Age of Edward 2015 Entry - Story Summary: In the early 1980s, Edward and Bella have been forced apart by school for almost a year. Will events beyond their control tear them apart forever?
Inspired by past and present events. This is dedicated to all the first responders - those on the front lines of terror.
It never ceased to amaze either of them. Certain songs were time machines. Hall and Oats with "I Can't Go For That." Joan Jett's anthem "I Love Rock and Roll" would bring either of them right back. So were certain events in the news … there were bombs in Paris, again.
It was the early 1980s. President Ronald Reagan had just begun his first term, but the economy was still sluggish with inflation still above 10%. AIDS was just a name to a new disease ...The hostages had finally been freed from Tehran. There were tensions mounting all over the world, and in early April, a tiny speck of islands off the coast of Argentina had started a full-fledged war between the Argentine Military and the Royal British forces. It was not a great time to travel overseas, at least to most parents. But the degree requirements could not be changed. It was the biggest reason Bella had chosen her small, Midwestern campus. The reason she stayed had bright green eyes and an infectious laugh. They loved watching movies together, like "Love at First Bite," "Airplane!" and then, before really thinking about it, he'd taken her to the "Empire Strikes Back" last summer ...That had been an interesting evening. It was at a dollar theater, and they both realized ... he would be putting their world into carbonite that fall. He had to do his required studies overseas. She could only study hard and hope to be approved for her summer semester abroad.
My Dear Bella,
As I write this, you are taking off for Europe for the first time. I can't believe in just a week I will see your face for the first time since September. I want to hold your hand; I want to show you my favorite spots in Paris. I want to kiss you silly, but most of all, I want to do whatever you want to do.
The rest of the letter continued in the sweet, imaginative way Edward had always written to Bella since the start of his mandatory junior year abroad. His letters were full of his daily activities, his classes and classmates, his observations on his local and world events like the election of Francoise Mitterrand and his abolishment of the death penalty in France; to the Falklands war. Some of his classmates were British, some from South America, and like Kissinger, he had tried to keep the peace. He had done his best to make her feel a part of his year. It had eased the ache at least a little bit. They had parted for the previous summer, him to work at home in the west, she to her summer job in Chicago. Late night phone calls were few with the hours they kept. The high long distance charges from Ma Bell, notwithstanding, letters seemed to work well. They had only managed one short summer visit as the economy was still pretty bad, and each needed to be careful with funds and keep their hard won summer jobs. She had gone on to their university at the start of the fall term. He came down a few weeks later, as classes in France started in October. Bella had driven him to the airport in Chicago. He had barely three days before she had to bring him to O'Hare. The letters, now on aerogramme paper, had begun to arrive even before she was back in her dorm room.
It was a long way to spring, and even the Bee Gees and Joan Jett couldn't make the time pass faster. Wintering in the Midwest in the 1980s was a study in brutal cold. The frequent letters helped, and her parents had even volunteered to pay the thirty to fifty dollars a transatlantic phone call would cost, but he did not have a phone in his apartment. Bella was saving to send him a Walkman so he could listen to the cassettes she'd been sending him with the latest American hits, whenever he wanted and wherever he went, not just on the boombox he shared with his flatmate, Jasper. She had filled her days with an overload of classes and work-study. Now she was just a student here, set on doing her best and finding her way forward.
This letter had been set upon her bed, waiting for her arrival with the other students in her summer semester group. If you'd asked, she'd say it was the best thing about her first day in Paris. In seven days, he would arrive.
On Monday, Edward stepped out of his lecture on civilization only to bump straight into his best friend, who was planning on driving him to Paris as soon as class ended on Friday morning.
"Ah, Edward" His friend's head was down. " Vraiment! Je suis désolée." Jean Marc did not look happy as he looked up to see his best friend here at university. Edward listened to the sad explanation.
