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Desperation

Summary:
What would have happened if Jasper had gotten a hold of Bella at her birthday party? **Note: This is co-written with 'sweetishbubble.'Desperation Banner


Notes:
Desperation Banner


3. Chapter 3

Rating 5/5   Word Count 4639   Review this Chapter

EPOV

Alice and I were sitting together in the living room, watching the sun rise, while still under the almost constant cover of clouds that was typical here. She was curled up against me, but remained fairly silent. Even her thoughts were relatively quiet; she was grieving, and lost in her sadness. She desperately missed her best friend, yet felt horrible for expressing it, because it only made Jasper feel worse. He had been spending less time in the house - he was becoming overwhelmed by everyone and everything.

Today is the day I had been dreading - today is Bella's funeral. The clouds hovered above threateningly, as I recalled the few occurrences we'd been able to enjoy the sunlight, in our meadow. I looked down at Alice. Her head was resting on my lap. Yesterday was emotionally draining for her, and we would need each other today of all days. She was thinking about Jasper now, about how he was distancing himself, and how it worried her. I tried to block her thoughts from my mind and focus on making it through the day's events.

It had taken a lot for me to even get to this point. Eventually, I had realized that no one was going to leave me alone until they were quite sure I wouldn't go running off after Bella. In truth, I knew going after her was pointless....she was gone, and nothing would change that. It was the desire and the need to be near her that was crushing; that drove me to react so irrationally. The thought that I would never see her again is partially why I was here now - out of my room, unguarded - this would be my last chance to see her beautiful face, forever. This forced me to find some kind of composure within myself - I wouldn't miss the chance to see her one last time.

Carlisle saw the sudden change in me, and had allowed Emmett to leave me alone with my grief. He knew I wasn't going to run anymore. The same horrid, unfathomable pain was still there - it hadn't decreased, not at all - but the desire to see my love again helped me to put on the necessary facade. How I would actually get through it was another matter entirely...how I would leave her side after seeing her...I refused to focus on these things. I would worry about that later - I just had to get back to her.

"Are we going to be able to do this?" Alice asked me silently, interrupting my own thoughts.

"I don't know, you tell me," I said aloud, letting out a heavy sigh. We both paused, and a moment later we saw that we would, but it wouldn't be pleasant.

"Well...we'll get through it, but it's going to be awful for both of us. Maybe you should say something to Jasper; he's hurting so badly. He wasn't even going to attend today, Edward. He told me the only reason why he was going was for punishment- to make himself see what he'd done; to force the images into his mind to see forever," her thoughts replied.

"I will in time. Not today." I was still unsure if I could stay in control for that conversation.

Our silence returned, until Esme suggested we get ready. Thankfully, most of the family was doing their best to block their thoughts from me, trying to give me privacy. We would be arriving early, at the request of Charlie and Renee. The family was having a private viewing before the service, and asked us to join them. I wasn't sure if I could do this - how would I be able to hold myself together at the sight of her?

After showering, I changed into my black suit. The card from Bella's friends still lay on my night stand. Since I still had a few minutes before we left, I figured now would be as good a time as ever. It had a red rose on the front, and contained many signatures and short notes from several different people. Inside the card, however, was a picture of Bella and I that Angela had taken on the last day of school. I was carrying her on my back, piggy-back style, and she had her head thrown back in laughter. She looked so beautiful; her face contained the look of pure joy. The pain of loss fought madly with my effort to remain composed. I sat down for a moment, as I struggled with my thoughts and emotions. Clearing my mind, I took a deep breath, made sure I had everything I needed, placed the picture in the pocket of my jacket, and joined my family downstairs.

Alice, Jasper and I rode with Carlisle and Esme in the Mercedes, while Emmett drove Rosalie in her BMW. Once we reached the school, thoughts of depression, guilt, and sadness hit me like a ton of bricks, and I glanced at Jasper to see just how badly it was affecting him. His facial features were drawn tight, and as he returned my glance he thought only one thing: "I deserve to have to feel this. This has all happened because of me."

