Chapter 4

A heavy freight train rumbled past at full speed, no more than ten or fifteen yards from the window. For a brief second, the clamor of a full bar disappeared into the blare of the train’s horn, and every table shook violently. Beers were snatched into the air so they wouldn’t slosh. When the train had whooshed by, I glanced at the other people at the table, wide-eyed.

“Sidetrack,” one of them explained, grinning. “Aptly named.”

The others laughed, and beers were set on the now still table once more.

I became strangely popular after the first week in Patient Care. Whether it was girls who wanted to know what I knew about “Will,” or guys who flocked because the hottest guy in the M1 class had seemed to show an interest in me, it was tough to turn them down. People wanted to invite me out to bars, to coffee, to study dates. I met so many M1s, I could barely keep them straight.

Tonight it was at least Kelsey, whom I’d gotten to know. She was a native “Michigander” as they called themselves, from some small town called Petoskey. She’d done her undergrad at UM, and like many of them, hadn’t wanted to be anywhere but UM for medical school. She seemed as though she would be perfectly content to do her internship, residency and really, her entire career right here in Ann Arbor.

Or technically not here in Ann Arbor, I thought, staring out the window at the tracks.

Kelsey’s boyfriend’s name was Dan; he was in the law school. Like some longtime UM people they’d found haunts beyond the typical undergrad places, and so after a long study session—gross anatomy was our newest module—they’d dragged me and two of our study buddies, Mitch and Nabil, out to a dark bar in the neighboring town of Ypsilanti, home of the tiny Eastern Michigan University. Sidetrack was literally as it was named—about thirty feet from the main train tracks through “Ypsi.” There were two pianos, and they had a regular open mic night. As we sat and chatted and drank, on the far side of the room in a shadowed corner, people kept plugging into the amps to sign or play. Some were incredibly talented, some were incredibly well, not, but it wasn’t bad background noise either way.

And the company, so far, was pretty good.

“So, Isabella,” Nabil asked. “How’s the cold treating you?”

“Just Bella,” I answered, “and it sucks.”

They laughed.

The weather had taken a turn for the worse in the middle of October, and as we were approaching Halloween, the temperature had dropped low enough that I found it necessary to take out the down coat my mother had insisted on shipping me from L.L. Bean.

“Bella’s from Florida,” Kelsey explained, “and Arizona before that. See how her coat is new? And she didn’t even know to put her scarf on the inside.”

Ah, that. The first day I walked out in thirty-degree weather, she laughed and the next thing I knew was unbuttoning my coat and stuffing the scarf back inside the neck.

“It can’t keep you warm out there,” she said, and when I protested, added, “Just wait until January. You’ll need it over your nose and mouth to make sure you don’t freeze your throat by breathing.”

I wasn’t looking forward to that.

But tonight was reasonable, or at least, it was my new definition of reasonable. Low forties, only moderate wind, and we were tucked inside a cozy bar with fireplaces and good beer. We ragged on our professors, shared a plate of fried pickles (I thought it was a disgusting idea until I tried them), and generally let off steam. On a weeknight.

Such an odd feeling. Somehow, I had friends.

“I did spend a little time in Washington State with my dad,” I explained, and the words surprised me. I didn’t talk about Forks with anyone at Michigan. When they asked my story, I mentioned going to high school in Phoenix, then Phil’s transfer to Jacksonville. Easier to let everyone think that transition had been completely smooth, and no one asked anything about it.

“That’s right. Isn’t that where you went to school with Hotty McHotterson’s brother?” Dan grinned.

I blinked. “Who?”

Kelsey punched her boyfriend in the shoulder. “His name is Will, doofus. And I don’t think he’s hotter than you.”

“Well, then, you’re blind, because he is definitely hotter than me. Flattery will not get you laid, girl.”

She stuck her tongue out at him. “Well, but he’s an asshole. So obviously, you’re going to stick with me anyway.”

“An asshole of the highest order,” Nabil added. “Man, that guy is unbelievable. Did I tell you he corrected Dr. Jayaraman? In front of the class.”

“What?” I hadn’t heard this story. Dr. Jayaraman was our professor for gross anatomy. He’d specialized in cardiothoracic surgery and had been one of the first pioneers of open-heart surgery in India before coming to the states.

“Oh, man, it was epic. Dr. J was lecturing on the history of cardio? And Asshole is sitting in like, the back of the auditorium. And I forget what Dr. J said, but there’s like this indignant snort from up behind all of us.”

I giggled. “An indignant snort?”

Dan punched Nabil. “Yeah, Dude. An indignant snort?”

“Indignant! It was indignant, I tell you!” He waved his hands. “No, no, no. Fuck the snort. Anyway, so he snorts—”

“I thought you said fuck the snort?”

Another punch, this time thrown at Mitch.