Jean Marc had lent his car to his sister to help her move to another city, and while she was moving, the car had been hit. The damage was not awful, but it would be several days before it would be repaired, and it was still not anywhere close to Montpellier. He would not get the car back until Sunday. Edward was stunned. The train schedule was tight to get him to and from Paris on a weekend, and the fare at the last minute would be horrendous. He simply did not have the cash to burn. He was too stunned to be mad yet. It wasn't anyone's fault but the idiot who hit Jean Marc's car. He pulled on his hair and let out a stifled, frustrated roar. He pounded the nearest door for a moment, but he would not yet send a letter to Paris. It was Bella's first day at the Alliance Française, and he did not want to spoil it. Merde! He'd even light a candle at the Cathedral if it would help.
Bella was thrilled to be in Paris at last. Studying in France had been her secret dream for years. It had taken careful wheedling, and the knowledge that without these credits, her diploma would be in jeopardy, to get her parents approval. Her father had reluctantly taken her for a passport photo and finally brought her to the airport with only an hour to spare. Here at last, her first days of classes had left her a bit overwhelmed, but her classmates were supportive. They were from everywhere in the world: Italy, South America ,and even Africa. They took breaks together and spoke French because that was the only way they could all communicate. In the afternoons, she met with her group from home, all four of them, and learned the mystery of the Metro and how to change money at the bureau d'exchange. The last thing she did each night was write the countdown number in her journal. Each sunset was one closer to seeing Edward's face in person!
Wednesday found Edward feeling just a little desperate. He still hadn't figured out how to get to Paris, and as he read the student notice board by the Restaur-U, he began to pound it a little. He swung his arm wide into the doorway and managed to poke someone. A very big someone. A very big someone without any hair on his head. Oh, great!
Luckily, the young man was in a good mood, and when each of them realized they shared a lecture with the indomitable Monsieur LeBec, Theirry then heard the story of Edward's foiled trip to Paris. The mysterious Bella, that he had spoken about for the entire year, was only seven hours away ... if he could get there. Thierry asked how brave Edward was feeling? There would be a youth conference of Le Front National in Versailles that weekend. That was close enough. The guys would be in Paris on Sunday for the return trip if Edward could leave Thursday morning. His heart seemed to begin beating all over again. Edward would see her a day early.
Bella was doing anything to keep busy each and every day. That day, Thursday was seemingly never going to end. She helped her suite-mate pack up her things. Leah was from a school on the East Coast, and her term had ended. She would leave Paris that evening with her group. The pair were so engrossed in folding clothes that they missed lunch. Feeling a little guilty, Leah apologized to Bella's professor and invited Bella to lunch on her. Leah had found a great Jewish deli, and she wanted to show it to Bella. They made their exit from Professor and Madame in the salon, and they hurried downstairs to catch a taxi as not to miss the lunch specials.
Edward met his mates for the trip near the main gate of the university. The distinctive modern grill with the various geometric shapes formed by pressings into the steel bars was a well-known landmark. The three towered over him by a few inches, but it mattered not. It was a ride to the Emerald City and to his heart. One of them was wearing the orange and blue jersey for the Montpellier Club de Rugby, and the ice was broken by their shared love of the sport. A little past eight, they started toward Versailles.
Several hours out, at a gas stop on the A71 near Bourges, Edward decided to try and call the pension, where his advisor, Dr. McCluskey, had everyone stay each year on summer term. He wanted her to know he would be arriving a day early and needed to find out if everyone would be back at six for dinner. He would surprise her then.
Giselle answered the phone. Edward had to shout a bit as the dear lady was a little bit older for a maid and a bit hard of hearing to boot. He and Jasper had found her on one of their first mornings in Paris, bringing up the cases of produce and food that were delivered each day. The two boys had immediately made it their mission to do as much of the heavy lifting for her as possible while they were living there. Giselle well remembered them and had been kind to Jasper when he and his fiancé, Alice, had dropped in to say hello to her and Madame Binoche, the owner of the pension. She had insisted they stay for lunch, and that was usually the best meal of the day at the pension. Now Edward was excited to let her know Bella was his girl. Giselle then told him that Bella had gone to lunch with her roommate, Leah, and went to get le professeur, who told Edward the girls had gone to a great Jewish deli that Dr. McCluskey knew and loved herself. Edward was reassured she would be in her room, studying, before dinner. Dr. McCluskey had always made it her habit to check on each of the students during the mandatory study hour each afternoon.
