Friday, October 7, 2011

Edith and Ben - You Promised

[Originally posted at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings.]

In Twilight, Edward promises to explain everything to Bella in exchange for her hiding the truth of what happened. Bella accepts the agreement and tells Edward's version of events. When she reminds Edward that he promised to tell her the truth, he responds with, "Bella, you hit your head, you don't know what you're talking about," in a cutting tone followed by large helpings of general jerkishness.

The problem with making an Edith and Ben version is that things happened differently, Edith didn't promise, Ben isn't lying on Edith's behalf, nothing leading up to the scene is the same. That said, it's easy enough to tell what would happen if they did somehow end up in this situation. They would be walking while talking, Ben would say, "You promised," just as Bella had, and then:


"Yes I did," Edith said, the looked around, "but not in a public place."

I didn't see anyone around us, but if she was concerned about being in public there seemed to be a simple solution, "Then let's go somewhere private."

"It's not quite that simple. There are some things I need to do first. I promised to tell you, I didn't promise I'd tell you today," which sounded a lot like, 'I'm not going to explain,' to me.

"A promise that's only fulfilled on the first of Octember is no promise at all."

That got a brief half smile, then she asked, "Can you keep a secret, Ben?"

I said, "Yes," warily, fully expecting her to respond with, 'So can I.'

"What if you couldn't? What if, for whatever reason, you had to tell my secret to someone else? Would you do it right away or, if you could, would you try to give me a heads up first?"

She paused and I thought she intended for me to answer, but she resumed before I was able to, "Because there are other people involved, whom I should warn. So unless you're planning on blackmailing me into telling you right now, I'd like to give them notice.

"I know it seems like I'm just being evasive right now but I promise you that-" her palm met her forehead with such force I thought she'd hurt herself. "Should not have used that word if you think I don't follow through on my promises. There are all kinds of secrets, some where if they're revealed the appropriate response is to ask, 'So what?' and some where the appropriate response is to pack up the moving van and skip town. Right now you don't know where on that scale this falls, when you do I think you'll understand why I wanted some time.

"I will explain. Just give me some time."

"I don't like lying," I told her.

And suddenly we were stopped. I didn't expect her to stop walking, and when I stopped to avoid walking past her it was ... less than graceful. I'm not entirely sure whether I would have fallen if she hadn't steadied me, but I was glad I didn't have to find out. By the time I had my balance back she was right in front of me looking me straight in the eyes.

"Then don't." She told me. "If you're not comfortable lying then don't lie. Tell the truth, just not the whole truth. If someone asks you what happened, tell it like it was. The details I don't want you to tell are details people are unlikely to ask about, and if they do there are any number of true things you can say." She quickly looked around to see if anyone was paying attention, "If they say, 'She was nowhere near you,' you can honestly say, 'That's what I thought,' and then point out that it doesn't make a lot of sense for me to be able to cover that much distance in that much time. No lie at all.

"And really it shouldn't come up if you don't bring it up so even that's more than you should ever have to to. Beguiling really doesn't require lies very often. Equivocate don't prevaricate.

"I know this is hard. I know it's uncomfortable. I'm sorry to have put you in this situation, and I really deeply appreciate what you're done for me so far. Please, trust me. I will explain everything. Just give me some time first." Maybe I shouldn't have, given that she was giving the the abridged version of lying 101, but I did trust her and I didn't want to let her down. I'd keep her secret, even though I didn't know what it was, on the faith that she would tell me and when she did I would agree it had been a secret worth keeping.


And then Edith goes home and tells everyone something along the lines of, "We've got a code yellowish orange everyone, be ready to flee at a moment's notice but look normal." She'll tell Ben the truth (first off she promised, second it's better than him starting an amateur investigation) and then depending on his reaction the Cullens could respond with anything from nothing at all, to bribes, to fleeing the area.

If Ben doesn't keep the secret (he will, but hypothetically):

Ben Swan: I'm telling you Charlize, there's something very strange about those people.
Chief Charlize Swan: Oh I agree. I went over to their house to talk to them after you told me the first time. It's completely empty, it looks like they cleaned it using industrial chemicals and everything they didn't take with them was burned in a bonfire in the back yard. I have no idea what was going on, but it looks like Caroline has taken her clan and left town. I don't think you have to worry about them.


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