Diving by rcullen
Rating: T (Themes of suicide and domestic violence.)
Summary: "I never really thought of it as suicide, even though it was. I saw it as the natural course my life needed to take." Esme's reflection on her life after Bella "jumps" off the cliff in New Moon.
Disclaimer: I just move Stephenie Meyer's brilliant characters around. Esme's history is partly from her bio on the Twilight Lexicon, and partly from details I made up. No copyright infringement intended.
Author's Note: I feel like we don't get enough of Esme's personality in the novels. Excuse me if I took a little creative license with her thoughts. I know she's the mom, the unconditional love in the Cullen family, but I thought she needed a little anger. She got a really bad deal in her human life.
Esme Anne Platt Evenson
I do not remember much about my human life, except for the last, excruciating moments. The grief, the loss of my child, mixed with hatred for my husband, Charles, and most of all, my hatred for myself. At 26, I couldn't take any more of this life. And that was how I found myself on the sheer cliff face. The wind at my back tangled my hair and swirled it around my thin shoulders. The weather was unseasonably warm; I was wearing just a thin dress, and no shoes. It was late in the day; the sun left pink and purple streaks across the sky. I was feeling pensive. I sat on the edge of the precipice, my feet dangling off towards the ground below.
I thought a lot about the last year for an immeasurable moment. I don't know how long I sat there, looking down without really seeing what was at the bottom of the cliff. I remembered sneaking away from my former home in the middle of the night to protect the little baby in my belly. I could still feel bruises on my ribs from the last beating—the final straw. The black marks had faded to blue and purple, then to yellow, but the stiffness under my ribcage and on my arms hadn't faded with them. The anger I felt towards him still felt as deep and aching, raw and painful, as it had that night and all the nights before.
I thought about the road to Ashland, Wisconsin. I'd stayed there for a little over six months. I worked as a school teacher in the small town. I'd given birth to my first—and only—baby. A little boy named Aiden. I had him for just five days before he died. One of the few human memories I took with me was the feeling of holding him in my arms. He had wispy blonde hair and the bluest eyes I've ever seen. His skin felt like warm silk. I don't remember ever wanting anything more—in this life or in any others. When the infection finally took him away from me, I remember holding him in my arms, and crying. And knowing that I had nothing to live for. I couldn't go back to work and look into the faces of the blue-eyed boys and girls. My fragile heart couldn't take it.
I ran through more obscure memories—my former husband, in the first nights of our courtship. The nights and days when he was kind to me, and I was foolish enough to believe his empty promises. I thought of my mother and father on my wedding day, their eyes never left my face. I thought they were proud of me. Really, they'd been worried that, at 22, I was running out of time to find a proper husband. That's why when the beatings started, my family turned a blind eye. I was told to be a "good wife" and keep quiet. But the bruises on my arms and the black eyes screamed loud enough. It was just that no one cared.
I tired to find normalcy when Charles left to fight in the first world war. I couldn't even admit it to myself, but I prayed every day that he would not come home. My prayers were not answered. And the fighting had hardened Charles. He had a heart of granite. Cold and still. His fury was worse. And then I got pregnant, when I wasn't even looking to. But I knew I would not bring a baby into this house.
Which, I guess, is how I ended up sitting on the edge of a cliff. I sat up there for who knows how long before I was finally able to do it. Clearly not long enough for anyone to find me. The sun was almost gone, leaving just a few orange streaks across the Wisconsin sky. I took a deep breath to steel myself, anchored my hands, palms down, to the rock at my sides, and gave a good heave.
I never really thought of it as suicide, even though it was. I saw it as the natural course my life needed to take. I had nothing left in this life. I couldn't go home to let Charles kill me—because that would be the consequence, undoubtedly, for incurring his drunken wrath. I couldn't have another baby. I couldn't go back to live in Milwaukee with extended family, and I certainly couldn't go back to my mother and father, who would surely send me to my death. It was time I did something for myself. I'd let my parents force me into marrying a man I didn't love, and I'd let them guilt me into staying by his side. I let Charles put his hands on me—night after night. I let him give me this baby, and then I let someone else take it away from me. Enough was enough.
And as noble as that all was, it started to seem pretty stupid in the second before I blacked out. On the ground, broken, in a heap. I screamed—I could feel a break in my leg. I was familiar with the pain because I had broken my leg at 16. This was another fleeting memory I kept with me in my old life, and brought into my new one. I was taken to a hospital outside the small town because the local doctor was away. It was 1911. The blonde haired doctor that tended my wounds was impossibility beautiful. My younger, more carefree self was flustered. A thick blush rose under my freckled cheeks. I remember his hands putting a splint on my leg, they felt like ice. And when his honey gold eyes met mine, I felt a shock of electricity in my veins. It was like the room was charged. I could barely speak, but he didn't seem to notice. I chalked it up to shock… but I never forgot it. Doctor Carlisle Cullen was the last good thing I got to think about. My other injuries—broken ribs, maybe? A thousand times worse than the old bruises—consumed me. I tasted blood in my mouth A sharp pain in my temples made the scene fade to black.
I had expected a white light. Something to move towards in my attempted to run away from my human life. But there was nothing. Just blackness. And then there was fire.
Esme Anne Cullen
It hurt to relive these memories. I didn't often do it because I knew they troubled Edward. He, like Carlisle, has an amazing respect for human life. They don't like to think about how I squandered mine. But the real reason I never talk about my change is because I feel just the tiniest bit robbed. Unlike the others Carlisle changed, I had wanted to die. I would never say it, or think it in Edward's company, but I resented that death was taken from me. It was the easier option. This life… is impossibly hard. If I hadn't woken up to the face of the angel that was also my last human memory, I don't know what I would have done. Maybe it was fate, but seeing Carlisle's face was the only thing that could have saved me from the black abyss—the pain of my child and failed marriage—that still haunted me.
But I did a lot of thinking when we returned from a hunting trip to find Alice in Forks and Rosalie on the couch looking incredibly smug. Rosalie explained about Alice's vision of Bella jumping somewhat reluctantly. It was easy to understand why. I put on a concerned face for Rosalie, Emmett, and Jasper, but excused myself as soon as I could. I was free to sit with my thoughts now. Carlisle went straight to the hospital after our hunt and Edward was far, far away. In New Mexico, the last time we checked.
It was hard to imagine Bella dead. It was harder to imagine that she wanted to take her own life, given what she knows about me and my family. But when you lose the one you love most… as I had, with Aiden… well, I knew what that felt like better than anyone else. So I supposed, in the end, that it made sense. I thought of what I would say to Edward when he came for his next visit. What would we tell him? What would he find out on his own? Would he even be able to speak to me? What did this mean for him? For our family?
I pictured Bella sitting on a rainy cliff overlooking First Beach, in a thin dress, with her hair twisting in the breeze. I could picture it only too well as she shoved her hands against the rock and flew out into the open air, bare feet first. I felt the ache in my chest—the hole where my heart should be—give an especially painful twist. It was the pain of knowing I'd lost someone who was part of me, and I could never fill that hole up. You could try to put a patch on it, sure, but it never really went away. Not as a human, not as a vampire, and not even in death.