Chapter One: The Doctor
In the far distance I could see two men and the sheriff walking this way. I knew what they were doing; they were planning to saw down my favorite oak tree in the whole county! There was no point in sawing it down, only that my Father, Mr. John L. Platt, was the most powerful banker in town and often got what he wanted. He saw the tree as a nuisance, a piece of nature that blocked the view from our house. It didn't block any view! And even if it did, it is not like there was that great of a view from our window anyway—just the green countryside and a dirt road five minutes from a small town in Columbus, Ohio. Why couldn't my father see that a tree that was over 200 years old needed to continue growing, it was one of God's creations. My father is a Christian; so I thought he would understand my reasoning, but I guess not.
The men grew larger as they came closer and I still didn't have any idea as what to do. I just stood there, a petite sixteen-year-old girl, whose voice was never heard, or respected, for that matter. I braced myself as they neared me; one man held a large saw and his clothes consisted of a threadbare lumberjack shirt and tan, worn pants held up by black suspenders. His face all grimy with dirt and sweat from a previous tree cutting, I assumed. The other man next to him dressed much like him, only he was heavier and had a dark, bushy beard that hid his chin—he could have been Santa Clause once his hair turned white. The sheriff was the first to approach me; he was a mean, old man who stuck to drinking in the bar at night. Though no one would admit to that, people liked feeling safe in this small town in Columbus. The wind blew my curled, caramel-colored hair in my face, but I brushed it aside, ready for the argument.
"Listen, Ms. Platt. I've told you before and I'll tell you again, your father wishes for this tree to be cut down, no argument." The sheriff informed me. I didn't move.
"But, it's a tree, that's lived here for so long, sir, I don't know how you can let one old man's opinion own you," I fought back with anxiety in my voice.
"Ms. Platt, I won't argue with you anymore," The sheriff finished and nodded towards the lumberjacks to proceed.
Begging and pleading with him would not help so I thought fast. I climbed up the tree as fast as I could; branches tearing my nice dress (which I could care less about), and leaves falling out of place as I hustled higher and higher into it's deepening brush.
"Ms. Platt, get down from there!" I heard the sheriff yell, but I ignored him, glancing around the tree for a good, strong branch to hold a 120-pound 16-year-old.
'Ah!" I observed a high branch that was thick and easy to get too. I slowly climbed up to the branch and noticed something blue at the edge of the tree. I moved quickly, but cautiously, not wanting to fall.
As I neared the edge of the branch, I squinted my eyes to get a better picture of the little, blue shape up ahead. Then it clicked: it was a blue bird's nest, one simple egg that was standing upright, towering over all the others. I climbed closer and closer till I had to put one leg on each side of the branch and crawl my way to the nest. The mother was gone and that was a good sign. The eggs would soon hatch. If I couldn't save the tree I could definitely save the eggs and the nest.
"Esme Ann Platt! Get down here right now, young lady!" My mother screamed up at me. Her voice was not the kindest sound in the world and her personality wasn't any better.
I hesitated. My mother would never allow such a thing like a nest in the house, especially with soon to be baby birds. Samantha Marie Platt was a proper woman of the 20th century striving to follow the British ways more than our own here in America. Not that I minded the British ways—just as I long as I didn't have to follow them. But mother insisted day after day, tea, tea, and more tea. Then dance lessons, then French lessons, and then sewing lessons. It never ended. I yearned to be free and go out and explore the world. Marry for a love that lasts forever, have children, be a teacher, and live a happy and long life. I strived for adventure and real love, not tea and French lessons.
I carefully picked up the nest in my small hands and examined the eggs more closely. Yep, definitely blue birds. I couldn't wait to see them hatch. There were six total, blue and beautiful, but I didn't dare touch them in the fear of breaking them.
"Esme, are you coming yet?" My father's deep voice rang throughout me and I felt an uncomfortable shiver travel up my spine. Why couldn't he see the beauty of the world like I did? Instead, he insisted on chopping every tree down that he felt was unnecessary or a pest. I realized that I would not win this bet and that the tree would eventually be cut down. I couldn't fight for it's life forever, but I could fight for the eggs.
"I'm coming," I replied rather dully. Holding the nest lightly in my left hand I used my right one to push me backwards to the middle of the tree. I felt something slippery and then it all happened so fast.
"Oh no!" I gasped, as the nest slipped from my small hand, I fell through the air with no one ready to catch me, only the ground to break my fall. I reached for anything to hold onto, but all I could grasp was thin air. I let out a short scream as I fell multiple feet from the branch. The last thing I heard was a snap in my right leg and yelp of pain come from deep within my throat, and then my world went black.
There was a cool, icy touch to my forehead and I could hear faint murmurs in the background. I shook my head back and forth praying for the dizziness to go away. The cool touch didn't leave my forehead, even as I raised my right hand up to slap it away. There was a sudden, piercing pain that shot through my whole body then collected in my right leg and I shot up in a….hospital bed? Had I really hurt myself that bad to be taken to old and hairy Dr. Linden.
"Oh!" I grasped it, but the pain amplified. I squeezed my eyes and then opened them to deep eyes penetrating mine.
