This is a snippet of a story I began that's been sitting in my Incomplete folder for a while. I can't make any guarantees I will finish it, but here is what I have so far.
SM owns all, yada yada.
January 1, 1919
This journal is one of Carlisle's Christmas presents to me. He says that I should use it to write down all the important memories that I have of my life before and to document the changes that are happening to me. Apparently, the childhood memories I have will fade with time. Already, I'm finding it harder to remember my parent's faces. Although there are certain things I don't think will ever fade: the smell of my father's singular Sunday cigar, the humming of my mother as she worked on her embroidery; the way the light of the lamps warmed the tones of her hair as she bent over the spinet. She will forever be tied to music for me, she was the one who taught me to play. She was so beautiful, and her loss tugs unrelentingly at my heart. I find myself unable to touch the keys of a piano without wanting to weep.
Music had been central in our home; there was always classical music on the gramophone, and my father often accompanied Mother on the piano with his violin. As a child, I would crawl out of bed and hide at the top of the stairs to listen to their duets. One of my proudest moments had been when I was allowed to join them in playing at the annual Christmas party my mother threw. Mother would decorate the house with armloads of greens that made the whole house smell like a forest, and invite a slew of people that filled the house to bursting. Those guests with talents would provide music in impromptu groupings. And in the middle of it, like the center stone on a tiara, was my mother, gracious, elegant and vibrant. I would catch my father standing in a corner, watching her as she glittered like a diamond among her guests, unable to take his eyes off the woman he loved.
It's hard for me to believe they're gone, and that I'm an orphan, without family. I went by our house yesterday at the darkest hour of the night, dressed against casual recognition, clinging to the shadows. The dark windows stare blankly at the street; it is a corpse of a house. All the life that it once held is gone, the ringing voices, the bustle of my parents and the servants: Martha, the housekeeper, and Jed, her husband, the gardener. My father always seemed so invincible to me. I can remember as a boy when he arrived home, he'd lift me up on his shoulder and we'd go find my mother, most often in the kitchen. I was sure there was no one in the world who was stronger than he. It's so unfair that the influenza took them both. It has taken everything from me, and sometimes I find it hard to face the prospect of going on, unable to even shed the tears of a bereaved son for them.
Every day I miss them. Carlisle encourages me to talk about them, but the memories are still so raw. I know he saved me at my mother's bequest, but I can't help but wonder what he saved me for.
I'm beginning to wonder if the grief could be affecting my sanity. There are times when I hear voices in my head. No momentous announcements or even delusions of God speaking to me, but the most mundane and petty thoughts intrude on me when I am not focused on anything. Ridiculous, inane thoughts will jump in my mind at the most unexpected of times, like wondering if there is any pie in the kitchen or whether the maid has taken the dog for a walk. Of course, these kind of situations don't apply to me now, so why are they dropping into my brain like unwanted guests? I haven't said anything to Carlisle yet and neither has he mentioned such a phenomenon. Is this an effect of the transformation?
January 17, 1919
Carlisle has asked if I want to leave Chicago. Moving elsewhere could allow me more freedom to move around without the threat of recognition by some acquaintance. I don't know how I feel about leaving Chicago. This was my birthplace, and my parents are buried here. Even I am 'buried' here. There is a gravestone with my name on it next to my parents. Of course, in my case, the grave is empty. What a strange feeling to stand before one's own gravestone. I went to visit my parents' graves late one night and there it was. My father's solicitor must have arranged it.
Perhaps a part of me is buried there. The part that had family and schoolmates and hopes of making a mark in this world. Yes, I am still alive in a sense, but it is a limited existence. Now I know how ghosts feel: like a glass wall has been placed between them and the rest of the world, and one can only watch the world continue on, unable to reach out and touch anything or anyone. I watch from the windows of our home as in the neighborhood, children play, relatives and friends visit each other and lovers walk by arm in arm.
During the day I haunt the house, unable to show my face outside for fear someone will recognize me. At night, I am freer to walk around, but must shun all contact other than the most casual. I spend my days wandering the rooms of our home while Carlisle is doctoring. He has set a course of study for me, and I dutifully read the texts. It is rather amazing how much one can learn when the need for sleep no longer arises!
