Sam Adams Cherry Wheat
April 20, 1999
“I still think you’re out of your mind,” Alice says, fumbling with her keys. “I mean, given the choice between staying in a friend’s dorm room and staying in your own apartment…”
“Except it’s technically Edward’s apartment—kind of the way this is technically my dorm room.”
My financial aid package is set up in such a way that I’d lose scholarship money if I lived off-campus. As far as the university and my parents are concerned, I never stopped rooming with Alice.
She rolls her eyes as she pushes the door open. “Only the latter part of that statement is true, you know.”
I follow her inside, kicking the door closed behind me. “How do you figure? It’s not as if I pay rent or anything.”
“Only because he won’t let you.”
“Maybe.” I kick off my shoes, wanting nothing more than for us to get into our beds and talk for hours, the way we did before I moved in with Edward. Except Alice arranged the two extra-long twin beds in such a way they formed a single king-sized one, and I’m not sure which part is meant for me.
“Where do I…?” I gesture to the bed.
“It doesn’t matter.”
When I flop onto the side of the bed that would be mine if I were at Edward’s, Alice looks at me as if I have two heads.
“What?” I ask.
She sits at the foot of the bed, folding her legs beneath her. “Tell me why you’re really here.”
“I needed a little more of this…” I flip my hand from me to her and back again. “…before it’s all over.”
“I didn’t realize things had gotten that bad between the two of you. I mean, I knew you were having some problems. I’m sorry, Izzy. I know how he gets, the way he just kind of withdraws into himself—he’s done it for as long as I can remember. He won’t let anyone in when he gets like that—not even me. I wish there were some way I could help–”
“Things are fine between Edward and me.” It’s the biggest lie I’ve ever told her, but I don’t feel as if I have a choice.
I want to spill all of it—to tell her how he’s almost never home and when he is, he barely talks to me. That his mood shifts are so dramatic it sometimes seems like there are two very different men inhabiting one body and I’m never sure which one I’ll get. That I don’t understand how he can profess to love me when he acts as if he’s ashamed of me. Alice may be my best friend, but she’s also Edward’s sister. I love her too much to put her in the middle like that—even if it leaves me with no one to confide in.
“I meant that we’re graduating next month, and who knows where we’ll end up…”
“Oh my god!” Her eyes widen above the hand clapped over her mouth. “You were accepted into grad school, weren’t you?”
“Izzy, it’s a yes-or-no question.”
“And in this instance, both answers are applicable. Columbia said no; Harvard said yes.”
She bounces on the bed, shrieking. “That’s so amazing–”
“I’ve already declined.”
“You what? Why?”
“Harvard doesn’t offer a master’s in comparative literature—just a Ph.D. Edward’s more tied to DC than ever, so who knows when he’d be able to move to Boston with me.” I shrug. “Given the choice, I’d rather be with him.”
“Has he said he wouldn’t move? I mean, he’s lived in Boston before and loved it. For something this important to you, I know he’d seriously consider it. If you asked–”
“And he’s important enough to me that I’d never consider asking!”
“Oh, Izzy.” She shakes her head, sighing.
“Go ahead and say it—you think I’m a dumbass.”
“No. I’m just afraid you’ll regret this.”
“Are these normal concerns, or are we having another Psychic Friends Network moment?”
She lowers her gaze to the bedspread. “Stop it.”
“I’m serious, Alice. Are we talking about a hunch or one of your infamous gut feelings?”
Her eyes are intense, and I think I’ll start crying if she keeps looking at me like that. Needing to break the tension, I pick up the Magic 8-Ball she has on her nightstand.
“Aren’t you always saying the oracle is truth? Let’s see if it thinks I’ll regret not going to Harvard.” I turn it so the window faces up, and the message slowly comes into view.
Without a doubt.
Saying nothing, I flip it again.
It is decidedly so.
It is certain.
The words change, but the message doesn’t. Shake after shake, it comes through loud and clear. I drop it onto the bed and cover my now-wet face with my hands.
“It’s just an icosahedron die, Izzy. It’s made of plastic and mass-produced in China—it doesn’t mean anything.”
“Says the girl who makes life-or-death decisions from the thing!”
She reaches across the bed and picks up the 8-Ball. “Will Izzy be happy in whatever real-world thing she ends up doing?” She turns it over so she can read the message. “Signs point to yes.”