"Lie back down, Ms. Platt, I know it hurts, but the pain will cease," A musical voice ordered calmly as I felt his hand on my shoulder as his other supported my head, laying me back down slowly.
I gazed at the young man who was speaking to me. His skin was whiter than white and his eyes, such a soft, golden color. His hair was a deep shade of blonde and his breath was the sweetest scent I've ever smelt before. His features were angelic, peaceful, and beautiful. He was extremely handsome and young too, maybe 20 or so. I forgot how to breathe for a moment. All I could do was gaze at the man who was…my doctor? What happened to my regular doctor? Not that I minded he wasn't here, this Doctor seemed much nicer and was a heck of a lot handsomer than Dr. Linden ever could—and would—be. I was so enamored by the doctor that sat beside me that I had forgotten about the pain in my leg—almost.
"Hello, I'm Dr, Carlisle Cullen. I think that we'll become good friends Ms. Platt so I insist you call me by my first name, Carlisle," Dr. Cullen greeted me warmly and flashed a twinkling smile at me. "Dr. Linden is on vacation for a week now, so I will be your doctor until you heal." I felt surprised. My parents never thought it proper for a young, polite girl to call anyone by their first names, and everyone knew me as Ms. Platt, the outspoken, adventurous teenager of the well-respected, stuck-up Mr. and Mrs. Platt.
I tried to sit up again so that I could face him better. He place his hand on the small of my back and helped me up, my heart took a slight skip as he did this.
"Hello, Carlisle," I pronounced his first name carefully. "Please call me Esme." I tried to smile politely, but it seemed awkward and I knew it didn't come out as beautiful as his.
"Esme. Now that's a really beautiful name that matches the person," Carlisle complimented. "How are you feeling?"
"Um…well." It took me a moment to get my jumbled thoughts together. "My head hurts a bit and my leg is…fine." I lied. Could you please tell me what happened?" My leg hurt terribly, but I wanted to be brave.
"Well, as I hear it, you broke your leg from falling about a hundred feet, I don't know the specifics of it yet. And your head hurts because you must have hit it somehow," Dr. Cullen looked at me calmly. I must have looked frightened to him, but it was more of an admiration feeling. Sometimes the looks I gave were confusing. "But you'll be fine, Esme, in no time at all, a week or so." He reassured me with a smile that made my heart flutter. I didn't mind staying a week or so. I could stay for forever in this hospital bed.
"Now, I'll be right back, Esme," Dr. Cullen stood up from his seat and left the room.
I sighed. How lucky was I to finally have a new doctor, and for a week! Especially one that is handsome, kind, and charming; all of his female co-workers must faint dead away every time they see him. My leg still stung, but the pain seemed to lessen when he was around. I was so focused on him that I almost forgot about the two sharp bones that seemed to be poking at my muscle.
"All right Esme, miss me much?" He teased. Yes, I thought. He set down a bag of ice on the table at the end of the bed.
"What's the ice for?" I asked.
"Oh, just to make the pain not as acute. It helps numb the leg."
"Oh, so it will hurt." It sounded like more a statement than a clarification.
"Yes, but not for very long. What I have to do first is feel for the amount of damage in your leg."
Carlisle went over to the other side of my bed and gently placed his cool hand on my shin, feeling the split bone. I winced.
"Does that hurt?" He asked, it sounded like more of a concern than a doctor just asking a medical question.
"Not too bad," I lied.
"You're a brave girl, many people wouldn't have been able to take the pain," Carlisle said smoothly. His voice was one of the most sweetest sounds I've ever heard—as smooth as silk. He felt the torn bone once more. I tried not to show the pain on my face, but I failed in that.
"That hurts, doesn't it?" He asked. I nodded, not breathing. "You know, Esme, for me to be able to understand the break a little better, it helps for me to know how it was broken in the first place, from the actual person."
"Are you sure it will effect your diagnosis much?" I asked, not wanting to tell him how I foolishly broke my leg. He might not think it proper for a young girl to be so rebellious or passionate. He might think her unsuitable. I couldn't bear the thought of that, Carlisle thinking me improper. I looked down at my stomach, replaying the question in my head.
"It can," Was his brief, but honest reply. I continued to look down, avoiding his eyes.
"Esme," I felt his hand on my chin as he gently lifted it up to read my face. Our eyes met sending a shiver down my spine. I couldn't break the stare; it mesmerized me. "You don't have to talk about it if you don't want to. Okay?" I nodded sadly. Why couldn't I tell him? He seems to be the kind of man that would understand and agree with me. Why didn't I have the nerve to tell him?
He understood though, me not wanting to answer now. How much more amazing can this man possibly get? And it wasn't just his looks that made him beautiful; it was his compassion, his kindness. My parents were never like this, they ignored me, and he didn't. He was my doctor of course, but a doctor, never would have a non-business relationship with a patient. It was always strictly business, no other conversation. Just a "hello" and "how did you do this?" and a "goodbye". The questions were always demanding, but Carlisle was patient, although he had other patients to go see, and that was what was so wonderful. He cared about the patient, rather than the amount of money he would get in return. I must be in love, I thought, but my thoughts were soon interrupted.
