Character/Relationships: Bella and Edward during Breaking Dawn
Using my new acute sense of smell, and Rose’s directions, I found the place I was searching for. I ignored the burning in my throat and their pleas that I needed to hunt first. I needed to see her first to believe it.
It was true. My worst nightmare was reality. The flames had died out and my daughter’s remains were scattered on the burnt firewood.
She meant more to me than my own life and she was stolen from me. Edward went back on his promise that he’d never make a choice for me again.
I let myself fall to my knees. I didn’t care who heard, I wailed as loud as I could so everyone and everything around me would know they were alive and my daughter was dead!
As my wailing became tearless sobs I recalled my last human memory. I was uncomfortable and in so much pain, but I knew it would be over soon. In a week or two I would be full term. I thought it was sweet of Edward to give me a glass of warm milk to help me sleep.
When I came to, fire was coursing through my entire body. After I stopped screaming I could hear Rose talking in my ear. She apologized profusely for leaving my side to hunt. Some protector she turned out to be.
I involuntarily perked up when I sensed Edward was near. Crouched low to the ground, a violent hiss escaped through my teeth that felt strange yet instinctual.
He placed his hands up in defense. “Bella, listen to me, please. You have to understand I couldn’t let you die. That thing was killing you,” Edward exclaimed.
“That thing!” I repeated with disgust. I couldn’t believe how callous he was. “She was our child, Edward!”
“It was a demon,” he stated, so sure of himself.
Within a second I stood right in front of him, our faces millimeters apart. “You’re wrong,” I scoffed, “about so many things. You believe you’re a soulless creature and you’re not, but it wasn’t until you murdered our daughter that you became a monster.”
He turned his face away and looked like he was going to be sick. “I told you that I’ve killed people before.”
“This is completely different!” I screamed at him. I had to walk away or risk losing control.
After a moment to compose myself I looked at Edward. He hadn’t moved, and I noticed he was turned away from her pyre. “She was innocent. She would have been beautiful, kind, and loving.” My hands were closed into fists at my sides. I took a breath and flexed my fingers. I looked at the pile of bones and ash. “If you would have waited till she was born you would have seen I was right all along. You would have loved her, worshiped her even. She would have been your salvation.”
Edward shook his head. I sensed he was going to say that I couldn’t have known that for sure, but I knew everything I felt about her was true. His actions had destroyed me. I just couldn’t be with him anymore. “When you left me, I was living in the darkest hell. That was nothing compared to what I feel now, and the worse part of it is that it’s for eternity. I can’t ever find a way to escape, or to numb my agony.” My legs gave out and in an instant Edward’s arms were around me, supporting all my weight.
I punched his chest over and over. How dare he try to comfort me. “You took away the one person I could ever love as much as I love you, and I just,” I grabbed my chest where I felt a crushing pain sear through my still heart, “I can’t ever forgive you, Edward.”
I found the courage to look up at him and I regretted it. His face was a frozen expression of torture, like a man burned alive. My heart broke for him, for us, for the life we could have had.
I pushed myself away from him and knelt down near the firewood. I took her in my hand, felt her get underneath my nails, and placed what was left of her in a tiny drawstring satchel.
Story Title: Conspicuous Absence
Character/Relationships: Carlisle Cullen
Warnings: Angst, character death
He climbed the dark stairs to the elevated train, a folded newspaper under his arm. He shared the platform with a grey haired woman who hugged a thin, ill-fitting coat over the uniform of a domestic servant. She shivered in the October air and sneezed noisily into a rumpled handkerchief.
"You a doctor?" she asked, noting his bag. She would have had to lean over to read the small block letters monogrammed on the leather: Carlisle Cullen, MD
"Is it true? Did a thousand people die in Chicago yesterday?"
"No, ma'am. But it was hundreds, I'm afraid."
It would become known as Black Thursday, the day the influenza pandemic peaked, the day that precipitated the rules he read about in the Daily Tribune after he boarded the train and took his seat:
The department of public health hereby directs that all public gatherings of a social nature be discontinued until further notice. Bars, pool halls, theaters, even churches were ordered closed. If the housekeeper sneezed again, she would be expelled from the train, along with any other "coughers, sneezers and spitters."
