Chapter 1, Waking Up
I don’t know how to open my eyes.
It feels like someone stapled my eyes closed so I could never see the world again. So I was blind, except for the fact that I could see if these staples were taken out. I tried several times to open them, but to no avail. It was impossible, I decided. And that fact scared me a little. I could feel my muscles tensing as the true realization hit me; would I be stuck in this spot forever, my eyes closed, not having any idea what was happening? I cried out, a small, quiet scream. Would anyone hear?
I squeezed my eyes, even though they were all ready closed, and attempted once again to lift them open. It didn’t work. Figuring that it was the only way, I brought my hands to my eyes and gripped onto the lashes hanging there. I tugged upwards, but it didn’t work on the first try – well, my eyes opened, but I didn’t see anything. I kept pulling, and soon enough, it hurt. I bit my tongue to try to distract the pain away from my eyes. It didn’t work very well. On my eleventh try, however, I kept my eyelids up, and my eyes soon took in the sight of the room. I slowly let go of my lashes, but the lids did not cover my eyes again.
There was no point at looking around the room, not right now, at least, considering that there was a familiar face floating in front of me. Why hadn’t she helped me? Was I supposed to figure all of this out on my own? Great, I thought sarcastically. Just perfect. “Mom?” I breathed questioningly. She smiled gently at me, and used her hand to move hair away from my face. My forehead was sweaty, I noticed, the room was hot.
“Hey,” she whispered. I struggled a bit to lift the corners of my mouth.
A male’s voice stopped my mom, or me, from talking. “Do you know where you are?” he asked. My mom had thrown an angry look over her shoulder. Compared to the voices I was currently used to, his was incredibly loud. It caused an annoying ringing to start echoing around in my ears. I wanted to shout because of it, curse, but I couldn’t. I ignored the man. He hurt me, even if he hadn’t meant it.
There was only one person that I wanted. I couldn’t forget him no matter how hard I tried. Even the simple thought of him caused my heart to race, which to the male wasn’t a very good thing, since he started hovering over me. I raised my hands to try and push him away, but he swiftly settled them back down on my sides. He gave me a tight smile, and then backed away into the corner of the room, now just an observer.
“Where is he?” I managed. “Where’s…where’s Edward?”
The male, who I now figured was a type of doctor, so I will now call him ‘Doctor’, intruded once again, “No. None of that is real. None of it. You’re in a mental institution. You’ve been with us now for seven years.” He said it with such finality that I was almost fooled into thinking it was true. But it wasn’t true. I remembered Edward so clearly in my mind – he couldn’t not be real. He had to exist somewhere, and that somewhere was coincidently in Forks, where I had lived with my father Charlie. I was in a hospital because of being bitten by James in the ballet studio. That had to be it. It had to be. I shook my head the whole time he was talking. You’re a liar, I thought.
“How…I don’t even know what you’re saying! How…?” I blurted out.
“Do you remember?” he inquired curiously.
“No,” I answered. “No. I don’t. I don’t remember this place at all. I don’t know who you are, I don’t know where I am, I don’t know why I’m here, I just don’t know. All I know is that…Edward…and Charlie in Forks…I…Mom, tell him. Please, tell him! Tell him I’m not lying! I went to Forks because you went off with Phil! Tell him!”
“Bella…” Renee started…
“…are you okay?” Edward asked worryingly. He was leaning over me, his hands on the sides of my face. I stared at him with surprise; I told them that he was real! I knew he was, because if he wasn’t, I would’ve known. I would’ve known, because my world would’ve been crashing down by now. But he wasn’t just a dream that I had. He was here, in front of me, holding my face. I grinned blissfully up at him, unable to do anything but that. He seemed to take my grin as a confirmation of me being just fine. Edward gave me his crooked smile in return.
