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I Don't Mean to Remember

Summary:
Esme's human life was not an easy one.


Notes:
It took me forever to write this. But it was fun.


1. Chapter 1

Rating 0/5   Word Count 5795   Review this Chapter

A pretty girl at sixteen without much luck. She never had any real hopes, dreams, aspirations. She is what her father wants her to be. She is what her mother expects her to be. When neither is looking, she is rebellious and does things she shouldn't.

Climbing trees is never the smartest thing to do when you aren't allowed pants. She climbs so high, caution while ascending. In the dim, pink light of dusk she resolves to climb down. It will be supper time soon and her mother will be furious to see her with tree scrapes and dirt and leaves in her hair or stuck under her petticoats. She carefully lowers each barefoot down to the next branch, reaching with her toes. And then she slips, tumbling through the branches and knocking against thick limbs before landing feet first, her left leg cracking beneath her. She cries out in pain.

Climbing that tree was so stupid, she thinks as tears streak down her face and she clutches at her leg where it doesn't hurt as much. She screams for someone, Mother, Father, anyone. It feels like a very long time before her mother rushes out the back door, skirts through the fence, and hurries over to her.

"I'll get your father," her mother says worried, but there are underlying tones of I-told-you-sos. She gets carried by her father off of their farm, her leg throbbing, shooting pains while her mother hovers behind them. Her father carries her the mile to the local farm community doctor only to be told by the doctor's wife that he is not in; he's out of town on official business.

"Are you telling me we've got to go into Columbus to fix her?" her father rages, eyebrows cinched angrily.

"I - I'm sorry," the doctor's wife apologizes and shuts them out with the screen door.

She still cries from the pain. Her leg is tingling with pins and needles and worries with imagination that her bone has splintered and the slivers are working their way into her flesh. Or worse, her blood stream where they'll flow around and circulate until puncturing an artery or piercing her heart. Of course she knows nothing about medicine, but it doesn't keep her from believing that it's possible.

Her father carries her back to their house where he sets a horse to a supply cart, laying her into it gently as to not hurt her leg further. Her mother pampers her with blankets and pillows while her father tells her mother to stay here, they'll be back the next day, surely, if not that night. Her father mounts the cart and bids the horse to move. He knows by the time they arrive in Columbus it will be dark and hopes the hospital will be quiet enough to treat her. She tries to sleep on the way there, but can't. Lying in the cart that smells like dirt, dust, and the sweet scent of hay, she watches the stars blossom in bright specks on a sky that's still a blend of dark, deep blues and rich purple-fuchsias from the setting sun. She dozes, her mind tired from the pain, and before she knows it, the sky is velvet black and her father is carrying her into the hospital. She is now awake.

"She's broken her leg," he explains to the nurse in front, "can ya help her?"

"One moment," she says politely, so politely it sets her father's teeth on edge. She comes out from the hall she entered with a devastatingly handsome young man with blonde hair, amber eyes, and the most pleasant demeanor about him.

"I can help you, right this way," he smiles, happy to help. She blushes at his handsome features and his faint English accent. The doctor leads them to a little room where her father sets her on the examination table and steps out of the room, waiting at the door frame.

"I'm Dr. Carlisle Cullen," he flashes another smile, and it's simply as genuine as the first. "What might your name be?"

"Esme," her name flutters from her lips and she feels like a school girl.

"How'd you manage to break your leg, then, Esme?" he asks as he removes her shoe and pushes her skirts out of the way to inspect her leg.

"Climbing trees," she chuckles, knowing how silly it sounds that a girl would even want to climb a tree. Carlisle breathes an amused laugh and gently presses against the flesh. She hisses a breath.

"All right, love?" he asks.

"Mmhmm," she nods, brave.

"It is indeed broken, an oblique fracture," he informs her and she pretends like she has the faintest clue what the sort of break looks like. "Easy to repair and nothing major, but I need to set it before I cast it. In all likelihood, it will be a bit painful. Would you like your father in here?"

"No, I'll be fine," she says like it's a promise. He nods and takes her leg between his hands, looking at her face.

"Ready?"

She nods, sucking her lips in slightly, anticipating pain. He pulls on her leg and she can feel the broken bone shift. She smothers a whimper and it sticks in her throat, her eyes shut tight.

"Not so bad, eh?" he comments good-naturedly. She smiles.

"Nope," Esme agrees.