It was as if the entire town was in mourning for this one girl. A girl who didn't like to be fussed over, a girl who was friends with everyone and refused to be part of any clique.

As we walked to the school, Esme and Alice each took one of my hands. Today would be one of the worst of my life, second only to the day Bella actually died; they are amazed that I made it to the service at all. This was the first time Alice and I had seen Charlie since the accident. He was fighting back tears, and it hurt me to see him in this much pain. I couldn't meet his gaze - this was all my fault. The depth of sadness and regret that filled his thoughts screamed out at me, as if reminding me yet again that I should have stayed away from her. I should have stayed in Alaska and let her live her life without me; it would have been better. What made it even worse was that as distraught as he was, he did not have any anger towards me...the opposite, in fact. He was thinking that he was truly glad that Bella had met me, that she'd been happy with me.

We all gathered in a classroom close to the gym. Standing in a corner were three girls I recognized by face only. They were Bella's girlfriends from Phoenix that Carlisle had flown in last night. Their familiarity brought some peace to Renee - she was reminded of the times the girls would lounge around her living room, talking and laughing late into the night. The pastor from a local church came in and prayed with us. Alice was clutching my hand so hard she would have cut off the circulation, if it were possible. She was dreading this. As I'd seen the images play out in her mind earlier, I had to wonder if any of us would get through this day at all...but of course we'd seen that we would, somehow.

We sat and waited, as Bella's family went in and said their final goodbyes. I closed my eyes and tried to remember my sweet Bella's face. Instead, I was faced the look of utter terror that was written on Bella's face after she had been bitten. I tried to push it out of my mind; I needed to see a happier Bella. I needed to see my Bella - to see the light in her brown eyes, the love in her smile, the scarlet of her cheeks. Desperately I tried to see that, but all I could see was the horror that were the last moments of her life.

"Edward, calm yourself," Esme said softly, as she touched my arm. When I opened my eyes, I realized I was shaking violently. "It's time."

"I can't," I whispered, looking into her eyes.

"You must. No peace will come to you if you don't say goodbye," Esme replied silently. She wrapped her arms around me, trying to soothe me.

"I can't say goodbye to her. I can't, Esme," I replied in hushed tones, trying to will her to understand.

A wave of calm quickly surrounded me. Jasper was standing behind me; he was forcing himself to keep his composure, if only for Alice and I. As angry as I was with him, I could not argue with the benefits his gift was offering at the moment - I needed the help, however, his thoughts of self-loathing were beginning to override his calming effect.

Standing slowly, I felt Esme take my arm again. As we walked into the gym, Alice completely broke down at the sight of Bella's casket. Her thoughts became chaotic, jumbled and disturbed. Her breath came in gasps, and her tiny frame began to shake uncontrollably. It was fortunate this was a private viewing. Jasper picked her up, and carried her to a far corner to try to calm her down. I remained at the door with Emmett and Rosalie, as Carlisle and Esme went to say their goodbyes. They were both so shaken by all of this; I didn't know how the two of them could cope, with not only the weight of their loss, but the weight of all of us. Carlisle was trying to be strong for all of us, but he was reaching a breaking point - he felt so horrible about what had happened. Esme was purely heartbroken - she'd come to love Bella so much, and had wanted to protect her as any mother would. They both thought of Bella as a daughter, so it didn't surprise me that they stood there, motionless, silent and completely lost.

Rosalie and Emmett said their goodbyes next. Emmett hesitated at Bella's casket....he was struggling with his thoughts, trying to find the proper thing to say. He'd grown fairly attached to Bella, and had loved her clumsy side, so much that he'd begun to think of her as his little sister. He'd wanted to protect her, and he felt as though he had failed. Emmett had never been one to show much emotion, so it was unnerving to watch as he began to reveal this side of himself. It was odd - to see a person of his strength, of his massive size, tearlessly sobbing. His hands gripped the edge of Bella's coffin, as his body shook with grief. Rosalie grasped his hand, guiding him away.

My family shouldn't be suffering like this, I thought.

