DESCRIPTION: Edward is twenty-five-years old but appears to everyone, even his family, as being an eighty-year-old man. Edward sees his true self in the mirror each morning and his family has unexplainable and infrequent flashes. To everyone else, Edward is Grandpa Ernie Cullen. When he meets Bella, everything changes. Is Bella the cure to Edward's curse?
The idea for this came to me this morning in the shower. I had to go with it.
DISCLAIMER: I'm not Stephenie Meyer and do not own Twilight. Also, this story has nothing to do with the familiarly titled movie, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button other than part of the title.
A/N: I've also been getting notes saying that this story is a total Twilight rewrite of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. I haven't seen the movie and don't know much about it. I do know that in the movie Brad Pitt's character ages backward but his mind is moving forward at a normal rate. In my fic, Edward really is 25 but appears to everyone as an 80-year-old. How the hell am I ripping off the Button movie? I chose the title that I did because it seems to fit and I couldn't think of something better. At this point, I'm ready to rename it. I don't know anything else about the movie. Really, I don't. I know know how the romantic part of the movie with who ever else it is that stars in it works out. I don't know if he considers himself cursed like Edward does. Oh, hey, I just found out Button is a book, too. Didn't know that, so I haven't read it and truthfully, I don't plan to.
CHAPTER 1: CURIOUS INDEED
I have a very odd and unexplainable affliction. It's not something like psoriasis, eczema, or developing arthritis at an extremely young age. All of those afflictions might not have a reason behind them, but they are manageable. They are treatable, and anyone with any of those problems can go to a doctor to seek relief. I have only seen a few doctors in my life, primarily my own father. A few of his colleagues have seen me and have been sworn to secrecy. Of course, they often walk out of the room laughing, oblivious to the pain this brings me.
I wasn't always afflicted. Actually, I was completely normal until I turned fifteen. That year, everything changed for me. In the midst of teenage angst, I had to deal with being poked, prodded, and questioned.
You see, when I look in a mirror, I see myself as I truly am. Edward Cullen, a twenty-five year old Caucasian male with untidy bronze hair and a crooked smile. But no one else seems to be able to see me like I can see myself. My family and loved ones have flashes of my true self now and then. The flashes are infrequent and as unexplainable as my affliction itself. My mother, whom I am forever grateful to, does not have a picture of her second born past the age of fifteen. If I am ever in her presence and flash to my true self, she cannot get to a camera fast enough to take a picture. She even bought a cell phone with a camera to try to capture my image. One time, she managed to get the phone out quickly enough, but we were disappointed the image that showed up wasn't what she ached to see. It was me, but it wasn't the true version of who I am, in this moment in time. The version only I get to view in the bathroom mirror every morning.
I have given up on attempting to find an explanation for my affliction. At random times my father will call and start spouting off different medical terminologies. I've actually had to hang up on several occasions to dismiss his words from my mind.
He will not accept that I am cursed. Yes, cursed. You know, like in fairy tales. I wasn't Prince Charming, but did I need my own Cinderella to break the spell that was over me? Stupidly, I made up a vivid story for my problem. See, centuries ago someone in my family did wrong by someone else. The wronged person happened to be a powerful witch who cast a spell on my family member, but it didn't take on them. No, instead the magic of the curse finally worked on my fifteenth birthday.
After the magic of the curse, I couldn't go to school. I was very thankful that my mother was a teacher and was able to tutor me from home. No one ever understood why I was home schooled while my siblings Emmett and Alice continued to attend public school. Only two other people besides my family know that there is something wrong with me. Rosalie Hale and Jasper Whitlock are very good friends—to not only myself but also my siblings—and were very persistent in seeing me after I stopped attending school. As a test of their friendship I told my parents to let them in. When they stepped into my bedroom to visit me, they didn't see me.
They saw me as an eighty-year-old man like everyone else does.
My alter ego is named Ernie Cullen. I fought in World War II at the Battle of the Bulge—I lied about my age and joined the army when I was seventeen. I also happen to be Emmett and Alice's grandfather on their father's side. Well, not really, but that's all part of my cover story. Why else would Emmett and Alice hang out with an eighty-year- old man? The young kids seem to like Ernie. He's hip to them. Ernie totally confuses them when he talks about modern music and then switches to how much a loaf of bread cost back in 1950. When I wander about subjects, the young'uns get worried that I'm afflicted with Alzheimer's.
