Hi~Some of you may be familiar with my version of Breaking Dawn told from Edward's POV, The Time is at Hand. While writing that, I became even more fascinated with the character of Edward. I wondered what he would be like before he was a vampire, what his life might have been like and how he lived. I decided to try to write a story, starting in the summer before his "death" to answer some of the questions I had about him. I'm writing his story at the same time as finishing up The Time, so chapters will come out as I have them. This is a new experience for me, and I'll admit that I'm not sure how this will turn out. I'm enjoying being able to come up with my own plot, dialog and even some characters. I hope you like what I have here. Please let me know what you think and any suggestions you might have. I don't promise to use all suggestions, but anything you can add will be helpful! I appreciate any reviews, good or critical. Thanks again! :) ~Jen
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the Characters from the series Twilight. I am not Stephanie Meyers. All recognizable character from her story are her sole property; no copyright infringement is intended. All original plot, characters, and dialog are the sole property of this author.
It was insufferable! Hundreds of boys my age had joined the army, disguised as healthy 18 year olds and were, right now, engaged in the fight to protect our nation against the German forces. And where was I? Here. In Chicago. All but tied to my mother's apron strings. I couldn't stand one minute longer. And yet, here I was. Seventeen years old and poised to wait an entire year before I would be able to serve my country.
My mother and father were dead set against me joining early, although they knew that it was my heart's only desire. They had caught me twice obtaining documents to falsify my age and admit me to the army. On the second time, earlier this week, my mother had marched me to the local enlistment office.
She didn't have me by the ear, but she may as well have for all of the embarrassment that I felt. It was clear to anyone looking at us that she was not bringing me here to proudly enlist her son in the Armed Forces. She was on a mission and she would not be thwarted.
My mother, Elizabeth Masen, was not an imposing woman usually. Actually, she was quite the opposite. Her green eyes were disarming to most people who looked at her and the smile that lit her face betrayed the gentle good humor that usually marked her character. I loved her dearly, but when she got into tempers like this, she was a force to be reckoned with. For now, I pitied the poor sergeant that was about to unknowingly face her wrath. Later, I pitied myself.
"Young man," she began, Irish temper flaring in her once genial green eyes.
"Yes, ma'am," he said with a pleasant smile on his face that faded as soon as he looked into her eyes. "Um, what can we do for you and your son today?"
"You can take a good, long look at this boy, sergeant. That's exactly what you can do. And then you can remember his name. This is Edward Anthony Masen." She paused for emphasis between each of my names. I sighed. She was getting into her stride. "Write it down. I'll wait."
"Yes, ma'am. Is your son enlisting with us today?"
"Certainly not!" she said shrilly. "I want you to look at him because he has twice tried to disobey his father and I by illegally obtaining documentation to prove that he is older than he is. Now look at this boy and I want you to remember him. Because if he sets foot in this office before June 20th of next year, he is here under false pretenses and it would be a miscarriage of justice if you admitted him to the army."
She nodded her head, proud of herself for her recitation. I hung my head in shame and chagrin. She had certainly made her point.
"Young man," the sergeant said sternly.
I looked up at him and did my best to hide the blush that was crawling up my throat and into my face, making me look even more like a child.
"Yes, sir," I said.
"Do you understand that it's an offense punishable with prison time to defraud the government, son?"
"And do you also realize that if convicted of that crime, you would never be able to serve in the Army?"
"So, I won't be seeing your face in here until . . . ?"
"June 20th, 1919," my mother supplied helpfully.
"Right. Next June 20th?"
"That's correct, sir."
"Good. Now go home and take care of your mother, son. You'll have plenty of years left to serve your country when you turn 18."
"Oh, and ma'am?" the sergeant said more quietly. "Don't go too hard on him, ma'am. It's a good boy that wants to serve his country well."
"I'll be the judge of what's too harsh, son," she said sharply. Then she turned herself and me around and marched us out of the office and back into the July sun.
I sulked in my room, surrounded by papers that told stories of the war efforts and how they were winding down. I knew that by the time my next birthday came around, there would no longer be a war to fight in. My mother was anxiously anticipating this outcome. She would like nothing better than for me to join the army in peace time, have my higher schooling paid for and never see a day of active duty.
