To know that my mother had sent me to that terrible place so that I would be tortured, and driven out of my mind from the psychological anguish that I endured, horrified me. She had been the reason behind everything that had happened to me. But more than that, she made it so that I was completely broken, and lost. I couldn’t even look at Belle in this moment, and I certainly couldn’t look at my mother. She had finally shown just how little she cared for me. Something that I had known all along, but not wanted to actually believe. I had never called her mom for a reason. She never felt like one.
I slowly began to pick at the skin of my wrists, seeing the scars there, and all I could think about was how painful it had been to receive them. Biting down on my lower lip I felt Belle’s arms around me, and I relaxed into her embrace, attempting to steady my breathing as I thought about what our mother had knowingly done to me.
Because of how fucked up I am, I have actually cheated on my own sister, with her best friend, and that made me even more untouchable in my own eyes. If Belle ever finds out she will hate me with everything inside of her. Perhaps that would have been better, then our mother wouldn’t hate me as much, but I look at my sister and all I can think about is how much she needs me, especially now. And I can’t tell her.
Standing to my feet I headed towards Belle’s room. I couldn’t handle any of this, being looked at as though I was an insect, that needed to be dissected, and hearing that our mother was pregnant, and I was going to be a brother—again. I couldn’t handle it. The prospect of helping to raise yet another child because our mother would hate it as much as she hated us was terrifying. I was already at a loss as to how to raise the three that I had fathered, as well as the one that was now growing inside of my sister. I simply couldn’t take anymore.
Making it to her bedroom I curled up under the covers, hearing the sound of voices, and more yelling, before I could hear Belle soothing our children. They must have woken up. I don’t know how long I laid there, but I am certain that Belle understood my need to be alone right now. Otherwise she would have followed me, because I knew she was worried.
Maybe an hour? Was it two? Had passed, and I heard the door creeping open, and I didn’t turn to look, instead I laid facing the far wall as I heard footfalls on the floor.
“Daddy?” I heard a small voice, and I opened my eyes, seeing little Anya staring back at me, clearly seeking out a place in bed beside me. My features softened, and I permitted her a space beside me underneath the sheets.
“Anya…Are you alright, sweetheart?” I asked her in my calmest voice, trying to keep it from shaking as I ran my hand up and down her back, letting her feel my touch through her nightgown.
I felt a small lump in-between us, and realized it was her stuffed teddy bear. “I am fine, Daddy…but why are you crying?” Her small hand reached up, and wiped at the tears in my eyes. I didn’t even realize I was crying until she pointed it out, and I made a small sniffling noise, and shook my head.
“I was just a little bit sad, sweetheart...nothing to worry about.” I insisted as I slid my hand up to play with her loose strands of hair, wanting the distraction, finding it was much easier to think about my daughter than the horrific things my mother had said to me.
“Are you sad because of the yelling, Daddy?” Her curious eyes stared up at me, with evident concern, and I found it endearing that my young daughter was so knowledgeable in the way of things.
“Just a little bit.” I couldn’t lie to her, I just can’t go down the same path my mother did.
She was quite for a long moment, fidgeting alongside me, and looking down at her teddy bear. “You aren’t going to leave me again, Daddy…are you?”
I was horrified, and almost instantly I pulled her closer, and pressed a loving kiss to her forehead, whilst smoothing my hands through her hair tenderly.
“No. Never. I won’t leave you again, Anya, I promise. I didn’t want to leave you the first time, and I won’t let anyone take me away ever again.” I was adamant with her, because that was one of my worst fears, and it could always be realized again. As much as I hated to admit it, my mother had the power to put me back away, because of my mental health. She could deem me insane, and put me right back into their dreadful care. If that happened, I would never go back. Not alive. I would rather die than ever return to that place again.
“I hope not, Daddy. I like having you around.” She nuzzled her face into the line of my neck, in much the same manner that Belle did when she was frightened, and for a moment I thought of Belle. Of all that I had done for her, and with her over the years. How I had practically raised her and myself. Some of those memories had come back with careful work from Belle, and those I had were scrambled, but they existed.
“I don’t break my promises. You are my little girl, and I love you too much to leave you.” I attempted to reassure her, and she gripped my shirt with both of her hands, as though fearful of letting go, and I rubbed my hand up and down her back, whilst my other wound around her shoulders, keeping her pressed against me.
She didn’t say anything, just laid there in my arms, with her face buried in my neck. It was truly a wonder that she could breathe, but she wasn’t complaining, and it was completely selfish, but I had begun to care for Anya more than my other children. I realized in this moment that she was my favorite, and I had never meant to pick favorites, but the others couldn’t compare with her. She had this spark inside of her, and it would always remind me of Belle when she was a little girl.