“How do you fuck a snort, anyway?” I asked.

“An indignant snort at that,” Kelsey added, and we all laughed.

“We are so not friends anymore,” Nabil said, but he was laughing, too. “So, okay, fine. The Asshole makes this noise from the back of the room—”

“A snort.”

“—he snorts, fine.”

“Indignantly.”

“Will you all shut up?”

By that time, we were all laughing so hard we could barely manage to drink.

“Okay, okay, okay. Enough.” I cut them off. I was in a different section of Gross than they were, so I’d missed this story, and frankly, I wanted to hear it. “What did he do?”

“See? At least Bella wants to hear my story.”

“That’s ’cause she’s not indignant.”

Another round of laughter.

It felt funny, laughing. I just didn’t do it that often. Reading, yes. Crying…not as much as I used to, but more often than laughing. And certainly not this kind of teasing, ongoing laughter back and forth.

I couldn’t decide if it felt good.

“Okay. So the story,” Nabil said. “So there’s this noise—stop it—and Dr. J is all, ‘Yes? The gentleman in the back?'” He imitated Dr. J’s accent. “And Asshole is all, ‘Nothing.’ And Dr. J is like, ‘Did you wish to comment?’ And then I kid you not. Asshole proceeds to stand up, and correct everything Dr. J said about the development of cardio knowledge. Like the big stuff, okay, but he starts taking issue with all sorts of little things he said about what ventricles and valves were discovered when, and how heart disease has progressed, and all this shit. Order is reversed; there are cause-and-effect errors in the logic, et cetera et cetera. And then get this. This is the part where it gets good. Dr. J. says like, ‘I’m fairly certain I am correct in my assessments. The sources are very clear.’ And so the Asshole?”

Nabil paused for dramatic effect.

“Yeah?”

“He says, ‘You weren’t alive when those discoveries were being made, so if your sources were wrong, you wouldn’t know, would you?'”

Mitch grinned. “Oooh, burn.”

“Did he seriously say that?” Kelsey asked.

“Right? ‘Cause he’s like, what, twenty-two?”  Nabil guffawed. “Dude is out of his fucking mind.”

“What did Dr. J do?”

“Told him to have a seat and they could discuss it more at office hours. And then he sits down and puts his headphones on, real obviously, like ‘Fuck you man, I’m not listening anymore.'”

“Unbelievable. And I thought he was just an asshole to other students.”

“Nope. Equal opportunity assholery, right there.”

Dan laughed. “That’s better than Hotty McHotterson. Equal Opportunity Asshole. I like it.”

We all laughed, and for a moment the only sound at the table was beer glasses clinking as we drank.

“So,” Mitch continued a second later, turning to me. “You went to school with Hotty McHotterson-Slash-Equal Opportunity Asshole?”

“She went to school with his brother,” Kelsey said.

“Oooh. What was he like?”

What was he like? He was an accomplished surgeon, a father of five, a devoted husband, and probably the most stable person I’d ever met. Who this person was who would disrupt a lecture and then throw earbuds on to defy the professor…well, that guy I didn’t know.

I shrugged. “He wasn’t like this. But I haven’t seen him in a long time.”

“Ah, fuck the Asshole,” Nabil said, which prompted a round of laughter and “You wish you could”s from the others. But then the boys were off talking something about Michigan football—apparently the upcoming match was against the in-state rival and was to be considered a major game. I hadn’t made it to a single game since starting medical school, and so while the other four talked, I stared out into the bar.

Across the way, a guy plugged a guitar into the amp, and he took a seat before one of the lower mics. His hair hung over his face, and for a second, I thought the topic of our conversation was making me imagine things. He didn’t look up, and I couldn’t double-check, but I knew the carriage of those shoulders. The shorts had been traded for jeans, the gym shoes for black boots, the t-shirt for an untucked black button-down—but clothing was just a thing. A disguise. And it didn’t hide him well.

The song’s opening dissonant chords rolled through the bar. Slowly, a few people stopped talking, and then a few people behind them. The open mic night had been, near as I could tell, about fifty-fifty—some reasonably skilled people, and some complete hacks. But as the notes started to roll across the bar, people started to notice that someone with actual talent had taken the mic.

He knew how to play the guitar. I supposed that shouldn’t have surprised me; of course all of them, with their endless brain capacity and endless time, would know several instruments. And Carlisle had spent how many centuries alone before turning Edward? He of all of them had needed pastimes.

By the time he started to sing, the bar was almost silent. At my own table, it was Kelsey who whispered first.

“Speaking of…” she said, sounding awed.

I nodded.

I wasn’t one for music, but I knew this one. How many times had it been played at school dances, or on the guitar by emo kids who wanted attention? If anyone had asked me about it yesterday, I would’ve said it was the most cliché, overdone, saptastic song in the history of mankind, and that it was only sung by Jeff Buckley wannabes in hopes that it would hide their otherwise utter lack of talent.

