"I don't even know where to start!"
"Begin with the beginning. Duh."
--Cricket and Lulu, sometime last year

~0~
the foreword

Dear Readers,

I cannot tell you how happy I am to finally be posting this. I've been writing it for the better part of two years, bits and pieces at a time. Let me just say, I have chosen the two people who are arguably the most complex characters in the series. Esme and Carlisle are not just parents. Far from it, actually. Carlisle is the start of a new generation of humane vampires, bent on protecting the human race from a danger they believe to be only a myth. Esme is his anchor, and, to quote Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre, his hope, his love, his life.

How scary is it to imagine that everything Carlisle does/did/will do could be (and has been, if you poke around on this site for other interpretations) unraveled by her non-existence?

But who exactly is Esme? How much do we know about her, really? I've checked: only the snippets we've managed to glean from personal correspondence with Stephenie Meyer. Could you tell your life story if you had only your birth, death, and a few milestones in-between?

I won't pretend it's been easy, but as you'll find with Esme's life and afterlife, nothing worth anything ever comes without struggle.

Esme's human life was far from pleasant--to be frank, it was devastating awful. Living at the cusp of the depression and WWI is strenuous enough, but living in an era where women were meant to be seen and not heard; where wedlock was not a sanctuary, but a prison; where husbands could abuse their wives to their brutal deaths and all the world would turn a blind eye…

There were days I fell asleep crying for Esme, days I quite literally had to divert to her life with Carlisle to avoid an emotional breakdown. I think that's the mark of a good series--Stephenie has created this universe where the characters are, as dorky as it may sound, your best friends. I laughed with Esme, cried, wanted to tear my hair out as I forced my pen to scribe the awful things happening, and rejoiced when she finally got her happy ending.

I started the story where I did so that you can see that breaking point; you can see what Esme is driven to do and a brief glimpse of what came before and what will come after. Worry not, we'll be going back to cover that unchartered territory and forward to all the good stuff, as well.

I have to thank my cyber-buddy/beta, Megan (runaway xo), who put up with my crazy, disjointed thoughts and all the choppy pieces I sent to her, eager for her opinion. This story's dedicated to you, Megan, for all your help and support.

I won't even think to say that I match Stephenie's talent, or even what she intended with this story. I can only tell you what I know, and what I made up because I didn't know. I humbly offer my interpretation and invention for you to take from it what you will.

So yes, you may think you know Esme's story. You think you understand the pain, the angst, the despair, and the bright light of love that erased all of those things. But you don't.

Not yet.

I'm Cricket--and welcome to a little town up north called Ashland, 1921...