part one | part two | part four
This piece's song is called Gorecki by Lamb. Listen to the lyrics. They convey exactly what I'm trying to show with Bella's perspective for part three.
Awareness came briefly, beginning with a black starburst that exploded in her mind, shocking because it wasn’t just a value of that color, but the shiny black of onyx, hard black like obsidian, smoky black like charcoal. There had been nothing but mindless waves of agony before; if there were colors, she didn’t remember, but whatever this was, it penetrated her with a force like nothing she’d ever felt before. It felt like the first few seconds of dropping from a great height, or like waking from a sudden sleep with the feeling that she was missing something important.
Distantly, she thought she heard herself sobbing and screaming in a frightening, uncontrolled way, but those sounds were impossible to reconcile. She wasn’t a crying, screaming type of girl, but neither could she wrap her mind around the enormity of what was happening.
What was happening?
Something woke her up, had her lifting her head off her pillow. Bella rolled to face the awful sound. Her mom. Crying. Desperate heavy sobs, the kind that shook your chest on the way out.
Pushing her mom’s bedroom door open, Bella found her buried under covers and a pillow. The lump that was her mother shook with the force of emotion, and Bella’s chest tightened in pity. She was only a kid, but even she knew her mom had unbelievably bad luck at choosing the wrong kind of men.
When her mom willingly came into her arms and let Bella comfort her, she whispered like a mantra to Renee that it would be all right. And for some reason, Renee believed her, even though Bella didn’t know a thing about how to get over loving someone.
The explosions of black-hued starbursts continued, forcing the space inside her head to expand, until there was a vast darkness. Dizzy, she tried to pull back, and the world wrenched sideways. Something in her mind unraveled and images came fast and furious, like a movie in fast-forward.
A clenched jaw of an angel, turning to look daggers her way with black eyes, that lightened to gold eyes, his gaze soft and searching.
Tears on the face of a brown haired woman who smiled tremulously with the back of her hand pressed tight against her mouth.
The glint of a silver police badge as a man shrugged his shoulders, his face both annoyed and embarrassed.
Sunshine on the face of an angry boy-man who morphed frighteningly, abruptly, into a russet furred wolf.
An ethereally beautiful, pale faced girl whose golden eyes were warm one moment, then blank and distant the next.
Tree branches that arched in a canopy above her head, their limbs blurring as she moved past them in warp speed.
And all the while, the flashburn of fire raced from both ends of her body, from neck and toe, ripping through her heart, a continuous blue-hot pain. Her heart leaped at the colors she saw, pounding, pounding harder than she’d ever felt it.
GUH-GUNGH, GUH-GUNGH, GUH-GUNGH, GUH-GUNGH.
Help me, help me, help me.
There was so much room to feel as she lived on.
She kept begging it—the pain, the encroaching black, the fire—to stop. Stop it, stop it, please stop it, please--she gasped in agony and terror of not being able to escape—stop it, stop it, stop it, why can’t I just die, I want to die!
Her spine arched—she felt it, although the movement was frighteningly alien—and oxygen tore down her throat, filling her lungs with intense heat. She gritted her teeth against the pain of it, disappointed and stunned that it was impossible to drown in fire. That just the act of breathing hurt.
When would the relentless cycle of hell and hurt end?
It felt different now. More focused.
GUH-GUNGH, GUH-GUNGH, GUH-GUNGH, GUH-GUNGH.
More focused on her heart.
Her hand rose. Tear it out, she was going to tear it out, right out of her chest--
Something held her down.
Whispering in her ears.
. . . That grew into murmurs.
. . . That grew into words.
“—to my voice, Bella. Listen to my voice and feel me here—”
Feel me here, feel me here.
There was a rush of understanding—Edward—before nothing became a fiery everything again. She resurfaced a moment or two thousand later, closer now, able to smell such a scent—beautiful—and to hear a voice. Ragged, but like smooth magic in this hollow strangeness where she suffered, she fought her way toward it. If she could just get close enough--.
“—with me, Bella. Please stay with me. Let me help you through the pain—”
And she remembered that she was dying so she could be reborn again. Her words, not his. And it should have been hard to think, to concentrate, but the memory flashed inside her like light.
She remembered feeling fear and certainty, hoping the certainty would drown out the fear, because Edward would sense her fear, hear her racing pulse, would never—not if she was too scared. And she had most certainly been terrified, but she had also been sure of what she wanted.