"Now, I'll be right back. This leg needs to be casted and I need the supplies. Excuse me," he leaves the room. Esme bites her lip girlishly and brings her shoulders up, squishing herself up excitedly to keep her fanatics to herself. Dr. Cullen is without a doubt the most beautiful thing she's seen in her entire life and the kindest doctor she's ever met, though she's only met one or two others.

If only she were a few years older and not simply a foolish, teenage girl.

Carlisle appears soon after leaving with a rolling tray adorned with what looks like a paper mâché kit. She sits patiently while he wraps her leg in plaster, enjoying the feeling of his elegant hands dancing over her skin to apply her leg's new prison. It takes a while, but for Esme it ends too soon.

"All done. You won't be climbing any trees for a while, my dear," he tells her woefully.

"It's probably better that way," she smirks and he smiles at her encouragingly.

Carlisle stops at the doorway to speak with her father, telling him she's not to walk around and to rest, let the break heal. He sends her a final smile before disappearing. She allows her father to carry her back to the cart. Although it's late, he insists on taking her home right away because her mother is more than likely worried sick. Esme doesn't protest. She lays in the cart and watches the sky, milky constellations and fragmented clouds, seeing Dr. Cullen's face in her mind, dreaming about him.

She hopes to see him again.

Her leg heals and life goes on. After she's seventeen for six months, one of her friends is married. Esme is mystified that her friend can know what she wants in a husband at such a young age. Then again, she shouldn't be one to judge. She knows when she gets married she wants a man exactly like Dr. Cullen because she knows she could never have him. She knows she probably will never see him again. He left - to Chicago, she heard. She prays that he'll come back and imagines he does, recognizing her as the rebellious tree climber, falling in love with her. She imagines what it might feel to kiss him, have him hold her in tight, comfortable, loving embraces. She imagines what it is to be Mrs. Carlisle Cullen.

Year after year passes and soon she's twenty-one, still dreaming of the doctor who fixed her leg. All of her friends are married, some with babies on the way, waddling around with protruding, pregnant bellies.

"What do you expect to do with your life?" her father asks of her when he notices she seems to have no interest in marrying.

"I was thinking about. . . maybe moving out West," she ventures her tentative plans, speaking them for the first time. Her father looks displeased.

"What for?"

"To perhaps be a school teacher," Esme explains, knowing she's intelligent enough and she adores children, "I'm sure there's plenty of possibilities."

"The West is dangerous," he informs her. "All wild an' untamed. No place for a lady, at least no respectable lady," he says pointedly and shakes his head, muttering to himself, "A lady living by her lonesome in the woods. Who ever would of heard of that?"

Esme pretends not to hear her father and still dreams of the romantic, open, grassy hills, the rough, sloping, ragged, beauty of the mountains covered thick with trees. And nestled in a valley, a small village of pioneers, settlers, where she would teach and live and breath clean air. Sometimes Dr. Cullen is with her, being the local doctor and the two of them are loved by the community for their contributions to the little way of life.

Yet, somehow, she knows her dream won't be happening any time soon. In fact, she's noticed the Evenson's boy examining her from afar, grinning boyishly at her every time she catches him. She rolls her eyes and turns her back to him. He's a handsome man, but he's no Carlisle Cullen.

She knows he's been watching her for weeks, but never approaches her to speak. They know each other from childhood play dates organized by their mothers. Esme wishes he'd talk to her or just stop looking.

It makes her nervous one night when her father announces he's got good news for her over dinner. What parents deem good news is hardly ever what the child would consider so.

"Good news? For me?" she questions unsure of what it could be.

"Charles Evenson has asked for your hand in marriage, Esme," her father beams, proud.

"Oh," her voice and breath falters, "That's, um. . ." She doesn't know what to say.

"So, when'll the wedding be?" her father prods, assuming her speechlessness is that of a definite yes.

"I'm not sure I want to marry him," Esme replies slowly.

"Why the Hell not?" he demands to know, brow furrowing in what Esme hopes is more so confusion than anger.

"I just don't think I want to get married," to him, she completes the sentence in her head. She feels that maybe when she met Carlisle, it was love at first sight. She can't ever stop comparing men to him. He is her perfect man and oh how she wants to marry him. She may be stuck with the lesser Charles Evenson instead, a prospect she supposes she could manage to live with.

"Come on, girl. Charles is a nice, stand up guy. You'll be supported, man's got his way in the world. The two of you get along great. Why not?"

