Bridging The Gap
The story of Isabella Swan and Edward Cullen is very well known. However, what about that of the heart and soul of the Cullen family?
The vague outline of Esme's human life, put forward by Stephanie Meyer, leaves a lot to the imagination.
What happens between each of these guidelines? What is the attraction between the eternally youthful pair, the glue that holds them together?
When Esme Platt jumped from the cliff in 1921, she thought she had nothing left to live for. As she goes through the fiery transformation, and comes out the other side she finds two men who will forever change her outlook on the life she lost.
When the worlds of the preternatural and humans collide what are the aftereffects? A continuing story of pain, love and learning to trust the world once again. Continues through the Pre-Twilight life of the Cullen "parents."
3. Wait It Out
Rating 0/5 Word Count 4923 Review this Chapter
The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
George Bernard Shaw
"Carlisle, you have to call it," a soft voice murmured behind me with a hand upon my elbow. I looked up from the glassy blue eyes before me and plucked the golden pocket watch from my pocket. The intricate ticking, coming from the beautiful device in my hand, had just recently been echoed by the ticking of the elaborate machine, laying still and unresponsive on the bed. Now, it beat alone, marking the soft breaths from the nurses, the pumping of their hearts, and my quiet, unnecessary breaths.
"Time of death, 20:42," The white sheet of the clean bed linen came up, obscuring the young man's body from view; the rustle of the sheet's cotton fibers the only noise coming from him.
Twenty-two years of age, barely a man and there he lay. A ravaged, broken body of one of the many pneumonia sufferers within the past years, seemingly just another statistic. Yet, here I stood, physically barely older than him. My body the same, except for the inability to contract the life-threatening disease I have seen continuously break humans down from the inside out. Sir William Osler used John Bunyan's term brilliantly. Pneumonia had became, within the last few years, "the captain of the men of death," overtaking the initial coining from Bunyan when talking about consumption. Unlike most other diseases that spread through the hospitals around the world in bouts, two kept reappearing, bringing with them a wave of death and eradicating the weak and healthy alike. It was hard to watch with no idea on how to stop them. I helplessly observed how each disease spread through their bodies, like wildfire through a dry bush. Slowly it ate away each of their core systems, leaving them shivering or burning up as we stood by trying to find the necessary remedy that was the needle in the haystack.
Where illnesses such as these made up a majority of deaths, there was still something that physicians as a whole could act upon. With certain history behind us mapping out ideas for future research and a seemingly unlimited future spanning ahead of us, the cures could be found and perfected until these troubles became a thing of the past. However, where it was my job to stay in a hospital I loved, it was other men's jobs to stay in the forest for days on end laboring in their passion. The logging industry of Ashland, Wisconsin was a key factor in this small town's mortality records. A fall from the great heights these men travel or an error with their instruments and there would be nothing for me or anyone else to do except accept the dead into the morgue without trouble.
Now, I walked the hospital corridors with only one destination in mind. It was always hard after you lost someone to tell the family that everything you believed in and everything that they had put all their faith in had failed them. To explain to them that no matter how hard I tried and how many of my unneeded hours I put into my work, there was no way medicine could save their loved one; to stop the devastating disease that had possessed the patient's lives way, or to bring them back. The world as a whole had changed dramatically within the two hundred and eighty years I had been present upon it. The medical world was just the tip, but the one thing that I hated within my profession was the one thing that never had changed and would never change.
I had lived many lives upon a world where I should have only been allowed one. I had seen a lot of things; my years as a human show that. There has been a lot of change within the church and religion as a whole. It was forced in the 1600's and a whole different side developed, one which I was urged into. Rulers have changed the world, policies have all been questioned and new rules have been resurrected. Even material possessions and entertainment have changed - clothes, buildings and music. The likes of Bach or Beethoven were heard from most music halls throughout my first years as a vampire and now the sounds of Louis Armstrong from the phonograph fill the houses of the town. I have studied much over my years - languages, mathematics, music and art. All of these have changed and taken me along for the ride with them. However, in the place I found my passion, there has been the greatest change.
