Dedicated with love to my Fic Sis, Sunflower Fran. I couldn't have done any of this without your support, girl! xo
The Other Side of the Door
Tomorrow evening, at six o clock, I will take you for my husband and you will (brave man) take me for your wife.
In olden days, it was customary for the woman to give her future husband a gift before they married. My mother gave Charlie a tie, which he wore with his good suit, for their wedding, and years later, with the same good suit, to her funeral.
I didn't buy you a tie, Teddy. I made you a statue of your profile, but I already gave you that for your birthday. So, I decided the only thing I could give you that I think might have some worth, is my heart.
And my words.
I am giving you both in this letter.
I remember the night I told you about my accident; it was the first time I had done more than grunt or choke out a few short words in over six months. My voice was rusty and rough from disuse and I didn't think I was going to be able to tell you much of anything.
But then your fingers grazed mine, and a sense of calm, along with the strong scent of the canal, filled my senses and helped put me back together.
You've always been able to do that for me Teddy. Sustain me when I was at my weakest …
You are my anchor.
(Don't roll your eyes at me, mister. I know you feel the same way!)
Anyway, that night when I told you about laying there in the forest surrounded by the shoes of my best friends, and the music of Nat King Cole eerily coming from the speaker of the totaled car …That was difficult for me. Not because of the memory itself, although God knows it was painful to recall, but because it was tough for me to even remember the details.
I know I laid there for a long time, just looking at the stars; uncertain what was to become of me. All my friends were dead; I realized that as soon as I saw the remains of my Suburban wedged between the trees and the bloody glass. My phone was in the car and I didn't know if I even had the strength to see if I could locate it; not that I wanted to try to crawl over my best friends bodies to check anyway
I told you I never passed out, not even once, not even when my body was hurling down the ravine and into the woods after I was ejected from the car.
What I do know is the phone in Leah's purse began to ring and her purse was dangling from a branch just a few feet from where I lay.
It was her mother, Sue.
I remember holding the phone in my hands and shaking; I didn't know if I could bring myself to tell her what happened. I let the call go to her voice mail.
A few minutes later, it rang again; this time it was Charlie.
I told him what happened and then I think I just went nuts; I couldn't stop screaming. I screamed the whole time I waited for help to arrive. Charlie never once hung up; he stayed on the line the entire time; just talking quietly to me, trying, in his Charlie way, to soothe me.
He must have been dying inside; I could hear Sue screaming and crying; she knew something was horribly wrong, but he never stopped talking to me. I began to fall asleep at one point and he yelled at me to stay awake.
But I did fall asleep, Teddy.
I fell asleep for a long time.
And while I slept, I dreamt of a man.
A handsome, lonely man, who reached out his hand and beckoned me towards him. I remember there was a bridge, water, sand, and the smell of what I now know is, uniquely, Cape Cod.
When I awoke, there was a song playing on the radio. The nurse on duty must have loved the Golden Oldies because it was an old song that my mother used to play on her stereo; Please Come to Boston.
I remember waking up in Forks Memorial to Dave Loggins telling me to come to Boston.
Okay, you don't live in Boston, and I know that neither one of us is from Tennessee, but I swear that was the song that guided me to Boston
And with Tyler's help, to you.
After I returned home, my life was a nightmare of doctor appointments and visits to therapists. No one could explain why I lost my voice, although my medical team all agreed it was post-traumatic stress disorder. They hoped, with time, that I would recover. I remember my family doctor telling Charlie that a change of scenery and venue might be what I needed, and I heard my dad plead with Sue to let him take us all on a vacation. Of course, Sue refused to go anywhere besides the reservation or the burial grounds. And of course, I understood.
Sue and I were very close. She'd become a second mother to me after my own died. I barely remember a time that she wasn't a part of my life. Although I understood her anger towards me, since I blamed myself, too, I missed her comfort and love. I needed her then, but she couldn't be there for me. I knew why, but that didn't change the way I felt. I needed a mother's touch.
I needed your touch, although I didn't know that at the time.
Your touch is what healed me, Teddy.
The night that I heard Charlie and her fight about everything, was the night I lost my mind. I was on so many medications by then that I hardly know how I managed to pack my shit, let alone find my way to a bus terminal.
All I knew was that my poor father deserved a better life than the one he was forced to live because of me. I knew if I left it would be horrible for him, but I knew in my heart that he and Sue could finally move on if I were no longer in the picture.
Crazy, I know.
It wasn't as if Charlie would ever be able to move on without me; we were, for many years, all each other had. But I wasn't in my right mind, Teddy; I didn't even leave my father a note. I left without a damn trace—as if I never existed. I still can't believe I did that. If I live to be a hundred, I'll never forgive myself for putting Charlie through all that.