"Let me think about it, please, Dad?" Esme requests. Her father looks displeased, but agrees to give her three days. Esme uses the three days to not think about the marriage proposal extended to her. She knows she'll say yes to please her father. She wants him to be happy, she wants to do what he wants her to. Charles is a nice guy, she supposes, and she isn't opposed to marrying him.

"So," her father speaks as he approaches her in the back of the house while she pins the clean laundry on the line to dry. "What should I tell 'im?"

Esme sighs and pins up a dress.

"Tell him yes, I suppose," she gives the answer expected of her and feels nothing for it. She can feel the waves of happiness float from her father before he envelopes her in a bone-crunching hug. Without a doubt, he thinks she's made the perfect, right decision. He rushes off to relay the news to her mother and then runs down the way to let the Evensons know there's a wedding to be planned. She watches as her father tells them the news and sees Charles exit his house, looking at her over the dead grass between their homes. She can't see him very well, but she's sure he's smiling. She clips the last garment on the line and hurries inside. Somehow, she feels the situation, while trivial to her, is all wrong now that it's set in stone.

On her twenty-second birthday, her mother chides her.

"Thank goodness the Evenson's boy has taken a liking to you! I feared you'd never be married. If you'd gotten any older, child, no man would have you!"

Esme just gives a thin-lipped smile, holding back exasperation. The wedding is in two weeks and she doesn't want it. She doesn't want to be Mrs. Charles Evenson, but she will be and do it without fuss or complaint because that is what's expected of her.

It's a beautiful wedding on a mild day in spring. It's outdoors, of course. There are chairs for their family and friends, all the food inside. A priest arrives and Esme feels nervous. She knows she shouldn't, that there's no reason to, but her stomach knots itself up as her mother squishes her into the wedding dress. It refuses to untie itself even as Esme walks down the aisle with her father and quietly speaks her vows, repeats the priest, imagines Carlisle's face when she says, "I do."

When she the bride may be kissed, it's not soft or romantic, but wet and sloppy and Esme internally cringes. She's never had a kiss to compare this with, but she thinks this kiss is bad; she does not like it and is happy when his lips leave hers.

The reception is a blur of her smiling so much her cheeks hurt and everyone congratulating her. Before she knows it, she's being pestered for sex in what is now their dark bedroom. The Evensons opted to spend the night at her family's house, giving the newlyweds the house to themselves. Esme refuses, saying she's exhausted and maybe tomorrow night, although she won't want to do it then either. She fights with words and then with limbs when he forces himself on her.

She slaps him across the face, hard, in self defense. She huddles on the bed, sheets messed up from struggle, tears falling down her rosy cheeks. Charles gets up and glares at her and she's so scared. She thinks about making a run for it, but before she can rethink anything, she feels a hard sting on her head as he slaps her and she jerks. She gives a small cry when his fist slams into her shoulder blade and again into her side.

Her father said Charles Evenson was a nice man. He is wrong.

After she can't stand the blows anymore, she cries out to him to stop and feels like a pathetic dog when she begs him to have sex with her if it will make the hitting cease. He happily complies and the next morning her body aches so fiercely that she can barely bring herself out of bed. She fakes sick, saying she must have come down with something during the night while Charles puts on a show for the family by caring for her. She shakes with fear when the family leaves her alone in the room with him, door closed. She fears the two of them getting their own house even more.

After two weeks of living with the Evensons, Charles and Esme go on their own in a brand new farmhouse built in the community just for them, started even before Charles proposed. The house was intended for him and a nameless wife. Esme wishes she hadn't filled the position.

The two of them look like a perfectly happy, charming couple. She's become such an actress. She makes excuses for visible bruises and never falters in her movements when the hidden ones are bumped. No one expects anything, no one knows. She's not sure how much more she can take.

One lazy, October afternoon, Esme sits on the porch with her mother, icy, homemade lemonade untouched.

"Mom, I need to talk to you," Esme says quietly, staring into her lap where her hands are wringing around each other nervously. Her mother sips at her drink with simplicity and pays attention to her daughter who's confidence sounds broken.

"I can't live with Charles anymore," her voice cracks in a whisper and hot tears flood her eyes.

"Why ever not?" her mother questions with a snort, as if she expects Esme's reason to be foolish and unfounded.

"He," she pauses. She's not sure she can say it aloud. She knows if he finds out, it'll be torture for her. "He beats me, Ma."