I became absorbed by medicine about twenty years into my new life. It shortly became an obsession that rivaled the longing I had to discover who I was and what the life that I had been submerged in held. In good time, I soon became engrossed with the human anatomy, how the mechanisms inside the body united as one to make the fully functioning subject I lived and walked beside on a daily basis. Where venturing into civilizations as big as those in Europe turned out to be risky for someone as young and naïve as I was, I risked walking into a different world that was unexplored for many humans, let alone the supernatural creatures who they lived alongside. I was able to study medicine from afar. The first fifty years consisted of traveling the lands of remedial care in Europe, combing through books that told me what I was learning at university, and running from the live surgeries that became prominent in universities when my untested bloodlust became too much. I pushed myself to the limit of my sanity and the limit of my control just to prove that I could do it. While my peers thought the medical skills challenging, I desired another set of skills, a set that only I would need. I learned to control the feral side of the vampire, the person within me who was not Carlisle, the person who wanted and needed the blood of a human to survive. After time I buried him in my mind, hopefully never to be seen again. I learned to be Carlisle Cullen, son of a pastor, born 1640. With all of this in mind, I started my first footsteps on the untouched soil of medicine.
I was lucky enough to work with some of the greatest minds the earth has ever seen, most of whom the present physicians and I have to thank. Although most medical and philosophical advances occurred before I was born, these were the ones which were tried, tested and criticized throughout my initial years as a doctor. Galen, the Greek physician, was a man of great intellectual and individual strength: most ideas have stemmed from his research, and he influenced all those who have followed in his footsteps. He became someone who the majority would follow for a great number of years afterwards, while the minority endeavored to prove him wrong. It was him that triggered the likes of William Harvey or Paracelsus to correct society's misplaced and mistaken beliefs.
Where we now have some degree of knowledge on how diseases spread and the effect they have on the body as a whole, those practicing before 1550 did not. We barely know about the body now thanks to the risk of Andreas Vesalius in 1543, who overlooked the church's rulings and said while dissecting the criminals that were lain before him by a Paduan judge. Those who practiced this art in the past were able to move past what Galen had learned by dissecting monkeys or pigs, and once this gap was bridged, the world that I became immersed in has remained and probably will remain ever changing. The ever improving technology and cures are just the building blocks of what is about to come.
In the past century or so, I have witnessed some feats of medicine and chemistry which made hospital life better, for patients and doctors alike. Joseph Lister's work aided the complex surgeries that we carry out today. He founded the use of carbolic acid, which enabled the patients to recover quicker without the infections that used to plague them. James Simpson moved general medicine away from the laughing gas, which used to be used for surgeries, and onto chloroform. Both Robert Koch and Edward Jenner have provided us with some sort of treatment for the diseases that used to plague the hospitals worldwide and make the mortality rates rise in earnest - namely Smallpox, Tuberculosis, Anthrax and Cholera.
Overall, I have seen many things; some that in the past, I would have believed impossible. I have watched how the church rules and how some deliberately disobey these guidelines in order to get what they want, whether it is beneficial to themselves or the world as a whole. Presently, I believe we are entering the world which has been a long time coming, a world that can only hold new and exciting things. Women, finally and rightly so, have some say in the society that they have lived overshadowed in for far too many years. The equality has been established with women's suffrage and, when looking at the hospital environment, the number of females present has increased with fervor. Where before you would turn around and see only men, now there are a number of nurses who have quickly become the object of my admiration. I have managed to come to terms with the fact that I have become one of the only doctors with a prominent caring side. Nurses have rapidly became just as precious in the hospital as the doctors are, they care more for the patients and one another than the doctors do.
As a doctor that has practiced for over two centuries, I have seen many of the ailments that a normal doctor of medicine would only see once or twice in his lifetime. The worst pandemics were Cholera, spreading from India to America within the initial thirty years, and the Spanish Influenza four years ago. When I entered into medicine, I found a way to help people who needed my help; I found a way to become content with the life that was given to me. I was a vampire, but I blocked the side that wanted to be let out. With these two pandemics, my colleagues and I became little more than the undertakers, who plagued the back alleys of each town I worked in. There was little that any of us could do except give the patients aspirin to ease some of their pain and wait out their final hours before they left the earth.
