4-7 November 2020

December 1st, 2020 § Comments Off on 4-7 November 2020 § permalink

November 4, 2020, 5:12 AM EST/2:12 AM PST
Electoral College projection (AP): Joseph R. Biden, Jr. — 225, Donald J. Trump — 213
Electoral College projection (Fox News): Joseph R. Biden, Jr. — 236, Donald J. Trump — 213
Arizona (11 electoral votes) called for Biden by Fox News

Edward shakes his head in mock dismay as he lifts his phone to his ear. He has a habit, when he answers the phone, of raking his hand through his unruly hair as he begins to listen, and he does that now. It’s unbearably attractive, and Edward, hearing my thoughts, smirks and sticks his tongue out at me as he begins to speak.

“You should be asleep, Sweetheart,” he says, but he’s laughing. It’s earlier where she is, and it’s not as though it’s likely she’d sleep tonight.

Our daughter’s voice is rapid and high-pitched as she attempts to shut down her father. I hear the expected protestations of the time difference, as well as the importance of this election, and Edward clucks his tongue soothingly before repeating the line with which he answered the call.

“They projected Wisconsin!” she cries, and Edward chuckles.

“Why yes, Carlisle and I are also doing well, I’m so glad that you asked. How is work?”

“And Fox called Arizona for Biden!”

He continues his end of the conversation as though she is holding up hers. “Oh, and Jake is enjoying his new job? That’s wonderful to hear.”

“Dad! Fox! News! Arizona! Biden! Put Granddad on the phone, please.”

Her disjointed assertions make us both smile. Another press and she’s on speakerphone and both of us are able to talk back.

“How long have you been watching?” I ask.

“Since I got home. I’m in at noon tomorrow. By which I mean today. God those first couple hours were depressing and scary.”

I know what she means. Edward and I returned home close to nine PM our time, and the very first thing Edward had said upon our immediate turning in to CNN was “California has 55 electoral votes.” But the race was nothing like the landslide we’d hoped for, and so watching Wisconsin’s call brought us almost no relief.

Arizona, however, is a different matter.

As though she knows what I’m thinking, Rene supplies, “Jake thinks it’s the Navajo vote.”

This would not be surprising. There was a time, when we were at odds with the Quileute, or in the decades when we didn’t live in Washington, before Jacob Black became a permanent fixture in our lives, when it would’ve been easier for us to ignore the reports coming out of the Navajo Nation. Of people being asked to follow strict sanitation procedure without the benefit of municipal running water. But now we pay closer attention. We can’t afford to lose track of what’s going on with the Salish, or any other western tribe. The troubles facing Indian country have become personal.

I hope it has made me into a better man.

“Still. I think he has it,” Rene says. “Has Aunt Alice called?”

I shake my head, and then realize we are on a voice call. Alice explained early that she wanted us to experience this. And I would normally take that as a sign that the outcome would be positive, but she had added, “You weathered the last one without much of my help,” and that had caused me to feel uncomfortable.

“She’s not telling us anything.”

“Maybe I should call her. She’d tell me.”

This time, it is Edward who laughs. “Not sure of that, Sweet.”

She huffs. “It’s within a state. How?”

I nod. “I was hoping for a landslide, too, but that’s not what FiveThirtyEight said.” Or rather, they’d said that the election was a tossup between a landslide and a nail-biter, and apparently, we’ve been dealt the latter hand.

“Do you think he’ll make it?”

Edward is shaking his head, his eyes wide.

“Yes, sweetheart,” I hear myself say reassuringly. “I do.”

“You had better not be lying, Granddad.”

I grin. “I’m not lying about what I think. But I’m hopeful that the country agrees with me.”

“Now go sleep,” Edward says sternly, and our daughter lets out an audible huff.

“Think of your patients, Sweet,” I urge her. “They need the very best version of you. Get sleep. Don’t be distracted.”

Edward smiles at me, knowingly. He knows how bursting with pride I am that our daughter has decided to pursue medicine. Her specialty is different than either of ours—neonatology-but being able to share the intricate beauty of this field I’ve devoted my entire existence to with both the two people I love most on this Earth is exquisite.

Sure enough, I hear her huff. “Fine. You have my pager number. Are you on tomorrow?”

“In an hour, you mean?” I laugh despite myself. “Yes. I’m due in at 6:30. And your rounds? They still start at 7?”

“Mmmhmm.”

Edward sighs but I only smile. “Then you should get a few hours’ sleep, Rene. We’ll wake you if it gets called”—Edward mimes striking his fingers across his throat—”we promise.”

“You promise?”

“We’ll send firetrucks if needed. Please go to bed, sweetheart.”

Rene heaves a sigh identical to Edward’s. “Okay. But I’m calling when I wake up.”

I smile. “Call your father. I’ll be at the hospital.”

“Dad, don’t sit in front of the TV stressing all day.”

“I won’t.”

I raise my eyebrows.

“I will sit in front of the TV and stress for exactly half of the day,” he admits.

Rene and I both laugh. She got her laugh from her mother, and even after fourteen years, it still strikes hard sometimes. Like now.

“I take it that means you have a twelve-hour shift today, Grandad.”

I nod. “I’ll be home by seven.”

“Okay. I’ll call then, too.”

“Go to sleep, Rene. We love you.”

“I love you, too.”

Edward’s thumb moves toward the red circle to terminate the call, but just as he does, our daughter’s voice adds:

“I know he’s going to win.”

~||x||~

November 4, 2020, 9:41 PM EST/6:41 PM PST
Electoral College projection (AP): Joseph R. Biden, Jr. — 236, Donald J. Trump — 214
Maricopa County AZ Vote Batch Released, 59% for Trump

Our living room is expansive, which is good because it gives Edward the room to pace at his full speed. I’ve long since so habituated to moving differently that I usually do it even when we are alone. Edward, however, while having perfected moving like a human, doesn’t do so when he’s deeply distracted or anxious. Right now, he’s both, and so even to my eyes he is nearly a blur moving from one side of the long room to the other while I sit on the couch, scrolling through the Times on my iPad.

“You know,” I remark gently, after this has been going on for about twenty minutes, “the floors are original to the building.”

The motion stops at once and the streak of blue, black, and copper that has been traversing the room resolves itself into the shape of my husband. He shoves his hands into the pockets of his jeans and looks at me sheepishly.

“Biden doesn’t need Arizona,” I remind him. “Five-Thirty-Eight has had him pulling ahead in Pennsylvania all day.”

He doesn’t reply, instead coming to the couch and crawling next to me. His head finds my chest, forcing me to lay the iPad next to my hip. I put my left arm around him and run my right hand through his hair.

“We knew this was going to take time.”

Edward sighs, his body relaxing into mine. “I just didn’t realize I’d be this worried about it.” He squints up at me. “Why aren’t you this worried?”

