Alice had always found it somewhat ironic that she had the ability to see into the future, yet had no memory of the past. After 90 years though, she tried to not let it get to her.
After all, curiosity killed the cat.
But she couldn’t help it. Not when James had been hunting Bella, and she found out she had a connection to James. That he was a link to her past.
And that’s how she finds herself sitting on the floor, reading a book on the history of mental asylums, surrounded by papers. The book, along with a few others, was in Carlisle’s library. “You may not like what you find,” he had warned her, the horrors he had witnessed cast a shadow in his eyes. His long life as a doctor probably felt even longer in this moment.
It had taken her a little while, finding documents like these was difficult even though they had started to archive them digitally. She printed out what she could, still a little old school and finding it easier to have things physically infront of her as opposed to several pages open on a screen. It felt like a puzzle, and she was putting together the pieces.
A birth certificate. A family tree. Some old photos. Articles from a local newspaper. A death certificate. A patient file.
‘Mary Alice Brandon’ had been her name, though it didn't feel like it. It felt too distant to really belong to her. She had been admitted to St. Dymphna Insane Asylum on the 15th of March 1920, the same date as the death certificate. The corresponding dates felt like too much of a coincidence.
‘Electroshock therapy’ was listed in her file. To treat ‘hallucinations and delusions of the mind’ it said. A couple of the main side effects of this treatment was anesthesia and temporary memory loss.
Clearly it wasn’t always so temporary.
The tattered book in her hands detailed the general treatment of patients of the time. Hair shaved upon admission, well that explained her short hair. Personal items removed, plain clothes for every patient, isolation in what looked more like cells than bedrooms.
Between the electroshock therapy and how patients were generally treated, these asylums seemed to be more like prisons than hospitals.
She could have just asked Carlisle what it was like, instead of doing all the research herself but he looked so haunted when she mentioned her interest. She didn’t have the heart to ask him after that.
She felt a pair of arms wrap around her. Jasper. His embrace filled her with warmth and she felt the mounting pressure in her body dissipate. It could have been Jasper using his gift or it could have just been the effect he had on her, either way she didn’t mind.
When Alice asked him to accompany her on a road trip, he hadn’t hesitated to say yes. She was half his heart and soul, after all. He also knew that this could, no, would be painful and he wanted to be there when she needed someone to lean on.
They told the family that they’d be away for a little while, not too long though. Just a trip to hopefully find some answers. Esme gave them both a hug just before they left, Jasper still wasn’t used to it. And with a car packed with Alice’s research, they left for their first destination.
It was going to take nearly 2 days to drive to Biloxi, or it would at normal speeds. But with a Cullen at the wheel of an Audi TT, they’d get there in half the time but with 20 hours still to kill, Alice started playing some music from a playlist on her phone. A playlist she had deemed ‘Their Playlist’.
It shuffled through and the opening chords of Jon Pardi’s ‘Head Over Boots’ filled car. Jasper’s eyes looked lighter as he gave Alice a small smile for her choice in song. Alice, just being Alice, kissed his cheek and started to sing and even act along to the music. His smile grew to a grin and he was even laughing along with her, his heart warming with happiness.
If he didn’t know Alice was a vampire, he could believe that she was a pixie or a fairy because, to him, Alice radiated pure magic.
After a while, Alice took to reading through her research.
She had a younger sister, Cynthia. A 9 year difference between them. Alice found it hard to imagine being a big sister both figuratively and literally. She was small, she figured she always had been. Her slight frame was made to look even smaller, compared to the rest of the Cullens. Rosalie was tall and statuesque while Emmett looked about the size of a bear.
Oh how struck with irony, their family was.
Following down the family tree, she found a familiar name. Alice. But this wasn’t her, this wasn’t Mary Alice Brandon. This was her sister’s daughter. Her niece! And she was still alive!
She had managed to dig up a few pictures. Her sister holding a baby, she must have been around her mid-20’s. Another, her sister a little older with a young child, perhaps around 7 or 8. It looked a lot like an older photo she had found, one of herself and her family. It felt almost sweet, she just wishes she could have been there.
Flicking through a few more, she found a picture that looked an awful lot like Alice, but perhaps a bit older and hair much longer. Could this have been her niece? If it had been, she was the spitting image of her namesake.
They reached Mississippi and they took in the sight. It had been a long time since either of them had been here, a small sense of nostalgia filled them both.
The asylum that Alice had been held in was now a museum. Jasper leaned over to her, “I know what you’re thinking. You don’t have to do this, you know”. But that was the thing, she did.
So with a quick nod and a determined face, she marched on, Jasper in tow.
They got tickets and walked in with a tour guide. The place felt eerie, like air was heavier and something about the place felt familiar. Not that either of them believe in ghosts, not that it would be overly far fetched if they did, but if they did they would be sure the place would be crawling with them.
They walked the halls, the tour guide’s voice moving them back in time. To most, place must feel creepy but to Alice, it felt cold and unfortunately familiar. Jasper held her hand as they walked through a corridor of doors that led to patient’s rooms. Alice had been right, it did look like a prison. Felt like it too.
They walked by one room in particular. A flash, an image, shot through Alice’s mind. The room had been set up with two beds clad in blue and white striped sheets, like it would have been when it was in use. She ran her hand over a spot near the edge of the bed. There was something that was nagging her at the back of her mind. Something that had been significant, but she wasn’t entirely sure what.
