4-7 November 2020

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?”


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.”


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.”


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.


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.


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.


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…”


“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.


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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