"Bella! Get your fat lazy ass down here before I drag it down each and every step!" My eyes flew open and I shot upright in bed, frantically trying to follow his commands. For I knew what would follow if I did not do as he demanded: beating.
My father had never touched me when my mother was around, unless it was to hug me or pat my shoulder reassuringly when I dropped my ice cream in the sand. But things had changed, and quite drastically at that, ever since my mother died in a house fire. My father and I had just come home from the store, grocery shopping so dad could make the perfect dinner for mom's birthday. When we began to drive down our street, we saw a huge mass of fiery smoke sitting on our lawn. Dad stopped in the middle of the road, staring on helplessly. We heard the faint screams of a woman, burning, dying in the house. Almost every person in the neighborhood was standing with police officers, watching on as the fire fighters hectically tried to drown the fire. Watching on morosely as my father broke down, drowning in his own sobs and tears. We later discovered that a Mrs. Renee Swan did not die from the burning of our beautifully restored Victorian home. Oh no, she was already lying on her bed, dying from an O.D. of oxy-cotton. The house going up in flames was just a cover up, her hopes that no one would find out her little secret. That she had been on the drugs for nearly 4 years and she was planning on killing herself. That was the worst day of my life.
Every night, since that dreadful August 14, I have had a nightmare forcing me to relive the most heart-shattering, guilt-filled, life-altering day in my short life. Getting shorter, and shorter, every moment I live in his presence...
"Bella, you bitch! Get the fuck down here and make me some fucking coffee! You little whore! I'll teach you to ignore me. When I'm done with you, you'll be begging me to just throw you into the fiery depths of hell." He was pounding his way up the stairs, muttering incoherently to himself. I instantly grew rigid and flew to the window. I quickly, silently, slipped open the window to my bedroom. Thankfully, it was located on the first floor, so I could slip out unnoticed before he got to me. The last time I had done this, I was careless and left the stool under the window so as to boost myself out. That was a mistake. He immediately figured out where I had gone and stormed out the front door, screaming my name. I was already out of sight, but I knew I would have hell to pay when I got home. That was an understatement. The morning after, I awoke with four broken ribs, my tibia was snapped in half, and the gash across my forehead hadn't stopped bleeding. Definitely an understatement.
I slipped out the window, carefully closing the window behind me. So afraid that if it so much as clicked when I latched it closed, he would be behind me, breathing down my neck. I could see it now. His blood shot eyes going in and out of focus as he glared at me pitifully curled in a ball on the ground. I grabbed my bag from under the porch, where I now kept it for occurrences such as these.
I headed off to school, slightly limping, but holding back the tears. Covering my cut on my forehead with my bangs, knowing I would probably need stitches. I hadn't always had bangs, but ever since the beatings started, I figured it would be a good idea to cut some so I could avoid any questioning. I was feeling sick from the amount of blood I lost, and veered to the right, heaving bile into the neighbors' petunias. I kept walking, wobbling the slightest bit as i swerved left and right. I knew I wouldn't make it through the school day, but I had to try. Everyone already thought of me as a freak, I didn't need to give them more of a reason to hate me.
At school, I was an outcast. I used to have so many friends, and people would go out of their way to talk to me. But now, just as my relationship with my father, things have changed so much. People now tried to avoid me, like a little bubble surrounded me, like I had the plague. I used to break down and cry, wishing, praying that my peers would accept me. But now I hardly noticed. It became routine, like it was just so normal, as did everyone else. Even the teachers would see me as an empty seat, ignoring my presence. I'd ask a question, and they'd pretend they heard nothing. Some might find it strange that even adults would act this way towards me. But then again, these people hadn't lived my life, seen the pain etched in my face and weaved through my broken voice that never healed. They just didn't understand. It hurt other people to see me, hear me, because then they had to feel a fraction of my pain.
I looked back at the house where all my tears had been shed, where all my pain and suffering had taken place. I'm never going back there. I have to find somewhere to go then, if I'm not going to go back home. But who would have me...? These thoughts coursed through my mind as they did every morning, but I could never come up with a better place to go. By the end of the day I would have to go back to my house, because I didn't have anywhere else to go.
By the time I got to school, everyone was already there, walking from their sports cars, laughing with their friends, heading off to first period. I trudged into the school to face another day of ignoring people shoving me around in the hall. At least it was better than going back home to my monster of a father. I dragged my leg a little as I headed off to Mrs. Starp's room, first period English. It could be worse. I started to become very fatigued, nearly losing all consciousness when I fell into my seat in the back row. I always sat in the back in all of my classes, I was even less noticed this way, just the way I would have it. It made my life just the slightest bit easier. If I wanted to be noticed, I suppose I could manage to do so, however, it was just so much easier to go unnoticed. No one asks questions about where I was, no one notices my silent tears and the blood constantly pouring from my skin. It was just simpler.
By the time the class was over, I was barely awake. The bell ringing was my only signal that there was any closure to the period at all. Often times, I wouldn't leave the class until the teacher had turned off the lights, and everyone else had gone. I slowly made my way to the door, being pushed down by my classmates. The hallways were crowded, but I managed to slip in between the people. I dragged myself through the rest of my classes for the day, only getting my leg stepped on a few times. Finally, I can just go home and rest, until he gets home. I often times would find myself daydreaming, imagining what it would be like to go home and have a normal family.