"No, Jessica. Grandpa doesn't have Alzheimer's, thanks for asking," I recall Emmett saying once. "He gets a kick out of confusing young people. Ernie's wicked like that!"
"Damn right, Em! Get out of here, you young whippersnapper!" I replied back. We all broke out laughing after Jessica Stanley left Starbucks confused as hell.
Mike Newton heard about Ernie and wanted to interview him for his history class. I just happened to see Band of Brothers on HBO the night before. Considering that the series was based on actual events from World War II, I wasn't lying. I just wasn't telling the truth about myself.
But when could I actually do that? How could I really walk up to a woman my age and ask her on a date when I look like I'm eighty? I'd rather be known as "cool old Grandpa Ernie Cullen" than "that creepy old dude."
If I am cursed, how am I supposed to find my Cinderella when I appear the way I do? Okay, sure, I could see dating someone slightly older than my real age, but I wasn't attracted to anyone near Ernie's age. I didn't have anything against older Americans—I kind of looked like one most of the time—but I wasn't feelin' the sixty-year-old waitress at the diner that hit on me every time we visited.
I parked my car—a very aptly age-appropriate beige Caddy—and went inside Starbucks. I often argued that I should have a car more inline with my actual age. My parents were concerned that an eighty-year-old man driving a silver Volvo would attract more attention than we needed. While I didn't completely agree with them, I went along with their notion. After all, I needed my parents' support—quite literally—and love. I mean, who hires someone Ernie's age without fear of them breaking a hip or something? I've worked at Dunkin' Donuts and as an aide at a school bus company. Yeah, I know, exciting jobs. I couldn't follow my father's steps and pursue medicine like I wanted to. What person in their right mind would want an old man with shaky hands operating on them? Instead, I graduated high school and then followed up with literally a ton of college course from online institutions.
I have the knowledge in my head. I don't have the appearance to be accepted.
Walking into Starbucks, I scanned the crowd and found Emmett and Alice in a corner, already having purchased their drinks. I motioned to the line and waited my turn. The young girl at the register was new and being trained by an employee I'd seen many times.
"Afternoon, Ernie!" Angela greeted me with a warm smile. "This is Isabella. What can we get for you today?"
When Isabella lifted her eyes from the register to me, I was met by the warmest chocolate brown eyes I'd ever seen. Isabella had a small, tepid smile fixed on her lips. She had a lovely, pale heart-shaped face with long, wavy mahogany hair.
Isabella was precisely the type of girl that I yearned to date.
"First day, dear?" I asked.
"Yes, and I'm trying not to spill anything," she said nervously. "What would you like?"
"A tall mocha Frappuccino, please."
Angela watched as Isabella worked the register and instructed her how to enter a Senior Citizen discount. There were some advantages of appearing to be eighty, though the disadvantages far outweighed the good. I paid for my drink and moved to the side to wait for my Frappuccino. I watched as Isabella completed my order with Angela's watchful eye over her shoulder. Another register had to open because of Isabella's slow and careful pace.
Isabella completed my order and turned in my direction. "Tall mocha frap."
"That's mine," I said.
"No, it's Ernie's," she stated, confusion written on her face. "I just met him but I know you're not him."
My heart leapt with joy for a moment. Was Isabella really seeing my true self? How long would it last? I had to hurry because if she caught me in mid-flash I don't know how I'd explain anything to her or anyone else in the crowded establishment.
"Ernie's my grandfather," I explained quickly. "He had to go use the bathroom. We're joining my brother and sister." I pointed to Emmett and Alice in the corner. Alice was staring at me with her mouth hung open in amazement. Emmett's expression was much the same.
Angela heard our conversation and joined in. "You're related to Emmett and Alice?"
"Yes," I said, and Emmett raised a thumb at Angela from the corner. "I'm back in town."
"Okay, go ahead and give the drink to him."
"Sorry about that," Isabella explained. "I don't want to get into trouble."
"I understand, Isabella. Thanks for looking out for my grandfather."