All was quiet outside of this bedroom, and I knew that everything had settled down, but that didn’t mean that everything was better, just that it was finally settling enough for the house to sleep. I couldn’t help but wonder where Belle was, but as I began to drift to sleep, I knew that I couldn’t think about that, not right now.
Two weeks passed, and everything in the house was so tense that the tension could have been cut through with a butter knife. Though it had taken quite a bit of persuading, Belle had been able to convince Taylor to stay, even though it was apparent that he was disgusted with all of us for what we had done, but mostly because we had lied to him about it. Our mother didn’t speak to either of us, which was much the same as before, but at least Uncle Ned had gotten her to go to the doctor to check up on the baby.
I was close to Belle again, but more than that, Anya had taken to following me everywhere I went when I was home. It was like she didn’t want to leave my side. Sometimes she would even crawl into bed, and sleep between Belle and I. It was perplexing to say the least, but I always promised her that I wouldn’t leave, and soothed her through the night. It was apparent that all of the fighting had taken its toll upon her. And I desperately longed to fix it, even though it was evident that there was nothing I could do but reassure her that I wasn’t leaving.
I noticed this morning upon waking up that Anya was already gone ( she must have been back in her own room ) and Belle was laying there just watching me. Her eyes were open and she was softly brushing the hair from my eyes, swiping my hair to the side.
“Hmm, Belle…” I mumbled as I reached up, and gripped her wrist, pulling her hand to my lips, providing her with a loving kiss to her knuckles. Her eyes appeared to be filled with sadness however, and I drew in closer.
“Eli…” She whispered, and I reached up to trace her cheek with my fingers, releasing her wrist as I did.
“Yes?” I asked her lovingly, and she made a small sound in her throat.
“I think…I am losing the baby….” Her voice quivered, and I shot up in bed, pulling the covers back from her frame, and registered the blood that had soaked into the sheets, staining her nightgown a crimson color. One lurch from her, and she was vomiting, all over the sheets.
“Belle! Fuck!” I got to my feet, and scrambled for my phone.
“I told Anya to go back to her own bed…I feel…feel sick Eli…” She wasn’t acting right, and it was apparent this was worse than just the bleeding. she was drifting in, and out of consciousness on the bed. Her eyes were fluttering closed, and as I climbed onto the bed to pull her into my arms, I could feel the blood as it pooled out onto my lap, and I felt sick. Another lurch and she vomited all over the bed, a second time.
So much blood, so much vomit, there was so much of it. And I was shaking, and crying as I dialed 911. In a panicked voice I spoke to her. “Don’t go back to sleep! Stay with me…” I couldn’t lose her…she was losing too much blood, too fast. I couldn’t do this, I couldn’t watch this. “Help! I need help!” I screamed into the phone as the operator answered questioning my emergency.
I was quick to belay to them what I was witnessing, and the amount of months that Belle had been pregnant. I was sick to my stomach as I told them all I knew. I held her in tears, coaxing her to stay conscious, and trying to make it better. Longing to fix what was happening to her. Knowing she was losing our child was the hardest part. I was sobbing by the time the paramedics were up the stairs, and into her bedroom. Prying her from my arms, and placing her on a stretcher.
As I peered down I could see just how much blood was covering both my clothes, and the sheets on the bed. Standing to my feet I stared at the doorway, and I could see little Anya standing there clinging to her teddy bear with wide eyes. “Daddy! Are you dying?! Is Mommy dying?!” She was in a panic, and she started to cry, loudly. Tears were streaming down her face, and she was sobbing, and wailing at the top of her lungs which alerted her siblings whom raced out of their bedroom to join her in the doorway. Pretty soon I had three wailing children to try to calm down, and I was still covered in my sister’s blood.
“No one is dying I promise! I promise!” I was panicking because I myself had never seen anything like what had happened to Belle, and I began peeling my boxers from my body, before I changed into clothes that weren’t soaked in blood, and raced to comfort my crying children. Hugging them, and pressing kisses to their cheeks, and desperately trying to reason with them.
Everyone in the house was already awoken by the paramedics arrival, and Taylor was hurrying towards me, and so was Uncle Ned. Mother of course was nowhere in sight.
“What happened?! Where is Belle?” Uncle Ned was the first to ask, and Taylor chimed in.
“I saw them take her out in a stretcher, what is going on?” Panic was prevalent from all fronts, and I didn’t know what to say, or who to comfort.
“She is losing the baby.” Was all I could manage, and that only made the children wail more. We had just told them they were going to be elder siblings, and now I had inadvertently told them that they were losing that chance. I was certainly a terrible father in this moment.
Standing to my feet I lifted Anya into my arms, and shushed her lightly, whilst Uncle Ned and Taylor each scooped up the other two.
