Chapter 30: the Patch Adams Cure
I nearly die when she walks in. She pauses at the door. One finger in her mouth, a bowl in her other hand. Her voice is an octave higher. Fake. Bimbo-ish
"I heard there is a very sick patient in this room."
It hurts, but I laugh. She's wearing…she must have gotten it from a costume store…or sex store. I'm not sure. But I think she's supposed to be a nurse. It's tight, white and her breasts are barely covered. Paper hat. Red high-heels to match red glossy lips. Jesus. She sits on the bed. She lifts the spoon and brings it to my mouth.
"I'm not too sick to feed myself, Bella."
There's wickedness in her eyes. "Edward, don't make me get out the restraints. I have them and I know how to use them. Open."
Another painful chuckle. I listen to her and open my mouth. She feeds me the soup and it feels good on my throat. "Did you make this?" She has a proud smile on her face, but her eyes are staring at the bowl.
Her head nods. "But Esme gave me the stuff and it's her recipe. I just followed the directions."
"It's good. I like it." She feeds me another spoonful. "You didn't have to dress up for Halloween though," I tease.
She rolls her eyes. "It's a nurse. I'm a nurse taking care of my sick patient. Catch up, Edward."
"Apparently you need a trip to the hospital. That's not what nurses wear. Not even close."
"Well maybe they should."
I look her over. I sigh. "Yeah, can't argue with that one."
She laughs and moves to straddle my legs. She feeds me more soup. "I think I understand why you like being a Doctor. This is fun."
I smile at her. "For the record, Bella, I don't spend my day sitting on my patients - half naked - feeding them soup."
"You know, Patch Adams believed you could cure sickness through happiness, Edward."
"I can't argue with that, either. But…medicine has its place, too. Not everything can be cured just by laughing. That was the downfall in his prescription."
"How is my prescription doing?"
I smile. "Your soup is perfect. Thank you." I smile wider. "And your boobs certainly aren't hurting."
Bella laughs and sets the soup aside. She leans forward; her hands at my sides. "Maybe you should squeeze them to make sure I'm giving you a proper dose."
She's being playful and I don't want to sour her mood. At least, that's what I'm telling myself. I palm her breasts and squeeze a few times. "I think I'm ready to go back to work tomorrow."
Bella laughs at my joke and I lower my hands. They run along her sides and I smooth my palms over her back. She feels so good like this. My body agrees. I hold her in my arms, her chest to my chest. "You'd make a good Patch Adams, Bella. You bring me a lot of happiness." She stares at me. There is a pride on her face I haven't seen before. I want it to stay.
She rubs against me and the vixen is back. "I think a found a cure for you, Dr. Cullen."
Laughter vibrates from my chest against hers. "If only all nurses were as beautiful, the World would be a much happier place, Bella."
And I mean it. And I stare at her lips. Red. Close. So close.
"Did you just flirt with me, Cullen?"
I close my eyes. "I think it's the cough syrup. High alcohol volume." My lips smile and I peek an eye open.
"You should be doped up more often, then. You're much more fun." She leans away and I am fed the rest of my soup.
I feel like shit.
Still like shit, but a little better. Fever is gone, but so is Bella's soup.
Esme visits me in the afternoon. She brings food and cough drops and tissues and I love my Mommy. Ice-pops. With real fruit in them. I'm a lucky bastard.
"How's my boy?" She sits on the edge of the couch. The threat of being contagious is gone. I'm sick of being in my room. Plus, Bella is cleaning up there, vacuuming and it is killing my ears.
I take a bite of my ice-pop. Strawberry. "I think I'll survive."
She brushes my hair away from my face, just like I'm ten. "You know it amazes me that Alice has no concern for her health or eating habits and she never gets sick. You on the other hand, go out of your way to be as health conscious as possible and here you are, riddled with the flu. How is that possible?"
"Her body is probably used to fighting off shit and by shit, I mean shit that's not supposed to be there. Like triple chocolate cookies and fried pound cake with whipped cream." I take a bite. "Even though that does sound delicious."
Esme smiles. "You curse too much, Dear…but I get what you're saying."
Bella is coming down the stairs. I raise my voice a little. "It's all Bella's fault. She's a bad influence."
She looks at me. I wink at her. She scowls.
"Leave Bella alone, Edward. And for the record, you cursed too much before Bella lived here."
Bella smiles before she disappears into the kitchen. I look back to my Mom. "By the way, thank you for giving her the recipe to your soup."
