A/N: Follows pretty closely to Twilight, although some liberties taken. And I would love to hear what you think.
All characters belong to SM.
I always felt prematurely old. With just seventeen years of age in 1918 I had the wisdom and the experience of someone much older than myself. That August, my father and I witnessed the Chicago Cubs win the World Series after which the dynamics of Chicago began to drastically change. I had known that my only prospects was to go fight for my country, to be one among my fellow citizens to fight in the Great War; the war to end all wars, they called it.
Each day, I would return home from what little schooling I had, to witness my mother tending to my father who had grown ill. Newspapers told of a virus that was being brought home by the soldiers, something that was spreading and getting worse as the year wore on. My father was the first to show the signs of the sickness in our household.
"Yes, Mother?" I replied.
"Dr. Cullen called on us today and suggested that we take your father to the hospital where he can be better cared for."
I knew that she was on the brink of losing her husband, her soul mate; the pain was etched on her face, I could see that. I wanted to protect her from the hurt she must be feeling, but there was nothing more to say. She would have to do as the doctor requested; she would have to cling to this last thread of hope.
I left the room. I was prepared to leave school. The only topic that held my interest had been Biology, but even then, no teacher taught us of what I saw as the truth. My school taught us Genesis from the bible, but my neighbor, Mr. Hayes, taught me about evolution and a biologist named Charles Darwin. I admired the two men, the first for being able to educate me in ways that my schooling failed, and the latter for uncovering a new frontier in the field of science. Mrs. Hayes, also an amiable woman, once gave me the book, The Origins of Species.
As I went to sleep that night I began to lose myself in the thought of natural selection and the concept of survival of the fittest, which I found to be most interesting. It explained the theory that predators would evolve so they could be the most alluring and the best predators they could in order to survive, to gain the best advantages in the animal kingdom. I soon drifted off to sleep without satisfying my curiosity on the subject.
I awoke the next morning to the sound of my mother shuffling around the kitchen. She prepared meals for the three of us for the day: one for myself for a lunch break and two to take with her to the hospital. The second meal she took with her was superfluous; I could not imagine that my father would be able to eat a meal, but I could not point this out to my mother.
We left simultaneously, in silence.
Chicago, at this time, did not have much to offer a man of my age and background. If I was not receiving lessons, I went straight to the shoe factory of Mr. Perkins. He was a man of forty with round framed glasses and a moustache that was too big for his face. He told me to come to his factory if I ever needed work, and surely, I needed it now. He immediately brought me in to work on the assembly line attaching the soles of shoes to their upper counterparts. I did so unenthusiastically for ten hours. Those who worked around me were constantly coughing and I could sense their exhaustion, sure that I would be like them once enough time had passed.
I returned to an empty home. As I waited for my mother to return from her day, I began to reread The Origins of Species. It wasn't long before she walked in through the door with yet another sullen look on her face.
"Oh, hello, Edward" she said.
"How is dad?" I asked.
"There's not much that the doctors can do for him. Dr. Cullen said that it would probably be any day now." Tears began to stream from her eyes but immediately wiped them away. She didn't want to show her pain, but I could feel it in ways that were unexplainable. I could sense her grief and sorrow through her expressions. I stood, moving forward to hold her so she knew her son would do anything for her. I took her in my arms and noticed how warm she felt, feverish. She began to cough. She couldn't stop, nor could she breathe. I began to worry. I got her into bed then left for my own.
For the next three days, we repeated the same schedules, the same monotony, and the same horror. I noticed how she progressively got worse, coughing more often and her temperature rising. I decided before falling asleep on that third night that I would take her to the hospital the next morning. Surely, this Dr. Cullen would be able to help.
When we arrived to the hospital in the morning, a nurse admitted my mother and gave her a bed. Just hours later, Dr Cullen came to tell us of my father's passing; he died in his sleep during the night. He had never regained consciousness once he entered the hospital even. I supposed that my father deserved to die peacefully. I hoped he didn't feel much pain while he was ill.
Though I told no one, I began to feel symptomatic. Instead, I sat next to my mother's bed and spoke with Dr. Cullen.
"How long have you been a doctor?" I asked.
"Long enough. However, I've never seen anything of this nature before." Watching his countenance as he spoke, I saw the face of a man with an endless amount of compassion.
"I heard it returned with soldiers from the war." I said. He looked at me, and I continued, "Once this is over, I'm going to enlist. I have to fight for my country, protect our freedom."
He couldn't stay to talk with me; he had too many other patients. When he returned, he asked me about school. I told him how I enjoyed biology and he commented how we had that in common. As he left, I thought medicine was a good discipline to study. I thought that Dr. Cullen followed a righteous path; he was inspiring me to consider the same.
The next time he entered the room, he inquired about my school mates.
"My classmates never fully accepted me, nor I them" I replied. Dr. Cullen turned his head inquisitorially, inviting me to continue. "I constantly see them as having a limited perspective on life. It's as if they don't see the world around them. And I find the girls to be very predictable."
He lightly chuckled. "That never changes. It is important to develop connections with those who you see on a deeper level." I could see him processing a thought, but did not say anything further. I wished he would share his mind with me and express his thought.
Dr. Cullen left the room then unable to suppress my cough any longer, I began to struggle with my breath. I was afraid I would wake my mother. She didn't stir. I whispered into her ear "I love you" and I took my leave.
I returned to an empty, quiet house. I barely ate anything that night and fell asleep immediately. That night I dreamt of a new family. Dr. Cullen had become my father. He was with a woman I didn't recognize but could only assume was his wife. It was obvious in their expressions that there was a bond that couldn't be put into words. I looked at them incredulously and felt a tinge of jealousy. At once, the pang of jealousy left my consciousness as I was lying with a girl, somewhere outside. It was sunny. I couldn't see her face, but her touch invigorated my skin, my soul.