Contest: The Second Season of Our Discontent Anonymous Angst Contest
Pen Name: Jezzeria
Twitter or Facebook: Jezzeria
Picture Prompt Number: 5
Pairing: Edward, Bella
Word Count: 5022
Summary: Edward's whole world is his wife and his daughter. What does he do when his world is shattered?
A/N so here is my entry for Season of Our Discontent. I didn't win but I did get judge's pick from coldplaywhore, so I just want to say thank you for that!
Warnings and Disclaimer: I rated this M, although I'm not sure it would rank so high just for some adult themes and sad content.
"I love you daddy."
The tiny voice warbles to me sweetly and I can't help but run my thumb across the screen where Bree's tiny mouth is. Her dark hair is adorned with a beautiful pink bow that seems to be lost in the mass of curls that frame her tiny heart shaped face. She looks exactly like her mother but instead of a rich brown it is my own bright green eyes staring back at me.
"Give daddy a kiss."
Bella's voice prompts from somewhere behind the camera. Bree makes a loud smacking noise moving so close to the camera that for a moment all I can see is the dark cavern of her nose. Sitting back she tilts her head dramatically to one side, her jaw resting against her shoulder, a huge cheesy grin spread across her face.
Since the day she was born I have thought that Bree is the perfect melding of Bella and I into one tiny little body. She is my picture of perfection.
The video ends there and I find myself staring at the image trying to commit every last detail to memory. A tiny dimple is pressed into her left cheek. The same dimple that always makes an appearance when she laughs or purses her lips together in deep concentration. Bree's complexion is creamy and smooth with a tinge of pink on her chubby cheeks. Cheeks that seem to always be surrounded by springy curls. Curls that we are constantly trying to tame but with no such luck. She is like a living porcelain doll.
Tearing myself away from the screen I make my way into the kitchen, Bree's image watching my every move as I walk away from her. Pausing at the door I feel uneasy and can't resist the urge to look back at her one last time.
"I'll be right back." I promise her.
My mind desperately tries to remember the sweet melody of her laughter. I have to bite back the lump forming in my throat when I realize I can no longer recall the sound.
I find myself standing in our kitchen that was once a place of sunshine and laughter, but today it seems to only be marred in shades of grey. Glancing out the window I watch the dark storm clouds rolling in. The weather seems only fitting for the day before me.
The coffee pot gurgles and sputters at me, it's sharp aroma wrapping itself around me in a false sense of security as it tries to lure me into believing that today is different. That today mirrors the past. Turning my back I lean against the counter waiting for the coffee to finish brewing.
My eyes glance around the countertops at the mountain of clutter before my gaze finally rests on a picture stuck to the fridge. There are three stick figures drawn on the page. Bella's hand writing above them indicates that each one represents one of us.
My stick figure is the biggest, looming over all the others with a huge grin. Bella's has lopsided eyes and a red bow in her hair that is larger than her head. Bree's stick person has a pink polka dot skirt on, just like her favorite cartoon character Minnie Mouse. I smile at the rendition. This is possibly the best family portrait we have ever had done.
The aroma of the finished coffee pulls me out of my trance, and I make myself a cup quickly. Making my way back out into the living room I stumble, I am surprised to see Bree's favorite rabbit blocking my path.
"How did you get here?" I mumble roughly at it, bending down to scoop it up from the floor. Tucked safely underneath my arm I continue until I am in front of the couch. I flop down, careful not to spill my coffee while I regard the rabbit silently.
He is tan with patches that are darker around the tips of his arms and legs, where Bree has often held him to drag him around the house. Sticky from god knows what, the fur is rough and matted together in some spots. One of his buttons is coming loose making him look like he has a lazy eye.
I stare at him, trying to remember the last time Bree played with this particular toy. When my mind draws a blank I can actually feel the corners of my mouth move downwards. Frustrated at the bunny, who seems to be mocking me with his fake sewn on smile, I force myself to close my eyes. It isn't long until I am dozing off.