Our jaunts for feeding are the one joy I am allowed. I feel most alive, most at home and at ease in the woods. I don't have to pretend to be anything than other than what I am. I can run so fast it feels like flying. The trees tick by like pickets on a fence and still I go faster, passing the deer and moose that I startle like they were standing still. Incredibly, the cold doesn't bother me at all. Chicago winters can be cold, but nowhere near the minus eighty degrees that Carlisle says it takes to affect us. I dive and tunnel through snow drifts as if they were insubstantial as ocean waves.
The hunt for game is exhilarating: the selection of an animal, the stealthy stalking followed by a sudden burst of speed. The feeding itself is rather unsettling. The most primal, carnivorous instincts take over in a way that discomfits me. Once feeding has started, it is impossible to stop. The smell, the sight, the taste of blood fills one's senses, eliminating rational thought. These are the times when I am indeed a bloodthirsty, merciless predator, and afterwards, only the most concerted effort allows me to pull the veneer of a civilized gentleman back into place.
January 20, 1919
We had visitors today. Luckily, Carlisle was home. Just after dusk, he and I were in the library playing chess when we heard a group of men approaching the house.
"What is it, do you think?" I asked Carlisle, standing up to peer through the windows.
"Nothing good," he said, rising from the table and crossing the hall to open the door.
At the door were half a dozen Negro men, dressed in rough workclothes. The leader pulled his hat off his head and addressed Carlisle. "Doctor Cullen, we needs your help. Bosley here need a doctor right away and what with the Negro hospital on the other side of town, he'd bleed out a'fore we could get him there. "
Behind him, the handful of men held another man, unconscious and bleeding profusely from a wound in the thigh. Carlisle turned his head to me and murmured, "Perhaps it would be best if you left." My throat was burning intensely at the smell of the blood dripping from the man's leg. We had fed earlier that morning, though, so the urges seemed bearable.
"Please, Doctor Cullen," the man with hat in his hand pleaded. "They say you don't mind on the color of a man's skin." Behind him, the others' eyes flashed against their dark skin.
Carlisle pulled the door open and stepped aside. "Bring him in." He caught my eyes as he gestured to the men, and I sensed his concern for me. Out loud, he directed the men. "Through there. Put him on the dining room table."
"I'll stay," I volunteered. "Maybe I can help." I hadn't seen Carlisle at work, other than when I'd been in the throes of fever. This seemed like a good chance to learn more about the man who was rapidly becoming like a father to me. I was perhaps cocky as well. After all, I'd been able to deny the bloodlust so far, and if Carlisle could do it, surely I would be able, too.
"Get some water heated then. Bring me my bag and as many towels as you can find," he instructed as they carried him past us.
I ran and put the kettle on the stove, silently praising Carlisle for his habit of keeping the place habitable by human standards. The wood-fired stove was already warm, so I stirred the embers and threw a couple of logs in. I ran past the linen closet and grabbed an armful of towels, before swinging by the parlor where Carlisle kept his bag.
I arrived in the now crowded dining room with my armload as Carlisle was holding a lamp close to the man's leg, inspecting the wound. It didn't escape my sense of irony that the bleeding man was stretched out on the dining room table. The smell was intense; I'd never been this close to a wounded human.
"Who did this tourniquet?" Carlisle asked of the men crowded together on the far side of the table.
One of the smaller men, dressed in a dirtied lambskin coat, stepped forward. "That would be me," he said diffidently.
Carlisle glanced at him. "Well, good work. You may have saved his life."
He broke into a shy smile as the others clapped him on the back; the camaraderie was evident among them.
Perhaps the others were too wrapped up in watching Carlisle work to see that I never breathed. He glanced up from his work as I handed him a clamp he had made himself. "You're doing great."
I nodded slightly, unwilling to spend breath on unnecessary words. I turned and fished the bottle of iodine out of his bag and handed it to him just as he started to speak. He looked at me strangely as he took the bottle of iodine from my hand. "Thank you."
