A/n: Formally known as "Tears of Blood". This story is posted with permission of Mourningxrio, who, sadly, will not be returning to Fanfiction. He has given me the okay to post all the stories I helped with on my own profile. I hope this won't confuse anyone. x-x
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the Twilight Series.
Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.
Ever so slowly, the minute hand climbed around the wall clock. I want to scream at it. Hurry up! Please. Move just a little bit faster. But of course nothing good could come from screaming at an inanimate object. It wouldn't do for someone to hear me. I had enough problems to deal with then having my classmates try to ship me to a mental institution. I cringed when I remembered what awaited me at home after my shift at Newton's. Then again, maybe it wouldn't be so bad.
I tore my eyes from the clock. Instead, I traced the edge of my textbook with my eyes. The large book slid in and out of focus. Repressing a sigh, I rubbed my fist into my eye, trying to shake of the wave of weariness. Considering that I was running on three hours of sleep, I thought I was holding up very well. My eyes protested as I held them as open as possible. How desperately I wanted to shut them and doze off. The idea was even more inviting when I realized I was looking at another night of little sleep. Is it possible to die from sleep depravation? If so, I was a medical miracle.
Beside me, a blonde girl tapped her pencil on the surface of our shared table. Tap. Tap. Tap. The tip of the lead pounded lightly on the black marble. If she was aggravated, tapping her pencil wasn't going to help. It might actually make the situation worse; the sound was dragging me out of my numb stupor and into one of annoyance. Just as I was contemplating snapping the stupid writing instrument in half, along with it's owner, the bell rang. School was over for yet another day.
I hastily jumped to my feet, swung my backpack over my shoulder, and made a mad dash out of the classroom. I dove in-between the hallway mess with ease. Most of the student sidestepped me as I came into view. Good. All the better for me. Less obstacles to dodge equals less time wasted on my way to the parking lot in my book.
I shoved open the double doors. Sweet freedom. I welcomed the light drizzle as I hurried to my red truck. Rust covered the frame of it, but still I found it beautiful. After all, she was mine. I owned her, and I was proud.
Billy and Jacob had given me this beauty as a sweet sixteen present last year. Jacob said he was embarrassed by how bad of a shape the truck was in, but I was grateful for a set of wheels. Anything really. Just as along as I didn't have to ask Charlie for rides to and from school. I wanted to refuse the car -I mean, a car! A bit overboard for a gift to your friend's daughter- but Billy wouldn't hear of it. He told me it was useless to him anyway since he had been condemned to a life of wheelchairs. So, in good grace, I had tightened my fingers greedily around the keys to my ancient red wagon.
I dropped my bag into the passenger seat after I shut the door. The sound of the falling rain became muffled immediately. I smiled thankfully. The rain could be nice on occasion, but nonstop rain gave me a headache. And nonstop rain was basically the definition of cloudy little Forks, WA. God, I hated it here. But, here was my home. So here I was stuck. Just 16 more months, I reminded myself. Once that diploma is in your hands, you are out of Forks and out of Charlie's hair. For good.
I pulled into the line of car begging for a quick escape from the parking lot. I let my eyes travel along the line. Wow, at least fifteen cars in line. What a pileup. I cursed quietly. Great, I would be late for work at this rate.
My shift started at 3 pm on the dot. Mrs. Newton had protested the idea at first, telling me I would only have roughly an hour to cool off from school before having to hightail it to work. A normal teen would have seen her logic and pushed their hours back. I wasn't normal. In fact, I insisted on the hours. 3-closing at 11. Eight hours shifts on top of seven hours of school. A schedule that should have killed me. It didn't.
I was the type of person who had to constantly be busy. If my hands weren't busy, then my mind had to be. I couldn't stand having free time to myself. Mild OCD, perhaps. Whatever the case, I needed my time occupied. Otherwise I might end up stuck at home. I wanted desperately to avoid that at all costs.
Eventually, the line thinned out as cars slipped through the gate. I might be able to make it yet. I would just have to pick up and drop Charlie's dinner off later. As for me, well… I could always grab a snack at work. Mrs. Newton always had a bag of chips in the 'break room'. Our break room was really more of an emptied closet with some magazines and a coffee pot. Still, it was my sanctuary. Thank god for my caffeine! Or else I might be dead already.
I pulled into the parking lot at 2:48. Mrs. Newton waved at me through the class window as she taped a poster to the wall. She was a very sweet woman. Kind blue eyes that always seemed so full of life as she skipped merrily around the store. Mrs. Newton wasn't the type of woman you'd expect to see working at a hiking gear store. She was more like the pretty woman you'd see tugging children by the hand in a nursery school. Her soft blonde hair was tied up, away from her face, as she forced the poster advertising a sale the weekend to the plaster.