Her mother is silent.

"I want to leave him," Esme says, continuing her use of whispers. "Please tell me I can leave him."

"Esme, dear," her mother condescends, placing her glass full of pale, yellow liquid on the shifty wooden table between them, "something you need to understand is, your job as a wife is all you have. You can't leave. Marriage is for life, and you've got to fulfill your duties as a wife. You can't leave him."

"But why not?" Esme hiccoughs.

"You just can't. It's cowardly. You're strong and you'll live with it. I don't want to hear another inkling about it, you hear?"

"Yes, Mom," she rasps defeatedly.

"Now, dry your tears and let's go inside."

The weeks go on and so do the beatings. Esme keeps quiet. She doesn't say much of anything to anyone. She stays inside and cleans the house to avoid beatings. She cooks dinner early and has it on the table, warm and ready to avoid beatings. She gives him sex whenever he wants it in addition to un-lady like things she can only imagine a prostitute would do, all to avoid beatings. Avoiding pain is her life and she still receives it. Blow after blow for no coherent reason. Bruises. Cuts. Tears.

When the letter comes in the mail, Esme nearly faints from happiness and shock at her fascinating turn of luck. Charles has been drafted for the horrible war that rages in Europe. She feels relieved, a weight lifts from her shoulders, when he has to pack up belongings and report for duty. She knows she should respect all living things and wish nothing harm, but she prays that God might take her toad of a husband away from her every night. She hopes she'll never see him walking up the dirt roads towards her ever again.

She spends a quiet time with her family and keeps her own house tidy, imagining Dr. Cullen will return to the area and fall in love with her so she can start fresh and happy.

Her heart sinks and freezes in her stomach when one day as she hangs the linens to dry, she sees Charles approaching. She hoped he had died, but there he walks, clear as day and she's never felt more terrified. He's back and she feels herself recede into herself before he's even close enough to talk to her without raising his voice. Her lips trembles with nervous tears and she bolts into the house to make sure nothing is out of place. She knows men who return from war can have mental scars, problems. Charles had problems before the war. She hates to think how much more violent he'll be now that he's seen horrors.

His parents and sister celebrate his return. Her family puts on smiles as well. Esme goes to bed early but can't fall asleep. She's waiting for him to come into the room. She knows he'll want sex. He hasn't had it in almost a year.

Just as the thought, he comes in and doesn't spare a second in harassing her. She lays there limp while he has his way with her and rolls over in his side to sleep. Esme lays awake all night, wondering if maybe God didn't love her as she was taught to believe he did.

Life goes on as normal. She acts like a skittish cat and plasters fake smiles on her face. She smiles so much for her act that she could swear she's smiling even when she cries. The beatings don't stop and she finds out she's pregnant. She throws up most mornings and has such an appetite. She doesn't need a doctor to tell her she's pregnant.

She cannot have a baby with this man, with this life. She can't do it to the baby. Esme plans to run away.

While Charles is out working, she writes a letter to her second cousin Abbey in Milwaukee. She tells her not to respond. She knows Abbey will allow her to stay there and tells her she'll be leaving as soon as she can. She just needs to wait for a little while.

In the meantime, Esme is patient.

During dinner she slips and drops a plate, splatting food into the floor and shattering the plate into porcelain shards. Charles is furious.

"Plates cost money, you stupid bitch," he bellows at her while she sniffles and collects the pieces. She hears the tinkle of his belt buckle as he removes the leather strap from its loops. She anticipates the sharp blow to her back. She chokes on a sob when he slams it down hard and her hand digs into a plate shard.

"Charles, stop! Stop," she pleads. He responds with another angry blow.

"I'm pregnant, the baby!" she sobs, breath hitching. She realizes she hasn't yet told him and wonders if he expects her to leave him.

"You're pregnant?" he snarls.

"Yes," she whispers. She doesn't think he wants children judging by his tone.

He throws the belt into the corner angrily and storms out. She guesses he's headed to the bar. She wastes no time on the floor. Throwing the broken plate pieces down, she stands and hurriedly packs a bag. Simply necessities. She grabs a small satchel she's been storing money in and leaves the house. Sneaking to her parents' house, Esme steals the horse and cart used only a few years ago to transport her to the doctor. She throws her belongings into the cart and steers the horse down the road.

She wishes someone she knew could afford an automobile. This plan would go so much smoother with one.

