Prompt name: Skin
Written by: ladysharkey1
Pairing/Main Character(s): Bella / Edward
Photo prompts can be viewed here: PhotoBucket(dot)com/SnippetySnippets and on Twitter
Disclaimer: We don't own Twilight, but it owns us. Inspired by Rascal Flatts "Skin (Sarabeth)", which brought me to tears when I'd first heard it years ago.
Jadsmama, Jessypt and tanglingshadows hold my hand and give me confidence. Mucho love for them…
"Isabella, sweetheart, Edward will be here soon. Are you about ready?" my mom called out from downstairs. Even though I loved him and was glad he was coming, I couldn't help but feel guilty he was spending one of the biggest nights of his life with me. An important rite of passage would forever be remembered by my frightening circumstances.
I tried to push my negative thoughts away.
"Where else would I be?" he questioned that morning as he held me while I cried. I needed to push those feelings away, because they minimized his love for me, and that wasn't fair to either of us.
I'd woken up and stayed tucked in bed for a few more minutes while I let my stomach settle. My current therapy was working, but it left me feeling tired and sore, and more often than not, sicker than I did without it. The nausea, vomiting and near constant headaches were the worst. To add to my despair, although I prayed God would spare me from it, I reached up and patted my disheveled and thinning hair. Turning over onto my side, I noticed clumps scattered across my pillow and reached out to touch them. As soon I my fingers glided across the soft strands, I felt tears flowing down my cheeks.
I cried for the loss of my hair, but more importantly, what would happen if the treatment didn't work.
I wasn't ready to die.
I had to live with a new reality: my dreams might never come true and the life I'd planned with Edward could slip through my fingertips like the strands I gathered tightly in my hands.
Edward deserved to have the life of freedom and choices. Being tied down by a sick, and possibly, dying girlfriend wasn't what was best for him. He wasn't even eighteen, and I had done nothing to help him accomplish his goals. I wanted him to go to college and make something of himself, not sit around holding my hand. Edward needed to work towards a future he deserved.
The only thing I had planned was my next radiation treatment. Until we learned if my treatments were working, college was on hold for me.
I sobbed into my blankets at the thought of losing him and knowing I had to let him go. It was bad enough my parents were forced to care for me; I wouldn't make Edward give up his life for me, too.
"Oh, Bella," my mom whispered as she suddenly entered my bedroom and pulled me to her. "Are you okay? Do you hurt?" She tucked my head under her chin and rocked me in a soothing motion. I slowly got myself under control again and showed her my hair.
Cupping my palms together, I lifted them higher as my hands shook. "I lost more of my hair. I don't even look like a girl anymore."
I imagined how I appeared to others…pale, too thin, and extremely tired, like I hadn't slept for a century.
Bald spots on my scalp.
Not pretty enough for my handsome boyfriend.
"I need to call Edward and tell him I can't go to Prom with him anymore. He deserves to stand next to someone who's as beautiful as he is." I felt tears running over my eyelids and trailing down my face. She reached up to wipe them with her thumbs and pressed a kiss against my forehead.
"I have to let him move on, Mom. He needs to be a normal teenager and date a girl who can go out to movies and parties, not one that has to spend more time with doctors and in hospitals than with him. And he definitely does not need a girl who is losing all of her hair and is getting balder by the day." I sucked in a much-needed breath. "I'm not going tonight."
I heard a noise by the door and saw my dad turn and walk away, leaving me alone with my mom. I had no idea he had been watching us, but the look on his face solidified my earlier thoughts of trying to hide my fears. His pain was carved onto his face, and it broke my heart. He'd taken my illness harder than anyone. I had been a daddy's girl my entire life, and my pain was his. Charlie was my strength and attended every doctor's visit with me and my mom.
It had been four months since I'd been diagnosed with Leukemia. After falling and hurting my wrist while playing volleyball in gym, I'd been left with a purple bruise on my forearm. Three weeks had passed, and it hadn't faded much. My mom was concerned and had taken me to see Edward's dad, my pediatrician. Sure, dating my doctor's son was awkward at the beginning, but we quickly got over it.
