What makes us who we are? Our history? Our actions? Our hopes for the future? Our desires for the past? The Cullens try to discover who they really are.
4. Chapter 4
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It was strange. There was absolutely nothing familiar about her. She was tall and lean with navy blue eyes and sun-damaged skin. She triggered no feeling in Alice—nothing happened when their eyes met. No bells went off, no choirs sang. She was just an old woman, nothing special. Nothing for Alice to hold on to.
Dorothy welcomed the two of them with an exuberant smile—as if she honestly did not see anything sad in the gesture. She indicated her couch and told them both to sit. Alice was put off by the smell of it—dust and perfume and air freshener. It had roses and daisies embroidered on it, and Alice was struck by the contrast. Had she ever seen those two flowers together before?
“Now, would either of you like something to eat or drink?” she nodded hopefully.
“No, thank you,” Alice said, too quickly.
“Uh,” Kyle smiled at her, “Sure, Mrs. Daniels. I’d love some of that ice tea I had last time, if it’s not too much trouble.”
“Of course, dear,” Dorothy made her way into the kitchen, “I’ll just be a moment.”
“You know, it’s okay,” he shrugged to Alice once Dorothy was out of earshot. “I was a little weirded out at first, too, but…her ice tea is really good. She makes it herself. And…I mean, there’s no weird, like, old people taste to it.”
“I’m just not hungry,” she shrugged. “Or thirsty.”
“Okay,” he nodded. “So…uh, do you live around here?”
“Didn’t I just say that?” she shot.
“Sorry,” he cracked his knuckles. “Just trying to make conversation.”
There were so many questions in her head. So many. She wanted to know about everything—every detail of her family’s life—everything she couldn’t remember. Cynthia—the institution—her parents—even herself. Could Dorothy have old photographs or paintings of a human Alice stashed away somewhere?
“Here you are, dear,” Dorothy came back with two glasses of ice tea. “And I brought one for you too. Just in case.”
“Thanks, Mrs. Daniels,” Kyle smiled.
“Thank you,” Alice reluctantly took the glass.
“You know, they say ice tea is good for the heart,” Dorothy nodded to herself as she sat.
“It’s great, Mrs. Daniels,” Kyle smirked after sipping from his glass. He asked her about her day. She explained her monotonous activities that Alice had watched. Alice just stared, nodding occasionally, shifting her weight, running her fingers through her hair. There were no pictures on the walls; just knickknacks on warped shelves…a plastic martini glass, an embroidered ‘Home is where the heart is’ tapestry, a wooden miniature horse…a white porcelain ballerina.
“You know Alex Trebek used to own a ranch,” she nodded, in the middle of some kind of discussion with Kyle.
“Cool,” he shrugged. “I did not know that. Did you know that, Alice?” He smiled at her.
“Uh, no,” she shook her head, distracted. “A...a ranch for horses?”
“Race horses,” Dorothy nodded. “He had a Thoroughbred called Reba’s Gold. Isn’t that the oddest name? The poor thing.”
“Have you ever had a horse, Mrs. Daniels?” Alice forced a tiny smile.
“Oh, once, when I was very little. My mother loved them,” she nodded. “His name was Taffy.” She laughed like a small child.
“I love taffy,” Kyle shrugged, trying to appease her.
“So did I,” she said. “I’m afraid I’m not supposed to have it anymore, though—“
“Your mother?” Alice nearly crushed the glass in her hands. “Your…your mother? She liked horses?”
“Love them,” Dorothy shook her head. “She spent so much time down in the barn with horses…She was very happy there.”
“That’s great,” Kyle shrugged.
“She…do you know how she…” Alice shook her head. She was stretching. “You don’t by any chance know if her family was big into horses?”
“Oh, no, I’m sorry dear. She didn’t talk about her family much,” Dorothy smiled.
“Did you ride with your mother?” Kyle gave Alice a sideways glance. He probably felt like she was insane.
“Oh, I was never very good,” she smiled modestly. “But I loved to watch her. She could do tricks and jumps and…she had the greatest horse. A beautiful mare. She had the loveliest long, black mane and the strength of a horse four times her size. She was a treasure that one.”
“She sounds very special,” Kyle said.
“Oh, yes. No one else was ever allowed to ride her. She was just my mother’s. Her own Mary Alice. What a special thing she was.”
Alice dropped the glass.
Too much! Too much! It was just too much!
“I’ll leave you two alone,” Maria excused herself, inching out the doorway she’d led Jasper through. He heard a key turn.
“Please!” SaraBeth screamed. “Please, Mr., please don’t hurt me!”
