When we were children, Edward would play me music from his favorite artists. His walls were papered with their pictures. I thought he played it so often because he hoped I would love them too. I will never forget this song he played for me. The girl's voice was haunting. Her words are disturbing. I wondered if she was trying to warn us.
God save us everyone
Will we burn
Inside the fires of a thousand suns
For the sins of hand
The sins of our tongue
The sins of our father
The sins of our young
God save us everyone
Will we burn
inside the fire of a thousand suns.
For the sins of hand
The sins of our tongue
The sins of our father
The sins of our young
I guess we should have listened more closely.
The sweat on my brow is great, but I don't stop until that damn stubborn weed is out of my garden. For the month of May, I was not happy the sun's heat was so prevalent. Where were my easy breezy days I had come to depend on? So much has changed. Even the weather took note of our situation and decided to turn on us too.
My back aches, and it doesn't help matters that I am the size of a house situated on my hands and knees, elbows deep in the dirt. I look up at the roses that surround me and take a short minute to marvel at their beauty. I hear the back door open, and I return to digging. I want to have this patch finished by sundown.
"Bella, that's enough. You need to stop. Tending the gardens is a lesser's job."
I laughed and looked up to Esme, who has her hands on her hips as she pretends she has authority over me.
"Look around Esme. There are no more lessers. No more hierarchy. You're a prisoner in your own home. We're all prisoners. Just because we are allowed to stay here doesn't mean we aren't. And I am not going to sit in that house wondering what happened to Edward. I would go out of my mind. Leave me be. I need to focus on my roses."
My trowel stabs the ground once more, and I finally free up the weed that has taken too much of my time. I throw it towards the pile and carry on toward the next patch.
These were the roses that captured Edward and my first kiss. It would be a sin to see them taken over by the weeds. I felt helpless in our situation, but this was something I could do. Focus on the unwanted growth. I had hoped being outside with nature would keep me from thinking about him. I was wrong. My mind would playback the events that happened over and over, hoping to find the opportunity to change the past.
Emily rescued me from the fire. I watched as Edward's grandfather's house went up in flames. No more gaudy vases. No more painted portraits. No more Edward as Emily told me the Resistance had captured him.
She begs me to move. To keep running. To get away but I can't move. My whole life feels as if it is coming to an end, and no amount of running will save me now. The fire heats up my face even though I am far enough from the flames. I wonder if the house will eventually succumb to the inferno, and completely cave in or if it will blow up as I had seen happen before in the movies.
Emily is gone. Choosing to run and save herself, she is no longer by my side. Good. She shouldn't wait for the flames to come for her too. But the fire never touches me. Never even comes close. A tall man walks towards me with his long rifle pointed in my direction. He is dressed in all black complete with a helmet on top of his head. He reaches for his radio and tells someone that he found a girl.
"Are you Isabella Swan?"
I don't reply. I simply turn my head back to the fire and wait.
That was the first time I could have escaped.
After the guard from The Resistance brought me around to the front of the house, I could see nearly a whole army situated outside watching the fire as I had done. The guard poked me in the back with his gun pressing me to keep walking until I reached his commanding officer.
"Is this her?"
"I dunno. She hasn't said a word. She was just standing behind the house, staring at the fire."
The officer in charge flips through the papers on the clipboard he is holding and then looks back at me.
"It says here she's pregnant. So, take it easy with her and get her ready for transport. She's going to the Cullen Estate."
Once again, the gun taps me in the back, but the officer with the clipboard waves off my aggressor.
"She's pregnant. Be nice, Felix."
"She's still one of them, ain't she?" Felix replied.
"Our orders were to apprehend the male and take the girl to the Cullen Estate. I don't think our leader will be happy if he finds out your trigger finger accidentally took out a pregnant girl."
Instead of being tapped in the back with a gun, my arm is grabbed roughly, as Felix pulls me along towards the Humvee. I was taken to the Cullen Estate. There was complete silence the whole ride as I waited for answers from Carlisle and Esme, but I only found more questions.
That was six weeks ago. Six long weeks with no word on where Edward was. Was he safe? Alive? Dead? The hand holding my trowel begins to shake as I contemplate whether he is still alive.
"Bella, please come in."
This time it was Alice. It must have taken a lot for Esme to send Alice out after me. Alice, in some ways, was far worse than I was. Jasper happened to be down south at the time of the siege. Now Alice was stuck here with us while her fiancé was safe. Apparently, The Resistance hadn't been able to breach the southern states, mainly because the south held all the military power. Alice believed Jasper would find a way to save us. She spent her days sitting and staring at the floor while she waited to be rescued.