But I’d never heard it sound like this.

Raw, was the word that came to mind. There was something about the way he played; the way he didn’t look up into the bar, but bowed his head ever so slightly over the mic. I’d heard the lyrics before—I was relatively sure that if I focused I could sing at least half of them—but they sounded different. As far as I knew, neither the original writer (Leonard Cohen? Was that right?) nor Jeff Buckley had been a vampire, much less a vampire who’d lost a family he spent several centuries building, but the words seemed like they were written for Carlisle to sing.

Baby I’ve been here before
I’ve seen this room and I’ve walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew ya

An understatement of epic proportion.

We sat transfixed while he played. When the last note wavered its way quiet, there was a second of pure, stunned silence before anyone began to applaud. However, when they did, it rolled across the bar in waves. Several people got to their feet, including my table.

“I had no idea the Asshole was so emo,” Nabil said.

“I had no idea the Asshole was so good,” Kelsey added.

I stood and instinctively started to edge out of my chair. “I had no idea he could sing.”

At the mic, Carlisle simply bowed his head, unplugged the guitar and shoved it back into a case with a shoulder strap. He shrugged it over his shoulder and was on his way for the door before the emcee of the open mic recovered himself and reached for the list to announce the next singer, whoever the poor sap was who had to follow that up.

Kelsey called, “Bella?” before I really even realized that I was moving toward the door. Thank goodness for him drawing attention to himself, because as he edged his way out, people kept stopping him to congratulate him on the excellent singing, giving me time to keep up.

He broke through the door after the host congratulated him, and stumbled—well, he walked in a preternaturally smooth fashion, I was the one doing the stumbling—into the frigid air outside.

The street was empty, save a few cars driving back toward the two universities and a handful of people puffing furiously on cigarettes to keep their smoke break as short as they could manage before ducking back inside.

Carlisle moved the guitar to his fist in one fluid motion and put on a knee-length peacoat that I hadn’t even seen him grab.

“Carlisle,” I said quietly.

He turned, his jaw flexing as he gritted his teeth. Funny, how at the start of the term, I couldn’t imagine ever having seen him angry. Now, the scowl seemed like it was the expression I’d always known.

“Will,” he corrected. “And why are you following me?”

“Because you’re running.”

“I’m not running.” He turned to face me square. “What do you want?”

“The song was good,” I managed. “I didn’t know you could sing.”

“Everyone can sing.”

My heart pounded loud enough that I knew he could hear it from where he stood. We stared at each other as some of the smokers wandered inside and a rusting sedan full of disorderly boys rumbled its way down Cross St. In the distance, another train whistle blared.

“What do you want, Isabella?” he repeated.

“You,” I said, before I’d thought better of it. “I want to be around you.”

For a long moment he looked skyward. Even from several feet away, I heard him inhale and exhale slowly, though no water vapor formed from his breath.

“You weren’t supposed to be here,” he said simply.

Was that why he’d played? He hadn’t expected anyone there to know him?

“Well, I was.”

“Oh, trust me, I noticed.” His jaw flexed again. “What was it again? Equal opportunity assholery?”

My stomach seized, and I could feel the heat rising in my cheeks. “You weren’t supposed to hear that.”

He tapped his ear with an index finger. “Unfortunately for us both, I’m not gifted with your poor, selective, human hearing.”

Tears stung my eyes at once. I swallowed to keep them at bay.

“I just”—my hands clenched into fists—”I want to be able to talk to you.”

For a long moment, he didn’t reply, just stared down at the sidewalk, which shone an eerie blue/orange beneath the streetlights and the reflected neon from the nearby bars. The train whistle blasted again.

When Carlisle finally spoke, his voice was low and careful.

“Bella,” he said gently, “has it occurred to you that perhaps I do not wish to talk to you?”

I choked. The tears came at once, in full force, first warm as they rushed down my cheeks, but only a second later becoming cold and sticky in the night air. My face stung.

Carlisle muttered, “Goddamnit.”

At least I thought he did.

Another vaporless sigh. “I am trying not to be a jerk, here,” he said.

“Well you’re sucking at it!”

He blinked.

Well, that was good at least. Guess he hadn’t expected that. Bella Swan, equal opportunity asskicker. For a moment we only stared at each other. The music from the bar gained volume suddenly and quieted just as fast as another smoker ducked back inside.

“Honestly. What is your problem?”

For a moment, he looked away. In the darkness, I couldn’t make out if it was an angry expression, a sad expression, or what—I watched the blue-orange lights from the streetlamps and the cars and the bars bounce off the planes of his face in odd ways.

He looked very pale.

“You,” he said finally. He didn’t turn back to look at me. “Isabella, you are my problem.”

