A little piece I did in honor of Halloween. Centered around a Halloween Carlisle had, before he changed Edward. Not particularly scary, but just enough to make you think…
Losing your Way
The last, crimson tints of the smoky twilight sky slowly faded over the horizon, cloaking the world in cobalt serenity. Gray, slender limbs of trees stirred against the skyline, catching the last rays of the amber dusk and casting long shadows over the damp ground. A light breeze blew restlessly, whispering through boughs and carrying away the last burgundy leaves from the branches they precariously clung to. A waxing crescent moon slowly rose in the dim heavens, bright stars struggling for their vague light to reach through the clouds that hung over the horizon.
The light breeze picked up, whistling angrily through waving boughs, blowing through my overcoat and sending once neatly combed hair into my face. Closing my eyes, I inhaled briefly, relishing the fresh, earthen scent the gale carried. I could hear the crisp stir of leaves brushing across cobblestones, and the faint, mournful cry of an owl. Halfheartedly, I pulled my dark, woolen overcoat closer to my freezing body; partly wishing I could still feel the sting of the cold on my chilled skin.
Opening my eyes, I paused, glancing at my shadowy surroundings consideringly. Without my enhanced vision I would doubtless be blind as a bat. Behind me floated the gentle hum of human voices, barely audible even to my sharp hearing. The rough cobblestone pathway extended for some time onto the gloom, disappearing as it dipped with the gentle slope of a dusky hill. The landscape was bathed in the gentlest, silver glow, casting faint shadows on the frozen ground.
It could have been any other night, really. There was no hint of magic on the air, as humans nowadays so lightheartedly jested; nor the sinister touch of evil, as my own father had proclaimed. Just the light crispness of the air, the swaying limbs of stripped trees. It could have been any other night, had I not known the date. To me, it was any other night. But to everyone else in for miles and miles, it was Halloween.
My own childhood memories, so vague and shrouded from the pain of changing into what I am now, as well as the hundreds of years that separated me from them, were faded. Only could I vaguely remember the face of my father, frowning fiercely, deep-set eyes cast sharply into shadow, rumbling about the evil witchery of the date. It had been called All Hallows Eve back then. But, like so many other things, it had slowly changed and adapted with the passing time.
Looking back now, on the chilled eve of the last day in October, it felt like such a lifetime had passed since those first days, when I was so young to this new life, so confused. It had, in all reality, been several lifetimes. But, in other ways, the days passed as quickly as the dying rays of sunset, each as melancholy and lonely as the day before. The very thought of my past, present, and most likely future, would be the same dull hollowness, filled me with melancholy.
There were the moments of happiness, littered throughout this existence. The vaguely smug smile of a new mother. The relief in the eyes of a child when I eased her pain. The radiant happiness, joy, gratefulness of the family of a patient, being told their brother or sister, or mother or father would live. And yet even moments such as these brought the slightest hint of bitter-sweetness to my smile. Because I knew that I had no one to smile at me like that. No one to worry about me, no one to care. And I possibly never would.
I simply couldn't befriend anyone I met. They would notice the fact that I did not age; notice the peculiarities about myself and my behavior. And I would have to relocate every few years, once again to another town, once again playing the part of the young doctor, so earnest about his work. And at times, even the shining moments of happiness my work brought me were not enough to dispel the gloom that took hold of my heart. My unbeating heart.
Sighing, I banished these heavy thoughts from my mind, brushing stray, golden hair from my forehead with icy fingers. I continued walking down the lonesome path in the gloom, vaguely wondering where I was going. I just had to be back by the following morning. No one would notice the young doctor had been absent during the witching night.
Tucking my hands into deep pockets, I tried unsuccessfully not to brood. This had never been a habit of mine, not until recently. But perhaps it was because not until recently had I truly felt the pang of the sharp blade of loneliness in this twilight existence. And not until very recently had I ever considered making a companion. It didn't seen right; to steal the life of another as mine was so thoughtlessly robbed. But loneliness was a loud companion, in a way, and constantly on mind.
I continued down the abandoned lane, the traces of the city vanishing behind me. I had politely refused all invitations to dinners I had received. I could have gone, could have allowed myself to enjoy the casual company of others. But I knew that whatever comfort I would gain would be fleeting, and loneliness would return again, twice amplified. I had never been a masochist, and I tried not to regard my actions as that now. Just self denial.
