na·iv·e·te (nī-ēv'ə-tā): Lacking worldly experience and understanding; simple and guileless.
"[Carlisle] thinks that [while I was human] I must have already been very sensitive to the thoughts of those around me." Edward, Twilight
Later that year Edward was scheduled to start kindergarten. Although the instances when Edward exhibited his sixth sense didn't seem to come often, we attributed it to the fact he was mostly sheltered from dealing with groups of people on a daily basis. School was going to be a very different experience and I worried about him being in constant contact with so many people. However, we were excited to see if being around other people would help satisfy his emptiness.
And so he started private kindergarten in the September following his 5th birthday. His schooling started well. School work wasn't usually a problem and he interacted well socially with the other students. Then after he had been in the classroom for about a month I saw him jump up during free play time and run to the corner with his face to the wall, pulling his ears with his eyes screwed shut. The teacher spent some time coaxing him back to the class while I whispered soothing words in his ear. This repeated two or three times until about half way through the school year his teacher reported the strange behavior to Elizabeth.
"Now Elizabeth," the teacher tried to soothe her, "this has only happened a few times so far this year, but it is unusual enough that I thought I'd bring it up. Here in kindergarten we're able to deal with it easily, but if this continues as he gets older, it could be a concern."
Elizabeth's forehead puckered as she considered the nebulous puzzle she wasn't sure she could even name, "Have you noticed that he plays with his ears when this happens?"
The teacher looked a little surprised, "Well, I'm not sure if I've noticed that, but strangely enough, when it happened today he did mention that it was too loud even though we were sitting quietly and reading a story."
Elizabeth looked worriedly out the window at Edward as he ran in circles with some of the other children in the schoolyard. "Thank you for mentioning this to me. I'll see if I can work on that with him."
That afternoon Elizabeth talked to Edward about what was happening, but he was so young he wasn't able to communicate to her why he was so unsettled at times during school. She told him that he needed to listen to his teachers and not leave if they were having an activity. She also told him he was not to sit in the corner unless told to do so.
"Edward, you do not want people to think you're a bad boy, do you?" she asked with him.
He looked at her with soulful, innocent eyes that looked like they might tear up, "No, of course not, mommy."
"Then please, no more corner, okay? That's where the bad boys sit." She embraced him and kissed him on the forehead.
"Okay mommy," he reached around her neck, kissed her cheek, and looked into her eyes through his long lashes. "Can I get down now?"
Elizabeth laughed, "Of course, dear."
As soon as she put him down he ran across the room to his recorder and started blowing into it to create the notes Elizabeth had taught him for the alphabet song.
"Mommy, can you teach me a new song?"
"Would you like to learn about a cow that jumped over the moon?" She walked over to the music stand and picked up her own recorder and started a lesson.
He finished kindergarten and most of his first grade year without incident. He still occasionally isolated himself from the class, but I tried to distract the teacher while Nettie soothed him into joining the rest of the class.
From time to time he had a hard time completing school work as he would sometimes stop and stare at someone sitting near him as if he were listening to something. More than once Edward's first grade teacher caught him unaware and unable to answer her questions.
Elizabeth worked extra hard with him at home, going over the work from the day and making sure he didn't get behind. Even though he seemed distracted in class, his mother, as well as his insatiable curiosity insured that his knowledge was far beyond most of the other kids in his class.
Unexpectedly, towards the end of the school year Edward found a new way to help quell his loneliness.
"Mommy, would you read a book to Ibby?" he called as he pulled out his favorite storybook from the shelf.
She came into the room and looked around the room as he sat on the living room sofa, "Edward, who is Ibby?"
"Ibby is my new friend. She wants to read with me." He was opening the book looking for the beginning of the story.
"Is this a new friend from school who is coming over to play?" She was clearly confused.
"No, mommy, she is right here." Edward pointed to the empty spot next to himself.
Elizabeth blinked. Once. Twice. Thrice.
Nettie looked at me, "There's no one there, right?"
I looked around the room one last time, just in case. "No, I don't see anyone."
"Edward," Elizabeth continued, "I don't see anyone there with you."
Edward looked up at her and smiled, "She's right here, mommy. She has brown hair and pretty brown eyes. Can't you see her?"
