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Story Title: Nightmare

Type of story: Short/Medium fic

Main Characters: Aden and Belle of course

BTTB rating: T

Genre: Drama, grief, guilt

Does story include spoilers: The Belle One - even though everyone basically knows

Any warnings: None.

Summary: He could have done something to save her. If he had been paying attention, he could have noticed she was sick. He's living a nightmare, and all he wants to do is wake up.

Chapter One:

The definition of nightmare is a terrifying dream in which the dreamer experiences feelings of helplessness, extreme anxiety or sorrow.

I, Aden Jeffries, feel those things on a daily basis, but I can’t wake up.

When I was younger, my nightmares were about not getting enough play time, or being chased by a dinosaur. When I was a teenager, my nightmares changed. I was now scared that I had forgotten to put pants on before going to school, and worried that the girl I liked had a crush on some other guy. When I met Belle Taylor, the nightmares were replaced with happy dreams. I finally dreamt about a future, a beautiful house with a white picket fence, a gorgeous, loving wife and playful children running around the gardens. Belle gave me everything: respect, hope, faith, trust, love. All she asked for in return was to be looked after, to have someone to love her and care for her in return. The one job I was given and I failed. I failed everyone who ever loved her, I failed myself but most of all, I failed her.

I was so busy worrying about losing her to Liam Murphy, and trying to get her to stay with me forever, that I didn’t notice that she was sick. If I had been paying more attention, I could have realised that she was sick, and the doctors could have saved her. After everything Belle had given me, I had neglected her, and let her die.

How am I supposed to get past it, move forward, when all I can think about is her smile, her cheeky attitude, her quirky outfits, her eyes ... How do I keep on living, keep on placing one foot in front of another, keep on breathing, if she isn’t standing next to me, holding my hand and supporting me every step of the way.

Is there any way to wake up from the nightmare that is my life?


I get up early, as usual. Its three months after Belle’s funeral and everyone else is back to normal. All those people that sat at her funeral crying have now moved on. They walk around, smiling and chatting and sneaking frustrated glances at me because I can’t smile or laugh without Belle next to me. Nothing is amusing, nothing makes sense without her. I head off to work, down the same path I have always walked. I’m on my way to the diner. I wanted something comfortable, something safe, something predictable, something familiar and what was better than the place Belle had worked.

The path I walk is well worn. Everyone in Summer Bay has walked it at some time, whether happy or sad, overjoyed or depressed. Now everyone struggles to stay off the path, not wanting to come into contact with me. It’s like I have some kind of disease, and sometimes, I wish it was true. If I had a disease, I wouldn’t have to get up in the morning. I would be able to stay in bed all day, living in the memories I had left.

Instead I had to get up, and put on a completely unconvincing act, trying to get people to believe I was Ok, even though the whole of Summer Bay could see that I was falling apart at the seams. Nicole was the only one who still made an effort to talk to me. Every single morning, without fail, she would wait to ambush me on the path I should be walking alone. Every single morning she would ask the same questions, and every single morning, I would give the same answers.

As expected, she was waiting on the bench by the beach.

“Morning Aden” she greeted chirpily, as I rolled my eyes in anticipation.

“Nic” I said quietly, wanting to get out of the conversation as soon as possible

“How are you?” she asked, sympathetically, as usual

“I’m fine” I replied, trying to walk away but she gripped my arm tightly

“Look Aden, it’s been three months since Belle died. Everyone in this town loved her Aden, but you don’t see any of us carrying on like this. You’re depressing everyone, and don’t feed me that line about being fine, because I can see that you’re not. Even a blind person could tell you aren’t happy anymore”

All the emotions I had been bottling up inside came rushing out

“Nicole Franklin, people have always told me that you are inconsiderate, rude and only concerned about yourself but I never saw it, because you’ve always made an effort towards me. But now, I’ve had enough. Belle Taylor was the love of my life. She’s the only woman I’ve ever had feelings for, the first woman I ever slept with, the woman I wanted to have children with. Even if I end up with someone else, I will never feel as strongly for them as I did for Belle. She was my entire life Nicole, and she died. There is no way for me to get past that. It doesn’t just go away overnight. And don’t you dare start about how everyone in this town loved her. I understand that Irene, Annie and Geoff were her family, but she was my family too”

“Aden, I loved her as well”

“God Nicole, don’t make me feel sick. You and Belle never got along. She asked you to keep her drug habit a secret, and although I’m glad you told me, you betrayed her confidence. Then even though you could see that I missed her and loved her more than life itself, you still slept with me, because you were going through a rough time. Then she came out of rehab, and for a while, you were actually happy about our engagement and the future we had planned. But then you come home and see her popping a pill and immediately jump to the conclusion that she is back on the drugs. She trusts you, again, and you tell me her secret, and almost ruin our wedding. You and Belle only became friends when she was dying Nicole, so don’t come up to me now and say that you loved her too. Irene, Annie and Geoff loved her. They were her family. I loved her, I still love her, and she’s my wife. You don’t have the right to come up to me now and say that you loved her because it only happened because the end was near. If Belle was still alive, and didn’t have the cancer, you wouldn’t have been her friend.”