“Because I’m a lot older than you,” I say gently.

He huffs. “Six years.”

“Two hundred fifty-seven years, jerk.” I poke his chest forcefully and am gifted with a tiny bit of his laughter. I cup his chin in one hand and bring his lips to my own. We kiss for at least a minute. When he finally pulls back, Edward is calmer, more pliant in my arms. He arranges himself so that he is using my body as a cushion, laying his cheek against my chest. My fingers find their way into his hair, and I stroke his head gently.

“You sound like Esme, you know,” he says at last. “When you worry about the floors.”

I kiss him again. “I’m not actually worried about the floors.”

He curls against me even more. “I know.” He doesn’t say anything for a long while, and I stroke his hair, our chests rising and falling together as we breathe.

These feelings are odd, I realize. Both of us have were alive long before the days of instantaneous election calling. We know better than to be impatient. On-demand news has existed for such a tiny fraction of my life. But even though Edward and I have lived through contentious elections before, this one feels different.

“We didn’t have Rene before,” Edward mutters, and I nod, remembering four years ago when we put our daughter to bed amidst the tide rapidly turning in an electoral race we had felt so confident of.

“I didn’t have you before either,” I whisper back, and his lips turn up into the tiniest hint of a smile.

“You had me,” he says. “Just not…like this.”

I stroke his hair again, pressing my lips to the crown of his head, inhaling his scent. It calms me, and I know Edward can hear this.

“No. I didn’t have you like this.”

He falls silent for a moment. When he does speak again, it’s in a pained voice.

“Fifty-nine percent…”

I kiss his cheek. and tighten my grip as I place my lips at his ear and whisper:

“But he needed to carry Maricopa by sixty-two.”

~||x||~

November 5, 2020, 12:04 PM EST/9:04 AM PST
Electoral College projection (AP): Joseph R. Biden, Jr. — 253, Donald J. Trump — 214
Electoral College projection (Fox News): Joseph R. Biden, Jr. — 264, Donald J. Trump — 214
Associated Press recalls Arizona as a tossup
Clark County, NV Vote Batch Released, Biden lead in NV doubles

It’s the first shift we’ve had together this week, but we might as well not be on the same planet, much less in the same hospital. I haven’t seen Edward since we parted hands at the door almost six hours ago. Sinai is enormous, and it’s easy for both of us to get lost in its corridors, unaware of and inattentive to whatever the other is doing.

Edward has been to medical school three times now, and thankfully, his most recent stint was done to keep an eye on Rene at NYU. It placed him with just the right up-to-date knowledge so that when I asked for an emergency spousal hire to help with the pandemic overload, the overworked administrators were more than willing to accede. He had so much doubt about finally moving from theoretical practice to actual practice, but Edward is a fine physician, as I’ve always known he would be, using his gift to soothe patients with an unflappable bedside manner. We share parts of the same specialty—emergency medicine—but he works in the ER, stabilizing patients, and I work on the back end, fixing their internal and external bodily trauma in surgery.

When I have a free moment, I often walk past the emergency department, straining to pick out my husband’s voice among the beeping and whirring and hushed tones and shouted orders. I’m not always successful—sometimes he is elsewhere in the bowels of the hospital— but today I hear his voice, clear and musical, as he explains the treatment plan for a severely rolled ankle and instructs the patient that she has been in a high-risk environment and will need to quarantine for fourteen days. I hear the soft swish of his patient’s hair as she shakes her head.

“I didn’t even want to come in because of that,” she says quietly. “But my mom insisted.”

“She was right to,” Edward says gently. “This is a very serious osteochondral injury. You won’t be able to go anywhere for more than fourteen days anyway. Don’t put weight on this until you start PT or we’ll be seeing you for surgery. I’ll have a nurse come bring your release paperwork.” He turns away from the bed, and a moment later, is striding confidently through the doors of the emergency department.

“Hi, you,” he says.

At the hospital, we are discreet. I want to kiss him hello but instead I only take his hand.

“You’re so good with your patients,” I whisper.

He rolls his eyes, no doubt feeling my swelling pride. “Is there news?”

I nod. “The Las Vegas vote is mostly counted. It looks like there’s no path for him in Nevada anymore”

Edward lets out a long sigh, as though he has somehow needed to hold his breath, and as though holding his breath would somehow hurt him. He knows the math as well as I do. Wisconsin and Michigan flipped overnight. If Arizona holds and Nevada stays as predicted, they take it to a perfect 270. With no other states, it will be a messy win, but a win nevertheless.

“Fox hasn’t uncalled Arizona.”

“Nope. They’re talking a great deal of flak for it.” I lean against the wall. “That poor man.” Two days ago, neither of us had heard of Arnon Mishkin, but today our hopes hang on the calls of the unlikely head of the decision desk at the powerhouse right-wing network.

“How are your thoughts so calm,” Edward mutters. “I am slowly losing it and you are just standing here doing electoral college math.”

And he’s not wrong; I’m usually the more anxious of the two of us. But something about this feels strangely manageable. I’ve spent just as much time obsessing about the statistics—Nate Silver got his start in baseball and I’ve trusted his math far longer than most Americans—and it somehow feels surer to me. My mind brings to the fore the image of our daughter, four years ago, weeping as she burst into the apartment.

Edward’s eyebrows are furrowed as he plunders my thoughts.

“I have to believe it will be okay,” I whisper to him. “For her.”

He nods, his Adam’s apple plunging as he gulps. This draws my eyes to his neck and to the line of his suprasternal notch where it meets his clavicle. I’ve long since lost count of the times I’ve kissed my way along that stretch of skin.

When we get home, I’ll take your mind off this.

This at last makes the corners of his lips turn up.

“And they say I’m the horny teenager,” he whispers at a volume so low no human could ever possibly overhear.

I’m only six years older than you.

He barks a laugh. “Fourteen hours ago it was two hundred fifty-seven.”

I shrug, grinning. “What can I say, I’m flexible.”

“Dr. Cullen?” A voice breaks up our conversation.

“Yes?” This is in unison. We look at each other and smile, and then toward the resident who has emerged from the ER, in her scrub cap and gown.

“Edward, I mean,” she says. “We…there’s an ambulance coming in. Non-COVID.” She cocks her head toward me and adds, sheepishly, “Sorry.”

I shake my head. “It’s nothing. Go back to work. I’ll see you at home.”

He nods and turns, following the resident back through the door. I stand and watch him disappear beyond the curtains of the emergency department’s dozens of beds, until the scent I think of as the extension of my own, that dark earth and spice, disappears amidst the more noisome smells of antiseptic, alcohol, latex, and plastic.

do have to believe it will be okay, I think as I turn back toward my office. Not only because of my daughter, but also because of my son.