“Edward,” I sighed. “They told me you weren’t real! I was so worried. I mean, I always knew that they were lying, but still. The Doctor and Renee were so convincing…But you’re here now, and that’s all that matters.” He pulled away from me awkwardly, which was unusual. “Edward? What’s wrong? Did I do something wrong?” He didn’t answer, but instead, sat in the chair that my mother had been occupying before. “Where are Renee and the Doctor? Is Charlie here?”
“You need rest,” he replied somberly.
“What do you mean? I’m not tired. I’m perfectly fine. Can you just explain what’s going on around here?” I was going insane. It looked like he was starting to just…fade away. “Edward?” I screeched. My eyes widened as he began taking the form of my mother. I tried to get up, but I felt invisible hands holding me down as I thrashed around. “Edward! Edward! Don’t leave me! Come back!”
“I…” he tried to say.
“…don’t know what you’re talking about,” Renee finished. “Charlie is here, yes, but only because you’re finally waking up. He did come from Forks, but you never moved there. I don’t know who Phil is. And this Edward you’re talking about…isn’t real. I don’t know who he is, or why he’s in your head, but he’s not real, a figment of your imagination, most likely. We should let the Doctor explain, honey.” I tried sitting up, but the hands were still holding me down. Only now did I realize that the hands were the Doctor’s.
“You’re a liar, Mom. And the Doctor is a liar. I just saw Edward. He talked to me, and smiled at me. He had his hands on my face, Mom. You think I would imagine something like that? I can’t do that! He was here. He sat down in the chair you are now sitting in. He is real. I know it. You’re not going to convince me of anything else,” I said, sure of myself.
Charlie found his way into the room then. I was relieved; someone who would know that I wasn’t lying! He had to remember. I wasn’t the only one who knew the truth, was I? It couldn’t be possible. It wouldn’t be fair.
“Dad! Tell them. Tell them about Edward and me living with you. They’re both compulsive liars.”
He glanced at me strangely, but didn’t look at me for long. Charlie joined Renee and the Doctor. They didn’t talk about anything, but watched me for a minute. I cleared the back of my throat and glared at them all. I. Hate. You, I thought. Tell. The. Truth. The Doctor turned towards my parents with an almost embarrassed manner about him. I was little smug; you should be, I told him darkly in my mind. I wanted to close my eyes, even though I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to open them again.
“Can I talk to you?” the Doctor wondered of my mother and father. “…Outside?”
“No!” I shouted. “I mean…Dad, please. Stay with me.”
Charlie stared at the Doctor, who eventually gave in. He told me to get dressed into the clothes on the side of my bed, and then they would talk. About me. In front of me. I just can’t wait to hear what they think of me. “She’s crazy. She’ll never be able to leave.” When they finally huddled out of the room, I gave in to the Doctor’s wants and got dressed into the clothes. I had a feeling that the clothes were mine; they were comfortable and familiar, not to mention warm. I could’ve sworn I’d worn these around Edward. I sucked in a breath at the thought of him – where are you? I asked him in my mind.
No one answered.
I walked to the door and opened it. “You can come in,” I explained flatly. “I’m done. Obviously.” Charlie hugged me on his way in, while the other two just passed by me. I always knew there was a reason why I liked my father more than my mother once I got to know him. He was friendlier, and I didn’t need to watch his every other move like some people…cough, Renee, cough. The Doctor told me to sit on the bed. I did as I was told so maybe they wouldn’t talk as bad about me as they originally were going to.
The Doctor spoke first, “You have to understand the severity of what’s happened to your daughter. For the last seven years, she’s been in an undifferentiated type of schizophrenia.” He suddenly got up and grabbed one of those small-flashlight-things. I forget what they’re called all of the time. He shined the light into my left eye, and then my right eye. I’d kept my eyes on him while he moved away as quickly as he came.
Charlie was the only one who had been standing, since the Doctor and Renee took the only chairs. “We know what her condition is. That’s not what we’re asking,” he snapped. I hadn’t expected Charlie to go off like that; it was rare that I saw him angry. But I think I brought out different feelings within, dug them out of the core of his soul. Or at least, the thought of me did that to him. Something similar to those things.
