Stained Glass Soul

by Mackenzie L.

Firstly, a warm welcome to the one who reads. Stained Glass Soul is the complete story of Esme's transformation, detailing how she faces the challenges of being a newborn vampire, reconciles her faith in the afterlife, and falls in love with Carlisle Cullen. This story is canon-compatible, which means that it is plausible within the universe that Stephenie Meyer has created in the Twilight Saga.

This story is told in conjunction with my companion piece entitled Behind Stained Glass, where I post complementary chapters from Carlisle and Edward's viewpoints as this story progresses. To view this story, just visit my profile.

Stained Glass Soul, along with Behind Stained Glass, has been nominated for several categories in the 2011 Avant Garde Awards, the Inspired Fan Fic Awards, the Sunflower Awards, and the Vampies Awards. It also won 3 Hopeless Romantic Awards in 2011. I wish to thank those who sent in the nominations, and to everyone who spared a vote for my stories. I will be forever honored by your support!

*The Twilight Saga and its characters belong to Stephenie Meyer. No profit is made from this work of fiction. No copyright infringement is intended.

"People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within."

~Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Chapter 1:

Summer Storms

The windows in Mr. Platt's Victorian farmhouse looked as though they were made of stained glass.

It was funny how the summer made them that way. From both inside and outside, the glass reflected every shade of green from nature that shimmered in the heat. It was like looking through a window into the way the world should be – that topsy-turvy, slow-churning, pleasantly dizzy feeling a kaleidoscope gives when rotated before an imaginative eye.

From the day Esme Anne Platt first learned to walk on two legs, she was smitten with the colors of the outside world. Her little hands pulled fistfuls of grass from the ground beneath her, and her round pink knees were bejeweled with bright green.

"She'll be a nature girl for certain," they all said.

They must have been prophets, because what they were so certain of did come true. Esme was a nature girl. She was Mother Nature's favorite daughter, and her dreams were a bit too big for Mother Nature to hold. Esme's mind was quite like the earth itself. She imagined her brain to be like fine brown dirt, and her thoughts to be individual seeds, prepared for planting. She watered her thoughts with pure passion, and they were nourished with her hopes. Esme was planting a garden. Her childhood was one long, fragrant walk in the Eden of her artful mind.

She wasn't one for rules; she never had been. Her parents were strict, but their property was quite the opposite. There was so much to do here, so much to discover. How could they expect her to keep her elbows off the table? How could they expect her to stop fidgeting at teatime, or remember to put her stockings on every Sunday morning before mass?

Life was too short to spend worrying about stockings. At least Esme thought so.

Every year for Esme was a new adventure. Her love grew while the world around her stayed the same, but she made from it would she could. Like a good artist, she found colors where there were none. Her heart was dense but open, and she felt that she could open her heart in the way Moses had used holy magic to part the sea. Esme had passion, and everyone who knew her could see it. Unfortunately, the times were not so fond of such passion in a young lady, and that passion was suppressed. Esme was forced to hide her most treasured gift.

On her sixteenth birthday, Esme wished for freedom. She wished for an end to rules, and a spark to fire her dreams. She wanted to take flight and make new discoveries. She wanted to release the passion she had kept locked up inside all through her childhood. She wanted to uncover the jewels that lay beyond her father's farm. Esme wanted to live.

She would often sit by the faux-stained glass windows in the house on a warm afternoon, just imagining herself as a brave and beautiful heroine from one of her books. The stacks of literature that surrounded her were so tall, she had built a clever fortress around herself. Musty pages of books that were worn thin by her fingers and the mindless doodles of her drawing pencils could only offer her so much. Fairy stories protected her from the real world around her. But it was better here, Esme decided. The world within her mind was so much brighter, so much finer than the world of dreadful obligations. Here, she could be whatever she wanted to be.

As an artist, Esme was fascinated by the colors her imagined world had conjured. She was inspired by things that came not from the real world, but by things that existed quietly in the bold other-world of her mind. Somewhere in the wild green waves of summer, she longed to lose herself, to find a place where the air was sweet and the sun was kind.

Sensing it was time to join the colors that awaited her, Esme pulled herself out of her pillowed perch by the window and left her stockings behind.

The colors of summer never before looked so glamorous, so commanding, so crystal in their clarity. The door was closed so she went and opened it, welcoming the season inside.

She waited. But summer did not accept her invitation. So Esme invited herself outside and made herself at home.

It was a lovely house she had found here – the dewy, soft bed of grass, the hovering canopy of thick, glossy leaves – an artificial ceiling of green lace against a piercing blue sky. That blue was a variegated blend of all of nature's blues – of Caribbean seas, of melting glaciers, of cornflowers, of robin's eggs. This blue was positively frustrating in its sheer aesthetic beauty to the point of annoyance. It was beautiful enough to ignite a mysterious envy in one's heart, senseless as it was for someone to be jealous of a color.

But it was just a part of summer – the season that followed the spring with such frightening loyalty.

The spring gave fair warning, subtle foreshadowing to the chaos that was inevitably to follow.

Because summer meant thick, humid air, searing temperatures, a lesser breeze that allowed for the most minimal breathing. The air was so moist that one might possibly see a rainbow hovering like a mirage in the invisible mirror of floating particles.

Summer was fertility and frondance, clouds of pollen and waterfalls of nectar, violent multiplication, germination and reproduction.

