April 28, 2013
“What time is it?” I heard Bella’s voice surround me, blending with the euphoria in my mind like water dissolving into sand.
“I don’t know.” I opened my eyes and looked at her, lying naked by my side in a tangled mess of sheets and blankets, her mahogany hair strewn about on the pillow that now smelled of us and sweet love making. “I don’t care anyway.”
She laughed and moved, dislodging herself from my side and straddling me, “You might not care, Mr. Cullen, but there might be a search party sent out for us if we don’t get back. And besides, did you forget we have a daughter?”
I sat up so her legs went around my waist, thus cradling her in my arms. My fingers splayed out against her bare back, and my lips started tracing soft patterns in the hollow of her neck. I was cheating, I knew. Bella had a weakness when it came to sex.
“She’s a big girl. She can look after herself just for a night,” I murmured, pulling her impossibly closer.
Bella started to say something, but gasped as the sensations rushed through her, and I cheered internally at my success. She giggled when I tickled her, and then regained her power of speech.
“Do you really want to leave her alone? Overnight? With Jacob?”
I hadn’t thought of that.
Bella saw the expression on my face and sniggered quietly, running her hands through my hair. “Edward, relax. I’m kidding. I know Nessie. They won’t do anything.”
I knew that. I trusted them both, but they were teenagers after all. God knows what Bella and I had done before we got married. It was a surprise that Charlie had slept through it all.
“Maybe we should have the talk with them.” Bella leaned closer, resting her head on my shoulder.
She pulled back and looked at me with her eyebrows raised.
“You mean the talk?” I may or may not have wrinkled my nose a bit. Come on, what father wants to talk to his daughter about—I gulped internally—sex?
Hey honey, so listen, I’m gonna tell you how to make babies, ya know? It’s all pretty cool, actually. You’ll find out as ya go. And in the meantime, don’t end up pregnant and make me a grandfather.
Bella nodded as I registered what she meant to say.
“But she’s so young!”
“Edward, she’s going to be fifteen! How long do you want to wait?” She shook her head, because I knew that she knew what I was going to say.
“I don’t know . . . maybe when she’s thirty?” I gave my wife a sheepish expression.
Bella looked at me with an expression that said, you’re kidding me, right? “Really? And what explanation do I give her for having a baby at eighteen? Don’t you think that’s just a little bit hypocritical?”
“Bella, please. I don’t want to think about it, not right now. It’s our anniversary!” I protested weakly, feeling what every father in the world feels at least once in his life.
Why the hell did we have kids?
Bella smiled at me with knowing eyes. I knew my expression said it all. How the hell did we go from screwing like rabbits to talking about our daughter and her prospective sex life—which I really didn’t want to think about, not for about a thousand years—in bed?
“I’m thinking the same things, by the way, but in a very different light than you are.” She dislodged herself from my lap, and wrapped the blanket around her as she perched herself next to me.
“Do you know where we were five years ago, Edward?”
“Dancing after getting married.”
She hit me lightly as she tried to hide the smile that lit up her face. “No, a little earlier.”
“Practicing. You were trying to get me to have sex with you.”
“You’re not going to take this seriously, are you?”
I laughed and apologized quickly. “Sorry, sorry, yeah.”
She warned me with her eyes, and I took the hint. I had to be quiet and listen.
“I’m saying that five years ago, things were so different: so tense. With James, Victoria, the Volturi, our separation, the stint with Jacob . . . It was all so . . . I just . . . it took away something, Edward. We never seemed to have time to ourselves. It was this thing, or that hunt, or that war: always something getting in our way of being together. I thought we could never be sure of ourselves this way.
“I mean, what were the odds, Edward? You were the most perfect guy a girl could find. You could have had anything . . . anyone. It just made no sense for you to be with me. What was I: fragile, clumsy, plain, needy Bella Swan? I thought you would get tired of me, that you would one day realize that there was nothing in me that held your interest, and then we’d go our separate ways. And I felt afraid.
“I felt afraid because I thought it would have been easy for you, Edward. You had waited a hundred years. You could wait a few more. I thought that once you’d been gone away for enough time, you would forget me. But I knew that I wouldn’t: forget you, I mean. Who can forget the most memorable times of their life? Their first love? First kiss?”
I opened my mouth to interrupt her, not liking the direction she was going, but she held my hand and silently urged me to listen. The rain outside had picked up speed, and even though the door we had kept open made way for gusts of icy, biting wind to intrude its way into our home, we were warm.
