“Alice, thank God you-“
“You have reached the Whitlock residence. I’m afraid we can’t get to the phone at the moment.”
“Oh, shit.” Esme bit her tongue and silently cursed herself for swearing.
“However, if you leave your name, number, and a brief message we’ll get back to you as soon as possible. If you would like to leave a message for Jasper, please press one. If you would like to leave a message for… Mommy, look! Uncle Eddie brought cookies!... Not right now sweetie Mommy is busy. Why don’t you go find the Dopey hat so Daddy can play with you… Okay!... If you would like to leave a message for Maddison, press two. If you would like to leave a message for Alice, press three. If you would like to leave a message for the entire Whitlock family-”
With a sigh, Esme pressed three on the keypad.
“Please press four.”
Esme pressed the three button with even more force, letting her finger hold down the button until she heard Alice’s voice echoing once again from the receiver.
“For non-family related matters please press five.”
With aggravated determination she began jabbing her keypad repeatedly until the button got stuck. Suddenly, a sharp, continuous beep could be heard beneath Alice’s monologue.
“If you are a telemarketer please hang up.”
As a last hope she began hitting the base of the phone with the receiver hoping to knock loose the keypad. Finally she managed to dislodge number three as her blackberry began to ring. Instinctively, she glanced at the screen only to see Alice’s name staring back at her. Still pressing the number three on her office phone with one hand she answered Alice’s call with the other.
“Hey, Mom. You called? I couldn’t get to the phone in time. I tried calling you on the office line but it was busy.”
Before Esme had a chance to reply a long beep came from the receiver she had discarded on her desk. Esme took a deep breath to collect herself.
“If you would excuse me for one moment, Alice.”
She carefully put down her Blackberry and picked up the receiver.
“Hello, Alice, this is your mother. Although I believe you have a lovely telephone voice I really see no need in hearing that much of it. I’d appreciate it if you refrained from such a long, long message when you record the next greeting. Which you are going to do now. I’d love to chat but I have someone on another line. Tell Maddie I love her. Also, you should know that I saw Jasper heading into the garden shed with the Dopey hat the other day. Have a good day, dear.”
Esme calmly hung up the phone and put her Blackberry to her ear.
“Hello, Alice. It’s so nice to hear your voice, again.”
“Um, sure, Mom… So, what’s up?”
“I need your help.”
The panic from earlier began to set back in as Esme remembered why she had called Alice to begin with. For a moment, she had become so distracted by the number three and Alice’s never ending answering machine greeting that she temporarily forgot the crisis at hand.
“Honey, you know the annual fall campaigns we have for Kachiri Cameras, right?”
“Well, they decided to push forward this year’s campaign. I told them I wouldn’t have a problem meeting an earlier deadline and presenting something to them soon.”
“How soon is soon?”
“Monday,” Esme squeaked.
“Which Monday?” Alice asked, afraid she already knew the answer.
“But, Mom, today is Friday!”
“I know, I know. But since we’ve lost two major clients we can’t risk losing anyone
“Okay, what do you need me for? Do you want Jasper to take the pictures or something?”
“No, no. Nothing like that. I just need your old yearbooks. Because it’s a spring and summer campaign now I thought we should go for a prom night and graduation theme. You know, like Laguna Beach. Only a little more real”
“Mom, please tell me you weren’t watching that again.”
“What? I’m trying to stay hip with all you kids.”
“Mom, please tell me you weren’t watching that again!”
“Okay, I wasn’t watching that again.”
“Thank you. So, you need my old yearbooks. How many?”
“All of them. I’m in desperate need of inspiration for the print ads.”
“Don’t panic. I’m about to drive Maddie to dance class. I’ll grab the yearbooks and be there in thirty minutes.”
“Thank you, Alice. Oh, and on your way here could you stop at the little bakery on the corner and pick me up something nice.”