I hoped I was helpful as I handed him the tools he asked for. He sewed up the wound neatly just as the wounded man was starting to come around. Carlisle was wiping his hands on a towel as he gave Big Sam, the leader, instructions. "He has a concussion so he needs to lay flat for a few days. Keep the wound area clean, but he must stay out of a bath. The stitches should come out in about ten days."
They all murmured their thanks and appreciation and took their comrade out on a board to bring him home. It was well past nine when, with great relief, I shut the door behind them. I leaned against the door, still all too aware of the blood-soaked towels that remained in the dining room.
I felt Carlisle's hand on my shoulder. "Why don't you take a run? I'll clean up here and catch up with you later."
"You don't mind?"
"Not at all. "
I spun and yanked the door open.
"Don't forget your jacket," he said as he plucked it from the pegs by the door and handed it to me.
I took the jacket from his hands, and shrugged it on as I trotted down the steps. It took only a few minutes to reach the edges of the woods that led into the greater forest, and I was free to run as I wanted, as I needed.
The snows of the new year had melted, and the ground was hard, perfect for running. My footsteps pounded out a steady rhythm that grew faster and faster until the sound became a blur even to my ears. The trees whipped by furiously, and I was running past the speed of conscious thought, avoiding the trees and rocks and briar patches that sprang up in my way by pure instinct. Faster and faster I pushed myself, as if I could outrun the flames in my throat and the longings that plagued me to go back and find the nameless thing that would stop this restless, unending yearning.
I couldn't understand how Carlisle did it. He'd been up to his elbows in it, the blood glistening on his hands and arms. It had been all I could do not to grab his hand to lick the crimson off him. What gave him such control?
If he hadn't been there, I would have been lost to the bloodlust. It was only the thought of the look of disappointment on his face that kept me from acting like the vampire I was. There is a compassion and wisdom in Carlisle that is unmatched, even by Father Brian or the Monsignor. He believes in the best of people and it makes you want to live up to that, to be the person he imagines. I want to be what Carlisle sees when he looks at me.
But it is hard. Very hard.
My progress flushed a small herd of deer from a copse, and I fell on the leader and savagely chewed into her neck as she kicked and struggled in my hands. But the first gulps were not the soothing balm I was searching for, and in disgust, I threw her off me. I looked into the heavens and with clenched fists, screamed at the dark sky. Only one thing could be the answer to the endless aching of the bloodlust, and that was an answer I could not, would not live with.
Carlisle found me an hour later. He came upon me as I sat on a low log, my head in my hands. He recognized my pensive mood, and we sat for a while in silence.
He finally spoke. "I'm sorry, Edward. I should have known better than to expect that much from you so soon."
Without raising my head, I asked, "Is it easier with time?"
Carlisle stretched his legs out. "Easier? Yes. But it's never easy. It's always there, but the habit of constantly saying no gives you something to fall back on." He put a hand on my back. "You did a wonderful thing today. You helped save a man's life."
I shook my head. "I didn't do anything."
"Yes, you did. You really seemed a natural at it. I wanted to ask you―how did you know what to hand me?"
I looked at him in surprise. "What do you mean? I just gave you what you asked for."
"Edward, think back. I never said aloud what it was that I wanted."
That stopped me. I reviewed the episode in my mind. He was right; he'd never actually spoken the words. I'd just heard his need in my mind. "What does that mean?"
"You may be gifted. It's not that unusual among us."
"I don't understand."
"You may be telepathic. Can you tell what I'm thinking now?"
I looked askance at him, disbelieving, but he was serious. I concentrated on him, but I could hear nothing. I shook my head. "I'm not getting anything."
He took my hand. "How about when we touch?"
I focused, frowning while I stared at his head, willing it to peel back and reveal its secrets. . "No, not really."
He smiled and released my hand. "Don't try so hard. Just relax and let it bubble up."
I closed my eyes and willed myself to be still and open. In the distance, an owl hooted and the breeze gently rattled the icy branches of the bare winter trees. "I don't know. Maybe something about kings and queens?"
"That's not too bad, actually. I was thinking of our chess game."
