The bandages on her arms were itchy. She tried to scratch them but it hurt too badly to even go near them. She glanced down at her wrists. The bandages covered about three and a half inches of her wrists. She could see the strange, greenish color from bruising peeking out just under the gauze. It mesmerized her and she closed her eyes as her head bounced lightly to the car travelling over the loose gravel.
Westmoreland Mental Health Hospital
They couldn't have come up with a more welcoming title? Then again, this place wasn't meant to be welcoming. She sighed, opening her eyes and staring at her wrists again. The blood was seeping through the bandages. She shouldn't have scratched. But she didn't remember scratching. Oh fuck it, who cared? Her father certainly didn't. Fuck him too. When was he ever home? He wasn't; he was always out working and fishing… ignoring. And her mother… who knew where she was? She and her new fling had run off years ago. She slammed her head against the headrest of the car. The driver coughed awkwardly and looked back at her. Moron. He probably thought that she was going to try and slit her wrists here again in the cab. Like she'd give him that satisfaction. She couldn't even give herself that satisfaction.
Instead, she turned her head and glared out the window. She saw her reflection in the side mirror. Boy did she look like hell. A fitting description. She smirked at herself, watching that lone dimple that appeared to the left of her chin. Her forehead wrinkled and she looked more like she was possessed rather than smiling. Bella allowed her face to relax to its normal, melancholy expression and gently touched the rings around her eyes. They were getting blacker by the day. She needed to sleep…soon. The black contrasted terribly with her already too ashen skin and her strangely violent red lips. Even her hair, once pretty, now hung in greasy strands around her face. How long had it been since she had a shower? She couldn't remember. What was today? She didn't know. Why was everything so…off?
Her wrist started itching again. Oh yeah, that. Tears were rimming in her eyes and she quickly blinked away. She wouldn't cry. She wasn't weak. She wasn't what everyone said about her. She did have problems. She wasn't emo like the kids at school gossiped about. They didn't know about her. They didn't know about her life. They just knew Bella Swan. Beautiful, quiet, shy, smart and with a gorgeous, popular boyfriend. The tears came again and she was quick to wipe them away. She sniffed softly and noticed the driver flinch. This time, she looked directly at him. What did he want from her? Was she some peon simply because she'd attempted suicide? Bella scoffed when he didn't look at her and turned back towards the road. Maybe she was. She sure felt like one.
The car slowed and Bella looked up and noticed that they were in front of a large building. It looked happy with the red brick, white trim and extravagant garden surrounding it but Bella knew better. Who did they think they were fooling? When the car stopped, the driver exited quickly and practically ran around the car to open the door for her. What the hell was wrong with this guy? Casually, Bella sniffed under her arms. Hmm…it could have been that. When was the last time she'd showered? Oh, right, she couldn't remember. Neither could she really care. Either way, it didn't matter because she was soon to be out of the site of this strange chauffer.
As Bella exited the car, the driver went around back to get her luggage. The wind was particularly forceful and it blew Bella's hair all around her face. She groaned, knowing that it would be torture to brush and quickly shoved it behind her ears. As soon as her eyes were free from obstruction, she noticed a woman standing in front of her. She was probably in her late thirties or early forties with a heart shaped face and a kind smile. But Bella didn't fall for it. She looked too nice. She didn't need nice. She didn't know what she needed.
"Hello, Bella," the woman said, flashing that same warm smile. Had Bella not been expecting it, she probably would have returned the smile. But instead, she just shrugged and looked out towards the forest that surrounded the hospital. If she concentrated really hard, this place was beautiful. But she didn't care enough to. The woman seemed completely unfazed by Bella's rudeness and simply touched her arm as she bent down to take her suitcase. "Come with me and I'll show you to your room. I'm Esme, by the way." Bella mumbled some sort of acknowledgment but was quick to get her arm back. Again, the woman didn't appear to be hurt by her actions.
They crossed the large courtyard and entered the two large, white doors of the hospital. It looked like one of those Louisianan mansions Bella had seen in the movies, with a massive hallway that led all the way to the end of the house and gargantuan rooms on either side. Jovial noises could be heard from both sides. It sounded like games were being played. The only thing that turned her off was the smell. It smelled…too clean, to sterile. She wrinkled her nose. To her right, she thought she heard Esme giggle but when she turned to look, her expression hadn't changed. "Follow me, dear," she continued, leading Bella down the large hallway.