“The bakery?!” Alice knew Esme’s cravings for baked goods were never a good sign. Cupcakes tended to be precursor to work induced meltdowns. “I’ll be there in twenty.”
Prom. Polka dots. First love. Poufy dress. Felix. Call Felix. Grad. Silly hats. Felix. “Felix?” LC. Nice dress. Damn Kristin. Felix. “Felix, why haven’t you answered my calls?” Freedom. New beginnings. Friends. People. Lots of people. Monday. Felix. Productions. “I don’t care, Felix! I need three people from productions to stay over the weekend. I have a deadline to meet, Felix!” Excitement. Crushes. Giddy teen girls. Long hair. Short skirts. Too much makeup. Monday. Felix. “That’s right. Three people.” Kristin. LC. Terrible. Poor LC. “Thank you Felix.” Phone. Phone. Where does phone go? Girls. Talking. Talking on phone? Silly. Phone?-
Esme scurried around her office in a multitasking frenzy. She was on the phone with Felix, who was giving her a hard time in regards to having a small production team stay overtime this weekend while simultaneously trying to get inspiration from all the resources that cluttered her office. After some struggle with Felix, she finally won her battle by simply using her executive power. At this point, Esme’s mind was so scattered from sensory overload she had no idea what to do with the phone in her hand.
Alice walked into the office without knocking and found herself amidst chaos. This was a side of her mother very few people saw. Esme had a reputation of poise, organization, and patience. This was the person that lurked in Alice’s nightmares, alongside last year’s shoes and knockoff Prada bags. Hurricane Esme was storming around her office going through the internet, flipping through pages of several teen magazines scattered about, catching quick glances on the TV and tangling herself with a phone cord. Esme was completely oblivious to Alice’s presence
“MOM, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” Alice yelled, making her presence known when she noticed the complete three seasons of Laguna Beach stacked on a table, below the flat screen TV.
“I GOT IT!” Esme shouted back at Alice. Esme, quickly detangled herself from the phone cord and rushed over to Alice taking the stack of yearbooks and box of cupcakes, “Friendship, Love, Parties, Grad, Summer! An entire print ad series!”
Alice’s confusion was clear while Esme appeared relieved. She hadn’t seen her mother this stressed over a campaign in ages. They stared at each other for a moment, Esme with an excited smile, before the box of cupcakes was ceremoniously opened. Thankfully, Esme seemed to return to her usual calm the more she admired the rich, pink butter frosting on the cupcakes.
“Thank you, Dear. I don’t know what I’d do without you kids. You’re both so good to me. I love you both so much. You do know that, don’t you?”
Alice was glad to see Esme had gotten past the dangerously frantic part of her meltdown and moved on to the overly sentimental phase.
“I love you too, Mom,” Alice said as she moved various clippings from teen magazines off the sofa, “Now, let’s see what kind of inspiration we can find in these old yearbooks.”
Esme sat down, the box of cupcakes placed delicately on her lap, and passed the four old high school yearbooks to Alice. Like any hyper-organized mother-daughter duo, they decided to look through the yearbooks chronologically. Alice pulled out a plain blue book with large silver lettering that read: ‘The Game of Life… Make Your Move’ and on the spine: ‘Forks High’. She could remember when that slogan was picked; it was cheesy even back then.
They opened the book and started flipping through the pages. Apart from the cover, everything was black and white. The two ladies continued looking over the different pages with an occasional ‘hmm’ or ‘ahh’ but nothing more. As they neared the end of the book Esme broke from the pattern and commented on how Edward seemed to appear quite often. Alice nodded and they continued their quest for inspiration. After another few minutes Esme made yet another attempt at enthusiasm.
“Oh, look. You were voted best dressed.”
“And Edward got best hair,” Alice added.
“I see. You know, I always found his hair a little wild.”
“I think that was the appeal.”
Alice closed the book and looked over at her mother. Esme had a serious and disappointed look on her face. She reminded Alice of Maddison whenever she told her the Dopey hat had gone missing.