"You think I can read minds?"
"It's not unheard of. Have you caught anything else?
"Just snippets, occasionally. I―I didn't know what it meant."
"In my experience, it will get stronger as you get older."
"Can you do anything like that?"
He threw his head back and laughed. "Me? No. Nothing like that." His laughter faded to chuckles. "No, I'm just a simple country doctor."
"And yet you saved a man's life today."
"It's a blessing to be able to help people, Edward. It's really all I've wanted from life."
"Is that what keeps you going?"
He clapped me on the back. "That and the beauty I see. There's so much of it. It's in the rustle of the trees in the wind, the ways rocks are worn by water, the way a mother holds an infant. It's infinite, and eternity is not enough to see it all."
I led the way as we noiselessly trekked the path back to the house. The moon hung as a sliver in the sky, barely illuminating our way. The winter landscape was cold and silent, even the usual slither of the smallest animals had been stilled in the icy morning air. I was lost in my own thoughts when I heard EDWARD! I whirled around and crouched defensively, startled and taken aback.
Carlisle was behind me, chuckling with good humor. "Just checking," he said with a smile as he pushed past me.
March 3, 1919
My 'gift', as Carlisle calls it, seems to grow exponentially. I can hear all the thoughts of those in my immediate vicinity; Carlisle I can hear from a hundred yards away.
The gift is rapidly becoming a curse. If I encounter a crowd, it's as if a stadium of people are yelling at me. Their voices ring in my ears like they were shouting. I hear my name and I spin around looking for the source, afraid that someone has recognized me. I never understood how many people know somebody named Edward. Neither could I have estimated the sheer pettiness and boredom that fills most minds. Occasionally I run across someone with a mind like Carlisle's: clear, compassionate, ordered. Once I followed a nun all the way into Naperville because I was so taken by the tenor of her thoughts.
But that is the exception. I walk the city at night and I listen to the voices of those in the apartments, stores and taverns I pass. I realize now how much my parents had protected me from the darker elements of life. There is so much pain and perversion that I had never imagined.
I came home this evening, with something faintly reminiscent of nausea curling in the pit of my stomach. "Tell me what's bothering you," Carlisle said from his wing chair by the fire, as I stood in the library, ostensibly to look for a book, but hoping he'd notice the confusion that held me paralyzed.
I fought back the modesty that had kept me from speaking sooner. "My parents–" I started. I turned away from him to stare at the spines of the books on the shelves. It would be easier if I didn't have to look at him. "The, uh, act of love…" I glanced over my shoulder at Carlisle. He was listening with nothing but interest and compassion on his face. "Isn't what they're doing a crime? Or at the least, a sin?"
"What do you mean?"
It all came out in a rush then. "By God, Carlisle! It's like a Gomorrah out there! Nancy boys and trollops, fornication and whores and I can't even say out loud the things they are doing to each other. And underneath it all, there's this river of pain that just goes on and on…"
Carlisle set the book he had been reading to the side. He listened as I felt compelled to go on.
"It's savage and brutal. They kill and rape and destroy each other bit by bit, and even the children! The darkness fills them like a plague." I whirled and turned to face him. I felt tainted and dirty by all I'd seen and heard. It was like an invisible stain I could feel creeping across me. "How can you stand it?"
His face was immensely sad. "Is there no one good you've seen? Is there nothing out there that you can call worthy?"
I thought of the nun I'd followed, and the few others I had run across like her. "There are. But they are few and far between."
"All the more that we must treasure them. Don't be too quick to judge men, Edward. Because you know their thoughts, it doesn't mean you know their hearts."
Wise advice, I'm sure. Still, I cross paths with sadistic minds as black as poison, as devoid of love and compassion as a feral beast with only the urge to cause pain and suffering driving them forward. Why does God allow such to walk among men?