"This doesn't look like a hospital," Bella commented as Esme held open the back door for her.
"Well, technically it's not. That's the Recreation House. During your free time you'll be able to go there and enjoy yourself. This is really the hospital," Esme answered as she gestured toward a building that looked almost the same, only bleaker. Bella huffed as the door was held open for her and walked it. Inside looked more familiar to her. Tiled floors, hundreds of rooms and people walking around in white uniforms. Somehow, this felt more comfortable than the Recreation House. Once they were inside, Esme almost became a different person. She walked straighter and the smile no longer lingered on her lips. Even her tone sounded more professional. "Now, until you've had a meeting with Dr. Cullen, you'll be confined to the Adolescent ward."
"Don't worry, the youngest is seventeen and the oldest is just twenty three."
"Twenty three isn't adolescent."
"True, but he acts like one so we let him stay there. It keeps him happy." Bella glanced over at Esme. There was something strange about the way she talked about the patient. Like there was a hidden meaning to her words that Bella was just supposed to grasp. Before Bella could ask, however, Esme turned a corner into a hall where there were several more people. Most of them looked to be patients. Bella frowned as she passed a few of them. She'd expected them all to be wearing hospital gowns and eating their own hair. But they were in regular clothes, walking, talking and doing generally normal things. Bella felt herself blushing at the fact that she'd been so wrong. She felt as if she'd insulted all of these people to their face. As they continued to walk, Bella noticed that the hall was becoming less crowded. In fact, by the time she noticed Esme slowing down, there wasn't a single person in the hall.
"Now, there are only six patients in this ward including you so you're in luck!" Esme chirped as she stopped at a door. Bella looked at her like she was nuts and she noticed Esme's smile growing wider. "Trust me; it's much more relaxing here with less people. Now, are you ready to meet your roommate?"
Bella blinked a few times. "R-roommate?" Esme laughed softly and knocked twice on the door before pushing it open. Bella hardly noticed. She was still trying to grasp the fact that she was going to have a roommate…an insane roommate. She'd definitely seen too many movies. Esme touched her arm again and Bella jumped.
"Well, go in, honey." Bella couldn't seem to respond so she simply followed Esme's orders and stepped inside. There were two beds on either side of the wall and two bureaus next to them. One large window overlooking the garden was between the beds and there was a small nightstand next to each one. There was also a small shelf that hung over the beds. It looked fairly decent. Bella sighed and looked over to her right, where a girl was sitting on the bed, her head buried in a sketchbook. "Alice?" Esme called, placing a hand on Bella's shoulder, "Bella's here. She's eighteen, just like you."
Instantly, Alice's head jerked upwards and she focused on Bella. Bella almost forgot how to breathe. She was so gorgeous. She was one of those people you just had to stare at and would never get used to their beauty. Her hair was short, spiked out in several directions. It looked black but as the sunset from the window gleamed upon it, Bella saw that it also had some deep red in it. Her nose was small and slightly pointed and eyes were a bright hazel like Bella had never seen. She was pale and very petit but not too much so. It seemed to fit her tiny frame. Her lips were full and enticing. Then she smiled and Bella noticed her flawless, white teeth. Oh, god, this must have been karma for calling her insane earlier. Bella continued to stare at her, watching as she practically danced off of the bed and flitted towards her, her arm outstretched.
"It's nice to meet you," she said, her voice reminding Bella of cold velvet which didn't even make sense but dammit that's what it sounded like, "I'm Mary Brandon, but please call me Alice." Bella ran a hand through her hair, noticing the greasiness and flushed, ashamed to be in this beauty's presence. Nonetheless, she held her other hand out to her and shook it, feeling her firm, warm grasp.
"I-I'm Bella," she stuttered, her voice cracking. What the hell was wrong with her? She knew what was wrong; this girl was shockingly beautiful and she was embarrassed beyond all reason. Great, her day couldn't get any better. Alice stopped shaking but kept hold of her hand, lowering her head as she seemed to ponder something.