Nettie gasped noticeably. "I think he's unconsciously missing Isabella so much he's pretending she's here with him!"
"No, darling, I don't see her," Elizabeth squinted at him, pondering this strange new development.
Nettie looked over at me, clearly mentally scrambling for a solution. "We can pass this off as Edward having an imaginary friend. You know the neighbor, Martha, has a daughter named Margaret who is studying psychology and has an interest in this phenomenon. Maybe we can have her talk to Elizabeth to let her know that having an imaginary friend is normal.
"That's a good idea. For now let's just soothe Elizabeth so she's not bothered by this little incident."
I found myself whispering in Elizabeth's ear that Edward's wonderfully active imagination was at play and that it was nothing to worry about. She smiled at Edward and sat down to read.
Ibby came back to "visit" on occasion for the next couple of years. After Elizabeth met with Margaret she indulged him and accepted his new friend. But after a while, Edward stopped telling his mom about her "visits" and he usually only talked to her when he was alone in his room. Ed was teaching little Edward to play chess and sometimes Edward played chess with Ibby, but usually he talked to her while reading books.
One evening before bed while Edward was in third grade, Nettie had gone out to check up on Carlisle's progress. Edward was lying on his bed reading his favorite book, Peter Pan. He didn't look towards an empty spot any more when talking to Ibby; he just spoke to her like he was sure she was listening to him.
"If I was Peter Pan and you were Wendy, I'd want to bring you to Neverland too."
Edward's music lessons turned from the recorder to the piano when he was six. Elizabeth was a natural teacher and he picked it up easily and enjoyed practicing.
Between Edward and Elizabeth music seemed to be constantly coming from their piano. It didn't take long before he outstripped Elizabeth's abilities and they looked elsewhere for a teacher.
When he was eight he started piano lessons from a neighbor named Daniel who played part time with the newly named Theodore Thomas Orchestra, previously the Chicago Orchestra. It was Edward's first formal lessons outside of the home and Daniel was amazed at how far Edward had come at such an early age.
As Edward aged, Ibby visited with less frequency, and by the time he was in fourth grade we thought his imaginary friend was forgotten as children have naught to do, but that year his loneliness manifested itself in a different way.
"Mother, I want a sister."
Elizabeth flushed. She and Ed had discussed this at length. She ached for a child, but try as they may, it was not happening. "Well, Edward. That would be nice, wouldn't it?" She smiled, but it didn't reach her eyes as she looked down at her sewing project.
"Yes. I'm lonely. I need a sister to play with." He stated simply.
"But I thought we had lots of fun together, son?" Her eyes appeared a little misty.
"Yes, but I think I have a sister who wants to come and play with me," he persisted as he continued his activity.
At that, Nettie, who had been sitting on the windowsill looking at the neighborhood, stood up and looked at me with her mouth slightly open.
"Well, Edward. Nothing would please me more than for you to have a sister, but for now I think we just need to be happy together." She walked over to him and kissed him on top of the head.
"But mother, she is so pretty. She has dark hair like father and I really want her to come so she can play games with me."
I blinked and looked at Nettie.
"The longing is intense for someone so young. Edward's stubbornness in completing the soul exchange will be his downfall!" Nettie stammered.
"Well, we knew it would make this more difficult, but it doesn't yet seem unmanageable. It's possible that this is simply a childhood manifistation that will be lost over the years, but it's a telling part of his personality and how in touch he is with himself that he's already able to name his feelings."
Even at a young age, his ability to control his extra-insight was impressive. His first childhood tendency to run when he was overwhelmed softened to ticks he was simply unaware of. Occasionally at school I would notice him giving particularly pointed glances at someone while he subconsciously pulled on his own ears, ran his hand through his hair or pinched the bridge of his nose, but he didn't jump up and run away like he did that first year in school.
For good or for ill, other ways his gift manifested itself included a knack at picking out those he thought would suit his current interests.
While at home Edward was very attentive to Elizabeth and seemed to always start tasks that Elizabeth wanted before she had even asked. Sometimes he got the vegetables out for dinner or got his laundry together in the morning before he left for school. She didn't recognize this for what it was, but it made them grow even closer.
During Edward's fifth grade year a situation slowly arose at church that put Nettie and I on edge. Father Cole had been at the new parish near the Masen's home for a couple of years and the church goers had become comfortable with his liturgies.
