Disclaimer: The majority of the characters contained in this story are creations of Stephenie Meyer; however, Lindsey belongs to me. Oh joy. :-P No copyright infringement is intended, and no profits are made from this story.

When Lauren has an epiphany about her place in life, will she change for the better, or will she remain the same girl that all Twilight fans love to hate?

Warning: You may end up feeling sorry for Lauren. Do not read if you want to hate her in peace.

I was poised on the porch of my small apartment in Los Angeles, gazing at the sun as it rose above the horizon. It was a winter morning with a just slight chill, but the California weather was heaven. Not too hot, not too cold, and wonderfully dry.

The phone rang and interrupted my thoughts; I danced lithely inside, and pressed the phone to my ear.

"Hello?" I breathed.

"Lauren Mallory? This is Police Chief Swan from Forks, Washington," he said, and then paused, as if calculating his words. My thoughts swam back to the first eighteen years of my life spent in a minuscule, wet town on the Olympic Peninsula. I escaped that soggy version of hell and my family the day that I turned eighteen. The summer after graduation, I fled to LA to get my big break in modeling. It sure as hell wasn't going to happen in the dump known as Forks, but it still hadn't happened in LA.

Then the police chief interrupted my thoughts, "Look, I don't know how to say this, but you have to come home. There's been a car accident, and we need you to confirm that the bodies found are your family's." I sucked in a shaky breath. Bodies? I hadn't spoken a word to my parents or my sister since I skipped town. "I'm so sorry, Lauren," he said, and he sounded sincere.

I was too stunned to say much. After trying to talk, and gulping the words back, I finally managed to mutter a shocked "thanks for telling me" before hanging up the phone. Forcing myself to move, I packed clothing for the trip, and walked down to the street. A taxi pulled up and I plopped down in the backseat with my suitcase clutched tightly to my chest.

"The airport, please," I choked out. The drive was uneventful, and thankfully the cabbie wasn't talkative, because unlike normal, I wasn't feeling very chatty. At the airport, I bought tickets to Port Angeles through Seattle, and then stumbled onto the plane. I took my seat, which was right next to a family with two little girls; one of them was screaming her head off. It's going to be a long flight, I thought. At first, I tried to ignore the wailing girl so that I could think, but after being flooded with thoughts of my family's mutilated bodies, crushed in their SUV, I welcomed the distracting cries of the child. I stared at the little girl with resigned eyes, and then looked at her older sister. She sat still, reading a book, ignoring her sister and the persistent efforts of their parents to quiet her sister down. I looked at the girl for a while, and then she slowly turned her face to glare at me. Tears gently flowed down her face and caught the light, but I was the only one who noticed. The girls' parents were completely occupied with the gradually quieting younger child. My heart wrenched as I was transported back into the time of my own childhood, when I had been as ignored as this young girl.

I was so excited about my first ballet recital. I had spent months perfecting both my steps and my smile, even if I was now missing my two front teeth. My tutu floofed around me, and I pulled on it nervously. I wanted it to be perfect for my parents; I wanted to show that I deserved attention, unlike my whiny sister. However, as the curtain went up, I saw my sister, Lindsey, screeching at the top of her lungs, and our parents both restraining her and dragging her out of the small auditorium. Stunned, I couldn't move for a minute until I realized that 'the show must go on'. I danced my best, even if no one that I cared about was there to watch.

My sister had grown up as the center of attention. I had always been the one stuck in her shadow, never getting any praise or attention from our parents because their hands were full with Lindsey and her antics; as a result, I always came off as a needy snob to anyone who got to "know" me. It was definitely a miserable childhood.

I blinked hard, once, twice, and snapped back to reality. Lindsey was gone. I had never forgiven Lindsey; I'd never had a chance to say goodbye. As much as I might have hated my sister, there was still that bond that I had tried to sever when I left home. I stared out the window, not really focusing on anything, and trying to ignore the dull ache in my heart.

We touched down in Seattle a while later and I mechanically walked to my next flight. This one was uneventful, and even the landing at the tiny airport was smooth. I retrieved my suitcase and got another taxi to Forks. Once there, I went to the hospital morgue to see my parents and sister. I wasn't at all prepared for what I saw. My breath faltered, and the last piece of my heart shattered. There was no doubt that this was my family. Even through the burned pieces of flesh, I could see their faces. Reality sank in: I was totally and completely alone. No one in the world would care about me now, especially after how I had acted as I left town after high school. I had nowhere to go, no one to see, so I went back to my now-empty home in Forks. Even if I hadn't lived there in almost four years, it now felt like home more than ever. I used the key that was always kept under one of the loose bricks from the porch steps and stumbled inside. It was lifeless and hollow inside, echoing my mood and my footsteps. Treading quickly up the stairs, I went to my room for the first time in ages. It was as if no one had entered it since I escaped that summer. I crumbled onto the bed, and didn't move for what seemed like an eternity.

A week later, the funeral was held at a small church that I had attended as a child. The church was filled with Lindsey's classmates and other neighbors from town. I even recognized a few of my old high-school friends, too; Jess was there, and so were Tyler, Mike, Angela and Ben. It didn't escape my notice that Bella and her posse hadn't bothered to show. What great friends. But we were there to mourn the loss of life of my family, not the loss of bitchy acquaintances.

The eulogies grieved the loss of Lindsey, who had been a beloved senior and the cheerleading captain, my mother, who had been a caring stay-at-home mom, and my Dad, who had been a great lawyer and a kind neighbor. I sat still, trying to listen without bursting out into tears. I stood up and wandered to the stage, gave my speech about how much I loved my family, but the words sounded flat and false. The fact was, I hadn't loved them enough: I'd hated them. Now I realized what I had missed, and the pain welling in my chest made it hurt to think about it too much.

Rain fell heavily during the burial, but rain wasn't that unusual in Forks. I found slight joy in the fact that it wasn't snow, but the gladness was drowned out by my oncoming depression. They were really gone. I stood there for a long time, staring unseeingly at the gravestones of my mother, father, and sister. Most people had left the cemetery already, but I felt someone come up behind me. I would've turned to see, but I was frozen in place, numbed to the core by my heart and the cold. After all, I had no heavy jacket, since I hadn't needed one in LA.

"You miss them," Tyler Crowley stated, breaking me out of my reverie.

"No. I hated them for not caring about me," I spit back, trying to keep my eyes dry for some unrealized reason. "You should know that better than anyone, considering how much I complained to you about them in high school." A bitter laugh escaped my lips.

"But you miss them now."

I wanted to disagree for some reason, but I knew he spoke the truth. I simply nodded.

"That's all that matters. They'll understand." There was an awkward moment of silence, filled only with the sound of raindrops pelting my black umbrella. I couldn't bear it anymore; I finally let my tears spill out.

I then realized why I didn't want to cry, even if it was now too late. No one had seen me cry since that fateful ballet recital. I suppose I wanted to prove that I was stronger than my sister: I wasn't going to cry about stuff to get attention. And then I understood, in a forceful epiphany (a silent epiphany?), that I complained to get attention instead of crying for it. Was I any better for not crying and replacing my tears with complaints? Of course not. That's why everyone seemed to hate me.

Tyler must've heard my sniffles by then, because instantly he wrapped his arms around me from behind. He was wet from standing in the rain, but I didn't care anymore about getting damp as much as I normally would've. He bent his head to my ear and whispered, "Your family loved you, and you, them. Families sometimes seem like they hate each other, but in the end, love wins. And that's all that matters."

A/N: So what did you think of it so far? I love comments!

Hopefully I'll have the concluding chapter up tomorrow, but no promises!