If On a Winter’s Night
“Be safe, baby” “See you soon, love”
review by busymommy
There is a certain wry coincidence that I began reading slash, just because the video was so hot. Thank you, JustBiel and tuesdaymidnight, for beginning my addiction to pretty boys in love. I loved that sexy video so much that I’d watch it almost daily. Because you see, it was that video that led me to this story.
One, quiet March evening, while getting in my Raw & Rosy fix, I noticed a link in the sidebar for a video I’d not seen before. Being who I am, I clicked and I watched, tears pricking my eyes. Then I watched again and tears began trickling down my cheeks. Replaying the video a third time, I also clicked the link that would lead me to the first chapter of a story that has owned me ever since. The video, while offering a beautiful glimpse into the world that Touchstone67 has created, doesn’t even come close to conveying the depths of emotions that her words bring to life.
Right from the start, I was swept in to Edward and Jasper’s world.
Hard stone, cracked from attempts to break through their impenetrable protection, surrounded him. His heart was safely locked behind the fortress, not even a drawbridge allowing visitors across the long dried up moat of emotions.
Only unlike a real fortress, this one hadn't taken years to construct.
It had only taken one night.
One horrific, terrifying night that left his eyes empty of light, hands empty of mine, legs empty of energy and life.
Watching from a distance, I stood quietly by a tree, desperately trying to recognize this new boy behind the walls, wondering if he still had my heart.
And so began my love affair with If On a Winter’s Night. I started Chapter One late the night of March 2nd, crying my way through the first two chapters and managing to leave reviews. I got up the next morning, with so much to do, and yet the story called to me, beckoning me to find out what happened next. But wait, I can read fanfiction on my phone? Bless the genius who created this feature! My phone stayed in my hand constantly for the next two days. When I could manage to sit down and read, I’d scramble to get my computer to the same place I’d read to on my phone. I cried in public places, I cried in private, my kids gave me hugs to cheer me up, and I spoon fed snippets to my friend who was intrigued, but can’t handle a lot of angst.
I forgot to leave reviews, just clicking next, over and over. Then, suddenly, there was no next, and no one I knew was reading the story. So my campaign began. I posted the video and links all over Facebook, dropping teasers into groups I belonged to. I wanted everyone to read this incredible story; I needed someone to commiserate and theorize with in between updates, someone else who would cheer and cry with me. Because, you see, somewhere about halfway through the 2nd chapter, I forgot about Twilight, and instead, I fell in love with the characters, the hearts, that Touchstone67 created, who just happened to be named Edward and Jasper. And, with each tear I shed, I wanted to take these two characters into my arms, to shelter them from all the pain and hurt that they were going through, because, unlike everyone in their lives, I knew their secret.
In this story we are given a compelling look into the lives of two young men, best friends, who fall in love. The story isn’t told in a conventional way, but, given our unconventional circumstances, it only serves to enhance the way Jasper and Edward’s lives are presented. For, in an instant, the blink of an eye really, everything that they had planned for, hoped for, dreamed of, changed; and their lives became a contrast of before and after.
The story opens with Jasper waiting for Edward to join him on New Year’s Eve. They’ve been a secret couple for eighteen months, and had planned to take the next step in their relationship, intercourse. Like every teen couple, they were taking advantage of Jasper’s parents going away for the weekend; we see Jasper experiencing all the typical first time nerves. While waiting for Edward, Jasper falls asleep, only to be awakened by a phone call from his mother. Edward had been in a car accident while driving to Jasper’s after work and has been transported to a trauma unit in Seattle.
At the hospital, everyone’s worst fears are confirmed; Edward is paralyzed from the waist down. According to the doctors, this budding basket ball player with a full scholarship to college, will never walk again. Waves of guilt overcome Jasper; he knows the accident wouldn’t have happened if Edward hadn’t been heading to his house. It is later revealed that the accident was caused by another driver, poor solace when their lives have still been changed forever.
Once Edward is stabilized, he is transferred back to Forks, where Jasper sneaks out nightly to go sit with him. Playing the music they both love (the Beatles, whose lyrics figure prominently throughout the story), He hopes for some kind of breakthrough that Edward will come back to him. When he does, it’s only to tell Jasper to go away. We are given the raw pain and emotion that I’m sure many paralysis victims go through: the anger, the hurt, the fears, and the feelings of rejection. Edward lashes out from his place of fear, pushing away the one person who loves him most of all.
Desperately, I wanted to wake him up, show him I was there, that I loved him.
Instead, I sighed and watched him until my ten minutes were up. Mrs. Fuller would be back to check on me any second. Before she came back, I leaned over Edward, putting my face as close to his as I dared without waking him.
"I love you so much, Edward. We're going to get through this, I promise. You and me. I love you."
Wiping my eyes, I turned for the door, my feet feeling heavier than ever as they carried me from his side. At the door, I turned to him one last time.
"Be safe, baby," I murmured.
His reply wasn't his usual 'See ya soon, love.'
"It's all your fault," a faint, raspy voice said from behind the curtain. Gasping, I looked around the room for another person that I knew wasn't there.
"I know," I replied, my fingers wiping the guilty tears from my cheeks. "I'm sorry."
My heart felt crushed, like a vise gripped and twisted it. Even in his sleep, he knew I was the reason he was laying in that room.
Despite his own fears and pain, Jasper never gives up on Edward, taking whatever crumbs of time he can have with the person he loves. He takes Edward’s rejection and verbal abuse, losing sleep and his own health suffering, while his entire focus in on Edward’s recovery and wellbeing. The obvious connection between the two is conveyed beautifully, even amidst the pain. It all blows up when Edward continues to push Jasper away, while Jasper insists, through words and actions, that he will never leave him. While he spews words of hate, Jasper takes it, even encouraging Edward to hit him, which he does, repeatedly, until he burns out the hate and grief that consumes him, finally collapsing in Jasper’s arms.
He just…let me hold him.
For what seemed like hours, I held him as he sobbed into my neck. With each breath of his that caressed and warmed my damp skin, I felt the anger fade from his body, leaving a powerful grief behind in its wake. Grief that overwhelmed his already weakened body, sending waves of anguish through him, his upper body shaking and trembling as he clung to me with every ounce of strength he had left. His fingers clutched my shirt, occasionally wandering to the end of my curls, as if to remind himself I was really there. When I felt his grip loosen, I tightened my own. I wasn't going to let him leave my arms…ever again.
No matter what he said or how hard he hit me, I wasn't going anywhere.
The story, in my opinion, epitomizes the expression, “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” Throughout this story, over and over, these two boys are handed challenges that test not only their love for each other, but strike right at the core of who each of them are. Forced by circumstances to face issues way beyond their tender years had ever prepared them for, the boys show us, time and time again, how to make a relationship work, not in only in how they handle what they are given, but in how they force each other to make the right choices.
Touchstone67 has taken a sensitive subject and dealt with it in a very real way. The author never candy coats the emotions in this story, allowing them to be exposed at their rawest element. Edward’s injuries are not glossed over; his treatment and therapy aren’t ignored. Instead, they are woven through the story, offering a very realistic view of the day to day life of a paraplegic. Through the skillful writing, I’ve found myself experiencing the same highs and lows of the characters, cheering each victory, mourning each setback. I encourage everyone to read this beautiful story, but please, make sure you take tissues. There are a lot of tears with this one, both happy and sad.
Love you all,