Doctor didn’t stop, either way. “She’s also created an intricate lattice work to support her primary delusion,” he added. “In her mind, she’s the central figure in a fantastic world beyond imagination. The friends and acquaintances that she’s surrounded herself with in that world are as real to her as you and me.” I frowned. They weren’t fake. He should really stop that. “We try to get through to her, but every time we’re close, she creates more friends to block us out.”
“Alice is real. You can’t tell me that she isn’t,” I inserted softly.
“Who?” Charlie questioned me.
“A friend, right?” the Doctor inserted. Without waiting for an answer, he said, “Your friends. All the people you created. They’re not as comforting now, are they?” He reached forward to touch my arm, but I pulled away with a jolt. “We just want to help you get better, Isabella. Don’t you want that? Don’t you want to be able to stop dreaming about these so-called ‘friends’ that you created, since they’ll never be truly real?”
I kept my eyes on the floor. I didn’t want to speak with him. I hated him. He was the one who was trying to push the fact that Edward and Alice and everyone else really didn’t exist, when I knew they did. I had met them. They left scars and marks on me, though not visible. Edward had taken my heart and Alice my friendship. That, I was bound to remember. He could not take away those things with just pointless words. I wouldn’t let him. They were my memories to have, not lose.
“Mom, Dad. I want to go home. Please,” I begged.
“You have to stop the hallucinations,” the Doctor began again. “You understand? You have to get rid of the things you’re clinging on to that are in that world. They are safeholds for your delusions, but for your mind, they’re actually traps. We need to break them.” I must’ve looked confused, because he explained further. “By safeholds, I mean the reasons you want to go back to that world. Why you keep going back to that world.”
“Edward,” I said immediately. “Alice. My friends. Forks. Charlie.”
“I’m right here,” Charlie soothed.
“We have to convince you that these are not really your friends,” the Doctor concluded. “We have to do whatever it takes. Whatever it takes.” I gulped; I didn’t want to know what whatever it takes would extend to. I had a feeling that some of the things included in that category weren’t meant for speaking or knowing, except for those who had to know them. So I didn’t ask. He smiled at me and put his hands in his lap, pleased with himself.
“Go away,” was all I said.
“What?” Renee squeaked.
“I want to be alone.” I gathered up my strength. “So get out.”
Charlie grabbed my mother’s hand. “We should let her think about this,” he said decidedly. Renee just nodded, unsure, but then didn’t move. She was probably waiting for Doctor to leave first. The Doctor looked at me, did a small dip with his head, and then left. Charlie followed suit, so my mother was the only one left. I rolled my eyes. I knew she would be the one to stay. She never left very easily.
“Bella, just know. I love…”
“…you.” Edward’s voice is what brought my mood back up.
“What?” I asked.
He appeared to be confused, but only for a moment. “I love you,” he repeated. I giggled like a schoolgirl, unable to control myself – I loved it when he said that. Oh. Wait. Oh. That made a lot of sense. Anyway, I smiled widely at him. I tried to throw myself at him, but I could barely get up before he had all ready come to me and wrapped his arms around me.
“I love you, too,” I said confidently.
Edward cupped my face and placed his lips gently on top of mine. I could feel my heart racing, the beats falling out of the pattern that was supposed to be there. I heard the door open, but there was no possible way of pulling away from him when he was kissing me. His leg accidentally bumped against mine, since I was sitting with my legs hanging off of the side and he was standing. I yelped as I felt a sharp pain go through my leg, and roughly pulled away.
He cursed. “I’m sorry,” he apologized.
“What happened to my leg?”
“Ehrm, it’s broken.”
“Oh. Right. James,” I answered not-so-brilliantly.
“Well, at least you stopped,” a voice said sarcastically. “I’ve been standing here, watching you two. It’s not exactly the type of thing that you’re expecting to see when you’re walking into the room of your injured best friend.” I laughed, and turned my head to look at her. She hadn’t changed a bit; she was still the short, black-haired pixie that I loved. She jumped onto my bed and threw her arms around me in a hug, not wasting any time to do so. I was almost shocked at how fast she was able to do that, but these were vampires I was dealing with. I should’ve been used to it by now.
