Such a clear blue sky was almost unheard of in Forks Washington. The shining sun was a welcome reprieve from the near constant clouds and rain. Even the dense forest of trees seemed greener and more alive with golden rays tickling their leaves. It was not a day to be missed or wasted indoors, and Dr. Carlisle Cullen made sure it wasn’t.
The handsome doctor and his wife, Esme, had gathered their two children, seven year old Alice and twelve year old Edward and taken them on a family hike. Alice was thrilled. She had been begging her father for days to take her on a hike like he had done with her older brother Edward. They hadn’t had a chance to go all year due to schedule conflicts and inopportune weather.
The little ball of energy with wondrously dark hair and porcelain skin was truly a little gift to Carlisle and Esme. They had been blessed with two children and where Edward was calm, quite and deep in thought, little Alice was boisterous, curious and unstoppable. Both had inherited Esme’s creativity in problem solving as well as their father’s unquenchable thirst for knowledge.
Carlisle loved his family more than anything in the world and would give up absolutely anything for them. You could tell just by looking at his office, which was covered with dozens of pictures of his beautiful honey-haired wife and his two precious children. And they felt the same way. To Edward and Alice, their dad was a hero; he saved people. Nothing could hurt him and there wasn’t anything he couldn’t do.
As Carlisle untied his dirt-covered shoelaces, his mind replayed the hike they had just returned from. Alice had loved every minute of it and chattered off question after question about anything that popped into her mind.
“Daddy?” Her little voice was angelic and light as was her petite hand that currently rested in his. At the tender age of seven she was a small little thing with the personality of a giant.
“Yes, sweetheart.” Carlisle smiled as he knew what was coming. Alice’s curiosity was unstoppable and he always tried his hardest to answer whatever question Alice may throw at him.
“Why does that green stuff only grow on one side of the trees? Are the trees sick? Can you make them better?”
Carlisle chuckled at the innocence of Alice’s question. “That green stuff is called moss. And it’s actually very good for the trees. It only grows on one side because it doesn’t like the sun that much. Did you know that one side of the tree always gets more sun than the other?”
Alice shook her head vigorously.
“And if you ever become lost in the woods you can use that moss to figure out which direction you should go to get home.”
“Wo-o-o-w.” Alice sounded truly in awe at the brilliance of her father’s answer.
Carlisle grinned and ruffled his daughter’s soft hair, his large hand easily covering her small head. “Come on my little fairy. I’ll race you up the hill!”
Alice took off screaming, running as fast as her tiny little legs could carry her.
Esme always said Alice was a daddy’s girl. From the moment she was born, Alice had her daddy wrapped around her little finger. She made sure to remind Carlisle of this daily. Secretly he loved it. He prayed that Alice would always stay his little fairy, his baby girl. Too soon would the day come when she wanted a man other than her father. It would be a tough day indeed.
“Dad!” Edward’s panicked voice drew him from his thoughts. He darted up from his seat and raced up the stairs to where his son’s voice had traveled from.
“Dad!” Edward sobbed. The light was on in the hall bathroom and Carlisle burst through the door. Edward kneeled on the white tile floor cradling little Alice in his arms, tears running down his panicked face. She was motionless, limp, deathly white. Her dark hair was damp and splayed out in all directions, her eyes were closed, her small body unnaturally still in her brother’s arms. There was no hint of rosiness in her full cheeks, no splash of color on her normally pink lips.
“I found her on the floor! Oh, God. Dad, do something!”
Carlisle kneeled next to his son and pulled his baby girl from his arms, his heart jolting at the coolness of her skin. What happened?
“Edward, go call 911!” His son didn’t need to be told twice and ran from the room searching for a phone.
Carlisle laid Alice on a mat on the floor and frantically felt for a pulse, cursing when he couldn’t find one. He listened to her chest to see if she was breathing at all but was only met with silence. He was quickly losing his grasp on his calm demeanor.
Without hesitation, Carlisle began chest compressions, concentrating on not breaking any bones in his daughter’s tiny chest while still performing the life-saving maneuver correctly. His large hands felt clumsy and oversized with the task at hand and it killed him to see Alice’s limp body shudder lifelessly with every compression.
Come on baby. Don’t do this to me.
Alice’s skin was ashy and grey, her once full pink lips were tinged with a blue hue. Carlisle refused to give in. He promised his daughter he would always protect her. He was a doctor, her hero, he could fix anything for Christ’s sake. He couldn’t-he wouldn’t fail her.
He was still pressing on her chest and breathing air into her lungs when someone appeared behind him.
“Oh, Carlisle! Oh, please. My baby!” Sobs tore through Esme as she witnessed the horrific scene unfolding before her. She clutched a silent Edward to her chest and murmured incomprehensible words under her shaky breath.
As Carlisle counted out loud, his mind pleaded to whomever was listening. Fight Alice! Come on baby. Come back to daddy. I’m here baby.
He checked for a pulse again and held back a scream when there was no fluttering beneath his fingers, no beat beneath his ears. It had been too long, she had been too long without oxygen, too long without a pulse. It was over. His baby girl was gone. Sobbing, he raised her tiny lifeless body into his arms and cradled her to his chest. Her kissed her head, her forever closed eyes, her ashen cheek, her still lips. And he let the tears falls.
“I’m so sorry, my little fairy. I’m so sorry.” He sat there, rocking back and forth, keeping his daughter’s head pressed close, her arm dangling off his lap, stroking her hair. “Daddy loves you, baby girl.”