To this day, I have no idea how I got to the airport.
No memory whatsoever.
Charlie says that I had Leah's driver's license and I paid in cash. I know I had money saved for years in a small trust, and that I somehow accessed it to pay for my tickets, rooms, and later the apartment. I don't know how I did that, either.
And, weirdly enough neither does Charlie. And he's a cop, Teddy; a good one.
What I do know is that once I arrived in Boston I was able to find a room. I'd taken a sign language class in college, and it was something I excelled in, so I was able to communicate easily. Boston is pretty advanced when it comes to training their professionals in that form of communication. I also hand wrote as many things as I could when it came time for me to book a room and do other stuff.
I stayed in Boston for a week trying to figure out what to do. I have no memory of sleeping or eating, although I am sure I must have done both.
The air-conditioning in the room failed on my eighth day in Boston.
It was hot, and desperate for air, I was able to open a window. But the window wouldn't stay open without something to prop it up. I rooted around in a drawer and found two things; a copy of the Saint James Bible, and Yankee Magazine. I used the Bible to keep the window propped and prayed that Jesus wouldn't be too mad at me. Then I plopped down on the bed and opened the magazine. There was a huge section dedicated to Cape Cod that caught my interest. I'd always wanted to go there.
My fingers kept looking for and finding an advertisement in the apartment seeker. It was a one bedroom, fully furnished apartment in historic Seaconch, overlooking the canal.
It said to inquire at The Swan Dive.
As soon as I saw the name; I knew that was where I was meant to be.
I went downstairs to the front desk and tried to speak to the man on duty to see if he could help me place a call. But I could get no sound to come. He asked a maid named Marie to help me. I wrote down what I wanted Marie to say. She placed the call and I was able to secure the room by agreeing to send Mrs. C the first month and the security deposit. At first, she didn't want to agree; she asked to speak to me. As soon as I heard her voice I began to calm. I think somehow she knew that this needed to happen, for us to be … Well … Us.
As you know now, my middle name is Marie. However, I never told you why it was that Mrs. C thought that was my name. It's just one of those interesting little factoids that I hope we'll never get tired of discovering about each other.
The afternoon I arrived at The Swan Dive was one of the scariest and most unsettling moments of my life. I still didn't know what I was doing on the Cape; I only knew that there was a driving force and an overwhelming need to be in this particular place that I knew nothing about. Well, save for a few memories of reading about the Pilgrims in history class or stories from Charlie, who had explored areas close by when he was in the Navy.
I arrived in Buzzard's Bay in the early morning hours. I wanted to take a ferry but there wasn't any service able to get me to the beginning of the Cape; only to Provincetown, which I knew was too far from Seaconch. Renting a car wasn't an option for me; I didn't want to flash my ID, and I knew I wasn't able to drive, anyway.
So I took the train; The Cape Cod Flyer, to Buzzard's Bay.
It was amazing.
As soon as I saw the canal and the cage of the Bourne Bridge looming on the horizon, I knew I made the right decision.
Everything felt new and exciting yet familiar and right.
I didn't feel the loneliness and sorrow until twilight set in.
I heard you earlier that afternoon. You'd come into the kitchen looking for something; maybe, coconut milk? You were muttering and mumbling under the vent.
I remember my nipples pebbled at the sound of your voice.
You have such a deep and unique voice. It's one of those little things that I love about you; the richness and timber of your voice.
Although your accent still makes me laugh, Chowda Head.
But that night, after you cleaned up the bar and walked out to get those 'Damn cherries,' I felt so alone. I remember stealing out to the balcony to watch the moon rise above the canal. The foghorn from a passing ferry blew, and I found myself giving in to the sadness that had become my constant companion.
I started to cry … A tear for every friend and every stolen possibility.
I cried for them all.
I cried for my mother.
I cried for Charlie.
And then you called out, asking me if I was alright.
My heart stopped.
I ran back inside the apartment so fast. But when I got to the door, I paused, just for a second.
And that's when I saw you for the first time.
You were standing in the street with your hand over your eyes, straining to see who I was. I couldn't make out your features, but I could see that you were tall and lanky.
I imagined you were handsome.
It turned out I was right.
You had on that Aerosmith T- shirt; the one that belonged to your father. I didn't know it then, but I recognized it when you wore it later that summer.
I'm still sorry that I tore that shirt off you; it was a classic.
But then again, so was that afternoon in your closet.
Still, I think you liked that I used my teeth to tear it off your body. Maybe someday I'll use the scraps to make a quilt for us to snuggle into when we're in our dotage. You can help me make it. I know you still have the purple cotton panties that I wore the first night we made love; I've spotted them a time or two when I put your own underwear in the dresser.
