Even with the afternoon suddenly turning dreary, Bella was having the best time on her secret vacation to Sunset Valley. When the rain began to fall, she felt so invigorated by each droplet that she stayed in the bay. She still had time before she needed to return to the hotel to shower and change for their dinner reservation at Le Coriscan Bistro. The desk clerk said it was the best restaurant in town.
The ocean glittered in the distance, like a faint gem sparkled. Its waves lulled about sleepily and the white foam buzzed on the crest before it frothed over into a full-blown crash. She tugged her straps tighter as the wind picked up, hoping she hadn’t already worn out another bathing suit. The salty air soothed her skin, and she drank in every drop, feeling more alive than she had ever felt before. All she could see was miles and miles of water and gorgeous little coves hugging the shoreline. The only sounds occupying the space were her slight disturbances of surface with her arms and the plink-plonk-plink of the raindrops and the splish-splosh-splash of the ocean all around her. That is until… she heard a man scream and the terrifying sound of dead weight breaking the surface tension. Bella whipped her gaze around in all directions, first looking farthest into the ocean and then back to the beach and then out to the inlet. She squinted her eyes as she heard what sounded like choking and gagging.
“Oh sweet Jesus,” she exclaimed, hoping she could figure out the direction of the drowning man.
Bella squeezed her eyes shut, invoking something her parents had always told her not to. They said that it was from the devil. They said it would do more harm than good. They said it was dangerous. She had no choice. Someone was dying. She could feel his blood flowing through his veins, and she winced. The feeling was unpleasant and it had been a long time since she could feel the life energy of another human being. A normal being shouldn’t be able to feel a life force slipping away into oblivion. Bella knew that. Then again, she wasn’t fully Sim.
Bella exhaled, and sent a high-pitched cry across the water, much too high for the drowning human to hear. As she closed her eyes, she could see a map of the ocean and waves of light. She followed the light paths with her mind and she could see his skeleton hand waving above the water before disappearing below the waters again. When she opened her eyes again, they glowed – two little beacons of light in the fog-enshrouded bay. She found him. Her heart beat quickly as she swam in his direction.
“I’m coming,” she yelled, swimming in the direction of the waving hand still above the surface.
Her ears were still ringing from the sound she made, and only she could hear it, but she traced the pathways of light, only visible to herself, and tried to ignore the impending headache. At one point, the sound grew so loud, she found herself wincing and swimming off-track as she rubbed the sides of her skull and willed herself forward. Must keep going… she grunted.
When she reached the location, Bella noticed the appeared to be floating down toward jagged rocks, a hidden reef. She hardly gasped for breath before diving down to reach the man she had noticed earlier from the beach. He was sinking, his body limp, his eyes closed. Bella prayed fiercely that she was not too late. She recalled half the Lord’s Prayer, the one her father read every Sunday from the pulpit. She reached for the words of an Af’simican spiritual poem her mother quoted, and repeated the only phrase she knew, “from the waters, come life.” She remembered snippets of a song, Amazing Grace, the hymn most often sung at funerals.
No one is dying today, she thought with angry determination as she pummeled through the waves, stretching out her arm hoping to grasp his hand. She managed to slip her arms around his waist and tugged him from the jaws of death, the ragged rocks of the reef, towing him to life.
His limp body broke through the water first, and Bella gasped for air as her head hovered over the surface. They were hit with a wave careening toward the shoreline, and she gasped as the saltwater stung her eyes, nose, and mouth. She frowned, wondering why when she was underwater it was easier to see, to think, to maneuver.
Bella leaned her ear against the man’s chest, hearing the beat of his heart, albeit faint. He was still breathing. She sighed, a momentary reprieve, and braced as another wave assaulted their bodies. His head tipped down, a heavy weight wanting to return to a watery grave. She gripped tighter, holding the unconscious man against her side, as they bobbed in and out of the surf.
What could he have been doing out here!? she wondered, and checked his person to be certain he was not bleeding. She ascertained that he had no visible blood, bumps, or bruises. Satisfied, she fixed her hold, allowing the current to push them in the direction of the beach.
Bella collapsed into the sand, exhausted from hauling a grown man’s body through the water. Fire flowing through her tendons, and every muscle cried out for mercy. She lay face up, the man, still unconscious beside her in the sand, as the rainwater plinked against their skin, offering fresh reprieve after the possibility of a saltwater grave. Bella closed her eyes tiredly, laying a hand across her lower abdomen and sighed. I shouldn’t have been able to do that, she thought in bewilderment.