Dr. Cullen had run a few tests, then some more, and after a couple of days, sent me to see a specialist in Port Angeles. Within two weeks of my first visit, and after a painful bone marrow biopsy, I started an aggressive cancer regimen with a combination of chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
When Edward wasn't in class, he was by my side. He put songs on my iPod, loaded books onto my Kindle, wrote me poetry and fixed my snacks. Edward watched movies while I slept with my head on his lap, waking only when he would carry me up to my room at night.
My parents adored him as much as his parents loved me. Esme and Carlisle stopped over daily to see me and for him to check my vitals and weight; there wasn't a day that went by without him caring for me. One night I'd asked Carlisle why he spent so much time at our house after he'd finished taking my blood pressure, and he told me it was because I was a daughter to him.
I'd held my guilty tears back until I was alone in bed that night. It was just another person who had to stop their life for me.
I held onto my mom for a while after I'd poured out my heart, until I felt a familiar pair of arms wrap around my waist and pull me close. As he sat on the bed, I turned towards Edward and climbed onto his lap.
"It's alright, baby, I've got ya." I heard the click of my door closing as my mom left us alone. He tipped my chin and placed the sweetest kiss on my lips as he whispered, "I love you, Bella."
What he did next surprised me. He shifted me off his lap and tugged my tightly grasped hands open. Pulling the hair from my grip, he said, "You know you're the most beautiful girl in the world to me. This…" He held up the strands of hair, walked over to the trashcan, tossed the clumps into it, and continued, "Isn't what makes you pretty to me. I love you for a million different reasons, and I promise I'll give you a reason every single day of forever."
Edward sat back down next to me. "It's just hair." He held me quietly for a moment. "I'm gonna take care of you."
I felt my chest tighten at his words but knew what I had to do. He needed his life back, and I wouldn't let him waste every day of the rest of his life on some sick girl. I loved him enough to want more for his future.
"Edward, I know you love me, but you have to let me go." I took a deep breath and sat up straighter, effectively moving farther away from him. "We need to break up, so you can go find someone who can be everything that you need. I can't let you waste your life sitting around holding a bald girl's hand. You need to leave," I whispered. My heart was breaking, and I refused to look into his face. I knew I was hurting him, but if he stayed, chances were he'd hate me later for ruining his hopes and dreams.
I don't want to become a cancer to his future, I thought.
I felt Edward's body tense next to me, and then he reached for my hand.
"Isabella Marie Swan, I promised you that I would love you forever. You're the love of my life-"
I interrupted him. "How can I be the love of your life? You're only seventeen years old. You haven't even dated anyone else," I whisper-yelled in frustration.
"You're right, I haven't, but do you love me, Bella?" he asked quietly.
"What? Of course, I love you, but that's not the point, Edward," I said in a quiet plea. He needed to accept my new reality and move on.
"You're right, it's not. The point is that even your dad understands how much we love each other. Charlie called me this morning and asked me to come over. He knew when he heard you crying the only person who could help you get through this was me. I'll never leave you, Bella, and I refuse to let you push me away. I gave you my heart, and we'll get through this bullshit together. It's just hair, baby. You're alive and fighting, and that's what matters."
I wiped my tears away and pulled Edward into a fierce hug. I would always be okay with him by my side. I just prayed I didn't drag him down with me.
Leaning back, Edward was laughing and said, "So, what do you think?"
"About what?" I answered as I tightened my grip around him.
"Will you be my date? For Prom?" He cracked a smile, and I couldn't help but smile back.
"Yes, I'll be your date, silly boy." I kissed him. "I love you."
"Love you, too."
"Sorry for being mean before. I just want what's best for you, too," I said sincerely.
"You are what's best for me, Bella Swan. I just need to get it through your thick skull," he laughed as he gently laid me down and we made out like the teenagers we were.
We spent the following hour kissing and talking, and he fed me my breakfast. I closed my eyes and enjoyed the love we shared. I should've known he would never leave me and I was stupid to have tried to push him away.
"Do you want me to call Alice?" he asked softly.
Edward and I had spoken weeks earlier that when the time came I would just shave my head. I had the option of wearing a wig, but had decided against it.