“And then,” she continued, “when you actually left, it was so painfully clear. It was so hard and so easy to believe that you didn’t want me like I wanted you. It became so obvious that you’d finally realized you didn’t want to be stuck with me for eternity.
“I know things changed after you came back: somehow we’d beaten the odds. But there was always one thing or another. The point is that we were so unsure. I mean, I know now that it was baseless—our fear, that is—but there were times when I thought we’d go back to square one. It was one step forward, two steps back with us. When I kissed Jacob, that day of the battle, my mind was in complete mayhem.
“How could I have ever doubted myself? How could I ever doubt my love? I’d never felt more guilty in my entire life. It just . . . for the briefest of all moments, it just made me feel as though this was . . . a lie. I just . . . I still hate myself for thinking that, even for that one moment.
“Even after the wedding, when I was pregnant with Nessie . . . we fought so much, Edward. We couldn’t even look at each other without cursing. You were angry, I was terrified and frustrated. But still, here we are. Here we are, after five years—no scratch that, almost seven years. We lived through it all. We fought, we loved, we hated, we cried, we did it together. And I want you to know that I’m so grateful for it: all of it. Every moment—painful or not—that we lived through . . . this right now makes me believe that it was all worth it.
“This, tonight, is the strongest we have ever been, Edward, and the weakest we’ll ever be. I think—no, I believe—that we’re only going to move forward after this. Five years ago we were wondering whether we’d make it through all the crap in one piece, and a few moments ago we were sitting here wondering whether we should have the sex talk with our daughter—who we never knew we could have.
“We’ve grown, Edward. This is the only thing that matters to me.”
I looked at her for a long while, wondering whether I should kiss her or kiss the crap out of her. She was so right. Every relationship was a see saw. There needed to be balance to make it work. Although we’d had our share of downs, we had enough chances for ups now. No one could change that.
At last, I decided on kissing the crap out of her, and the sound that escaped her lips sent glorious sensations through me.
“So, what do you say? Ready for Round five?” I laid her back onto the bed, hovering above her.
“Not yet, Mr. Cullen. I still need to give you your gift.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Atlin, British Columbia (August 13, somewhere around midnight)
“Oh no, you didn’t.”
“I did.” She giggled.
“But how . . .?”
My mouth fell open, and my eyes widened, taking in the scene in front of me. How in the world had she come to know about it?
“You didn’t actually think I wouldn’t notice, did you? I mean, all the day-long absences, coming home smelling like freesias—which just happen to be my favorite flowers—the grass stains on your jeans—I knew what you were doing long ago, Edward. It just took me a little time to find this baby and turn it exactly like us: not me—us.” Bella wiggled her eyebrows, and the moonlight made her smile all the more luminous.
It wasn’t like me to forget things—but even I couldn’t deny that our meadow had completely slipped my mind. I had had much progress with it when I’d first found it, but between planning Bella’s anniversary gift, and keeping Jacob off of my daughter, I had completely forgotten about the piece of paradise that I had planned to give to Bella.
Only now, to my utter surprise, she had found it and turned it into something more beautiful, if that was even possible. And she could not have chosen a more ample day to reveal it.
Tonight, fortunately, was one of the few nights of the year when the moon would shine down on Atlin in all its silvery, mystic glory, inundating every part of the forest in a sparkle that could rival the glimmer of the water of the Fountain of Youth.
I looked around me in wonder. There was a serene platitude all around us, hovering over us like a blanket, covering in pacific joy and exuberant peace. The silver from the moon had bleached everything black and white, but I could still make out the faint purple hues from the flowers that covered the patch of land everywhere till its edges, where it was once again swallowed up by the trees.
There was a subtle, almost undetectable, scent in the air—presumably from the flora around us, and it was almost intoxicating. In spite of the quietude that was so predominant in this part of the forest—broken only by the intermittent raucous voices of the nighttime aviators or the hooting of the owls—there seemed to be a melody hovering in the atmosphere. One that could not be perceived by the physical ear, but could only appeal to the deepest ravines of one’s soul: The melody of the oneness of the heart and nature—indecipherable, unimaginable, unspeakable, yet loud and clear, as if it were shouting to be heard.
In this moment, our meadow looked like paradise—pristine, chaste, timeless paradise.
My eyes raked over the scenery, until, after wandering for moments like restless, aimless travelers, they settled on her: the one person who had made my existence worthwhile.
She was standing in the center of the meadow—eyes closed, lips set in a small smile, head turned up towards the heavens, as if she was pleading with them to make time stop. I know I was.