~||x||~

November 6, 2020, 4:35 AM EST/1:35 AM PST
Electoral College projection (AP): Joseph R. Biden, Jr. — 253, Donald J. Trump — 214
Electoral College projection (Fox News): Joseph R. Biden, Jr. — 264, Donald J. Trump — 214
Georgia (16 electoral votes) projected for Biden

The text is accompanied by three celebration popper emojis.

GOOOOO ATLANTA! (The tomahawk chop is still racist AF, tho)

Edward bursts into laughter. He emerges from the study in pajama pants and socks, his thumbs flying across his phone. Mine vibrates with his reply:

We just heard. Why aren’t you in bed.

Then he looks up at me, smirking. “She’s never going to stop dragging you.”

Our daughter has been on me about my unwavering support of the Braves for years now. When I explained to her that when the team had been named, we just hadn’t known any better, she’d rolled her eyes at me.

“No, Granddad, you were all just really racist,” she’d said. “And you have an opportunity to stop now, so stop.”

So I’ve shifted to calling my favorite team just “Atlanta,” and replaced my newer t-shirts and caps with ones which sport only the signature letter “A.” My older memorabilia is more palatable—the eighty-year-old jersey in my collection sports only a “B” which is at any rate, for Boston, and there’s no tomahawk in sight.

I shrug, looking over at Edward as he makes his way across the room. “She’s not wrong,” I say, though I haven’t been happy about it. One of the more difficult aspects of being first with Edward, and now, with Rene, has been growing out of seeing them both as teenagers. Taking their concerns seriously, instead of assuming that I knew better. Not taking it personally is difficult. “She’s not wrong” are words that weren’t easy in coming.

Edward shakes his head, spraying tiny droplets of water off his hair. Even though we aren’t at risk from the virus, we don’t know how it lives or doesn’t on our bodies, and so we take the same precautions as other doctors; stripping upon arrival home, an immediate shower. Edward, who in the privacy of our empty nest has developed a proclivity for wearing only a towel around the house, is still slightly damp. He crosses the room and comes to me, his phone dropping from his hand onto the couch as he straddles my lap and buries his nose in my collarbone.

“She only ribs you because she loves you,” he tells me.

“She’s stubborn and forthright to a fault. Just like her father.”

He chuckles. “And she forces people to be their best possible selves,” he replies, “just like her father.”

The couch cushions vibrate. Edward beats me to grabbing his phone and reads the message aloud.

With Arizona and Georgia he has it.

“And with Arizona and Nevada,” I reply quietly, kissing Edward again.

He presses his hands into my thighs before he picks up his phone. His fingers fly across the touch keyboard and the couch vibrates again.

There’s an old saying about chickens, hatching, and counting, but I don’t remember?

The reply comes quickly.

Ha ha, Dad.

I leave a blazing line of kisses up his jaw and he stifles a moan.

You’re in a better mood,” I say, my lips still pressed against his jaw.

I’m gifted again with his low laughter. “What can I say. Good news is good.” He mimics the gesture, his lips fluttering along my jawbone to the soft spot behind my ear. His exhalation tickles, and I shiver even as my body responds.

He doesn’t fail to notice. “You’re due in at six-thirty?”

I nod.

“That gives us at least an hour. I think you would benefit from another shower.”

I can’t manage to repress the laughter which bubbles up. “Does this mean you didn’t use up all the hot water?”

He smirks before leaning in.

“I don’t think we’re going to have trouble keeping the shower hot, Carlisle,” he whispers.

I laugh and allow Edward to grab my hand and pull me off the couch and toward the bathroom.

~||x||~

November 6, 2020 8:56 EST/5:56 AM PST
Electoral College projection (AP): Joseph R. Biden, Jr. — 253, Donald J. Trump — 214
Electoral College projection (Fox News): Joseph R. Biden, Jr. — 264, Donald J. Trump — 214
Electoral College projection (Decision Desk HQ): Joseph R. Biden Jr – 273, Donald J. Trump 214
Decision Desk HQ projects Joe Biden as President-elect.

!!!!!!!!!

My first surgery consult is due to arrive in four minutes, but I switch apps anyway, pulling up FiveThirtyEight, which has been the first or second tab on my web browser for days, it seems. On the live blog, Silver is chastising the call—for the whole race, not just Pennsylvania—as having been too long in the making.

The punctuation text is from Edward, but it is followed by three heart emojis from Rene. I’m not surprised she’s awake—despite all the laws and ethics boards which have demanded more humane hours, medical internship is still grueling—but I hope that she’s slept. I add this sentiment to our group message and receive only an eyeroll emoji in return, followed by:

It’s called coffee

I laugh. I can blame myself for our daughter’s affinity for the substance. It’s long been a habit of mine to brew a cup in the mornings, ever since I realized that humans would gladly look the other way about my boundless energy if they could catch the scent on my clothing and justify the results of my “addiction.” And now, the ritual has become a bona fide part of my mornings: the thin-spout electric kettle, carefully expressed aromas, a tiny spoon to stir the grounds. It’s meditative, and I appreciate that, even as Edward rolls his eyes at the whole procedure. It hadn’t taken long, however, for Renesmee to get curious about this strange dark sludge I make in the mornings purely for scent, and I’d quickly taught her the ways of extracting flavor from high-quality Arabica.

Do you think the networks will start calling it?

Rene asks.

Edward’s reply is swift.

They’re going to be cautious. 45 is going to throw a tantrum.

He’s not wrong. It’s been a fear of both of ours. I’ve lived in this country since very near its inception, including during the Civil War. Edward has spent the last six months, and somewhat aggressively over the last two, peppering me with questions about what the runup to that conflict looked like. How different is this, a hundred and fifty years later?

I don’t think there’s the ability for anyone to run a coup, and nothing is as fervently at stake now as it was then. I’ve told Edward this over and over, reassuring myself as much as I am reassuring him.

We’ve gained ground over the last decade, and Edward and I have together borne witness to that gain in a personal, intense way we might not have been privy to under any other circumstance. It would’ve been easier to ignore, I think, had our confrontation with our enemies gone any other way. Had the two of us not been forced to seek the complete solace in each other that we did. It would’ve been easier for this election not to matter.

But that’s not the hand we’ve been dealt. It’s been a scant five hours since I clutched Edward’s body to mine in the bracing water of a frigid shower—he’d lied; he had used up all the hot water—and even though it seems likely that we’ve dodged the bullet we worried about, it doesn’t fully alleviate all that has happened in between. And we haven’t even born the brunt of it. We are, as Rene likes to remind us, extremely wealthy white men who enjoy a great deal of privilege, no matter what homophobic arrows might otherwise be slung.