“Aden, don’t –“she began but I cut her off

“I’m not finished Nicole. You don’t have to worry about me depressing everyone because I’m leaving Summer Bay. The people in this town are avoiding me. Only you still bother to talk to me. I can’t get up every day and walk on the beach, or work in the diner because it physically hurts me. It’s my fault she died, Nicole. I should have noticed she was sick. I could’ve caught it in time, and I could have saved her, but I didn’t. And now, I’m stuck in this nightmare and I can’t wake up, so I’m leaving”

“You’re not leaving Aden, you’re running away”

I ignored Nicole and began walking back to Roman’s to pack my bags, before pausing slightly and yelling back over my shoulder.

“You may be right Nicole. I am running away, but it’s better than staying here, with the people that only ever pretended to care.”

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Chapter Two:

I had been away from Summer Bay for five and a half months, travelling around Australia, trying to escape the pain but it always catches up with me.

Today was the last day I was going to stay away. I was running out of money, and running out of places to go.

Today I was going to visit the place that haunted my dreams: the cemetery.


It was basically empty. There were no mourners crowded around graves, or young widows sobbing their hearts out. It was just me, the flowers and the tombstones.

I walked straight to Belle’s grave. Fresh flowers were everywhere, along with messages from Irene, Annie, Geoff and Amanda.

I sat on the ground in front of the stone, and ran my fingers over the subscription.

Belle Taylor- Jeffries

Beloved daughter

Beloved sister

Beloved wife

True love is like a ghost: many talk about it, few ever see it...

Belle saw it

Tears welled up in my eyes. Irene and Amanda had chosen the inscription and I had never read it before. I had cut myself off from everyone and everything.

As I sat on the ground, uncertainty filled me. Belle had been cremated and scattered around Summer Bay. I was just sitting in front of an empty grave, just staring at a tombstone. How was I supposed to act?

The next thing I knew, I was crying, huge sobs racking my body.

I didn’t care that Belle wasn’t in the ground beneath me. All I cared about was that she was gone, and it was my fault.

“Belle, I’m so sorry”, I whispered, again and again

I had failed her, and I could never forgive myself.

“Aden?” a timid voice asked from behind me. I spun around, tears rushing down my cheeks. Nicole was standing behind me, dressed in black, with a single red rose in her hand.

“Aden, what are you doing here?”

“I could ask you the same thing Nicole”

“I’m here to see Belle. I come every second day to drop a rose on her grave.”

More tears welled up in my eyes. I had treated Nicole so badly. Of course she missed Belle. Everyone did. And some of the things she said may have been out of line, but she had loved Belle, and I had been horrible

“Nic, I’m sorry for all those things I said to you. I had no right to say any of that”

“You’re already forgiven. Your wife had just died and I said some horrible things too.”

I stood up and walked slowly towards Nicole.

“I miss her so much Nic. It hasn’t got better in all the time I’ve been away. I expected things to be better now, but it hasn’t.”

Nicole walked the rest of the way, and grabbed onto my hand.

“I know Aden, I know. When someone has been such a big part of your life, they never fully leave you.”

“Take me home Nicole, please. I can’t stay here any longer.”

Nicole nodded, and walked towards the grave, gently putting the rose on top of the stone.

“I’ll take care of him Belle. I always keep my promises” she whispered, before running to catch up with me.

Thanks to amz89, TKluvsH&A and Red Ranger 1 for the comments :D

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Chapter Three:

Nicole was knocking on my door, way too impatiently for 9am in the morning, but this time I felt good inside. Someone was looking out for me, someone cared for me.

“Come in Nic”, I called, already hearing the door swing open

She was dressed in a bright red dress, a tell tale red rose in her hand

“Nic, why have you got a rose?” I asked, already dreading the answer

“I was on my way to visit Belle, and I thought, why not bring Aden with me?”

I didn’t bother to answer, instead walking into the kitchen. All those good feelings that had been filling been had already evaporated. Nicole, however, didn’t seem to want to take no for an answer. She followed me into the kitchen, and carried on chatting to me.

“So what do you say Aden? I think it might be nice for us to visit Belle together”

I switched on the kettle, trying to ignore her. I didn’t want to yell at her again, but she didn’t seem to realise that I already hated this conversation.

“Aden, you can’t move on unless you sort out your issues!”