"Hello, Mrs. Newton." I shyly called over the light 'ting' of the bell when I opened the store's door.
Her lightly tanned face lit up at my voice. "Hi there, Bella! Right on time, as usual. I wish I could say the same for my son." She lithely added as she backed away from the wall to admire her work. Mrs. Newton adjusted a few buttons on her bright orange vest as she made her way to me. Worry covered over her face. "Are you all right, sweetie? You look a bit pale."
"Paler then usual?" I smiled a bit as I walked through the break room's open door. I, too, donned the sickeningly bright vest. I pulled my hair up in a messy bun and turned around. The mirror jumped out at me before I could exit the room. My chestnut hair was spilling into my face. I tucked a few strands behind my ears. I casually swept a hand over my cheeks. The color in them did seem faded. My eyes skimmed along my heart shaped face to the full lips that sat in an unhappy frown. It tore my gaze away from the girl who stared back at me. I didn't even know her.
Mrs. Newton watched me carefully with sadden eyes as I emerged from the makeshift break area. Her arms were folded across her chest as she spoke. "Bella? Did you get to eat today?"
I froze. Darn it, she was persistent! "Well, of course, Mrs. Newton!" I lied cheerfully. "In fact, I just had half a sandwich on my way over here. No time to stop by home; there was a huge line in the parking lot." I rambled on. She nodded, seemingly satisfied.
The next three hours just flew by. I could count the number of shoppers we had seen on my hands. Strike that, on one hand. Even though it was early February, we hadn't seen much business. I just did stock and reorganized the hiking boots. Mrs. Newton sat behind the counter, her hair falling out of the delicate twist on her head as she slumped forward on the counter. Only when the electronic ting sound alerted us of a guest did she look up. Her face split into a smile as Mike Newton flicked his hair back.
"Mike! You're here. I can go home!" She squealed as she tossed her vest off. I couldn't help but to giggle at her glee.
Her blonde son smirked. "Of course I'm here. This is my shift after all." His pale eyes skated over to where I sat on the rug beside the tethers. A smile crossed his round face.
"I was starting to doubt you, honey." She unclipped her hair and let it tumble down her back. "By the way, your shift started at six, not 6:20. Can't you be more punctual? Like Bella here?"
Mike made a face as he shrugged on her disregarded vest. "If my being late is such a big deal, why don't you just fire me?"
"The thought has crossed my mind, Michael." She muttered as she walked out the door. "See you next shift, Bella! Take care of yourself. And if Michael starts to slack off, don't be afraid to put him back in line."
I merely nodded. I really had no intentions of telling Mike off, even if he was an irresponsible coworker. I knew him only in passing really. I had just transferred to Forks High last week. Before, I had attended the high school in the Quileute lands with my friends Rachael and Rebecca Black. They had graduated last year and getting to school had been a pain since then. Even with my truck, it was still a half an hour drive. So I had myself transferred to Forks High.
I had met Mike over last summer, when I first started working at Newton's. He was a nice kid, really, but a bit annoying. He tagged after me like a dog. I did not need a shadow; I needed a competent coworker.
Once I had transferred, Mike saw fit to show me around. And I was grateful. Except for the fact that he seemed to be showing me off. His arm was constantly around me. Like I was his. Insert gagging here. It was rather annoying.
He wanted me to sit with his friends, but I quickly excused myself and ran to my truck. My safe haven. Mike thought it was because of the girls throwing me death glares, or perhaps nerves caused by the first day of school. Both were way off. I just couldn't stand to be around them. I didn't want to be mean, but…
To put it simply, I did not play well with others. That's not to say I didn't have friends, but more that I couldn't relate to people my own age. The Twins, Rachel and Rebecca, were three years older then me. The only other person I considered my friend was their brother, Jacob, who was two years my junior. He was very dear to me. Having grown up with him for the past three years, he was just as much family to me as his sisters were to him. My little brother, and my best friend.
Thankfully, I mostly sat by myself in school. The student body seemed to have some sense about them because most of them avoided me gladly. I enjoyed my solitude, often burying my nose in a book to pass the time until my shift at work. I had a regular routine. School. Charlie's dinner. Work. Dishes. Laundry. Homework. Sleep. Typically in that order. I liked being in a regular practice. Keeping things neat and orderly was my fetish.
I sighed deeply as Mike sat on the floor beside me. He held my eyes to his as he folded his legs. "Hey Bella."
I dropped my gaze to my shoes. "Hey Mike."
"How have you been? I mean we haven't had a good chance to talk in a while."