When the man stirred, Bella quickly sat up and twisted, turning her back to the ocean as she asked him if he was all right.
“I’m sorry, I should’ve called for help,” she murmured softly, bracing against the sand.
“Help?” he repeated weakly. “You…” he lifted his hulking arm and intertwined his fingers in her hair. “…are…my…angel…” he strained each word.
Bella flushed, averting her eyes. “I just did what was needed. Are you okay? How are you feeling? What were you doing out there?”
He squinted his eyes as if thinking pained him, and Bella felt guilty, but she needed to keep the man awake.
“My watch…” he pointed to his wrist weakly. “I was…getting my… watch.”
“In this weather?” Bella’s eyes widened. “You went to rescue your watch?”
He closed his eyes once more, and murmured, “La vie en rose.”
“The song?” Bella squeezed his hand, hoping he wouldn’t lose consciousness again. “Hey, stay awake. You gotta stay awake. Tell me your name. Hey, tell me your name…” Bella laid her hands against his soft sandkissed cheeks when he appeared to be drifting. “Tell me about your watch,” she said, desperation creeping into her tone as his head fell back against the beach and she lifted him up into her lap. “Tell me…anything…”
“When you speak…” he began, his eyes still shut. “…angels sing from above.”
Bella frowned. Was he delirious? He was quoting La Vie En Rose again.
“Mortimer,” he said, his voice barely above a whisper. “My name is…Mortimer… Goth…” he gasped his last name as he strained to lift himself, but his elbows wobbled.
“Mortimer…hi…I’m Bella Bachelor,” she introduced herself as she helped stabilize his weight and laid his head back down. “Lie still, Mortimer. I’ll go get help.”
“No! Don’t leave me,” he begged.
“But I need to get help,” she protested. “I don’t know if you hit your head or not.”
“Bella?” he asked, a confused look in his eyes.
“…sing to me,” he requested, returning her hand squeeze, a salty tear splashing down his face. “I think… I could feel my legs… if you sing to me...” he began shivering.
Bella closed her eyes, willing herself to be brave as she very softly began singing the words to her favorite song.
“Hold me close and hold me fast
This magic spell you cast
This is la vie en rose
When you kiss me heaven sighs
And though I close my eyes
I see la vie en rose.
When you press me to your heart
I’m in a world apart
A world where roses bloom…”
Bella didn’t even grunt as she lifted a man twice her size, and he wrapped his arms around her neck almost instinctively. While she wondered about her newfound super strength, she was more concerned about getting him to safety. A lifeguard came running over the hillside, shouting for their attention, and Bella walked in his direction.
“Hello!” the lifeguard exclaimed. “Are you two all right? Is anyone hurt?”
The lifeguard pulled the man from her arms, and Bella’s knees buckled and she fell to the sand, but not from strain, from the sudden transference of weight. The lifeguard dropped a hand to her shoulder, and she shook her head, looking at the ground.
“I’m okay,” she lifted her eyes. “Please…see that he gets to a hospital.”
“Bella?” Mortimer called out for her as the lifeguard began to carry him away.
He stretched out his hand as she stood.
“Bella, ride with me,” he pleaded.
She looked at the lifeguard, and he shrugged. Bella gathered her wet things from the shore and hurried to keep up with the men.
“Bella?” Mortimer said, once he was settled on a stretcher and the paramedics were loading him into the ambulance.
“I know,” she replied softly, lowering her eyes as she sensed his thoughts.
“Please finish the song,” he asked aloud as if unaware that she knew.
Mortimer looked white as a sheet as a paramedic placed an oxygen mask over his mouth and told him to breathe normally. He squeezed her hand as if his life depended upon it, and she decided to send soothing thoughts into his veins to calm his heart rate. She hoped the medical professionals did not notice, but none of them seemed concerned by her presence. Though self-conscious, Bella decided to oblige amid the tubes and cords, amid the scent of ammonia and latex, amid the sound of the tires pulling away from the curb and the siren piercing through the rainy night. Bella opened her mouth and sang,
“And when you speak, angels sing from above
Everyday words seem to turn into love songs
Give your heart and soul to me
And life will always be la vie en rose.”
Previous Chapter: Episode 2, Saltwater and Sunshine
Next Chapter: Episode 4, Arrival