A/N: Just a lil ramble that popped into my head this weekend while looking over the Fic the Gif gifs. This was inspired by the gif of the couple at the beach. Figured I would share it. It's not beta'd. Sorry bout that. Enjoy.
Thanks to all of you who give me words of support and encouragement- not just in writing but just in my life. You all mean the world to me. Thank you.
The ocean always called to me at this time of day. Just before sunset—when the waves were still and the promise of peace would skim the surface of the water.
I stood at the edge of the cliff, choked with a growing trepidation. Maybe it was anticipation rather than fear. I understood the comparison of decisions and cliffs standing there. Some cliffs were close to the water—a small leap into the unknown before landing safely. Others were like the free fall that bordered my parents' estate. Miles of horror-filled moments before you crashed to a cold icy death.
I kicked a pebble over the edge, silently counting the seconds before it would disappear from sight. I stopped counting after a hundred.
I couldn't imagine surviving a hundred dreadful memories before I died. And yet I knew there would be more than that in my future.
I cringed at the sound of my mother's voice. It was as frigid as the depths below.
"Esme Anne Platt, get back inside this instant. Are you trying to catch your death?"
I swallowed back a sigh. Maybe I was hoping death would catch me here. At least death would be peaceful and quiet.
My mother stomped her foot impatiently and I shook my head in acquiescence. We returned to the house in time to receive the first guests. Guests for the party, my party—my engagement party.
My thumb twirled the ring on my finger easily as it was too big for my small digit. Charles had presented me with the ring a week ago—the day after I had told him about the baby. He promised that once we were married he would have it resized to fit my finger.
"Eudora, this is my Esme." Mother presented me to all of her friends and I played the gracious daughter in spite of the circumstances.
It was nothing short of scandalous that I was marrying so young and so quickly. Charles and I had only had only been introduced a few months earlier and now we were engaged. Everyone knew. They had to know that I was in delicate condition.
Mother assured me that it didn't matter. If we did what we were supposed to, married this weekend and played the passionately smitten couple, all would be forgotten. Her promises didn't offer me enough courage to look any of our guests in the eye during introductions. I sighed in relief when she was called to the kitchen to finalize the menu.
I pressed my palm to my abdomen as the band began to play. Butterflies were dancing in my stomach.
"There you are." Charles secured his arm about my waste and paraded me around to his family. My cheeks hurt from all the forced smiles. My feet ached from spinning in circles of mindless chatter.
"Please, can't we sneak off now?" I asked quietly when his great aunt Sofia excused herself to refresh her drink.
He frowned. "Are you ill?"
"The thing…it…is it making you ill already?"
Until he motioned to my stomach I didn't have the slightest idea what he was referring to.
That thing? "The baby?"
He hushed me, looking around anxiously as if I had invoked the devil with one word.
"It's going to end up more trouble than it's worth," he muttered, nodding toward the exit. "Go get some air. We need you looking healthy for at least a few more days."
He patted my arm and left me standing alone in the middle of the crowded room.
Looking healthy for at least a few more days? I thought. Does he think our child is some monster that will eat me from the inside out? I'm pregnant, not infected with a deadly disease.
I negotiated a path around the enthused party goers, practically sprinting on to the terrace. It was only then that I allowed the façade to break and the tears to flow.
What was I thinking? How could I have been so stupid? Charles had seduced me with nothing more than a tumbler of brandy and pretty promises of a world beyond the cliffs of my home. One foolish night. A single moment that I would give the world to undo.
I stormed toward the balcony, shocked when I ran into something solid.
"Whoa, watch it there, Princess." Strong hands gripped my hips to keep me from tumbling to the ground.
I was caught momentarily in a haze of vibrant blue eyes.
"I-I-I'm sorry," I stammered. "I didn't realize anyone was out here."
"Ah that's okay; if I remember correctly you always called me 'nobody' anyway."
I stared up at the stranger. His handsome face and sparkling eyes seemed familiar, but it wasn't until he smiled that I recognized him.
"Carlisle? Carlisle Cullen? What on earth are you doing here?"
"It's nice to see you too, Esme." His laugh was like opening a door to my childhood memories. I had more than I cared to remember of the boy who lived down by the beach.
"Who invited you?" Bitterness dripped from my tongue, and though I was positive the taste was owed more to the people inside the house than this man I didn't apologize all the same.
"Your parents invited my parents and it sort of spiraled into a propriety hurricane from there."
"A hurricane is exactly the word I'd use for you, Carlisle. You're a constant disaster."
"Oh. Ouch." He grabbed his chest in mock hurt and bit my tongue to keep from spewing more hatred in his direction.
"Truth be told I was shocked to get an invite myself. I guess my father was right that becoming a doctor would improve my position in our family."
"You finished Med School?"
He nodded, leaning against the balcony railing. We stared out at the night. I heard the gentle lap of the ocean waves, reveling in the cool air they produced.
"And you're getting married."
For the first time in my life Carlisle Cullen's voice was not filled with teasing playfulness. I didn't turn to look him in the eye. I couldn't look anyone in the eye tonight.
"Charles and I are in love." My tongue clicked on the roof of my mouth after I said it, as if some disgusting film had coated those words.
"I saw. He's very…attentive."
It was then that I noticed he was holding a drink—something dark, possibly brandy or whiskey. He drank deeply from the glass and offered it to me when he noticed my inappropriate staring.
I shook my head. Why could I say no to him and not Charles?
"Esme?" Charles stepped behind me. I hadn't heard his approach, barely realized that I had returned to the ballroom without saying goodbye to the blonde boy from my past.
"Are you feeling alright?" Charles whispered to me as we dined.
My fork slid along the elegant china with less delicateness than would have pleased my mother.
