Perfectly Able to Reflect
I lie here at Cleveland, not caring whether I live or die. I know I am in a stupor and cannot move, I know that I have been sick and feverish, but I don't care. What is left to live for? No enjoyments, no happiness, no love. I can have no faith in Willoughby. All the beautiful sonnets I found joy in were shared and lost with him, all the romantic tendencies of my heart were shredded into pieces by the man I called the love of my life. There is none of that romance left now, only realism -- and I do not wish to live for realism.
Elinor. She is speaking to me. I try to respond but my body doesn't want to, it is too much effort for those limbs I have been starving of nourishment and sleep for the last few weeks. How I have spoiled myself.
'Marianne, please try'
My brain seems to be processing her words in slow motion, but I hear her. Oh, my poor sister.
A wave of pity overcomes me, thinking of her affection for me and hearing her sorrowful voice. She doesn't know what to do, now that I lie here as cold as death. She doesn't know that I hear her, for I cannot respond.
'Marianne... please, try'
Why has she always been the one to comfort me? Why cannot I, when she is on the verge of tears, comfort her? How could I ever have accused her of being cold-hearted?
'I -- I cannot... I cannot live without you'
No, I mustn't die. But how can she say that when I have been so cold to her these last weeks? I have been so selfish, so very unkind to her. To live in her remembrance like that... no, I cannot let that happen! Dear, kind Elinor! And my mother too, who has lived in pain knowing me to be throwing myself into gloom.
'Oh please. I've tried to bear everything else, I will try'
Everything else... oh, I understand. Edward marrying Lucy Steele, being engaged to her for four years, Elinor falling in love with Edward. I try to remember if she ever told anyone apart from me -- but who could she tell?
We have both been in love, we have both had our hearts broken, but she has always been there for me. Did I ever try to do the same for her? No. Elinor has always been guarded about her feelings, always sparing others from feeling her pain -- but even when I knew her pain, I still only cared for and regretted he who never loved me, over the sister who has always put my comfort above her own. How despicable my conduct has been.
Can I ever make it up to her? Oh please, let me live, so that I can have time to make amends to Elinor, who is at this very moment sobbing her heart out over me.
Not only Elinor, not only even my mother. How many others have I injured, or been unkind to? Mrs Jennings, who so kindly took me to London, and who, I now see, has always had her heart in the right place, I scorned with contempt. To the Middletons and Palmers, friendly enough people, I had often refused to show the barest civility. Even to the Steeles, despicable as they are, I ought to have been at least more outwardly polite.
But Elinor still cares for me. Why? It seems I have been unjust to every member of our acquaintance. Surely John and Fanny, at least, deserved it... but they are still family, and I have never tried to see their good sides. I must live, I must be able to show them all that I can be just to their merits.
I have been wasting away for a man who didn't deserve it. I have almost killed myself. But no longer.
'Do not leave me alone.'