The force of his hold had taken her by surprise—like iron. Fast, close, and icy. But like a woman who is fortunate to make peace with God before dying, she’d exhaled and surrendered. She wanted to become like him. She wanted him. She wanted forever with him. No more caution, pain or sacrifices on his part, no more fears, no more doubts.
She remembered longing for that often. Knew that it was happening now. That it was taking painfully forever, just as he had warned her, obviously hoping to put her off of the idea.
“It will be your first true experience of forever, Bella. Unbearable pain, endless pain. James’s bite times three days. Seventy-two hours. It will seem like forever.”
She tried not to gulp at his hard words of desperation. Nodded at him. Was careful to keep her expression clear, but gravely understanding. The pain at the thought of him feeling helpless and hurting over her while she went through the change kept wrenching her heart, but she just couldn’t protect him from this sorrow. He’d made it through. She’d make it through, too.
“It’s not God’s idea of being reborn, Bella. You’re choosing to die. To commit suicide, in a way. Please, you have to understand that.”
“I’m choosing a different kind of LIFE, Edward. This choice is…it’s part of me. Who I want to be. Nothing you say is going to make me change the way I feel.” And then she repeated his words in a whisper because she could see how close he was to the breaking point. “Please, you have to understand that.”
She’d never wanted to die, at least not in the literal sense of the word, but then she’d never counted on meeting someone like Edward. Loving and needing and wanting someone like Edward. Before she met him, she’d never known—never guessed—she could feel such depth of emotion. From the first, he had made her feel like his everything. Her love for him was like breathing, was an unbearable longing. Would always be that way for her, although she didn’t know how or why. All she knew was that nothing—GUH-GUNGH, GUH-GUNGH—else mattered but being with Edward.
She also remembered that living was supposed to be harder than dying, but it wasn’t. Not this time.
I can’t, I can’t, I can’t—
It was not like feeling her body grow weaker until it was numb, her mind at peace with what was happening. Not like being suspended in dark, cold water, giving up and giving in because she’d already lost what mattered most. It had been so easy that time…
This kind of dying was being consumed by hellfire from the inside out while the sky, this world, blew up around her. Would it never end?
Screaming, she was screaming again—oh, god, help me, help me, I can’t bear it—and it filled only a small portion in her mind, which was odd because she’d never heard this kind of scream inside her mind before. It sounded different, felt different.
James stepped with inhuman strength against her shin. She heard the break before she felt it, and then a wrenching feeling of piercing, uncomfortable pain—weird, so wrong, the feeling that only her skin was holding the two broken parts of her leg together—and she couldn’t help screaming. But the pain was quickly overshadowed by her concern for Edward, and she breathed through it, determined not to give James the show he wanted. He could have her blood, her death, but nothing else.
Now she realized how weak her scream had been, and she was fiercely triumphant. So pathetic, so cowardly of him to toy with a human. Surely his quick vampire’s mind and senses had realized that.
She was able to focus on different parts of her body now, to compartmentalize the pain by degrees as the venom burned through her blood. Wriggling her toes was like inciting the flames—it didn’t lessen the violence of the pain, it just sharpened her focus of the pain there. Everything from her fingertips to her lips burned inside. It was indescribable, incomprehensible, beyond anything she could have imagined, forever. She arched into it or against it, and the movement was all lava, both effortless and agonizing. The pain, even as it trapped and incapacitated her, seemed to give her unlimited power.
Screaming, she tried to hurl herself through it, away from it. Screamed again when she found her body’s power trapped. She struggled against the hold.
“Bella, don’t fight me, please don’t fight me. You’re almost through this. You’re almost there.”
Turned, and he wasn’t there.
. . . Wasn’t there.
. . . . . .Wasn’t THERE.
A terrible sense of loss gripped her. Fear, primal and ferocious, clawed its way through her body and she panicked, falling into it hard and fast. Without Edward, she’d die.
Diediedie, she’d die, couldneverbewithouthim, she’d—
A tiny pressure against her cheek.
The silken voice again, a tiny piece of calm.
“—here, Bella, I’m right here next to you.”
Next to you, next to…
Her eyes opened. Why hadn’t she thought to open them before?
He was there—Edward!—not even an inch away, though his face was hazy at the edges and utterly clear at the center. Hope, love and agony battled for dominance on his face. His eyes were entirely black, not with hunger, but with despair. Staggeringly intense, terrifying to see, but she couldn’t help losing herself in his eyes. He was there. Here.
