"You just don't get it, okay?!"
"Renee, come on…"
Renee kicked a bucket and sent it flying toward the back wall of the barn. "I never asked to be born into the middle of nowhere!"
"Ugh, could you be any more dramatic." Olivia rolled her eyes.
"Olivia!" Sharon hissed, shooting her a glare. She turned back to the fourteen-year-old. "Renee, sweetie, I understand that you're upset, but don't you think this is a little excessive—" She squeaked as Renee threw one of the pitchforks next. "Renee!"
"That's it." Olivia grabbed the back of the teen's shirt. "Calm the fuck down and go apologize to Mom!"
Renee struggled to get away. "Let go of me!"
Olivia responded by grabbing her wrist and slamming her against one of the barn support beams. "Would you quit it? The world doesn't revolve around you! The sooner you learn that, the better!" She pressed her forearm against Renee's throat. "Now stop being a spoiled brat for two minutes and do what the hell you're told."
"You're just jealous because Dad likes me more than you." Renee looked away.
Olivia put more weight on her arm, clenching her jaw. "You can't be happy unless you're ruining someone's life, can you?"
Sharon put a hand on her shoulder. "Liv, that's enough."
She let Renee go, who scrambled away. "It's not my fault you're such a disappointment to the family!" She shouted, dashing out of the barn.
Olivia slammed her fist against the beam. "Damn it…"
"You know, I really think he's getting over it. You'll see." Sharon sighed. "You know she didn't…"
"Renee…was an angry kid. She was always pissed off about something. She never wanted to do chores, never wanted to help out, never wanted to do anything with the family… I know a lot of kids go through that. Hell, I did too. But Renee was…different. She never really got over it. She was only ever happy if she was the center of attention. And it didn't take her long to figure out how to get it."
"Glaring at Renee again?" Sharon nudged her. "You know, you'd get a lot more done if you stopped being so angry with her all the time."
Olivia huffed. "Look at her. She's so fake. And they're all just eating it up."
Renee leaned against the fence surrounding the Jones pasture. It was the beginning of summer, and her freckles were just now starting to pop on her pale skin. She grabbed Davey's hat and plopped it on her head. All at once the group laughed at something she said, evidenced by the self-satisfied smirk gracing her features.
"Ugh." Olivia shook her head. "Didn't we tell her to stay away from David?"
"Well, yes, but since when has she ever listened to us?" Sharon gasped. "Oh no, what is she doing…"
Renee climbed the fence and jumped into the pasture. "Well of course you can ride Brahmin! Here, I'll show y'all."
"Renee Elizabeth Jones, don't you dare!" Sharon yelled.
"I'll be fine!" Renee snuck up behind one of the young steers and jumped on with a shout.
Olivia and Sharon dashed down to the fence to watch with the rest of her friends. Not even a minute later Renee was bucked off and went rolling in the dirt. She tried to scramble away, but the Brahmin had other ideas.
"Renee!" Sharon clambered over the fence next and went to placate the angry animal. Unfortunately, she wasn't quite quick enough.
There was a sickening snap as the Brahmin stomped down on Renee's leg. Olivia jumped in next to drag her sister to safety while Sharon dealt with the steer. "You idiot!" She shouted, gripping the front of Renee's shirt. "What were you thinking?!"
"I-I wasn't expecting th-that…" Renee gritted her teeth. "M-mind getting me a doctor?"
Olivia dropped her back in the dust. "You did that on purpose."
"I d-didn't think this would happen…!" She groaned, tears gathering in her eyes. "C-come on, Liv, please."
"For your sake, I hope it hurts." Olivia wasn't gentle as she gathered her sister in her arms. She scoffed as Renee fainted, going limp. "Tch. God, you're dramatic…"
"She told me Davey dared her to do that."
"He might have put the idea in her head, but she knew exactly what she was doing. I'm convinced she got hurt on purpose. She was laid up for three months and David came by almost every damn day to visit her. She didn't love him. Never did. She couldn't stand him. But he paid attention to her, and gave her gifts and all that, so she kept him around. She always picked her friends based on what she could get from them."
A pause. "Olivia, do you know that they—"
"Yeah. I know. She was…seventeen when it started."
"Hey, Mom says she wants you to come down."
Against her better judgement, Olivia finished climbing onto the roof and sat next to her. "What are you doing up here anyway?"
"Stargazing." Renee lifted her head from her knees. She sniffled and wiped her eyes with her sleeve.
Olivia chewed the inside of her cheek. "You okay there?"
"I'm fine." Yet, her voice cracked as she said it.
"You getting sick or something?" Olivia reached out to feel over her forehead. "Nah, feel normal to me."
The next moment, Renee forced herself into Olivia's arms. The older girl grunted at the impact. "Hey, what the hell—"
"Davey and I—We—I—"
Olivia slowly brought up her arms to hold Renee. "Why?" She whispered.
