2-8 Lewistown, Montana

“It’s nice of you to sit and listen when Edward plays,” Esme said.

In Montana, spring is late, and so it wasn’t until June that Esme was outside weeding. She has this weird thing that she does, where she weeds the garden at human speed. She could, if she wanted to, have the entire plot done in under sixty seconds, but she doesn’t do it that way. She puts on knee pads, and kneels in the dirt, and spends the better part of an afternoon tugging on little plants and patting the dirt back down gently, like the earth will break. She always asks if any of us are interested in helping.

The answer is usually no.

But Jasper likes to read, and that day, he was involved in some giant book that Carlisle gave him, and so I told Esme I’d help her. And then I realized why she liked to weed: because Esme likes to talk.

She ripped a plant out of the ground, letting it snap between her fingers. I reached for one, and she made an odd sound in her throat, like a buzzer.

“That’s a carrot,” she said. “See how this part is curly? Different than this. It’s straight.” She yanked another one of the plants—which to me, looked pretty curly—and tossed it onto her pile.

“What is this plant called, again?”

“Onion grass.” She rubbed her hands together. “That’s why it stinks.”

“Carrots and onions. Aren’t those supposed to go together?”

She laughed. “Onions, yes. And there are some of those growing over there.” She pointed to an odd plant, with shoots that looked like thin green twigs shooting out of the ground. “But this is onion grass—a whole different matter. It takes over the yard.”

I tried, for a minute, just to pull up onion grass, but it was maddening. Inside the house, Emmett was playing Rosalie at chess, which seemed like more fun.

“You know, I’m happy to do this by myself,” Esme said gently.

“I thought Edward was the telepath?”

She laughed.

“Sometimes, it’s just written all over your face.” She tossed a fistful of onion grass onto her pile, and then leaned back on her feet.

“I like that Edward is letting you listen to him play,” she said quietly. “It’s good for him. He can’t limit himself only to Carlisle and me. I don’t know what it is that you do when you sit with him, but for some reason it works.”

I shrugged. “When I see he’s going to pitch a fit, just I don’t sit down.”

She burst out laughing. “I guess that does it” Gathering up her pile of weeds, she carried them to the edge of the garden, where she dumped them onto a heap of other weeds and pulled-up plants and grass clippings. The onion grass was already beginning to wilt, even in the scant few minutes since we’d ripped them from the earth, and it scattered on what little bit of wind bothered to blow in Montana in the middle of July.

“Why do you plant food?” I asked, as we walked back across the garden. She stopped.

“Why do I plant food?”

Esme’s arms crossed over her chest, and her feet stepped to shoulder width. She stared out over the garden like a land surveyor. Little green shoots in neat furrows, freshly upturned earth from where we’d just yanked out weeds.

She didn’t answer me for a long time.

“I guess I plant food because it’s a nice reminder,” she said. “I like that it’s something that humans do. Reminds me that once, I was one of them, even if it was a long time ago now.” She smiled, and rested her hands on top of her abdomen, which she does sometimes when she’s remembering her human life.

I can’t see the past, so it was a whole year after Jasper and I arrived that I heard the story of Esme’s baby. I try to imagine her like that, sometimes—holding a little baby, nursing him, rocking him to sleep. Carlisle said she had only four days with him, and that he died of something no one could do anything about.

When he says that, I think he’s assuring himself more than her.

“It would be nice,” I muttered, before I’d even realized I’d had the thought.

“What would be nice?”

“It would be nice to remember what human life was like. Eating food, working in a garden…” I shrugged.

Esme put her arm around me.

“That’s the thing about this,” she said. “You get to make new memories. It doesn’t make up for losing the old—and you lost more than everybody else—but it does make it a little more bearable, I think.” She gestured back toward the house. “Shall we? Unless you see some reason we shouldn’t.”

I shrugged and shook my head, and a moment later, we were back inside.


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