While I throw everything I have and all of my night hours into my work, the Spanish Influenza outbreak of Chicago in 1918 became the turning point. Within the first week I had ten patients who came and went quickly, the fever swooping over their bodies leaving them dying on the hospital beds. It is always unpleasant in this vocation if your emotions become too much when dealing with a patient. I have heard that medicine is black and white and where emotions are grey thus there is no room for them in a hospital ward as they start to cloud your judgments of what is best for the patient before you. I made the mistake of becoming too attached to two of my patients during this first outbreak. The whole Masen family entered my hospital, and it was clear after the father died that none of them would leave. Elizabeth Masen and her son, Edward Junior, after his father became the two I felt the first degree of affection for since the day in 1911 when I encountered Esme Platt. I let my guard down, enough that I shed the first tears I had in many years. Where his mother was strong and reluctant to go until the end, he lay still, peaceful and beautiful upon the cot by her side. Her plea, save him, resonated through the air as her heart beat for the last time; saying a farewell to her life and son. I faced Edward. He had the beautiful face of a growing seventeen year old boy. His tousled mop of auburn hair created an angelic halo around his face. In the gore infested setting we were in at the time, I felt the oddest sensation. I coveted him as a companion, someone who would know me for me and not the person I tried very hard to be. I ached to be Carlisle Cullen, the vampire, not Doctor Cullen, the false human. I wanted to be a mentor, a friend, a brother - or a father. I had never contemplated turning a soul. I knew what I had lost, and I was unwilling to do that to someone else. His mother's command still echoed around the room; chiding me for my non-comprehending thoughts. The boy was alone in the world, and I knew that I would throw all my time, love, and effort into the boy if he were to survive. With his mother's memory forever implanted in my mind and the wedding ring she had given to me for him in my back pocket, I bit the boy on the neck, recreating my own transformation. Thus, Edward Anthony Masen became a Cullen, my beloved son.
There was a tap on my office door from a heavy hand. There was the sound of a heartbeat, slightly raised as a result of exertion, and a slight whiff of blood with the covering scent of citrus perfume and a slight twang of perspiration.
"Doctor Cullen?" a brown haired nurse called as she popped her head around the door. I inclined my head, an action for her to continue. "There is a woman in the morgue that needs calling and I am unable to find another doctor. Would you mind?"
I sighed quietly, covering up the slight drop of my brow with a small smile. A slight aroma of floral blood permeated the small, cramped room of my office as a small blush appeared across her slim cheeks. The click of her heels followed me down the whitewashed halls, squeaking slightly upon the sterilized floor. I walked through the door at the bottom of the corridor and held it open for the nurse, who leaned wearily against it. The white sheet that covered the slight body on the metal bed seemed to shine in the darkness that everyone associated with the morgue. From the body there was slight hint of salt water, mixed with a floral, spicy scent which appealed to me more than the blander one from the nurse behind me.
"What do we know?" I asked of the nurse, turning slightly so I could see her frowning face in my peripheral line.
"Nothing much, Doctor. She was found by two fishermen coming in from their day at sea. Nurse Roberts said she was a teacher at the school, but that's all. Unknown age, no next of kin as far as we can tell."
"Thank you," I called to her, lifting the sheet from the body. I heard the door shut and the woman's heels click back down the way we came. It was obvious by the state of the small form before me that this woman had either jumped or fell from the cliff. I placed it down to a jump, suicide. There are no trails leading to the cliff backing onto Lake Superior; it would make for a rough path for someone just looking for a hike. Both of her slender legs were spread at an odd angle, her right knee broken from the impact of hard rock on bone. Her left arm was shattered and covered in bruises; varying in color from fresh purple to an older yellow. My hearing picked up on a quiet trickle of liquid in her abdominal cavity, which meant internal bleeding, and she would also have a collapsed lung. Her neck followed the same pattern as her legs, highlighting what I had already summarized, a broken spine. Her caramel colored curls fell in disarray over her face, whipped by the wind and matted with mud, salt, and blood. I slowly brushed them from her pure face, and what I discovered had the power to knock my feet from under me.
"Esme," I breathed, my cold hand coming to rest upon her cheek. I ran my thumb slowly across her jaw line remembering, the bright smile that had once graced her attractive, heart-shaped face.
I could feel a gentle shaking of my thumb. I put it down to the shaking sobs that wracked through my chest while looking down at the adult version of the only woman I had ever loved. As I ran the backs of my fingers further down her cheek and onto her neck, her pulse became stronger. Through the air resonated a sound that shouldn't appear within a morgue. A gasping breath was drawn between her teeth, and then another.
