She had thought that it was over, that the pain would leave her and yet it appeared that her views on what would come next were wrong. She had assessed the height of the cliff from the rocky beach below before she had started the assent. It had looked high enough that when she jumped, her soul would be torn free from her body. She had not ascribed to the religious view that taking her own life would result in further torment on the other side. Life had been cruel enough, she had to believe that there was some hope for release. Her mind had screamed at her as she had taken the steps up to the cliff, her toes digging into the ground trying to stop her as she approached the edge. It was all in vain though because she had resolved that there was no other way to continue. She had lost everything that had ever mattered to her and the world was no longer the place she believed it had been.
Her baby was gone, her beautiful child that she had laboured hours to deliver into the world. She had barely had any time with them before the illness infested their body and wrought the air from their lungs, stilling their heart that had fluttered like the wings of a butterfly beneath her finger tips. She had been inconsolable and after the burial, she had grown fearful. The announcement had reached the newspapers and she feared that Charles would find her. He had already done it once before and there was nothing to prevent him from doing so again. She couldn’t go back to that life, she couldn’t suffer anymore under him or anyone else. The pain, it was too much. Every breath that she sucked into her lungs burned like fire within her and she felt as though there was a leaden weight on her chest, crushing her heart slowly.
She hovered at the edge of the cliff face, tears streaming down her cheeks. She glanced down at the rocky beach, gulping as her natural instincts of survival tried to kick in. She looked away, tipping her head upwards slightly and looking out across the sea to the horizon stretching before her. It was beautiful, the sunlight beginning to fade, the sky ablaze with deep and dusky oranges burning against the stormy grey of the sea. What a sight, the last of my life. Esme thought to herself. With a shuddering breath she smiled, a small, sad curve of the lips and then threw herself forward, arms spread out wide like the wings of a bird.
Her memory became fragmented at that point, she was aware of this really only at the end of events. She could remember the cool rush of the wind, that sensation of freedom as she fell and she closed her eyes. Then came the impact, the breath knocked from her, her skin ripping and tearing, a deep pain blossoming across her head and her face. She couldn’t open her eyes even if she wanted to and all she could hear was the gentle rush of the waves lapping against the shore.
She tried to move her fingers but she couldn’t. Her mouth felt as though it were stuffed with cotton and she felt oddly separated. She knew this should hurt more and yet she could barely feel any pain, at first. Then the people had came and they had lifted her body and as soon as they touched her, she tried to scream but she couldn’t. She could barely breathe, she didn’t know how or why she was still alive. Perhaps this was purgatory, perhaps this was where she had ended up.
She detected sounds but she couldn’t place them, couldn’t feel any motions or touch. No one was speaking to her, she would be forgiven for believing she was on her own. Time was indeterminate as was place. She began to fear that she was in Hell, that this was her punishment, that the church had been correct in what they had preached across the years. She could still remember sitting in the pew with her elderly grandmother who insisted that all life’s problems could be solved by scripture. Esme had barely listened, certainly not paying as much attention as her grandmother. She had enjoyed sitting there in a pretty pink dress with a beautiful satin bow in her hair. The birds had been twittering in the trees, their song a gentle background to the sermon. It had been sunny that day and it had been warm and yet she did not feel any warmth, she felt coldness, an icy chill creeping over her skin.
“Esme.” Someone was speaking to her. The voice was soft and melodic and it seemed familiar to her but she couldn’t quite place it. “Esme, can you hear me?” The voice asked again, a slight touch of stress to the words. She tried to move but she couldn’t. She tried to open her eyes. It took her two attempts but on the second attempt she was successful, opening her eyes and looking at the angelic face hovering above her. She recognised the face and her breath hitched. She had dreamt of that face so many times over the intervening years, there was no way that she would have been able to forget it.
“Dr… Cullen?” She asked, her voice breathy, her words slurred. It was so difficult to speak. He smiled at her, seemingly pleased that she recognised him although there was a heavy sorrow in his eyes that would have been heart breaking.
“You have been badly hurt Esme. You won’t survive the night, they already believe that you are dead.” He explained. Esme tried to smile, her facial muscles barely moving. That was what she wanted, she wanted to die and she was gratified to hear that her end was on it’s way. He stared at her for a few moments, almost as though he were assessing her condition, grasping some sort of problem that challenged his ethics. He was a kind man.
Close your eyes.” He told her, his voice barely above a whisper, his breath sweet as he leaned in closer to her. With a soft sigh, she did exactly as he had instructed, waiting blissfully for the end.
“I will save you.” The words were so quietly spoken that they might never have been spoken at all and she felt the tender brush of his lips, colder than ice, against the shell of her ear. The next thing she felt was a piercing in her neck and she tried to pull away from the sensation but she could feel heavy weights holding her down by the arms. She didn’t know what was happening anymore, if ever she had known before. She just wanted to die, that was all that she wanted.
Then came the fire and all Esme knew was the burning creeping through her veins. She was burning from the inside out and she tried to scream, her mouth stretching wider although no sound came out.
“Stay with me Esme. I’m right here, stay with me.” The words intruded into her mind, an attempt at a soothing balm as she felt the burning like needles of fire penetrating her skin and her organs, everything was a pain unlike any other pain she had known before but he was still there, she could hear him. She wanted it to stop, she wanted everything to stop. She didn’t want to stay with him and yet she did. Even as she lay there, her body hardly able to move, the sheer agony unfathomable, she could see him so clearly in her mind, his eyes heavy with feeling, dark shadows under his eyes, looking at her, his gaze piercing her very soul.
“Stay with me.”