“That was anticlimactic,” Esme finally said. "This yearbook seems so cold and staged.”
“Yeah, there was very little student input because of the cheerleading nipple scandal the prior year.” Esme looked up questioningly at Alice. “Don’t even ask,”
Alice said, ending the topic before it even begun.
“But don’t worry I was on the yearbook committee sophomore year.” Alice took the yearbook from Esme hands to place in the discard pile.
“That’s right! I will never forget the night we baked fourteen dozen cookies for the yearbook fundraiser the next day.”
Alice remembered that time she coaxed her mother into baking her famous ‘Cullen Sugar Cookies’. She had promised the committee she’d make them before asking Esme if she had the time. “I never meant to spring that up on…”
Esme quickly interrupted her, “Alice, I got to spend time with my very busy daughter, something I will always cherish.”
Esme looked down at the other yearbooks with a sigh. She picked up the yearbook from Alice’s sophomore year. It was gold and had ‘Leaving Your Mark…’ in black, cursive writing
“Well this looks promising.”
“All thanks to the cookies.”
As soon as they opened the book Esme was delighted to see colored pictures and headlines. The layouts and writing were much more youthful and fun. She felt as though a weight was lifted from her shoulders. The first yearbook had left her with very little hope.
Esme went through the pages pleased with what she found; the smiling faces and images of Forks High School forever to be remembered. Going through old yearbooks was working, giving her more and more ideas for the upcoming campaign.
“There’s me again,” Alice said as she turned to the next page.
Esme looked to where Alice was pointing. She laughed to herself when she saw Alice dressed up for Halloween in the elaborate Tinker Bell costume. “Maddison reminds me so much of you.”
Along with pictures of Alice, Esme found a lot of photos of Edward as well. He was always at some football game or lounging around the school cafeteria so she was shocked to see the next picture of him when Alice turned the page.
Usually the photos have been captioned with students’ names and activities they were participating in. This one was simply captioned ‘music therapy’. It had the darkened profile of a student at a piano. Whether or not the photographer knew who it was, Esme knew this was Edward. She could tell from his frame and the posture he kept while playing. Forks High may have known him as the star football player, but this was the Edward she knew, her creative, thoughtful and expressive son. Seeing him in this picture was seeing him in his element.
“Mom, what are you looking at?” Alice asked, breaking Esme from her reverie.
“Just admiring the photo of Edward.”
“That’s not Edward… is it?”
“A mother knows her own son.”
“Wow, I never picked up on that.”
Alice looked at the photo as though for the first time. It had been so long since she’d seen Edward at a piano. He really did seem to belong there. People at school never knew him as a pianist, only a popular jock, and Alice was embarrassed to realize that she had begun to think of him in that same way. She wondered if he would ever start playing again, she couldn’t remember exactly when he had stopped.
Alice quickly changed the subject by drawing her mother’s attention to the ‘Years Best’ page.
“Look, Edward and I got best dressed and best hair again that year.”
“Oh well, I guess neither of your styles changed very much.”
“What?! How could you say that? Fashion is always evolving and I am proud to say that I am always changing with it! Look at the hem-lines and the heels. There’s a huge difference!”
“Sorry, Alice. You know I would never imply that you are anything less than fashion forward.”
The women looked each other in the eye then, and without warning, broke out laughing. Alice was glad to see her mother so much more at ease. She hated seeing her mother under so much stress. She reached for the next yearbook, the one from her junior year. Her mother’s eyes immediately widened upon seeing the cover. It was the most elaborate cover so far and had more of the teen spirit Esme was looking for.
The cover was made to look like the front page of a magazine with ‘Forks Times’ in big letters along the top. There was even a barcode on the bottom corner that had ‘priceless’ written beneath it. The whole thing was over the top but clearly a creative endeavor by someone with raw talent.
“You know it was Bella who designed the cover that year. It was her first year at Forks High.”