"Daddy!" Bree squeals.
Looking up I find us standing in the middle of a brightly lit meadow. Bree's long hair flows behind her in the breeze, she is a vision and I can't help but to stare at her.
Her voice is only a tiny whisper, but it resonates inside of me. I watch Bree turn on her heel running away from me with a giggle. I laugh before sprinting off after her trail of laughter, my knees brushing against the tall grass.
Bree is ducking in and out of the soft tufts of grass, and I laugh at this attempt of hide and seek. Sometimes I am so close to her my fingers almost tingle at the feel of her hair tickling the tips before she sprints away again, another fit of giggles erupting from her chest.
I watch her from a distance when she bends down to pick up a lone wildflower. Bringing it to her nose she inhales deeply, her eyes closed as she relishes in the aroma. I am stunned by the beauty of it, the sun illuminating her entire body. Looking up she notices me watching her, and takes off running again, the flower trailing along behind her still held tightly between her fingers.
"Daddy, c'mon," she urges me when she sees that am falling behind. I try to push myself forward, urging my body not to give up yet. The burning in my chest is almost unbearable, I feel as though I am suffocating.
"DADDY!" The tone of her voice changes, suddenly frantic, making me stop in my tracks. The sun is no longer shining and I watch the dark clouds rolling swiftly above us, thunder booming ominously in the distance.
Breaking through the last of the tall grass I find myself in a clearing, all of the wildlife around me seems to be dead. A scream tears through the sky, carried around me by the wind. It's then that I notice the single wildflower crushed in front of me.
I awake with a gasp, my heart pounding quickly in my chest. Running my fingers through my hair I try to calm my breathing.
"Edward?" Bella's meek voice calls out to me from somewhere in our bedroom.
With one last look I leave the rabbit on the couch cushion, making my way to her.
Bella is sitting on the edge of our bed. She is wringing her hands together, a worried look in her eyes. Her hair is stringy, and hangs against her head flatly. She hasn't bothered to change out of the clothes she's been wearing for the past two days. But it's not her appearance that gets to me. It's the broken hollow look in her eyes as she stares off into nothingness that claws away at me.
"I can't do this. Not today. Not on her birthday." Bella's voice cracks on the last word before violent sobs begin to shake her shoulders.
I don't bother to say anything, because there is nothing left to say. Instead I sit down beside her. Wrapping my arm around her shoulders I pull her tiny body against mine. I can feel the fat tears that are staining her cheeks fall against the fabric of my shirt, and I know it won't be long before I too am saturated in her heartache. Closing my eyes I try to hold my own tears back.
When her body stops shaking I pull her up the bed, not letting go of her until we were both laying down on top of the comforter. My fingers stroke Bella's greasy hair, her small hand is fisted tightly in the fabric of my shirt.
"We'll never get to see her go to school." Her broken voice fills the silence, "You'll never get to hassle her first date. I'll never be able to help her get ready for prom. We'll never even get to see her turn four years old." I feel like the wind has been knocked out of me, but nothing she has said is untrue.
"Bella," I say to her tersely, not ready to have this conversation. Not wanting to think these thoughts. Not today.
"I'm sorry," her voice is barely even a whisper against the thick air that seems to have filled the room.
"No, I'm sorry. I should have...," I start to tell her, but a large lump in my throat stops me from being able to say anymore.
"Please don't." She begs, but both of us fall silent, lost in our own thoughts.
Bree is sitting in the backseat of my car singing 'Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star' at the top of her lungs. Her tiny head bobs from side to side like she can hear the music that goes along with her rendition of the lullaby. She ends the song on a high note, which makes me flinch, the glass may have even quivered a little from her pitch.
"Again?!" She squeals at me, giving me the illusion that I have a choice.
"No, how about...'Row, Row, Row Your Boat'?" I ask her hopefully, smiling back at her in the rearview mirror.
