Bone Deep, an entry to the Age of Edward 2012 Contest
Young Adult Division,
Type of Edward: 1970's Edward (Discoward or maybe Lukeward?)
Beta Services courtesy of an EBS Beta Brie - With my deepest gratitude - Totally!
Let's take a peek back in time. A time when America felt lost after the fun of the Bicentennial, until the first Blockbuster movie. In May of '77 a little film opened in just 36 theaters, that changed the lives of boys and girls and teens around the world. At Luther Academy in Chicago, a new student is joining the Junior Class. A musical genius on the piano, he's quiet, withdrawn a bit and absent often. There is a junior who needs an accompanist for her vocal lessons as she tries to rehabilitate her voice. Everybody could use the Force. Who knew attraction could be bone deep?
Episode IV–A New Hope
The Cutlass was still showroom shiny as Edward reluctantly slid into the passenger seat. Esme was driving him to school for registration that morning, as he was still feeling the effects of the last visit to the clinic. The good news was, this was his car, part reward and part bribe to keep him in line and all was cleared for a return to school. The bad news was he would have to go back to the clinic in six months, sooner if anything came up. He tried to remind himself just nine more visits like that and he'd be free.
He didn't let himself think too often on the what ifs. Just like the trench run, he'd just trust in the Force and let the torpedos fly. They'd hit the target. Right?
They pulled into a paved lot behind the school. Jeesh it's tiny. The thought made him chuckle.
"Edward, we're here. Let's get you set up for junior year." Esme's voice held a note of almost forced cheerfulness. It was a tone that Edward recognized all too well. He didn't want to cause his mother one more moment of pain, and he would live up to her hopes for this day in any way he could. In a few steps they had crossed the asphalt and entered the school.
Across campus, tires grinding on gravel kicked up a fair spot of dust as Bella swung the 67' Buick Skylark into the first parking space she could find. It was a bright Chicago day, and the August sun would have the black vinyl interior oven hot before she could finish her errand. In horror, she noted the foolishness of wearing shorts. I'm an eedd-e-ot! Not like anyone would dare pay her attention, her father was a known figure in the neighborhood as well as the school.
Lieutenant Charlie Swan was not only the head of the police in this precinct of Chicago, he was also on the school council and the church council. There were more eyes watching her behavior than there were eyeglasses in the optometrist's office. At least this morning there had been shade in the medical center parking lot. No such luck here. She shut off the motor just as "Staying Alive" wailed out on WLS. For a moment, she imagined a white suited John Travolta twirling under the mirror ball that spun for the dances in the gym. It would be more likely to have R2D2 cross the parking lot than a fox from just about anywhere appear in her view. She gave a tug to her very, very peach Tee, even if the color was not her favorite, the poster on the front gave it that honor in her wardrobe. Mike Newton caught sight of her entering the gym lobby
"Swannee- Piggee!" He yelled from the hall near the library doors. "You still in need of a light saber there?"
Bella shook her head as she called out, "Not yours." She waited until he was out of earshot to mutter under her breath, "In your dreams, Swedish Chef."
He passed her with a smirk as he headed for the parking lot, and she joined the line just outside the cafeteria that was posing as a bookstore, for junior registration.
"I heard that," came a conspiratorial whisper, "ya va bork bork bork." Angela chortled as she broke into giggling with Bella as they exited the hall. Neither of them had noticed the trio down by the office.
This school was tiny for Chicago with less than six hundred students. It did have an excellent academic reputation, a closed campus, and here, Edward would be allowed to attend class more often. At least, he hoped he would. At seventeen, Edward loved life, he just hated parts of his. He hated having his parents move across the country. He hated that he was so tired this morning, he had to let Mom drive to school. He'd be registering and buying books in one trip today. As they entered the far end near the office he looked down the main hallway to the line of students. He noticed a wavy-haired brunette with cute denim shorts and a bright peach Star Wars tee shirt laugh as she spoke to a tall girl with glasses and pig tales, who passed into that other room.
