There was nothing. I lay at the shoreline at the bottom of the cliff, broken in body and spirit. The will to live had left me, and I wished for the end to come. I knew it hadn’t happened yet, as I was aware of the sounds of Lake Superior, the wind, the wildlife. But I saw nothing, felt nothing. I couldn’t have moved if I wanted to, and that was fine with me. I wished to become a part of nature now, and to disappear in her embraces.

 

I heard the people find me, the sounds of them crying, the orders barked to move me and get me to a hospital. It was as if I was eavesdropping on my own situation. I heard the dire pronouncement that I was as good as dead, that there was nothing to be done to save me.  Relief flooded my mind, it would come soon and the misery that my life had become would be over.

 

I thought back to my childhood, how loving my parents and Nancy had been. I had enough, never spoiled. I worked on the farm and grew strong and healthy. Papa had wanted the best for me, and his illness had moved me away from my dreams. I would be joining them soon, and I couldn’t wait to get a bear hug from Papa and a kiss on the forehead from Mama.

 

I went through my life, year by year. The birthdays, holidays, events that marked each one. When I got to my 16th year, I remembered the handsome, compassionate doctor who set my broken leg. Dr. Cullen his name was. I admitted to myself he was one of my crushes in life, even though I knew Papa thought there was something strange about him. He had only spent moments in my life, but he was the first time I thought about who I would marry. I had hoped for someone like him, gentle in touch and demeanor, with a spark of humor in his eyes.

 

I drifted off in the blackness thinking of the young doctor, and could almost believe I could hear his voice in my ear, telling me everything would be all right. That once the pain passed I would be good as new.

 

 

I felt pain. Searing shards of pain. At first, it was in my extremities, then shot up my arms and legs to my torso. They moved in endless waves, never giving a respite. I felt my organs as they shut down and stopped their functions. There was no such thing as time to me anymore, it was just an endless fire engulfing me. I could feel the broken bones growing back together, each strand of bone reaching across the chasm of the breaks, mending, becoming stronger. Each beat of my heart took a little longer, and as it slowed, the pain started to wane, no longer reaching to the ends of my hands and feet, losing distance until it was centered in my chest, a flame burning down to a coal.  As the searing sensations passed, a heat started to build in my throat. With a feral growl, I opened my eyes and sat upright.

 

Standing beside the bed was a familiar face. My brain searched for the name to go with it. The fire in my throat made it impossible for me to focus and I leapt from the bed and squared off. Then a most amazing scent wafted in the window and caught my attention. In a flash I was out the window flying through the trees searching for the source of the scent. As I got closer to it, I could hear the rhythmic beating accompanying it, thumping in my brain. I pulled up short and looked, seeing the school yard. Again, something familiar nagged at the back of my mind and stilled me.

 

The next thing I knew I was flat on the ground, the doctor on top of me.

 

“No! Esme Anne, no. Not humans.”

 

I struggled under his strong grip longing for the sweet smell that tantalized me. His voice pulled my focus back to him.

 

“Please, Esme, not the humans.”

 

Another young man appeared and between the two of them they wrestled me away. I let out a howl, wanting that which was within my senses. I fought them but combined they were too strong. In no time, they had me away from the school house, deep in the woods.

There was a different sound in my ears, still a thump but at a different pace. The smell was different too, but to my aching, parched throat, it was just as good. The men released me and I was upon a doe in a flash, the heated blood coursing down my throat, easing the burn. Once I finished I threw the doe to the side and tracked a button buck. I made short work of his supply and began to feel calmer. The burn was soothed. I lay back in the pine needles, looking up to the sky.

 

Was this death for me?

 

The two men appeared over me and looked down. My modesty kicked in from somewhere, and I sat up, pulling the hospital gown in place and wiping the blood from my mouth. I didn’t meet their eyes, feeling ashamed for some reason at what I had just done.  I felt a hand on my shoulder and heard the doctor speak.

 

“Esme, please, let me explain.”

 

I knew then who he was. My head snapped up and I looked him in the eyes, in recognition.

 

It was Doctor Cullen.

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