There are good days and bad days. The good days are when I get to save a life doing a job I love and then return to my wife that I love. The good days are when I get to see my wife smile. The good days seem to get less and less as time goes on.
The majority of the time is neither good nor bad. It is just... average. Ok. Life (for want of a better word) goes on, as they say. I go through the motions of my days, my routines, as I've done for centuries. Except now I'm no longer alone. If the me of hundred years ago (or even twenty years ago) could get one look at Esme and me right now and know that was what his future held, he would have expected that he would be the happiest man (or vampire) on Earth right now. However nowadays I know what happens in-between now and then, therefore I remember an even happier time. A time when there were three of us - a family of three.
And those are the bad days; the days when I remember what (or who) is missing. The really bad days are when I allow myself to sit down and think about everything that has happened in the last thirteen years. When I sit by myself, alone with my troubled thoughts, and mentally torture myself by second-guessing and reconsidering every decision I've made since that fateful day in Chicago in 1918 - particularly the decision I made that day. The decision to save a life. Or damn someone for all eternity. Depending on what way you look at it and recently it's begun to seem to me to be more like the latter.
Yesterday had been a really bad day; it was worse then the others even. That's because yesterday I had a conversation worse then any of the others so far. A conversation about a future so bleak I never wanted to think about it again.
Today was also a bad day. Today I was sitting in our living room, in my favorite armchair by the fire, reading a medical journal. Well, pretending to read a medical journal. My actual thoughts were somewhere else entirely, somewhere I kept trying to stop them from straying to, but they seemed to return there with increasing frequency.
I'd spent three centuries fighting to protect human life. Yet I was now responsible for an untold number of deaths. I wouldn't even like to guess at the figure.
It didn't matter how many times my wife told me it wasn't my fault. I had created Edward and therefore every murder of his I was also accountable for.
"You can't keep blaming yourself," Esme had told me yesterday, interrupting my internal arguments. I tried to hide it from her when it was a 'really bad day'. I knew Edward's decision to leave had hurt her just as much as it hurt me; therefore I tried to continue like everything was fine with me for her sake. I simply didn't want to cause her anymore pain. But my intuitive wife was not one to be fooled easily.
I knew what she'd say next. We had had this conversation enough times over the last four years. I knew why - my wife was watching me beat myself up for the inside, it didn't matter how much I tried to hide it from her because she still knew exactly what I was doing. All she wanted was for me to stop, but I couldn't seem to help my masochistic self-loathing. And so she continued the conversation as always.
"It was Edward's decision, not yours," she reminded me yet again. I wanted desperately to hear these words; to gain some form of absolution. Yet in my blackest moods, such as the one I was in then, I seemed to be even keener to keep self-flagellating.
"But it was my decision to change him. If I hadn't changed him, then all those people he's killing would still be alive," I retorted, repeating the argument I had repeatedly used against myself in my head.
There had been a long silence. I knew what would happen next by now because this type of conversation always ended the same way. The silence would continue, Esme would always appear on the edge of saying something, then she would stop herself, give a little sigh, say something along the lines of 'It's not your fault', place her arms around me, kiss my cheek, say 'I love you' and then she would just sit with me, allowing me to hold her close and remember not everything was wrong. She was still here. We never said anything about the long hours we would sit, still as marble statues, but we both knew the comfort we gained from it.
Except yesterday, that was the day when she finally gained the courage to say her next line to me. I had often wondered what she was stopping herself from saying to me in those hesitant moments, but I didn't push her to tell me. If she wanted to say it she would say it when she ready.
"Do you wish you hadn't changed Edward?" she asked me quietly.
It was a question I had asked myself many times. On the one hand I had created a murderer, but on the other hand, I had created the boy who for nine years I had considered my son. I remembered him as the boy who could spend hours lovingly fine-tuning some composition on the piano, which I had bought for him after discovering his love of music. He was the son who had brought companionship and familial love to my life after three lonely centuries. If only he could change his mind, come back, then I would be proud to call him my son again. But I couldn't envisage that ever happening, much as I wished for it, and if that was so, then what had my selfish decision in that Chicago hospital achieved for anyone?
It had doomed countless faceless nameless humans to die, and though I knew nothing of them, and though if Edward had stuck to his initial plan they would be humans most would consider unworthy of mourning, I still hated the thought of their deaths. It had trapped an innocent young boy, one who should have been allowed to join his parents in death and in heaven, to an eternity as a monster, a murderer, never allowed the peace his death would have brought him. I had done that to him, for my own selfish want. And in the end of it all, I had lost him as a companion, as a son, anyway.
In a way the pain his leaving caused me was my punishment, for what I had done to him, what I had made him. I should have left him to die; he would be at peace now. I told myself this time and time again and yet I would imagine him returning home and couldn't fully getmyself to agree.
I was sat at the desk in Carlisle's study. The small house we currently lived in only had three rooms, so there wasn't room for me to have my own study without converting the smallest room in the house. And this was something never of us wished to do - we still hoped against hope that its long gone occupant would return. Neither of us had even entered that room in three years - we just couldn't face. So it remained unchanged; still Edward's room. If not for much longer.
I was pretending to concentrate on the design of our new house in Rochester. We had already stayed much longer than Carlisle normally would. At the hospital he was beginning to get a lot of odd looks and jokingly envious, but curious, questions about his still youthful looks from his colleagues. We had to move - I knew we had no other choice. Yet to move felt like giving up hope and I knew Carlisle felt the same.
I continued to try and concentrate on studying the designs, all while really listening to the sounds of my husband in the room below me. I hadn't heard him move in a while, which meant he was probably sat in his favorite chair, half-reading a medical journal or some such, while his mind went over every decision he'd ever made, every conversation he'd ever had with his, no, our son.