March 12, 1919
In the house next door is a newlywed couple. He came back from the Great War missing a foot, she is from England. They're infatuated with each other. They appear on the street very proper and staid, but when their doors are closed, they copulate often and intensely. Unable to help myself, through their eyes, I watch their trysts where they frantically paw at each other, lost in sensation. But more than just the physical sensations, I can see the love they have for each other. She is average looking, but her eyes are too wide apart and her chin too pointed for real beauty. And yet, he's constantly thinking he's never seen anyone or anything so beautiful. The way she brushes her hair enchants him. For her, she berates herself because she craves his touch; even just the sight of his fingers makes her breath catch in her throat.
Seeing them walk arm in arm makes something in me ache.
March 18, 1919
I met my first other vampire today. My first thought when I saw Garrett was 'how does he ever pass for human with that pale skin?' Of course, Carlisle and I are just as pale. But his eyes were red, and I nearly gasped when I found the reason for it. He saw the dark amber color of my own eyes and murmured to Carlisle, "Why Carlisle, you've become a Maker."
I'd never seen Carlisle embarrassed before. But he ignored it to smile at me. "Some things are too good to let go."
Garrett offered me his hand and we shook briefly. "Carlisle is a remarkable man. You're lucky to have such a mentor."
"I know," I said. It felt odd to shake the hand of someone whom I knew had murdered people. I couldn't
help myself from focusing on him, trying to read him. He stayed for a just a few minutes, to exchange words with Carlisle regarding some vampires in the south, a situation apparently violent and volatile.
After he'd left, I was nearly bursting with questions for Carlisle. "Where does he live?"
"Like most vampires, he lives as a traveler, constantly moving."
"He doesn't have a house or anything?"
"He may own a house or two, likely used as a last ditch resort, but it is easier with his, uh, feeding habits to stay on the move."
"He kills people for their blood," I whispered. The idea was revolting and yet strangely attractive at the same time. I can hear the tempting rush of people's blood through their veins when I walk among them, but when I look into their eyes and I imagine them dulling and glazing over with death, the thirst becomes easier to bear. To kill someone is such an act of finality. My father had always held that murder was the act of a monster. Even in battle, he couldn't abide it; it was the reason he had fought against my early enlistment in the army to go fight in the Great War.
"Yes. Yes, he does," Carlisle said solemnly.
"Did you ever try to talk to him? Get him to stop?" I asked.
I could feel Carlisle's resignation like a blanket. He sat down in a chair and let his head loll back against the back. "I spent much of my youth trying to convince anyone who would listen that there might be a better way. They wouldn't or couldn't hear, and after a while, I saw the truth. That I could no more change their nature than I could convince a lion to eat grass. Vampires are predators, and it is the rare vampire who can rise above their own nature."
"You do," I said.
"You do, too," he said, smiling.
"Are there others like us?"
"Perhaps a handful. That I know of anyway."
I ran my hand along the spines of the books on the shelves, thinking. So many vampires, hunting among the human race. With our superior speed and strength, they would be easy prey for us. Maybe we are like lions. Lions often test the herds of prey, looking for the weak and malformed. They'll often improve the health of a herd by taking its unhealthiest members out of the gene pool. "Did you ever think that maybe that's why we're here?" I asked Carlisle. "That we're supposed to be predators, culling the weak and evil?"
Carlisle sat back in his chair, exhaling slowly. His hand rubbed at his face, but I was too on fire with my idea to read his distaste.
"I mean, think of it, Carlisle! We'd be like the best police force in the world. There's no one we couldn't catch."
"Catch, yes, but what then?" He jumped out of the chair and began pacing. "Will we judge them, too? Will we be God, deciding who lives and dies?"
"Well," I said, frowning. "We'd have to find some way to―"
"To what? Determine their innocence or guilt? Isn't that something really left for God?"
"Carlisle! Think of the lives we could save!"
"Yes, but we would be the ones taking lives. You don't know."
"What? I know all right. I know, I hear their thoughts. There is evil, alive and walking around out there."
"I have no doubt of that. But I've also seen what happens when you start out with lofty goals, but the means you use to achieve them is murder. Because that's what it would be, Edward. Murder. Nothing more, nothing less."