Where the sunlight made her skin sparkle like a cluster of diamonds, the pacific moonlight had quite a different effect on it. Now, the glow on her skin was muted: almost intangible, but present. The diamonds, it seemed, had thought better than to overpower such a pure moment. Now, it seemed as of her skin was covered with crystals, or icicles, shining silently in the silent night.
She looked as if she had emerged from one of the many fairy tales that I had grown up reading. She looked like a seraph, a siren, a maiden, an angel.
“Do you like it?” She asked me very quietly, still standing in the center of the meadow.
“I love it, Bella. I love what you’ve done with it. I love what you’ve done to us.” I stepped forward, hesitating a bit, wondering if I would wake up and this virgin maiden would vanish.
“I have something else for you, too,” she said, and approached me quietly.
She held my hand, icicle in icicle, and led me to where she had been standing before.
Immediately, she went down, making herself at home on the ground, and asked me to do the same. Even her hair seemed to shine like Rapunzel’s, only they looked more like strands of white snow than fields of marigolds.
I sat a little away from her, partly because I did not want her to disappear in a poof, and partly because I wanted to witness her beauty in the raw form in which it appealed to me.
She reached behind her, and pulled something out from under her sweater. She bit her lip twice, like she always did when she was nervous, and then pushed a strange object into my hands.
It was a book of sorts, a journal to be precise, old, tattered, and leather bound.
I looked at her curiously, and she nodded, urging me to open it.
I gasped when I saw the date.
January 19th, 1917.
“Bella, how . . .?”
“I searched a little.” She said it as if it had been a piece of cake, but I knew how hard it must have been to find an artifact this old. More importantly, an artifact like Elizabeth Masen’s last journal.
I can proudly say that I get my habit of writing journals from my mother. Throughout her life, she had maintained huge volumes that documented her life. Mostly, it had been everyday stuff: How she managed the house, some tips for effective cooking, some recipes here and there. Other times, there were incidents: The day I had been born, the day my father had asked her to marry her, the day he had beaten up some men who had been ogling my mother.
In my first few years as a newborn, I had visited Chicago frequently, slowly and steadily cleaning out everything that I wanted to keep with me. I had taken all of my mother’s journals with me.
The last one of them all—the one which held the pages accounting my father’s death, the fears about my dreams of enlisting in the army, her deteriorating health, my illness. I had ransacked the house searching for the last one, but I had eventually remembered that Mother had had that diary with her on the day she had died. So, there was a pretty good chance that the notebook had never made it home. I had thought it was destroyed with my mother.
But no. Here it was, in my hands. Old, ragged, but safe.
“Bella . . .” I would have cried if I could, but she shushed me.
“Open the last page, Edward.”
I did as she said, and the words that stared back at me could have made my heart jump right out of its chest.
My mother’s writing was clear—written in black ink.
“I think the time is near. Anthony is gone, and has taken every part of my soul with him, except one.
In these last moments of bittersweet parting, I pray, dear Lord, that you keep my Edward safe. Keep him well, and guide him, so he may always be happy. Let him find love, Lord. Let him experience the joy that I felt every moment of my life with his father. He deserves the best, Lord. Let him have it.
Edward, I don’t know if you’ll ever read this, but if you do, always remember that your father and I love you very much. He might not have shown it much, but he was every bit as proud of you as I am, Darling. You are a part us: the best of us. Never forget that. I love you, Edward. We both do.
Below it, written in a scrawl that could only have been Bella’s, were five words.
You are my life, forever.
I could not hold myself back at that. “Oh, Bella.” I threw myself into her arms, wishing fervently that somehow every bit of love that I had would seep into her pores, making her completely and irrevocably mine.
There were no more words said after that, just blissful smiles and kissed that, in their silent transmissions, said more that our lips ever could.
As I end this particular entry, Mother, I find myself reunited with you—in body and soul. Over a hundred years I looked for you; I looked for this part of you, and now that I have found you again, I would like to tell you something, Mother.
You have succeeded. You have made me who I am, Mother, and you believed in me more than I ever did. I miss you, Mother, but I know that wherever you are, you know that I am happy, because, as you prayed, I have found love.
I have found love in the most amazing woman on the planet, Mother. She is every bit as gorgeous and generous and forgiving as could ever be, and I can tell you affirmatively that she loves me too. She and our daughter complete me. Your Edward has a family now. And even though I will always miss you, Mother, I know that you are always there with me, in my heart. You will always be my Mother, wherever you are.
Thank you for teaching me that love beautified everything. And thank you, Bella, for showing me that kind of love. I am a man truly blessed, because of you.
Both of you.
You can also email me at:
I would love to hear from you all! Thanks!!