About a year after their new church building was completed the hellfire and damnation aspect of his services started to lean more and more towards the extreme. He preached of demons sent by the devil to tempt those who were weak. The punishment for being beguiled with their charms would be eternity in Hell. He preached of the body being defiled and unworthy of salvation. He preached of soulless demons who would never reach heaven.
One Sunday afternoon about seven months after the radical change in the priest, the sermon was particularly daunting, and Edward broached the subject on the ride home.
"Father, how do you think a soulless demon picks a person to condemn to Hell?"
Ed sighed and glanced over at Edward who was staring back at him as if he had been pondering the subject for some time. "Well, son, I think that a demon like that can see the blackness inside someone's soul and preys upon their weakness."
"But why do you think they want to take people with them?"
"Probably because they're lonely. They are evil, cold, and think only of themselves."
Edward turned and looked at the houses they were passing. "So Lizzie, what are we having for dinner this evening?" Ed seemed happy to close the subject but it was obvious to me that Edward was far from finished pondering this subject.
As they chatted, I decided it was time to look into the meaning behind the change in the pastor. It was obviously starting to have an effect on Edward and we did not need these disturbing thoughts permanently sealed in his head for him to ruminate on until Isabella came around. It would only make it harder for him to accept the future change.
"Nettie, I think something has happened to Fr. Cole. It might be significant and it seems to be affecting Edward."
"I was thinking the same thing. Perhaps Fr. Cole has had a brush with something he deems as a sign from the devil?"
That day Nettie's research took a slight detour. She started hanging around the rectory for clues. She reported that often late at night Fr. Cole would pull out a box from under his bed and read and re-read a small bundle of letters. From their content, it appeared he had a bit of a tryst going on with a sister at a nearby convent. The sister had disappeared not long before the aberrant preaching started. The convent sisters reported that she had met a strange man one night when she was attending to the poor. The man came to the convent asking for her and the next morning she was just gone. She had left a note indicating that she could no longer live the life of a nun and never returned.
At first Nettie couldn't figure out how this translated into preaching about demon spirits. Until one night she spotted a newborn female vampire creeping around the rectory with her mate.
"I don't know why you keep coming back here. Your old life is over." The mate whispered with vampiric speed.
"We were in love and he is in such pain. I think he's finally getting over it, but I can't stand to think of him suffering because of me."
"You really shouldn't be seen around here. The last time he saw us both! I don't want to have to physically drag you away again."
"I know, but I just want to see him one more time before I move on."
Her red eyes glinted in the soft light reflected from the windows as she slipped closer to the pane of glass looking into Fr. Cole's office.
Just then Fr. Cole looked up and saw her in the window. He gasped and stood up so quickly he knocked over the chair he had been sitting in. He ran for the door, but by the time he got there the vampires were long gone.
"So I can only guess Cole saw them and has made his own assumptions about her appearance and new companion. I believe he thinks God had punished her for her sins and he is trying to denounce his behavior and save his soul," Nettie reported back to me that night.
"I suppose. I hope he gets over it enough to stop filling Edward's head full of those stories. He is at a very impressionable age."
"Maybe we can get Fr. Cole to tone down his preaching a bit."
Unfortunately, even though we continued to try to soften Fr. Cole's heart, there was little change to his services. Nettie and I decided we would have to do damage control later after we determined if there were any long term repercussions.
Not long after, Nettie came rushing back after an evening of field research.
"Carlisle met his mate!" She clapped her hands together in excitement.
"What? Isn't it a bit early?" We had an idea of what the timeline was to be and Carlisle was supposed to be alone when he met up with Edward.
"Well, yes. She is still a human, and a human teenager at that but their paths have crossed. I saw him set her leg after she broke it from falling out of a tree."
"Did he recognize her at all?"
"Not consciously. He is very good at hiding his emotions, but his aura started vibrating and he had that look about him that meant there was more going on inside of his head than he was letting on."
"So tell me about her." I hadn't had time to meet Edward's future family before we left for our assignment, but I knew that Nettie had more experience with them as she was doing the field research.