Alice and Jasper were still off in the corner. She was calmer now, and together they began slowly walking up to the casket. Alice kept thinking to herself, "I can do this, I can do this, Bella would kill me if she knew I was behaving like this." I grimaced; it was true - she'd be irritated with all of us. I could picture her standing there, her hands on her hips, her cheeks red with anger, her lips pursed. For the briefest of moments, I smiled to myself at the thought of her, before reality called to me, and devastation took over, yet again.

When Alice stood before Bella, I tried my best to shut her thoughts out of my mind. If I listened to her, it would break my composure. It was difficult, because Alice was screaming internally for Bella to return to us. Jasper was desperately trying to calm her again. There was something strange about him; he was detached from everyone, from everything. I couldn't hear his thoughts now, he was keeping me out, and the few times that he slipped, it was nothing more than self-hatred. I would examine that further, but not now - it was not the time for me to concern myself with my brother's state of mind. It was going to take all of my concentration to remain stable, and somehow push through this hell.

"Edward," Carlisle spoke aloud from behind me. He was with Charlie and Emmett, who were looking at me expectantly; it was my turn. I didn't miss the fact that Carlisle and Emmett were there to watch over me.

I motioned for them to go ahead of me. Walking behind them, I approached where Bella lay. The moment I saw her face, I had to turn away. The shock of it was too much. I had seen this image in Alice's mind earlier, but it still hadn't prepared me for it.

"I can't - I can't do this," I muttered harshly, my hands clutching my hair, desperately fighting to keep my sanity.

Carlisle and Emmett both placed a hand on my shoulder, trying to calm me. Turning slowly, I tried to look again. This is what I'd been waiting for - to see her again - so why was it so difficult? Breathing deeply, I carefully looked closer. Even in death she was beautiful - an angel. She was wearing my favorite blue sweater, and her hair had loose curls, just the way I loved it. Her face was peaceful; different from the last time I saw her. Reaching out, I gently touched her. Her skin wasn't cold, nor was it warm. She didn't feel the way she used to when I touched her, it was different.

I stood abruptly, and walked briskly to the other side of the gym, behind the bleachers, where I couldn't see her.. I had to clear my mind for a moment. Of course, Emmett and Carlisle were right behind me, their thoughts invading my privacy.

"That's not her. That's not my Bella!" I forced out, under my breath in hushed tones.

"I'm so sorry, Edward," Carlisle said quietly. "But you need to say goodbye. You need the closure. I know it's difficult,-"

Glaring back at him, I replied harshly. "No. I will not say goodbye. I will go through the motions if I must, but I will not say goodbye to her - ever."

I stood with my head resting against the wall, while I banged my fist against it. Emmett reached out, discreetly placing his hand on mine, lowering it.

"You're going to demolish that wall if you keep that up, bro," his eyes motioning silently to a small section in the concrete that had crumbled into dust. Stepping away from the wall, I moved to where it wouldn't be noticed. I didn't know how to deal with a loss this great. Nothing had ever affected me this way. She shouldn't be dead; she should be here, with me, in my arms. We should be lying in the sun in our meadow. I shouldn't be here, mourning her. I couldn't do this - I needed to get away, yet I didn't want to leave without her.

"Edward," Charlie interrupted, joining us. "Edward, I know this is tough for you. Bella truly loved you." He paused, sighing. "As much as I struggled with your relationship at times, you were a blessing to her. She lit up when you were around...you brought about a happiness in her that I don't think anyone else ever could have, and I'm thankful for that. You meant the world to her, Edward. If it hadn't been for you or your family, I don't think she would have stayed." His thoughts were genuine.

Charlie's thoughts and words calmed me enough to make it back to her. I kept expecting her to move, to turn her head to look at me, and tell me it was all some kind of sick joke. Instead, she lay there - still, silent, gone. As much as I wanted and needed to turn away, I couldn't. Tremors began ripping through me again as I reached out to touch her, running my hand softly along her cheek, down her jaw line. There was no flutter of her eyelashes, no giggle from her lips, no blush in her cheeks. I took her hand, as best as I could, in mine. Usually she would squeeze it to let me know she wouldn't let go without a fight. Now, however, it was just a weight in my hand - there was nothing behind it.