“It’s such a pity we didn’t have her at Masen earlier. She has so much natural talent. I only wish she could have gotten started sooner.”
“I think we all wish Bella joined the company years ago, but no one can diminish what she did for those eight years. It takes a special kind of person to dedicate that much time to someone.”
They flipped to the index on the first page and Alice laughed aloud.
“What is it?” Esme asked, unable to find the joke.
“Clearly they’d want Edward to be the representative for Forks High School.”
Esme looked back at the book and, as Alice had pointed out, the first picture in the yearbook was of Edward walking off the football field with that same smug smile he still wore. Her maternal pride came up as she thought of how handsome her son was but she also had to agree with Alice. Some young girl who was smitten with Edward had probably decided there was no better way to start the yearbook than with a full body shot of him all sweaty in his football gear.
“I’m sure he was thrilled,” Esme said the sarcasm evident in her voice.
They began looking through all the student pictures, finding Alice and Edward and commenting on all the other students they recognized.
Esme stared at a page she now grew to recognize. “Let me guess, you got best dressed again and Edward got best hair.”
“Of course, as if there would be any other.”
Esme continued to scan the page and noticed graffiti below one of the pictures. Giving it a closer look she found the words ‘Best Smile’ replace by ‘Best manipulating hussy’. “Alice dear, was this really necessary?” she said pointing to the picture of Jessica Stanley.
“Of course it was. Bella was voted for best smile, but Jessica got her dirty nails into the layout designer. No one caught on that the picture was changed until it went to film, then it was too late.”
“Manipulating hussy,” Esme said under her breath. “You know I haven’t even seen Bella yet. Is she even in here?”
“Sure she is.” Alice flipped through the yearbook and finally came to the page she had been looking for. “She’s right here.” Alice pointed to a spot on the page as she handed Esme back the yearbook. Esme was expecting to see a picture of Bella, instead Alice was pointing to the name ‘Isabella Swan’ in the absentees list.
“Now, Alice, that is not what I meant. Please tell me there is a picture of Bella somewhere in here.”
“Actually there’s one. Would you like to see it?”
“Okay, but don’t let on that you’ve seen it. She’d be mortified if she knew.”
Alice flipped through the yearbook, past the sports section and all the club photos until she finally came to a page entitled ‘I Can’t Believe You Did That!’ That year a few of the yearbook committee members had decided to dedicate a page of the yearbook to embarrassing moments caught on film. This was the only place you could find Bella in the yearbook. She had asked very politely for the picture not to be used on several occasions.
The picture was taken midway through the school year on an ordinary day. Everyone had already made their way into the cafeteria for lunch and only the few people who had stayed behind to speak with their teachers or put finishing touches on their assignments were still buying their lunches. Bella had been walking back toward her regular table when Jessica and her posse charged past. She was knocked backwards and fell right into a garbage can. Someone managed to snap the photo as she was still folded in half, only her head, arms, and legs visible. Around her was a crowd of people all laughing; one of which was Edward. It was the biggest picture on the page and had ‘Oops!’ written in big neon green letters over it.
Esme looked at the picture with a sullen expression. She did not find it funny at all. Alice found herself looking at Edward, still clearly and visibly laughing even though he was in the background. She understood even better now why Bella had not wanted it in the yearbook.
Alice quickly turned to the next page as she was beginning to feel the awkwardness that Bella must have been feeling the time the photo was taken.
“What’s ‘Is he sweatin’ you?: Ten Signs’?” Esme pointed to the page.
Alice centered her thoughts back to the task at hand. She looked down to the page and cringed.
“That’s Jessica Stanley’s contribution to the year book.”
“What’s number one?”
“Um… You’re the first name that goes down on his party list,” Alice said skeptically.
“Hm.” Esme winced, “What’s number ten?”
“He gives you the kind of look that tells you he digs you BIG TIME,” Alice said in an accurate impersonation of Jessica’s squeaky voice.
“I know. I can’t believe Edward ever dated her.”