“What?”

“You! You are my problem!” He took a step backward as though he needed even more distance than we already had. Gone was the smooth, deep voice I’d heard just a few minutes before, replaced by a strangled, high-pitched whine that didn’t suit him.

“Before you I had everything,” he went on, still not looking at me. “My wife. My children. My job. My son…”

Edward. My stomach clenched.

“I had all those things,” he went on. “I had a family…”

The whistle blasted again, and a second later, the entire street was flooded with light from the headlight of a locomotive. Carlisle’s blue-orange skin became pure white in the light. For a long moment, he turned to look at the train barreling toward us. Then he looked back at me.

“Bella, I had everything, he repeated. “And then you showed up, and eighteen months later, I had nothing. So…no. No, I don’t want to talk to you. Please. Leave me alone.”

And then he stepped in front of the train.

I think I yelped; perhaps I outright screamed. It had been too long of course. I’d forgotten the way Edward’s hand shot out over my body that icy morning in the Forks High parking lot; forgotten how strong they were; how fast. There was no screech of brakes against iron rails, no shuddering impact, no nothing. Just the blare of the whistle, the deep rumble of the cars rushing by, and when the train cleared, the vampire was nowhere to be seen.

~||x||~

The following Monday I got my lab space. An infernally tiny room which I had to share with a researcher creating little diabetic rats to test lab grown islet cells. One wall of little plastic tub cages was his, and white rats skipped in them, rustling their pine litter against the walls. The other wall, however, contained larger plastic tubs for my degus.

I spent most of my spare time there over the next two weeks, getting ready for my shipment of animals. Artificial serotonin and dopamine made their way into the fridge, as did liquid versions of most of the major antidepressants.

I still studied with Kelsey and Nabil, and occasionally Mitch. None of them, to their credit, asked me what had happened with “The Asshole” that night at Sidetrack. They had also stopped referring to him, though I gathered that this was at least in part due to the fact that Carlisle had a proclivity for not attending class.

I couldn’t blame him for that. It wasn’t as though he needed to.

For my part, I tried not to think about him. The first night, I’d had a nightmare in which Carlisle hadn’t managed to duck the train. Instead it had rammed into him with full force, mangling itself as it flew off the rails and mangling him also.

I woke up in a cold sweat. And then vowed I would stop thinking about it.

So when a knock came at the lab door, I figured it was Kelsey coming to grab me for our Chipotle date.

“I’ll be right out,” I called. “Burritos wait for no woman.”

“Burritos are inanimate,” a deep voice answered as the door opened. “It would be difficult to say they exactly ‘wait’ for anyone.”

I leapt up so quickly that I caught my finger between the wires on the shelf in the fridge. It screeched as it jerked forward, and my stomach clenched as I realized I was about to send several dozen glass vials flying onto a very hard tile floor.

Except I didn’t.

The next thing I knew, I was sitting on one of the stools, my middle finger throbbing, but with the fridge in perfect order. Two very cold hands moved over mine, gently pressing at my knuckles.

“Ow.”

“That hurts?” The hands pressed again. A searing pain shot from my middle finger to my wrist.

“Yes! Fuck! And Jesus, let go of my hand.”

“I’m sorry.” He perched himself on the other stool. “It’s only a sprain. You can get a finger splint from any drugstore, and it will feel better in a couple of days. Do you have any ibuprofen?”

“Not here,” I grumbled.

“Ice?”

“Does this look like an infirmary?”

He shook his head and promptly vanished, reappearing no more than twenty seconds later with a frosty can of Coke.

“Don’t grip it,” he said, handing it to me. “It will feel good at first, but then your knuckle will want to lock that way. Just lay it against the back of your hand.”

I blinked. Had he just run down the hall at full speed?

“Did you just—?”

“I was discreet,” he answered. He watched me put the Coke can against my hand. A good minute passed without either of us saying anything.

“How did you know I was here?” I asked.

He shrugged. “We all have our hiding places.”

“Oh?” I raised my eyebrows.

“The Starbucks on South U sees a lot of me. As does the art museum.”

I didn’t say anything.

“And, Alice might have hinted you were here.”

Alice. Edward had always called her unbearably meddlesome—his complaints about her had been second only to his complaints about Rosalie. But I thought back to her e-mail, and the way she seemed to be trying to keep track of Carlisle and me both.

“Her e-mail address bounced when I tried to answer her.”

He nodded. “Honestly, sometimes she disappears on me, too. ‘Autonomy,’ she calls it.”

And yet she told him where I was…

“Why are you even here?”

He looked at the floor uncomfortably, his hair falling forward over his face. “Alice said I needed to apologize,” he mumbled. “She said it wasn’t fair of me. What I said to you.”

That was an understatement. I raised my eyebrows.