"She has a beautiful soul. She is warm and caring. Edward is so close to Elizabeth, it will be hard for him to lose her, but Esme will make an excellent surrogate mother for Edward. "
There were several boys in the neighborhood that Edward would play with after school. They would play ball at the corner lot or play cowboys and Indians. They were often out until dark.
Edward was a natural but subtle leader and all of his friends loved him. His discernment made him particularly choosey when it came to the boys he let into his little group, but as he got closer to puberty he began to get more curious about people and how he was able to read them. He started experimenting. We were a bit shocked when at the age of 12 he had brought a new boy into their group who seemed like he might turn into a little hoodlum.
"Come on, Edward. You know you want that magazine they have at Abbott's and that old man won't sell it to us."
"I don't know, Tom. It just doesn't feel right." Edward was hedging, but his curiosity was getting the better of him.
"All you have to do is be the lookout," Tom continued. "Harry and I will do all of the dirty work." They subtly pushed him across the street towards the store.
Nettie was back at home as it was my turn to keep watch over Edward. I came up close to him and whispered to him not to do it. He paused, but after a moment he got a rebellious glint in his eye and agreed, "Okay. I'll do it." It was the first time he willfully disobeyed and, although I worried about the consequences, I was curious to see how far he would go.
They entered the store together, but Edward walked towards the owner and started asking him about the penny candy as Tom and Harry took a meandering course towards the magazines.
The store owner tried to keep a watchful eye on them, but Edward was persistent at changing his train of thought, "Now Mr. Smith, what is this one? I don't remember seeing it the last time I was here."
"Well, son, I'm sure you'll love this new sticky marshmallow candy. It's new from New York." He said as he looked over Edward's shoulder.
Edward also looked over his shoulder. As he pulled out coins from his pocket to buy three candies he turned and looked into Mr. Smith's eyes and smiled brightly as he handed the coins over and continued the conversation. I was starting to know that look. He was getting good at intentionally charming people. Mr. Smith smiled back with a soft look in his eyes.
Mr. Smith only broke eye contact when the boys came to join them, "Did you find anything else, boys?" Mr. Smith inquired.
"No sir," Tom answered innocently.
They all took their candy and walked out the door.
The boys were able to contain themselves until they got around the corner where they erupted into giggles that would make even small girls blush. Then they broke into a run and went straight for the tree house in Harry's yard. They scurried up the ladder and huddled around the erotic magazine.
By that time I had had enough. I went into the house to find Harry's mother. She was tending to dinner, but I encouraged her to go check on the boys and break them up.
"Harry, come down right now and help me with dinner!" she insisted.
"Ah, mom... do I have to?" He lamented.
"Yes you do and I suspect your friends will need to be going home soon for dinner as well, so come along."
The boys hid the magazine in a box and exited the way they had entered.
"See you guys tomorrow at school," Harry waved as they boys left the yard and he headed towards the house where his mother had the door open waiting for him.
I then went to Elizabeth and had her come to the front door, "Edward!" she yelled from the front porch.
"Ah, man! I guess I'll see you at school tomorrow." Tom punched Edward in the arm as he started to cross the street towards his house. "That was fun, we'll have to try that again."
Edward grinned, but it didn't reach his eyes, "Yeah, we'll see."
When Edward slept, the puzzle of how Isabella had to be formed to survive meeting Edward constantly filled my mind. Now that we were watching for it, Edward's discernment was obvious. It would turn into a very powerful vampiric gift and we had to give something even more powerful to Isabella to block it.
A gift such as Edward's was purely a mental gift. It did not influence anything physical so all we needed to do was to have her block mental gifts.
After Nettie consulted with some experts on the subject, we had ruled out trying to give her a gift that would block only his gift. Its implementation could be hit and miss and since we wanted this to be fool-proof, we decided to broaden her gift. We settled on a mental shield. What we had planned was more powerful than any other gift anyone had seen, but we were reaching in an attempt to ensure our goal would be met as too much was at stake.
We also discussed our idea of having her ignore her natural sense of self-preservation. It would probably make her seem a bit clumsy because she wouldn't pay attention to natural warning signs that others took seriously. Nettie brought up a good point that it could work to our advantage – the clumsiness might bring out Edward's protective nature, thus drawing him closer to Isabella like a moth to a flame.