Edward got back into the car, a small smile on his face that even the other three large, clean-shaven and nicely tattooed young men could not intimidate. Oh, yes, very clean-shaven. None of the three had a single hair anywhere on the tops of their heads.
After lunch, Edward had dozed off, the soft drone of music on the radio and the warmth of a small car crammed with four bigger bodies had drained all the tension of the week away.
A few moments later, Edward woke to the crackle of the radio, a harried announcer's tone blaring out so loud that it could not be ignored.
C'est incroyable ... un moment à rue de commerce plein d'activités … et maintenant, tout est silence. Il ….
(It's incredible, one moment it's a busy street, full of activity and now all is silent. There has been an explosion….)
Edward could hardly believe his ears, even the others in the car seemed to cease breathing as the voice droned on, each word sounding like the reporter was trying to convince himself the horrors he described were but cinema and not real.
The car seemed to speed up of its own accord. There was one remedy to their shared anxiety. It was straight on to Paris—their Emerald City was hurting. Carlos the Jackal was bombing again.
Bella and Leah were back in the pension at half past two. They'd quickly left the deli as Leah said there were just a few more trinkets she was desperate to find. They took the Metro to Montparnasse to finish shopping at the Monoprix. Bella then helped Leah carry her bags down the five flights of the Haussmann-inspired round staircase. Round and round. Trip after trip. Leah was a shopper extraordinaire! Bella sagged with relief as the parcels were loaded onto the bus, and she waved the group off before one more trek up those five round flights.
It had been a long day, and Bella flopped down on her bed, forgetting to turn on her radio for the three o'clock informacion she'd been listening to each afternoon. She didn't even wake to the scream of sirens;she was dead to the world.
Edward toyed with the idea of stopping to call, but that would take time, and it wouldn't solve anything. The one thing he had hung his hopes on could be hanging by a thread. A song by ELO came on the radio, interspersed with the news from Paris—Hold on tight to your dreams—a ton rêve!
The song gave him a bit of hope and courage.
He would not, could not, think nor imagine the worst.
He folded his hands and began to pray as hard as he could.
A little after four, Bella woke and realized she hadn't touched her homework, and if she wanted to be free to spend the weekend with Edward, she'd better crack her books. She hadn't told Madame she was back; she just grabbed a headband and shoved her sleep-disheveled hair off her face, opening her books on the small table in the window alcove. She set the small radio to RMC for the afternoon top hit program, listened to Johnny Halliday for a moment or two and then lost herself in the grammatical exercises.
Forty minutes later, the elderly Citroen rattled to a stop in front of the pension. It probably wasn't legal to park there, but the three, large, skin-headed men took up polite posts around the car, daring anyone to say even a word to the trio. They would wait. Edward bolted through the street door, turning to go up the stairs directly into the salon of the pension. He nearly collided with Madame Binoche and Dr. McCluskey. Neither had seen Bella, when he asked, but he was already up the staircase to the student rooms before he could hear their answer. Giselle only smiled as he hurried past her on the third landing. None seemed to have heard the news that Carlos was back to his terrorist activities.
Bella dreamily put her stylo down for a moment, imagining she heard familiar steps in the hall, but she was imagining things. She shook her head, hoping to clear it. She still had a day to wait.
One more exercise to write out, and she would be done with today's and tomorrow's assignments. Just one more to write.
Edward reached the door and took a deep breath. He had no idea what he would do if the room were empty; he simply refused to think it would be. Instead of the frantic pounding he wanted to give the old door, he gave it the three quick raps he had used last year on her dorm door.
With a startled hand, Bella's stylo dropped to the floor, and she knocked her notebook off the table as she hastily stood and went to her door. Out of habit, she straightened her sweater and slid her hands down her Calvin's. The old building's door had no peephole, but she wouldn't have bothered to look. She knew that knock even though it wasn't possible. Was it?