"Daaaaddy," Her tone is exasperated, like she can't believe I would even suggest such a thing.
"Maybe 'Old MacDonald'?" I try again.
Her face scrunches up like I have just held a dirty sock under her nose. Apparently this suggestion is the worst idea ever, even worse than the time I suggest 'The Wheels on the Bus'.
"The Itsy Bitsy Spider?" Is my last ditch effort to save my ears from it's impending doom.
"NO!" She yells at me before rolling her eyes. Somedays I can almost swear she's sixteen and not three and a half.
"Alright, alright I give. Continue on 'oh twinkle twinkle'!" I gesture with my hand for her to continue.
"YAY!" She screams before clapping her hands together once. Her next rendition isn't any better than the first but it is still the most beautiful I have ever heard because Bree is singing it. I even find myself singing along with her, a silly smile playing on my face as I enjoy my own personal concert.
Suddenly it is like everything begins to move in slow motion. I can hear the sound of the squealing tires and crunching metal around us before I feel the impact as another car smashes into the side of us. Almost instantaneously we are careening out of control on the icy roads. I try to correct the car, without thinking I slam my foot against the break. I realize my mistake too late, when I feel the slick road suck us closer to its edge. I watch wide eyed in horror as we hit the barrier, slicing through the weak metal like hot butter.
We're headed way too fast towards the ice cold lake.
The sound of the car hitting the water is surreal, droplets showering down against the hood of the car. Bree's scream behind me sounds far away. It feels as though my head is moving slowly, when I look back into Bree's panic stricken face.
Bree opens her mouth again to scream and all at once the blood is rushing back into my brain. The thick thumping of my heart pounds noisily in my ear, reminding me just how little time we have to get out of this car.
Moving into action I quickly unbuckle my seatbelt, making sure to roll down the windows at the same time. Cold water slowly begins to nip at my toes. I can hear Bree sobbing behind me. Looking back I can see that her cheeks are already bright red from the cold air mixing with her big salty tears.
"Baby, it's okay." I try to say as calmly as possibly, "Daddy is going to get you out of here, but I need you to calm down okay?" My fingers fumble against the buckle on her carseat making Bree scream even louder in panic, her own tiny hands tearing at the restraints.
"Bree, honey, please calm down." I beg her. Somehow she manages to stop her screaming, and I watch her nod her head in agreement but the tears still continue to fall.
"Daddy?" Her tiny voice is filled with a million questions. Questions that I don't yet know the answer to.
"Baby, can you sing me 'Twinkle, Twinkle' again?" I beg her. I am trying to keep my own panic at bay but I can feel the cold water at my waist now.
She stares at me, uncertainty painted across her face.
"Please baby," because I need her to think about anything but this, while I figure out what the hell to do.
Her voice is shakey, her tiny hands feel like branding irons when they grip the tops of my hands. Hands that are still fumbling with the stupid buckle. The same buckle that has been starting to stick lately. Bella and I have put off replacing her carseat since money has been a little tight. We have still been able to get Bree out it just took a little extra effort.
The water begins to creep up the bottoms of Bree's legs making her scream in panic again. She thrashes her legs wildly, screaming and grabbing at the restraints again. Her tiny nails dig into her skin leaving angry red scratch marks against the pale white.
"FUCK!" I shout in frustration, not even caring that Bella will probably chew my ass out later for saying such a bad word in front of Bree. Reaching around to unbuckle the latch holding her seat in the car, I realize that it is locked into place still from the impact. Gripping the edges I began to yank on it violently. Something had to give here. It couldn't end like this.
"Daddy," Bree whimpers when the icy water begins licking at her stomach.
"I know baby, I know. Daddy's trying. I promise I will get you out of here okay? I promise." Bree nods her head up and down repeatedly. Her eyes are filled with complete trust.
My fingers are now numb from the cold water, making it harder for me to try to release the latch. I can feel my teeth clattering together, my clothes clinging to me like a blanket of ice.