“Nicole, I’m warning you now, stop talking. We’ve only just become friends again and if you keep talking, I’m likely to get annoyed at you again, so just stop”, I practically begged her

“Do you think this is what Belle would have wanted Aden? You sitting around all day, moping? Pushing away the people that she loved? Do you think she wanted you to stop living your life? She loved you Aden Jeffries, in a huge way, a way that most people never get to experience, so stop thinking about yourself, get dressed and come out with me”, Nicole rushed

“Nicole, you couldn’t have just stopped talking, could you?”

Nicole shook her head, and looked to the floor, appearing anxious about what was about to happen.

“I understand that Belle loved me, and I’m doing the exact opposite of what she wanted, but frankly, I don’t care.”

“Aden-“Nicole interrupted, but I talked over her

“She was my future Nic. She was all I dreamed about at night, all I wanted. I had finally got her. There wasn’t going to be any more interruptions. No more break downs, no more super cops, no more drugs, or rock stars. She was finally all mine and nothing was going to keep us apart. I would go to bed at night with her in my arms, and I finally felt happy and complete. I imagined a perfect future, her and me, with beautiful little children running around us. I made her promise not to leave me ever again, and you know what? She did it anyway. She died Nicole, and took my heart with her. I feel like I’m the one that died, I wish I was the one that died.”

“Aden you can’t think like that”, Nicole rushed to tell me but I didn’t care. I had to get this all out.

“She was always the strong one Nicole, the one who could cope with everything. She could have got through this but I can’t. I’m not strong enough, or brave enough. I don’t want to get through this; I want to go back to when she was with me, just so I could catch her illness fast enough.””

“Aden, this isn’t your fault”

“I should know that Nicole and sometimes I do, but there are other times when I completely forget that I couldn't have done anything.”

“Why are you feeling so guilty Aden?”

“Because I made her promise not to leave me, and she did. And I hate her. And then I hate myself, for hating the love of my life. What kind of person feels that way? And then I realise, that it’s my fault. I can’t hate Belle because it was my job to protect her, and I didn’t.”

Nicole rushed forward to hug me but I held out my hand and pushed her gently away

“Aden, I just want to help”

“No Nicole, don’t. I don’t deserve to feel better, alright? So please, just leave”

Nicole nodded and walked out of the kitchen, and then out of the house.

The kettle clicked off behind me, but it wasn’t really important. All it had been was a distraction, a meaningless distraction, trying to help me avoid the


The truth was that no matter how hard I tried to get over Belle, I never would. She occupied every single one of my thoughts, even after all this time. To me, she was the perfect person, and no one would ever be able to take her place.

I suppose I was lucky to find my other half, and get to spend some time with her, as some people never found true happiness, but I couldn’t bring myself to feel lucky.

I had lost my other half, my true love, my soul mate. I had found her, and then lost her.

I was in love with a ghost, and always would be. I no longer saw other girls, they all blended into her. Everyone became Belle Taylor. This girl had her eyes, that one her smile. This one had a camera just like hers, and that one had the same scarf.

But what was worrying me the most was that I was forgetting her face, her smell, her perfect little smirk, her beautiful hair, her eccentric outfits, the way she looked right after we made love...

Her smell had faded off the bed spreads, the towels and her clothes. The photos were collecting dust, everywhere around the house. My memories of Belle Taylor were all I had left of her, and I was petrified of what would happen when they started to fade away.

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Chapter Four:

It’s been a whole year since my wife’s death now, and I still haven’t looked at another girl, let alone kissed one.

I barely leave my house now. Everywhere in Summer Bay is brimming over with memories of her.

The diner, where she used to bustle in and out of the kitchen. The beach, where we walked for the last time. Our wedding location, her funeral... Belle Taylor was everywhere

I seem to be going backwards.

Right now, in this moment, I believe in euthanasia. A person should have a right to put themselves to sleep, to escape the pain.

And I know that I’m not suffering from a disease, and that others have gone through this pain, but it’s been a whole year, and I still feel like it’s the day she died.

So today, I go back to Irene’s house, and climb through the window, which has been open for this whole time. I wouldn’t let Irene shut it. Belle asked me to leave it open, for her.

The bed is still not made up. Irene must have washed the sheets after Belle died but not been able to put them back on.

Her bedroom is still the same though. The picture of us is still in her mirror. We look so happy, so care free. I’d give anything to go back to those days.

I pull open her desk draw, and there were her pills. They used to be her escape from reality, then her escape from the pain of the thing that was killing her.

It seemed kind of fitting that they would be my escape as well. I downed the whole bottle and then lay down on her bed, the place we had spent our last night together. It would be my last night as well.


The room was spinning around me when I finally opened my eyes. There was someone sitting beside my bed, holding my hand, and at first, I thought it was Belle. God, how I wished it was Belle. But then I blinked, and the girl turned into Nicole, who had tears rolling silently down her cheeks.