"Now, what I'm going to do is feel for the bone a bit more, to see exactly what amount of damage has been done to it." Carlisle informed me. "Then I will set it probably tomorrow. I nodded, still captivated by his eyes, they seemed to pull me in. I wondered if he was married or was in a relationship with someone. I assumed he was, who wouldn't want to be his girl? He was perfect.
Carlisle's hands pressed up and down my shin, feeling the split bone. I winced, but didn't mutter a sound. I didn't want him to think of me as a weak, immature 16-year-old.
"Okay, I'm thinking of snapping it back into place. This will hurt," He warned. I liked how he told the truth; most doctors would often say something along the lines of, "this won't hurt a bit".
I heard an instant, snapping sound and my fractured bone fit back together. His cool hands went from strong to relaxed all in one moment. A deep pain shot through my body and I jumped a bit. "Ouch!" I yelped, keeping my cry as quiet as possible, shutting my eyes.
"Your brave, Esme," Carlisle praised me. His smile reached his eyes this time as he glanced up at me. He felt my sweaty forehead, trying to calm me, although I liked to think it was romantic. "Would you like some ice on your leg, while I prepare the splint for tomorrow?"
"Yes please." He didn't bother telling me the ice was cold—it was obvious.
"So tell me about yourself, Esme." Carlisle said as prepared the splint. "What do you do during your day?"
I was glad he asked, it would have been awkward, just staring at him in silence the whole time.
"Well, in the morning I get up for breakfast, after breakfast I have my French lesson, then I have my dance lesson. After my dance lesson is over I have lunch with my parents and afternoon tea follows shortly after. Afternoon tea is followed by a sewing lesson, a violin lesson. At the end of the day I have dinner with my parents." I finished sweetly, hoping not to dull him with my babbling.
He didn't respond right away. I looked up to see if he was too busy to respond or had just plain ignored me. I found him quite otherwise; he was staring at me in surprise, pausing at his work. I tilted my head slightly in confusion. "What?"
"Do you enjoy any of those…activities?" I could hear him search for a word to fit my daily routine.
"Well, violin's okay, but my mother is very old-fashioned. She likes things done the British way, so I don't get a chance to do what I would prefer. She wishes for me to be a proper and beautiful young lady someday, but I'm far from that. I am in every way what she considers to be, well, improper," I confessed easily; Carlisle was a good listener. He really made eye contact and you knew he really cared about what you were saying. That's how I felt at least.
"But, what do you do for fun?" Carlisle wore a puzzled expression, as though he's never heard of a mother who wished for her daughter to be brought up by the book. "What do you do for you?" He shifted his body on the chair to face me completely, his elbows on his knees, and his perfectly flawless hands folded under his chin. He looked like a model. I wondered if he had ever gotten any offers?
"Paint!" I blurted out just as he finished his question. I blushed, embarrassed. His mouth curved up in a striking grin. "I love to paint," I repeated, more reserved. I wished to go on, but I feared I had said too much. I wonder if he thought I was crazy? A 16-year-old who loves to paint? Most girls my age were looking for a suitor, not climbing trees—let alone painting.
"Really?" He sounded surprised, but in a good way, like he was pleased with my answer. His eyes looked deep into mine, I knew that there was nothing romantic about the gaze—at least I thought so—but it was still a nice dream to have all the same. "What do like about painting?" He asked curiously.
"It gives me time to think on my own, to not have someone else think for me, to express myself in ways I could never imagine," My face tilted slightly and I felt my eyes shift upward, thinking of all the reasons why I enjoyed painting so much. "A picture's worth a thousand words they say," I added enthusiastically. Carlisle chuckled. It was the first time I had a heard such a flawless sound. I committed it to memory so I was sure to never forget it. I hoped to hear it again before I left.
"I would really like to see one of your paintings sometime."
I beamed at him, "Really?"
"Sure, one of my favorite places in this small town is that big oak tree, about five minutes away, just off of a dirt road. I've always hoped of getting someone to paint it for me. I would really love it if you did."
My smile automatically turned to a frown.
"If you are looking at it from the house that's nearby, you can see how it blends in beautifully with the hills in the background and that gorgeous blue sky. Have you ever seen that tree, Esme?" His golden gaze snapped back to mine. I think he noticed the sudden change in my expression, but he didn't ask about it.
"No," I replied calmly. "I haven't. It sounds beautiful though." I tried to sound more enthusiastic.
"It is, it is," He repeated slowly.
Silence followed for a couple moments as we sat in deep thought. Carlisle loved the same tree I did. He didn't think it was a nuisance. I'm going to paint it from memory for him, I vowed, and give it to him the next time I see him. I was determined, and I would follow through with my promise I had made to myself and secretly to him, and I would not break it.
"Well," Carlisle shifted his body so that he was facing his work again, "I better get back to preparing the splint so that your leg can heal that much faster, and you can get out of this uncomfortable hospital bed."
I didn't say anything. I tried to go back to thinking about the pain in my leg, instead of focusing so much on a man that I would never be with. It almost seemed pointless sometimes, to dream of something that you knew would never come true.