Sometimes Esme remembers the beginning. She remembers closing her eyes and falling asleep without the final fall into unconsciousness. She remembers being stunned by her skin glittering in the sunlight. She remembers the panic when she fell down a flight of stairs, so similar to the breathless drop off a cliff, and the way everything came crashing down when she realized that she would never be hurt like that again. And of course, Esme remembers the bright, burning fire of her immortal infancy, how crystal clear the world was, how much every sound was, how every smell burned her nose, and the one, coppery smell that made her boil.
A prevailing emotion within the members of the Cullen family is a particular mixture of anguish and regret at their undead status. Heaven knows the emotional turmoil Rosalie has gone through. Esme feels that way too, of course, but as the years go by, it lessens. That's a lesson she’s glad to have been taught- that time really does heal most (though perhaps not all) wounds.
Esme is astutely aware of the wounds that time can ease and even soothe, but will never heal. Carlisle has learned to walk softly and delicately up the stairs, and to knock politely. He has not once flung open a door and sauntered up to her, alcohol and hatred on his breath, and Esme is eternally grateful for his, at times, unbearable kindness. She knows Carlisle, sometimes she thinks better than Edward does (despite his talents), and knows that he would never, in a million years, drunkenly march up the stairs for the same reasons with the same intent. She can’t decide if she or Carlisle is suffering more.
No matter how long it has been or how dearly she loves her children, Esme doesn’t think that she will ever be able to look at a baby without startling. It's a unique pain; one that pulls on her very soul.
Carlisle built her a greenhouse, some time ago. Privately she thinks it's a tad more practical than an island. It’s in her backyard, not off the coast of Brazil, and didn’t cost thousands of dollars. Esme will live for a thousand years, yet she will always be Esme Anne Platt from Columbus, Ohio. And try as she might, most of the plants from her youth back home just can’t handle the dismal weather of Forks the same as the dry, rolling plains. Every so often she entertains the idea of chickens and sheep, the same constant noise and routine as when she was a girl, but it is always abandoned when she remembers the sensitivity of everyone's noses. Besides. They can’t eat the eggs anyway.
T hat's the main reason her greenhouse is full of flowers and pretty, impractical plants. She supposes she could sell any produce she would grow, but it's not like they need the money.
Within her greenhouse it’s bright and colourful. It’s lovely. The warmth threatens to seep into her skin, to ease the chill that lives in her bones. On the days when none of them can go into town, she dazzles within the glass structure. Carlisle once told her that she looked heaven sent, and watching him sparkle amongst the myriad of colours her greenhouse holds, she could have said the same.
Esme thinks often about what could be different. If someone else had turned her. If she had never been turned at all. Of those two, she’s never been quite sure which sounds worse. She can’t imagine her life, the daunting sprawl of eternity, without Carlisle.
She wonders if she’d have fallen in love with him if she didn't have to rely on him like that , in the fragile state of a half-broken woman nearly driven mad by newfound bloodlust; if they had met some other, gentler way. But, his soft, pale blond hair and the fringes of his accent that have never dwindled after decades is pretty inescapable. Nevermind his concern, his care, or his compassion. Esme rather thinks she’d always find herself inexplicably drawn to him, that’d she’d always recognize that no one else would love her quite the same.
Esme comes from the French esmer , meaning “esteemed,” or “loved”. Esme- beloved . She hadn't felt beloved for something more than thirty years until he came, calm and gentle and sweet, a perfect gentleman from across an ocean who brushed her hair and kissed her cheeks, who built her greenhouses and bought her islands. Carlisle- from the walled city . Sometimes she wanted to call him Carl- more often she settled for Carly. She meant it teasingly the first time she called him that, but he lit up at the nickname, and so it stuck. She loved it when he smiled at her. He looked the same way he made her feel, warm and elated. She had resolved a while ago to make him glow (not sparkle, not glitter, or even shimmer- glow) like that as often as she could.
She secretly likes being older than him. Loves it even. Carlisle may be several centuries more experienced, but she never gets stopped for ID when a little wine needs bought (for themselves or en route to a friend’s party), the gray of her temples frozen before it could start, and the skin of her eyes has a little more time etched in. Not as much when she was alive, of course, having been slightly remade that night he sank his teeth into her neck, but enough to visibly set her apart from Carlisle's coiffed hair and airbrushed skin. She knows he loves all the whispery signs of middle age. They make her beautiful. Esme also knows it made him feel less guilty than seeing the bright, cherubic faces of their children, who would forever be young and beautiful and damned.
Esme had spent her immortal life getting a do over, and nothing was more rewarding than forming her wonderfully perfect found family. Edward, who was brooding and dramatic, and had a beautiful smile. Rosalie, who was stubborn and so incredibly strong. Emmett, who was funny and protective and cheerful. Alice, who everyone loved and was resolutely pulled together. Jasper, who was quiet and understanding. And Bella, who Esme counted among her family the first day she walked through their door, brave and brazen Bella who brought out that beautiful smile of Edward’s and rounded out their family so well, it was like she’d always been there.
Esme had turned 100 years old in 1995, a year of discovery and political unrest. If Esme Anne Platt could see how content, how blissfully happy Esme Cullen was, she didn't think she'd have believed it. She could never imagine herself the mother of five children, six with Bella, and to love them as much as she did, and with a husband who not only did she love, but who looked at her like she was Orpheus, dragging his beloved Eurydice out of the underworld. Esme was never certain if they had finally stepped into the light, or if she still had steps to go- and so, she never looked back.