"This isn't safe for the baby. Please come inside. I'm losing it, Bella. I'm starting to wonder if Jasper will come for me."
I stopped what I was doing and looked up to her.
"Of course, he is coming for you. Don't ever give up that hope. Jasper loves you. He will rescue you."
Sometimes Alice annoyed me with her constant sadness over Jasper, but I think I was annoyed because I knew no one would come to rescue me. I loved Alice. She needed me now more than ever. If I was to be honest, the reason I spent my time outdoors was because I couldn't stand hearing all the moaning and complaining coming from all the inhabitants of the house.
When The Resistance came into power in the North, It seems as if all the men were taken. To where? God only knows. The women, however, were condensed so they would be easier to guard. Since I arrived at the house, it seemed as if every few days another girl would show up on our doorstep being escorted in by an armed guard.
Felix stayed inside the house and switched off with another guard they called Demetri. There were also more guards around the perimeter in case we found the opportunity to run. So far, there hadn't been an opportunity to escape.
Our lessers no longer worked in the house, which meant all the chores of cooking and cleaning went to us. Can you imagine the pain when you had a whole household of women who didn't know how to cook a decent meal or run a laundry machine? Thankfully, I had been raised to know such things thanks to our Mrs. Cope. However, since I was so very pregnant, the other people in the house could only depend upon me for so much.
When we would need supplies such as basic food and necessities, Felix was in charge of ordering for us. No longer did we have access to anything we pleased. Also, we were rationed, so there was no occasion for wastefulness.
Alice helped me up from off the ground, and I tossed my trowel back down and sighed. I guess I wouldn't finish this patch today after all. The baby began to kick quite feverishly, probably waking once again. I feel a sharp pain to my stomach, and I nearly double over.
"Are you okay, Bella?"
I squeeze Alice's hand, but the pain passes, and once again, I am able to stand up straight.
"You most certainly are not fine. You need to rest, Bella. This baby is coming any day now. Do you want to give birth in the garden?"
I shrugged. It might be more preferable than in most places. We still hadn't learned if they were going to allow me to go to the hospital. The rose garden might just be a lovely alternative.
Alice pulls me along towards the house, threatening to tie me down to the bed if I insist on coming back. I will admit the air-conditioning was a welcome relief. However, the minute I saw Rosalie standing in our kitchen, I nearly wanted to retreat for self-preservation reasons. Rosalie was a Hale in a time when that meant something. She married Emmett, who was a McCarty. The love of her life disappeared into the night too, so I tried to be understanding, but like Esme, she was still living under the belief that the system was intact, and therefore she still had status.
Rosalie didn't know how to do a thing, so she would often try and trick me into doing things for her. She was the first to arrive after Alice and I were placed here. She attempted to take Edward's room, but I nearly scratched her eyes out at her audacity. If anyone would be staying in Edward's room, I think his child had a higher claim.
"God, Bella. You look like something a lesser dragged in."
"Rosalie. Don't start," Alice warned.
Rosalie rolled her eyes and sat herself down on a stool gracefully.
"Felix said our weekly shipment should be here any minute. I hope he finally took me serious with my requests. I mean, it's bad enough they are holding us captive; prisoners of war or whatever, but what does a lady have to do to get a decent night cream around here. You would think when this unpleasantness is over, they would want the ladies to look decent."
I sighed and gave her a discerning eye. "Yes, night cream would be far more important than a decent cut of meat or a better water supply."
Rosalie narrowed her eyes at my tone and huffed, getting up from her seat. She walked out of the kitchen, demanding someone come get her when our supplies were in. Alice left too, stating she was going to write another letter to Jasper. She hoped if she wrote enough of them maybe someday, she could get one to him.
I sat down on the stool, my back thanking me. I should have washed my hands before I sat, but now the sink looked a mile away. I see Rosalie's shawl sitting where she left it, and I reached out and wiped my brow with it, the light pink color damaged from my dirty, sweaty face and hands.
Nearly too quickly, my whole-body whipped around to the voice I remembered from once upon a time. I almost fell off my stool, but Emily's hands were quick to steady me.