"You'll head down there as soon as we get your schedule fixed, young man." The portly gentleman tapped him on the shoulder, indicating he should follow them into the main office. At least he could hope this would be quick. Maybe she would still be there when he went down the hall later.
That night he made sure to take a cool bath. No way was he missing the first day of school this year. The pile of books and the shiny new photo ID proclaimed him as a junior at Luther Academy, high school calling his name. He hadn't met the brunette yet, but there were only 136 members of the Junior Class. How hard could it be?
It seemed like his head had just hit the pillow when Hot Blooded exploded out of his clock radio. In no time at all he was out the door and down the road. Edward Cullen sat in the brand new Cutlass, grateful for the blasts of air conditioning that kept the heat outside. The two-door was touted as a reward for agreeing to move, yet he knew it was more likely an unnecessary bribe. Northwestern held promise, and Carlisle had jumped at the chance to join the cutting–edge facility. Carlisle wanted to do everything he could to progress treatment and research, and this was his big break.
Esme's project was the house. Living in an avocado kitchened tract house was never to her liking, and the aging Longwood mansion had bloomed over the course of the summer under his mother's careful and thorough restoration. He'd been so absent his sophomore year that it was a miracle he'd kept up with his classes at all. New house, new friends, new school, new city, new ride...any disgruntled teen would jump at the chance for a change, too. In that way, his motivation resembled his father's.
He exited the Cutlass at the same time the '67 Skylark turned into the lot. His luck was holding. The one of 136 that counted was in Physics, his first class
The day morphed into a week, and the week into a month. In retrospect, Edward would tell you it happened because of the Force, of a girl. A brown-eyed, curvy sprite who crossed his path over and again each day. Physics, Capella Choir, Advanced French.
It was just the second week of classes when in choir, Mr Kirken, the director, asked for a volunteer for extra credit. He'd explained a student needed practice three times a week for vocal rehabilitation. Edward hadn't demonstrated his skill yet, but the idea of helping someone regain his or her voice made him raise his hand. During the start of lunch he had played a bit of his repertoire, impressing the director. He was given a pass for 7th period
He learned he would be helping her that very afternoon.
Bella Swan had the new guy in three classes that term. She found him in her physics class, feeling odd, being observed paying Miss Reggiano her candy debit for acing the Bio final last spring. Betting against Alice Reggiano was a feat never to be repeated. Next, he ended up sitting behind her in choir. He had a sweet tenor voice that was almost in her ear. The coup de grace was her advanced French seminar. He'd impressed the new instructor with his perfect accent and grammar.
He'd had her at his soft "hello" in the hall. Well, that and the "May the Force Be With You" button in his locker.
Edward entered the music room first. It was oddly empty, dim without the glare of the florescent lights. A stream of sunlight bathed the baby grand, raising it from the battered beast and into the sublime. He sat at the keys and began to compose a variation on John William's theme for Leia. He was so lost in the notes, he did not hear the door open.
Bella slipped quietly into the music room, not wanting to let any of the commotion in the hall enter the quiet of an empty room. As she walked through the second set of doors, the familiar space was filled with a melody familiar and yet more complex than any she had ever heard.
In here, the shaft of sunlight caught all the summer's dust, rendering it into sparkling diamonds falling on the shoulders of the pianist. The bronzed head nodded softly in time to the melody.
Before she could make a sound or take a step, Mr. Whitlock, one of the history teachers, burst into the room. "Jim?"
"Mr. Kirken isn't here," Edward replied without turning his head
"Oh, well, sorry then. If you see him, please tell him I have his recorder." With that, he exited the room in a flash.
Edward stopped playing, much to Bella's dismay, and questioned aloud. "Jim Kirk-en?" He didn't even change position
"It gets worse. It's spelled K-i-r-k-e, and his middle name is Theodore." Bella giggled a bit as she relayed the information. It was up to her to approach the bench.