"Esme," I sighed in relief with a weak laugh. She had come back, back to me. The most precious sound in my world became the sound of her heart, an ironic thought considering that the being I took the form of normally endeavored to shy away from it, unless feeding. The most precious sight was her face; the most precious scent was hers. It drew me in a rendered me entranced and helpless.
I ran my finger around to the back of her neck, my eyes never leaving her precious face. I ran a soothing finger along the first vertebrae of her spine, feeling the sharp edges of a broken bone touching her skin. As my finger touched the skin around the obviously broken area, she sucked in a great breath, her voice expressing a breathy moan of pain. She had broken her C1 and C2 vertebrae; I suspected that her spinal cord was punctured by the fall. I knew that if this was true she would lose control of her breathing shortly, and there would be nothing I could do to prevent the cardiac arrest that would undoubtedly follow.
My finger made the path over her nose and across her forehead, trying to sooth the frown lines with my touch. I knew that she would die within the next couple of minutes, and I had two choices. I could sit with her and look at the face that I wanted to belong to me someday while counting down the final seconds of her life, which was somehow linked to mine. When she died I would not be able to go on like before, I would have to live with the knowledge that I had let my only love, the only person I had ever wanted to be my wife, die, and I would no longer find anyone. Or, I could save her, and in turn save myself. I wanted her in my life; I needed her, selfishly, by my side.
"Please forgive me, Esme," I whispered onto her cheek, my lips pressed possessively, almost roughly against her porcelain skin. I placed my lips so I could feel the pulse of her jugular vein beneath them, I tasted her skin once with my tongue before my teeth slashed her skin and the tunica externa of the major vessel. Her breathing picked up, contaminating the air with her mouthwatering scent, which gave me a heady feeling as a touch of her blood hit my tongue. I quickly drew out, hoping that I had administered enough venom. I didn't give myself enough time to miss the taste of her pulling blood before I bit into her two wrists, their glass like structure so brittle in my hands.
Her whimpers started, each one breaking my heart. I stuttered backwards, my fist pressed against my mouth in a contrite action, which didn't illustrate the way my form was falling apart as her pain became mine. "I'm so sorry, Esme," I murmured, turning on my heel to track down the first doctor I could.
I ran the corridors looking for anyone, my footsteps the only sound distracting me from the broken whimpers and beating heart I left behind. I found a tired physician standing by the nurses' station. His care-worn, pinched face was concentrated on the flimsy paper in his hands. It was a pose that I had seen a lot of people undertake over the years; actually feeling the lethargy wash over them.
"Doctor Sinclair," I called his attention to me with a hand upon his arm to snap him out of his reverie. His dull blue eyes flickered to mine, "I was wondering if you could take my patients for the night. You see, I'm not feeling so well and I think I should return home." I smiled half-heartedly, just a small turn up of my upper lip, and I hoped that my white skin and dull, dark eyes would pass as a visible sign of weakness. His eyes became lidded as he contemplated this with narrowing, calculating eyes. Upon passing his test, he scoffed at me and walked in the other direction, muttering all the while.
After wishing a good night to the nurse who watched our exchange with held breath I ran back down the corridor. I was sorry that I had missed any of her transformation, even a little, and I felt a stronger urge pulling me to the small, dull room she brightened. I pushed her curls behind her ear again and carefully picked her up in my arms. The cooling heat of her skin seeped through my shirt, warming my heart as I ran out into the windy air of the night.
The hospital I worked in was not too far from the woods in which Edward and I resided. As I reached the woods, the task of negotiating the fallen logs without jostling her, which in turn made her draw in a painful breath, was tough. Her screams were absent throughout the journey as the loose liquid I had heard in the hospital and her bruises mended; perfecting a perfected form.
About a mile away from the house that I shared with my son, a sharp northern breeze blew against us, bringing with it the scent of Esme's blood that lined her tattered clothes and the familiar smell of Edward. My footsteps faltered below me as my memories dragged back from the past. I had an obligation to care for the boy I had taken in. So what was I doing with a new member of the coven in my arms, a member who would surely change both our lives, not just my own?
Upon looking up into the forest to see where I was going, my house appeared on the peripheral. My sharp sight picked out my son standing upon the porch, his hands crossed across his broad chest in a perfectly human gesture considering the weather. His eyes met my own, Edward, son, please, I pleaded before he nodded slightly, moving out of the doorway and into the living area.