"Oh my. Look at you. You must be ready to pop at any moment." Emily's hands caress my round stomach, but I begin to cry at the sight of her. I throw my arms around her and give her a hug. Remembering how I must smell and how dirty I was from gardening, I immediately let go and apologize.
"Are you okay? Did they find you that night?"
I notice she isn't wearing her usual uniform and yet she is here to drop off our supplies. Near the door is a cart of bags.
"I'm fine, Bella. You have no idea what I had to do to drop this off to you. I wanted to know you were okay. Of course, I heard reports that you were, but I needed to see for myself. You are probably due any day now, right?"
I nodded. "They still don't know if they will allow me to go to the hospital or bring a doctor here. Our situation is precarious, as you can imagine. Have you had any access to the outside world? Do you know what has been going on? We can only get a line or two out of Felix, and usually, it's when The Resistance is doing well, and he is celebrating."
"Yes, actually the lessers have been free to go and come as they please. They have access to all areas except ones like these. We have more freedom than we've ever had before. From what I know, The Resistance is moving south but still has not been very successful with taking the area." She places her hand on mine and steps closer, "if you go into labor, tell them your family has a history of complications. They will get you to the hospital. They won't want to risk something happening. They are under strict orders not to hurt you."
"Why me?" I asked.
Emily shook her head slightly, "I can't tell you. I shouldn't have said as much as I have."
She wouldn't tell me, but she knew. She knew a lot more than she let on, but I had more things I needed to try and press her for before she left.
"Have you heard anything; heard where they've taken Edward? Carlisle? Do you know where they are keeping them?"
Emily looked behind her. Her eyes were full of worry.
"Bella," she said fearfully. "Please."
"No! Please, Emily! I must know. Did they kill him? Is he hurt? I know it doesn't make any sense, but this is the father of my child. Please. If you know something, you have to tell me."
Emily's hands squeeze mine, and she looks down and contemplates whether she will give me the information I seek.
"Carlisle is at the hospital. He was too valuable. They knew his knowledge and skills would be useful. They're keeping him there."
I breathe a small sigh of relief, but I can tell from the look Emily is giving me that she doesn't have better news of Edward's whereabouts.
Once again, she shakes her head.
"I can't. You don't understand. They don't want anyone knowing…"
"I was kind to you, Emily. I never mistreated you. I need this one thing. Please tell me where they took Edward. Please!" I begged. My hands practically grabbing her clothing, hoping she would give me something.
"You couldn't do anything about it even if I told you. It's better this way."
"How is it better? Do you think it would be better if you were in my place and Sam was in Edward's? Wouldn't you want to know? Do anything you could? I know it doesn't make any sense. You, above all, people, saw the problems in our relationship, but I love Edward. I have to know."
My hold on her tightens, my lips tremble with silent, pathetic prayers for her help.
"Back off her right now!"
Felix has his gun pointed directly at me, and I instantly let go of Emily's clothing and take a step back.
Emily holds out her hand to Felix.
"She's fine. It's okay, Felix. Miss Swan won't hurt me."
"I think it's time for you to leave, Mrs. Uley. Your requests have been granted, and now it's best if you go," Felix says, lowering his weapon.
Emily looks over to me one more time and my eyes swim with pleas I hope she will give into. She steps forward and places her arms around my neck and brings me in for a hug.
"Please take care of yourself, Bella."
I don't want to wrap my arms around her for fear Felix will think my gesture is threatening. But at the last second, Emily's mouth reaches up to kiss my cheek, and she whispered, "the white ward."
She lets go of me and walks out with Felix leaving my body in shock at her parting words. I begin to cry but then shake it off immediately. This is something I must carry by myself. I can't let Esme or Alice know, or it might send them into a frenzy. I choke back the tears and squeeze my eyes tightly until the wave of emotion passes.
At least he is alive.
Every time I want to break down, I remind myself of this simple truth.
Edward is alive.
I didn't know too much about the white ward. Mostly what I knew was from stories my parents told to keep us in line. Some say it was an inch deeper than the pits of hell. It wasn't like the old-fashioned prisons where people sat around in tiny boxes and ate substandard food. When the new government came into power, they found there was a much better way to deal with the criminal element. Once a person was sent to the white ward, you'd never hear from them again. This kind of fear was enough to keep a person honest.
I put my mind to better use, emptying out all the bags had Emily carted inside. Rosalie's night cream wasn't amongst the necessities. Surprise. Surprise.
When I was about done with putting away the items, Esme walked back in to find me staring into the refrigerator.
