April 15th, 2013 § 2 comments § permalink

First, many, many thanks to robsjenn, first for being willing to bid on me in Fandom Gives Back, and then, for waiting pretty much forever while I got my sea legs for Alice’s voice and threw out draft after draft after draft. So my undying thanks are due to her, both for her patience, and for asking me to write something that was such a fun stretch of my normal Twilight writings.

Thanks also to Openhome, my intrepid beta and critique partner. Everything she does keeps me on track, and saves me from wandering too far afield in the search for the perfect way to portray someone. She’s walked through a novel and a novella with me over almost three years, and I am deeply, deeply in her debt.

Thanks to sleepyvalentina for prereading, and to her, twitina, and einfach_mich for being excited every time I bounced a few lines off them. It kept me going, and I owe you all.

And of course, thank you to all of you for reading. The gift of getting to share these stories with others is not one I take for granted, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for coming on these little journeys with me.

3-14 Calgary, Alberta

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Carlisle came home at four o’clock in the morning. It was already six on the east coast. He started calling real estate brokers at once. New York, Delaware, Rhode Island, New Hampshire…

At one point, he stopped talking. Several minutes passed before the sound of these odd, choking gasps floated down the stairs. At first, I was confused.

I’d never heard Carlisle sob before.


3-15 Forks, Washington

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“I can’t stand it,” Edward whined. “I don’t know! I don’t know what she’s thinking.” He pummeled the lintel of the door so hard that it cracked.

“Careful. Esme put a lot of work into this house.”

His jaw flexed, but he put his hand back in his pocket. Then he sat down.

I dropped into the same posture and slung an arm over his shoulder. He slumped a little to make it easier. For a long time, he didn’t say anything, just sat there and shook.

We’d moved to Ithaca. Then back to Forks, with Edward making what was very nearly his final stop in Italy along the way. And still, he came home to find that the thing he’d always longed for wasn’t as simple as he wanted it to be.

He shoved his head into his hands and clawed at his hair, so that little tufts of it appeared between his fingers.

“She kissed him. Does she love him? Is that what that means?”

I shrugged. “Does Jasper love Maria?”

Often, Edward’s gift annoys people; they don’t like the invasion of privacy. It’s uncomfortable to them that he can see everything, even if they don’t mean for him to. But I find it useful, because you don’t have to explain. Show, don’t tell, like our English teachers say year after year, decade after decade, high school after college after high school.

So I showed him.

Me, picking the pine needles out of Jasper’s hair that night as he just sat there, shaking.

The three weeks of him not looking at me.

The way he would cover his eyes when he walked too near a mirror.

And of course, all that sadness and shame he projected onto the rest of us; the way even Carlisle and Esme snapped at each other for weeks. That we all knew it was Jasper, but no one would dare ask him to leave. We just put up with it.

The other four thought it was just because of the accident and the thirteen dead bodies.

We three are the gifted ones, Jasper, Edward, and I. You can’t keep a secret from any one of us.

But we can keep one for one another.

Edward pressed himself against the wall. When he spoke, it was the voice of a child, curious about something he doesn’t have the capacity yet to understand.

“How did you forgive him?”

I shrugged. “I love him, E. That’s how it works, loving someone. There’s give and take. And there are things which will break you a lot more than they’ll ever break him…or her.”

He grunted. “So you’re weak.”

I actually chuckled. It was a very Edward response. My brother sees things in black and white. Weakness and strength. He doesn’t see all the possible permutations, the way one thing folds into another, how fragile any one decision is.

“Forgiving Jasper is the hardest thing I hope I’ll ever have to do,” I told him. “It took everything I had.”

For a long time, he didn’t answer. “So…forgive and forget? ” he said at last. “Is that what you’re advising me?”

I laughed and ruffled his hair. He yanked himself away as fast as possible. Edward doesn’t like having his hair ruffled, and I know it, but I do it anyway sometimes.

A sister has to be annoying at least a little, as far as I’m concerned.

“Vampires don’t forget anything,” I said.


3-16 Mineral, Virginia

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Mineral, Virginia is, like the name sounds, a mining town. It’s quaint and small, and they were delighted to have a skilled and handsome young doctor come and open a practice.

It’s also very far from Calgary.

We set up in a little house on the outskirts of town, with a picket fence and Carlisle’s Cadillac, and it reminded me of Shipshewana.

Jasper’s eyes turned golden again after about two weeks.

We made love loudly, even though the house was small.

One brilliant day, when the sun was beating down on the house and the asphalt in the driveway sizzled, Edward and Jasper and I washed the car, barefoot. Jasper dumped water over my head so that my shirt stuck to my breasts. Then he leaned me back over the hood of the car and straddled my body as we kissed.

Edward put his arms out in front of him and feigned disgust as he backed away from the car.

One day, I thought at him. One day, you’ll have this, too.

He shook his head and stuck his tongue out at me.

But he was smiling as he walked back into the house.


3-1 Portsmouth, New Hampshire

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“Edward misses his parents.”

Carlisle looked up from the book he was reading, some unbelievably thick tome that must have been about brains or muscles or something—it had color pictures of things that resembled parts of the body but looked grotesque. Red and blue and yellow where there should have been just smooth skin and figure.

He placed a bookmark and snapped the book closed. Carlisle is the best at that; teaching himself to do things that humans do, like putting a bookmark in a big book so that he won’t lose his place.

As though he’s going to forget which was the last page he read.

He looked up at me very calmly.

“Of course he misses his parents,” he answered evenly. “I can’t do much about that, Alice.”

I caught the look of pain that slid across his face then. He blames himself for what happened to Edward, even if Edward doesn’t blame him. “Played God,” is how Carlisle puts it. And when Edward is being a real shit, he throws that back.

“No, I mean—” I stopped. “There’s something about Jasper and me. Having us here makes it worse. It was okay when it was just the five of you, but with the two of us, too…”

This time Carlisle leaned back in his chair, propping his chin between his thumb and forefinger of his right hand. He’s a very calm person, Carlisle, but do anything that even remotely resembles suggesting that Edward might leave again, and you throw him into this odd state. For the longest time, I didn’t know what it was, and then I asked Esme about it, and she explained about The Time. Which is how they all three talk about it, just The Time, and you can hear the capital letters in their voice. When I think about it, I remember seeing them during The Time, just the doctor and his wife, standing together by the window, lying by the fire.

Edward calls it his “rebellious period.”

Rebelling against Carlisle. Rebelling against everything his new family stood for.

But he came home from that. That, as far as I’m concerned, is the important part.

“He didn’t stay gone,” I said quietly.

Carlisle blinked. Then he stood up, put the giant book back on the shelf, and swung his long pea coat over his shoulders. But before he reached the door, he turned.

“I can’t do anything about Edward missing his family, Alice,” he said.

Then he closed the door behind him.

I haven’t heard more pain in his voice before or since.


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