Break Me Smith and Belle by Geneva Lee

1





Belle





The cold is so deep it sinks into my skin and settles in my bones. The wind slices through the air around me, catching my hair and whipping it across my face. All I can see is white. There’s no sound except the faint cry of the wind that sends snowflakes dancing around me. It’s oddly peaceful despite the chill. A wail rises up, shattering the still morning. It’s distant. Foreign. A baby?

I want to turn to the sound, to find the child and comfort it, but it’s too far away from me. Soon the pressing roar of silence overwhelms the noise once more, until there is only me caught in my wintery snow globe. Pins prick my fingertips, my skin growing too cold in the dropping temperature, but I don’t mind. I haven’t felt this relaxed in ages. Why can’t it always be like this?

Calm.

Peaceful.

Alone.

A small voice taps at the back of my mind, whispering thoughts I don’t want to interrupt me. She’s better off without you, it murmurs, but what kind of mother would you be if you left her? Take her with you. She’s already here. It will be easy and then she’ll stop crying. You’ll both stop crying. Things will finally be better.

I take a step forward, moving closer to that blank oblivion in front of me that promises to set me free.

The voice is always with me now. It comes to me in my sleep and whispers the truth I try to ignore during the day. It’s right. We’ll both be happier once we find shelter in the peaceful cold waiting to embrace us. I can’t leave Penny behind. I’m responsible for her. And somewhere deep inside me, I know that I love her. Maybe I can find that feeling on the other side of this—in that place where we’re safe and happy again.

“Belle!”

It’s not the tiny voice calling my name. She never says my name. This voice is deep, radiating with authority, although a tinge of panic ripples under its command. Part of me wants to turn to it and explain that everything is fine. I finally figured it out. I just have to go towards the cold, bright light, and then Penny and I will be free. I can finally be the mother she needs. I won’t be scared or helpless. We just have to find that promised place, the one the voice whispers will deliver me.

“Beautiful!” The other voice cried again, and the world latched onto me. A new thought formed in my head: Smith. He could come with us.

No, the voice whispers. He won’t understand.

For the first time, doubt rose inside me. The voice didn’t know Smith like I did. He’d understand. He’d want to go.

No! I told you—you can’t tell him about me, the voice says.

I ignored her, turning slowly, still safe in the wintry peace whirling around me. My eyes met his, locking on, but before I could call him to join me, he pleaded, “Beautiful, come to me.”

I blinked, and suddenly Smith seemed so far away. His arms reached out to me, his words begging me to move towards him. It took a moment for me to understand. Why would he want me to leave this peaceful place? But his words drew me to him, and the world slowly returned to me. A baby cried again, and I remembered that Penny was in my arms. I glanced down to comfort her and spotted the ice below me.

“Smith? Where...?” But I didn’t need him to tell me.

I didn’t know how I got there. I didn’t know where I was going. Suddenly, the slight prickles of cold I’d felt ached to life across my body. I clutched Penny more tightly against me, worried that my increasingly numb hands might drop her. I was too scared to move, frozen not only by the cold but also the terror pulsing through me. Why was I here? What had happened? I waited for the little voice to tell me, but she’d gone silent.

Smith came as close to the edge of the ice as he dared, urging me forward with a firm voice that rattled with an undercurrent of fear I felt myself. I forced myself toward him, slipping one foot forward across the thinly frozen surface of the pond. I could see water rippling beneath it. Then a small line etched across it and splintered near my feet. My heart nearly stopped. Smith was in front of me, I reminded myself. Penny was in my arms. The ice was cracking along with my own mind. It took every ounce of effort to propel myself forward. As soon as I was close enough, Smith’s arm lashed out and caught me around the waist. He pulled me against him as the ice on the pond gave way. I’d been standing there only seconds ago. If he hadn’t come — if he hadn’t found me… I couldn’t bring myself to think what would have happened.

We crushed Penny between us as I held onto him, his own arms tightened around me. “Smith...Smith. Help me. I don’t know why…“

I didn’t understand any of this. I didn’t understand myself.

Smith said nothing for a long moment. He only stared into my eyes before he pressed a palm to cup the nape of my neck and pull me closer to him. Neither of us spoke. Finally, he drew back and searched my face. He was looking for answers.

I hoped he would find some there, so that he could share them.

“It’s okay,” he said, sounding as if the words were meant as much for him as for me. “You’re safe. Everything’s fine.”

I shook my head, moving away from him. I held Penny against his chest until his hands moved from me to cradle her. I didn’t want to hold her. I didn’t want to hurt her.

“It’s not okay,” I choked. I couldn’t explain any of this. Not to him. Not to me. “Smith, I think I’m going crazy.”