Title: Feel Something
Pen Name: addisonj
Characters: Esme, Carlisle
One-shot for Exploration of the Sense contest by cdunbar and Helliex88.
Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight.
She wanted to feel something.
The warm sunlight beat down upon her face as she sat in the back of her parent's house, lying prone in a wooden chair, eyes closed, her arms and legs stretched for maximum sun exposure.
She knew that good young ladies did not darken their skin in the sun. Good young ladies helped their mothers inside with the housework. Good young ladies did not climb trees, as she was about to do.
Esme tried. She tried to be a good young lady, but she could not suppress the passion she felt to be otherwise. To be herself. To be a tomboy. To climb trees, skip rocks, jump headfirst into situations. She wanted to be the perfect daughter, and eventually the perfect wife and mother, but she could not suppress the need to do whatever her brothers could and would do: race, hop, swim, chop, saw, climb.
The tree was the tallest on their property on the small farm outside of Columbus, Ohio. The year was 1911. She was sixteen. Her brother had climbed twelve feet from the top of that tree. Esme knew she could do better.
"Don't even think about it." Her brother could read the look in her eye.
"I just want to climb to the top. I want to feel the sun on my face from up there."
"Esme, Mother will be furious. You'll ruin that dress that she just made for you. And she wants you to finish polishing the silver and to beat the rugs."
"Cover for me, will you? It will just take fifteen minutes. I just need to climb up there, right now. Before the sun sets any further. I'll be back down before Mother notices."
"And your dress? You think you can do this without destroying your dress? Mother will look for evidence. She knows you."
"Oh please! Just do this for me? This once?"
"I've covered for you more than once."
"I can say the same to you. I'll see you from the top."
Esme was off, and she was exhilarated. She felt the breeze brushing past her body as she ran towards the tree. The grass grazed her ankles and calves. She felt the excitement of the race, of her motive, the anticipation of sitting on the top branches, waving at her brother, seeing their land from high above, and feeling the warm sunlight kiss her cheeks. She smiled, feeling her heart pound.
Her hands grabbed the coarse bark along the tree trunk and she lifted herself onto the lower branches. A country girl, she was fit and strong. The rough bark helped keep her hands and her feet from sliding down. She had to make sure her dress was unharmed.
Esme knew this tree well. She and her brothers had climbed it often. When she was younger, her older brother had to give her a lift to the lower branches. Now that she was older, she did not need his assistance. She placed her boots-clad feet along the strong lower branches. She made sure to test each one, to make sure they could support her weight. She would then use her arms and grab hold of the next higher branches, and swing her legs up. Her hands were getting rougher; she was grasping the trunk tightly in her arms, feeling the tree against her chest. She knew at the upper branches, she would need to be careful, to cling so tightly.
Up she climbed. Her brother was watching down below. She could not see his expression well, but she kept looking to see if her mother had opened the back door to look for her. She had not.
Esme was almost at the top. She knew she was just one branch from her brother's record climb. She knew today was the day. She would do it. She would reach the furthest branch.
As she stepped gingerly onto the thin branch and tested it with her boot, feeling if the branch could support her teenage body, Esme felt a snap. Her heart stopped. In that fraction of a second, Esme knew something was about to go very wrong. She did not feel the sun on her cheeks, but the harsh bumps of the branches crashing along her body as she fell down, down, down, legs first, down thru the branches she had just climbed to the very solid, very hard ground below.
Pain throughout her body.
The most intense pain in her leg.
She could not move her leg.
She felt broken. Her arms, her legs, her face, her hands. All felt rough and broken and in pain.
Her brother ran to her. "Esme! Esme! Are you okay?"
She carefully lifted her torso off the ground. Her hurt, scraped hands felt the soft grass as well as the sharp small branches she brought down to the ground with her.
"Get Mother! I can't walk!"
Her brother changed direction and ran for the house. In mere moments, her mother ran out of the house, hands wiping on the ever-present apron tied along her waist. Esme did not know her mother could move so quickly.
"Esme Anne Platt! What have you done?" Her mother was beside her on the ground, smoothing the hair off Esme's face and surveying the damage. She saw blood on her leg and the pain on her daughter's face when she lightly touched it.
"Thomas! We need to get your sister to the doctor! Call your father! He should be in the south field with the men."
As Thomas ran to fetch Esme's father, Esme's mother smoothed her daughter's forehead, and made soothing noises to calm her down.
"You can bite down on this spoon if that helps with the pain, Esme." Her mother had a wooden spoon in her apron pocket and placed it between Esme's lips.
Esme gripped the spoon between her teeth and tried to transfer the pain in her leg into the clench of her teeth around the wooden handle. She knew the bite marks would stay on the spoon as a reminder of her accident.
Her father arrived on horseback soon thereafter.
"Charles, we have to get Esme to the doctor!" her mother yelled to her husband.
