I couldn’t believe the words that were meeting with my ears. Eli and Anna? The baby that was being carried by my best friend—was my brother’s? I knew that Anna had had a crush on Eli since we were children, but she couldn’t betray me in this way, couldn’t slip my brother between the sheets, and actually fuck him?! This wasn’t happening.
She told me so blatantly, and with this coldness in her eyes that I had never seen before. It was a piercing glare that chilled my bones to the core. What had I done to deserve for them to betray me like this? And what had I done to make Anna hate me enough to tell me in this way, in front of my child?
I began to tremble as my eyes filled with tears, my top teeth sinking into my lower lip as I shook my head. I still couldn’t believe what I had heard, and I couldn’t process the look that Eli was given me, a broken down puppy dog look that almost made me feel sorry for him—which was wrong! I was so furious I didn’t know what to do, and at the same time I felt that I deserved it—his cheating. I had pushed him again, and lost not one, but two of our children. And just recently the thought of trying again made me so ill that I couldn’t eat.
I had tortured Eli with my touch until he wet himself, and I couldn’t feel worse about that. I was so upset I couldn’t even think of the words to yell at either of them. I was disgusting. I couldn’t even entice the man that I loved to stay in my bed. I had him straying into my best friend’s bed for comfort.
“E-Eli?” It was all I could think to say, I was trembling so fiercely I had to lean on the table to hold myself up. Was it true? Was what Anna had just told me true?! I wanted it to be made up so that I didn’t feel even more like a failure than I already do, but a big part of me knew that it wasn’t made up—how could it be?
“Belle—I was drunk—I didn’t mean to—“ But that was confirmation enough.
I held up my hand needing him to stop, willing him to just stop.
“Don’t justify yourself….I—you don’t need to…” I whispered in wisps of breath.
“Belle—Please…” He tried again, and I stared up at him with my shaking head, and teary eyes with a look that stopped him in his tracks.
Gabe was silent, and so was Anna. Neither of them were saying anything, but both were watching me. Gabe was too young to understand why I was upset, and Anna perhaps too shocked that I wasn’t yelling.
“If…If she makes you happy—If she can give you a child…a child that won’t die…that won’t be fucked up, and broken….then Eli—just…just be with her.” I couldn’t fight anymore, not like this, not when my whole world was caving in around me all the time. This was it. I finally couldn’t take anymore, and I headed towards the stairs, past Anna, past Eli, and his puppy dog look, and straight up the stairs into my bedroom. There had to be some release from this hell. This fiery storm that never stopped coming for me.
I could imagine Eli on top of Anna, and imagine how he must find pleasure with her, with the fact that being with her wasn’t a sin. It hardly could be called that when I had no legal claim to Eli’s heart. I had gotten him thrown in an asylum until he was broken beyond anyone’s control, and I felt as though I was going to be eternally reminded of my sins. What would come next? Would our other children be the next to have an terminal illness, and die on me? Must I lose everything that I love in all this world?
I had told him I wouldn’t carry another child, was the universe punishing me for the ones I already had? I couldn’t stop this crushing weight, and yet—I felt I needed to release it. Why couldn’t I be happy? Just once. Just for a little while? I hadn’t known true happiness with Walter even when he was pretending to be my knight in shining armor, and I wasn’t able to find true love with Eli. But was what I had with Eli ever truly love? Could he even love me now that he was so broken because of me?
I merely sat on the edge of my bed, with my blankets scrunched up into my hands, and I could see my reflection in the mirror across the room, propped against the far wall. I could see the pathetic shape of myself in it. See my tear-stained cheeks, my long blond locks, and broken down frame. I was thinner than I had been a few months ago, before I lost Cooper. I wasn’t pretty, and full of life like I had been when I was fourteen, and Eli had first told me that he was in love with me. I looked like something the cat dragged in, and the stress, and sorrow had changed even my complexion to look beaten down. Dark circles lingered underneath my eyes, and I had never felt anything worse than what I was feeling right now.
Standing to my feet I stormed across the room, and grabbed the mirror, and threw it as hard as I could at the wall it was propped again. Glass shards shattered everywhere, the sound loud—like a crash, and I stared down at the pieces, broken, scattered on the carpet, and I knelt down, on the carpet in front of them. The burst of anger was gone, but almost as quickly another notion came to mind.
Why were the glass shards so completely straight edged? So beautiful when the face they portrayed was so horrendous?
Lifting one of the shards I placed the sharp edge against my finger letting it poke into my skin, drawing blood from the tip of my finger, watching the red stuff spill forth, and a few droplets fled down onto the shards of glass underneath.
So I was still human after all. I still bled crimson, even though I felt like I was less than human. A creature of the blackness that had become my whole life. Clenching my hand around the broken edges of the mirror piece I cringed as I felt it digging into my hand, cutting up the sensitive skin, and I finally cried out, and dropped the shard to the ground, listening to it tingle among the rest as it dropped.
Standing to my feet I stared down at the crimson that now spilled from my hand, watching it fall onto the carpet, and then my bed as I sat down on top of it. Closing my eyes I took in a low breath of air, trying not to think about what Eli must have saw that made him want another girl more. I wasn’t pretty anymore—at least not to me—and apparently not to him either.
Had these last weeks all been out of regret? Had every touch, every loving kiss been all faked? Did he even love me now?
