. You think... I've forgotten? I never forgot, not one detail, never ever. You can't leave me now... Edward... Edward, please..." He was fading from view as though he had never been there at all. "Edward, I love you."
He watched me writhe in pain with his unforgiving eyes, growing fainter each second. He didn't reply to me, just watched me die. Then, he was gone and I was alone. I no longer wanted to fight the darkness and I let it smother me. How could my life have resulted in this? What sin had I committed that had meant I was allowed nothing? Every part of me was cold and I couldn't move anymore. I was stuck in the blackness waiting for the final breath. It was coming, I could feel it. Waiting just a few gasps away, looming on the black horizon like a sheer cliff face. Something I couldn't climb. There was only one way. Down. Down to death.
I thought death would be peaceful, easy, but it's not. It's so much harder.