Yet, it’s hard to not acknowledge that things feel at stake more than they ever have in my lifetime. And I am lying if I haven’t said I’ve been worried. There is so much going on. There was a time, in April and May, when I had done a poor job of containing my anger and heartbreak. When twelve-hour shifts had yielded twenty patients for whom I’d turned off a ventilator while their family members sobbed on Facetime. When I came home, I sat in Edward’s arms for hours, weeping. It has taken me years to be comfortable accepting his comfort for anything aside from the loss of Esme, so used I’ve made myself to always being his rock. It has taken a long time to allow him to be mine.

We have to start coming out of this. This has to be the beginning of the end.

My desk phone gives its signature two-tone beep. I look at my watch; it’s nine sharp. Sure enough, the receptionist is sending my patient my way. It’s a follow-up appointment on an emergency splenectomy, a young woman who went over the handlebars of her bike. It’s a bad time to become immunocompromised, and an even worse time to need a follow up appointment in one of the largest hospitals in the city. I’ll do a modified surgical scrub and put on more equipment than I usually would for a consult before meeting her in the exam room. I take one last swipe at my phone with my unsanitized fingers.

I have to go; I’ll see you at 12.

Edward’s reply is instantaneous.

Think we’ll have a president by then?

I can only hope.

~||x||~

November 7, 2020 11:26 AM EST/ 9:26 AM PST
Electoral College projection (AP): Joseph R. Biden, Jr. — 273, Donald J. Trump — 214
Associated Press projects Joe Biden as President-elect.

But it takes an entire additional day.

Even over a somewhat iffy cellphone connection in a very large apartment, our daughter’s scream is ear-splitting. Edward only laughs.

“I know, Sweetheart,” he says soothingly. “I know.”

“How are you not beside yourself?!”

Edward chuckles again. “We’ve had sixty seconds to adjust to this news, Rene,” he says gently. “Give us a minute?”

“If you had sixty seconds you’ve already had a minute,” she says, and this results in all three of us laughing.

Having not made enough traction with her biological father, Rene trains on me next. “Granddad. Joe Biden is the next president.”

“I know.”

We’ve had the television on nonstop for four days, even though it has occasionally been muted, and so when the huge banner swiped across the bottom of the screen, we had barely had enough time to exchange a smile before Edward’s phone began to ring.

“And let’s move up Maslow’s hierarchy,” Rene continues. “Basic needs have been met. So…”

“So?”

“There’s about to be a Black woman vice president.”

I can’t help the smile that spreads across my face. This is the thing I hadn’t quite expected. I already had daughters. Three of them, something I am firm about when pressed about the fake story I tell about the “car accident” which killed my wife and daughter-in-law. But maybe it was the eras they were born into, but the task of fighting the uphill battle we’ve been fighting for the better part of this century has never seemed as urgent as it has since Renesmee. She has lived only fourteen years, and four years ago, we so fervently pressed for the first woman president, and thought about what a surge forward it would represent for our daughter.

But it hadn’t come to pass. And now, we are all shell-shocked, I think, in that this week has unfolded so unbelievably slowly, with hope and worry wrapped up together. And now we are confronted with perhaps a lower glass ceiling being broken, but it being broken nonetheless. There is a part of me that is deeply joyful, for all this means for my daughters, and for our country.

And there is another part of me that is mostly very, very tired.

Edward lays a hand on my forearm and nods knowingly. “Aren’t you at work?” he asks Renesmee gently.

“Yes, but…”

“We’re glad you called, Rene. We’re happy to get to share this moment with you.”

“We got it, Dad. We did it.”

“We did do it.” He smiles. “Now go see to your patients, Dr. Cullen. They need you.”

She sighs but I can picture her. The lopsided, exasperated expression she learned from her father, set in a face which belongs mostly to her mother. The way she’s holding the phone with one hand so that she can rake the other hand through her hair, just like Edward does.

“Can I call back later tonight?”

A tiny smile. “Of course, Sweet. Carlisle’s on call and I’m off.”

“Okay.” She sounds resigned. “I love you both. We did it.”

“We love you, too,” our voices say in unison.

As soon as the call ends, I heave a long sigh. The TV has cut back from Wolf Blitzer to the anchors, who are already rapidly discussing the implications of this election. The first woman of color vice president. What it means to upset a sitting president. The landslide popular vote count. The probable large margins in the states Trump won by a hair in 2016. It’s all washing over me like whitenoise, and I sink onto the couch, feeling my eyes go slightly unfocused. Edward puts an arm around me and pulls my head to his shoulder.

It doesn’t feel like it should matter. And I’ve felt confident most of the week, and so it’s exciting and yet, anticlimactic.

Edward shakes his head. “That it matters is what keeps you human, Carlisle,” he says quietly. “I know I mock it, but it’s your best quality. That your compass always points north. No matter what is happening, no matter what our government is doing what—you always know what we should be striving for. In a hundred years, I have never once not loved that about you.”

His lips are on mine, and I find my shoulders mashed into the couch with his assertiveness. I kiss back, feeling both our bodies respond, and then he is groaning into my lips and I am, too. My thoughts are a mess but he teases out the edges of them as we kiss and he reaches for my fly.

“What,” he mutters against my lips when my response is not perfectly enthusiastic.

“It’s nothing,” I say, and he shakes his head as he pulls back.

“Carlisle, I’ve known you for a hundred years. You don’t have a ‘nothing’ setting.”

I look into his eyes and for a moment I could swear they resolve themselves into the odd shade of sea glass green I knew once instead of the diffuse amber we both share in these days of hunting frequently to make safe our hospital work.

“It’s just?”

I sit up. “When you married Bella, and then when Rene was safe….” I trail off, not sure how to explain the next thing I mean to, knowing it is at the core of both all our joy and all our pain.

Edward only raises his eyebrows.

“I was anxious to see what kind of man you’d become,” I answer. “How amazing you’d be as a husband, and as a father. I was looking forward to seeing you in those roles. And then…”

My mind races ahead of my tongue as it does so often. The basketball games that let us make sense of each other in a new way. Languid nights in front of the fire in Wisconsin while Renesmee slept. Carrying our daughter on our shoulders at the 2008 Inauguration. Exchanging vows and rings in front of the rest of the family in 2012. Dancing on a rooftop after Obergefell. The photo of our family which now hangs in the entryway, with each of us kissing one of Rene’s cheeks as she stands in her purple NYU graduation gown.

And then I wound up being the one who gets to be married to you.

Edward responds by kissing my neck. “Those are awfully big thoughts to be having about a presidential election.”

I smile. But I know why I’m having them. One election, one four-year-term, shouldn’t matter. I’m three hundred seventy-six. It’s not as though Donald Trump is the first ineffectual president I’ve seen in my lifetime. As our daughter likes to remind me when she’s angry, I’ve cast ballots for slaveholders before. I’ve lived through massive upheaval and unrest in this country so many times over.

