For Those Who Have Fallen from High Places
The wedding. To her, I’m just Edward, and I’m seventeen, and it’s as if no time at all has passed since I became what I am, because she is here now to help me mark the time with her.
1. For Those Who Have Fallen from High Places
Rating 5/5 Word Count 1449 Review this Chapter
You’d think after a hundred years you’d be prepared for this, Edward.
I shoot Alice a half-hearted glare, because it’s all I can manage right now. I am positively vibrating with nervousness. Somehow, perhaps because of the guests seated in white chairs on our lawn, Alice resists the impulse to stick her tongue out at me. She giggles to see me so rattled. I hear the word poised bouncing around in her mind, but I tune it out. I’m certain she’s only trying to calm me down, but today there wasn’t even much that Jasper could do for me. How can anyone convince me that I deserve this day? When Bella is so perfect, and I’m … well, I’m still trying to see myself as she sees me.
Jasper did attempt, though. He insisted on playing his twelve-string, and now he sits behind me on our wide front steps, dapper in his dark gray suit. He lounges casually, the curve of the guitar’s body resting on his right thigh, as if this is just another August day, as if his playing for us is nothing special. He plays well, of course, and Alice’s golden eyes watch his slender fingers like she’s memorizing the movements.
Emmett stands next to me, huge and smiling, his hands clasped demurely in front of him. He has memorized what he jokingly calls his “sermon,” and I’m more than a little fearful of what may actually come out of that irreverent mouth of his. But Bella said she trusted him, and she wouldn’t have anyone else conduct the service but our own newly licensed Reverend Emmett.
I look at the pale and beautiful faces of my family and, for the hundredth time today, I’m thankful that it’s overcast so we don’t have to do this inside. Bella deserves just exactly this.
Esme and Carlisle sit hand-in-hand next to Alice and a subdued Rosalie, right in front of me, on the groom’s side.
The word causes another tremor to wobble its way into my chest and I swallow out of habit. I focus on the other guests.
Renée and Phil sit on the other side of the aisle. Bella’s friends are behind them … all except one. Jacob’s absence, I admit, was a relief to me. I want all her attention today. Perhaps he knew that. Perhaps he’s letting me have it.
There are gauzy white bows that Alice made herself with fabric and gardening wire, which she attached to the chairs at the ends of each of the two rows. The bows quiver in the breeze, and I see other colors within the shimmering white material – pink, yellow, silver, blue, violet. There is dew in the grass at my feet. This day is perfect, and yet I wish again, for Bella’s sake, that we could be in Las Vegas in our blue jeans or, even better, alone in our meadow.
Afterwards, I promise myself. After the party. It was Bella’s wish, and that’s where she’ll – we’ll – sleep later. As husband and wife. Under the stars, or the clouds, under whatever sky the evening graces us with tonight. Under the whispering pines and the creaking branches. Crushing the flowers and the grasses with our bodies, alone together, we’ll give ourselves to each other, to forever, to –
Jasper has stopped playing.
My head whips – not too quickly, I hope – toward our front door.
I stop breathing, because I’ve forgotten. There. There is –
My body follows where my eyes have landed, slowly, and I lose track of everything going on around me. I’m only dimly aware of Bella’s gloved hand resting in the crook of Charlie’s elbow, stiffly bent in its new suit … the fresh purple foxgloves in the bouquet in her left hand … the lace at the neckline of the old-fashioned gown Alice found for her.
I know she’s wearing flat shoes. She’d wanted to avoid any clumsiness in what was already likely to be a hazardous outfit. She’d smiled and blushed when she’d told me in my room – our room – and I’d made her show me the satin shoes for proof. She did, and I’d kissed her feet in them, over and over again until she’d had to reach for me to join her on the bed.
Bella waits at the top of the stairs like an angel perched on the parapets of heaven, taking in my face as if she’s seeing it for the first time and is pleased. And now, as she descends the stairs as Bella Swan to join me as Bella Cullen, I feel myself not as a hundred and seven, but as seventeen again. She is my bride, and this is my family, and hers, and we’re out in the open air with the wind in our faces, and I see nothing, nothing but her. And to her, I’m just Edward, and I’m seventeen, and it’s as if no time at all has passed since I became what I am, because she is here now to help me mark the time with her.
And I am so grateful that a sob shudders out of me, and I remember to breathe again, and the first breath I take is of her, and it’s like I’m born again. I’m grateful that this angel has allowed herself to fall to earth, because that means I can climb out of hell to meet her.
Bella settles herself facing me, and I see someone – Charlie – kissing her cheek before he goes to take his place in the front row.
And then there’s no one but us.
I recognize, logically, that Emmett is still standing squarely above and between us on the lawn, and I register that his voice is booming, but I don’t quite hear the words. I hear polite giggles coming from our guests, and Bella and I smile along with them, but tomorrow we won’t remember what it was Emmett said that was so funny, or inappropriate.
Because time is doing something strange to us right now.
Bella’s eyes are shimmering with tears, and I’ve never seen her look so happy, so reverent, so … complete. She’s nervous, of course, but it’s not because of all the eyes on us, or the fear of becoming “that girl.” She’s made peace with that, somehow, and not just for me. I trust that now. No, there’s something else that makes her heart patter like a rabbit’s in front of me, that brings the blood to her cheeks, that makes a single tear roll slowly down her beaming face.
And it’s the same thing that makes me feel alive today, that makes me feel whole again. My body is vibrating so powerfully that it seems a heart beats inside my chest.
It is simply this. It is the electricity that exists between us, the feeling we felt the first time we sat in the dark together at school. It’s so strong I’m shocked that people can’t see it, surprised that people’s limbs don’t accidentally glance off it when they pass too close to us, like meteors deflected off some planet’s atmosphere. The gentle but immutable tug that keeps me tied to Bella like a moon, and her to me. The hum of our bodies that makes everything, even time, irrelevant.
And before we know it, the sermon becomes quiet, which I must surmise means that Emmett has taken this seriously after all. And we are saying our vows, so quietly that I doubt anyone but my family can hear us, but I can’t be bothered and neither can Bella. Because we are saying them for each other, to each other, the first words of our committed existence together. My voice seems far away somehow; but I think each word as I say it, as if I could etch the words themselves into my body, my mind, my – my soul. And I let each of Bella’s words sink into me, like rain turning hard, white marble into something shining and alive.
Then our lips meet, so very softly, and we stand, clinging to each other, as still as if we were one statue, our clothing and hair rustling in the breeze, while our family and friends stand and smile and clap for us.
Emmett turns us roughly to face the others, and we grin shyly at everyone, taking in the faces of the small band of family and friends who, knowingly or unknowingly, witnessed a most unorthodox union and promised to support it forever, or for as long as they live. My hand around Bella’s waist feels different somehow, and I’m not sure yet whether it’s me or us that’s different.
With another of Emmett’s shoves, we are pushed into our future.