"I should be thanking her for making it."
I sit up a little. My voice lowers. "You don't understand, she doesn't like cooking, but not because she doesn't find it enjoyable, but because she doesn't think she can." I stare at my mother and she gets it.
Esme nods and kisses my face. "Well I happen to have many more recipes. Perhaps they need a new home."
I smile at her and she stands. "I need to get going. Your father is speaking at some dinner thing tonight. I'm supposed to meet Alice at the salon, soon. I wish you could come."
I laugh. "I'll take being sick over listening to Dad's boring speeches any day."
"Edward, be nice."
She leans down and kisses me. "And call your sister. She misses you."
"Ma, I've been dying for the last three days," I complain.
"No excuses. Call her."
I mumble under my breath and she says goodbye to Bella. When she is gone, I flip through the channels and my phone is glaring at me from the coffee table. I pick it up and scroll to Alice's name. I want to talk with her in person, so I simply let her know things are okay between us with a simple text message.
Have fun listening to dad's speech. I'll be eating popsicles and laughing at you from my couch.
I rest my phone on my chest and go back to channel surfing. Politics. No. News. No. Some sock puppet show on MTV. No. My team is losing. No. Bella plops down on the couch. She almost sits on my feet. Yes. My phone buzzes. Yes.
I'll be sexting with Jasper all night. Plus, they are serving filet. Bite me.
My brow furrows. "What the hell is sexting?" I'm asking myself, but Bella hears.
"When you send someone dirty messages via text message. You know, like phone sex."
I look at her. I think. My mouth opens. I have nothing to say. She laughs and shrugs her shoulders. "Personally I don't see how that's sexy. Not only are your hands busy typing, but then you have to wait in between each text and like…what if the other person is a slow typer? I'm a slow typer. It would never work for me."
She looks serious as she contemplates this and I cannot help but to laugh. She eyes me. "Is someone asking you to do that, Cullen?"
I shake my head. "No, no, no. Alice is just trying to creep me out. I didn't know what hell it was though…but now that I do…yeah, officially creeped out."
Her eyebrow lifts. "She's sexting you?"
I palm my face. "No….what….Bella, she's my sister."
"That doesn't always stop some people, Edward. Plus, you're not blood related. I don't know what kind of freaky shit your family is into." She's teasing. I like it. I lean forward and grab her arm, pulling her towards me….except now we are sort of laying down. Not my original plan. I don't fix it.
"She's sexting her boyfriend. Jasper." I show her the phone and she laughs.
"That's a stupid name."
I shrug and it's a little awkward being this close. But not really. I can't explain it. Bella's quiet, but she doesn't move. Her fingers are picking at my shirt, but her eyes are on the screen.
"Why are you watching dolphins mating?" Her lips smile. I look at the screen. Shit. And yeah, sea creatures are humping.
I shake my head. "I just stopped there when Alice texted me. And you almost sat on my feet."
She steals the remote from me. "Good, because bestiality is not a turn on." She flips the channel. "I know I'm fucked up, but even I wouldn't fuck a horse. I mean, how is that even possible?" She keeps flipping. I steal the remote back. She glares at me.
"You used the word bestiality and then proceeded to ask about making love to a horse in my living room. You lost your rights to the remote."
She's quiet as I flip through the channels. I expect her to say something snarky in return, but she doesn't. I assume I upset her. I look at her to apologize. Her eyes are watching me, but she doesn't look hurt.
Her voice is small. Her eyes are sincere. Scared, maybe? "Can you really die if you get sick, Edward?"
I stare at her. My brows knit together. "Why would you ask that?"
"You told Esme you were dying." And her face becomes ten years younger.
"I was just kidding, Bella."
"But could you? Bree has one of your kidneys," she clarifies, her voice fading out towards the end.
I stare at her a moment longer. I flip the television off. This requires more than a yes or no. I roll to my side. Bella sinks down facing me; her back pressing into the couch. I slide one hand under the pillow, the other smooths over her hair. Flaxen and soft. She's watching me. It's quiet. Too quiet.
"You said you like music, right?" She nods. I get up and put on something that is mellow and then resume my position on the couch. "Just because I have one kidney, it doesn't mean I'm going to die, Bella."
"I'm sure it doesn't help."
I keep moving my hand over her hair. "It's alright for me. Bree is the one who has to worry."
"Do you think she'll die?"
"We all die, Bella."
"But she could die….easier. Right?"
I nod. "Yeah."