“I missed you, Alice,” I admitted.
She grinned. “Of course you did. Everyone loves me.” Her eyes wandered down to my broken leg. “You know when you go to perform something, and people tell you to ‘break a leg’? Well, they don’t literally mean it.” She poked my stomach before getting back up onto her feet. I narrowed my eyes at her, but I couldn’t stay mad at her. It wasn’t possible to stay angry with her for long. “Let’s get you out of here, shall we? I don’t know about you, but this place is terribly boring and saddening. Plus, I bet if you tried the food, you’d find it sucks. I don’t know, but isn’t hospital food usually disgusting? That’s what I’m told.” Alice stopped and looked thoughtful for a moment. “I’m rambling. Let’s go.”
“Alice,” Edward hissed. “We can’t just take her out of the hospital.”
“Oh, stop being such a good, pretty-boy. No one will care if she leaves.” He rolled his eyes, but took my hand and started following Alice. The hospital had a lot of pretty paintings and was very clean, very white. The receptionist, who was a red-head, smiled at me and waved. I returned the gesture, happy that I was with Edward and Alice. I was probably just dreaming of the Doctor and of “this world” that I’m currently in being fake.
Walking out the front doors of that place felt like a great weight had been taken off of my shoulders. I could all ready see Edward’s Volvo in the parking lot, which made me think that we were at the hospital in Forks, even though it hadn’t been particularly familiar to me. I rested my head on his shoulder as we walked, and closed my eyes. Everything was peaceful. Until…
“Bella! Bella, what the hell are you doing?! Get back here!”
I saw Renee. Edward hadn’t disappeared like he usually would. He just stood there, looking at my mother with subtle curiosity. “Mom! Mom, look! It’s Edward. I told you he was real! I wasn’t lying. I told you.” He held onto my hand tightly, and I glanced up at him. “It’s just Renee, Edward. It’s fine. Can I go talk with her?” And even though my hand was intertwined with his, she didn’t notice. She didn’t see him when I pointed to him.
“Okay,” he answered quietly. I let go of his hand and started walking toward my mother, before I noticed the men in the white coats coming out of the door. One of them had a needle in his hand. I whipped my head around to the spot where Edward was standing, and he was still there. I looked back towards the front doors and noticed that the men were running at me. My eyes widened considerably.
“Stop!” I screamed. “I want to go! Edward’s here, can’t you see him? He’s right –“ I turned “ – there!” They didn’t stop running at me. Suddenly, I realized that nothing I said would stop them. I started sprinting away from them, and found myself not tripping at all. What caused this? I was basically always as clumsy as could be, but I wasn’t falling at all. Not even tripping over my feet. But apparently, I couldn’t run fast enough. They were right behind me, and one jumped onto my back. I landed onto the tar, and screeched because my broken leg just hit the tar. Hard.
My elbows scraped against the tar as the person rolled off of me and I tried to move forward. Someone grabbed my torso and tried to pull me up from the ground, but I held onto it with my overgrown nails as best as I could. I didn’t want to go with them. One of my nails broke, and I noticed that it started bleeding because it went down too low. I felt tears rolling down my cheeks and attempted to kick at the person behind me. I wasn’t able to hit anyone. They were able to start dragging me back to hospital. So I did the last thing that I could do; I bit the person’s arm. I started running to Edward again, but before I could reach him, the person with the needle wrapped their arm tightly around my waist.
“Edward!” I yelled.
My question was, if he was fake and they were real, how could they be in the same world at the same time?
I couldn’t hear him, so I had to read his lips. “I’m sorry,” he’d said.
And then I couldn’t hear anymore, I couldn’t see, because the person with the needle had jabbed it into my arm. I felt myself go weak into their arms, and then everything went black.