In a few more minutes of quiet walking, the lane abruptly turned on the slopes of a rising hill. To my right, the old, corroded path continued, vanishing into the darkness. But to my left…
The rusted, wrought-iron gates of a graveyard stood imposingly before me. A few, sickly looking trees stood forlorn in the smooth clearing, silvery moonlight illuminating eerily through swaying branches. I could make out the weathered, cracked headstones behind the gate, stretching before me. Pausing thoughtfully, I continued staring at the abandoned yard.
Few would venture into a graveyard after the hours of dusk, and even less on a night notorious for its sinister reputation such as this one. But the mysterious glow illuminating dissonantly across barren ground didn't capture the same, instinctive fear as it would in others. I turned towards the yard.
Reaching the gate, I placed a hand on the rough metal. I paused for a moment, considering my folly. Why was I entering a graveyard? But there was something compulsive about the lonely site, something that drew me irresistibly foreword. A few years previous, I would have stopped myself, arguing with reason. But now, recent doubts and broodings of an eternity of loneliness obliterated what sane, reason I had. Slowly, as if in a daze, my brain working disoriented, I pushed at the sturdy threshold.
The rusting, black metal structure opened with a foreboding creak, brushing against stray leaves and gangly weeds in its path. I stood for a moment, staring at the shady space ahead uncomprehendingly. I once again vaguely questioned my sanity, walking into a graveyard for no particular reason. But once again, these rational thoughts were swept from my mind, like a rag cleaning away fragile cobwebs.
The rough gravel path crunched beneath my booted feet, and in the distance, a bird cried out. Glancing upwards, I paused briefly, through my daze, to admire the heavens. The luminescent clock in the sky was partially obscured by opaque clouds, stars faintly shining through the haze. It was beautiful, but with the slightest touch of despondency. But then, it seemed as if most things I would have once found unconditionally stunning held a note of depression.
Turning my gaze back to the earth, I slowly moved forward. In the back of my mind, I realized with vague amusements that this scene held all the elements of a horror novel. Nevertheless, I continued onward, heedless of the implications of my unconsidered actions.
Some gravestones held the shining, upright look of newness, where still others leaned sideways in the weeded ground, engravings half obscured by age. I walked, as if in a daze, through rows of the headstones, idly noting the names and dates on the memorials.
"Hello?" The soft, child-like voice jolted me from my mysterious reverie. Taking a step backwards, my gaze immediately snapped a few feet to my left. Before me sat a girl, perched daintily on the leaning top of a large headstone. My eyes widened in surprise, both in the fact that I had not heard the child, and in the simple verity that a young girl, no more than eleven, was alone in a graveyard at night. And not just any night, but on Halloween.
Her hair, braided loosely and unsmooth as if she had attempted the feat herself, hung down her back in a dusky, brown wave. Her skin was very pale, through not quite as translucent as my own. She wore simple, outdated clothes, as if her mother had given the child the clothes she had worn in her childhood. Wide, blue eyes shone in the gloom under long lashes.
"Are you lost?" My smooth voice was concerned, and I took a step towards the waif.
The child, a peculiar depth to her eyes, took in my furrowed brow and troubled voice. She shrugged thin shoulders, lashes closing for a moment as she studied the rubble-strewn ground. "I've come here before. A lot." Her childish, lilting voice belayed the terrible depth in her aged eyes, countering her initial demeanor of someone much older.
I paused, coming to a stop a few feet form the child. "Do your parents know you're here?" I asked gently, studying her countenance for signs of ill-health or neglect.
The child smiled, small teeth bared. But there was the vaguest, unsettling touch of bitterness, and knowledge in that expression. "My parents know I'm here."
I frowned, opening my mouth, when it occurred to me I didn't know what to say. Never before had I come across a child in a graveyard at night, yet alone one who was unchaperoned. And never before had I met a young girl as unsettling as this one. Humans in general instinctively shied away from my kind, obeying an urge for self-preservation they were blissfully unaware of. Children in particular seemed repelled by my alieness. But this one didn't flinch, didn't even look taken aback. As if she had known I would be coming.
"What's your name?" She asked, strange smile finally disappearing.