“I’m sorry I lost my temper,” he said.

“That’s not an apology. That’s you expressing your own remorse at your lack of self-control.”

I sounded like my shrink. She would’ve been proud of me. I made a mental note to bring that up at my next appointment.

Carlisle sighed. “Bella, I’m not good at this.”

“No shit. I figured that much out.”

A soft thud echoed as he sprang off his stool and began to pace. He was back in athletic shoes again today, and they squeaked as he walked back and forth.

“This isn’t easy for me, you know,” he said. “You being here.”

“Are you under some sort of mistaken impression that it’s a walk in the park for me? First you ignore me, then you tell me I’m your biggest problem, then you walk in here to apologize and you sprain my hand.”

“Technically, you sprained your own hand,” he said, and I scowled.

“Do you know how long it took me to tell all of you goodbye? To get over you leaving? To get over losing Edward?”

The squeaking stopped. Except for the scrabbling of little rat paws on plastic, the room fell silent. When Carlisle finally spoke, his voice was quiet, timid.

“You got over losing Edward?”

Had I really just said that?

“I haven’t,” I said at once.

Except that wasn’t true. My little Toyota. My acceptance to medical school. The fact that I wasn’t taking psychotropic drugs every hour on the hour. That my therapist here only saw me once or twice a week.

I could think about him now without crying, for the most part. There wasn’t that yawning gap in my stomach. I didn’t wake up screaming. Hell, I hadn’t woken up screaming even when I’d dreamed about Carlisle and the train…

He sat back on the stool quietly, tucking his feet under the little bar and putting his head in his hands.

“Carlisle?”

No answer.

I reached across to him, and my hand no sooner made contact with his shoulder than he  jerked upright to knock it away.

“It’s not fair, you know.” He still didn’t look at me. Instead, he spoke to my lab partner’s rats, as though they might offer him comfort or answers he wouldn’t get from me. “It’s not fair that you are human.”

I rolled my eyes. “Gee, thanks, Rosalie.”

A brief flicker of eye contact. “That’s not what I mean. I’m not upset with who I am. But I’m jealous. That you can grow, and change, and…” He swallowed, and his head dropped back into his hands.

For a long moment, we both sat there. The Coke was getting warm, so I slid it aside on the lab table with a screech.

“I keep thinking,” he went on finally, closing his eyes and balling his hands into fists. “Keep hoping, I guess. It’s stupid; I know it’s stupid. I know what I am.”

“You keep thinking what?”

“That it’s going to go away. I keep thinking that some night, I’m going to look up at the sky and I’m not going to remember all the nights I watched the stars with Edward. That I’ll sit around on an afternoon and the Beatles will come on the radio, and I won’t miss dancing with Esme. I keep thinking”—an odd, ragged breath—”I keep thinking that one day, the sun will rise and that day will be the day it doesn’t hurt anymore.”

He hopped off the stool. He wasn’t wearing a coat today; which was odd as it was below freezing. Before I could move, he was at the door, his hand on the knob.

“Wait—” I managed, and he stopped briefly, looking over his shoulder. He blinked.

“It’s true. I am sorry,” he said quietly. “I’m sorry about what I said. And I’m sorry that you had to hear all this. But most of all, Isabella, I’m sorry because I can’t be the man you’re looking for right now. I just…I can’t.”

“Carlisle, wait.”

He froze, and for a moment, his eyes locked to mine. They were a dark honey amber; the halfway point between when he was fully satiated and when he would need to feed.

“Will,” he said forcefully. “Bella, it’s Will.”

Then the door opened, and he disappeared…past a very stunned-looking Kelsey, who stood, backpack in hand.

“Was that—?”

I nodded. Moving to the doorway, I positioned myself so that I could watch him go.

“Bella! You should’ve invited him to lunch!”

I shook my head.

“He…he needed to go run,” I answered.

The main door to the research lab wing hissed as it closed behind him.

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§ 22 Responses to Chapter 4"

  • jennyfly says:

    one day.
    Will has himself trussed up in thick rubber gloves, and he’ll peel them back for no man– nor woman. If you think of his situation from a vamp point of view, this makes perfect sense. His situation was practically imprinted upon him: first Edward became a part of his life. Then Esme did. Then all of the others did. And as he lost one and all of them in turn, he didn’t lose the programming that binds them to him. He has an Edward-shaped hole in his heart and an Esme-shaped hole just beside it, and to lesser extents he has Alice, Rosalie, Emmett, and Jasper shaped holes as well. And living with a swiss-cheese heart is no good, even if one doesn’t rely on it to beat and pump.
    And he’s right about Bella. She started out with a great big debilitating Edward-shaped hole, but, being human, she slowly heals. The matter scars over. It will indeed never be the same; she won’t be the same Bella she was before Edward, but she’s also every day improved from the Bella she was immediately upon losing him. No longer bleeding out, no longer stuttering to function.
    These handicaps are communicated so perfectly in your work. The reader FEELS the holes and the stapled-up meat with ragged edges. It’s all so powerful and not enough.
    Never enough.
    Thank you.