I couldn’t think about it—I didn’t want to, as I laid down on the bed I had been sharing with him—my bed. What had once been mine was now ours, and it had all been my choice all along.
Even when he told me he couldn’t, or that he didn’t want to, I had forced him to be with me. I remember his hesitance as clear as day, and I felt his smooth touches that I had craved all the same. I didn’t crave anything now. I felt like I was sucked into a dark abyss where nothing mattered but the two children that I had lost because of my love.
One to my mother’s hatred of me, and the other to my own selfishness at needing to have them in the first place.
Our love had broken us—broken me.
What possible use was I to him now? Perhaps a reminder of his pain, a reminder of something he was supposed to forget because a twisted doctor had made him believe he had scarred me. But the worst scar he could have made was desiring my best friend over me.
But could I blame him? Could I really blame him when I was so fucked up? I didn’t know if I could anymore.
I don’t know how long I laid curled up on my bed. Tears silently tracking down my cheeks. My eyes were red, and puffy, and my hand had eventually clotted, leaving the redness smeared, and dried onto the skin. But I had no reason to be pretty anymore, I was thin as a rail, and my bones would begin to show soon. I could barely eat some days because of Cooper’s death, and because of my miscarriage.
It was a long time before I heard the door creaking open, and the arguing from downstairs had dwindled to nothing. Even my remaining children that I couldn’t face today, brought me no joy. Not if their existence, made Eli want to stray from me.
“Please…Eli—Go away…” It was all I could muster up in a soft whisper. I could feel his eyes on me, I still look a mess in my pajama pants, and oversize shirt from this morning. One of his shirts actually, but it no longer smelled like him. I no longer mattered to him. And I can’t be sure now that I ever did.
“Belle…what have you done?” Noticing the shattered mirror on the floor he looked to me next, seeing the scabbed wound on my hand, and I clenched a fist, refusing to let him see as he drew nearer. “Oh my god—baby—you’re hurt…” He whispered.
“Don’t call me that—I’m not your baby—I’m nobody’s anything.” I gave him a cold, uncaring stare. I had no more left in me to pump him up, to make him feel like a man again. He had broken the last little piece of light that might have remained inside of me. He had snuffed it out with my heart.
He seemed to take pause, before his eyes lowered, “It was one night, Belle. One stupid night—“
“Only one? You expect me to believe that?” I breathed out, shaking my head as I found I had no more tears to shed.
“Belle—it was, and I felt sick about it ever since—you have to believe me…” He settled on the side of the bed, and I scooted away from him, turning my back to him. I didn’t want to look into his eyes, I was afraid of what I would see staring back at me.
Would it be a look of despise because he was having to talk to me again? Because he was having to pretend to love me when he didn’t? I couldn’t love me, so how could he?
“Do I, Gabriel….do I have to believe you?” I used his first name, deciding the time for his nickname had passed, because he didn’t want it—he’d told me that much from the day he came home.
“Yes, because I love you, Belle. Please—I am only in love with you. I only want you…I was messed up. Inside, and out. She convinced me to be with her, I was so drunk, Belle—so very drunk…” He insisted, “And I ached because we hadn’t been together in so long.”
And there it was. The admittance that I wasn’t what he wanted any longer. If I couldn’t give him the one thing that he craved above all others then what use am I? I am a broken thing. And I have lost too many children, too much light…
“It’s because I lost Cooper isn’t it? Because I am not attractive to you anymore…I’ve endured too much…” Whispering the words I tried to name what made him want to hurt me in this way. It had to be one of the things that I had listed didn’t it? I clenched my jaw as I felt my heart ache.
“Belle—No…” He was quick to respond, so quick.
Turning to face him I let him see my puffy eyes, red from shedding tears, and the general wreckage that I appeared to hold every day.
“Yes. It’s because I keep fucking up. I miscarried our baby…and now she has one of yours, healthy…growing stronger every day.” I whispered. “Why do you pretend as though she isn’t perfect for you? I know that you must be so happy that she is carrying your child…finally someone you can fuck whom won’t get you thrown in an asylum. You can have beautiful babies with, and no one will say anything…”
“Belle—please…I don’t love her! Stop! Stop saying these things!” I felt him grasping at my arms, shaking me slightly, and I cringed away, not out of fear, but from self-loathing.
“I can’t Gabriel—I can’t….because I can’t be what you want…I’m filthy—I’m disgusting. I am human garbage!” I shouted right back at him as I shoved him away, and curled up upon the bed.
“Don’t! Stop calling me by that name!” He cringed noticeably when I did, and I turned my face away from him. “You’re not garbage, and I told her that I never wanted it to happen again. And I don’t.”
Still he continued to insist, and I couldn’t find the will to keep fighting with him. “Please…just leave me in peace…”
I could hear him shifting, but he wasn’t moving to pull away, nor to leave the room, he was moving to lay beside me, and I felt his arm encompass my waist, but for the first time I didn’t feel comfort, only pity. It was wafting off of him in droves, and I could feel how he was affecting me.
I tugged free of his arm, and realized for the first time that I had no comfort no matter how desperately that I might have wanted it—I was all alone. My heart was empty, and I had had all that could be taken. “Go warm her bed. Maybe she will heal you properly because I have no love left to give you.”
I felt the stillness hovering in the air, and after a few moments of silence he stood from the bed, and left the room, the sound of the door clanking shut behind him.