The Story of Esme
How it began. How it happened. How it ended and how it was revived. A look into the life of Esme Cullen.
This is my first attempt at writing more than just a short story. I have always loved Esme and she is one of my favorite characters in Twilight so i jus thad to tell her story the way I've imagined it.
16. Chapter 16
Rating 5/5 Word Count 1869 Review this Chapter
I was alone now. No more abuse. Mo more fighting. No more fear. I could walk around my own home without having to watch for a drunken Charles, hand raised above me like a viper ready to strike. There was no longer a need for so many cosmetics; I could get away with only the basics now that I had not bruises to cover. Every month that Charles was off at war, I got a check from the government for fifty dollars. It was enough to pay for all of the necessities as well as some simple pleasures that I had been previously deprived of. But still, despite the money I received for my husband’s service, I prayed every single night and each morning, putting my whole heart into every word, that Charles would perish in battle or of some disease that was reportedly being spread throughout the trenches. I prayed for my husband to never come home again.
I received only nine months of safety. Nine months to be free from fear. Nine months before I got a letter in the mail saying that Charles had been injured in battle and was being honorably discharged. Letter in hand, I sank to the floor, my back braced against the front door as I cried. Honorably discharged. What a terrible thing it was that such a man as Charles was being described as honorable. There was nothing honorable about beating your wife within an inch of her life and violating her in ways that no one should ever even hear about. I had never before felt hate or spite for anyone in my life; not even my husband. But now, I felt more malice for God than I had ever before.
Had my prayers been for nothing? Were they as useless and void as it appeared they had become? Was my voice not strong enough, my words not bold enough, my soul not pure enough for the God I had always loved and trusted to send me back what had hurt me most? Was I not worth helping?
These questions were pointless because I’d never get and answer and because they wouldn’t keep him from returning to Columbus. The letter gave me three weeks to prepare before he arrived back in Ohio, where he would recuperate at home. I knew that he would, until he was healed, only be able to be verbally abusive, as his leg had been nearly shattered by a grenade that had been thrown into his trench. He’d been the only one of his regiment to survive the War to End All Wars. Why he was chosen to live, I will never know. But I did know at the time that I had to prepare to face my worst nightmare once again.
Once home, Charles was a different man. He was quieter, though not by much. Confined to a wheelchair, he was constantly screaming for me to get him this and do that as he sat idly in the sunroom, staring out the window and listening to the news on the radio. I just did what he told me to do, not wanting to get him angry even if he couldn’t do much damage because I was sure as rain that once he could, he’d punish me for whatever offenses I committed while he was incapacitated. I played the good, dutiful wife as our “friends” came to call on us to see how he was doing, showing their support for a war veteran who was about to receive the Purple heart, a fact I’d learned about a week after he returned from France. All of this made me wonder if there was any justice left in the world.
After he was fully recovered, nearly five months after his homecoming, things went back to the way they were. He insisted on sleeping with me only this time, I submitted and didn’t fight. I just let him do what he wanted and cried quietly when it was over. He beat me more than ever, especially when he had difficulty sleeping due to the nightmares he had of the horrors of war. When he hadn’t slept, he was always unpredictable. And his drinking not only picked up again, but also increased compared to what it had been before his draft. I never once saw him without a bottle of moonshine in one hand and his cane in the other. It was after one particular revelation that I realized something needed to change.
I was pregnant.
How could this have happened? What could have I done to get pregnant? I mean, I wasn’t upset about being pregnant; I had dreamed all my life of being a mother one day. It had been one of the reasons for my taking the job at the orphanage. And it wasn’t that I wasn’t prepared to be a mother because I was absolutely ready. But the thing that made me feel more terrified and concerned was the environment I lived in. This was no home for raising children and I couldn’t allow my child to be around such abuse and violence. I would never want my child to have to deal with what I had been dealing with since Charles and I got married. That would be cruel. The thing was, I wanted this baby. But in order for the child to even have a chance at a good life, a life I never had, Charles could not raise it. So I made the decision to leave.