A myriad of seeds danced through sun-burnished air with no apologies for number, no qualms on the fault of their dispense, no disputes concerning rightful possession. The dusting of pollen became a soft, powdery luggage of butterflies and honeybees. The gossamer beads were tossed from plants in all directions, disorganized and willingly chaotic. They landed wherever space allowed them and started new life. No matter how cluttered things got out there, there was always miraculously room for more. Much, much more.

Various vegetation sprouted from organic soil, pulling like fine, willowy green hairs from the dirt, swaying in the whisper of a breeze. Leaves in a rainbow of greens – jade and olive, apple and pear – shifted under shade and sun rays. Ivy spiraled in its snakelike embrace up the hearty brown trunks of trees and unraveled again in sinewy, grand green waves from the highest branches. Flowers completed the forgotten colors of the spectrum, growing over top of each other, piling up in walls, in carpets, in roofs – a mansion of their own.

Everything was of that startlingly smoldering green for as far as the eye could see. A kingdom of upheaval ruled by Green.

Summer was that green. It was a green that shocked after its absence from the months prior. It was the green that one never remembered with quite the accuracy and clarity that it promised. It was lush. It was fruitful. It was growing at a rapid, indecent, uncatchable pace.

The days were spectacular, but the nights were magical. Clear indigo sky stretched like a velvet canvas, sprayed with twinkling stars that made music when one listened closely enough. The moisture hung in the air, a warm current in which fireflies swam like lazy little fairies, their dreamy neon bulbs like a pulse for the silent darkness. Glowworms slugged along through castles of mud and dirt. Crawling things pressed a slow, secret path where the grass grew so tall to resemble a washed out field of frayed green wheat. Crickets chirped in singular and plural, a sweet symphony that lulled every creature to a deep, luxurious slumber.

And in the morning, the buzzing hymn of locusts took over – the mumbling monotone of thickness and heat. One had only to hear their song and know that a splendid and suffocating humidity awaited.

It sometimes seemed as though the insufferable heat was indestructible. But there was a force that could overcome it in the form of a signature summer thunderstorm.

Rain poured down in bulbous pellets, cool droplets flooding the bed of dandelion crusted grass. Flowers' petals slurped the water as it fell generously on all that had only to grow to more ridiculous heights. Fruit swelled, budding blossoms bloomed to the size of the sun itself, grass spurted, vines sneaked like serpents up the trees. Thunder rumbled in the distance – a groggy, lazy sound. Lightning flashed dimly, colored by the tangible haze of atmospheric layers – pink in the western corner of the sky, aquamarine to the north, orange in the east, violet in the south. Thick clouds of malicious gray cotton billowed overhead, so low that it felt one could reach up and touch them individually, and pull them from their stationary hammock in the sky. Mesmerizing undertones of blue and green glowed dull behind the pulsing puffs of cumulonimbus, like coiling mounds of sea foam, until the clouds parted and the sun's harsh golden rays speared right through again.

The storms passed after time, either fleeting or hovering, never failing to leave behind a considerably thicker jungle in their path.

And today, Esme sensed a storm.

The anticipatory scent of sweet humidity hung in the thick, hazy air. Dull flashes of lightning taunted her from their distance – some visible lines spreading like electric skeleton fingers across the wall of cloud. A storm was beginning, not just in the sky, but in her destiny. She could just sense it.

She had to have a better view, a front row seat for this spectacular show.

Rushing back inside the house, Esme gathered her favorite books and tucked them beneath her elbow. She rushed through the stuffy rooms of the house, carefully avoiding anyone who might see her and assign her to do some dull chore before she could have her fun. She stuffed her feet into her leather boots, entirely inappropriate for a summer's day – but she had big plans for those boots. Racing her heartbeat, Esme burst out the door, laughing to herself as she went, feeling delightfully victorious as the sunlight welcomed her outside.

She waltzed across the field with her books in hand, grinning impishly as the house behind her dissolved further and further into the distance.

There was but one tree on the property Esme had climbed before. She knew it well. Every one of its branches was a faithful friend, willing to help her ascend to great heights. The tree was small but it was perched perfectly on a hill, and that made it an ideal place for her to watch the storm. Her leather boots were comfortable and easy to climb in. No one wore boots in the summer, except for teenage girls who climbed trees. She never got a single scratch that way.

She had waited so very long to climb this tree again. It would taunt her with its perfectly shaped branches and rich green leaves from her bedroom window every morning and every night. She never thought of it as a danger. It was the smallest tree in sight, but it was somehow more special than the others. No one really paid any attention to it. It reminded Esme of herself.

Esme clutched each branch with cautious hands that slowly became less cautious as she climbed. By the fourth branch she found, her hands were haphazard in their clutching. She felt feral and beautiful, like a jungle princess with a crown of fallen leaves and lovely tears in her skirts and smudges of dirt on her stockings.

The leaves were so thick she could hide away from the rest of the world up here. Maybe she would never come back down...

The clouds grew agitated from the weight of the rain they held within their bellies. Another growl of thunder shook the earth beneath her, making the leaves tremble and the locusts scatter.

This was going to be a lovely storm.

Her mother called to her from the window, but a teenage girl in leather boots couldn't be bothered to hear the one voice whose only hope was to spoil her fun.

"You'll likely get struck by lightning!" the familiar voice warned from across the tiny field.

A mother would say that.

A frustrated groan echoed inside the treetop just as the sole of a leather boot caught haphazardly on the next branch up...

In a matter of an instant the beautiful storm had begun and ended.

And the reckless sixteen-year-old farm girl had missed the entire show.

A/N: Thank you for reading my story. If you have the time to review, I would appreciate it, and don't forget to take a look at Behind Stained Glass by visiting my profile.