With that, Carlisle turned on his heel and sped from the room. Knowing I couldn't help myself but to listen to his thoughts, he skimmed through memories of Francois, a vampire he had known who had sworn only to take the worst, the murderers those who took lives. That had worked fine for a while, until the day when Francois had no murderers to take, and suddenly thieves were okay to take then too. Then blasphemers, and then those who had merely quarreled.
From upstairs he said softly, knowing I would hear. "It's a slippery slope, Edward and the descent is rife with horror. Step on it at your peril."
April 12, 1919
Carlisle again asked me if I was ready to leave Chicago. He thinks it might be easier to learn to deal with my gift if I don't have the hubbub of a city pressing in on me. It's hard for me to consider leaving. It feels like if I do, it would sever the last tie to my humanity.
I went by my old house again. The crocuses my mother planted two springs ago are coming up, their delicate purple and yellow flowers pushing through the dusting of snow. Before I left, I freed the petals of the snow and cleared it away from the stems.
The house is still cold and empty. I entered through an unlocked second story window. The rooms echoed hollowly with my footsteps.
I need to stop torturing myself by going back there. What's past can never be recalled.
April 16, 1919
There is a girl living three houses down from us. Her name is Celeste, and her family is French. Her father works at the same hospital as Carlisle as a translator. From behind our lace curtains, I've been watching her walk to and from high school each day with several other girls. There is a group of them, but Celeste is the one that stands out. Most girls have taken to cutting their hair, a bob as they call it, but Celeste has kept her brown hair long and decorates it with a ribbon. Her skirts are longer and she dresses more modestly than most.
She likes her teachers at school, especially Miss Tomlin, her math teacher. She thinks she might like to become a teacher some day, but her parents look down on too much education for girls. Now that Henri, her youngest brother is older, her mother will look for a job and that means Celeste would have to quit school to take care of him. That makes her sad because she loves learning and has a quick and ready mind.
I feel a bit voyeuristic when I listen to her thoughts as she walks by our house. Sometimes it is hard to hear her with the chatter of the other girls running all together, but occasionally she passes alone. I feel like I know her already, though we've never met.
April 30, 1919
I've been reading Shakespeare this month. As part of my studies, Carlisle has me reading one of his plays every few days and then we discuss it. Last week it was King Lear and Much Ado About Nothing. This week it's Romeo and Juliet. It makes me wonder if we as vampires are capable of love. Carlisle says definitely so. He has seen vampires mate for centuries; that when a true pairing happens that there is no relationship more fulfilling. He never says so, but he envies those whom it has happened to. It's the only thing left to complete him. It's this loss that cuts him deepest-that he can't have a family.
I think that is one of the reasons he made me. I've seen a lot of men profess to love humanity, but when push comes to shove, they can barely stand being around people. Carlisle actually loves people; it comes as naturally to him as breathing. Carlisle needs people to love and I'm humbled that he chose me as one of them.
It's cloudy today so, while Carlisle is at work, I think I will do some yard work. Perhaps if I time it right, I will be there when Celeste goes by.
May 14, 1919
Carlisle had some time off so we took Carlisle's Model T down to Lowden State Park to see the statue there and spend some time camping. I caught my first cougar. There is something about the taste of predators, some richness and subtlety of favor, that really makes them my preferred meal.
I almost lost the cougar the first time I had him cornered. When I'm hunting, I have to stop thinking. Stop thinking because my old patterns, human patterns, get in the way. It's as if my vampire instincts know just what to do and if I stop interfering, everything goes much smoother.
I was finished first, and then I went to find Carlisle. He was just finishing and I think he was embarrassed to see me. Carlisle prefers being alone when feeding. I think he's afraid I'll think he's savage or something.
June 3, 1919
I've said "hello" to Celeste several times now. She was going home later today, but I heard her coming so managed to get outdoors and have a trowel in my hand by the time she came by.
"Hello," she said in return, without raising her eyes after I met her by the gate to the sidewalk.
"You're Celeste, right? I think your father works with my brother."
She raised her eyes to mine. They were blue like a June sky. "Your Doctor Cullen's brother?"
"Yes." I wondered how far to take the lie. "We lost our parents in a fire."
"Oh, that's so sad," she sighed. Her face dropped with melancholy, making me sorry I'd said that.