The night of my escape, it rained. Weeks earlier, I had gotten in touch with my cousin Lillian in Milwaukee and told her about everything up to that point. I had always trusted her beyond anyone else in my family because, like me, she wasn’t like everyone else. She was married yes, but she had her own business that she ran herself. Lillian always went against the grain because that’s just how she was. She didn’t fit the norms of society, like me, and she liked it that way. But when she found out about all that I had gone through with Charles and my parents’ lack of support, she was appalled. So, through letters, we devised a plan for me to leave Charles. I just hoped it would be on my feet and not in a coffin.
That night, I made dinner for Charles as usual. I made him his favorite meal: meatloaf and mashed potatoes with gravy. I worked all day on that meal, making sure everything was right.
“Mmmmmm. Is tha’ meatloof I smell, Ethsme?” Charles slurred, still drunk from the night before.
He wrapped his arms around me and started kissing my neck. I began to feel nauseated again and it wasn’t because of the baby.
“I have to get the salt,” I said, shaking him off of me to grab it. He backed away and when I turned back to face him, he slapped me across the face, nearly making me fall. My lip was busted but that was it. He stormed out of the room, mumbling something about how little respect he had and what my duties were as his wife. I recovered quickly, shifting my dress back to its original position. I was only about three months along so I wasn’t really showing yet, a fact that seemed more like a blessing.
As I mixed the spices with the ground beef, my mind was racing about what I was going to do out on my own with a child but I knew that anything was better than staying here. I also added a bit of something else. I had been able to procure a type of herb that is supposed to make people sleepy just for this very dinner. It had no smell and only a kind of salty taste, thought that would go fine with the meatloaf recipe. Instead of adding only a bit like you are supposed to, I put the entire bag in and finished making dinner. I knew that if the herb worked like it was supposed to, then I would finally be free of the tyrant that was my husband.
“Dinner’s on the table, Charles,” I informed him after finding him in his study. He stumbled into the dining room just as I was lighting the candles, sitting down in his chair across from where I sat with a low thud. His eyes were bloodshot and it looked as though he hadn’t bathed in years.
I put a plate at my spot and then walked over to his place to serve him his food. He was mumbling as if he was irritated about something but at least he didn’t hit me because of it. I sat down and put a separate piece of meatloaf, which was herb-free, on the dish before me and took a small bit. Before the fork reached my mouth, Charles was already gobbling down the food in bites that size of small housecats. It was as if he hadn’t eaten in weeks but I wasn’t about to stop him. The more food he consumed, the quicker he would pass out. And sure enough, he began to look dizzy, falling over in his chair soon afterwards, slumped over his food.
I ran. Having packed my bags earlier and hidden them behind a bush around the corner from our home, I didn’t need to do much before leaving the house besides taking all of the cash Charles had left in his safe as well as the money he had in his wallet. I put on a rain slicker and opened up an umbrella before walking out the door and saying good-bye to my living nightmare for what I hoped would be forever.
The bags were right where I had left them, kept dry but a small black tarp I’d draped over them. I took the tarp off, took hold of the handles of the suitcases, and walked as briskly as possible to the train station, which wasn’t more than a mile away. Once there, I bought by ticket to Milwaukee and boarded the train, taking a seat by the window to watch the raindrops streak across the glass like tears from Heaven. I had always believed in God and I just hoped that if they were his tears, that they were at least happy ones rather than bad ones. I didn’t want to think of how many sins I was committing by leaving my husband, who had been bound to me by God, and being prepared to raise a child without a husband. But I did know that if I didn’t leave, I’d die. my baby would die. And I was willing to commit as many sins as necessary to keep my child alive and well…to give him what I had been deprived: happiness.
Columbus soon began streaming faster than I could even see and I said my farewells to my old life and hello to my new one.
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