I stared at her for a moment, uncomprehending. With a start, I came to my senses, answering automatically. "Carlisle." I didn't think to you my last name. And in some way, it would have seemed wrong, having this strange child say "Dr. Cullen".
She smiled, sapphire eyes flashing. "Carlisle," she repeated, childish soprano rolling over the word as if trying it on for size. "My name is Meredith," she continued, barely pausing for breath. "What are you doing out here?"
She paused, pale skin furrowing as she frowned bemusedly at me. "Is something wrong?"
"No, it's just.." my voice trailed away, and I turned to answering her first question. "I just, came here, I suppose. I'm not entirely certain why…"
Meredith smiled wisely, swinging booted feet from her perch. "People are always just showing up, really. And most of them are like you."
"Like me?" I questioned, struggling to comprehend what I was hearing.
"Yes," she answered, drawing out the sound with pursed lips. "Sort of… lost looking."
I could do nothing more than stare at the young girl. She was out here, alone with no parents. And other people had come by before, other people who were supposedly like me. Had they too, found themselves in the lonely spot, questioning why they had come in the first place?
Or was it the girl herself…
I had to accept the theory of the mystical, the supernatural. I was something that most people didn't believe existed, after all. Bearing that in mind, it was reasonable to consider there were other things in the world. Things I had never considered before.
"Carlisle," Meredith began, swiping her straggling brown hair from her face will small, delicate hands. "Are you afraid of death?"
My reaction of staring mutely in silence seemed to be constantly repeating. Previous thoughts returning, I asked myself what kind of eleven year old girl would ask about death, perfectly seriously.
But I could answer my question myself. The kind that haunted graveyards at all hours of the night. "I don't know," I answered honestly. "It's not something I've ever had to think about."
Meredith pursed her full lips again, eying me considering in a way in which no normal child would. "No, I don't suppose you've had to, have you?"
"What do you mean, when you said me being lost?"
"Well… not lost, exactly. 'Cause you know where you are… But, you're missing something. Something you want more than anything in the world, right? And it hurts, doesn't it?" Her childish voice had a rhetoric ring to it, clearly not asking for a strait answer.
"Grown-ups are always getting confused," Meredith observed musingly, averting her intense sapphire gaze from my own golden one for the second time this evening. "It's never children, like me, that come along. So maybe children know what they want, more than people like you. Because they can see. Really see. And you can't get lost when you know where you're going, can you?"
"I suppose not," I managed to answer, voice soft. Her words had a disturbing truth. One which so easily slit through all my worry, to the core of my problem. "If you were lonely Meredith… if you had no one in the world who you could really talk to, what would you do?" I asked cautiously, voice carrying in the chilled wind that swept through the eerily illuminated graveyard.
Meredith looked up, her feet stopping from swinging for a moment. Her soft lips curved into a childish smile, the ancient look in her eyes fading. It was the first time since I had laid eyes on the mysterious girl that she truly looked as if she was her age. "I would make friends." She answered simply. The most obvious solution in the world. But perhaps the most insightful.
Was there any chance it held a double-meaning?
I opened my mouth as if to answer, then stopped abruptly. It hit me like lightening. I hadn't sensed her before because there was nothing to sense. From this distance, I should be able to hear to rhythmic pulse of her heart. But in its stead was only the swish of tree boughs in the wind.
The abrupt shriek of wind through the branches of the skeleton tree caused me to turn for an instant. The gale blew my coat open, pushing hair into my face. But behind me was only more rows of gravestones, gray and marbled, lonely in the silvery moonlight.
Turning around I opened my mouth against to answer. And I would have. Had there been anyone to answer to.
Meredith was gone. No footsteps, no scent, no trace at all of her presence remained. But the headstone she had sat on gleamed in the moonlight, allowing me to read the glyphs that had been obscured by her slender legs, showing that the person had died thirty years ago.
Meredith Elizabeth Childers
Child, thou memory shalt not fade.
I paused, numb. Leaving the abandoned graveyard, I couldn't help glance around, as if I would see her again.
But I didn't.
And I sensed I never would.
I stood at the gate, once again. My head more clear than it had been in years. I paused for one last glance backwards. Moonlight gleamed softly off headstones, shrouded in shadows.
I turned, walking once more down the path, the gentle rustling of tree boughs accompanying me on my way through the darkness.
Hope you enjoyed it, or it at least made you pause…
Happy All Hallows.