“Oh my god.” Uncle Ned breathed out as he proceeded to attempt to calm Gabe, and I sighed, and lowered Anya back down when I finally got her sobbing under control.
“I need to go…can you watch the children?” I pleaded, and Uncle Ned nodded instantly.
“Of course.” He insisted, before I rushed from the room.
Down the stairs, and out of the house, I grabbed the keys as I went, before I stepped into my mother’s SUV, and pulled out of the driveway. By the time I drove to the hospital, and stepped inside, Belle was already in her own room, and I put on the required visiting sticker to head into the back where she was lying in bed. She was hooked up to more machines than I could count, and she was clearly unconscious. I had never seen my sister in such a state before. It was terrifying to say the very least, and I went to her bedside, gripping her hand tightly.
“I’m sorry…Belle…I am so sorry…” I breathed out, in heavy sobs, trying desperately not to think about all of the blood. I don’t know how long I sat beside her, but I know that it was a while, before the doctor came in. I lifted my head up from the hospital bed, as I heard footsteps.
“Hello, I am Dr. Peters, are you a family member of Christabella?” the man spoke in the most formal of voices, and extended his hand, and I shook it without hesitation. Wiping my eyes with my spare hand as I did.
“Yes, I am Gabriel, I am her brother.” I told him almost immediately.
“I must admit your sister is very lucky to be alive. Does she have a history of depression, or mental illness?” He asked as though it was a casual conversation, and I just stared at him dumbfounded for a few moments whilst I tried to find the words.
“No, I mean, she is grieving…she just lost her son a few months ago.” I explained, to him, my eyes shifting back towards my unconscious little sister. She looked so peaceful, and it was the most peaceful I had seen her in so long.
“She had high amounts of brodifacoum, and difenacoum in her blood.” He spoke slowly, and I had no idea what that meant.
“What is that?” I asked hopelessly.
“Most commonly? Rat poisoning.” He concluded, and I felt sick.
“She has ingested quite a bit, enough to kill both her baby, and nearly herself as well—“ He began to speak about treatments, and other things, but all I could think about was how sick to my stomach I was. I had almost lost her…and she would have left her children, and myself behind. She wouldn’t do that. I knew it. She couldn’t have.
“You think she did this to herself?! She didn’t. Someone poisoned her.” I insisted, a defiance in my voice as I looked at him. “She would never harm her baby…she wouldn’t have left her children.” And all at once the crushing weight of realization hit me. We had only just told our mother about the pregnancy, and Belle just so happened to be poisoned directly after the reality hit? I felt illness pooling within my stomach, and I knew I was going to be sick, but I held it back.
“I have seen many young woman do desperate things when they do not want a child to take care of.” The doctor persisted, and I fought right back.
“She wouldn’t kill her own child. I know she would never. She loves her children, and she it devastated her to lose Cooper. She didn’t do this, and I refuse to believe she did.” I insisted, but I knew if I pointed the finger at my mother that she would find a way out of it. I had no proof, and even going against her was dangerous for me. If I dared to speak out against her, I knew she would have parental tests of the miscarried child matched to me, and then she would have a reason to put me back in the institution, and I couldn’t go back there. So I kept quiet.
“We will see what she has to say when she wakes up. Her body has gone through quite the ordeal.” He wrote, and marked further things on his chart, before stepping back out of the room. Mentioning that he would check in later.
I sank onto the edge of her bed, and began to sob. Truly sob. Our mother had robbed us of happiness even though we had just lost one child, she made certain that we were robbed of the joy of having another. I tried to give her something that would boost her spirits, and instead it would now shatter her again. Leaning down I pressed a kiss to her forehead, and I sat there for hours, waiting for her to awaken, and listening to the sound of the hospital around myself all I could do was wait.
It was dark outside the window when I heard the first sounds in the rear of her throat. And I opened my eyes, instantly looking into hers. “Belle!” I breathed out in a heavy whisper, perking up instantly as I gripped onto her hand.
“Eli…what…what happened…” Her voice was hoarse, and she was pale as could be. I felt myself beginning to leak tears as I gripped her hand, my thumb rubbed over her skin lightly.
“You lost the baby, sweetheart.” I offered as the beginning of an explanation, my eyes searching hers, and there was instant realization, and then tears.
“O-Oh…” She started to sob, and I shook my head softly.
“Our mother….she poisoned you.” I didn’t want to tell her, but I couldn’t lie to her.
Belle started to sob even louder, and I pulled her in closely, and held her like that for a long while. Neither of us needed to say anymore, because we both knew after what our mother said she was capable, and willing to go to such lengths to destroy us both. There wasn’t even one doubt in either of our minds what had happened.