But being married to Edward, and raising Rene, has opened a human vulnerability I didn’t have before. It opens something, to admit publicly to loving someone whom many people would prefer I didn’t. To raise a daughter who in one way will live forever and in another, is deeply open to dangers Edward and I don’t face. To in the constant sorrow that is the loss of our wives. To face every day this new century’s pandemic, raging nearly unchecked, tilting at the kind of destruction I knew from the last time I was driven to the brink.

It all feels so much more fragile now. So much more human. I care who is president. It matters to me that Renesmee will see Harris take the oath of office in three months. There is now so much more at stake.

“It does make one feel very mortal,” Edward agrees. He lays his head back on my shoulder and his chest rises and falls with a big sigh. “We lost the court, though.”

I nod. The shock of Justice Ginsberg’s death had been visceral, as had the anger we both felt about her hasty replacement.

“Maybe we really should’ve bitten her,” I say wryly, and Edward chuckles.

“Well, it did seem as though she might already be immortal.”

This causes me to laugh. I run a hand through his hair. “We’ll outlive this court.”

“Yeah, but not everyone will.” He curls up against me. “That’s what this is, isn’t it? Immortality? You watch things get better, and then worse, and then better. And then worse again?”

I nod. “And you learn. And you grow. And yes, you watch.”

His brow furrows. “Forever is hard.”

“Why do you I picked you to spend it with?”

This is enough to pull him out of his melancholy thoughts. He laughs, climbing into my lap so that he’s straddling me. “Cradle robber,” he says, his voice low. “Going after a seventeen-year-old.”

“At least I’m twenty-three. One of us decided to become a teenage father, and it wasn’t me.”

“I was a hundred five.” He leans over me so that his hair is tickling my cheek and kisses his way down my jawbone. “And my child is in internship, so clearly I didn’t mess things up too badly.”

“No, you didn’t.”

He kisses me. “We didn’t, Carlisle. We.”

I nod, pulling him to me and tackling him to the couch as he laughs.

“We,” I agree.

And then, as CNN goes on about the various ways this week has been unprecedented and historic, I trap my husband’s body beneath me and decide to slow down time.

~x~

Historical Note: Joseph R. Biden Jr. was officially declared president-elect on November 7, 2020, four days after the date of the official presidential election, preventing the incumbent president, Donald Trump, from serving a second term in office. The election took several days to call because of the overwhelming number of mailed and absentee ballots cast as a result of the coronavirus pandemic which was raging in the United States in November, having moved from the hotspots of the east and west coasts to takeover midwestern states such as Wisconsin and South Dakota.

The Navajo vote was indeed significant in turning the tide in Arizona, which had been a Republican-leaning state for the last many elections, with over 90 percent of the Navajo nation, an area the size of West Virginia mostly situated in Arizona, pulling for Biden amidst their status as the largest coronavirus hotspot in the country.

The vote counting carried on for four days and was immediately met by dozens of lawsuits and which were almost all thrown out, one by one. In the weeks which followed, recounts in Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Arizona furthered the vote counts there for Biden.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, the second woman to sit on the Supreme Court, died on September 18, 2020 of complications of pancreatic cancer. The Republican-held U.S. Senate hastened to confirm Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a constitutional originalist who was seen as a likely conservative stalwart. Coney Barrett’s nomination celebration on September 26, 2020, which took place on the White House grounds, was the source of the largest-ever coronavirus super spreader event in Washington D.C. resulting in more than at least 45 attendees, including the sitting president and the first lady, coming down with COVID-19.

As of the writing of this note, the president of the United States has not yet conceded his loss, though transition to the Biden administration is underway.

Electoral college counts, milestones and timestamps taken from the election liveblog at FiveThirtyEight.

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Always

November 1st, 2020 § Comments Off on Always § permalink

They called New York the city that never sleeps, and this, Renesmee thought, was true. At three twenty-seven in the morning, or so glowed the blue light of her clock, she could hear car horns honking in the distance, and people yelling at each other in the alleyway twenty-five floors down. It was nothing like her bedroom in the old, small house in Wisconsin, where cicadas had lulled her to sleep and the only thing likely to be making noise at three AM was a stray loon. But after three years in the city, she’d learned to find the cacophony soothing, and so, being the only person in the expansive apartment who cared what the temperature was anyway, she always slept with her window open a crack.

She was cursing her lot in life before her feet had even hit the floor. Her gut felt like it was on fire. Half of her was pristine, imperturbable, and half suffered the gross indignities of things like indigestion. As she made her way to her bathroom—because her fathers, desperately guarding what little privacy they could offer her, had been careful to buy an apartment that had two en-suites—she went back through her perfect memory over all the things she’d eaten in the last week. Her digestion, such as it was, was slow, and sometimes these things took a long time to materialize. The pad Thai, Saturday…that had been questionable. Also spicy. But when she reached the toilet, she realized at once this hurt had nothing to do with food.

Breathe, she commanded herself at once. A speeding heart was bound to result in two concerned men practically breaking down her door. They overreacted about different things, her father and her grandfather, but it was a foregone certainty that if she was having a problem, one or the other of them would slightly lose his cool. The two teased each other often about how sanguinely their late wives would have handled a given parenting situation, and Renesmee, whose memories of her mother and grandmother were crystal clear but achingly few, would cling to these moments, adding each detail to what little she knew. That Grandmother thought Granddad was a worrywart. That Mama thought Dad was far behind the times. She imagined them, laughing at their husbands and teasing them, and her fathers smiling sheepishly in response. Every image gave her a fuller picture of the women who had once been here, whose absence still hung, weightily, even in the happiest moments in this unorthodox family of three.

She had never wished for her mother so hard.

They hadn’t even been sure this would happen. When she had asked, her father had explained how everything worked, and bought her a copy of Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. Granddad, in his excruciatingly thorough approach to her science education, had worked through an entire gynecology textbook with her. But when she probed them about the worry that seemed to underpin both her father’s reverence about the miracle of it all and her grandfather’s academic fascination with organ systems, they had reluctantly explained about chromosomes, and speciation, and mules, for goddsake, which had to be one of the most embarrassing comparisons anyone had ever made. They didn’t know, they had told her. They would all have to wait and see.

Well, they had waited, and now she could see—splotchy rust, as big as a quarter, right in the crotch of a pair of cotton underwear which suddenly seemed way more little-girl than it had six hours ago.

She thought quickly. Toilet paper would do the trick. At least to get her overnight, and then tomorrow, she thought, she could say she was going to the NYPL. If it was sunny, they’d let her go by herself. She could go buy…supplies, and no one would be the wiser. And so she was franticly tugging on the roll when she saw it. A light blue plastic package, sitting on the counter—how had she missed it, it was right there—and the brand she knew from countless Teen Vogue ads splashed across the front.

