Cannabean. A clannish society, often compared to Amish or Mennonite communities. Although more accepting of modern conveniences such as electricity, technology and the like, Cannabeans do not subscribe to the mainstream ideals that plague modern marriage, nor do they believe in the dissolution of marriage. Their daily living is centered on their faith, family and a firm foundation in the Cannabean Way.
Spring was Carlisle Cullen's favorite time of the year. The trees were in bloom, the animals were alert and all around him the essence of life made its presence known. More importantly, it was the time of the annual Cullen family picnic. Each year at the dawning of spring, the Cullen men would bring their families to the meadow that was the apex of the family property. Carlisle never tired of seeing his nieces, nephews and grandchildren as they laughed and played and enjoyed one another's company.
However, this year, it was with a heavy heart that Carlisle looked out at the grassy knoll, upon his offspring, his three sons. Division had settled upon the Cullen clan, so palpable that it had a flavor all its own. Brothers, once tighter than a stranded cord, now stood on opposite ends of the meadow. Emmett, the elder brother, had grown weary of trying to be neutral and had settled for interacting with only his wife and children. Jasper, the middle child, and his new bride, Alice, dealt with a divergence of emotions: his defiance and hers, guilt.
But perhaps Carlisle's greatest source of sadness was his youngest son, Edward. Even from a distance, he could feel Edward's despair as it rolled off of him.
"Carlisle, maybe you should try talking to him," Carlisle's wife, Esme, said quietly as she came alongside him.
Carlisle shook his head. "At this point, all I'd be doing is reminding him of his hurt. He knows we're here for him. If he wants to talk about it anymore, he'll come to us."
Esme sighed aloud. "Of course. You're right."
However, there was no victory in Carlisle being right about the fact that his son had suffered an emotional blow that was too painful to ponder. It was something that Carlisle wouldn't wish upon his worst enemy.
"I just worry about him so much. He's going to be twenty-one in a few weeks and he hasn't expressed any interest in being introduced to anyone." Esme continued.
"I know. The emotional…and physical…companionship that's lacking in his life…it's got to be wearing on him." Carlisle agreed.
"I just wish there was something we could do to make things easier on him." Esme stated softly.
And in that moment, Carlisle knew exactly what she was hinting at: the family picnics. Aside from his much younger cousins, Edward was the only single male that was of age to marry. All around him he was bombarded with the evidence of physical love: children, swollen bellies, modest kisses, embraces…
"The picnics…" Carlisle whispered. It was his favorite event of the year, but it was hardly a sacrifice for his dear son.
"Of course he'll feign disappointment when you tell him that you're going to cancel it," Esme said in foresight.
"My next sabbatical from the hospital will be in February. It'll be snowy and cold. Hardly the weather for a Cullen excursion."
Esme smiled at her husband's ingenious plan before looking back over at Edward. He had shifted his position to lean against the grand oak tree in the back of the yard. He wore a small smile as he watched his nieces and nephews play tag in the dormant winter garden. He looked content. But his parents knew him well. He was anything but.
There wouldn't be a Cullen family spring picnic for another four years.