She's taking a train. She's getting out of here and getting out now. Still crying, she allows the horse to run as fast as it can with the cart attached wobbling on the unsteady roads and reaches the train station in Columbus, paying for a ticket to Milwaukee. Perhaps someone will take the horse. Otherwise it's abandoned and Esme can't bring herself to care.

When she boards the train, tears leak from her eyes, but for once it's from happiness. She can't wait to see her cousin and raise the baby in a safe environment. It's the only thing she wants.

She doesn't keep track of the time it takes to travel to Milwaukee, but it isn't long. Esme rushes off the train and heads straight to Abbey's house, a quaint, small house, faded yellow with chipped shutters and a lovely flower box out front. Abbey takes her in with a tight embrace and concern written all over her face. Esme, once lovely and bright seems dim and down-trodden. Abbey resolves to nurture her and her baby to perfect health and happiness. Esme is nursed carefully, given the best care, care that can only be given by loving family.

"I can't ever thank you enough," Esme says after being with her cousin for two weeks. Esme will never tire of her cousin's tea or the time they spend together drinking it.

"Please, don't mention it. It's not a trouble at all. What else is family for?"

"There must be some way I can repay you - something I ca-"

"There'll be none of that. You don't me a thing, Esme. Just make sure that baby is nice and healthy and happy and that'll be thanks enough." Abbey insists on refilling Esme's cup even if she doesn't need any more of the hot, soothing drink.

Esme feels her eyes water from happiness and love. Abbey kisses her forehead and goes about doing busy work such as washing dishes and mending curtains while Esme rests. She feels proud to be able to see Esme glow as pregnant women should and be happy as they relax, sewing and embroidering and chatting pleasantly.

As badly things had turned for her in the past, Esme is grateful for the good luck that seemed to be before her. She is welcome to stay here in Milwaukee as long as she wanted. She is well cared for. Her baby will be safe and secure.

She can't imagine being anywhere else.

The next week Abbey rushes home from the grocery with unfortunate word from another relative that her parents are on their way to Milwaukee.

"You must leave now," Abbey encourages. The two women pack Esme's belongings in a hurry and rush her out the door.

"Where should I go?" Esme frets, looking to Abbey with desperate hope.

"Head north. Stop once you get to Ashland. You should be fine there. Come, I can get you an automobile," Abbey assures her and they go down the street. Abbey makes a racket knocking on the front door of this anonymous house.

"Jared, I need that favor you owe me," Abbey says, why Abbey would need a favor from this man is lost on Esme.

"Yeah? What do you need?" he leans against the door frame and looks at her pensively.

"Your second automobile. You say your son refuses to use it. My cousin needs it. Please," she pleads with stern eyes. Jared looks past Abbey at Esme, her stomach protruding with a baby, worry on her pretty face.

"Yeah, all right. It's around the side there. Let me get the key."

Abbey turns around to Esme, relief washing over her features.

"This will work, it'll be fine," Abbey convinces them both. Jared hands her they key.

"Good luck and go easy on 'er. She's a fragile vehicle," he suggests.

"I'll take good care of it, promise," Esme smiles gratefully.

Abbey sets Esme's bag into the back seat of the rectangular car with white wheels and tarp for a top.

"Be safe," Abbey commands Esme as she hugs her tightly, both of them crying.

"Come visit me," Esme suggests, wiping the tears from her face.

"I will. I love you."

"I love you, too." Esme lingers, trying to think how she can thank her cousin.

"Go on. Get moving."

Esme nods and starts the car. She's never driven one before, but she's seen others do it and she finds herself to be a quick learner. The car putters as she drives north, out of Milwaukee and towards Ashland, a place she's only visited once. She never stops driving and it's night when she arrives. She tries to sleep in the car, but the baby keeps kicking her and she can't. She sits up awake, stroking her belly and whispering songs to her unborn angel. She watches the sun come up and finds hope with the coming day.

She inquires about housing at the local diner and finds the owner kind enough to let her rent the extra room above in exchange for working shifts in the food place. Esme ecstatically accepts. The owner is a frail woman with fly-away white hair that comes out of her bun in wisps. But she is always smiling and kind, conversing.

"So what brings you to Ashland?" she asks. Esme learns her name is Dina and has lived in Ashland her entire life.