"Bella," she said. "I prefer Bella."
"Thanks again, Bella," I winked at her. "It's been nice meeting you. My name is Edward."
"It was nice to meet you, Edward." Bella's cheeks blushed an amusing shade of pink.
I stood there staring at Bella for a few seconds before Angela called her name. Bella waved sheepishly at me and headed to the register. Turning on my heels, I glanced back at Bella and caught her gazing at me. She quickly looked away from me and back to the register.
"Edward!" Alice screeched. "What the hell?"
"I don't know!"
"That was the longest flash of you I have ever seen," Emmett proclaimed.
"When did Ernie come back?" I asked.
Alice grabbed her phone and began to press the buttons on the pad. "You changed back as soon as you sat down."
"Did you try to catch me for Mom?" I asked, hopeful.
"Oh, my God, Edward!" Alice stared at her cell and then shoved it into my hands. "Look!"
The image on the phone rocked me to my core. When our mother had tried to capture me Ernie had appeared. Here, in Starbucks, Alice had managed to capture an image of both Edward and Ernie. I looked downright odd. It was as if someone went into PhotoShop and played with two pictures and blended them together. I could actually see some facial features of myself in the picture. I wasn't looking in a mirror!
"That's…" I searched for the proper word. "Amazing?"
"Who the hell is the girl at the register and why did you change into Edward around her?" Emmett questioned aloud. "Why is she different than everyone else? Why can't we make you appear to be Edward and not Ernie?"
"You're right!" Alice said. "It's some type of curse. She must be your soul mate!"
"Whoa, whoa, hold the train, Alice!" I told her. "Bella can't be my soul mate."
At this point, my dear sister was beaming. NASA could probably see her smile from space. "Ooh, Bella, what a pretty name. Why can't she be your soul mate?"
"In case you forgot, I appear to be an eighty-year-old man!"
"Edward, you appeared to be yourself for a good three minutes," Emmett said. "That's never ever happened before. Bella might've had something to do with that."
Alice clapped her hands. "Ooh, is she nice?"
"She seemed to be." I rolled my eyes. Alice was forming a plan. I knew it. "I only talked to her for maybe a minute."
"Yes, but you were yourself for longer than that," Emmett reminded me.
"I'll introduce myself and be friends with her. That way, there's an excuse for her to be around you. Yes! This is perfect!"
Emmett and I made Alice wait to approach Bella. We didn't want Alice to get Bella fired from her job. When Bella went on a break and headed to the isolated opposite corner of the store, Alice pounced like a tigress. We watched as Alice conversed easily with Bella like they had been best friends forever. When Alice danced her way back to us, she had a mischievous look on her face.
"Dear Alice, please don't make me have to explain your death to our parents."
"Stop being so melodramatic, Edward!"
Emmett huffed from his spot across from me as Alice sat back down on the chair next to him. "Shut up and let Alice explain."
"Bella just moved from Washington State to New York with her father so she doesn't know anyone but Angela, who vouched for us," Alice smiled. "I invited her to go to the movies with us tomorrow night."
"What if Ernie sticks around?"
"I told her it'd probably be me, Emmett, Rose, Jazz and maybe our brother Edward or our grandfather."
"Did she question why Ernie hangs out with his grandkids so much?" I asked.
"She didn't, but I threw in the usual, 'our grandpa is really cool' bit," she explained. "We swapped cell numbers, and I'll text her to let her know when to meet us at the mall."
I exhaled and shook my head. "This is stupid. One little weird flash in a public place with a virtual stranger and you're befriending her based on a single ray of hope."
"Three minutes, Edward. I saw you for three fuckin' minutes." Emmett glared at me. "That has never happened before. Don't you see we have to see if it happens again? What if it doesn't? Alice made a new friend."
Alice shrugged. "Bella seems nice enough."
"Okay, fine! We'll go to the movies tomorrow night."
"She's the cure to your curse. I know it. I can feel it." Alice reached across the table and touched my hand.
I turned and searched for Bella. My eyes met hers and I tried not to smile because that would come across as creepy. Could Alice be correct? Could Bella break the odd and unexplainable affliction that had cursed me since I was fifteen?
A/N: I'm a review whore, so if you like it, please let me know!