But I would not be content with that life. Of course, I would join on the day I turned 18. I already had the necessary paperwork that could be filled out in advance done and neatly stored in my roll top desk. The minute I turned 18, I would be waiting for the enlistment office to open with my papers in hand ready to finally enlist. But, contrary to my mother's wishes, I would not take my education and then leave the army when I had finished.
My parents had my life neatly planned out for me. In their eyes, there could be nothing better than if I were to follow in my father's footsteps, joining his firm as a successful defense attorney. My mother had her sights set on grandchildren, of course. She enjoyed inviting families with young daughters to our house for supper in the hopes that one would catch my eye and distract me from my goal. Many of the girls were pretty and they were nice, but they were so predictable. They all made cross stitch samplers and were learning how to make the freshest preserves. And when my father or I made a joke, they tittered in their handkerchiefs and then sat quietly and expectantly, waiting for our next question. How was this supposed to tempt me away from my dream of a soldier's life?
My mother felt badly about embarrassing me at the recruitment office, so she had invited one of my father's business partners and his family over for dinner this evening. He had a daughter, naturally, who was just about my age. We had met on several occasions and, although both of our parents had it in mind that we would make a perfect couple, neither of us were very interested in the other. For two other people, this may have been uncomfortable. But, I liked Anna just fine. She was a good friend and I never felt threatened or uncomfortable when she and her parents came for dinner. We had long since given up the game of feigning interest for our parent's sake; we were just friends and we liked each other's company quite a lot. I was thankful to my mother for inviting them and not one of the other families this evening. It would be comforting to speak with a friend and play board games; it might even take my mind off of my humiliation.
"When are the Scotts due to arrive, mother?" I asked, snatching an apple from the basket on the counter.
She looked at me severely, but with a smile playing on her lips.
"They'll be here at 7:00 sharp, so look your best," she said, waving her wooden spoon at me.
"I will," I said, polishing the apple on my shirt.
"I heard that Anna is applying to Vassar for the fall session," my mother said, stirring the sauce on the stove.
"Oh?" I asked. "Is she applying anywhere else, or just as Vassar?"
"I couldn't say," she said, eyeing me. "Aren't you the least bit surprised?"
"Surprised? No, of course not. Anna has always had an interest literature. Why wouldn't she apply at Vassar? She certainly has the grades to attend there and they offer one of the best programs."
"Oh, I'm not talking about which school she's applying to, Edward! Why would she even need to go to college? It's not as if the girl is plain!"
"Mother," I said, shaking my head. "Anna wouldn't be content to just keep house. That's not what she fancies."
"Maybe she just hasn't had the right offer," she suggested.
I shook my head at her, smiling. "You know that we don't feel that way about each other, Mom. I like Anna, almost as much as I like you! She's a wonderful girl. But I'm not in love with her. And, what's more, she's not in love with me."
My mother and I had had this conversation before, but there was a new fervor in her eyes. She wasn't ready to let this slide away.
"Edward," she said, coming around to stand in front of me. She barely came to my chin, but when she looked up into my eyes I felt like a little child again. "I want you to be happy, son. Maybe there's more than one way for you to be happy?"
"I love you, mom," I said and kissed her forehead. "I see the way you light up when father walks in from work. I see the way you are the first thing he sees when he comes in the door. Of course I want that! And of course I want to make some girl that happy! But I can't make those feeling just appear out of no where. And, if I tried, they wouldn't be the same, would they? I might not know much about love yet, mother, but I know enough to know when I'm not in it."
She patted my cheek and smiled at me then.
"You've always been different, son," she said. "You've always known just exactly what you wanted. I may not always approve of your choices, but I don't doubt that you'll know when the right thing comes along. And, someday, you'll make some girl the happiest wife alive." She sighed then and walked back around to stir her sauce. "I just hope I'm alive to see it happen," she said, with a teasing, wistful tone that let me know the serious discussion was over for the night. "Go upstairs and get yourself dressed. They'll be here in an hour. You know Mrs. Scott is always looking for something to gossip about!"
"Yes mom," I said, and came back around to give her a last squeeze. "Thank you."
"Well, whatever was that for?" she said with a smile.
"For loving me enough to ask tough questions. I know I don't always make it easy on you. But I do love you. And I'm sorry if I disappoint you with my goals and how I don't want to be a husband yet." I mumbled the last, embarrassed to be saying it, but I felt she deserved some apology.