"Baby, you remember how mommy and daddy took you swimming this summer?" I ask her. She nods her head quickly back at me again, "When I tell you, I need you to hold your breath like we taught you okay?"
"Okay," she promises me the water nipping at the bottom of her chin. Cupping her face in my hand I brush my thumb over her cheek.
"I love you baby. Daddy's not going to leave you." I promise her, kissing the tip of her nose quickly.
"I love you daddy." Tears have flooded her eyes, but I can tell she is being such a brave girl now because not a single one of them fall.
"Okay baby, hold your breath now!" I yell. I watch her squeeze her eyes closed before she inflates her cheeks, holding her tiny hand over her nose to keep the water out. My fingers frantically push at the button to release her restraints.
The locks still won't budge. Again I grab at her carseat, yanking it with all of my might. Praying that someone somewhere will get to us. I feel my lungs screaming in agony from the lack of air. But I refuse to give up, refuse to give myself the release my body is begging me for. Not until my little girl is safe. I don't stop trying to use all the force my body can muster, pushing against the button and pulling on her car seat until little black dots flood my vision.
"Edward, don't do that," Bella's voice brings me back, and I can feel the cool wetness on my face.
"Do what," my voice sounds hoarse and foreign.
"You're wishing you were still in that car with her." She's right. She's always right. "I couldn't have survived losing you both."
I know she couldn't have, because she's barely surviving just losing Bree. Bella and I are holding one another together these days, although for what I'm not really sure.
"There isn't a day that I don't wish I were still in that car with her. I promised her I wouldn't leave until I got her out." I sputter in between sobs.
Moving to stand up Bella's arms tighten around me.
"Don't leave me." She begs, the desperation apparent in her voice.
"Okay." Settling back into the pillows, Bella rests her cheek against my chest. I wonder if she can still hear the sound of my heart beating or if it sounds as hollow as I feel. I don't know how long we lay that way until I hear the soft sounds of Bella snoring. I wish that sleep could come as easily to me, but I don't know that it ever will again. Closing my eyes I try to forget, but all I can do is remember.
"Sir, sir! Are you okay?" A voice calls to me from far away. My vision is blurred, and I have to blink a few times before my eyes come into focus.
I feel freezing, but I'm not sure why. When I try to sit up, the stranger in front of me pushes me back down. I don't understand what he is saying because I am still trying to figure out what's going on. It isn't until I see the ambulance, and realize that my clothes are soaking that everything starts rushing back to me.
"Where is she?!" I try to say at the same time that I try to sit up again.
"Sir, I need you to calm down. You have a pretty nasty gash on your head, and we need to keep you wrapped up so hypothermia doesn't set in." His hand again is pushing against my chest.
"Where is Bree?" Panic sets in when he looks up questioningly to his partner beside him. Sitting up I grab his shirt in both of my fists. "Where's my baby? WHERE IS SHE?!"
They both flinch at my outburst.
"Let him up." Someone tells the two men.
"But Captain...," the one who had been restraining me starts to argue.
"Just let him go."
Sitting up I swallow roughly, trying to keep the bile down. I have to get to Bree, and I don't need to give these men any other excuse to try to stop me.
Looking around I see no sign of Bree anywhere. She isn't in the ambulance, there is nobody around that is working on her, or checking on her.
"Where is she?" I half whisper to the Captain.
"Son," he starts to say when I hear a splash in the water beside us. Turning my head I watch a diver walking closer to us. My heart stops when I see the tiny figure he has clutched against his chest.
"No! Bree, baby, no." I cry out, running into the water to meet him.
My arms reach out to hold her, but the diver pulls her back reluctantly.
"Let him." The Captain commands, and I snatch her tiny body into my arms.
My knees begin to buckle, and I can feel the cool water against my knee caps before the diver is pulling me up by the arm.
"Let's at least get you on dry land." His voice is gentle but commanding and I allow him to lead me.