Nettie left to visit Isabella and Eavan to start the process of giving Isabella a mental shield. While she was gone I followed Edward everywhere. He was progressing nicely in school and was soon to enter his teen years ahead of his peers in his studies. He had resisted pulling off any stunts that rivaled the magazine incident.
Nettie reported back to me that Eavan and Isabella were anxiously preparing her gift and by the time Nettie had left, the procedure had begun smoothly. The lack of self-preservation shouldn't be as difficult to pull off and they had decided to wait until the shield was in place before starting anything else.
Nettie continued her field trips and finally found another piece of the puzzle. She shared the visit with her perfect recall: She found them north of Milwaukee in a little town surrounded by wilderness called New Prospect. A very special guardian was with a vampire who had taken up residence in an abandoned farm house turned hunting lodge. The guardian had been able to get the vampire to stay there for 10 years. He avoided attention from the neighbors by never burning a fire or lighting the house at night and by making sure he traveled far to feed.
The guardian had gotten the vampire to settle down, but unfortunately he still didn't long for companionship and his diet remained the same.
Nettie approached the guardian one afternoon as the sun was starting to fall towards the horizon. She bowed her head as she approached. "Elias, I am so glad I found you. I had heard you were near and I'm hoping I can learn from you as I believe your experience can help me in my current assignment. My name is Nettie."
"Nettie, it is so nice to meet you. I trust it wasn't too hard to find me?" he greeted pleasantly.
"Not at all, we have only recently arrived with our assignment who is still a child. My companion is on watch while I'm away which frees me for further study."
"Well, you do have your hands full with that assignment and I'm sure a partner is helpful. You're hoping to learn how I tame vampires." It was more of a statement than a question.
"Yes, I am surprised you're so knowledgeable about my assignment. I'm honored."
"Well, I do like to keep track of the goings on in my field."
"But of course. Before I arrived I studied your work extensively. I am especially interested in your approach in refining Special Cases. There might come a time when our charge's vampiric need will overcome his sensibilities."
"Might, indeed. I have seen his soul on the other side while I studied those destined to be Special Cases. It is very willful. You will most definitely need to direct his behavior at some point." He nodded knowingly.
Nettie continued, "Your psychological assessments of the needs of humans and your comparison of those needs before and after the change are most insightful. Your techniques using those basic needs to motivate the... um... taming..." she stuttered over the word as it was not used often in this manner, "seem like they would be very helpful."
He immediately started into a discussion of his research, "But of course. There are five levels of needs everyone desires to satiate. You must find the motivation behind these needs to help them progress through them appropriately. Once one reaches the final step they find internal peace.
"In a basic human their first instinct is to satisfy their physical needs such as food, water and sleep. Once physiological needs are met, the second instinct is to secure safety and order in their world... safety of person, income and the like. If a person's belly is full and they are safe they yearn for the third instinct which is love and intimacy and finding a connection with others. After they've found that internal connection, they seek the fourth instinct, which is a greater connection with society which finally brings achievement, greater confidence and a rise in self-esteem. Although sometimes the middle steps can be attained out of order, only after those first four needs are met can one move to step five and seek their full potential
"It seems that getting beyond step three is a stopping point for most humans but is especially troublesome after the change." Nettie mused.
"Yes, very troublesome. It's hard to move past one's self and seek a connection to others when you think you're required to eat those 'others' in order to fulfill the second instinct. It's a contradiction most vampires can't reconcile. Also, vampires have withdrawn from society at large so not only are they wrapped up in themselves, their solitary lifestyle makes it easy to ignore their peers. Moving beyond one's self is difficult enough for a basic human without the expansion of the mind which occurs during the transformation."
"So, it's hard to reach the edge of the pool when the pool is so large?" Nettie inquired
"Indeed. Also, societal growth happens in a kind of spiral – the more individuals that move into step four; the more society grows as a whole and the easier it will become for other individuals to move into step four. Of course it can also turn into a downward spiral."
Nettie's eyes grew wider, "I've been so busy studying the individual vampire I hadn't put it together with society's journey. I think I'm now beginning to see the beginning to the Ultimate Goal."
Elias smiled, "Yes, the Ultimate Goal... when everyone will reach step five and fully actualize. Each person, including us, has their own path culminating in love and creativity. In the end each will complement each other like a perfect symphony."
