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In this story, Bella and Edward are both human in 1918. They are already deeply in love, but this love is threatened when the Spanish Influenza takes hold of Chicago.


1. Empty

Rating 5/5   Word Count 1422   Review this Chapter

You stare adoringly at the beauty on your doorstep. You have known her only a few months, but are already convinced that the brown-eyed angel is the one for you. You ignore your mother’s disapproving stare as you lead your Bella into the house. She loves music; you play her a tune on the family’s grand piano. Her eyes light up as she listens to the song. It is your own composition. Reluctantly, your beloved mother wanders in to listen, as she also is entranced by the music you play. Once your love has departed, your mother begins the lecture she has saved for this moment. You grind your teeth in frustration; it doesn’t matter to you that the angel’s father is a mere policeman, or that she has no grand estate to her family’s name. Your Bella is finer than the finest of possessions, and you love her. Your eyes flit to the newspaper on the table – there are more young men needed to fight in the Great War. Your chest puffs with pride as you imagine yourself, a heroic soldier, defending those he loves. If only the loved ones were less obstinate. You had mentioned this subject to your mother more than once, for example, and each time she has trodden it down. You can almost hear her thoughts; the gruesome battles she imagines nearly make you sick. Surely, her imagination isn’t realistic. At the supper table that night, your father looks exhausted. Pale and gaunt, he decides that the entire family should turn in early tonight. You call on your Bella later in the week. She appears frazzled and tired; her father has a fever, and she is busy tending him. Quickly, you step out. Charles is important to your love; she won’t want to be distracted when he is ill. Your mother is concerned that your father seems paler than usual. You shrug; your mother worries often. Many of the boys you have grown up with are joining the army. You sigh as you wave farewell, but wouldn’t dare enlist now, with both your mother and your Bella so worried. Your thoughts, consumed as they have been with war and adventure, are jolted back to the here and now when your father takes ill. He has a fever surely, nothing more. Still, you are depressed. You imagine old chums off fighting battles while you sit in the house, playing nursemaid. You sigh. Neighbors have stopped leaving home so often; you haven’t gotten a chance to see your Bella. Meanwhile, you are worried for your parents. Your father was showing symptoms for several days before taking to bed, and his fever is too high. Your mother’s face is near as ashen as his, but she won’t stop tending him. She refuses to rest. Apparently, people are falling ill left and right; hospitals are crowded and funerals grow short. You are too busy to pay attention. Your father must get well. Your mother, too, must stay healthy. You aren’t much worried for yourself; you are young and strong. Sickness cannot take you down. A frantic knock interrupts your busy, worried routine. It is your brown-eyed beauty. Your first instinct is to embrace her; protect her from the helter-skelter turning your world upside down, but you repress that notion. She has been running; she must have something important to say A quarter hour later you are in the hospital, and she is telling you her tale. Charles had a fever worse than your father’s; she took him to a doctor. He was burning up. Sadly, the doctor diagnosed Spanish Influenza. Your Bella’s father was one of the first to die in this new epidemic. The thought of your Bella, cooped up alone with the monster you imagine is the Spanish Flu, terrifies you nearly as much as the fact that your father, and perhaps your mother, surely are infected with the same. The doctor, a Dr. Cullen, is an excessively graceful man who could star in silent films. You are jealous as your Bella stares at him in frank amazement, which you secretly share. This man has double the average ration of perfection. Dr. Cullen, a kind man, quickly diagnoses your father and sends him off to a ward on the far end of the hospital. You feel a pang as you realize it is a ward for the dying. Worse, you, your Bella and your mother must also stay here. Truly, you and Bella are not feeling symptoms yet, but your temperatures are slightly raised. Dr. Cullen is certain that you are infected. Your mother’s case is slightly more severe, but she insists on remaining with you. Nearly two days later, the doctor gives you the news of your father. It is not good news. You feel the burning now. Half your days are spent in dreams; you are terrified for your Bella. Your mother has refused to stop tending you since the doctor told her what he knew of the disease. It preys especially on the strong; young adults are more often killed by the disease than children or the old. You worry that the physical exertion is too much for her, she could fold at any time, but she won’t stop nursing you. She does not tend your Bella. The fire is inescapable; it creeps up your arms and legs, burning you. Dr. Cullen’s cool hands are the only relief. Fire versus ice; which one will eventually triumph? You hear him speak to your mother, but all you see is dark. You wish you could hold your Bella. Where is she? The dreams terrify you, you are in the garden, you are in a war. Always, you are burning. The whispering on the next bed is urgent, frantic. What are the words? You cannot understand anymore. Then there is silence. With great effort, you force your eyes to open. There is a sheet where your mother should be. Dr. Cullen stares at you, agonized, as though struggling over some important decision. Your force the word out: “Bella”. You know you are dying when he complies. The brown-eyed beauty burns on the bed beside you. Together, you writhe in the flame. You can feel the angel is worse off than you. Her heart beats, faster and faster. She shrieks, long and drawn out, as she is tortured by white-hot agony. No. No. No. No. The shrieking stops, abruptly and violently. No. No. No. No. Cool hands pry your angel from you. The nurses confirm: she has no family left to mourn her. No need to arrange a funeral. Dr. Cullen interrupts the nurses. With the voice of one who has just made a difficult decision, he informs them that he is taking you to the morgue. What? Your Bella will be buried in a mass grave. No. No. No. No… Your thoughts continue in this vein until Dr. Cullen sets you down, someplace soft. Not a morgue. Something smooth slides into your neck, wrists, ankles. Then the real fire begins. You would take the fever now; it is nothing, nothing next to this. The all-consuming flame burns away your memory, as your whole life is condensed into the moment. Nothing is strong enough to withstand the fire. You have nothing to live for. It continues. It continues. It stops. You tentatively open your new eyes. Ice won. What does that mean? The thirst is too powerful – you cannot concentrate – and you immediately believe Carlisle when he explains what you are. It helps that you can hear what you assume to be his thoughts. He believes what he is saying, and he is probably right. And life goes on. You get used to vampirism, and regain a few – early – human memories. Your family extends, and you grow to love the other five vampires in it. Only you and Alice struggle to remember your human years. Carlisle hypothesizes that you are both, in a sense, repressing trauma. He shoots you a guilty glance, but blocks his thoughts. You are content. Surely you are. Content. But in the night, sometimes, an unshakeable emptiness wraps it’s tendrils around you. You don’t understand – you don’t recall losing a thing – yet you feel something is missing. Something dreadfully important. The feeling affects only you. You need this thing – you feel as though there is a hole in your heart. The feeling never goes away.