It was impossibly mortifying and a huge relief, at the same time. Of course they knew. It wasn’t as though they would somehow not notice her bleeding, of all things. Of course they had said nothing, careful of her privacy. How long had they known? Hours? Days? The noise that escaped her lips as she opened the package was one part giggle, one part tiny sob.

She was finished in the bathroom a few minutes later, the package tucked safely into a drawer and the three ibuprofen which had been placed on the counter next to it—Granddad’s way of communicating to her that the higher dosage was safe—downed with a chaser of warm tap water. But instead of crawling back into bed, she slunk down the hall.

They were in bed, clothed but barefoot, pretending that they were reading instead of waiting for her. Neither looked up until she cleared her throat. As though they didn’t notice her scent, hadn’t heard every rustle of paper and plastic, and the touch of her own bare feet on the hardwood.

Her fathers always tried to give her space. Sometimes, though, she didn’t want it.

She didn’t say anything either, only crossing the room, flopping down on the bed. Her grandfather shifted over a bit so that she could wriggle her way between them, and in a moment, she felt the embrace of two cool bodies against her own. Her heartbeat thudded and echoed against her father’s chest, and if she closed her eyes and didn’t think too hard about where the sound was coming from, she could almost imagine it was his heart beating back. She didn’t say thanks for his discretion, but thought about how, like always, her father had known exactly what to do.

He chuckled. “That was all Carlisle,” he said. “I’m afraid I lost my head a little.”

She raised an eyebrow.

“I may have asked aloud if we needed to call a doctor.”

There was a moment of silence, and then they all burst out laughing.

“Because he was in no way lying on top of a multiple board-certified OB/GYN at the time,” her grandfather added. “Also, Edward, menarche is not a gynecological emergency. Even when it’s our daughter.”

“It’s the miracle of life,” she commented sarcastically, and her grandfather chuckled.

“I believe in miracles, Monster, but this is pure physiology.” He kissed her forehead. She winced, forgetting she was touching him, and he let out a bark of laughter at the fleeting thought that ran through her mind.

“‘Dad-slimed’? Is that really the term you just used?” Her grandfather raised his hands upward. “How did I sin, Lord, to spend eternity raising teenagers? In what way did I displease you to be thus punished?”

“Oh stop,” came her father’s voice along with hers. It was Dad who hit Granddad over the head with the pillow, and then they were all three laughing, tangled in the huge bed. Her chest was heaving, and she could hear them breathing, hard, and then, so suddenly, in the way that happened often, her cheeks suddenly became wet. She was touching them both, and so she knew that they were seeing with her the chestnut hair and floral scent, the slender arms around her, pulling her to a soft bosom instead of these two solid chests she lay between.

Her father forcefully pressed his lips to her forehead. “I know,” he murmured. “I never imagined we’d have to do this without her, Rene. I miss her so, so much.”

The images in her head shifted as she ran through a different set of perfect memories; nights in this bed and the much smaller one in Wisconsin. Being carried on strong shoulders. The way the two of them often held hands over her body when she climbed into their bed after a nightmare. The peaceful expression her father got when he looked at her; the way Granddad got the same expression looking at them both.

“That’s an interesting observation,” her father said suddenly, and she started to ask what was, she realized it wasn’t her thoughts he was plundering, but Granddad’s.

“Carlisle was commenting on something we all three have in common.”

She raised her eyebrows, and she felt her grandfather’s arms encircle her more tightly.

“Our mothers died for us,” he said quietly. “It’s a terrible thing to have in common, but…”

“No,” Dad said quietly. “It means that we can all understand.” He ran a hand through her hair. “Your mother would be so proud of who you’ve grown to be, Rene.”

Granddad smiled. “So would yours, Edward.”

Her father swallowed and nodded, his voice obviously catching. So she added, “And yours three, Granddad.”

Her grandfather’s expression was first shocked, then, as he drew a long breath, settled into peacefulness.

She stretched a little. “Can I stay here?” It had been something she’d done a lot, when she’d been smaller. During thunderstorms, and after scary movies, and at times when her dreams had gotten the better of her. Padded in her socks across the house to their bed, flopped down between them, and slept in the security of being flanked by two nearly-invincible men.

Her father poked her in the ribs, making her giggle. “Aren’t you getting old for that?”

“Yeah,” she replied, yawning. “But I think I’ve gotten enough older for one night.”

Granddad smiled as he reached down to pull a blanket they kept at the foot of the bed over her. She didn’t need it, of course, but it was the tucking part that mattered more than the blanket itself. And then she was back where she had been, what, twenty minutes ago? With heavy eyelids, warm in a bed. Before long, she was half asleep, lulled by their steady breathing.

“We’re not doing too terribly bad at this daughter thing, are we,” she heard her father mutter. “I think they’d be proud of us.”

“I think they are proud of us,” Granddad muttered back. Rene felt his weight shift and heard them kiss. And then, she was well and truly drifting off, as somewhere, in the distance, a car horn honked.

Author’s Notes

Notes on “Always”

November 1st, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

So, hi. I can’t get this AU to leave me alone. I wrote this vignette for myself because I’m fascinated by the mundane. Forget the complications of immortality; sometimes conflict is just about two men trying to feel their way through raising a daughter. So once my brain asked about this moment, I found I couldn’t shake my curiosity until I wrote it down. I actually pounded out the bulk of this almost a year ago in about an hour, but then it took me another year to get the 250 words or so which were needed to end it well. I’m sharing it because, well, why not. Consider this me thinking out loud. Realizing that I gave both the first two works in this AU world titles which have to do with the passage of time, I’ve decided to call the series Kairos, drawing on the Christian theological definition — a time period that is simultaneously “now” and “forever.” The title of this particular piece came to me as a delightful double-entendre. And yeah, I might think more out loud in this world in the future, and in fact, I fully intend to add a chapter to Ordinary Time this week, no matter what happens on Tuesday. Enjoy the (short) read.

Always

15 June 2020

June 16th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

I’m walking quickly for a human, my shoes squeaking against the floor when my phone buzzes in my pocket. I don’t really need to see the ID, and I don’t, in fact, check it, before my thumb instinctively taps the green circle which connects me to my daughter. Her face appears on the screen. 

“I’m in the hallway,” I say quickly, forestalling anything which she might say, though I probably don’t need to. Over the last several months, she has grown to assume that both of us are at work any time she calls and is circumspect about the terms of address she uses.

“Is Dad there?” 

“He’s not with me, but unless he’s not paying attention, he’s already in my office.”