“Please, Mr. Please, please. Help me, please!” She pulled against her restraints. She was pretty—olive skin with deep brown hair falling just past her shoulder. She wasn’t wearing much. Just a dirtied navy blue tank top and tiny black shorts. Her eyes were blue. Her cheeks were pink.
Far, far too much…
“Help please, Mr.! I’m so hungry! So, so hungry!” She watched his face. “You don’t want to hurt me, do you, Mr.?”
“Jasper,” he snarled. “Stop with the Mr. It’s ridiculous.”
“Oh! I’m so sorry! Jasper, then!” She started crying. “Jasper, please! You don’t want to hurt me, do you? You…please, Jasper! Please don’t!”
“Quiet!” he demanded, and she gasped then tried to quiet her crying.
“Oh, please, Jasper,” she whispered after a few moments. “Please, help me. I’m so hungry-“
She screamed. He hoped it was just from the fear. He didn’t want to hurt her. He didn’t want to…
It rushed down his throat in mouthfuls, staining his teeth, polluting his mind. He sucked harder. She screamed louder. He was hurting her.
It was just too much…
“148 Bartlett, please,” Edward said quietly, and the cab moved. It was very early, almost six o’clock in the morning. The city was quiet.
Bella sat, her arms crossed. “148 Bartlett,” she scoffed, smug.
“I know the address,” he shrugged. “I know lots of insignificant things.”
“Hmm,” she stared forward, and he smirked and inched closer to her.
“I do,” he kissed her cheek. “I know the first hundred digits of pi; I know the king of hearts is the only king without a mustache; I know the plastic things at the end of shoelaces are called aglets; I know the top ten songs of 1987.”
“Liar,” she fought her forming smile.
“Oh really?” he tucked her hair behind her ear and leaned in, whispering. “One-‘Faith’ by George Michael. Two-‘Alone’ by Heart. Three-‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ by Whitney Houston. Four-‘C’est la Vie’ by Robbie Nevil. Shall I continue?”
“How am I supposed to know you’re not just making these up?” she dared.
“You can look it up. I’ll write them down for you,” he promised. “Do you have a pen?” He began to rifle through his pockets.
“Edward,” she placed her hands over his. “Its fine. I believe you.” She brought a hand to his cheek. “I’m not angry with you.”
“Because we’re in Chicago?”
“Because you haven’t done anything wrong,” she shrugged.
“Does that mean we can go home?” he took her hand from his cheek and held it in his own.
“After we see the house,” she nodded.
He chuckled and squeezed her hand. “So, so stubborn.”
She smiled and laid her head down on his shoulder. He traced circles on her palm. “1987, huh?”
“Quite an important year for you, no?”
“Quite,” she mocked him gently.
“And yet I seem to know more about it than you do,” he shrugged.
“Edward Anthony Cullen,” she sighed.
“So if I know more about the world that you came from, why can’t you know more about the world that I came from?” he kissed her temple.
She leaned up and kissed his cheek, then lay back down.
“I’m ignoring you,” she whispered.
He chuckled lightly, and they both sat up when they felt the cab begin to slow. “Here we are, folks. 148 Bartlett.”
Bella peered out the window in a near panic, and then sighed in awe, “Here we are.”
“Do I go up?” Renesmee whispered as the church stood and began moving in slow lines towards the priest, who stood with a dish, front and center.
Carlisle watched a woman hold her hands out and receive Christ. It was nice to see the church had replaced the idea of placing the host in one’s mouth for them. It was never a very sanitary practice.
He wanted her to go. He hadn’t thought long about it beforehand, but with the option laid out in front of him, he found the idea wonderful: Renesmee Carlie Cullen receiving holy communion. He fought the rush of emotion, “If you’d like.”
She shuffled uneasily, “You’re not going to?”
“No,” he said, gently.
“Oh okay,” she sighed. “Then…I’ll just stay with you.”
“No, Renesmee, by all means. Go if you’d like,” he nodded encouragingly.
She shook her head, “That’s okay. I’d rather be here.”
“Really, go,” he insisted then shrugged, “You have no reason not to.”
She paused, “What does that mean?”
“Nothing,” he smiled. “Just…please. It would make me very happy if you went up.”
She examined his face--his whispering eyes, pleading with something, asking something. “Okay,” she resigned, “What do I do?”
“You just wait in line, then, when you get up to the priest, put your hands out. He’ll tell you that you are receiving the body of Christ. Then, you say ‘Amen’, eat the wafer, and come sit back down,” he said.
She grimaced, “I have to eat something?”
He laughed lightly, “If memory serves, it hardly has any taste anyway. You’ll be fine.”
“All right,” she shrugged, “If you really want me to.”