Carlisle Cullen, of course, was safe from infection. He had died centuries earlier.
On his way to the night shift at Cook County, Carlisle was reminded of other virulent diseases that had ravaged their way through unsuspecting populations; shortly after his own death, the bubonic plague had reduced his original home of London by tens of thousands.
In the modern world of 1918, with a World War raging in Europe, it seemed impossible that illness could be such a deadly threat at home. Some believed the influenza outbreak the result of germ warfare, smuggled ashore from German u-boats. Carlisle knew better, but it didn't lessen his personal frustration as he watched human life seep away like sand through his ineffective fingers. He dreaded what he would find when he arrived at the hospital ward.
After hours of treating new patients, Carlisle reviewed the charts of the sickest. They had been forced to adopt a system that resembled triage in a war zone more than standard diagnostic techniques.
"Mrs. Masen doesn't have long, I'm afraid," said the nurse.
Elizabeth Masen was nearly comatose. Her nostrils were dotted with the remnants of the tell-tale nosebleed. Carlisle leaned over and spoke gently, loathe to disturb her; many of his patients could hope for nothing more than a peaceful death.
"Save my son, Edward," she cried suddenly, clutching at him. Her emerald eyes sparkled in the artificial light. "I know you can!"
Carlisle was struck by the belief that she really did know of his immortal existence and sensed he could somehow share it with her son. In nearly three centuries he never had, but before the desperate woman passed, he found himself nodding agreement.
It took a while to locate Edward Masen in a nearby room; interrupted at every step, Carlisle felt rare impatience as he searched. It was two hours before dawn, and a hush had fallen over the busy hospital. He heard the boy's labored breathing as he approached the bed.
The boy stirred. "Did we win?" he asked.
"Win?" Was the boy talking about the war?
Carlisle smiled. Edward was referring to the World Series, more than a month past. "No," he admitted. "It was the Red Sox."
Finally, after hundreds of years of loneliness, here was someone who could fill Carlisle's life with family and fulfillment, who already shared his love of baseball and could be taught to appreciate music and art and so much more. A young man himself when he died, Carlisle had now lived long enough to contemplate fatherhood. And Elizabeth Masen had, for all intents and purposes, given him her son.
He whispered in Edward's ear, reassuring him, urging him not to fear. At the nearness of the boy's heated flesh, he felt venom flood his mouth. One bite would be enough.
And then Edward would join him in immortality, be reborn the son of Carlisle Cullen.
Moonlight from a nearby window illuminated Edward's face; his eyelids fluttered open and revealed eyes as green as his mother's. Carlisle hesitated, overcome with sudden doubt. Did he have the ability or even the right to transform the boy?
It took all his willpower for Carlisle to stop. He took Edward's hand and gently squeezed the warm fingers, his mind made up. "Go to sleep," he said, dropping his head and giving himself up to grief.
* * * * * * * * * *
Eight decades later Carlisle was waiting near the entrance of the Forks Community Hospital when the ambulance arrived, closely followed by three cars crammed with teenagers. The call had said his patient was unconscious and unresponsive. In an instant Carlisle was surrounded by high school students, all talking at once, some crying. On the steel gurney in the center of the fray was the pale, broken form of Isabella Swan, the police chief's daughter.
A boy he recognized as Mike Newton looked into his eyes. "Tyler hit a patch of ice in the parking lot. She's real bad, Doc."
It didn't take long to realize there was nothing he could do. There was no point in attempting to airlift the girl to Olympia for treatment at a better equipped facility. Before he could contemplate the duty every doctor dreaded, Chief Swan saved him the trouble and burst in.
It took Carlisle's superhuman strength to subdue the man.
"No! This can't happen, Doctor. It isn't right!"
Charlie Swan's words and the pain in his eyes pierced Carlisle like an electric stake, shattering his customary calm. Somehow he knew the chief's grief had hit on the truth; the scenario smacked of a dizzying, tragic fantasy. There was a breath of a moment where he, Carlisle Cullen, could have saved Bella Swan. But it had passed 87 years earlier.
And for the second time in a century, Carlisle lowered his head and wept at the loss of his son.