I wished I could help him. I wanted nothing more then to help erase his pain. But every time I tried to help I think I just hurt him further, I achieved nothing except to remind him that he wasn't protecting me from the fall-out of what had happened. I knew he was trying to act normal for me, trying to convince me everything was ok. He wanted me think that he was fine. But he didn't fool me for a second. However it seemed cruel to show him that I knew he was putting on an act. All he was doing was trying to protect me from his pain but all I wanted to do was to stop it. Yet all I seemed to do when I tried to help was make it worse, especially yesterday.
"I don't know," Carlisle had answered my question about changing Edward. He looked so sad; I couldn't stop myself from placing my arms around him as he stood, as if my touch could make the pain go away.
But that wasn't the only burning question I had. There was another, one I couldn't bring myself to ask and yet had been swirling around my head for many months. A question I dreaded the answer to.
I had seen how guilty Carlisle felt because he had created Edward, therefore holding himself responsible for Edward's actions. But I had made a terrifying realization. Carlisle had also created me and I had also killed. I had 'slipped-up' several times during my terrifying newborn year and once since. The idea that my caring, compassionate husband had even felt this guilt because of me horrified me. But worse then even that was the thought that if Carlisle might think he should never have created Edward, his own son, does this also mean that someday he could think he shouldn't have created me?
It was a thought I tried my hardest to banish. I knew that Carlisle loved me more then anything, but all those old emotions from years ago, after each kill, still haunted me. I had killed. I had hurt him. I wasn't worthy.
He had told me after each one that it didn't matter, that he would always love me. But what if it was me that had become the full-time murderer? I had tasted human blood and it was a taste I would always crave - I couldn't deny that. It was only the knowledge of the pain it would cause the man who I loved that stopped me from seeking it out full-time.
But what if I kept 'slipping up'? I had already proven in my decade as a vampire that I could kill. What if, as the decades went on, the slip ups continued and my body count kept getting higher and higher? How many murders would it be before Carlisle could look at me and struggle to see someone he could love? And, as I had recently discovered, as my body count went up so, in his mind, did Carlisle's. And if I just kept hurting him, would it get to the point where he would wish he had never changed me? Just like I already suspected he wished about Edward
I had tried to process his vague answer to my question about changing Edward. But I couldn't make sense of it. However I guessed it proved me right when I assumed that it was something he had been thinking about.
Then there was a long silence, as we just stood there, my head on his chest, neither of us saying anything.
"I've killed as well." The words were out of my mouth before I could stop them. No! I wasn't doing this! I wasn't going to hurt him even more!
"They were mistakes love," he whispered softly in my ear. "No one's holding you accountable."
"Are you holding yourself accountable?" I asked in a voice that was barely a whisper, so quiet even our ears would struggle to pick it up. There was more silence, which answered my question.
"What if I keep making mistakes?" I asked, pushing myself away from him, freeing myself from his arms, though why I don't know - guess a part of me felt I didn't belong there.
I continued my questions without pause. The floodgates had opened now it seemed and so I was speaking without thinking, speaking the fears that plagued me so. Without stopping to consider the consequences of my words - his pain.
"You're considering if you should have left Edward to die. What about if I keep killing, keep slipping up? How long until you're considering my death count and thinking it would have been better if I had died to?" I whispered dejectedly.
I heard him gasp, sucking in the air we no longer needed. I risked a glance at his face. It told me all I needed to know. I'd really done it now, as if things weren't bad enough, as if he wasn't hurting enough, I just had to add to that pain, that burden, didn't I? Stupid, selfish, cruel women.
"I could never wish that," he said softly, taking a step forward and pulling me into his arms once more. "Surely you know that? What do I have to do to prove that to you?" he asked desperately.
"It's never made sense, you lo-," I began to say, but I was cut off when his lips met mine and we held the kiss for several seconds. Even after a decade of marriage, I still enjoyed the sensation of his lips on mine.
"I love you," He said, as he pulled away from the kiss, yet pulled my body back into our embrace.
"I love you too," I replied, kissing him again. "But please, let me help you." It was all I wanted. I just wanted to erase his pain.
"You are," he said simply, holding me closer.
As I heard Carlisle move from his chair downstairs I pushed aside the house plans, I didn't want to think about them anymore. I knew now that the only thing I could do to help him was to simply be there for him. But it wasn't enough to fix everything. There was only one way to do that.
This family needed to be whole again.
I heard my mother's thought as I stood a mile away from the house I had once called home. I had come home fed up with the death and destruction that had become my everyday life. But now I was here, I was too scared to return home and face the possible rejection by those I loved. I was like any other teenager who had done something wrong and now had to return home and face the music, see their parent's anger and disappointment, except my crimes were much more serious.
It was the disappointment that worried me, any anger I could take but I knew it would not be anger I would face. I could plainly remember the disappointed look on my father's face the last time I had seen him, as much as I had tried not to think about it for the last four years. I didn't want to return home to that look.
However as my mother's wishful thought filled my mind, I knew that this was something I had to do. I could do right by them now, even if I couldn't change my past.
I was shocked by their reaction. There was neither anger nor disappointment. Only joy. Joy at my return. Yet it was made me feel even worse. I did not deserve this. I didn't deserve the loving hug my mother bestowed upon me, or the happiness my father thought at me.
Welcome home, son!
It goes without saying that I don't own Twilight, but I thought it best to say it anyway.
Reviews are always appreciated. What did you think? About right for such a low point in their lives? Or too depressing and too much self-pity?
A note on Esme's 'record': the only real canon we have on this (that I know of anyway) is Rosalie's statement in Eclipse that her own record is "better than Esme", I choose to interpret this as Esme having killed a few times and them all having happened during her first decade as a vampire, hence why during 1931 she is still so worried about her control.