A/N: All characters belong to Stephenie Meyer, who is not me. That's why you're on a fanfiction website.
There are a few things you should know before you read the story:
1) Amelia often thinks about drugs, drinking, suicide, etc. Although the actual act is never shown in my story, I suggest you don't read on if those topics make you uneasy. It's nothing major, though.
2) I would like to thank bloodredskies from Twilightarchives for beta-ing the first half of the story (up to chapter 10).
3) I'd like to remind everyone to review. It's honestly the best gift you can give to any author, and how else could I improve if I don't know what you're thinking? Just spare me a minute once you're done.
4) This first chapter introduces the new character, Amelia Betch. The whole story is told from her POV. All the characters we know and love will be in the story. I promise. They all have big roles in later chapters. But you need to meet Amelia first =)
Thank you for reading, and enjoy!
The rain was tapping against the thin metal of the small, rental car I had gotten at the airport. My eyes stayed fixed straight ahead, and I concentrated very hard not to sway from the gray concrete of the narrowing road leading to Forks. Gray roads were normal, something you'd find in any other part of America. They were safe to look at.
But still, they were not the dry, hot roads of home. Here, the constant rain darkened the surface of the concrete, and the hidden sun probably never stayed out long enough to dry the landscape.
I was almost at my destination when I finally dared to look beyond the wet streets. The road was surrounded by enormous trees, bushes, grass…
Everything was green. Fabulous.
I already knew I would hate the place.
What difference does it make? You hated the south, too. You hate everything. You can wallow in your misery in every town of the world- Why should you care where you're staying?
I had to agree with myself. Where I drowned in self-pity didn't matter. Besides, the gloomy weather only fit my mood perfectly. If I got lucky, it would even add to my melancholy.
As if you could sink any deeper!
I snorted at myself. The conversations the two halves of my mind often had were the most amusing part of my pointless, dull life. It actually entertained me to hear their constant arguing. So much better than hallucinations and adrenaline bursts.
But just as meaningless as everything else.
The brief ride through town was already enough to show me what a ridiculously tiny place Forks was. In just ten minutes, I had crossed the so-called 'city center', which merely consisted of a supermarket, tiny library, a clothing shop that clearly couldn't offer me anything I would actually wear, and a little sporting goods store.
Great. No place to spend the evenings at. I would have to find myself a sanctuary somewhere in the woods. I would probably get soaked in the wet grass, but hey- Who cared? Not Dad, anyway. Nor Mom. Or anyone else. I didn't even care.
Dad's house was as shabby as I remembered it. I wondered darkly if the roof would actually manage to keep the rain out, or if a strong wind would blow it away sometime. That would be interesting. For a few minutes. But I'd surely get my daily dose of adrenaline if a tree came crashing through the living room ceiling, and then moving away from home would have definitely been worth it.
I parked the car carelessly on the sidewalk in front of the house. It's not like a parking ticket would do me any harm. I wouldn't pay it, anyway. Dragging my bulky luggage to the front door, I reached for the house key under the 'Welcome' mat.
The insides of the house were slightly cozier than the outsides, I noticed with irritation.
Not a prison cell, after all. Oh well, it won't take you long to hate everything about it, anyway.
I dumped my bags next to the little staircase, and walked into the kitchen. Even police officers stored food at their homes, right? But while rummaging through the cupboards, I found nothing more than a can of beans. Crap. So now you're going to starve here, too. Hey, who knows? It might actually end your miserable life. No harm done.
I noticed a little note on one of the kitchen counters. Judging by the messy handwriting, I knew it was from Dad. What does he want to say? "Welcome to Hell, sweetie?" or… "Please try to die before I get home"?
But the contents were not any more interesting than the rest of the measly town I was now proud to call my home.
I'm sorry for not being able to pick you up from the airport. You know- work. But I hope you made it here safely, anyway. Just go ahead and settle down. Your room is upstairs, first door to the right. You can unpack everything and move the furniture around, if you want to. It's your room, now.
I'll be back by seven! I'll be bringing some pizza. Don't do anything stupid while I'm gone.
Just a tedious, stupid note. No drama. No words of hate. The only interesting part was the last line.
"Don't do anything stupid while I'm gone" – Dad, you know I can't do that. Actually, now I'm even more up for some mindless, adrenaline-spending fun. Thanks for reminding me to be reckless!
I brought my stuff upstairs to my room. It was an insignificant, dull room like all the others, the only furniture a small bed, desk, and a closet. It was too tidy and light for my taste, though the dust definitely had some potential. With some restless nights, it would turn into a chamber of Hell in no time.
I wasn't bothered to unpack my stuff, so I threw them in a corner instead. I searched the closet for anything interesting, but came out empty- the dead beetle at the back was not enough to hold my interest for any longer than ten seconds.