"Oh Bella," I whispered softly. "How could I have let this happen? How can I let you go?"

"She loved you, Edward, you know that,"Emmett thought to me.

"I can't say goodbye to you," I whispered. "I won't do it. You should be here with me."

"Edward, people are starting to arrive outside. You need to say goodbye,"Carlisle thought.

Placing my hand on her cheek again, I slowly leaned in and kissed her soft lips. I lowered my head to her chest, listening – I missed hearing the beat of her heart. It was then that I had to accept that she was truly gone forever; I was in the ultimate hell. Reaching into my suit pocket, I retrieved my mother's wedding ring, which I had purposefully brought with me. Discreetly, I reached my hand into the coffin, and gently slipped the ring onto the ring finger of her left hand. Pulling her hand to my lips, I placed one last kiss on her beautiful skin.

"This has always belonged to you, from the second you entered this world. You would have been my wife one day, I know that, and in my heart, you already were and always will be. You are my life. You will always be my life. I will not actually say goodbye, as I will never let you go. I will love you for eternity, or until I join you," I whispered, resting my hand above my heart, feeling the outline of my father's wedding band, which rested on a chain beneath my shirt.

Emmett began tugging on my arm, pulling me away from my beloved. Internally, I began to shut down.

Carlisle POV

As the public started to arrive, I gathered my family and joined Renee and Charlie. I watched as Renee embraced both Edward and Alice.

Once everyone was seated, we were escorted in. I made sure that Emmett and I sat on either side of Edward, just in case he felt the need to run, whether it be back to Bella, or away from here. Either way, we had to be here to support him - I was very concerned about his mental state. He must be in so much pain. I believe, had she lived, he would have married her eventually, and made her very happy. She had brought out so much of him; I was terrified at the thought of him losing it. I couldn't let Edward go back to the way he was before.. There was no way I could let him think of himself as nothing but a monster, because he wasn't - he was loving and loyal. If he was a monster, how could he love her so deeply? So passionately? So wholly?

Several times during the service, I glanced over at Edward, silently questioning his well-being. Each time, he'd only nod once in recognition, to let me know he was still handling it. Since he had left Bella's side, he had become disturbingly still and quiet. Deeply worried for him, I sat listening to Bella's friends from Phoenix tell humorous stories about Bella and her klutziness. When they commenced, I looked to Esme; she knew what I was thinking.

More feelings of fraud washed over me, as I prepared to speak about our dear Bella. Charlie had made the request that I speak at the service, if I were willing to. He had said he couldn't handle it himself, and thought I would be a fitting replacement - his comment that Bella had started to think of me as a second father forced my decision. How could I deny his only request of me? I stood and slowly walked to the podium.

"My family was lucky to have been a part of Bella's life," I began. "I met her shortly after her arrival here in Forks, after an accident brought her into the hospital. However, I didn't get to know her until my son brought her home to meet all of us. Bella was a remarkable young woman; I don't think I've ever met anyone like her. Maybe I'm not the right person to be speaking here about her, however, I can tell you that what I knew of her only makes me wonder more what she could have been. We've all heard different stories, but there's one in particular that I want to share. My story is a love story between her and my son, Edward. Most of you were able to witness and experience it as her friends, but my wife and I were able to look upon it as adults, and we saw so much potential for the two of them. She brought out the best in my son, and he brought out the best in her. They were a complete pair, constantly challenging each other to be better than what they were. They loved beyond their years.

It wasn't just Edward who loved her - we all did. My wife and I loved her as a third daughter who made our family feel complete and my children all became incredibly fond of her as well. Alice shared a special bond with her, partly because she now had a new friend to go shopping with, much to Bella's great delight, but she also simply loved having Bella around. I don't understand why she was taken from us, but I pray it will be revealed in the coming days, and that it gives peace to her mother, Renee, whom she loved so greatly, and to her father, Charlie, who she loved and respected above all things. It won't be easy for us to move on after a loss this great, but my pain is eased in the knowledge that she's up there, somewhere, looking down at all of us, wondering what all the fuss is about. I have a feeling she'd tell us to stop this and to get on with it. Sorry, Bella, but none of us can let you go that easy. You were too special. I only wish you could have realized how many lives you touched, because you've touched ours in more ways than one, and for that, I will be forever grateful."