"Bella…Bella… that means 'beautiful' in quite a few languages. It also means 'idiot' in some but I doubt that in your case." Esme laughed next to her and Alice's smile grew wider. Bella's cheeks were red again. She really wished she could stop blushing.
"No…I'm pretty well an idiot," she replied. What? What was she saying? Word vomit…inflicted from a girl? She definitely belonged in a mental hospital. "A-and you're beautiful." Bella gasped, pulling away from Alice's grasp and turning to look out the window. She'd never been so embarrassed in her life. She felt tars in her eyes and bit her lip to keep from crying. Her wrists had started itching again. Then Alice laughed. And it was so calming, so pure, that she actually started to feel better about herself.
"Thanks…that's sweet," Alice answered, scratching the back of her neck. Bella shrugged and pulled off a weak laugh as Esme just stood there with that same smile plastered on her face. Bella was quite certain she would grow to hate that smile.
"Well, I'll leave you two alone for the rest of the evening. Tomorrow, Bella, you'll meet with Dr. Cullen and the rest of the patients in the ward. Alice will help you if you need anything. Good night." She nodded at Alice, who returned it, and walked out the door. It was quiet for a few minutes before Bella sighed and sat down on her bed. Alice copied her, sitting on her own bed. Alice continued to smile at her and though Bella knew she was just being polite, she was starting to feel awkward. Alice was too pretty. That sounded like a lame excuse but Bella always felt self conscious in front of beautiful people. She never knew what to say, what to think, what they were thinking…. So, Bella turned her head, then began searching around the room.
"Hey, she kept my suitcase," Bella mentioned as she stood, still looking around.
"Oh, they have to go through it, make sure you don't have anything in there that's not allowed. You should get it back in a few minutes."
Alice smiled kindly at her before lying down on her bed and picking up her sketchbook. "You know, razors, belts, safety pins, lighters…stuff like that." Bella stared in awe at her as she listed some items. Those were potentially dangerous? Her wrists itched again and she turned red. They were dangerous. She'd never thought about it before. Alice shifted from the bed without Bella noticing. In fact, she didn't notice that Alice had moved until she felt a cool hand on her cheek. She jumped, causing the same reaction from Alice. "Sorry," Alice breathed, stepping back, "you're just…awfully red. Are you sick?" She placed a hand on Bella's forehead. Bella turned her head to the side.
"No I'm just…adjusting." That was the only word that seemed appropriate.
"Of course, I understand," Alice replied before resuming the same position on her bed. Bella ran a hand through her hair again and sat down on the corner of her own bed, playing with the comforter.
"A-Alice, can I ask how long you've been here?" Bella questioned, looking down at her hands. She didn't dare meet the girl's eyes in case she offended her. She heard Alice sigh contentedly.
"As long as I can remember."
Bella frowned at that answer but before she could delve further into it, there were two knocks on the door. Esme came in and cast a smile at Alice before heading over to Bella and setting the suitcase on her bed. "Here you go, Bella. I'm afraid we've confiscated your shaving razor and belt. You can't have those here but as soon as you check out they'll be returned to you." Bella looked up at her and tilted her head to the side.
"How am I supposed to shave without a razor?" she asked, the words coming out coldly.
"We'll discuss that in the morning," Esme answered with that same smile. "But now, it's time for bed. The lights will go off in about five minutes. You won't be able to leave during the evening but should you have to use the bathroom or if an emergency happens, just push this button." She motioned to a small black button by her bed. Looking over, she noticed that Alice had a button as well. "We'll be watching," Esme finished, pointing behind Bella. Belle followed her finger and noticed a small black disk in the corner of the ceiling. Security cameras…she wasn't all that surprised. Esme stood up and straightened her shirt. "Well, goodnight, Bella, goodnight, Alice."
"Night, Esme!" Alice called with a short wave before returning to her sketchbook. Bella merely nodded lazily in her direction. She was too tired and annoyed and confused to be nice. Especially to a woman that constantly smiled. Ugh.