Since it was pouring outside, and I didn't have the faintest desire to get wet, I decided to check my make-up. I had to be at my worst when Dad came home. I dug through my clothes until I finally found my toiletries bag and a hand mirror, and sat on the chair in front of my new desk. My reflection stared at me while I inspected my face.
It was easier to believe it wasn't me I was looking at. The girl in the mirror had pale skin, the pallor only intensified by the white powder she had spread across her cheeks, her lips were swollen and smeared with burgundy, and her eyes were bloodshot and surrounded by a thick line of kohl. Even her black hair had dark red strands.
What did Mom tell me that once? Oh yeah- "That gothic look doesn't really suit you, my dear. Please dress properly. You're ruining your naturally pretty face!" Gothic, indeed. I was a GOTH. Labels make the world go round.
Who was I kidding? The girl in the mirror was me. I cast my eyes down on my clothes- A black, holey top, a red, checked mini-skirt followed by black tights, and dozens of heavy chains embellishing my arms. My thick boots were kicking the leg of the desk in boredom. Goth, Goth, Goth, Goth…
After applying another, even thicker kohl layer around my eyes, I started pacing the room, thinking of something to do. The neatness of my room was sickening, and made me extremely restless. The cleanness will have to go…
So I took my spray can out my backpack. The color black. Perfect. Desperate for some gloom and darkness, I decided to start at my door.
What did you say, Dad? Do nothing stupid while you're gone? I furiously shook the can and started spraying.
The process took longer than I'd expected, but eventually, most of my room was covered in black. Some white patches still remained on the walls, but I was sure I would fix that soon. Maybe that useless supermarket sold spray cans, so I could add some red to my masterpiece? For now, this would have to do.
But I was not satisfied. I still had an hour before my father got home, and the room didn't look sufficiently shocking yet. While grazing over the furniture, I realized the reason- The desk, bed, and closet still looked clean, apart from the few drops of black that had fallen on them. I'd have to do something about it.
So I ditched the spray can under the bed, and looked through my bags again. I found what I was looking for with little effort; the sharp edge cut my hand before I had time to react. I pulled the knife out.
A few drops of blood rolled down my palm, and I smiled at the sight. The small cut was aching. Physical pain. Always a good thing. My knife had always been one of my most valuable items, and even now I was fascinated by its glimmering, metal surface and stone hard handle. The hours of brief ecstasy it had brought me were the greatest gift I could expect from my meaningless life. But while thinking about all the past few months, my mind suddenly slipped back ten years. The seven-years-old Amelia Betch greeted me in my thoughts.
The little girl was watching her mother prepare dinner. Her black hair and fair face brought tears in my eyes as I remembered the person I used to be. The mother was cutting vegetables, swinging the long knife at a steady rhythm. The girl's eyes were wide in awe.
But then the mother let out a tiny yelp. The girl hurried over to her, worried that something bad had happened. "Mommy? Are you okay?"
The woman brought her forefinger to her mouth, sucking away the blood that was oozing out of her small wound. "I'm fine, Amelia. It's just a little cut."
The girl cast her eyes over the knife lying on the kitchen counter. The shiny blade was dirty with a few crimson droplets. The instrument that had beat at such a soothing pattern before suddenly looked menacing, and the girl cringed away from the deadly weapon.
Shaking my head away from the thoughts (Remembering will only cause you useless pain! Get working, already!), I walked over to my desk with the knife in my hand.
The smooth, even wood under my fingertips had reached its final hour. Smilling at the rapture of destruction, I sank the sharp blade into the desk.
The carving was even more satisfying than the spraying had been. Not an inch of the surface remained untouched, and soon my desk was covered by scratches and theatrical words such as "Satan" and "Hell". A true piece of art.
"Amelia? Are you home?" my father's booming voice reached me from downstairs. Lost in my trance, I hadn't even heard him arrive.
"Up here, Dad." I kept my voice monotonous, uncaring, like I usually did.
I heard Jack stomp up the stairs and then pause in front of my bedroom door, clearly afraid of what he might find behind it. I smiled at his hesitation- he really did know me well. "Come on in, Dad."
He very nearly gasped when he entered the room. Jack eyed the newly painted walls apprehensively, and almost fainted at the sight of my desk. I pretended not to notice his displeasure. "I did some refurnishing."
Dad's eyes were still wide as he turned to face me, but, to my great disappointment, didn't say anything. This was going to be harder than I thought. "The pizzas are downstairs. Come eat with me. We can… erm… talk."
I hated the way everyone talked to me. That's all anyone ever did with me anymore. Jack, like everyone else, always smiled timidly while 'talking' and questioned his own words the instant they exited his mouth. These conversations were always far from untroubled, and every word was forced. The way I refused to answer any questions was also no help.