As soon as my feet hit dry land I am on my knees. Pulling Bree's little body away from my own I can see that her lips are blue. Her skin is even more pale, and she isn't moving.
"No, no, no," I chant, laying her down before beginning cpr on her. Her chest swells with every breath that I breathe into her, but deflates just as quickly.
"Please don't leave me baby. Stay with me. Please. Please. Sing me 'Twinkle, Twinkle'. Not my baby. Please not my baby."
I am babbling but I don't care, because the only thing that has only made complete sense in my existence isn't breathing. She isn't singing to me, or rolling her eyes at me. She is cold, and silent, and lifeless.
"Come on baby. Please, Bree. Please. I need you. Mommy needs you." Tears are rolling down my face.
"Let's call it," One of the paramedics says, and I growl at him.
"No, not yet. She's not gone yet. YOU CAN'T GIVE UP ON HER!" I shout, continuing my attempt to revive my precious little angel.
"Son." The Captain says, his hand resting on my shoulder.
"No! NO! She can't be gone. Why aren't you guys doing anything?! DO SOMETHING!" I demand, but his grip on my shoulder tightens, letting me know this is more real than I could ever imagine.
"She's been down there for over 20 minutes son. There's nothing we can do." Looking up into his face I see the pity and the truth.
Pulling her back into my arms, I begin to rock her like I had when she was a baby.
"Get me a blanket. Someone get me a blanket! Please, she's so cold." I beg them. Someone hands a rough wooly blanket to me, and I wrap it around her, pushing some of her matted damp hair away from her face.
"Twinkle, twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are. Up above the world so high...Oh baby. I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry Bree. I'm sorry I didn't keep my promise to you. I'm so sorry baby."
My eyes snap open, and the heavy feeling in my chest that I can't breathe doesn't seem to abate even being awake. Quietly I slip away from Bella, careful not to wake her. Tiptoeing back out into the living room I sit back down at the computer.
Bree's smiling face is still smiling out at me and I click the play button.
"I love you daddy."
The words seem to echo around the empty room, and I replay them again and again until every tiny crevice is filled with the saying. It is only then that I feel that I can truly breathe again.
"I'm sorry I couldn't keep my promise baby. Happy birthday my beautiful Bree." I whisper to her, once again running my finger across the image on the screen before heading back to the couch.
Bree's rabbit is still staring up at me. Picking him up I bring his dirty head just beneath my nose and inhale deeply. He smells like baby shampoo and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Clutching him closer to my chest I bury my face in his fur, breathing in a past life.
"Daddy, DADDY!" Bree's panicked voice calls out to me from her room.
Before I can respond she is barreling into the room, tears streaming down her face.
"Whoa, what's wrong there baby girl?" I ask her, crouching down beside her so that I can brush the tears away.
"I can't find him. I can't find Mr. Rabbit anywhere! I've looked EVERYWHERE." She cries, throwing herself into my arms.
"Okay baby, I'll help you find him. Take a deep breath baby, and tell me where you last had him." I stroke her hair, waiting for the sniffles to stop.
"We were playing in my room. I turned around for one second and he was gone!" Her bottom lip tremors, but she is trying her best not to cry.
"Well, let's go look in your room." I tell her. Standing up I hold my hand out to her, she takes it reluctantly before looking up at me.
"I already looked everywhere in there!"
"Alright, well we have to start somewhere. And sometimes, it's better to have more than one person look, just in case you missed any clues." My answer seems to satisfy her because she begins to tug me towards her door.
She has definitely been searching for her rabbit in here because it looks like her room has thrown up all of it's contents onto the middle of her floor. After sifting through the contents I find myself empty handed.
"See I told you daddy, he's just gone!" She whines at me, throwing her arms up in exasperation.
"Well what else have you done today?" I ask her, hoping that we can retrace her steps.
"Mommy gave me a bath after I made a mess with my paints."
"Maybe he's in the bathroom?" I ask her, turning to head towards the door.