She turned to me then, all humor gone from her face. She was stern now.
"Edward Anthony Masen, you have never disappointed me," she said and her voice broke. "Maybe I never made this clear to you before, but by God you'll understand tonight if it's the last thing I do. I don't want to be a soldier's mother. Not because I think it's a bad profession or even because I think it's less than what you're worth. I don't want to be a soldier's mother because soldiers' mothers have to cry over their son's graves when the government ships their bodies back. Soldiers' mothers get to carry a flag instead of a grandbaby. And soldiers' mothers never die before their sons. They live on after their sons are cold and in the ground. I don't want that to be me standing over your grave, Edward. Do you understand me. I'd rather be a lawyer's mother because a lawyer's mother isn't made to weep."
She was crying now and I felt helpless in front of her tears. I didn't want her to cry now. Not ever. I walked over to her and took her in my arms and started smoothing her brown curls. "I'm sorry, Mom. I didn't mean to make you cry. Shh, Mom. I'm not going to die."
She cried in my arms for only a couple of minutes, but they were the longest minutes in my life, I think. I had never seen her cry like that, at least not about me. When she pulled away from me, her face was puffy and her hair was a little messy. There was a look in her eye, though, that frightened me. It was different from before, far away almost.
"I'm sorry, Edward," she said, her voice stronger now. "But that has been coming for a while now, and it's time you knew why I was so set against your choice to enlist. I want you to think about that. I don't like to guilt you into things, but if I have to, I will. After all, a mother will do whatever it takes to save her son. No matter the cost."
Her last words came out with the resonance of a preacher on a pulpit. I had heard that tone before, and always, before it gave me chills. Now, I felt as if I might never be warm again. I just nodded my head and looked at her again. I walked away and up to my room in order to clear my head and get ready for our guests.
My mother had given me a lot to think about, and it was not just about joining the army. My mother was different in many ways that most people. She was born Elizabeth Barrett, the daughter to first generation Irish immigrants to Chicago and she was extremely superstitious. The Barrett women were known to have the gift of prophecy. In this new world, talking about prophecy and knowing the future sounded ridiculous. But, my mother's dreams had never led her wrong. The look in her eyes when she talked to me about a mother saving her son at any price was the same look that she had in her eyes when she was speaking of her dreams. Something told me that my mother had had a dream about me; she knew that she was going to need to save me. I was only left to wonder if she knew what she was saving me from or if it was a mystery still.
After dressing in my mother's favorite suit, I went downstairs to help her finish with last minute chores. Her face had completely cleared. Looking at her now, I wondered what had made me think that there was anything sinister surrounding her words. She was just a mother concerned with her son's direction in life. I shook my head as I carried the brandy decanter into my father's study. My mother accused me from time to time of having an overactive imagination. I had been trying to put that to rest now that I had set my sights on soldiering for a living. It didn't seem very practical to be an imaginative soldier.
The Scotts arrived on the dot of seven, punctual as always. I stood with my parents to greet our friends. To be fair, my mother was right; Anna was not plain. She was short, but not in a stubby way. Rather her body was compact and lithe, like a dancer's. She had hair that was always in movement, curls on top of curls that played around her face in bouncing ringlets. Her hair was the most interesting color of brown, darting with streaks of red and blonde. And her eyes were nearly the same shade, sparkling with both intelligence and humor. I think it was her smile that really completed the picture. She smiled easily and honestly. She didn't hide her humor like so many girls were taught to do.
Of course, tonight she ruined the whole effect by sticking her tongue out at me behind her mother's back. I had to cough back a laugh so as not to expose her. I'm almost certain that my mother saw it and laughed as well. After the formalities were through, we commenced with dinner. It was a stifling affair, as all formal dinner were. Underage, as always, Anna and I were made to sit and eat silently unless addressed directly. My parents never stood on such formalities normally, but the Scotts, particularly Mr. Scott, were an overly formal family and my parents worked very hard to make their guests comfortable.
I felt very bad for my friend when talk turned to her recent application to Vassar. It was clear that she was uncomfortable with the subject, but our parents were not cooperating with her wishes.