I didn't even smile as I passed him and ascended the stairs to the living room. The aroma of freshly baked pizza filled my nostrils, and I suddenly realized how hungry I really was. Nevertheless, I would have to control my hunger. Jack shouldn't think I actually enjoyed the pizzas he had brought over.
Dad followed soon behind, and we both sat at the small kitchen table.
The first few minutes were spent in silence, a satisfying one on my part, an awkward one on his. He didn't know how to speak to his disturbed, slightly insane daughter, and I made no attempt to help him. His discomfort amused me.
"So… I guess we're roomies now, huh?" I didn't even glance up from my pizza as he spoke.
When I didn't answer after a while, Dad continued, slightly embarrassed at his failed joke. "I'm happy you came to live with me. It's been lonely. And I guess you could use a change of scenery, too. I'm sure we'll… uh… get along just fine."
I wasn't very sure of that at all. In fact, I was determined not to let him like me. I was determined not to let anyone like me. And the famous change of scenery? I would have much preferred the brown, hot south over the green rubbish of the north. Not that I cared where I was. It made no difference.
Once again, I didn't get into the conversation. Jack was feeling more awkward by the minute. Had I been alone, I would have let a devious grin spread across my "ruined" face.
Jack gave up trying to involve me in his talking, and started his monologue. "Well, Amelia. Tomorrow is your first day of school. It starts at eight. You shouldn't have a problem finding it. I'm sorry, but I'll have to leave for work early tomorrow morning- Charlie said he might need some help with office stuff. I know I'm not around that much, but you can use the time for school work and other things, ok?" – He didn't bother mentioning the orders Mom had given him about me not leaving the house alone. – "In the evening we can hang out together. Play cards or something. I've missed you so much, and would love to hear about everything that's happened in the past few years!" – Like suicide attempts, drug overuse, violence towards other students… All sorts of cheerful things – "And oh, yes, I almost forgot to tell you. I got you a job."
Wow, a real shocker. He actually managed to catch my attention. My head snapped up at his words. He can't be serious… Who would employ a drug addict?
Jack was obviously pleased to have finally earned some notice from me. "There's a sporting goods store here in Forks, owned by the Newton family. Their son used to work there, but now he's leaving for college and they need some new employees. So when I heard you were coming over, I made a few phone calls and got you the job! Isn't this great? Now you'll get to earn some money of your own. Just… uh… use it for responsible things, ok? You could save for college. It's never too early to start. You've only got two years of school left! My goodness, you're almost a real lady…"
Under usual circumstances, I would have found his last comment extremely amusing. But after his latest announcement, I was too shocked to react correctly. It was rare that anything should have this sort of response in me, and I did not enjoy the feeling the slightest.
I'll have to work? Oh, please, no! And then in a sporting goods store… is there no justice in this world? Huh, obviously not. But you knew that already.
I couldn't refuse. After my last outburst back at home, I was in no position to decide over myself anymore. If my dad said I had to work, then I had to work. I groaned.
"Oh, come one, Amelia. Working is great. You'll learn to be independent, to stand on your own two feet. Besides, you're lucky to even have a job in such a small town as Forks. You'll meet new friends. You know, Charlie's daughter is working there, too. Bella. She moved here two years ago, so she's been in the exact position as you are now! You and Bella could be good friends. Too bad she's leaving for college soon, too. She's a wonderful girl. I hear she's getting married this summer, though… so young… to Edward Cullen…"
I let Jack drift away, and continued devouring my pizza. The familiar façade of nonchalance fell over me. So I had to work. Who cares. A few more hours to scare people away might actually turn out fun.
And it's not like they're going to keep you there. You'll get fired before you even have time to step into that damn place! 'Goths' are bad for publicity, you know…
I left my pizza half-eaten, and marched up the stairs back to my room. Jack could clean up by himself, if he wanted to.
After all but slamming my bedroom door closed, I walked over to my bag to fetch my mp3 player. The loud, heavy-metal music filled my ears, increasing my anger. The effect wasn't satisfying enough, though- I would have to buy a stereo, and soon. I needed the music to filter my emotions.
Through the thick haze of hatred and rage, other feelings emerged- sorrow, homesickness. I pushed those emotions aside as soon as they arrived, though. You really do need that CD player.
So tomorrow, I'd get to torture the kids at Forks high school. Fabulous. And then the Newtons' store would be my next victim. I already pitied all the people who'd have to meet me. This Bella, Chief Swan's indubitably "perfect, angelic daughter with great manners", would be the first on my list. Whatever we became, it would definitely not be anything close to 'friends'.
I was almost looking forward to tomorrow. Almost.