"Aren't you scared?"
I let my finger slide through her hair. It curls around my finger and I keep twirling it, keeping my eyes trained there. "Sometimes."
All the time. She can't see that though. I'm still looking at her hair. "But there's no point. We all die, like I said. I could be healthy as a…horse," her lips twitch as I say the word, "but get hit by a car, or choke when I'm eating something…just something completely random and unexpected. You just never know when your time will be up, so why not make the best of it. Just try and be happy. Right?"
I shift my eyes back to Bella. "I think you're catching Patch Adams Fever."
I smile and let the strand of her hair unwind from my finger. I use it to caress her cheek, instead. "Or maybe I just had a good doctor."
"Nurse," she corrects. "I could put it back on. It's still in my closet, upstairs."
Laughter vibrates in my chest. My fingertips run down her cheek, to the underside of her chin. Soft. Sweet. What am I doing? Why do my eyes want to look at her lips? Pink. Why do my fingers find their way to her skin? Warm. It would feel so good to just lean in.
"I like this song." Her words make me aware there is music even playing. "Do you like this song?"
I nod. "It's in my collect, isn't it?"
She smiles. "Are you feeling better, today?"
Remarkably. Better than better. Slightly new. "Yeah."
"Good enough to dance?"
I laugh a little. "You want to dance, Bella?"
"You said to live it up…so….yeah. I want to dance. I mean, I could get hit by a train or choke on something…or whatever the hell you said and there went my chance to dance to one of the best Ray Charles songs ever made. Right?"
I laugh and simply sit up. I take her hand and pull her with me. The room is dark and it is approaching night time; dusk. Dim grey light. The fire place isn't on. I was trying to keep the fever away. There is a new one. My hands go around her waist, fingers locking behind her back. Her arms rest on mine and we are not so much dancing; more like swaying back and forth. It is right. It is wrong. I am wrong. It is just a dance, casual. My body disagrees. The heat in my face and under my breastbone disagrees. The tingling under my skin disagrees.
"You know the one thing I like about you, Edward?"
I smile. "Just one thing. Nice. And no, what is the one thing you like about me?"
She's being sincere. She's looking at me. In the eye. Like Esme said people do when they are being honest. "You always say what you mean. Well, not about your stuff….but when you say something to me, you don't lie."
"How can you tell? Maybe I'm just a good liar, Bella."
She shakes her had. The bottom of her hair touches my hands on her lower back. It's like a feather. Soft; somehow arousing. Don't ask why. I couldn't tell you.
"It's in your eyes. I can tell your telling the truth. I could always tell when my Johns were lying. Even if what they were saying was supposed to be kind, or sexy or whatever. I knew they were lying; which makes no sense, considering they would get what they wanted, anyhow."
My hold on her tightens. "Maybe they were just lying to themselves."
Her shoulders shrug. "Maybe."
I remove my arms from around her waist. The song isn't over. Her head tips up. I pass my fingers through her hair; looking at her face. "I don't have a reason to lie to you, Bella. I promise I won't."
Dark and deep. Those are her eyes. In the dim light of the room. Caramel and deep, if the room were illuminated. Trustful. I want that trust. My body wants something else. If I give in to it, the trust is gone. Bella is gone. This Bella. The real Bella. Soft. Warm. Pink. I wrap my arms around her shoulders, hugging her to me and finish dancing to the song.
Her heart beats against my chest. My heart to her ear. And this okay, too. I'm happy like this. She's happy like this. Perhaps they are interchangeable. My happiness for hers and then trust. Her happiness for mine and then trust. The piano is playing in this song, but all I hear are the words. My notes that sit on the book behind me, on my piano are in my ears.
A song of you
Comes as sweet and clear
As moonlight through the pines
Other arms reach out to me
Other eyes smile tenderly
Still in peaceful dreams I see
The road leads back to you
And no other truth exists. Seven simple lines sum up everything that I haven't understood. The chords I have written. The reason why showing Bella the trees on Christmas felt brand new. My blindness to Kate and her advances. My distaste for what should be desired for and from a woman. Warm blankets. A desire to come home.
I hug her tighter.
I don't know much about Patch Adams, but I remember him saying, "You treat a disease, you win, you loose. You treat a person, I guarantee you, you'll win, no matter what the outcome."
Maybe his prescription had been correct. The truth is that we all are going to die, someday. There is no cure for that. But the life you lead until you arrive to your final resting place…perhaps that is the part I never understood about his theory.