Pausing for a moment after stepping away from the podium, I placed a hand on Bella's casket, before glancing over at Renee and Charlie. Renee was sobbing uncontrollably, alongside Charlie, who looked as if he were still in shock. The two of them were clutching each others hands, like it was the only thing each other had. As I passed by them to return to my seat, Renee got up from her seat, and threw her arms around me.

"Thank you, Carlisle. I couldn't have said it better," Renee said brokenly through her sobs. Charlie nodded silently in agreement, shaking my hand in thanks.

"I just wish there was more I could have said, more I could have done," I replied regretfully.

As I rejoined my family, I noticed Alice needed for this to be over - she was starting to bounce slightly in her seat from all the anxiety, and looked desperate to leave. I put a loving arm around Edward, like a father to a son, and hoped that he would find comfort. I tried to send him thoughts of comfort, but he was unresponsive, sitting silently, just staring forward.

The pastor returned to the podium; it was almost over, thankfully.

"In preparing for today's service, I came across a poem that I thought it was fitting:

Remember Me:

To the living, I am gone.

To the sorrowful, I will never return.

To the angry, I was cheated,

But to the happy, I am at peace,

And to the faithful, I have never left.

I cannot be seen, but I can be heard.

So as you stand upon a shore, gazing at a beautiful sea - remember me.

As you look in awe at a mighty forest and its grand majesty - remember me.

As you look upon a flower and admire its simplicity - remember me.

Remember me in your heart, your thoughts, and your memories of the times we loved, the times we cried, the times we fought, the times we laughed.

For if you always think of me, I will have never gone."

The pastor then lead us in the reading of Psalm 23, before he motioned for the choir to begin singing. The song they chose was beautiful, yet sad. As they sang their version of "I Will Remember You," the casket was closed. A small cry of desperation escaped from Renee, surely from the knowledge that she would never see her daughter again. Phil held on to her as tightly as possible, while she struggled to stay in her seat. Surely the reaction would be the same for any parent. As the casket closed, I glanced over at Edward. He him trembling...it was the first sign of motion he'd shown since walking away from the casket.

Once the choir was done, the pastor led us in a final prayer.

"Eternal God, let your presence rest upon us as we give thanks for Isabella's life. We thank you for the days of life that you gave to her. May her memory live long among us and be a source of strength for us. In the midst of the loss we feel as we experience the death of one whom we love, keep us in touch also with the memories which can sustain us. May we find the courage to face the changes which life presents to us as we go on from here. Give to those who most deeply feel this loss the comfort of your presence, and enable each of us to minister to those who mourn. Amen. Go now in peace."

Alice practically ran out of the gym, with Jasper following behind her. Rising from my seat, I took Esme's hand as I motioned to Emmett to walk Edward out, then we left quickly as well. It wasn't until later, just prior to everyone leaving for the burial, that I realized neither Edward or Emmett had emerged yet. I made my way back to the gym, and found him still sitting in his chair with the same vacant look upon his face.. Emmett was sitting next to him, so I sat down on Edward's other side.

"Edward, we need to go," Emmett murmured, staring intently at his brother.

Edward said nothing. He was shutting down - this was exactly what I was afraid of.

"Edward, please, you need to pay your respects to Renee and Charlie, then we can go," I said gently.

"Just leave me," he replied quietly.

"Come, Edward. We must leave now," I said, feeling horrible, as Emmett and I both took him by the arm, forcing him to stand. He didn't fight us; instead, he followed along listlessly, as if he wasn't even aware of us at all. As we passed the casket, Edward turned his head for one last look. I felt his body rock in resistance; looking into his eyes, I realized the Edward we all loved was gone...forever.