“For…got…you…were…here,” she tried to say. Maybe she said it. Or maybe she imagined it?
His reply was lost in her scream, but she hadn’t meant to scream, hadn’t meant—
And his fingers, she thought she felt them against her face, turning her back to him, even though she was screaming. There was no icy touch, just fire, just the urgent need for it all to end, end it, end it, please end it.
“—and forgive me, but I want it to end for you, too, Bella. I promise this will end, I promise, I promise. I want you, I want you forever, and I promise I won’t leave you. I love you, I’m sorry, I love you—”
I love you.
She heard the broken torment in his words, his words that echoed in her mind and became her thoughts. She hurled the words back at him before the pain made her forget again.
A choked voice, air against her ear. “Why are you sorry?”
You’re sad. But I love you. Love you. Love you.
A ring of golden light frosted the popcorn pattern on the ceiling above her, 851 rough bumps in its circle, each one creating a distinct shadow. Eggshell gave way to four different shades of gray before fading into light.
His lips were a breath away. “Are you—are you here? With me?”
I keep losing you.
“Don’t close your eyes, love. Look at me, Bella, please, please. Know that you’re not going through this alone.”
Alone. Alone. Alone.
Dimly, she felt herself shaking her head. Convulsing. The agony, the unrelenting burning, wouldn’t let her focus on anything, kept shredding her thoughts into pieces.
The bell tower gonged and she was running through water, her legs burning, weak and stumbling, but she had to get to Edward, had to. A shadow loomed overhead, casting the water around her in such darkness, she couldn’t see ahead. Still running, she looked up and blood fell in heavy drops from the sky. It coated her slowly and thoroughly, like a big egg had just been cracked open on her head. She fell to her knees as the gong sounded again and the blood encased her skin, became her skin.
Sobbing, she opened her eyes again and gasped. Edward. She hadn’t lost him after all.
“Didn’t make it,” she gritted.
Thought I didn’t make it.
“Blood. Heavy. From…”
His fingers against her face felt wrong, all wrong. Or her face felt wrong, almost like a mask. “You’re hallucinating, love. It’s okay, it’s okay, I did, too.”
Minute-by-minute, fireburn and fear kept up its game of tug-of-war inside her body, inside her head, never once letting her forget the other existed. Surely one side would win eventually…
Her heart picked up its pace again. Stronger.
GUH-GUNGH, GUH-GUNGH, GUH-GUNGH, GUH-GUNGH, GUH-GUNGH.
It beat so fast that she could no longer catch her breath because the heartbeats were ripping up into her throat.
Edges, sharp unending edges with lights and colors where there shouldn’t be light and color, shoved way through her head and bloodstream. She heard it, every movement inside—racing heartbeats that pumped what felt like lava through her veins, tissue matter shrinking like plastic crinkling, the eerie sensation of her skin thickening, hardening, of bone scraping against bone, reforming itself into weightlessness. She heard every movement outside—heavy breathing, a man sobbing, her screams, the brush of skin against skin, cloth being ripped asunder as her nails dug into softness. She was an unwilling captive being forced to witness an impossibility: her body giving way to the venom, to the geyser of fire, her body becoming alien, something other.
End it. End it, end it, endit, endit, endit.
“Bella, honey, you’ve got to look both ways before you cross the street,” her dad yelled, shaking her shoulders with each word. There was a white line of anger and worry around his mouth. “You could’ve been killed!”
“Doctor Ash said a little boy was found dead two years ago,” her mom choked. “He’d been playing leap frog on the rocks, too, but no one found him after he got trapped. Bella! Bella, I could have lost you.”
Like the reverse end of a fireplace bellows, oxygen was sucked from her throat and then pushed back into her lungs, which no longer seemed able to expand. The air tasted like hot, sour vapor. She was choking on it, asphyxiating after all.
The rock smacked into her back again, right between her shoulder blades, and another volley of water choked its way out of her lungs.
“Breathe, Bella! Breathe!” Jacob begged.
Finally, she heard an angel’s voice trying to call her back from hell.
“Bella, please! Bella, listen to me, please, please, Bella, please!”
Her eyes snapped open.
Nothing. No hellish pain. No acidic fire. No feeling.
Lightflash, color on fire, movement too fast and then too slow, slow, until time stopped completely.
. . . . .