The Story: Cerulean and Steel
The Author: TKegl
Summary: A chance encounter in a bookstore brings two people together… but is it really fate, or is some darker force at work? For Bella Swan, love and loss go hand in hand.
Have you ever wondered how far you’ll go for love? What would be the boundaries you’d cross to protect the ones you love, to keep them with you? Would you rob? Would you kidnap? Would you kill for love?
These are all questions that jumped to the forefront of my mind when I read Cerulean and Steel by TKegl — although at the time it was by writer ‘unknown’.
To be completely honest, the first time I read this One shot, I wasn’t sure what to think. On the one part, I’m a huge Canon lover, meaning I like Edward paired with Bella, Jasper paired with Alice, Emmett paired with Rosalie, etc, etc. So when I realized that Bella was dating Jasper, I wanted to stop reading. Of course, I couldn’t because I was a judge on the contest this One Shot was entered.
The fact that I was a judge in this contest was most fortuitous though, because it made me read something I normally wouldn’t. And let me tell you, the trip was totally worth the pain.
This story is not a Bella/Jasper, or a Bella/Jasper/Edward, although it may seem like it is to the untrained eye. This story is about Bella. It’s about the decisions and the compromises she makes, and how the consequences of her actions weigh heavily on her heart.
We start out with a vague scene. We know is a girl’s POV, but we don’t know who’s POV. It could be any of the Twilight female characters for all we know. From this brief introductory scene — which sets the mood for the whole One shot — we can already feel the weariness, the reluctance the female character feels towards performing whatever task the male character reminds her is time for.
However, something that stuck with me, not only from this introductory scene, but from the whole piece, was the tangible love you could feel between the unknown male character, and the unknown female character. You could feel they were one soul in two bodies, and you hurt for the lovers, even when you got to the end, and found out the true reach of their deeds on other people’s lives.
Like a modern Salome, TKegl dances a dance of seven veils with her words, slowly revealing the truths hidden behind the layers of melancholy that engulf our mystery girl. Once we find out she’s Bella, we want to know why she is so sad, so disillusioned with the world.
The city streets were busy, reminding me why I rarely ventured out onto them anymore. The crowds bothered me…the noise…the smells…the rudeness and irritation.
I wandered into a used bookstore, reveling in the quiet serenity of worn leather and musty pages. Browsing up and down the aisles, I idly picked up a coffee table book on Ireland.
And then we meet Jasper.
"Can I help you find something?"
I looked up into a pair of kind blue-gray eyes, crinkled at the corners and framed by a pair of Buddy Holly glasses. A friendly smile lit his face, showing a hint of dimples in his cheeks.
He was just as beautiful as I remembered.
I had first spotted him at the coffee shop across the street. He'd caught my attention because, well, because he was uncommonly attractive – tall and lean, but muscled, with tousled blonde hair and a quick, devilish grin. A quick check revealed no wedding ring. But what really intrigued me was that
– despite the fact that the barista ruined his order twice – he still left her a tip, winking at her as he dropped a dollar in the jar before he left the café and walked across the street to the bookstore.
He had a kind heart. That was almost enough to make me leave him alone.
Did your alarms go off when you read those lines? Because mine sure did when I read them. You know from those ominous words, that something is going to happen to poor sweet Jasper. You just know it. However, TKegl is a smart writer and she’s capable of lulling us into a false sense of security as we see the Jasper/Bella romance unfold. She almost convinced me. Almost.
There’s even a point in the story, where Bella feels like she’s falling for Jasper, and the whole time that was happening I was wondering: was Jasper the man in the first scene? Where is Edward?
I walked back into the living room after pouring two glasses of Jasper's wine. He took his with a smile, clinking it with mine. His eyes went to the portrait hanging over the fireplace.
"Who's that?" he asked.
I swallowed a gulp of wine. "My husband, Edward. He… passed away."
On No! You say? I did too. But trust me, with this story nothing is ever what it seems.
Reading this I felt a little bit like a cat playing with yarn, the more yarn I got out of my ball, the more tangled it got, and the more confused I felt. That is until I got to the climax of the story, and I have to admit, I said ‘No way’ out loud when I did.
I’m not going to spoil you the rest, because I really want you to read this One Shot. It ensnared my attention, and kept me literally at the edge of my seat from beginning to end.
TKegl managed to comprise in less than 10,000 words a whole short story, with love, pain, lost, death, happiness, so many other feelings, you feel at times overwhelmed while reading Cerulean and Steel.
It takes real talent to be able to tell such an intricate story in so very few words. And it takes even more ability to make it feel like whole entity, a whole story and not a rushed mockup of what could have been.
In the end, I felt drained. I felt as if I had lived a lifetime in 10,000 words, and I could fully sympathize with Bella’s final words in the story.
It was my burden.
It was my penance.
I was burned-out as well, and carried a new burden with me: the burden of knowing these characters’ fates.
This is not an easy read. It has many twists and turns. It will make you dizzy. It will hunt you for days after you’ve read it. It’s poignant, and let me assure you that you’ll feel what Bella feels on your very flesh.
I leave you with this Quote, from my favorite Shakespeare play, which for me summarizes Bella’s plight:
I do repent; but heaven hath pleas'd it so
To punish me with this, and this with me,
That I must be their scourge and minister.
I will bestow him, and will answer well
The death I gave him. So again good night.
I must be cruel only to be kind.
Thus bad begins and worse remains behind.
Hamlet Act 3, scene 4, 173–179
Review by Ange de l’aube