“No! Please! No! Stop!” Rose alternately screamed and sobbed.
I came running into our bedroom – only it hadn’t really been ours since that day, about a month ago. Dropping to my knees next to her, I tried to call out to her, pleading with her, “Rosie, baby, I’m here… Rose, wake up, please… just wake up.”
Oh God… Rosie…
She was flailing, her arms swinging wildly as if to fend off an attacker – to fight him off of her. She continued to scream and sob, her legs kicking every which way under the covers and her head thrashing from side to side. Her eyes were shut tight as tears coursed freely down her cheeks.
My hands were fluttering uselessly over her for a few minutes as I tried to get her to snap out of it without touching her; I never knew if my touch would make things worse. Sometimes it helped, but more often it sent her into a full-fledged panic if she wasn’t all the way awake. Every time she panicked, it felt like a knife in the gut – a stark reminder that I hadn’t been there for her the one night it might have mattered. I hadn’t been able to keep her safe like I’d promised her on our wedding day.
I’m sorry, baby… I’m so fucking sorry…
This past month had been draining on both of us – and that was putting things very mildly. Every night – and day, since she spent so much time sleeping, or at least lying in bed – it was the same thing: nightmares – reliving the terrors she had suffered that night. And every time, I tried to reach her; I tried to help the only way I knew how.
She wasn’t listening though – or rather, she wasn’t hearing me. She was too far into her nightmare, and it was killing me to see her like this: broken, hurting, scared, and defenseless. Taking a deep breath, I steeled myself, knowing I only had one choice – and that it likely wasn’t going to be pretty.
As gently as I could, I wrapped my hands around her shoulders and shook her, all the while calling her name – begging her to come back to me, to just wake up. “Baby, please, you’re safe now. I’m here. You’re safe,” over and over again.
She opened her eyes, but from the glassy look in them – so filled with fear and revulsion for herself – I knew she wasn’t seeing me. She was seeing him. Her screams got louder as she tried to get up, to back away – to get away. She tried to claw at me to release her, but I held on, because I knew that if I let her go now, she would hurt herself again.
“No, please… don’t hurt me… no more, please… I can’t-” she sobbed, her voice raw and weak from all the screaming and crying. Her body was suddenly slack as all the fight went out of her. That almost hurt more than watching her struggle.
Swallowing back apologies and curses alike that tried to climb up my throat, I whispered, “Shh, baby, I’ve got you… I’ve got you,” sliding onto the bed next to her so I could pull her into my arms, blinking back my own tears.
Once I held her, she let out a staggering breath and looked up at me, blinking. “Em?” she whispered, before breaking into tears again. Her fingers clutched at my shirt as she buried her face in the crook of my neck.
Resting my chin on the top of her head, I closed my eyes, cradling her back and forth, and whispered everything would be alright, that she was okay, even when I knew she wasn’t. Nothing was right. Neither of us were anywhere close to okay.
It took several long minutes for her to calm down again, but I could feel it the moment she regained enough control of herself to be aware of everything again. “I’m sorry,” she whispered, so softly I could barely make it out.
I ran my fingers through her hair – no longer the beautiful blond from when I’d first laid eyes on her. She’d dyed her hair dark brown as soon as she’d been released from the hospital. She’d claimed she couldn’t look at herself anymore without seeing him; dyeing her hair had been her way of trying to erase it all, only, it hadn’t done her any good.
I had to swallow back the lump that lodged itself in my throat, like it always seemed to do these days whenever I let myself remember how Rosalie looked… before. She’d taken down every picture with her in it that same day she’d colored her hair. “Shh, babe, none of that.”
Rose half-huffed, half-sniffled, and I squeezed her gently to me. “Rose, honey… do you… do you want to talk about it?”
Even I could hear the clear hesitation in my voice as I asked her. It killed me to know what that fucker had done to my wife, and to hear her say the words would make it all too real. Again.
And partly, I hesitated because I knew she would refuse to tell me – again. She hadn’t told anyone what had happened to her – not directly, at least. Other than the cops, and the doctors at the hospital, of course. The only reason I knew as much as I did about the night of the attack – the night she had been raped – was because of her nightmares. I think putting the pieces of what happened together that way almost made it worse, but I couldn’t bring myself to tell her that. It hurt enough as it was.