Nettie nodded as she pondered the topic, "Fully actualize... I've always liked that term. To fully actualize each individual's potential. To do things not simply for the outcome but because it's the reason you exist."
Elias nodded at her understanding.
"But why are vampires the key to all of this? If everyone has to make the journey, isn't one person just as key as the next?"
Elias had obviously thought long and hard on this topic, "In a way, yes, but vampires are far more powerful and influential than a standard human. They were created to lead the way and they will lead us either to our success or to our failure."
"So back to the journey. How do the steps change after the transformation? Their needs seem to drastically change after the transformation."
"At first glance their needs might refocus, but in reality, the basics are still the same. They still need nourishment and safety. Their need for a connection to others seems to reduce, but the need is still buried in there. If they find a mate, you've seen how strong that bond can be, but breaking through the third and onto the fourth to extend outside themselves can be the hardest part. Having the strength to stop eating humans and eat solely from animals is a huge boost towards that next step. Of course convincing a vampire to eat an animal is next to impossible."
"Earlier you mentioned the expansion of their mind. How does that affect them?"
"Once transformed they get a taste of immortality, but their souls are still attached to their body in this life just like a standard human. Their mind expands, but their soul doesn't. Everything about their body is magnified, including their ego. In their enlarged minds, everything revolves around themselves. They have a difficult time thinking past themselves to find that connection to society so they can gain even greater insight into the meaning and purpose of existence.
"Of course because they have withdrawn from society at large and they lack a true vampire society, very few have had the opportunity to push through that level and beyond to finding their own potential." His eyes narrowed a bit. "I've been working on this for millennia and we're finally to the point where I will start to need guardians like you to move this forward."
Nettie glowed, "I've been studying for years, but this is my first assignment. I am going to pick up where you left off with Carlisle."
"Ah, yes... Carlisle. His strong morality in his first phase of life made the interesting conundrum of nourishment a big challenge. He was already looking for an alternative to accepting what he was at face value so once he was weakened by hunger it was relatively easy to point him in the right direction and get him onto the proper diet. Getting him to Italy helped him find a sense of security as well as gaining much needed friendships. His drive to learn helped him to find achievement. For him, the Volturi gave him a glimpse in to the possibility of what step four might be like, but their lack of morality made him avoid finding intimacy within their ranks and drove him to leave and seek an alternative." He smiled in fond remembrance.
"Have you used the starvation technique on any others?" Nettie inquired.
"I haven't yet found one with the ability to abstain long enough to make an animal look palatable."
Nettie nodded, "Yes, I can understand that. But now Carlisle is struggling again with love. He has not been able to find anyone who shares his life view and so far he has been unwilling to change anyone, but we are preparing a temptation he will not be able to resist. He will want to change our charge to be his first son. After finding that first bond it will be easier for him to form another and another and then form a full family." Nettie glowed from within when talking of our task.
"And this son... once he breaks past the second barrier and fully embraces step three, once bonded with his powerful mate, his movement through step four and five will bring about big changes." he whispered reverently.
"Yes, he is to be the one that guides Carlisle to his destiny as the leader of the next royal family." Nettie stated simply.
"Well, we have much to discuss then."
Elias' vampire started preparing to depart for the evening.
"I hope you'll visit again soon so we can continue this discussion."
"Oh yes, you will get very tired of me!" Nettie smiled shyly at the guardian whom she had grown to love through his research.
He laughed, "Highly doubtful. I'll see you again soon then?"
"Yes, and thank you." She bowed as she backed away and rushed home to report back to me.
AN – I had a fun time researching this story. Margaret was a real person I read about in an article called "A Brief History of Imaginary Friends" on thefastertimes dot com.
I hope this didn't get too "metta" for you. When I was writing it just flowed from the pen!
One last thing… this is the last chapter I have fully written. I will admit my outline is outlandishly ostentatious and over the past few years I've decided that I'd love to finish, but right now I'll be content to make it through Edward's change. The next planned chapter is his teen years, which is giving me quite the challenge, and the one after that would be the change. I can't promise any kind of time line to finish the next two chapters as I've been sitting on them for the last couple of years, but I'm still really fond of the idea of this story and wanted to put it out there for others to enjoy.
Thanks for reading!