“Nic,” I asked hoarsely, “what are you doing?”

“God Aden, do you know how selfish you’ve been?”

“No, what are you talking about?”

“You overdosed on prescription pain pills and luckily Annie found you, or you would be dead now. The doctors are pretending this was accidental, but I know better Aden. How could you try to kill yourself?”

“It’s been a year since her death Nicole, a year today. No one came round to see me, to even ask if I was ok.”

“Of course no one came round to see you. We were planning a memorial on the beach for her. I was coming to collect you in the evening, so you could come as well, but then you went and did this, and ruined everything”

“Is the memorial still on tonight Nic?”

“Yes. We didn’t want to cancel it, but now you and I will both have to miss it”

“Not if you sneak me out of here”

A real smile lit up Nicole’s face


Irene was the first one to speak.

“One year ago today, we lost the most beautiful, loving, caring girl we ever had the pleasure to meet. She changed so much since she first came to Summer Bay, and they were all changes for the better. She grew up. She became a woman, with hopes and dreams, and she married the only man she had ever truly loved. I stand by my words, there are no goodbyes, because we still all remember this girl so much, and we all truly miss her.”

Tears were flowing down Irene’s face, and then it was Geoff’s turn to speak.

“Belle and I didn’t always get along, but I counted her as a close friend, and a sister. We may have had different beliefs but I could trust her, and I got to watch her find true happiness with Aden.”

He quickly finished, as his voice started to choke up. Annie was the next to speak.

“At first, I was scared around Belle. She seemed so grown up and tough, and I was worried about making a fool out of myself. But then, she kind of became my friend. Not a real friend, not at first, that came later. She was my first girl friend in Summer Bay, and then when I moved in with Irene, she became my best friend, my sister. I love Belle, and I still miss her every single day, but I believe she is in a better place now. And now she spends her days happily, passing time until Aden comes and joins her”

Annie sat down and looked over at me, as everyone else did. It was obviously my turn to speak.

“Where can I start on Belle Taylor? She’s feisty and independent. She didn’t want anything to do with me at first; she thought I was a right pig. But l persevered, and it was the best decision of my life. We fell in love, and it was a roller coaster of a ride. There were ups and downs, but the only thing that matters is that love won. I got to marry Belle Taylor, and share some amazing times with her. She may be gone now but she’s the only woman who could have ever kept me in line. She will always be my first love, and my great love. No one will ever take her place in my heart. And hopefully, when I die, I’ll go to the same place as Belle did, and she’ll still have me, because anywhere Belle is, is my version of heaven”

I quickly sat down and spent the rest of the night in silence, only half listening to the rest of the tributes.

Maybe Nicole was right. Maybe I was being selfish. Maybe I owed it to Belle, the girl who valued life above everything else, to keep living.

Right then, I vowed to try and live my life to the fullest, and do everything she had ever wanted to do.

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Chapter Five: The epilogue

It’s been five years since Belle Taylor’s death and there hasn’t been a second when I haven’t thought about her.

I haven’t been in Summer Bay for the last four years. I’ve been travelling the world, seeing all the places that Belle wanted to see, doing all the things that Belle wanted to do.

I’ve been swimming with dolphins, bungee jumping, sky diving, parachuting, scuba diving, taken photo graphs at all the majestic sights, done stand up comedy, ridden a gondola in Venice, learnt how to salsa dance, witness a solar eclipse, visited the Mona Lisa, named a star after Belle, composed a song and many more amazing things I never thought I would do.

But I had never looked at another girl, or kissed another girl. I was faithful to the memory of Belle Taylor, not because I felt obliged but because there was no one else I wanted to look at, or kiss.

Some people only have one great love, and everything else just dims in comparison.

But now, I’m back in Summer Bay. This is the place that Belle loved the most, and I’m finally ready to deal with the memories here.

I still wake up every morning and shed a tear, because I’ve lost the love of my life.

I still walk around thinking about her, even though it’s been five years.

I still go to sleep with one of her shirts under my pillow, as a comfort.

But I have finally forgiven myself for not catching Belle’s illness, and when I finally see her again, I think she’ll forgive me for moping around for a whole year, because I lived my life to the fullest.

I don’t think I will ever love anyone else. I doubt that I will ever have another wife, or a child, because that’s not what I want anymore.

All I want is to live my life, doing all the things Belle wanted.

People may say I’m not living properly, but in my opinion: I am.

And one day, hopefully sooner rather than later, I’ll die peacefully in my sleep, and I will be able to see that amazing woman that captured my heart.

Until then, I just make do with the photographs and the memories.

Right now, all I know is that Belle Taylor gave me the best times of my life and no one will ever be able to replace her.

Maybe one day I’ll be ready to love again. If Belle taught me one thing, it’s that life is full of surprises.

She was the best surprise I could have ever gotten.


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