 I turn the corner and sure enough, Edward isn’t exactly in my office, but he is leaning against the door, his lithe frame supported by the jamb. His feet are crossed at the ankles, and his mask hangs down from his neck over his scrubs. A wide smile breaks across his face as he sees me, and I turn the phone toward him so that he can see Rene. But he barely waves to her before taking the phone from my hand, pulling me into my office, and kicking the door closed. 

His hands are in my hair before I have a chance to take a breath, and I yank off his scrub cap so that I can return the gesture, and then he’s sitting on my desk and our tongues are in each other’s mouths. And Edward is giggling, and pulling me between his legs, and we’re probably only seconds in when the voice pipes up from my now-facedown iPhone.

 “You know I still can hear you, right? Do you have a minute to stop swapping spit and look at the decision?” 

Edward laughs and draws back, picking up the phone. He’s grinning and so am I. We wave. Renesmee shakes her head exasperatedly, but she’s smiling, too. 

“That was a nice view of your desk I had there for a second before you completely cut me off, Granddad,” she says. “It looks very expensive.” 

“I didn’t do that to you, that was your father,” I reply, and she laughs. It was Edward who texted us both what, ten minutes ago? Just one word: 

Affirmed!

“So have you been online? Obviously we haven’t had time.” 

“And I look like I’ve had time?” And we laugh, because she doesn’t. Her hair is pulled up into a ponytail and the wild copper locks she inherited from her father show no sign of behaving. Her own surgical mask dangles around her neck, just like Edward’s. I’m the only one of the three of us who looks remotely put together, although I’m fairly certain that my hair now bears witness to the assault of my husband’s affection I’ve just experienced. 

“Well, I can’t check and talk to you at the same time,” Rene goes on. “So that’s on you, Dads.” 

Edward sits down at my computer and brings up a web browser. The hospital would lose their minds if they knew that Edward knows every password I have to everything, but then again, they would lose their minds even more thoroughly if they knew why he does. I set the phone in a cradle I keep at my desk for exactly this situation–I spend many an hour doing charts and chatting idly with either Edward or Rene as I work. I move behind Edward and place my hands on his shoulders as he types in the address of SCOTUS blog. 

“Would you look at that?” he mutters. “Gorsuch wrote the majority. Six-three.” 

“Gorsuch?” Rene sounds as surprised as I feel. “I didn’t see that coming.” 

“And Roberts went with the liberal justices also,” I add, reading over Edward’s shoulder as the liveblog scrolls by. “I thought for sure this would be four-five. I thought we’d be lucky to get five-four.” 

Edward is speaking aloud now, half reading and half adding commentary, and I rub his shoulders as he does. This is instinctual: our bodies never get tired, and our muscles never ache, but our nervous systems still recognize the feeling as pleasure. Esme often rubbed my shoulders when she came across me too engrossed in something, her way of being with me even when my mind was occupied. That it’s now I who often rubs Edward’s shoulders never escapes me.

“If the employer fires the male employee for no reason other than the fact he is attracted to men, the employer discriminates against him for traits or actions it tolerates in his female colleague. Put differently, the employer intentionally singles out an employee to fire based in part on the employee’s sex, and the affected employee’s sex is a but-for cause of his discharge. Or take an employer who fires a transgender person who was identified as a male at birth but who now identifies as a female. If the employer retains an otherwise identical employee who was identified as female at birth, the employer intentionally penalizes a person identified as male at birth for traits or actions that it tolerates in an employee identified as female at birth,” Edward reads aloud. He turns to me. “Did Neil Gorsuch just use the phrase ‘identified as female at birth’?” 

 “He has a woke clerk who wrote that,” Rene replies, “and besides, it’s ‘assigned.’”

“Most likely,” Edward continues distractedly, “but nevertheless. Inclusionary language is not what I’d expect from him.” 

A term like “inclusionary language” isn’t something I would’ve expected from Edward, either, even ten years ago. And yet it’s been what–four days?–since he was talking Renesmee out of burning her Harry Potter books. “TERF” wasn’t a word we knew three years ago either. 

Edward chuckles. 

“What?” Rene asks.

“Oh, nothing, Carlisle is just accusing me of being old-fashioned.” He gazes up at me wanly, and I lean over him again and our lips touch, more gently this time. When I glance over to my phone, Rene has her eyes covered.

 “You can look, Monster,” I tell her. “We’re not going to get up to anything you shouldn’t see in my office.”

“Not right now, you’re not.”  

“Oh stop watching Grey’s Anatomy,” Edward shoots back. “We’ve never had sex in this office.” 

I can’t help beginning to laugh. “What?” he replies. 

“Okay, Bill Clinton. I see we’re taking the narrow reading today.” I poke him in the chest.

He looks down sheepishly and smirks. 

From the phone, Renesmee’s eyes are half closed in a suspicious gaze. “Why do I not fully understand that reference and why do I have a feeling I shouldn’t look it up?” 

“Because it was before you were born and because you absolutely shouldn’t look it up,” Edward answers, but he’s begun to laugh also.“Speaking of people whose sex lives we are absolutely not discussing, how is Jacob?”  

“Oh he’s fine.” The gentle smile creeps across Rene’s face again. There was a time, many years ago, when Edward and I both worried and hoped that somehow, the imprint would break, or that she wouldn’t reciprocate, or any of a myriad other things that would forestall what to us, felt like denying our daughter a very important choice. But when she talks about him, every line of her face softens, and her eyes go alight, and I can’t help but feel foolish for ever hoping otherwise. 

We call him our son-in-law even though they haven’t married yet. Rene is posing as twenty-four, ten years older than she is in body, and almost none of her women classmates in med school are married at this age. Not to mention that at least for the next year, it would look incredibly strange if a large crowd of us gathered for their wedding, no matter how immortal we know ourselves to be. 

“He’s joking about moving into CHAZ,” she goes on. “I’m not entirely certain he’s not being serious. I mean, I’m not happy with the United States right now, but we do have plumbing.” 

“Please don’t move into CHAZ.” This is me. Rene and Jake live in downtown Seattle, not far from the six-block protest-turned-commune-turned-protest. They posted photos on Instagram a few days ago of a burned-out bodega where we had all gone shopping the last time Edward and I visited. Rene is all but invincible, and so is Jake, but that didn’t stop me from pacing our apartment for three hours straight when she and Jake attended a protest march until I received the text that said “Back in the apartment!” accompanied by a cheerful selfie of them, side by side in face masks, Rene in her “Nevertheless She Persisted” shirt and Jake in black tee emblazoned with NATIVES 4 BLACK LIVES. 

“Granddad, I’m joking. He’s joking. Stop worrying.” 

Edward smiles gently. “Sweet, he worries because he loves you. Let him be.” 