"You know," Alice said, breaking Bella's thoughts as she stood up and went to her drawer to pull out some pajamas, "you should be kinder to Esme. She's a good person." There was a defensive tone in her voice that wasn't missed by Bella. And, in spite of herself, Alice's comment had hurt her. It shouldn't have, she'd endured much worse. But it did.
"I-I'm sorry," Bella mumbled after a few minutes, ashamed at herself. However, Alice didn't hear her. She was already changed and back in bed with that damn sketchbook. Bella wiped her nose and set her suitcase on the floor, sifting through it for her pajamas. She watched Alice out of the corner of her eye as she changed. The girl never looked once. She couldn't help but be a bit grateful. As she pulled her shirt over her head, the lights went off. All was black except for the soft light of the moon coming through the barricaded window. Bella sighed and climbed into bed, rolling over to face the wall.
"Night, Bella!" Alice called from her corner. Her voice was no longer condescending and held no malice. That girl certainly didn't know how to keep a grudge. But Bella couldn't help but be grateful. She didn't want Alice to be mad at her. And she didn't want to make Alice mad for any reason. So, she smiled to herself and called goodnight back to the girl. Bella couldn't remember the last time she'd had a good night's sleep. But, somehow, with Alice there, she drifted off easily.
There was a bloodcurdling scream. Bella bolted upright in her bed, panting with adrenaline. Alice wasn't in her bed. But the screaming was coming from inside the room. She looked around frantically. She couldn't see her. It was so dark. And the screaming had stopped. Now it was just her erratic breathing. Suddenly, there was a gasp from behind her. Bella leapt from her bed and stared in the corner of the room. She could make out the whites of Alice's eyes and her gleaming teeth in the darkness. As her eyes adjusted, she noticed that she was cradling her knees and was breathing heavily. "A-Alice?" Bella whispered taking a step towards her. The girl's breathing hitched and she straightened.
"Get away from me!" she shouted, clawing her hand at the wall. "Get away! You can't have me!"
Bella blinked a few times to make sure this was really happening. She'd never been so scared in her life. "Alice I don't-
Bella was cut off as Alice bolted to the door, slamming her fists against it violently. She'd started screaming again and Bella fell to her knees. She clamped her hands over her ears and began to cry. Suddenly, the door burst open and three people barged in. Bella looked up and recognized Esme at once. The other man looked like an orderly and the final man she had no idea. Alice fell into Esme's arms immediately, sobbing. "Oh, Esme, they were after me. They were here and they knew my name!" Alice cried, burying her head in Esme's shoulder. Esme nodded consolingly and rocked her gently back and forth. Bella felt a hand on her shoulder and looked up. The man who was not the orderly was smiling down at her.
"Are you alright? Did she hurt you?" he asked, referring to Alice as if she were a puppy. All Bella could do was shake her head. She was still too stunned. The man nodded, gently helping her to stand and sitting her on the bed. Then he went over to Alice who had calmed down significantly. In fact, it looked as if she'd never been crying. It tousled her hair and she smiled at him with a soft giggle. "Alice, do you remember what happened just now?" he asked. She thought for a moment then shrugged.
"That's good. You're going to write it down, right?"
Alice seemed to light up at this and nodded eagerly. "Yes, Carlisle, I promise." The man now known as Carlisle chuckled and tousled her hair again. She growled, feigning anger and headed back over to her bed. Carlisle watched her go and looked over at Bella again.
"And, Alice, apologize to Bella for waking her," he added.
Alice turned instantly and the look on her face almost broke Bella's heart. She looked so guilty. "Oh, Bella, I'm sorry I woke you," she pleaded, tears forming in her eyes.
"D-don't worry, Alice, it's okay," Bella assured, wanting Alice to be okay more than anything. Alice nodded, though she still looked a little troubled, and crawled back into her bed. She pulled out a flashlight and began scribbling in her sketchbook again. Bella watched her for a moment before turning back to Carlisle. He smiled at her.
"Get some sleep, Bella, and we'll talk first thing in the morning, okay?"Bella could only nod. Carlisle returned it and shut the door behind him. She heard the click of the lock and crawled back under the covers, shaking.
Alice didn't have another episode for the rest of the night. Bella knew this because she'd stayed up all night watching her, too afraid to go back to sleep.