"So, Anna, I hear that you are applying to Vassar for the Fall," my father said.
"Yes, sir," she replied. "I submitted my application at the end of last term. I hope to hear from them by the beginning of next school year."
"Yes," her father said, dismissal evident in his tone. "She's applied there and Mount Holyoke as well. I've no doubt that she will be accepted, what with the donations that they know they will get."
Anna's face turned a light shade of crimson as she fought down her comment. I knew that she was thinking about her near perfect scores at school.
"I had heard that Anna achieved remarkable grades last year at school," my mother said, looking at her plate, a wry upturn at the corner of her mouth nearly betraying her to the rest of the guests.
"Yes, yes," Mrs. Scott gushed. "She received nearly perfect scores in all of her classes. We were quite proud of her. The school are certain--" she quieted immediately with a look from her husband.
"Her grades are good. But I keep telling her that no man is going to ask for her transcript before he marries her. Isn't that right, Edward?" he asked, laughing loudly.
I looked pleadingly over at my mother who shook her head imperceptibly at me in warning. But my father, always a gentleman, came to my rescue. And Anna's.
"Actually, Winston, Edward has always talked about how important it is to him to find someone who stimulates him intellectually. He's very well read, my son. He doesn't want to have to discuss Good Housekeeping every night at dinner, that's for sure!" He chuckled at his joke, although no one else at the table laughed.
I was grateful to my father for so deftly rescuing that disaster. I couldn't have agreed with Mr. Scott without hurting my friend and I couldn't have disagreed with him without displeasing my parents. Only my father, Mr. Scott's equal could do that. I was beginning to see how impressive what Anna was doing by applying to Vassar was. I realized from Mr. Scott's dismissive tone that he expected to have her married off before her graduation. He was just humoring her. But she took this much more seriously than that. This was important to her. And she would take the opportunity however it was handed to her. I admired her very much.
"Your father is an amazing man," Anna said when we were alone in the sitting room playing checkers while our mothers drank tea and watched us from the kitchen.
"Yes," I agreed, still in awe of how he handled the earlier situation. "He likes to save the day."
She giggled into her hand.
"Well, that is an understatement for this evening, Edward. What were you planning to do?"
I shook my head and began to smile.
"Of course I was going to gallantly come to your defense! But, surely you can see why it was better for my father to intercede. Now we can still be friends."
She laughed again and nodded.
"I am glad of that," she said, more seriously now. "I'm glad that I have a friend like you, Edward. You do understand why I want to go to Vassar, don't you? You don't think I'm terribly foolish as my father does?" Anna sounded wistful, as if she just wanted someone to understand her.
"Of course not," I said immediately. "Anna, you're one of the brightest girls I know. If anyone can get something special out of a Vassar education, it's you."
"You know, you're not too dull yourself. You'd do well at Yale or Kings if you'd just apply."
"Not you too," I groaned. "Did mother get to you?"
"I don't do your mother's bidding any more than I do anyone else's. I'm just worried about you. Tom Flannery told me he saw you and your mother leaving the recruitment office two days ago. Did you try to enlist early again and she caught you?" she asked, leaning in conspiratorially. I flushed at the remembrance.
I told Anna all about it; like I said, I was comfortable around her. And it did feel good to talk about it.
She shook her head and I thought she was going to sympathize with me.
"Good for your mum, then," she said strongly.
"What?" I said, shocked. "What kind of a friend are you? You're supposed to be on my side!"
"Not when you're being a donkey," she said, eyes wide and challenging.
"A-- what did you call me? That's not very lady-like, Anna Scott," I said angrily. We were whispering of course, but I could tell we were beginning to get loud enough to draw some attention from the kitchen.
"Shh," Anna said, giggling again. "I'm sorry. It's just that you need to think about all of this. Why do you want to throw your life away when the war is going to be over soon anyway?"
"You wouldn't understand," I said, shaking my head.
"You're right, Edward. I've never done anything that most people think is foolish," she said, rolling her eyes at me.
And so I told her about my dreams of living a soldier's life. And she never laughed once at me. I wished in that moment that I could fall in love with her. She seemed to understand me and we shared the bond of two people doing things that the rest of the world thought were crazy, or at least our own families. But, I didn't love her. However, I knew that I would always watch over her and she would always be one of my best friends.