"Yeah," I answered with no emotion.
He lifted my hand and kissed my palm. "We'll get through this together. You and me."
Within a half hour Alice arrived, and with my family around me and Edward holding my hand, she used the hair clippers and buzzed my remaining hair away. I watched as it floated to the floor around me.
It was just hair.
Alice and Edward ate lunch with us and stayed to watch a movie until it was time for them to leave to get ready for the dance. I had only cried once that afternoon; their presence was calming to me.
I heard a knock on my door and it brought me out of my thoughts. I looked up from my mirror and found my dad standing in the hallway.
"It's a quarter to seven, Bells. You about ready? That boy will be here any minute," my dad said with false aggravation. He was playing his role as the over-protective dad, but I knew better.
"If I remember correctly, you're the one who called that boy this morning." I laughed for the first time all day.
"Yeah, yeah, rub it in already. Just because I called him doesn't mean I'm ready to let him steal you away from me any time soon," my dad grumbled and cleared his throat, "You look beautiful."
I looked down and ran my hand over my blue dress. "Thanks." I reached up and touched my head. "I wish I could've lasted just one more day, though."
Charlie crossed the room quickly and pulled me to his chest. "I'm sorry you have to go through all of this, and I'd switch places with you in a heart beat if I could. But don't doubt how much we love you and how pretty you are. You're going to make Edward speechless."
He hugged me tightly, and I could hear his heart beating quickly underneath his flannel shirt. "He cares for you, and as much as I'd like to pretend otherwise, I know how much he loves you. I've watched him hover over you and whisper to you while you're sleeping. You could turn into an ogre, and you'd still be his princess," he laughed while reminding me of my favorite movie growing up.
"I know, and I love him too, Daddy. I'd say he deserves someone more than me, but he'd kick my butt for saying it again."
"Damn right, I will," Edward interrupted. "Sorry, sir," he added after a pause for using bad language in front of him. The sheepish look on his face made me giggle.
My dad laughed as he kissed my forehead and left us alone.
My eyes traveled from the tips of his shiny black shoes, traveling up his long legs and flawlessly cut tuxedo, to his dazzling green eyes. He had never been more handsome to me. His jacket showed off his masculine curves and the dark-blue tie matched my dress perfectly.
"A baseball hat, Edward, really?" I asked as I walked towards him. His eyes roamed from my head to toes and he stood there without saying another word. I looked behind him and saw my mom standing there watching, her camera dangling from her fingers. "You're not wearing a hat to our Prom."
Thanks to my shoes, I didn't have to stretch up too high to press my lips against his. The sudden contact was all it took to break his daze. I reached up and grabbed his hat to remove it and gasped.
I leaned back suddenly and was stunned into silence.
Standing before me was a bald Edward. He had shaved his unruly, bronze hair for me. I stood there in shock.
"Edward," I whispered so quietly I wasn't sure he would hear me.
He stepped forward and pressed his lips to mine, pulling me against his chest tightly as we cried together. I could hear my parents' sniffles coming from behind us.
"See, it's just hair, Bella." Edward pulled me impossibly closer, and we touched our foreheads together, looking deeply into one another's eyes. My hands glided up his back and rubbed his smooth, newly shaved head while he touched mine lovingly. We stood with our arms wrapped around each other's head, gently feeling the skin until my parents reminded us of the time. I'd never loved him more.
Later, after touching up my makeup and countless pictures, we arrived at the school and entered the decorated gym to the sounds of clapping and cheers. My face blushed, and I had goose bumps on my skin as various emotions flashed through me, the strongest one being acceptance.
As Edward and I twirled around and around together in the middle of the dance floor, an excited Alice called out to me.
I turned to her and instantly began crying.
Standing before us was a bald Alice and Jasper, and for a moment, I wasn't scared by the challenges I knew were coming.
"Alice," Edward said in a surprised whisper. "Jasper." He took a jagged breath and reached out to shake Jasper's hand. "Thanks, man. I can't believe you guys did this for us."
I reached up to wipe away a tear and held onto my reason for fighting even tighter.