"James T Kirk-en?" Edward stated as he realized the implication of the name. "Oh. Bad. Psyche. Like, Beam me up?"
She continued to chuckle a bit as she spread her music on the piano. " Totally! Oh, so here are my exercises."
For the next half hour, Edward basked in the attention of his muse. He learned she had strained her vocal cords last year with three choirs and two musical shows. He hadn't really noticed her voice in choir. Here he heard the little breaks and jumps and he understood his job. She wasn't going to like him very much now, unless it all worked together and she healed. Pain and patience before perfection. He understood her frustration far better than she could realize. Patience and pain had been his traveling companions for too long.
At the end of the session, Bella thanked him for his patience. Neither one knew that Kirken had watched the session from the entry vestibule that separated the room from the backstage area. If he felt like a guardian angel, it was a short tour of duty. Like his hero, Luke Skywalker, Edward had seemed to escape one fate, only to fall deeper into another.
He'd missed only one day of school so far. It would be an important date, but it would be forgiven this once. Three weeks passed and he was getting closer to Bella. He could feel it.
Bella had eaten her birthday cupcake in French, wondering over how much she was missing that new guy. Thanking Edward for his help seemed so small.
The fall service project was announced and the prospect of a gym pass in exchange for just one pint of blood thrilled the upper classes. Edward was sure he shouldn't donate, but he had no desire to smack in the eyes of his classmates. Fortunately for him, the interview before the donation was private. His luck was rockin' as Kate, one of his nurses from a short stay in the hospital that summer, caught him at the first table and brought him to her station.
"Edward, you know you can't do this."
"No one here knows. I'm just me. Edward. Not …"
"Okay, well. Keep on, tell them your hemoglobin is low, you have to eat more meat. You won't be the only one we pass on today."
Edward was comforted by her assurances.
In another cubicle, a junior was checking the box for marrow donation, just in case she couldn't donate blood. A tiny thing, a signature. The Force of a pen on paper in Springfield, making it legal for her to donate, for her to join a registry. For lives to be permanently altered. Letting them go bone deep to save a life. Bella did not consider the force necessarily, just the possibility of doing her bit, a little bit more.
Neither was brave enough to mention homecoming. Neither was surprised to see the other standing at the edges of the gym, admiring the decorations set out by the sophomore class.
It wasn't John Travolta under the glitter of the mirror ball; it was so much better. They may have arrived solo, a silver lining in the cloud of Bella's Skylark being in the shop, so a ride with a sophomore friend and his date had earned her a rose for her bag, and the ride home with Edward would earn her a new title.
It was during a slow dance, the brothers from down under softly asking the question "How deep is your love?" and the answer being delivered with a first kiss on a gym floor. A first kiss after patience. Full of promise and perfection.
Bella would no longer sit next to her boyfriend as he led her through her vocal acrobatics. Instead she stood, promising her proximity only afterwards. It didn't mean there was a dearth of kissing on the bench, it meant neither had to lie about completing her therapy as prescribed. Edward had plans for his girlfriend.
The proof was in her solo at the Christmas concert. In their delight, the Cullens met the Swans after the concert. Esme invited Bella to join their family for dinner at the Paragon, and the Chief and Renee gave a happy nod to their daughter's departure.
No one gave any thought to causing heartache that night. What true parent, or sibling or true sweetheart would? It was innocent, just the teasing of an older sister, home from college, to her younger brother. None of them realized his silence.
It was an innocent question. "With that remission holding so well, I guess you'll start the admission process for college soon?" Rosalie had only realized her gaff when she caught sight of a tear rolling down Bella's cheek.
Edward's fork fell with a sharp clatter to his plate, and in that heavy beat of silence that followed, it became crystal clear that an elephant had entered the room and run over Bella like a freight train. The rest of the dinner was strained.
Afterward, the silence in the Cutlass was only broken by Barry Manilow's Copacabana. The irony of the ballad of love lost was not lost on Bella as she rode back with Edward.