But that night, the first time I saw you? Well, I remember thinking that this was one of those weird, random moments in time that would be etched in my memory.
Later, after you came upstairs and into your own apartment, I could hear you.
You were fumbling around in the kitchen. You kept stopping at my door. I could feel you standing there; I was standing there, too, on the other side. I could hear you breathing; indecisively running your fingers over the door.
I could smell you.
You smelled like the night air and aftershave.
I now know its Polo by Ralph Lauren.
It wasn't your favorite cologne, but Alice had given it to you for your birthday. She said the bottle matched your 'moon green eyes.'
I love that you still wear it because she picked it out for you all by herself, and also because you know how much I love it. For me, it will always be the scent of that particular summer, all mossy and green and achingly familiar.
The next morning I could hear you asking Mrs. Cope about me. I heard her call you 'Teddy.'
Only I didn't know that then.
And a few nights later, when your pinky held mine as we stroked Jenks in the opening of our door, I knew I had finally come home.
You asked me once when I knew the moment I fell in love with you.
It was then,
The second your fingers found mine.
You've spoken about the spark of energy that flows between us on many occasions. I feel it too; I felt it that night and every night since. For me, the spark begins in my fingers and flows throughout my entire being; even my toes are known to curl from just a simple stroke of your hand against my cheek.
But the night you made love to me for the first time; well, that night the spark started somewhere in my center, below my heart but above my knees, and set my skin on fire.
The feeling of your hands on my body drove me crazy that night.
They still do.
And that tongue … The feeling of it as it explored me so intimately.
It's funny, the little things I remember from that night.
I know you were very concerned about being gentle with me. I remember you murmuring 'Slow down, slow down …' At first I thought you were talking to me, but when I glanced at your face, I realized you were reminding yourself, and it made me love you all the more.
I remember how you let me touch you and the way your skin looked in the moonlight; pale, sinewy, and strong.
I remember how you laughed when I touched you there for the first time. I unzipped your jeans and it popped its head out of your boxers like it was saying hello to me. And when I told you that, you laughed this sort of girlie laugh that made me giggle.
I was so nervous.
And you were nervous too, which surprised me, until you reminded me that it had been years since you'd been with a woman and how much you wanted to make it perfect.
And you did.
I remember how shocked I was when I realized I was going to come; I didn't think it could happen to a woman her first time, but it did. But as good as that was, and believe me, it was so good, it was even better when I saw the look on your face when you realized what was happening.
I remember the way your hair blazed like a maple leaf, and how your mouth parted and the sounds you made when you finally allowed yourself to let go.
I remember afterwards how you shivered in my arms for minutes, and the feeling that it gave me … Protected and cared for all at the same time.
I'm blushing now just so you know. And part of it is due to the fact that I'm writing about all of this and it makes me somewhat shy. But mostly it's because I remember your face as you threw back your head and came; and the salty air,the smell of the canal, the boom of the fireworks in the night sky … Well, it's making me hot all over.
If it weren't considered bad luck to see the bride before the ceremony, I would be bursting through your bedroom door right this moment to have my wicked way match your wicked mouth.
I'm burning for you now, Teddy.
But since I'm spending the night with Angela at Marsh House and you're staying with Charlie and Loraine … So … Yeah. But I swear it's killing me, and Angela would be more than game to drive me over to the bar.
I'm back now.
As you know, Angela was indeed more than game. I can't believe she tracked down Reverend Ben and had him pray for me while I crawled up to the balcony to your old bedroom window. Thank God, Charlie sleeps like a log and at least Loraine was smart enough to pretend to be asleep. I know she must have heard me when I fell into your arms because you snorted really loud and laughed like a damn hyena.
But then so did I.
You told me that you couldn't make love to me; that it would be bad luck.
But that damn mouth of yours just wouldn't listen.
The warm slippery stroke of your tongue as it explored me just hours before I become your wife will be a memory I'll hold onto when I'm old and left alone with only my thoughts.
I'm thinking about it now; imagining that you're here in our bed.
I'm on fire again.
Need you, so much.
But I know you need your sleep and so do I, so I'm content to lie here in our bed with Jenks and Myrtle, back to back and cat to cat. I feel the rise and fall of their chests as they slumber, and although the sound offers me comfort, it isn't the same as listening to your steady breathing and gentle snores.
Okay, I'm being poetical; you snore like a damn freight train. But that's okay; I laid in stillness for so many months following my wreck that I don't mind the sound of your snuffles.