I sighed quietly before turning my attention to the woman in my arms. Without looking where I was going or at Edward, I found myself in my bedroom, placing Esme upon my unused bed within mere seconds. As I sat beside her on my chair, I heard Edward's steady steps walking up the wooden stairs. I felt him, rather than saw him, walk into the room, only coming into my eye line when he sat with great trepidation on my bed next to Esme's legs.
"Carlisle?" he asked uncertainly. My eyes snapped to his, which were black with thirst. How inconsiderate I was to bring her here in the state she was in.
I'm sorry, son. It was callous of me to bring her here. Please say you will forgive me, it was not planned. I'm sorry. My face dropped from his, and I stared dejectedly at my dirt covered shoes.
"It's okay, Carlisle, I do understand."
I traced my finger across her forehead, then her violet eyelids. "I'm so sorry, Esme. It'll all be over soon, I promise," I whispered softly into her ear.
"You know her?"
I smiled peacefully while nodding; my memories going back a decade prior where I experienced a new sensation.
Another normal night shift in the town of Columbus, Ohio began in the same way it always did; the nurses made their shameless, wanton thoughts known before I was whisked off my feet by a large influx of patients. At about eight that night I was found by a nurse and escorted to the entrance hall, where I found a teenage girl. Her small face was spattered with dirt and a stubborn gleam in her wet green eyes. It was a moment that I shall never forget.
Where she was far too young and far too vulnerable to be in close proximity to me, I found myself drawn to her. She was a light shining through the night; her green eyes held a wisdom I had found in few older than her. She did not scream as the nurses and I set her leg that night, she did not complain as her father left his sixteen year old daughter alone in the city as he journeyed home, and with all these things, she captured my heart in a way that I could not comprehend. It was not love in a partner way, but it was a type of love that I had felt with Edward and his mother. It was a type of love that scared me, and yet, I could not pull away.
Her blush covered her beautiful face as I stood before her asking about the nature of the incident. It made my heart bloom, like an old man, when she said she had fallen from a tree while playing hide and seek. Children grew up far too quickly in my world, and, as I knew the initial years of adulthood can be snatched from you like they were from me, a life should be led with enthusiasm and happiness. As Esme left the day after, the only tears she had let flow in my presence came when I told her goodbye. She left a huge impression upon my dead heart. It seemed like my heart came back to life in her presence, and when she left she had taken a section with her leaving me broken and incomplete once again.
I looked up upon finishing, and noticed Edward sat staring at the pale plaster of the walls opposite him. He had a serene look on his face, which seemed out of place considering the change I had just brought to his life. Normally, for vampires more so than humans, change does not come easily. A change in location or a change in coven size normally brings about large repercussions on the leaders behalf. Bringing Edward into my life was a change which was needed and very much a blessing, the same will be true with Esme.
"Will she be okay?" he asked softly, worry seeping into his tone.
This is how it is. She has not started screaming yet, the venom will be mending her extensive injuries, but this is normal.
A strong grip appeared on my shoulder; he squeezed with a genuine affection, which would have seemed out of place a few years prior. "I'm sorry. I know how much she means to you already. Call me if you need anything, or if anything changes." He tapped my arm on the way out, his footsteps fading away as he left the room. The door closed softly behind him
I traced a lean digit down her perfectly rounded cheek; she was slowly changing temperature to match my own. She was becoming like me, and although this was what I wanted, I could not help but feel a hint of melancholy sweep over me for being the one to put her through this intense pain. I covered her small hand with my strong, angular one. This was where I would stay throughout her whole transformation; it would be my hand she could grip when the pain became too much. With her hand in mine, it felt like a connection to her, a connection I never wanted to lose. I wished for her hand to be in mine for the rest of my existence. Selfishly, I would die if I could not have this beautiful woman in my world. Somehow within the hour of finding her again my life revolved around her. I was bounded to her and to this earth if she was here.
I heard a creak of aged wood as Edward sat down on the bench beside his piano. I heard him open the lid, and the smell of resin assaulted my nose. Suddenly, there was a twitch in the posture of the woman below my hand. Her hand turned so the back rested upon the white linen bed sheet, her fingers becoming vice like on my hand, while her nails dug into the marble of my skin. And as Edward commenced his playing downstairs with one finger to an ivory key, Esme's plump lips opened in a perfect "O".
Her screams began.