“She was nicer than Jane, which isn’t saying much.”
“His taste in women hasn’t changed.”
“No, no. His taste in women has changed. His girlfriend, on the other hand, has not.”
Alice decided it was best to leave it at that and picked up the last yearbook. Its cover was a busy and random collage of pictures that had been taken throughout the school year. It was the chaotic feel that made the cover work. Scribbled in dark red across the front was, ‘You think you know… but you have no idea’.
“Clever title, and fantastic layout of the cover,” Esme said admiring the design.
“Glad you like it,” Alice replied. “Bella came up with the title, and yours truly did the cover. We made a great team that year”.
Esme was pleased with her decision to promote Bella and happy she was working creatively with Edward.
Just then someone knocked at the door.
“Come in,” Esme spoke out.
The door opened slightly and Bella popped in her head cautiously. She was worried that she might have caught Esme at a bad time.
“Bella, what a pleasure,” Esme greeted her warmly. She relaxed a little when she spotted Alice sitting next to her and took that as her cue to step further into the office.
“I tried calling, but the phone was always busy,” Bella said, trying to excuse herself for interrupting.
Esme looked over to her desk to find the forgotten receiver hanging off of it. “Oh, I was a little overwhelmed a while ago; I must have forgotten to hang up,” Esme said a little embarrassed.
“Yeah, Edward mentioned that. He asked me to tell you he doesn’t know where his year books are. They are either boxed up in storage or still in signing limbo. Jessica probably kept them as some kind of souvenir.”
“The nerve of that boy! Sending a lamb to the lion’s den.” Esme was upset that Edward didn’t have the courage to come down here himself to tell her. He knew very well what kind of scenario he was sending Bella into.
“It’s nothing I can’t handle,” Bella said with false bravado.
“I wouldn’t be too sure,” Alice said. “I was scared myself when I got here.”
“Are those cupcakes?” Esme eyed the box suspiciously.
“Yes. I picked some up at the bakery when Edward said you may want some. I even waited for a fresh batch.”
“What an angel. Come, join us.” Esme patted the seat next to her. “Luckily, Alice came to the rescue by bringing her yearbooks. Now my research has turned into a trip down memory lane.”
Just then Bella noticed another box of cupcakes and a stack of yearbooks piled on the coffee table. Bella slightly cringed, she had no interest in reliving her high school memories. “I really should be going. Edward and I are working on the Volturi campaign.”
“Nonsense, I’m sure Edward can spare you for a few more minutes,” Esme said.
“Unless you feel the need to get back to him right away,” Alice chimed in sending Bella an all-knowing smile.
At this point Bella had no choice but to stay and try not to blush at any of the embarrassing photos of herself. She walked over to the couch placing the cupcakes on the table and taking her spot beside Esme.
“Alice was just telling me you came up with the title.”
Bella simply shrugged her shoulders in an attempt to avoid any attention thrown her way. Alice picked up on this and strongly disagreed. She felt Bella deserved the spotlight. She thought that Bella should be proud of her contribution she had made to the yearbook.
“Mom, did you know that one of Bella’s poems was published in the yearbook?”
“What are you talking about? I never had a poem published,” Bella said defensively.
Esme looked between her daughter and Bella with a look of amusement on her face. She knew that Alice had something up her sleeve.
Alice flipped to the page near the front of the book that held Bella’s poem. She remembered when Bella had submitted the poem thinking she had done it anonymously. What Bella didn’t realize was that Alice saw her putting the poem into the yearbook submission box. After reading it Alice felt it couldn’t be done justice without giving Bella credit for her words.
“Here it is,” she said pointing to the poem.
Bella stared down with horror at the poem she had secretly written for Edward. Her full name was printed at the bottom.
“That was supposed to be anonymous!” she yelled at Alice.
“Relax, Bella. It was a good poem, you deserved the credit. Mom you should read it out loud.”
Alice passed the book over to Esme who cleared her throat before beginning the reading.