She shook her head vehemently, tears sliding down her cheeks as she looked up at me with panic in her eyes. Cupping her cheek, I sighed softly. “Shh, it’s okay. You don’t have to…”
I couldn’t make her rehash it all, no matter what everyone told me. The panic in her eyes, the way her body would seize whenever the subject was brought up by well-meaning friends or family, all of it tore at me; the need to protect her always became overwhelming.
Now – a month after the fact – I was beginning to wonder if everyone was right. She hadn’t gotten any better by not talking about what had happened. In fact, she’d only gotten worse, sinking deeper and deeper into her fears and terrors. And I was helpless to do anything about it.
Pulling her a little closer, I rubbed her back soothingly, taking several steadying breaths as I tried to work up the courage to broach the subject – something that was made all the more difficult as I could feel Rosalie start to relax as much as she was able to these days.
My voice was hoarse, and I had to close my eyes, burrowing my face into her hair so I wouldn’t have to see her reactions. I knew she would refuse.
“Rose… maybe…” My voice faltered, and I had to clear my throat before I could try again. “Maybe you should take Dad up on his offer, baby.” My father, Carlisle, had offered to call in a favor in order to get Rosalie help the day after the attack, but she’d flat out refused. Every time I talked to him, he would bring it up again, though thankfully that didn’t often happen in front of Rosalie.
As it was, I felt her stiffen in my arms, her breath catching as she began to panic again. I ran my fingers through her hair, over her back, her arms, anything in an attempt to soothe her. I gulped, and said softly, “Rose, please… think about it, at least? I hate seeing you like this… I don’t know what to do, baby…”
She sniffled, shaking her head as it lay against my shoulder. I could barely hear her, muffled as her voice was. “No… no… I can’t… I can’t!”
I wanted to protect her so much, to save her from any more pain, but as Rose continued to plead with me not to make her go through it all again, I became more and more convinced my father’d been right. Everyone had been right. She needed help to talk about what she’d been through, to learn how to cope, how to be my Rosalie again – the headstrong, independent young woman I fell in love with.
My own tears were falling at this point, but I didn’t even bother to do anything about them as I held on to my Rose. My voice was hoarse with emotion – I almost couldn’t recognize it myself. “Baby, please… you’re already going through it. Every day… I know you are,” I added as she tried to deny it.
She kept chanting, “No… no…no…” and tried to push herself away from me.
Kissing the top of her head, I held onto her, murmuring, “Rosalie… sweetheart, please…”
Back and forth we went for what felt like hours – her trying to deny she needed help, to convince me that she was fine, and me attempting to get her to acknowledge what we both knew: she was drowning, and she needed help.
In truth, we both were, and it wasn’t until that realization hit me and I voiced it to her that she finally relented. I was still holding her close to me when suddenly she stilled, slowly looking up at me with wide, red-rimmed eyes filled with tears. Her voice was nothing but a hoarse whisper as she said, “Emmett?”
Cupping her cheek, I gave her a watery smile. I knew I looked a mess, and part of me wondered how she would take it as she’d never seen me cry before. It wasn’t that I felt that men didn’t cry or anything stupid like that; it was simply that I usually rolled with the punches and looked for the silver lining in everything. But this time was different; there was no silver lining that I could find. I was hurting too – for myself, but most importantly for her. I’d been determined to be strong for her, to not let her carry any more of the burden than necessary because she was already in so much pain. She didn’t need mine too. I was the one that had failed her. I had to bear my own burdens.
Only I found I couldn’t anymore. It was too much to see the woman I loved with all my heart go through the terror of that incident day in and day out, without being able to help her. Nothing I’d tried had done any good.
I’d failed her. Again.
Rose stared into my eyes for several minutes as if seeing me for the first time. She choked out a sob, and for the briefest instant, I saw a flicker of my old Rosie in her eyes. She flung her arms around my neck, apologizing repeatedly before she hiccuped and rasped, “Call Carlisle… please.”
Those three words seemed to pierce something – like a ray of sunshine cutting through the clouds after being overcast for too long. I knew we weren’t anywhere close to being okay – that it would take a lot of work, on both our parts. We talked for a long time after I placed that call and got help – for both of us. The rape had happened to Rosalie, but it affected us both profoundly, and we each needed to learn to cope with the new “normal”.
We needed to learn to live again. To trust. To love. To be.
When Rose asked me for the first time since that fateful night to come to bed with her, to hold her as we fell asleep, that was when I knew that in the end, we would be okay. We’d find our way back to us again.