"My husband, he passed away over seas," Esme feels a pang of guilt in lying, but there is nothing else to do. "I needed something new so I moved here. I'd heard it was lovely. I hadn't expected the residents to be so wonderful."

"Oh, it's nothing, dearie. When's the baby due?"

"I'm not sure, but soon I imagine. I'm nearly nine months, I believe."

"Well, glad to have you here."

As the days pass, Esme scouts the area when she isn't helping out in the diner. She finds that a nearby community is looking for a school teacher and quickly applies for the job, being hired on the spot.

Although it saddens her to leave Dina, she sets her sights on her future as a school teacher, her dream come true.

But her dream is short lived. She has her baby at the school house, the children are sent home and the people of the community help her deliver the infant. She's never done anything so laborious in her entire life, but she loves this little gift from God and cradles it after the blood and muck is cleaned from its body. A retired doctor looks at her baby, her beautiful son. She can barely stand to be away from her boy even if they're in the same room. She needs and wants to hold him all of the time, her beautiful boy with soft, blonde hair and large, blue eyes.

Esme waits anxiously for this man to finish examining her child. The man comes to her empty handed.

"So? Is he healthy?" she interrogates, her tone high with worry.

"I'm afraid he may have a lung infection," says the man, a grave mood hanging in the air.

"Can't I hold him?"

"I suppose you can. . ." he leaves the room and brings in her baby, her ill, doomed baby.

Only after she's alone does Esme cradle the sweet, innocent thing to her and cry and sob like she's never done before. She should have known that this baby was too good. Something had to go wrong. Her baby would die.

For three days she does nothing but devote all of her time and love and energy into keeping her baby alive. The man who examined her child told her he would not live long. Esme decides not to name her son until he's lived a week. If he lasts a week he'll make it, she knows, she's sure of it. If she names him now she'll be too attached and she doesn't know if she wants to risk hurting herself like that.

On the third evening - day four so close - he hiccoughs in her arms and she hugs him tightly and he cries. No matter what she does he cries and won't stop. She begins to cry with him, panicked and she feels her heart break when she feel the life leave her child. She holds him for several hours, crying and rocking her dead son.

She can't believe he's gone. It isn't fair. Parents should never outlive their children, especially when those children never really had a chance to live in the first place.

She wonders why she should be allowed to live when her child was not. She can't stop crying. Her life is so empty without her baby boy. Her chest is hollow and everything is numb. She tries to eat but the food is tasteless. She goes through the motions for two days, her baby's corpse lying in the cradle. She doesn't know what to do with it. It's only after stroking the soft, dead face of her son for the hundredth time she decided she can't live like this.

She grabs the child, holding it to her chest, kissing it's cold head as she makes her way to the cliffs not far from the community.

"It's okay," she whispers, not knowing or caring if it's supposed to be to herself or her baby, "it's going to be okay. We'll be fine. We'll be together."

Tears seep from her eyes and she looks down at the cliff side, rocks jutting out from the gray face that reaches down to the edge of Ashland. She realizes she is not afraid to die. Esme closes her eyes as the wind whips at her caramel hair. She takes in a shaky breath before flinging herself off of the edge, clutching her son to her. She feels the air waving past her as she cuts through it and hears the crunch as she hits the ground. There is a moment of pain before the adrenaline works itself through her veins. She lays there and waits to die.

Esme doesn't know what's happening, but her body is on fire and it burns so horribly. Her child is no longer in her arms and when she opens her eyes her vision is blurred. Screams scratch at her throat. She wonders if she's been sent to Hell for committing suicide. How foolish of her. She should have known her child would go to Heaven and she'd pay for her sins.

She's surprised and relieved when the pain fades and when she opens her eyes her vision slowly returns. She almost thinks she's dreaming when she sees Carlisle enter the room she's in.

"Dr. Cullen?" she breathes, unable to believe her eyes. He doesn't look a second older than he had when she first met him. His face makes her calm and feel relieved. Perhaps she's not in Hell after all. How could such a wonderful, lovely man ever end up in such a place?

He smiles at her and she's shocked when she can't feel her heart fluttering in her chest.

"What's happened to me?" she asks and he tells her everything.

Now there's all her wonderful, beautiful children. And Bella. Every time Bella stumbles, trips, falls, it reminds her of her human life. Not in the sense that she was clumsy, no, but that if something could go wrong, it did.

But for all the horrors of her life, she was glad to have them. All the bad made Carlisle the best thing that ever could have happened to her.