    • giselle says:

      Thanks. :) I need a blushing smiley face on word press.

      “A swiss-cheese heart is no good.” Holding onto that one for posterity.

  • StormDragonfly says:

    As you may imagine, life is pretty busy and story alerts can pile up. The day I learn that Near to You updated (which you’ve already read, don’t deny it ;) ) is the same day One Day the Sun Will Rise updates. (1. That’s a lot of word repetitiveness in that sentence 2. Yes, of course I caught the title reference) One guess where I went when facing the pile of updates, including at least three fairly choice ones waiting.

    I’d noticed the line teasers you’d been using on gchat, so that might have influenced me a bit.

    I went ballistic when I hit the “Hallelujah” scene. You might put it down in the chapter, but it’s come to playfully have a meaning between myself and another mutual friend. I tweeted about it, without spoiling the open mic at a bar atmosphere you developed around it. I considered copying and pasting the scene in an email to E, but that just wouldn’t work, because without the atmosphere and lead up, it just isn’t the full punch. So, that says something to me, that there’s a moment when I read a handful of words and hit the ceiling with excitement, but I can’t share just those handful of words. You crafted it that way, the “I guess you needed to be there” way, the “no way can you quote my shit and get it without having been part of it all along.” I hope this rambling paragraph makes sense.

    Now I’m going to keep gushing like this is an FFn review and not a thoughtful review from a reader who subscribes to your website. Mostly because I just want to squee.

    Such dramatic use of the train! The bar, the conversation, the leap and Bella’s panic, and finally Bella’s nightmare.

    How many seconds does it take to plug money into a vending machine and get a can out of it? Damn, I want a Coke. Was it a vending machine? Is there a fridge of drinks that doesn’t require money or automated delivery?

    I really find it interesting how much Carlisle’s kinder nature struggles against his desire to be an asshole. Speaking of asshole, I wonder whether or not his feelings were hurt when he overheard that conversation Bella had with her friends. If he did, well, it would show that some part of him still cares. It also shows that his reasoning isn’t matching his emotions (Bella didn’t call him that, and her laughing along is merely her encouraging the persona he decided to create). I think I’ve reviewed about this before, how Carlisle is letting his emotions lead him instead of his reasoning, but of course in this instance, it’s all supposition.

    I did enjoy how you chose to get the idea across that Carlisle’s pain is more permanent because he’s a vampire. The comparisin with how Bella moves on. (Of course, there’s in overlap there; they’ve both gone to medical school, so if that’s a sign of Bella moving on, then…)

    Let’s take a moment to revisit the image of Carlisle on stage at a bar strumming and singing “Hallelujah.”

    Still there.

    Nope, not letting that one go, ever. :-) In fact, if there’s anything more I think of to say, I’m going to have to come back later, because that image just won’t let anything else in right now.

    Thank you.

    • giselle says:

      I thought it was quite funny that Near To You updated the same day I finally had a One Day chapter ready. Of course I read it; I’m a huge fangirl. In fact, in some ways (although those ways are growing further and further apart as both of us get further with the very different stories) NTY inspired One Day.

      How wild about Hallelujah. I had no idea. As for the Coke, by my calculations, roughly 2/3 of the time he was gone was spent getting the can to dispense.

      I think Carlisle struggles about how much to be hurt by being called an asshole. On one hand, it sets up a comfortable wall. On the other, well, people are calling him an asshole. And people he knows (and cares about, however little he’s willing to admit it at this point) are laughing about it.

      Glad you enjoyed it. There’s a lot more to come. If I’m not so slow.

  • BHBabe says:

    This story of deep, heartbreaking loss and healing has touched me deeply in a way I cannot fully express and honestly don’t completely understand. But I did want to let you know how much I am enjoying your writing and that I am looking forward to watching the story unfold.

  • musicdaydreams says:

    Okay, trying to leave a review after jennyfly is like that poor sap who had to follow Carlisle on open-mike night. So, all I’m going to say is that I really love this story. This Carlisle breaks my heart like no other – I’m am so intrigued by the person he’s become. He’s always seemed so in control of everything, but for all his loneliness in the past, I don’t think he’s ever had to deal with this type of grief before. And he’s not handling well. I thought the scene in the bar parking lot was so devastating for both Carlisle and Bella. But it was beautifully heartbreaking to read.

    • giselle says:

      Hah! Well, I’m glad you did it anyway, as it’s always wonderful to hear your thoughts on a new piece/chapter. And yes. There’s a world of difference between never having had companionship and having it and losing it. The difference between a single woman and a widow is immense—and that’s where Carlisle is.