"I'm sorry I didn't tell you, Bella." The words fell heavy from his lips, laden with sincerity.
He put the car in park, in the pool of light the street lamp formed in front of her house.
"I get why you'd keep it quiet at school. I do. But why not tell me?"
"I was…I wanted...oh hell, Bella, how is it ever a good time to mention–Hey, just a heads up, I'm totally on borrowed time here."
Edward looked into her face, expecting anger or pity. Instead he found sheer curiosity staring back from her brown eyes. It boosted his courage enough so his whole story came out like water pouring out a spigot at full blast.
He began his tale with his adoption. How it cut off one avenue of hope, how he'd been diagnosed at twelve. How it ended of his baseball aspirations. How all of the treatments he'd accepted wore him down and out. How he'd lost roommates to cancer. How he held onto hope this recession would hold, his recession. Not Carter's. The joke fell flat.
How he was in love, how his heart was breaking at the thought of leaving everything. The pain he was feeling was familiar; it was a force bone deep as he spoke.
Her tears were new. The idea that this might come crashing down made her think of Alderaan. A peaceful, defenseless place blown to smithereens.
No, her subconsciousscreamed at the cold winter sky. I will not go down without a fight. Gathering her courage, she asked the hard question. "What's next?"
This was where the truth would hurt. Edward had to explain it to her, so he took the analogy they knew best.
"Bella, I'm adopted. Adopted. I have no blood relatives. Finding what I need would be like a bulls-eye of a womp rat–or hitting that exhaust port with a proton torpedo."
"What, what do you mean?" She moved her hands to the tops of his arms.
"If I relapse, and I refuse to say when I… I have just one option left."
"What is it?"
"What? Tell me. It's hope."
"No, Bella. It's not. It's horrible, like walking through fire, but it is not even..."
She grabbed his hands. "Its not. Impossible!" The realization to Bella was at first a dousing with cold water. It was a real threat. "Oh, oh it's one of those transplants. Oh." But it was not here tonight, it was not in the car. It was not going to ruin this night
They parted with a kiss. Not a standard good night, but a moment in time that would be recalled as soul searing. Bella knew what she wanted to spend part of winter break doing, and putting that message into her kiss seemed less crass than just blurting it out. The radio provided the perfect solution, as she simply turned up, I wannna kiss you all over by Exile. WLS to the rescue. Edward rested his lips on her forehead.
"Bella, you have whatever I have to give. I think you might be everything I need."
The next week brought the start of Christmas vacation. Edward drove them to and from classes and they danced around and avoided all mention of it. Instead they studied and watched Mash and Mork and Mindy, somehow always managing to miss Charlie's Angels.
That elephant was getting hungry and he would not be ignored for long. Edward woke up on Christmas Eve with a familiar ache in his bones. He would be going to church tonight with Bella. He chose to ignore it.
New Year's Eve was not spent with their friends at the planned music party. Bella gave an exhausted Edward a kiss in his hospital bed as the televised ball dropped in Times Square. She cried in the Skylark all the way home.
They watched the Rose Parade, noting the best marching bands and cheered on Michigan, groaning a little at the Big Ten loss.
He'd be coming home on the second, but not back to school for a while.
A few days later a call for Bella came in while she was shopping with her mother. Her father duly noted the call and posted the note to her bedroom door.
It was no decision at all. Of course her blood could be tested for a bone marrow match. If anyone deserved a miracle, she would never stand in their way.
Esme got the call that morning. She'd been listening to Jane Pauley recount the news as she fixed Edward and Rosalie breakfast. Carlisle had sounded breathless and amazed.
There was a match. A really good, an exceptional match. Edward had to get healthy now. He would need his strength.
They were going to nearly kill him, to give him a chance at life.
Bella came over for dinner with her parents at Esme's invitation. The possibility that something could go wrong would not be broached. A new hope seemed to radiate from Carlisle and he spoke with confidence. Esme spoke quietly with Renee, the mothers' hearts holding all the pain.