“Thank you, Renesmee.”
As if she was guilty of something, she stood cautiously, “Here goes nothing.”
Rosalie had never been the damsel in distress type. And the one time that she could have been mistaken for it, she showed up all Uma Thurman to do the bastards in. Emmett had never seen her as weak. He’d never felt the need to protect her.
That was why it had been hard at first to understand Edward’s need to be around Bella constantly. He was better about it now—now that he knew she could handle herself, but the first few times Emmett had seen them together, it had been almost comical. His brother was a different person—a personal bodyguard for this girl. He didn’t laugh; he hardly breathed; he practically never moved.
“I don’t understand,” the girl said for the third time. “You live out here?”
“Near here,” he tried to explain. “I just got a little lost. I was hoping you two could help me get home.”
Jim was leaning against a tree, “Lost, huh?” Emmett was glad he couldn’t hear exactly what he was thinking; his tone implied some sort of competitive feeling—as if Emmett was trying to steal the girl away fro himself.
“Oh, well,” the girl shrugged. “I don’t really know the woods all that well. Uh, Jim? Maybe you could--?”
“Yeah, yeah,” Jim nodded. “Where do you live?”
“Uh, Fuller Way,” Emmett said. The street was crowded, an Elementary school and a row of houses. Crowded. “You know where that is?”
“Uh, sure, yeah,” Jim shrugged and pointed east, “Just head over that way. It’ll lead you right to it.”
He was wrong. Emmett would have ended up on the highway. Jim didn’t know these woods at all. It was almost comforting—at least he hadn’t done this before. “Oh,” Emmett shifted his weight and stuck his hands in his pockets—dictionary definition of awkward teenager. “I was kind of hoping you could maybe take me there. I just don’t follow directions really well. I mean, if its not, like, a lot of trouble.”
“Well, we were actually kind of in the middle of something—“ Jim smiled.
“Sure, we can take you,” the girl shrugged.
“Thank you,” Emmett smiled at her. “I’m sorry. You look really familiar. What’s your name?”
“Rachel,” she smiled. “You know, you look kind of familiar, too. Do you go to Miller?”
Miller. It would have been insulting if it wasn’t so sad. Miller Junior High School. Junior High. She couldn’t have been more than fourteen.
“Not anymore, but I used to,” Emmett nodded. “I know I’ve seen you before, though. Rachel what?”
“You don’t need to know that,” Jim took a step towards him. Emmett turned slightly to Rachel. How could she be so blind? How could she stand there and witness this man luring her into a trap?
“No, really,” he smiled to her. “It’s on the tip of my tongue.”
“O’Malley,” she shrugged, happily. Jim let out a short breath. “And you are…” she narrowed her eyes, and then perked up and pointed to him, “Tommy Blake!”
“Yes!” he laughed with her.
“From Mrs. Nolan’s Language class!”
“Exactly,” he nodded. “That’s where I’ve seen you.”
“Look,” Jim was sneering, “I hate to interrupt the class reunion, but Rach and I were kind of in the middle of something.”
“Oh,” Emmett looked to him, trying hard to look innocent. “What were you guys doing?”
“We were just-“ Rachel started.
“That’s really none of your business, Tommy,” Jim stepped forward. “So why don’t you just run on home and let us get back to it?”
And, then, a decision had to be made. Then, he had to choose—leave them to their ‘business’’; let Jim taint, traumatize, ruin this young girl as nature would have intended. Or not—or push Jim and Rachel as far away from each other as possible—change the order of things—fight with God.
“Go on,” Jim nodded, inching—inching closer to his prey. “I’m sure your parents are wondering—“
“No,” Emmett said calmly. “No. I’m not going anywhere.”
“Behind bars,” Rose mused, holding a white rod out in front of her with both hands. “Seems rather cruel.”
“Its for protection,” Esme shook her head, pulling her own rod up from the crib’s base. “So they don’t fall out and hurt themselves.”
“Right,” she shook her head. “When the parents leave their children alone for the night to fair for themselves. It’s terrible.”
“Most parents need to sleep, Rose,” she reminded gently.
There was something about the crib. Neither of them knew what it was. Neither of them spoke another word. Neither of them met the other’s eyes.
Perhaps it was because it was the last step. Perhaps the crib made the whole thing real—they’d had a miracle for six years. They’d had a baby—a toddler—a child—an adolescent. They had held her in their arms, felt her tiny hands hold their own And now they had another mature, well-rounded, perfect adult.
It didn’t seem in the least bit fair that it only took six years. Of course, Nessie had always been older than she appeared, so it was a relief for her that it only took six to reach adulthood, but for Rosalie and Esme…
They would cry if they could.