  • Tina says:

    The more I think about it, the more I believe that Carlisle had to say that Bella was responsible for his loss – had to get it out of his system. Holding in the anger and hate just made it more difficult to deal with. Besides, it’s easier for him to blame her than to allow the self-doubt about his own actions (allowing Edward to make the family leave, and allowing him to separate from the family) to take hold. If it’s her fault, it isn’t his or Edward’s.

    It’s hard to see Carlisle like this. He is supposed to be the eternal optimist, the dad, the doctor who takes care of everybody else.

    I’m so glad you posted this chapter. I need to follow your example, and do some writing.

    • giselle says:

      Absolutely. There are so many layers to what C is feeling here—he had to start scratching the surface, and the surface is Bella.

      We turn outward before we turn inward.

  • miaokuancha says:

    I am irrationally clinging to an irrational hope that we do not know what has actually happened to Edward. Since Esme and the rest of the family are still alive. And why would Esme call Carlisle a jackass. There is some kind of story behind this. I hope. And for the record, I think this story is your finest piece of writing yet. It’s absolutely stunning in every respect.

    • giselle says:

      My lips are zipped. However, the scene explaining the divorce is actually going down today–it won’t leave me alone.

  • Liz says:

    luckily I caught someone mentioning that this had updated, now to put you in my bookmarks so I can check periodically.
    what we already know lingers in our mind and what you do is make it richer, better, more intense. I feel as raw as Carlisle, as tenuous as Bella..amazingly done.
    thank you.

    • giselle says:

      Well, thank you. :) And if you’d like, you can get updated via the website itself–the link is over in the menu. I don’t post often enough to send a lot of spam.

  • What a range of emotions! I was laughing one moment and near tears the next.

    “Will,” he said forcefully. “Bella, it’s Will.”

    So much power in that one line.

  • Malianani says:

    I have loved this story from the moment I first set eyes on it. I’m flat out intrigued by this angle into Carlisle’s psyche. I’ve seen so many stories where Carlisle is the patient one, the strong one, the compassionate one, the wise one. . .and, in many ways, he is all those things; but this story invites us to experience another aspect of his character that is exposed to us through the tragic experience of Carlisle’s loss of Edward.

    This loss has opened up Carlisle as the angry one, the arrogant one (though I think his arrogance is a shield for his deep pain), the *young* one (Bella mentions more than once within the story how Carlisle looks 23 both by the way he dresses and through the vulnerability he lets slip every once in a while), the impatient one, the haunted one. You skillfully mold his character with a depth and breadth that I think many of us always knew he had the potential to possess, but few of us writers could develop as well as you have.

    You’ve done a fabulous job developing Bella, as well. She’s stronger after her loss and is healing emotionally (which you expertly contrast to Carlisle’s pain, which is as raw as it was the day he learned of Edward’s demise); she stands up for herself and, though Carlisle’s words outside “Sidetrack” spark tears, she is not ultimately cowed by Carlisle’s insults.

    Of course, for me, Carlisle is the main attraction of this chapter and you’ve certainly set the stage for a reader to perform a little psychological analysis of him. I’ve always thought that vampires are like humans with a magnified emotional life. They may have “expansive” minds, but I believe they have the ability to lie to themselves, perhaps even to hide truths from themselves in a subconscious way because to face reality would be too painful. Such is the case with Carlisle. I love how you set up his pain in such a way that it is revealed one layer at a time, like peeling an onion. Each chapter you’ve written reveals a little more to the reader. In this chapter, Carlisle finally reveals a layer of his pain to Bella (he has a bit in earlier chapters, too, but not as openly as at “Sidetracked” and in the lab). He tells her that *she* is his problem. And I expect he believes it, at this stage of the game. It’s easy to point the finger at Bella for his personal tragedy. He blames her for the breakup of his family–that he had everything until she came along.

    I find it extremely revealing, though, how he seems to “grade” his family by level of importance as he speaks to Bella in the lab. He talks about losing his ‘family,’ then ‘Esme’ and finally, his ‘Son’ (which he *emphasizes*). Edward, his son, was the center of his life–the axis around which his life revolved. When that center was removed, everything else fell apart as well. Carlisle can blame Bella for this, but he was the one who acted like an “jackass” around Esme–not Bella. He made a decision to distance himself from his family. Why? Out of anger? Fear? Both? I’m sure we’ll find out as subsequent layers of his pain are revealed.