(Although we really should have your sinuses looked at someday. Maybe your Uncle C can recommend a good ENT in Boston.)
My mind continues to wander as I wait out the hours until our lives together officially begin. I can't seem to make it settle, so I just got up and threw a small piece of pottery. It isn't anything special, just a large, plain vase. But I think the sunflowers you planted in the little garden in back of the bar will look so pretty inside of it.
Do you remember that time you fell asleep early; I went out back to throw a piece of pottery because I was feeling restless that night, too.
I was sitting there at the wheel, absently playing with the clay, when you showed up all cuddly and slightly perturbed because I wasn't wrapped up in your arms anymore.
That was the night we decided to reenact that scene from the movie, Ghost.
It started out so sexy ….
You even convinced me to take off everything but my tank top. My ass was freezing on that metal chair, but you kept rubbing my thighs and cheeks until I was hot and sweaty.
We didn't have any music out there so you started singing 'Unchained Melody' in my ear …
I never in my life met anyone who can screw up song lyrics the way you can, that's for sure.
I just remember how silly, sweet, and romantic the whole thing was …
You, me, the clay …
Your piss poor imitation of 'The Righteous Brothers'.
We were laughing our asses off at the way the clay kept dropping, just the way it did in the movie. You said, 'Oh my God … we're just like Patrick Swayze and Julia Roberts. Look at us!' I remember looking at you as if you had two heads … I mean … How in the hell does anyone in the world not know that Ghost starred Demi Moore?
And when I told you so you said, 'The only leading lady I know is the one who sitting between my legs right now.'
You were so corny, but you really made me laugh!
And we both giggled like a couple of loons …
Teasing, playing, and touching …
But then you got that crap in my hair.
God, I was such a mess!
You kept laughing at me and rubbing it in more and more. I was giggling too … Right up until that moment when you got it in my eyes.
I got so mad at you!
I think that was our first spat.
I remember hitting you on the side of your head with a piece of clay as I rushed past you, with pieces if clay dropping off me like horse shit.
You sat there, with your mouth hanging open, looking like your brain couldn't catch up with the fact that I was no longer laughing, but crying; that shit stung my eyes so bad.
I dashed upstairs and marched into the bathroom so I could wash it out of my eyes and hair.
I didn't even hear you come in.
However, I felt you …
Felt your arms as they wrapped themselves around my back and caressed my breasts so gently. I remember grinning secretly, loving the way you'd come to make up to me …
In the shower.
Such a guy.
But when I turned round and saw the worried look on your face, and your expression, so open and vulnerable, I knew I scared you.
You thought I'd run from you.
That look, the look that I put there on your face … It made me cry. I never want you to think that I'd ever leave you, Edward. You're everything to me.
I remember how you buried your face in my neck and told me you were sorry. I stroked your head and murmured the same. And then you washed all the clay off me, kissing each part that you cleansed.
You were so gentle.
I think I fell in love with you a little more that night.
Your soft touch and vulnerability made me come undone. I've never felt more loved in that quiet moment and I let you know it as soon as you turned the water off.
That was the night that I knew I would love you forever.
I knew then that I wanted to marry you. And, a few weeks later, you asked me to do exactly that.
Some women expect romantic settings amid a starry night when a man proposes. These women crave the intimacy of the night sky that serves as a dramatic background for what will be one of the biggest moments in their lives.
You gave that to me Teddy.
Of course, in typical Edward fashion it included a tremendously long, loud burp; the kind that serves as a reminder that you ate hot-dogs for dinner last Thursday night.
But while you were embarrassed and extremely disappointed that your proposal was ruined by your body's natural response to the beer you just swigged, I was delighted.
I love that our relationship is sprinkled with humor, lightness, and laughter. It is such a stark contrast to the events that led us to each other.
Well, I have to try to get some sleep now since it is way after midnight. I don't want to look like I've got a set of luggage under my eyes in our wedding photos.
But before I do, I want to tell you what I love about you.
I love that you love my dad; aside from you, Charlie is the most important person in my life. And I wanted him to like you … But I never expected that he would fall in love with you and you with him. I know that Charlie sees you as his son, not his son-in-law or the guy that his daughter fell in love with … That he has to tolerate at Christmas. It's one of the best things about us, having a father whom we both love.
I love that you finally came around and warmed up to Loraine. I know that wasn't easy for you. I like the way you are so comfortable with her and JT and that when we're together, we're truly a family.
I love that your aunt and uncle love and admire you and that you feel the same way about them.
I love the way you adore Alice. I've never seen anyone treat a child with special needs with such honest and true love that had nothing whatsoever to do with their disability and all about who they are as a person. Watching you with her makes me want to have babies with you; I know you're going to be a wonderful father someday.