"I'm tired. I think I'll retire to my room."
My mother watched my retreat from the dinning room with an eye of disdain. Charles returned to his seat without escorting me. From the corner of my eye I noticed Carlisle turn to watch me leave. I almost would have sworn he started to stand when I passed by, but I bolted from the room without waiting to find out.
With each step I took from the party a great pain grew inside of me. My abdomen cramped. My stomach flipped.
I doubled over at the base of the staircase. Crying out when I felt as if something was being ripped from my body.
I felt something between my legs—a distressing wetness. Shame and propriety were forgotten as I lifted my skirt and inspected the area with my hand.
A red stain on my fingers that forced me into a darkness that I no longer had desired.
I awoke the next morning in a hospital bed.
My hands rested on my stomach while I waited for someone to tell me what had happened. Why I was here.
I remembered the blood. The fear. The pain.
Such excruciating pain.
Finally the door opened and a man in a white coat entered the room, followed by a surprisingly joyful looking Charles.
"Good morning, Ms. Platt," the doctor said. He held an ominous clipboard in his hand. I glared at the offensive thing. I had visited enough doctors to know that my life and body were thought to be dictated by what was written on the paperwork attached to those clipboards.
"Do you know why I started bleeding last night?"
"Oh yes, the source of the bleeding is clear. Your body has aborted the pregnancy."
I blinked at the doctor, unable to fathom what he meant. "You mean…I'm not pregnant?"
His head shook as if I were a simpleton. "Right."
"But…how? I was…last night I was healthy and felt fine and…"
"This can sometimes happen early on in pregnancies. The body is simply not ready to grow the child. It eliminates the fetus before any harm is done."
Before any harm is done?
A child had been growing inside of me one minute and was gone the next.
Blood only flows from a wound.
"Thank you, Doctor," Charles said, shaking the man's hand as if he had done something noble for us.
I was left alone once more to get dressed. My legs still ached. My arms stung. There was a heaviness in my chest that was threatening to make the world black again.
And between my legs there was still pain greater than I could understand.
The bleeding had stopped. The baby was gone.
A tear slid down my cheek.
How was I supposed to feel? I had felt nothing but fear for three weeks. But I didn't feel relief from that fear now.
A life had ended.
What did that mean for my life now?
Charles was waiting for me at the front desk—his smile so radiant that you would have assumed he won a prize in a pie eating contest.
"Let's go home." He grabbed my hand and pulled me to his car. I followed blindly—tears still silently slipping free from my eyes with confusion building desperately in my heart.
"I'm sorry," I blurted out as we parked in front of my parents' home. I felt inept. Helpless. Hopeless. Growing a child was the most basic, natural ability of a woman. And I had failed.
"Sorry? What for? This is the most wonderful news we've had all week." Charles pranced around the car to help me out.
My mind spun at his words. "Wonderful?"
"Esme, we're young and about to be married. We'll both inherit our allowances and be free to just enjoy life. Isn't that wonderful?"
He twirled me around in his arms until I felt nauseous. I had no reply to his way of thinking. How could the end of a life be something wonderful?
My mother was waiting for me when I entered the house—a look of disgust marring her perfectly painted lips.
"You couldn't have chosen a more appropriate time to do that?"
I blanched at her attack.
"It's one thing to have everyone know that my daughter is a disgrace, it's an entirely different thing to parade in the middle of the entry way."
She offered me an hours worth of reasons why I had shamed her. I sat and bore it.
I didn't realize how much time had passed until I found myself alone again.
This time standing at the cliff.
Such a small thing. Taking a step. Making a choice.
I looked back to the house, feeling the ache radiate in my stomach as I did.
It's better this way.
I took one step.
Made one choice.
Closed my eyes and embraced the unknown.
"Esme? Can you hear me?"
It hurt to breathe—my lungs were raw as if fire had replaced oxygen.
"Stay with me. Come on, Esme. Stay with me." Carlisle's voice broke through the deafening pull of oblivion.
"Don't you dare close your eyes, Esme Platt. Stay with me."
Those damn blue eyes were staring into mine again—a worry in their depths that made me liken then to the sea after a storm.
He attended to me, helped me sit up.
The sun had begun to set.
I watched the ocean.
Not unlike the promise of death.
My body shivered but I couldn't feel the cold. I couldn't feel anything anymore. Inside me the turmoil had finally settled, replaced with a disturbing stillness that tasted bitterly of Novocain.
"Are you cold?"
I didn't reply. I sat with my legs half bent, staring out at the calming waves in desolation.
"Here," he leaned over, slipping his jacket around my shoulders and taking a seat next to me, "you look cold."
We sat like that for awhile, perhaps forever. Time ceased to have meaning to me. Eventually the moon rose and Carlisle built a fire. My eyes stayed focused on the dark water.
"I heard about the baby."
Those five words broke something in me that I had thought already smashed to bits. Tears began to silently slide down my cheeks.
"I didn't know last night. I feel like an idiot for not guessing. I just…I mean it's you. I've never known anyone half as proper as you."
Disdain and guilt twisted my gut. Proper was a miserable expectation to live up to. And I had failed to achieve it in so many ways lately.
"Anyway, I just wanted to say congratulations. You're going to be a wonderful mother, Esme."
He was the first one to say that to me. My parents had informed me of disappointment. Charles had provided me with shock. Everyone from the second I realized I was pregnant had told me what a wonderful wife I would make. No, not wonderful, proper. They told me I would be the most proper wife in town.
No one until Carlisle had shared my intrigue of bringing life into this world.
"I lost it."
Three words that were more damning than his five. Four syllables that robbed me of promise. Seven letters that had pushed me over a cliff and into a dark unknown.
"I'm sorry," he offered.
His fingers twined around me.
"You'll find it again."