    I think that Carlisle is certainly jealous of Bella–but not simply because she is human and can heal faster than he can, emotionally. Frankly, I think he’s jealous of her because Edward chose *her* to stake his life on and not Carlisle. This, I think, touches a place of anger in Carlisle, but even deeper, a place of extreme guilt. How long had Edward languished after Carlisle had changed him? And then this girl comes into his life and he finally experiences a joy he’d probably never really reached before her. Carlisle changed Edward to relieve his own sadness and loneliness; I’m sure he felt, at the heart of it, he was being supremely selfish. Was he proved right by Bella’s involvement in Edward’s life?

    Ultimately, I think Carlisle is angry with Edward for leaving him, but is unable to be angry at Edward who is dead (and whose death he, I’m sure, feels is in large part his fault–for introducing Edward into an existence where he felt so melancholy much of the time). I also think that the only way Carlisle will begin to heal is if and when he comes to grips with these deeper feelings. It is interesting how he is so emphatic about being called “Will”; I expect, as he begins to accept his deeper feelings, he will also be more willing to accept his ‘true’ name again, as well :)

    I appreciate how you echo Carlisle’s earlier (pre-family) suicidal tendencies by having him jump in front of the train and “disappear”.

    And I could go on and on!! I know I’m rambling here, but frankly, every time I read a chapter of this marvelous story, I find all my synapses firing at once and I can barely hold my thoughts together. . .so much to ponder!

    I’m looking forward to the next chapter and to seeing how Carlisle and Bella both grow through this experience.

    • giselle says:

      I always fail at replying to your reviews, and it’s not because they aren’t wonderful. I kind of want to comment on each and every thing, and go back and forth–which we do anyway.

      Perhaps the best reply is merely to say that I find it easiest to reply after I’ve written the next chapter, when I’ve found myself coming back to what you said as I snap the pieces together for the next part of the puzzle. it helps me refocus, and find all the threads I’m weaving–some without my knowledge–and put all the pieces in to each new segment.

      It’s quite a gift, so thank you.

  • Simone says:

    I owe you a serious review, and no story deserves praise more than this one.

    Once again, I’m completely blown away by your masterful and artful rendering of Will née Carlisle. But that’s no surprise—he’s more your character than anyone else’s, including Stephenie Meyer. I applaud you for exploring new facets of his character. It’s a daring, unique view that no one but you could pull off. Not only is he a grieving father and ex-husband, he’s also a depressed vampire. Speaking as someone who has experienced major depression and the feelings of hopelessness that accompany it, I can’t even imagine what it would be like to truly have no hope—to be stuck in the rut of depression for the foreseeable future, because that’s what my very being dictates. That has to be overwhelming. It also begs the question of why he hasn’t “opted out” like Edward.

    On the flip side, I’m enjoying the quiet strength of your Bella. Despite Will treating he poorly, she hasn’t crumbled. She’s recovering slowly, but surely. For once, a man will rely on her, instead of vice versa. It’s such a pleasure to see a Bella I can enthusiastically root for, even enjoy the time spent inside her head. My only complaint is that it was far too short a time. I’m greedy and enjoy instant gratification—so write on! I look forward to reading the journey unfold, wherever it may lead.

  • Lila says:

    He must be, literally, in hell. I can’t imagine never getting over something like that.

  • Sandra says:

    I think this chapter might have included some of the most powerful scenes I’ve ever read in a fic. Or a book, for that matter. The use of the song, with the lyrics, just screamed of Carlisle’s pain. JennyFly’s comment above really captured my feelings. He is living with a bunch of holes in his heart where his family used to be. And since we still don’t know whether Edward is alive or dead, we don’t know whether he’ll ever heal from that. He’s right that human pain fades over time, though Bella will never be the same as she was before Edward, and the experience has shaped her into the person she is right now. Carlisle doesn’t have that option. He doesn’t even have sleep to escape the memories for just a moment. Instead, they are always there, always burning, always reminding him of what he had and lost. No wonder he’s behaving like an asshole. He’s letting his emotions lead him, something that I think he may have forgotten was possible during his long life. I think that Edward’s death/disappearance has completely eradicated the logical person that existed before.

    I wonder too, if he’s projecting his own guilt on those around him, Esme and Bella included. I wonder if he feels guilty and/or responsible for Edward’s death/disappearance, since he had the option of not agreeing to leaving Forks. He could have put his foot down as the patriarch and refused to follow that asinine plan of leaving Bella behind. So, is his own guilt the reason he’s pushing everyone away? Does part of him think that he no longer deserves to be happy at all, falling into a similar trap as Edward did?

    Excellent chapter. I’m just in awe how well you develop the character we know so little about from canon, and make it all make sense.

    Thank you!

  • Jenny says:

    I would that Bella had not shunned humanities for the sake of scientific studies. To close herself from connections offered in literature, art, and song was to stunt her own spiritual growth as much as was experiencing her Lover’s tragedy. Car-Will deserves conversation with someone articulate enough to reach inside his attempt at apology and feel something beyond her hyperselfishness.

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