"B-because… He…" Renee devolved into sobs and clung to her desperately. "Because he loves me."
"You don't have to do that if you don't love him. That's kind of a…mutual thing."
"Please don't tell Mom…"
Olivia sighed and shook her head. "I won't. I promise. Just…use protection or something. Dad would kill you if you got pregnant. And then he'd probably kill me, just because he could."
Renee giggled and looked up. "You know he wouldn't."
"Okay, but he'd be pretty pissed off."
"Have you ever seen her arms, Gene?"
"Uh… Yeah, plenty of times. I mean, she crashed on my couch for two months because she broke her right arm at one point."
"I mean her upper arms. Near her shoulders. On the inside."
"That's…oddly specific. And… No, I haven't. Not theah, anyway."
"When you get a chance, take a look."
Renee suddenly dropped the bale of hay and slapped a hand over her arm. "Ow, shit…" She hissed, wincing.
"You okay there, squirt?" Mr. Jones gazed down at her from where he stood in the hayloft.
"Y-yeah, I'm okay. Just, um, pulled a muscle. I'll be fine."
"If you need to take a break, you can." He smiled.
She took her palm away from her arm. "Actually… A break sounds nice."
"Ten minutes." He went over to the ladder to climb down.
Olivia managed to snag Renee as she walked out of the barn. She stretched out Renee's arm, eyes narrowing. "I thought so."
"Let go of me." Renee wrenched her arm away.
"Why are you doing that?" Olivia followed her around the corner to the water pump. "There's literally no reason to—"
"Because I like it, okay?" Renee splashed some water on her arm, washing the blood away. Several thin scars scored her flesh.
Olivia cocked an eyebrow. "You like cutting yourself."
"It's…complicated." Renee closed off the pump and pulled her t-shirt sleeves down as far as she could.
"Renee, listen, if you're…" Olivia sighed. "I know we aren't, like, best friends or anything, but you don't need to feel like that. Sharon and I are here for you. Hell, you know it's bad if I have to say I'm—"
"Don't act like you care. I know you don't. You're just like everyone else." Renee turned her head just enough to see Olivia from the corner of her eye. "Admit it. Life would be better without me."
"I never said that. I never once said that."
"Just leave me alone, Olivia. You wouldn't understand."
"I wish I would've told someone when I found out. That's one of my biggest regrets. Then maybe she wouldn't have run off like she did."
"So. You're leaving."
Renee looked up in the darkness. "Yeah. Don't miss me too much."
"You're breaking our parents' hearts." Olivia leaned against the wall.
"They'll get over it." Renee pulled her bag closed. "They always do."
"You don't have to do this, you know."
Renee stopped. She took a deep breath. "That's where you're wrong. I do have to. I'm tired of living here. I'm tired of never meaning anything. And more importantly, I'm tired of never doing anything."
"So running off with a guy you hate is gonna solve all those problems?"
She chuckled bitterly. "The important part is that he doesn't hate me. Davey treats me better than you guys ever did."
"Yeah, because we don't worship the ground you walk on." Olivia sighed. "Renee, you really believe running away is going to make you happy? If you weren't happy here, what makes you think you're going to be happy out there?"
That stopped the redhead. Renee hesitated, hands hovering over a knife and a small pistol. "I don't," she whispered. "I've… I've never really been happy here. You know that. But at least if I die out there then I die happier than if I just put a gun to my head here."
"No need to be that dramatic."
"What do you know? You've always hated me." Renee shrugged on her bag and grabbed the knife.
"Because you're a selfish brat that only ever thinks about herself."
"Someone has to. At the end of the day, I only have myself." She turned and walked toward the door. "Besides, someone has to think about me. Might as well be myself."
Olivia shook her head. "You're a self-destructive kid."
"You're just jealous because Dad likes me more." She stepped out on the porch.
"You deserve everything that ever happens to you, Renee. I want you to understand that."
With a last glance to Olivia, she took off into the night.
"Why do you hate her so much? You're family."
A chuckle, and then a laugh. "Well! I can see she really didn't waste any time telling you about us. I'm… I prefer women. And Dad is an old-fashioned guy. Renee outed me when we were younger. I was fifteen, trying to figure myself out. And she…ruined it." She sighed. "I don't know what happened after she left. I don't know what happened between her and David that they split, but I can almost guarantee you it was her fault."
"He cheated on her. With three othah women. At once, apparently."
"Gene, that requires her to love him first. He didn't cheat on her. He decided he didn't want to bend to her whimsy anymore." She sighed again. "It's your decision if she stays or goes. I'm not going to take her from you. But I want you to think about what you're getting into. Even if she's changed, there's still part of her that's the same selfish, self-centered, manipulative brat that she's always been. And always will be."