Mother would be in the kitchen, just pulling her delicious cookies out of the oven. She would take them off the metal sheet and slip them onto a plate, giving me a glass of milk to go with them. I would sit at the counter and chatter away with mom, telling her about how my day went, and just speaking of normal teenager things. Boys, school, my friends, and anything else we could come up with to talk about. Once mom is finishing up with dinner, dad would walk through the door and, without pausing, sneak into the kitchen and wrap his arms around her waist from behind, sweeping her off her feet. We would all sit down and have one of those family dinners, the kind that you see on television. If only things could have continued that way.
I was walking towards my locker to get my bag and go home, when someone called my name. I glanced up, barely comprehending what was going on. But when I did, it was the deepest regret of my life to go to school that day.
"Hello Bella sweetheart. How was your day at school?" There stood Charlie, the man I once called my father. Then again, that was before the beatings, and before he just now appeared in my high school pointing a gun at me.
"What are you doing here?" My voice was barely audible, even with the halls dead silent. I was afraid to breathe, I didn't dare to move. I knew that if I so much as gave him the slightest hint that I might take off running, he would shoot, and that would be the end of my life.
"Well honey, I came to see how you were doing at school, seeing as you left before I got the chance to see you. Why did you take off running?" He paused, allowing me time to answer his question. But I didn't dare say a word. I was afraid that if i said the wrong thing, he would blow up. See, he might look calm, even with a gun in his hand. but I knew him so much better. I knew there was a storm brewing beneath the calm facade. "All I wanted to do was wish you a good day at school, and to have a happy birthday. Or did you forget, that it was your birthday today? You see, I thought this might happen. I knew you would forget. Aren't you glad that I'm here to remind you?" He looked at me expectantly, as if he was waiting for an answer.
"So you're not happy?" When he said this, something inside me snapped. He knew how happy I was.
"What the fuck?! You know damn well that I'm not happy, and it's all your fucking fault!" We were now standing in the hallway, screaming at each other, not caring what anybody thought.
"What, and you think that I am?! I would be if you hadn't killed her! You murdered her! If it wasn't for you, she would still be here!" His face was turning purple, our faces were only six inches away, we were screaming our lungs out at each other. The whole school gathered around in a tight circle, giving us only a few feet to move, to watch the outcome. It was probably like some sort soap-opera to everyone, it didn't matter to them who got shot and who didn't.
"I didn't do it! I didn't do a fucking thing, you son of a bitch! You smothered her, you wouldn't let her out of your sight. You made her mind snap under the stress. If it weren't for you, she wouldn't have had to take the stupid fucking drugs in the first place! She would have been alive if she never met you!" Tears poured down my face as I screamed my throat raw. The gun was now on the ground, dropped when Charlie was ranting and blaming his life's mistakes on me.
I looked down at the ground between us, feigning shame and guilt. He looked slightly taken aback, but pleased all the same. I quickly glanced up at his face, only to smile a sick, twisted smile. The expression that came onto his face was nearly comedic, he was so shocked that I hadn't given up, that I had a crazy plan up my sleeve that no one anticipated. In a split second, I wound back my arm and, with every ounce of strength in my small frail body, threw my fist into his face. I heard a satisfying crunch, as I realized that I had broken his nose. Blood poured out and his head was down. I didn't think that he would be looking back up any time soon. Not even I thought that I had that much strength in only my one arm. If I had known that I had, I would have kicked his ass such a long time ago.
All of a sudden, his foot shot out and kicked my left leg, probably mistaking it for my broken one. He wouldn't have remembered which one he broke when he was in such a state last night. I heard my leg crunch, but I was beyond feeling and pain at this point. I was numb. So I stood on two legs, for both were now broken, and stared him down. When Charlie finally looked up, as slowly as it was, everyone was in awe.
"Hey dad, wrong leg. Lucky you, I'm used to you breaking my bones." His mouth popped open, his jaw hanging slack. Everyone around stared, for any normal person would fall to their knees, crying out in agony. But not me. I was used to his physical torture, so the broken shins meant so little to me.
I threw my knee up into his gut, causing him to loose his breath. I continued my abuse, until someone interfered. Right when Charlie was about to fight back, I was taken away from the inner circle and pulled to the outside of the group. I looked up to see who had wrapped their arms around my waist and dragged me away from my victory. And it was the most beautiful boy I had ever seen in my life.
"Are you alright?" I was too stunned for words, so I just nodded my head. I couldn't believe that anyone had interfered in my fight, let alone him. It was Edward Cullen, the most beautiful, athletic, funny, intelligent boy in the state, and here he was, holding me. The very thought of it left me breathless.
Of course, I could never let him know my thoughts. For if he discovered, I feared that he would laugh in my face, as if it was a joke. Everyone else had, when my friends found out about my living conditions, when a boy found out I liked him in sixth grade, when I told the principal about my father. They all laughed, not believing a word I said. I had never lied once in my life, but these people thought that I would lie about something like that. Ridiculous, that's what it was. Ridiculous that I had to live this kind of life, while everyone else laughed in my face about my problems, then those stuck-up little bitches would turn around and ask their daddies for money. I can't attempt to imagine what Charlie would do to me if I did that.
I was only shaken out of my deep calculations when I heard Edward start talking to me. "Bella, I'm going to take you to my house. My father's a doctor, he can help you." I didn't get a chance to respond, for my own personal god had picked me bridal-style and started to carry me to a shiny silver Volvo. I tried to ask him not to, just to take me home, but all that came out was a garbled sigh. And without further a due, I passed out.