It was Edward who reminded me that it had been my idea to take the entire family to the March on Washington in 1963. We stood and listened to impassioned speeches, none more so than by Dr. King, and I considered myself having come a long way from my father’s teachings about the mark of Cain. So when I hesitated a week ago about whether to go to the Manhattan Bridge, Edward ribbed me a little bit as he penned NO JUSTICE NO PEACE on a large piece of cardboard. Rene, upon hearing later that day of my hesitation about participating in something which could end in violence, offered to write Vampire Fragility just for me.  

But in the end I went. We sent Jake and Rene our own selfie, Edward with his sign, and me with one which said simply BLACK LIVES MATTER, which still feels like a small, personal transgressive revolution. 

We don’t own protest-appropriate t-shirts.

“Just be careful,” I manage. “Please.” 

She gives me a small smile. “I’m being careful, Granddad. Very. And while it’s unbelievably annoying, it’s kind of sweet that you still worry so much.” She pushes a lock of hair out of her face. “I think Jake is just bored and worried about not being able to go home. Billy is fine, the rest of the tribe is fine, there have been 30 COVID cases in Clallam. But they closed the Rez and even though he obviously could pull rank, he isn’t. He’s feeling disempowered and so he’s taking power where he can get it.” 

“We’re sorry we can’t be out there with you,” Edward says, and the understatement is evident, at least to me. 

Rene shakes her head. “You are right where you need to be. New York needed you. Besides, 24-hour shifts in the middle of a pandemic must feel…nostalgic or something.” She grins the same devious grin her mother had when she was trying to get Edward to do something.

I run a hand through Edward’s hair.  “It does bring back memories, that’s for sure.”  Edward swivels in my chair and gazes up at me, a small smile playing on his lips. I drape my arms over his skinny shoulders and rest my chin on them, gazing at the phone. 

“So six blocks of my neighborhood have seceded from the country, my dads are out marching against the cops, and Neil Gorsuch is using trans-affirming language. 2020 is a very confusing year.” 

We all three laugh. “It really, really is,” Edward says, and it feels good to be like this. Happy, temporarily, at least. Talking with our daughter like she’s here in the room, instead of on the other side of the country. Like we’re at home in midtown instead of on the sixteenth hour of a mercifully-aligned shift at Mt. Sinai. 

Even though it was technically only our eleventh year of being partnered and our sixth year of marriage, Edward and I celebrated our century anniversary two years ago, with all of our family and cousins at their huge estate in Alaska. It was a multi-day party, complete with Alice’s overzealous decorating and programming. We didn’t hold back the revelry. We danced for hours. We told stories that went back hundreds and thousands of years. We introduced Emmett to RuPaul and he actually enjoyed it. A year later, he introduced us to Todrick. 

And maybe that’s why this year feels manageable. Edward and I have always held these things in tension. Joy and sorrow, health and sickness, life and death. We aren’t the husbands we are without the wives we lost. We aren’t the fathers we are without Rene not having her mother. The world seems upended right now, and yet…I’ve been living in an upended world for nearly three hundred eighty years. 

I’m made aware I’ve gone silent only when Rene asks, “Granddad?” 

Edward looks up at me. “He’s just having deep thoughts.” 

“I should’ve known.” She looks over her shoulder. “Look, I should go. We have rounds. I just wanted to be able to look this over with you the moment it happened. We can talk more later.” 

I haven’t gotten used yet to hearing her talking about going on rounds, but she’s right, it’s only just after seven AM in Washington, and I notice that her eyes look a little tired. But her white coat makes her look in control, and she projects the confidence of a woman at the top of her class. I feel proud.

“You’re wearing more PPE than that, right?” Edward asks. 

She rolls her eyes. “Yes, Dad. I just got to work.”

“Rene, it’s just that–”

“I know.” Her voice is exasperated again, but her smile is wide. “My respiratory system is the most human part of me; I’ve gotten colds from other coronaviruses; we shouldn’t make assumptions, yadda yadda yadda. Dad. Granddad. We all have to act like we’re just normal. So I’m acting like I’m normal. It’s fine.”

“Okay.” The sigh is long. “Go to work. We love you, sweet.” 

“Love you, Rene,” I add.

“I love you both. Congratulations on another important day.” 

And then the phone is abruptly back on my homescreen, and the office is quiet. For a moment, neither of us says anything, and I hop up onto the desk. I don’t need to sit, but I’ve been practicing human habits so long it is second nature when I’ve been standing longer than a human would. Edward stands and comes between my legs, and soon we have reversed our earlier embrace. 

“Six-three,” he mutters. 

“I’m six-two,” I joke, “and so are you.” Our bodies fit perfectly in that regard. He is lankier than I am, and my legs are slightly longer, but when we lie together in bed or in front of the fireplace, it is easy for us to become one set of body parts, for a back to meet a chest and ankles to twine between legs.

He rolls his eyes. “You’re impossible. And you’re going to have to hold the thought of all that skin until we get home tonight because our daughter isn’t the only one who has rounds.” 

I sigh. He’s not wrong; I have a 10:45 consult myself. I hop off the desk and for a moment we are body to body, from head to toe. Edward kisses my neck and then pulls away from me. 

“We haven’t talked about what we’re going to do for your birthday this weekend,” I say as he stuffs his dirty surgical cap into his pocket. “It’s already Monday.” 

He shrugs. “I figured we’d spend it together somehow. That’s enough.” 

“After almost a hundred days of stay at home orders, you aren’t tired of spending time with me?” 

He has taken a few steps away from me, but he turns and cocks his head, smiling with only half his mouth. It’s both alluring and sweet. 

“Carlisle,” he says, “I will never be tired of spending time with you.” He holds his hand out to me, and I take it, and then we are through the door and into the hallway. 

We aren’t in anyone’s face about our marriage, but when we joined the staff four months ago, we didn’t hide it either. Yet it still feels a bit surreal to do even just this in the hallway of my place of employment, holding hands with a man I’ve pledged so much more than my life to. But it feels good, too. 

Hearing my thoughts, Edward squeezes my hand. “What’re they gonna do, fire us?” he whispers. 

“Didn’t you hear?” I whisper back, smiling. “They can’t.” 

We hold hands until we reach the end of the hallway and go our separate ways. 


Historical Note: 

The decision in Bostock v. Clayton County was handed down on June 15, 2020. In a ruling which, surprising to most Americans, was decided 6-3, conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch held that the language of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964—regardless of the intent of its drafters—means that “an employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.” 

The decision was handed down amidst great unrest in the United States, including the continued threat of the global pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and increased violence against protestors advocating for massive reform of American policing in the wake of the death of George Floyd, an African American man, at the hands of four Minneapolis police officers.   

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Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Vampire

April 16th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Blue book cover reading "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Vampire A Twilight Short Story giselle-lx"

A series of short jaunts into the minds of those who know him best.

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