"Bella? You haven't gone to wash up yet? Shouldn't you go? All these germs aren't good for the baby."
I sighed and closed the refrigerator.
"I will. I'm just…having a moment."
Esme nods, but I can see how broken she is. She needs to hear some positive news. I walk over towards the island and lean against the cool granite top.
"Esme. Emily came here today to do our drop off. She was the one who worked at Edward and my house. She helped get me out …that night." I paused and placed my hands on hers. "She said Carlisle is being kept at the hospital. He's still alive, Esme. He's alive. He was too valuable, so they are keeping him there."
I see her breathe out a sigh of relief and a smile I hadn't witnessed for many months shone brightly upon her face. She looks down for a moment, and when she looks back up, her cheeks are stained with tears.
"Thank you, Bella," she replied trembling. "He's alive. Oh, God. He's alive."
She sniffles and composes herself before asking about Edward. I didn't want to tell her because I knew the news would not be comforting.
"She said she will try and find out. Hopefully, we can both have positive news the next time she comes."
Even though I am dirty, Esme walks around and brings me in for a hug.
"Let's get you upstairs and into a bath. Edward will want to know his child is born healthy once he comes back, yes?"
I agree and go with her. My bath, however, is not relaxing even if it does cleanse me. I never needed a warm bath more in my life; something to help soothe and calm me. My mind runs wild with the tortures that possibly takes place in the white ward. I feel like a hypocrite. I beg Emily to tell me where Edward is. She tells me I don't want to know, but I manage to get her to tell me. Surely, Rosalie, Esme, and Alice would want to know where Edward is. Well, Rosalie might not care, but I have to wonder. If they took Edward to the white ward, they most certainly took the other, high-class men there too. It wasn't fair that I held this knowledge but decided my housemates were better off not knowing.
After my bath, I retire to bed without going down for supper. I needed this news to set in before I could face the rest of the household. My baby boy seems to be kicking up a storm guaranteeing I won't get any rest tonight. I use the time to think about moments with Edward. Everything from childhood memories to the very last time I saw him. All our problems in the past seem so trivial. Words he said to James, I nearly want to laugh at how upset I was over something so silly when I was facing the chance I might never again see him.
The next day, I go down to breakfast and find Alice sitting at the table by the window, probably writing another letter to Jasper. It's been six weeks, and I can see how her light has started to fade. When we all first arrived at the house, she was adamant Jasper would come. She figured he would be here in days. Days turned into weeks, and now I could tell she wondered if Jasper ever really loved her.
"He is coming, Alice. Please don't give up," I said squeezing her hand. She looks up at me with watery eyes and a tear escapes and falls down to drop on her paper.
"I wrote this letter today. I wrote it for you, Bella. Will you keep it on you and promise me when they take you to the hospital you will try and find someone who will deliver it?" She pulls out a ring from her pocket and hands it to me, "Use this to bribe them."
"Alice, that's your engagement ring. You can't."
She shakes her head and holds back her cries.
"I don't have anything else. All my jewelry was left at the house, and they burned it down. This is all I have left, and if it gets this letter to Jasper, then I don't care. They can take it. This is my only chance."
Desperation was beginning to set in. This wasn't good. I worry what will happen if I am unsuccessful with finding someone who will do as she asked. I take the ring, but I fear it won't be enough.
I sit and look across the table to my friend. My once vivacious kind friend who would wear an obscenely large bow on her head. She was so innocent. So much more than me. It had been a few weeks since we were put in this position, and yet now, Alice seemed to have aged overnight. I look to my left and see Esme sipping her coffee while playing with her wedding ring. She now has hope, but even the little my words bought won't last long. Rosalie nibbles at her fruit cup in silence, no doubt Emmett was on her mind as well. All these women were once strong because of their position in this society and yet now a good gust of wind would send them falling over since their men were no longer here to catch them.
In some ways, I was annoyed by their frailty and yet, look at me. I knew where Edward was, and still, I wait. Wait for what? Wait for this baby to come? Like that would change my situation. Wait for this war to end and for things to hopefully go back to normal?
Alice was waiting for her fiancé to come for her. Esme and Rosalie waited for their men to return home to them. I wasn't good at waiting. I didn't have the patience for it. I'm not going to sit around in hopes that Edward would come for me. Screw that!
Edward was in the white ward. I wasn't sure exactly how I would find him, but one thing was for sure.
I was done waiting.