They moved on to different rooms. This one was a treatment room. A bed with harsh leather straps and some crude equipment set next to it. The box was a control panel, it had several dials with varying numbers and switches. Numbers notating current and voltage. Connected to the control panel was what looked like a mix between a stethoscope and a world’s worst set of headphones. The sponges would be dipped in water to increase the conductivity at the contact points across the temple, and a bar would be placed in the patient’s mouth to muffle the screaming, the tour guide went on.
This equipment wasn’t just crude. It was cruel.
Could vampires have panic attacks? She wasn’t sure, but they were about to find out. Alice felt Jasper squeeze her hand. The pressure was grounding and it was sorely needed. With a nod from both, they left the asylum.
Biloxi was hardly Paris, but they could still make the most of their time together.
So it was as they were taking a lovely walk down the beach, taking in the warm sea air without a worry of being caught did they notice a familiar scent. Just down a little further down the beach, was none other than Kate and Tanya.
Alice shot off, running toward them and yelling with a chuckling Jasper not far behind. “Hey! What are you guys doing here? It’s a bit far afield, is it not?”
The Denali sisters turned around at the sound of a friendly voice, smiling, “The same could be said for you, no?” They hugged and perched themselves on a wall. It had been a while since they had seen each other. They were relaying the missed gossip about Edward and Bella, a glint of mischief showing in Kate’s eyes at the thought of experimenting with her gift in the presence of a shield.
They eventually came to the topic of why they were in Mississippi. Kate and Tanya were simply travelling. It had been a while since they had been outside of Denali and thought it was about time they saw how the country may have changed since their last tour, looking through golden eyes instead of red. Alice and Jasper told them about James and his connection to Alice, about the depth of research and how that led them back to Alice’s hometown.
“Alice,” Kate began, “How badly do you want your memories back?” the quirk of an eyebrow was her reply. “You know how you can trigger memories with certain sensations?” a nod, “Well…” Kate lifted her hand, flexing her fingers slightly, “We could give it a shot? See if we can shock your system enough to bring something back?”
Alice seemed to contemplate the idea for a moment, eyes scanning the sea for an answer.
“Let’s do it.”
Kate held out a tentative finger to her arm, “Ready?” Alice nodded again, preparing for the pain. She felt the pseudo-electricity bolt through her, it was excruciating. It felt like a crackling fire was coursing through her body. As soon as it began, it dissipated.
Her brow furrowed in confusion. Surely that should have worked? Or it should have at least done something. Anything… Wait.
The head piece with the contact plates.
She lifted Kate’s fingers to her temple, “Try again”.
She sprung off the wall to the sand. Images, no, memories, came flying from the pain. A note hidden in her bed in the asylum. Her father sending her to the asylum, his plot to kill her for knowing too much. Her young sister’s face. Her mother’s voice. If she could cry, her eyes would be flooded with tears.
Jasper was immediately at her side when she came back to the present, his eyes were filled with concern. Kate and Tanya followed suit.
Alice recounted everything she remembered, the Denali sisters recoiled in horror at some of the details. For all their centuries of living, the cruelty of humanity never ceased to make them turn in disgust. And Edward believed that they were the monsters.
They made one last stop before heading back to Forks. The cemetery. The Denali’s joined them, they decided a visit to the rest of their cousins was long overdue.
One of the recovered memories had been her mother’s funeral. A heartbreaking day and she now remembers the feeling of dread, being too young and far from ready to say goodbye to her mother.
So with a bouquet of flowers, they went and found the grave of Lillian Brandon. What she hadn’t anticipated was that her father’s, sister’s and her own grave would be beside it. ‘Mary Alice Brandon, 1901-1920’. Seeing her own grave felt bizarre at best and harrowing at worst, especially when the person it belonged to had nothing to do with the arrangements. This wasn’t faking one’s own death. This was her father’s attempt at just getting rid of her. She didn’t hesitate to spit on his grave.
As she lay the flowers down, another woman walked up to Cynthia’s grave. She was much older, must have been in her late 60’s, if not her early 70’s, hair grey and not much longer than Alice’s. She placed her own bouquet of flowers down on the grave, she must have been her niece. It was times like this that she wished she had Edward’s gift.
“Here to pay your respect to lost loved ones as well?” the old woman spoke, her eyes not leaving the headstone.
“Uh, yeah. Kinda of,” the woman turned to look at Alice, “I-I like to put flowers down on the graves of those who died too young, like my mother. To make sure that they are never forgotten, even after their own families have passed away”. It wasn’t a complete lie. Alice had always found cemeteries peaceful, and found short lifespans tragic.
“No one as young as you should have had to lose their mother. I commend you, dear, for not letting such tragedy turn you bitter.” and with that, she left.
The 20 hour drive back to Forks gave Alice a lot of time to think.
She had found her past, and got back some memories. Some were good, and some not so much. But that was life wasn’t it? She had good and bad memories since she was turned, and now these memories are less painful. Alice has grown a great deal since then, and she certainly had fewer stakes now that she had outlived her father by many many years. A small connection had even crossed her path.
When they returned home, Esme was there to greet them when they came in. “How was your trip?” she’d asked and Alice had smiled wide and said it was good. The Denali’s came by the door not long after, and the reunion took place.
The final piece slide into place, the strange empty feeling in her chest filled, and the small nagging voice in the back of her head went quiet.
Some of the things she had discovered were horrifying, even tragic. But some were wonderful, and the time away had done her good. After all, it was better to know and deal with it than to not know and spend eternity wondering.
So yeah, curiosity killed the cat.
But satisfaction brought it back.