And whose fault was that? Mike's, of course. Whenever we had a 'talk' it usually ended with him asking me out. At first, I was flattered. Now, it was just bothersome. But of course I held my tongue. "Really?" I said offhand as I played with the carpet. "I hadn't noticed."
His face darkened. Mike drew closer, his eyes ablaze. Habitually, I pulled my head away. "Bella, just give me a chance. I really like you." His hand gripped my arm.
I resisted the urge to scream out in pain. I yanked my sore arm free and glared at Mike. "I've told you before. We'll never be more then just friends. Not only am I not interested, but my father won't let me date." And it was true. Charlie wouldn't hear of it. He didn't even like me going out with my friends. And it was not wise to go against his wishes. I shivered. "Please, Mike." I pleaded. His face softened. "Please, understand when I say we aren't going to be more then friends that I mean it."
Slowly, he nodded. That meant a lot to me. Mike wasn't a mean person; he just couldn't take a hint. I smiled warmly at him.
The end of my shift came soon. I called a hurried good bye to Mike and his father, who were closing up. They waved back as I pulled out of the parking lot. I pushed lightly on the gas, jumping on the main road.
It was rather late. Most of town was happily at home and perhaps asleep. How I envied them. The loud clunking of my truck echoed as I drove, drowning out the sleepy silence. I mentally created a list of things still to do before I fall into a fitful sleep. Charlie might still need to be feed. I could warm up the rest of the lasagna from last night. I only hoped he wouldn't mind leftovers. Then, of course, the dishes. Laundry could be held off for the day. Today was only Wednesday, after all. I had an essay for Biology tomorrow, but that wouldn't take too long. There were still a few math problems that I needed to work over as well.
The lights were off as I put my truck in park. That boded well; maybe he had fallen asleep. I shut off the engine, grabbed my bag, and walked up the door. I slid the key in and turned it quietly.
The lights were off in the living room, too. The kitchen was empty. I sighed in relief. Now I could avoid him until tomorrow. Perfect way to end another boring day.
I hurried to the sink and cleaned his dirty dishes. My grumbling stomach protested it's emptiness, but I ignored it. I dry each plate and cup delicately before storing each dish in the proper cabinets. I dried my hands and shuffled to the refrigerator. I selected a shiny red apple and bit into it hungrily. In no time at all, it was gone.
I quickly wiped down the counters for any lingering mess. A few empty beer bottles sat on the table. I picked them up. I had to be extra careful in the near blackness when I dumped them into the garbage. If we recycled, I thought bitterly, we could be millionaires from all these bottles.
With steps heavy from exhaustion, I trudged up the stairs. A light flashed on in the hallway landing were the bedrooms were. I could feel the blood leaving my face. Crap. Now I had woken him up. I quickened my pace, hoping to escape into my room before he could realize I was home. Luck wasn't with me.
His bedroom door swung open as my hand gripped the handle to my own room. I sighed lowly and turned to face my father. His narrowed eyes were bloodshot. A stench of alcohol hung around him thickly, flooding my senses even from a few feet away. The tall balding man took one rough step forward.
Instinctively, I backed away. He smirked. "What's wrong, Isabella? Not even going to greet your father?" Charlie was quite clearly drunk. Now I was really afraid. "Come here." He demanded.
I knew better then to run. Shaking, I step two feet closer. He reached his hand out and stroked my face. I gulped.
"Bella." His voice was quiet. "Everyday you become more like her." I didn't have to ask whom. We had this conversation so often. He told me that I looked just like her all the time. At that very moment, I had never felt so angry with her. My deadbeat mother.
Charlie shut his eyes, inhaling deeply. I didn't even try to breath. I knew what was racing through his mind. And I couldn't stop shaking because of it. I knew what came next. Every conversation we had that had to do with her ended the same. Just do it all ready! As if he could read my thoughts, he complied.
Charlie smacked me.
I felt my head slam into the wall beside me. My whole body screamed in agony. But I held my lips firmly closed. I knew better then to scream out in pain. I held my hand to my stinging cheek, holding back my desperate tears. I just wanted to lie in my bed and cry my heart out.
But he wasn't done.
Charlie stepped to me and held me by my hair. "Damn it! Why do you have to look like her!?" He roared at me. I flinched back. "You look so much like her… so much like her. But you aren't her." His voice was taunting now as he shook me by my hair. I just wanted to scream out.
"You aren't Renee. Renee was prettier. Renee was smarter. Renee was perfect. You're just a mess." He hissed against my still burning cheek. "A sad copy of your mother. That's why she left you; you weren't good enough. You aren't good enough. I am not good enough. Not good enough… No one is… not for her." He mumbled and released my hair, letting me fall to the ground, leaning on the wall for support. The man who was my father stumbled back into his room. I watched him go through a veil of fresh tears.