"Thank you," I acknowledged. I shuffled my feet, unsure of how to keep the conversation going. "So, um, you're late today."
"I stayed after to help my teacher," she explained, her eyes on her shoes. Thoughts of book sorting flipped through her mind, but then her breath caught in her throat and she looked up. "You noticed I was late."
If I could have blushed, I would have then. "Well, yes. You usually go by earlier."
She smiled and dropped her eyes. Her thoughts said she was pleased that I noticed and that gave me confidence.
"So what are you studying? " I asked, gesturing to the books in her hand.
"Algebra, biology, English," she ticked off.
I looked at the title of the book on top. "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer? They're teaching that in school?"
"No, that's a library book."
"You like to read?"
She hugged her books to her chest. "I love it."
"Me, too. Have you read any Charles Dickens?"
Her eyes widened. "I loved Bleak House."
"I thought Oliver Twist was his best."
"Well, I-" She looked down the block where her mother was peering out at the street from the stoop of her home. "I must go." She put her head down and started walking past me.
"Celeste," I called and she turned around. "Can I call on you sometime?"
"You'll have to ask my father," she said, smiling before turning back down the street. She'd walked a few more steps when she turned around again. "What's your name?" she called.
"Edward. Edward Cullen."
She glanced at me once over her shoulder before she entered the gate to her yard. She liked the way I looked as I raised my hand in farewell.
I waited impatiently for Carlisle to come home that evening. I met him at the door, and helped him take his jacket off. "I need to ask you a favor."
He smiled at me, and through his eyes I saw my own face, eager and animated, eyes shiny. "Of course," he answered. 'What can I do for you?"
"I want you to talk to Mr. Brousseau for me."
Carlisle sat down on the bench in the foyer and removed his rain boots. "Mr. Brousseau? The translator at the hospital? About what?"
"He has a daughter, Celeste. I'd like to call on her."
Carlisle got very still. I should have seen this coming. He's only seventeen.
"You don't think it's a good idea," I said, my face dropping.
"Are you ready to be out there among humans? I mean, make friends, get to know them, let them get to know you?"
"Yes," I answered. "Yes, I think I am. " I didn't want him to think I was whining, but the truth was when he was working, it was lonely. "When you're gone, the house seems empty. I'd like to get out, maybe meet some people."
He paused, looking up at me. Of course. I've been a fool. "I'm sorry, Edward. I should've known you were feeling isolated."
"How could you know it?" Carlisle takes too much on himself sometimes.
"I'd be happy to talk to Henri. Come," he said, standing up. "Let's make sure we've got your backstory right."
June 12, 1919
I was out walking the city last night. Tensions are simmering out there and I've told Carlisle as much. So many men had gone to fight overseas over the last few years, and many Negroes moved up from the South, lured by the promise of jobs. Now the men are back, and jobs and housing are scarce. Crowds of toughs hang out on the corners, and there is much disdain and suspicion of people for the color of their skin or their nationality.
If only they could hear what I hear, they'd know they're all much more alike than they are different.
June 19, 1919
Flowers-daisies and carnations. Carlisle suggested that I bring Mrs. Brousseau a bouquet. So I stood with a handful of flowers in my hand on their stoop, having come by at the anointed hour for lemonade. It was a good day to visit, cloudy and overcast and yet not raining. I wore a hat for good measure. Carlisle took me hunting last night, so I was feeling full and satiated.
It was a bit awkward to say the least. Mr. and Mrs. Brousseau, the grandparents, Celeste's two younger brothers and an older sister all joined me out on the porch. Celeste sat on the other side of the porch from me, keeping her eyes down. I had a chance to use some of my French, as her grandparents speak only French, but otherwise Mr. and Mrs. Brousseau and I did the talking, mostly about the backstory that Carlisle and I came up with and baseball. Mr. Brousseau is an avid fan. They're very nice people and I felt bad about lying to them, but Carlisle tells me that the fiction is much kinder than the truth.
We've made plans to go to a baseball game on the 25th. The White Sox are having a good year, and there's been some mumbling of a penant run.