Edward sat with Bella on the sofa. He pulled her close, content to just sit, to just absorb the moment. It would not be long before he would lose this closeness. He pondered all the things they'd told him and his parents about his upcoming treatment. The lowdown was heavy. No day in the park. He looked at Bella, kissed her forehead, and enjoyed the scent of her soft hair. It was going to be a walk through fire. She was totally worth it. To the max. To the bone.
Bella hadn't told anyone about her donation. It was such a little thing, compared to what was coming down on Edward.
It was surreal to be back in class without Edward, knowing what he was facing. Bella finally told Angela about the possible donation
"That's sick!" Angela gasped, "I mean, what are the coincidences? The chances, you know?"
"It's bitchen you can help," chortled one of the other sopranos, but Bella was too lost in her own head. She ignored the comment. It couldn't be me?
She turned to Jane. "Thanks. Like, I don't think I'll ever know who gets it. It's, you know, the least I can do."
That night she told her parents. They put aside their fears and agreed to support her through the process. First there was an interview and a doctor's examination. Dr. Gerandy was kind and answered all their questions. She was cleared for donation and scheduled the procedure for the end of the week.
In weekly chapel at Luther and in the church, their names were joined on the prayer list.
Bella was as surprised as anyone with the pain. She figured an overnight in the hospital and a day at home and she'd be good as new, able to get over to the hospital to see Edward. Two days later and she could still just call him on the phone.
She finally confessed to Esme about the donation. It was Edward's -8 day. He was tired and cranky from the radiation and the placement of his central line.
Esme answered his bedside phone. She realized one reason for his crankiness was his lack of time with Bella. Esme was astounded by her news. What a small world.
Bella got back to school on Wednesday. She went up to Edward's room that afternoon. It was the last day they got to hold hands, very well scrubbed hands.
Rosalie had headed back to school before zero day. Edward had insisted. He already felt like a goldfish in a tiny bowl, and one more set of eyes peering through the glass was too much.
He watched the nurse hang the bag that held his future. He hoped he'd seen Bella's arm around his mother's shoulder. He knew his dad was at the foot of his bed. In his dreams he saw himself dropping the torpedos into the trench. He'd hit the target.
His cancer was the Death Star. In his dream, he watched the suns set, with Bella at his side.
On Valentine's Day they spoke on the phone, and a dozen red roses were delivered to the Physics classroom.
Bella carried them all day. That afternoon, at the hospital, she found Esme and Carlisle in tears. They motioned for her to come to them, to join them. Tears ran from her eyes as well with the news. The marrow had engrafted. It was working.
Edward did not wake until after Bella had to leave. She'd sat and watched him sleep, each rise and fall of the soft blue blanket gave her more faith. Bella left his Valentine taped to the glass. Just before midnight he woke and read, Take care of my Heart Edward, I've left it here with you.
Spring brought sunshine and warmth to the winter weary streets of Chicago. The days were long enough now that Bella made the trek up to the University of Chicago Hospital in the daylight. She brought his books and notes back and forth, well, mostly forth.
He'd be working into the summer, but he would keep his credits.
Edward was pacing in his room. A regular room, at last. He would be home for Mother's day. That he could do. No way was his doctor's firm answer when it came to prom.
He was still going to ask her.
Instead of going out for the night, they had their prom in his family room. He got one of those silly tuxedo t-shirts. He played his piano for her. Bella wore a deep blue dress with a handkerchief hem. They put 52nd street on the turntable and danced to Billy Joel on the back patio.
There, under the stars, he dared to dream.
"Bella, when the sequel comes out - I mean, like, the next Star Wars. You know? You will be my date." He said it as a statement.
"Well, totally. I'm there." She pulled him closer, enjoying the newfound freedom to kiss him.
"May 1980. Awesome! It's a date."
So, a little peek into the past, but is that the whole story? Curious? If So, Review. You never know what might happen. Totally!