(But not now) …
I can wait a few more years.
You are going to be thirty-years-old tomorrow, so your clock is ticking away, just saying …)
I love the easy way you have with Emmett and his family. The way Jasper makes you laugh and the look of gratefulness that Rose gives you every time you make him laugh back. And the way you looked when you held their baby for the first time; how you cuddled him against your chest and stroked his soft hair.
I love the banter you have with Angie and the way you make her giggle at herself and all her little dramas.
I love the way you look at Jessica and Mike and smirk when she makes a vain remark, and, especially at the way your eyes soften when she tickles her son.
I love that you accepted Tripp into your life. I know he can never replace Tyler, and according to you, aside from his eyes and his laugh, he is nothing like him, but you like him all the same. You didn't have to let him in, but you did, and it made him so happy.
I love the way you chase and romp around the beach with Hienzie at your heels and the way he looks at you adoringly when you reach into your pocket and pull out a piece of bacon that you tucked away just for him.
I love that even though you're not a cat lover, you now have two. And when I suggested that maybe your stuffy nose was because you were allergic to them, you just shrugged and told me that was what Benedryl and shots were for.
I love the way you chase Mrs. Cope around the kitchen wearing one of her big aprons and the way you make her laugh like a school girl when you pick her up like a child.
I love the way you take Harold by the arm and walk him carefully behind the bar so he can make his own High Ball just the way he likes.
I love the way you looked in that blue suit as you walked beside me at your buddy Pete's wedding. And the glance you gave me when he took Charlotte's hand and put the ring on her finger. I loved the way you whispered, 'We're next,' in my ear.
I love that you introduced Uncle Paul to Ashby, whom you met at the bar last summer when she ordered an Alligator Piss. I love how you were the only one who supported them at first because of the sixteen-year age difference. I love that you didn't say 'I told you so' when they finally came around, just as you knew they would.
I love that you went back home with Charlie and me to sell the house and get all our things. I love that you told me that you didn't care if I never uttered a single word to you the entire time we were in Forks. Because you knew my voice would be waiting for you when we got back to Cape Cod.
And I love the way you didn't make a big deal out of it when we ran into Sue at the Safe Way and it was all kinds of awkward.
I love that you told Seth he was welcome to visit us in Cape Cod anytime he wanted.
I love the way you held my hand when we made the drive to the site of the accident. And the way you held me after I left a small sculpture of my friends at the very spot where I lost them all.
I love that you made love to me in my tiny bed in my childhood home and the way your feet tangled with mine under the blue flowered sheets that Renee bought me when I was seven-years-old.
I love the way you climbed the tree outside my window after Charlie made the remark that he was eternally grateful that I'd never had a boy sneak in … That he was aware of. He confessed that the tree was a constant concern for him all during my teenage years.
And I love the way Charlie pulled the twigs out from behind your hair at the breakfast table the next morning and the story you told to cover yourself and the way his mustache twitched in disbelief.
I love that you want a big family like I do; not because of all the people we've known and lost, but because we want to fill our home with laughter and joy.
Teddy, some day I might turn into someone who only reminds you of the things that I don't love about you. Such as the way you leave your socks crumbled at the foot of the bed, or the way you never remove your boxers from your jeans when you throw them down to be washed.
So if I ever become that girl … Then save this letter from me and re-read all about the many things I do love about you, okay?
Because I never want you to forget the way I fell in love with you that long ago summer
Over a bar cat
A box of Ring Dings
A bag of plums
And a crack in the door.
AN:Yesterday was the two year anniversary of the day I first published ACITD. I can't believe two years have passed since I submitted the first chapter! I probably shouldn't admit that when I began this story on FF that I had nothing BUT the first chapter. Lol! But Fran discovered it and contacted me after a few weeks and offered to serve as my beta and that's when I realized that I had better see if there was more to this story than a five thousand or so intro. As you can see; there was!
I hope you have enjoyed this little story. I was amazed that it actually won the Twifanfiction Recs contest for best story in the month of October, so a BIG thanks to all who voted!
Check out the gorgeous video that Trina made for A Crack in the Door. It moved me to tears!
I do have a new story planned to debut this winter.
The first time he hit me
The second time he hit me
I hit him back
The third time he hit me
I killed him
Follow Professor Swan as she flees her quiet, elite academic life and goes on the lam. But when her car breaks down in a small North Carolina town, will the love of a simple man and the friendship from a couple of bat-shit crazy waitresses be enough to save her?
"We ain't Flo and Alice, sugar, but we're all you got."
Welcome to What-A-Burger #9
Thank you for taking the time to read and review!