The next thing I know, my arms are around her. “I love you.”
“Don’t tell me you’re buying into that it’s-all-going-to-end-with-Y2K bullshit.”
“It could, you know.”
“In that case…” Alice hops off the bed and opens the fridge. “Why are we sober? ‘They say two-thousand zero zero party over! It’s out of time.’” She opens two bottles of Sam Adams, one of which she hands to me. “It’s time to party like it’s 1999.”
For the next few nights, that’s exactly what we do. Re-adapting to dorm life is surprisingly easy. With Alice, I don’t have to apologize for the lack direction in my life as long as I can direct myself to the keg. I don’t wonder if Edward misses me while I’m gone because I come to realize the girl living with him hasn’t been me.
I miss me enough for the both of us.
December 12, 2009
It’s well after midnight, and though we’re in bed, neither of us have gotten any sleep. We lie in silence, my head on his shoulder and his hands in my hair. There’s an almost-artificial calm to him that makes me feel as if we’ve reached the eye of a storm that’s nowhere near over. As much as I want us to talk this through, I don’t push. I don’t do anything but breathe and wait.
When he finally speaks, I’m so startled by his voice I don’t understand his words.
“Huh?” I lift my head from his body and look at his face.
“I asked if Carlisle knows that we’re…”
“That would explain Esme’s reconnaissance mission.”
“That’s not what that was about.” I make my voice as gentle as possible. “She always comes out of the kitchen when patrons order special bottles. Had you not asked her to join you for dinner, she’d have spent about five minutes at your table then gone back to work. She accepted your invitation–”
“Because she’s married to Carlisle.”
“–because she knows how much I want her to get to know you; I won’t deny that. But if she hadn’t been enjoying herself, she’d have made a beeline for the kitchen the second you finished the first course. She stayed because she likes you.”
Though he seems unconvinced, he says nothing to challenge me. Not knowing what else to do, I return my head to his shoulder.
“What about Carlisle?” he asks.
“He’s never met you.”
“I’m aware of this. I was asking what he thinks about…well…this?”
“He…” As much as I don’t want to lie to him, I don’t want to make things between Carlisle and Edward any worse than they already are. “He can’t say it out loud, either.”
“You’re not answering my question.”
“I’m not sure how to—and that’s the thing. You want answers, and so does he. No matter what I say or don’t say, I’m violating someone’s trust–”
“Why? Because you had sex with him?”
As harsh as it sounds, I’m glad Edward said it. Regardless of how much messier my history with Carlisle makes all this—or how dirty it makes me feel now—I don’t regret it. Whatever happened with us in the past has nothing to do with the friendship we have now. That once upon a time we tried to be something more doesn’t change this.
“No. Because I love him.”
I expect him to react, but he doesn’t—he doesn’t do or say anything at all. I start to think maybe his response will be the same way it was before—delayed but intense—and brace myself for it. But when he speaks, his voice is quiet and oddly detached.
“Alice can’t know.”
I prop up my chest and whip my head around. “What?”
“This whole…thing. She’s been through enough already; I won’t add to it by telling her the childhood she remembers as idyllic was a lie.”
“Edward, she’s going to find out whether you tell her or not. She’s coming here for Christmas, remember? Don’t you think she’ll take one look at Carlisle–”
“And remark how funny it is to have met our father’s doppelganger. It won’t occur to her to take it at anything other than face value—she barely knows the man.”
“Of course she would. On the rare occasion she interacts with our father, he dotes on her. It doesn’t occur to her he does so out of chauvinism. He expects nothing from her, so it’s impossible for her to let him down.”
I want to ask what he meant earlier when he said he lets his father and I have all the power, but I don’t—I know this isn’t the time. As it turns out, I don’t have the opportunity. Moments later, he’s out cold. Though I’m sure he’ll regret drinking as much as he has come tomorrow morning, for now it’s for the best—I doubt he’d be able to fall asleep tonight were he sober.
Part of me wishes I were drunk so I could pass out, too. Since I’m not, there’s nothing for me to do but close my eyes and mentally replay what happened tonight again and again, hoping eventually it will start to make sense. Then his arms tighten around me in his sleep, and I realize none of it matters. He and I make sense. The rest of it we’ll figure out in time.