A flower of many meanings, for each color holds its own;
Red, yellow, pink, and white, their differences made known
The red one is for lust, or love as it’s sometimes mistaken;
A heart that holds desire, a love that is forsaken.
The yellow is for jealousy, for trust is not within;
The beholder feels insecure, unsure of where to begin.
The pink ones meaning friendship, and so comes close to best;
For a friend is most important and overrides all the rest.
The white one is for purity, for love is pure and kind;
It comes with true devotion, from body, soul, and mind;
The purity of this rose is seen, for it’s the color of a dove;
And with this rose I’m sending to you my pure and lasting love.
By Isabella Marie Swan”
“It was supposed to be anonymous,” Bella whispered her face a deep shade of crimson.
Alice was beginning to regret having Esme read the poem aloud in front of Bella. Back in high school she had never made any kind of connection to Edward when she read the poem. Now she couldn’t help but think there was a more to the poem than roses and rhymes. Esme however was overjoyed by the poem and, like Alice, had read into a deeper meaning and implication. She tried smiling reassuringly at Bella but it only made her feel more uncomfortable and her face took on an even deeper shade of red. Alice decided to change the subject before Bella dug herself a hole in the floor of Esme’s office.
“Hey, look I got best hair! I mean best dressed! Edward got best hair. Would you look at that…?” Alice stumbled awkwardly over her words.
“I would have guessed as much, Dear.”
Bella’s face seemed to lighten to fuchsia and Alice let out a sigh of relief. They browsed the next few pages before stopping at the graduate’s ‘Most Likely To…’ page. Together they went over every picture and nomination.
Edward had won ‘most likely to… age well’ while his then girlfriend Jessica, courtesy of Alice and her friends, had been added in as ‘most likely to… die of an overinflated ego’. Both Alice and Esme called her a ‘manipulating hussy’ under their breath as they passed over the hand drawn image. Then there was Alice who had won ‘most likely to… never change’ and Angela who was ‘most likely to… be a millionaire’. They all laughed at the overachieving, know-it-all they once knew. Alice had seen her a few years back and she was your average Kraft Dinner cooking, soccer mom of two. But, millionaire or not, she had seemed happy. The last picture was of Bella. She had been voted ‘most likely to… succeed’.
Bella looked at the picture of the shy, smiling girl and felt a pit at the bottom of her stomach. She had had so many plans, all of which had been put aside when Charlie was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. No matter how much she sometimes wished she had completed her education and gotten her degree she never regretted her decision to stay with him. She simply wondered if, when she was seventeen years old, someone had told her at that twelve years later she would only just have gotten hired on as an executive assistant in an advertising company, with no experience and no education. Would she have been disappointed? Would she have believed it?
Esme looked at the picture with equal intensity but an entirely different state of mind. She saw it as a promise of success; an unfulfilled destiny. She was determined to help Bella not only be successful and brilliant in business but also to be successful and happy in her home life. It was so rare to come across truly good people and that’s exactly what Bella was, a good person. Bella had seen enough sadness for one lifetime and Esme was determined to see her happy.
Alice broke the long silence and meditative atmosphere by turning the page. The three women were now looking at a two-page spread on prom. The entire left page was taken up by a picture of Edward and Jessica on a stage covered in paper flowers and silver balloons. They had been voted ‘Prom King’ and ‘Prom Queen’ and were proudly wearing their crowns. Jessica looked as though she would claw out the eyes of any girl who so much as tried to touch her crown. She had never looked more like Jane. Bella found the familiarity slightly discomforting.
“I have beautiful children. Edward looks so handsome in this photo. Don’t you think so, Bella?” Esme asked, turning to face Bella whose face had, by default, returned to a dark pink color.
“Oh, um… Yes, very handsome.”
“Then again, Mom. I’m sure Bella would agree that Edward looks handsome every day. Wouldn’t you, Bella?”