"No daddy, Mr. Rabbit doesn't take baths with me. He's a BOY!" I try not to laugh at her logic, because god do I want her to feel this way forever.
"Alright, alright. Did you go anywhere else?" I can't help but smile when she taps her chin with her tiny finger.
"I know!" She finally says, pointing her finger up towards the sky. "We went outside, and played on the swings! I went so high daddy, I thought I was going to fly off into space!"
"Wow that's amazing! Let's go look on the swings, and maybe you can show me how you did that while we're there." Traipsing through the house we make our way to the back door. Pulling it open, Bree squeals beside me when she sees Mr. Rabbit draped across one of the screens. Marching down to him, she points one finger at him wagging it as she lectures him. In this moment she is the spitting image of her mother.
"What did I tell you Mr. Rabbit?! We were s'pose to go inside like mommy said! Playtime was over, but you didn't listen! You are grounded!" I laugh because Bree doesn't even know what being grounded means, but heard one of the older kids at preschool say that they had been grounded last week. When she asked what it meant, we had tried to explain to her that it was something that happened when you didn't listen to your mommy and daddy.
Snatching Mr. Rabbit up from the swing she turns on her heel, marching back into the house. I should scold her for not saying thank you, but I am just too tickled by her display. Turning I move to head back into the house when a tiny flash of dark curls slams into my middle.
"You're my hero," I hear her whisper as she clutches Mr. Rabbit tightly between us.
Pulling away from Mr. Rabbit I look into his eyes, and for the first time they look sad and alone. I can't seem to shake the image of Bree so upset when she had lost him. Before I know what I am doing I am grabbing my bicycle from the garage. Tucking Mr. Rabbit safely into the basket on the front I make my way out.
It is a long ride. A cool ride, especially since a summer storm seems to be blowing in behind me. I get as close as I possibly can to my destination before stopping. Pulling Mr. Rabbit from the basket I walk out towards the lake.
The water feels different this time. Warm and inviting, instead of cold and threatening like it had before. It isn't until I am standing up to my knees that I stop. Closing my eyes I realize that I am not entirely sure what I am doing here, and I clutch the rabbit tightly beneath my chin.
"I miss you." I say the words so softly that they seem to disappear into the wind. Taking a deep breath I continue. "I wish that it had been me instead. You are so beautiful, and so full of life...it's just not fair. The world was yours to take, but instead the world took you."
"I don't know how to heal from this. I don't know how to make it better. For mommy. For me. Sometimes I wish I could be where you are. I wish that I could see you smile, or chase you around the back yard. Sometimes I just miss the simple things. Like the way you would snuggle your head into the side of my neck."
"I wish for so many things, that will never come true. But if you can hear me, baby girl, my greatest wish is just that wherever you are you will be happy. I just want you to be happy."
My voice breaks, my head dropping to my chest as my arm falls to my side holding Mr. Rabbit.
"I brought you a present. I don't know how else to get him to you, but I know how much he meant." Holding the rabbit up, I kiss him softly on the top of the head.
"Take care of our little girl." Bella whispers beside me, and I turn my head to see her standing behind me. Nodding her head once, I bend down placing Mr. Rabbit gently into the water. He floats for a few moments, but his button eyes seem to glimmer with hope.
Moving forward, Bella tucks her hand into my arm, resting her head against my bicep. We watch the ripples of the water in silence, long after Mr. Rabbit is no longer visible. At some point the clouds break just enough so that we can see the sun begin to fall.
"Twinkle, twinkle, little star..."
A/N: I have never lost a child and I hope that I never do, but for those who have I hope my story did even a fraction of justice to what you must go through.
I just wanted to add in also this was written at the end of October if not before that. With everything that has happened in Connecticut I know this is a very emotional time for us all, especially those closely involved. My hearts and prayers go out to all of you. I can't imagine losing my precious daughter and I know that whether it be from an accident, a crazy person, natural causes, or illness that it is never easy.