Jasper turned his eyes to me. "He's not the only person who loves you, Swan."
I knew in that moment, looking between them, I would beat this disease with Edward, my parents and the love of my closest friends by my side. When I had a bad day, I knew they'd be there with their strong arms to support me whenever I'd need it. Love was the best medicine.
The four of us danced; we spun around and around with no cares in the world, and at times, he had me kick my shoes off to stand on his feet for support. The smiles on the faces of my fellow classmates surprised me. I'd expected to be laughed at or shunned; instead, I felt supported. Unexpectedly normal.
Edward doted on me and only left my side to get us drinks. I needed to sit down and rest often but enjoyed watching my classmates. He removed his tuxedo jacket and wrapped it around me as a chill ran through my body.
We chose not to stay for the entire event, because he didn't want me to tire myself out too much. After driving to his house, Dr. Cullen assured a worried Edward I was fine, and I fell asleep on his bed while he read from the book of poetry he'd written for me.
His words would heal me from the inside out.
5 years later
"Bells, are you sure about this? We can sneak out the back door, and no one would realize until we're long gone and it's too late to stop us," my dad said with mischievous eyes and a smile on his face as I looked at his reflection in the mirror.
"Behave before I tell Mom what you just said, old man." I applied my final coat of lipstick, smiling at him.
"She doesn't scare me." He looked behind him quickly and whispered, "Much."
I laughed and turned around to hug him. I had the best dad in the world.
My cancer treatments had been a long, tough journey for all of us. There were many ups and downs and days I could barely get out of bed, but Edward was by my side every day. He'd been my rock and never wavered in his care. Edward also never let his hair grow longer during that time either.
Today was our wedding day.
I still couldn't believe how much our lives had changed in the two years I'd been in remission. I began taking some nursing classes at the local community college, and Edward changed from being a part-time to full-time student. I had a hard time convincing him not to put his education on hold after our high school graduation. He wanted to be by my side as much as possible, but after many discussions and fights, Edward relented and took a few business classes each semester.
We still had a long way to go before either of us earned a degree, but we had no regrets.
Our love was made stronger after each challenge we conquered; my health being the biggest one.
I hugged my dad one last time and grabbed the bouquet of wildflowers I had picked earlier in the morning and tied with a white satin ribbon.
"Ready," I said, never more sure of anything in my life.
My dad and I walked barefoot down the sandy aisle, my tea-length white dress fluttering in the breeze. Edward, in a light summer suit, was waiting, his smile wide and just as beautiful as ever.
We smiled through our vows, and Edward used them as another opportunity to tell me yet again why he loved me – as had been his tradition since Prom. As we held hands and kissed for the first time as husband and wife, I knew our biggest dream had already come true.
We both had hair again.
A stranger might think something as simple as feeling your hair blowing in the breeze on your wedding day was a funny thing to be happy about, but to us, it meant I was healthy and alive and, most importantly, we were at the beginning of the next stage of our lives.
A/N: Did you gasp when Edward shaved his hair for her too? *sigh* We all need an Edward in our lives.
Cancer sucks! Help find a cure…no one is immune to this devastating disease.
We appreciate every person who has read and encouraged us along the way. As we mentioned when we first began posting, we never intended to share these publically, but we're super glad we did. You all made it worth it.
Guess what? Today is the second anniversary of the first time we met! Happy anniversary, Rhomama, I love you so fucking much!
Speaking of Jadsmama, she will begin posting the continuation of Criminal on May 2nd every Wednesday and Saturday independently from Snippety Snippets. If you want to read it, you'll need to put us on author alert or you'll miss out; and you DON'T want to miss out because it's awesome! It's completely written and beta'd so she's ready to go! Teasers will be posted on The Fictionators and PicTease blogs on Monday and also on Twitter on Fridays. Follow us on Twitter JadedLadies2. Character pictures will be posted on our PhotoBucket as necessary.
DON'T MISS OUT…JADSMAMA MADE ME ENJOY READING A JAMES AND VICTORIA STORY. GRRR
Thanks once again to Katie and Jess for their help, but especially for their friendship.