What do you say when you haven't seen the one you love in so very, very long? In a space when there is a little more excitement behind those familiar and yet new eyes. Maybe a tiny new crinkle? So here and now and yet the same. So like a dream unfulfilled and so beautiful that breathing is optional. Accroche-toi a ton rêve!
If you are Bella, you shake your head and declare it a mirage. You motion for the apparition to have a seat while you finish your last three words on the page.
"If you are still here when I put my stylo down then I know you are real."
If you are Edward, after several hours of fear, and nine months of imagining the moment of reunion, you can't fathom doing anything but what she asks. So you take a seat at the end of the bed, on the hideous orange floral spread. Your bag hits the floor as her stylo hits the table.
"You're alive. You're all right."
You've seen those cinema kisses, those foot popping, breath-taking, arms wrapped moments of bliss? If you have, blend your favorite, add him lifting her and turning round and round, ending with the two of them, her on his lap, laughing and talking and relishing just breathing within the same four walls. That hideous orange floral spread didn't look so bad with what was resting on it.
The spire of that landmark that epitomizes Paris was just visible outside her tiny window. In that afternoon light, they spoke of a few past adventures, and he declared he would make her his wife. Suddenly, the room fell far too still and silent.
Her eyes trained on those hideous orange flowers as she flopped on the bed, confessing her fear that he had never asked her, just assumed her thoughts. She was a horrible, demanding bitch.
She expected and feared to hear the sound of a door slamming shut on her room and on the dream chapter of her life.
Instead, she heard the soft schussing of denim and felt her hands, that had moved to cover her face, being lifted away and into the very warm hands of her love.
He was on a bent knee before her.
"My dearest Isabella. Would you do me the extraordinary honor of becoming my wife?"
There are moments in life that rise to the magical. Some are just moments that crystalize in our hearts and minds. His was seeing her in an oversize green sweater, poofed out hairdo, and arms overloaded with books, slipping right into him with huge eyes as she tumbled down the short stairs in the cafeteria line a little over a year ago. He knew it that moment—I'm going to marry this girl.
She would tell you it was a few nights later, after he'd stood next to her, waiting to enter the poli-sci classroom, watching him smile and charm her and the others in the sun-filled hallway, then choosing to sit right beside her. Doodling a quick smile on the overhead projector. Walking with her across the darkened campus. In one of the pools of light under the lamps strewn across the lawn walkways, she thought him a near supernatural vision. Please, please want to kiss me as much as I will want you to … always.
"Yes, Oui! Always! Toujours!"
This kiss was fresh, so very … Well, like in Valley speak, it would rate as tres tres gnarly … but neither were thinking that way. It broke only when there was a true need for breath, and when Edward realized there were three large men below, waiting for news.
In a few moments, they were flying down the stairs together, round and round and down to the salon, to bid a hasty bien soir to Madame and la professeur. They spilled into the street, having decided to keep their status secret to all but a select few. He hadn't had a chance to speak to her father yet.
The trio turned at once to greet them as they stepped through the portal to the street. His grin and her shy smile caused the burly boys to melt a bit. These three, they told the truth. Her hand was kissed and his shoulders pounded, they promised to meet right back here at noon on Sunday.
Finally, his wish was here. He led her off the Metro, toward the Trocadero, to the beautiful view of the spire of Paris, La Tour Eiffel. The sun would not set for hours yet, so they strolled up to the iron-laced edifice and began the tortuous trip to the top. One could count the rivets that weren't all rust on one hand, but the magic endured to get them to the top. The dilapidated state of the symbol did not dampen their enthusiasm one bit.
"Why Emerald City? You always refer to this, to us, as your Emerald City." He had his arms on her waist as they peered out over the city, the sun setting and lights sparkling in the deepening shadows below.
"Edward, it's your eyes. They are my Emerald City. My hope, and now my home."
Kissing at the top of the tower is nothing new, unless it's your first kiss in your personal forever.
Carlos was eventually caught and still resides in a French prison. Years later, they would donate to the restoration of La Tour Eiffel, hoping to keep a little magic alive.
One last shout out to all the other Authors in the Age of Edward. Just search Age of Edward 2015 to find the amazing collection of stories