Alice knew better than to tease Bella. She was sure Bella would find an opportunity to get Alice back for putting her in this position but it was just too easy to let pass.
“Edward is a very handsome man. Very few people would say differently,” Bella said as nonchalantly as she could.
Suddenly, like the bright light at the end of a very, very long tunnel, Bella’s Blackberry began to buzz with a text message from Edward.
Where are you?
Is mom okay?
Do you need more cupcakes?
“Let me guess,” Esme said with a grin similar to the one her son often wore.
“Edward desperately wants you and you need to go to him immediately.”
Bella nodded shyly. “I’ll see you girls later.”
She quickly got up and made her way to the door as quickly as possible without breaking into a run. When she reached the door she turned to Esme and Alice who were watching her from the sofa.
“Have fun, ladies. And Esme… careful watching Laguna Beach; once you start there’s no going back.”
Bella quickly slipped out the door leaving Esme and Alice to finish their ‘research’ alone.
“Remind me again why Edward is still dating Jane.” Esme said, still watching the door Bella had just exited out of.
“Because he’s a big dummy,” Alice said matter-of-factly.
They went back to flipping through the pages of the yearbook and stopped when they got to the centerfold; a collage of candid pictures that were supposed to illustrate the average day of a Forks High student. There was a picture of Alice standing in the hall before classes sipping coffee and a picture of Edward in one of his classes. Both women stopped to look more closely at the picture of Edward. He was sitting at a desk, attentively taking notes.
“He’s in a classroom,” Esme said.
“He’s not wearing his football equipment, yup” Alice added.
“Jessica is nowhere to be seen.”
“He’s working… hard.”
“Wow,” they said in unison.
This was the only picture they had seen, other than the one with the piano, in the hundreds of pictures of Edward they had seen in the yearbooks that didn’t fit his Forks High stereotype.
Esme and Alice continued looking through the yearbook. They were getting near the end where they have listed all the various teams and clubs with their members. Edward was spotted again in his football uniform posing front and center for the senior varsity football team photo. Esme was pleased to find other photos of Bella that didn’t consist of embarrassing moments or awkward school photos. Here was the Bella she knew, sweetly posing for the Yearbook committee group picture and she found another one with her in the book club. It now made sense to her why Edward never remembered Bella from high school. Not only was Edward oblivious of Bella because he was too caught up in his own world of being the school’s ‘it boy’, but Bella and Edwards paths never really crossed because they lived such opposite lives. Still she thought to herself, for a school that small and for the beauty that she was and still is, Edward should have had taken his head out of his ass and noticed her.
Esme was so caught up in her own mind, she didn’t notice Alice pointing herself out in various committees and clubs.
“…and this is me in the world action and awareness club. Oh, and here’s me again in the sewing club. And here I am in…”
Esme had to interrupt as Alice rambled on. “Just how many clubs were you in dear?” She knew Alice was heavily involved in school activities, but this many couldn’t be even possible.
“Oh let’s see,” Alice said going into deep thought, “Other than the ones I have already mentioned… I was president of the Student’s Activities committee, senior class treasurer, head of the school fashion show, head of the school blood drive, organizer for the 30hour famine, and the stock market club.”
“The stock market club?” Esme asked, puzzled.
“Sure,” Alice said, flipping to the page that contained the photo of the members that belonged to it. “I’m right here.” Alice pointed to a picture of herself proving to her mom that she was a member.
Esme looked at the picture carefully. Sure enough, there was Alice standing front and center. What disturbed her though was the group of students that surrounded her daughter. They looked like a bunch of deadbeats and ruffians, people that you couldn’t even trust in broad daylight.
“This is very motley crew. It looks as though none of you belonged in the stock market club,” she said eyeing Alice, with her maternal intuition on high alert.
Alice began squirming in her seat as she prepared to tell her mother the truth. “Well, it wasn’t really a stock market club per se.”
“What was it then?” Even though her daughter was now a grown woman, she had no issues in scolding Alice for past behaviors.
