“Esme... nobody’s seen you in days!”
Carlisle called for his wife, who was perched on the roof, fixing it. He had just exited his car after driving for a few hours to the house Esme was renovating. She had bought a house in the neighboring town so she could renovate it and sell it at a higher price. It wasn’t the first time she flipped a house. And, as usual, once she started the actual work, and started to see her planning coming to life, she got lost in it.
When she heard Carlisle’s voice, she was pulled out of her trance like state. Esme smiled at the sight of him and jumped from the roof to him. The house was on an isolated area, so it was safe for her to act more freely than she would’ve had. With her hair up in a ponytail, she was wearing dungarees, a simple black top, and her faithful tool belt.
“Days? No need to be so dramatic, love.” She laughed “But I missed you too.”
“I’m not being dramatic. It’s been almost a week since you’ve been home. And no calls whatsoever.”
“Almost a week, really? I didn’t notice… And I didn’t call because the phone is not installed yet.”
Although she was there in front of him, safe and happy, Carlisle still had that distressed look on his face that made Esme’s heart tighter
“I was worried.”
“Oh, poor you. Come here.”
Esme wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him into a hug. Carlisle responded immediately by holding her tight and burying his nose on her neck. Her scent always had a calming effect on him. He had arrived at home in the early hours of dawn after working a double-shift in the hospital and there was no Esme to welcome him. Again. In the first two days of not having her there, he was able to manage, to distract himself with his books and scientific articles. By the fifth day, he got too anxious. Besides, with no news of how she was faring, it was his duty as her husband to see if everything was ok, he rationalized with himself.
“I missed you.” He murmured as vulnerable as he felt
“Did you really?”
“Of course!” she pulled back to look in his eyes “I may get a little too focused when renovating, but you are always on my mind, silly.”
He gave her a sweet smile before leaning in to kiss her properly
“You need to hunt. Your eyes are getting dark.” He took her by the hand “Come, let’s hunt now, then we can go home.”
Though he tried to pull her, Esme dropped his hand and stood in place, her smile replaced by a frown.
“What do you mean go home?”
He looked back equally confused
“I took a few days off from the hospital so we could go back and spend time together.”
When Esme kept staring at him as if he wasn’t speaking English, he continued
“I thought we had established we missed each other. We could stay here too, if you want…”
“I have work to do, Carlisle.” She said serious
“I know, but you deserve a break too.” He smiled
“So, you decided to take that break for me?” Esme asked annoyed
“Well, I took the liberty to-”
“You took the liberty to plan a whole weekend for us, without asking my opinion, and just assumed I would follow you gladly. That’s what you did.” She said harsher than she intended to.
Esme didn’t wait for Carlisle to answer and started walking back to the house, stomping her feet
“Esme… Esme, wait, that’s not what I meant.” He followed her “I was just-”
She turned on her heels at that, making him stop suddenly.
“If I went to your work, without warning, walked into your office and said ‘Hey, love, forget whoever you’re trying to keep alive at the moment, and let’s go spend some time together’, would you just get up and go?” when Carlisle didn’t answer right away, still surprised with her reaction, she pressed “Would you?”
“No, of course not.”
“So why did you think I would?”
“Well… that’s hardly the same.”
Esme lifted an eyebrow at him.
“My job has rules and schedules, I can’t just-”
“Are you saying your work is more serious than mine?”
“What? No, stop twisting everything I say.” He said exasperated
“I’m not twisting. God, you always do this!”
Frustrated, Esme hid her face behind her hands, trying to calm herself down. It wasn’t the first time, nor the second or even the third time, that Carlisle had felt anxious because she wasn’t there to welcome him home. The first time, she didn’t mind. She even thought it was sweet of him. And she did enjoy being missed. It happened during the first time she went to college, years ago. During an especially busy semester, Esme was spending long hours out of house. If not in classes, then in the library studying. Since he worked during the night and she took classes mostly during the day, they weren’t seeing much of each other. One Friday afternoon, Carlisle showed up at the campus, flowers in hand, a smile on his face, and pleaded for her time. They spent the weekend tangled in sheets, lost in each other. After two days, he left for the hospital, and their little get away weekend ended.
It became somewhat of a pattern over the years. Whenever she got too involved with an activity, he would bring her back to him. It was when Esme noticed the pattern, that it stopped being cute. I wasn’t the fact that he wanted to spend time with her that bothered her, but that he never asked. He came with a smile, or a sad look on his face, plans made, and the certainty that she would cave (because she often did).
Esme took a deep breath, dropped her hands, but kept looking at ground. She wasn’t brave enough to see what her words had done to him.
“I was just trying to do something nice for you.” He told her quietly after a while
“It wasn’t my intention to make you angry.”
“I don’t… I don’t understand what I did wrong.”
There was a bit of a desperate tone in his voice that made Esme finally look at him. He was as sad as she expected him to be, breaking her heart. They could never stay mad at each other for long, always ready to forgive one another when needed. And her soft and kind Carlisle was so easy to forgive.
Part of her had already regretted everything and wished she had just accepted his offer. She opened her mouth so she could try to explain her side, but closed for Esme realized she didn’t know how to. She was afraid she was going to say the wrong thing. She didn’t want to fight and make things worse. Or make him sadder. What if he understood everything wrong and thought she didn’t want him there at all? Esme took another deep breath and decided against it.
“No, tell me.” He took her hand and squeezed it gently “Please, I want to understand.”
Looking into his eyes, she knew he was being sincere. This is Carlisle, she thought to herself, it’s fine.
“When you have to or want to work multiple shifts in the hospital, I understand. I don’t complain. I’m actually used to you being absent for long periods of time, sometimes only spending a few hours at home. I know how much you love being a doctor, helping people. And I love that about you.”
She gave him a smile before continuing
“But whenever I seem to do the same, and you realize I’m not there, you can’t handle, Carlisle. You’ve become too used to have me waiting for you.” He opened his mouth to speak, but Esme lifted her hand to stop him “I know that renovating started as a hobby for me, but it hasn’t been that for a while. It’s work for me now. And I take it as seriously as you do yours. I can’t just set whatever I’m doing aside because you miss me. I need you to be supportive.”
“I thought I was.” He said quietly “I’ve never stopped you from going after what you wanted. I always try to encourage you.”
“Yes, you do. And I appreciate it. But when you come and decide that is time to come home, assuming that I don’t need to be consulted, it makes me feel that you don’t see what I do as something relevant. As if it’s not a real work.” She reached for his cheek and caressed it “Do you understand what I’m saying?” Esme asked softly
He stared at their jointed hands, thinking about what she said and all the times she spent a little too much time away from him. He never liked to be apart from her, but it was easier when he had work to do. When he came back home, it got a lot harder. Home was where Esme was. Without her presence, it just felt cold. Empty. He didn’t like to admit, but she was right. He couldn’t handle being by himself anymore, even if he had spent most of his life in solitude. He couldn’t never go back to life without her. But he also couldn’t demand her to be there waiting for him.
“I… I think so. I’m so sorry, Esme. I didn’t mean to make you feel like this. Of course, this is important and I shouldn’t have…” he sighed “I just… miss you.”
“I know. I miss you too, love”
She wrapped her arms tightly around his waist and rested her head on his chest. He kissed the top of her head and held her. They stayed in silence for a few minutes.
“Do you want me to go? I can come back another day or-”
“No, you’re already here, so let’s make the most of it.” She kissed him “Now, come on, I have a roof to fix and I could use your help.”