"Dr. Banks is out of town. We'll have to take her into Columbus to the hospital."
"It's so far! We won't get there before nightfall!"
"It's the only thing we can do."
The wagon was Esme's ambulance as she endured the long journey into town.
The hospital was small but busy. There were accidents from farming, industrial accidents, pregnancies, domestic disputes, and childhood injuries. Esme's broken leg fell into the childhood injury category. She waited on a small white bed while the nurse prepped her for the visiting doctor.
He was beautiful.
Esme felt her pulse quicken as she saw the tall fair young doctor. She was not interested in boys—she had plenty of brothers and did not understand why her friends started noticing the neighbor boys in the past few years. These were the boys they grew up with. Why were they so interesting now? But one look at Dr Carlisle Cullen, and Esme understood why boys were suddenly quite interesting.
Dr Cullen was definitely a man. She felt her pulse pounding; she blinked. She almost forgot her pain.
He smiled. He had a dazzling, yet compassionate face. He took one look at her and concern flickered in his golden eyes. She felt flush. And happy.
"What do we have here, Miss…"
"Esme Platt," her mother answered.
"And you must be Mrs. Platt? And Mr. Platt?" he addressed her parents, who were standing near the bed. They nodded, shook hands, and he continued. "I'm Doctor Carlisle Cullen. I understand Doctor Banks is your usual doctor? I'm sorry you had to travel all this way." He then turned to Esme.
Esme smiled. There was still hurt throughout her body, but now she felt a flush when he smiled at her. She felt a warm glow coursing through her veins, pushing aside the rocky islands of pain. "Dr, Cullen, it's a pleasure to meet you." She held out her hand to shake his. It was still hurt with bits of tree bark in it, but she still offered it to him with a big smile. He smiled back, reflecting back all the happiness she showed him. He seemed to know that her hand would hurt, so he held her hand lightly in his right hand, and placed his left hand carefully over it.
His hand. It was cold, but it was a perfect balm for her pain. Her smile brightened. Somehow, these cold hands warmed her body. She could not stop smiling. He chuckled quietly.
"Let's take a look at this leg. I think you took part of the tree with you," Carlisle motioned to the bits of branches in her hair and dress. Her mother noticed and made "tut, tut" noises as she pulled them out.
"And what is a young lady of your age doing climbing trees?" Carlisle asked in a warm and kindhearted bedside manner, with just a hint of humor. Esme saw his lips curl into a small smile.
Esme's father snorted, "That's what I would like to know too, Doctor."
Esme's mother made disapproving noises.
Esme kept looking at Carlisle's face as he examined her leg. "I wanted to feel the sun on my face from the top of the tree," she answered honestly.
Carlisle stopped and looked at her. That was not the answer he was expecting. He paused for a moment, then went back to the work of examining her leg.
"You're lucky it's a clean break. We'll have to put a cast on it and you'll be off trees for several months while the leg mends," Carlisle said after his exam.
"That means you'll stay inside with me. We can find chores you can do around the house while sitting down," her mother responded.
Esme was oblivious to the conversation. She was mesmerized by the visiting doctor. His bedside manner was reflected in his hands. Those strong, cold hands with the gentle touch. The cold touch that left a warm flush on her body. She was amazed, wondering how such a thing was even possible. She could not stop smiling, even though she felt the pain; there was something greater happening. She did not know what, but she smiled, no, she glowed.
Carlisle made small talk with Esme's parents as he worked with the nurse to set the cast. He learned about their farm, what animals and crops they had, how many brothers Esme had and how old they were. From Esme he learned that she wanted to become a teacher, that she loved playing outdoors with her brothers, and had a passionate love of life. (The last part he learned from observation, not that she actually told him something like that.)
Sooner than Esme had hoped, her cast was done and Carlisle was shaking hands with her parents, giving final instructions and bidding them goodbye. He was saying that he was only visiting this hospital and would be moving on to another hospital that needed a replacement doctor, but he emphasized that they should bring Esme to Dr. Banks before long.
Esme heard that the kind doctor would be leaving soon. Her heart sank a bit. Some of the warm glow faded, but she still smiled. She did not want his last impression of her to be of a sad, lovesick girl.
After saying goodbye to her parents, Carlisle turned to Esme. His face was his same compassionate self, but there seemed to be something behind the kind, benevolent mask. A glow as well, but a hint of sadness. Bittersweet.
His hands touched hers, one hand over the other, as he had before.
She felt something. She felt love.
Over the years, Esme would feel more. She would feel the pain of domestic abuse. She would feel the joy of childbirth and the heartbreak of her child's death. She would feel the despair of depression. Then, after all that, she would feel the cold hand of Dr. Carlisle Cullen and she would again feel the love.
A/N: Twilight Lexicon was consulted for canon details.
Shout out to those ladies who held my hand as I birthed this my very first fic: hotandcold, and blueandblack (a.k.a. bluesuzanne on LJ).