“We used it as a disguise for a gambling club?” Alice left that statement as a question unsure of how her mother would respond.
“By the scowls on their faces and the smile on yours, I can tell you did pretty well for yourself.”
Alice was so surprised by Esme’s reaction that she couldn’t help but smugly reply. “What can I say? I have honed talent in predicting hands. It’s like a sixth sense. Also, Angela taught me how to count cards.”
Despite the anger and concern a mother should feel in this situation, Esme could not help the pride she felt at the thought of her little girl hustling a group of big, tattooed hoodlums.
Esme was pleased with what she had seen in the yearbook. It gave her plenty of ideas to use in her upcoming campaign. Most importantly she loved having a sneak peek into the hidden lives of her children. In this past hour she learned plenty about the lives of Edward, Alice and especially Bella. Esme was a little bit disappointed when she finally went through the last few pages of the yearbook. As she flipped the last paged she noticed a large booklet tacked on to the back cover.
“What’s this?” Esme asked Alice.
“Oh I forgot about that. It’s an insert for grad students of pictures and comments from graduation and other things that couldn’t make the yearbook because it had to go out to the printers. The teachers compiled it as a gift to the graduates and had it mailed to us a month after our graduation.”
The insert was a few pages long but it had the entire feel that Esme was looking for when she set off on this quest for inspiration.
It had a picture of Angela saying her valedictorian speech, and a few students going up to receive their diplomas; of course Edward was one of them. Amongst the happy pictures of friends huddled together posing for family and friends, there were well wishes scattered about from teachers, parents and students. She turned the page and there again were more group photos and well wishes.
Suddenly something caught her eye. Esme was really puzzled as to what she saw. “Alice, I thought Edward didn’t remember Bella from high school.”
“He didn’t,” Alice replied; a little confused as to why Esme was holding the book so close to her face and studying it intently.
“Can you be so kind then and explain this picture to me.” Esme handed Alice the yearbook and pointed to the bottom right hand corner.
What Alice saw surprised her as much as it surprised Esme.
“I can’t. I don’t even remember seeing it the first time.”
Alice might have looked at the photo before, but never registered what she saw. Before it was just one of the numerous photos of Edward, but knowing what she knew now it took on an entirely new meaning as well as an entirely new significance.
Esme and Alice were staring at a candid picture of Edward and Bella. In the picture Edward was standing beside Bella and facing her. He was supporting Bella with his arm that wrapped around her as he leaned towards her to whisper in her ear, while Bella was leaning into him with a graduation cap dangling in her hand. What left Esme and Alice shocked was not the stance they held, although their body language was shocking, but Edward’s and Bella’s expressions. Edward’s eyes were penetrating Bella with a slight look of concern, all the while his mouth held a small cocky grin that everyone knew so well. Bella’s face was gently tilted towards his and had a slight blush. Her eyes were cast downward and she had the beginnings of a shy smile spreading across her lips. They looked like two lovers sharing a private moment.
“This is a beautiful picture.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Do you think Bella would be really angry if I used this in the campaign?”
Esme’s mind was racing. She had found it and it was more than just inspiration. This was it. She was determined to use this shot in the campaign itself in one of the print adds. It was all finally coming together. Friendship: A group of girls squeezed in side by side around a table in a school cafeteria. They would all be laughing and gossiping and sharing a single order of fries. Parties: A bunch of young adults dancing in a tight knit group. It would be dark but there would be bright colored lights in the background. Summer: An athletic young man diving in a game of beach volleyball. Grad: A stiff and adorably cheesy photo of a couple at prom taking their traditional couple picture. Love: Bella and Edward.
“She would be embarrassed, flabbergasted, incredulous, mortified, confused, frustrated, and yes… anger is definitely a possibility.”
Esme continued looking at the picture. Her mouth slowly turned up into a smile as her eyes seemed to dance with excitement.
“You know, I think I can handle angry.”