I'm annoyed, I
think you should shut it
Give me no attention or you'll be sorry
I've got nothing left to lose
You always get your way
Got everything to prove
I saw you turn away
Got nothing left to lose
You always get your way
Got everything to prove
You always get your way
-Puddle of Mudd "Nothing Left to Lose"
Five Years Ago
I walked down the hallway hurriedly. If I walked fast enough, no one could trip me. Of course, that didn't stop me from tripping over my own feet ever so often, but it was easier to recover when I didn't have the entire JV cheerleading squad laughing at me. I groaned as my momentary lapse in concentration caused me to drop the book that I had been hugging to my chest. I turned, smacking into a hard body that almost felt like a wall. I looked up, a stray piece of my frizzy dark hair in my face.
"Oh, I- I'm sorry…" I stuttered, reaching to pick up my fallen book with a shaking hand. I jumped as his foot appeared before my face, sending Wuthering Heights skidding down the hallway. My mother had just sent it to me last week for my 12th birthday. I looked up, my eyes brimming with tears. His perfect face grinned down at me, green eyes sparkling.
"You should be, freak." He said, loud enough for the entire hallway to hear. My cheeks burned as I heard the titters and giggling echo around me. Jasper tugged on his sleeve from behind him, throwing me a pitying look.
"Man, c'mon…" he said quietly. Edward shrugged before turning to follow him.
"Stop staring after him, loser." Lauren hissed in my ear as she passed.
I choked back the tears as best I could, scrambling to retrieve my book. Then I ran. I ran past Mr. Modina's class, where I should be going to history. I ran past the cafeteria, where food being thrown in my hair was a daily occurrence. I ran, only tripping once as I reached the front office.
The secretary looked alarmed. She'd had to call my father more than once due to me being locked in a closet, or having profanity spray painted on my locker.
"I need to call my dad," I said. She handed me the phone wordlessly. I dialed the familiar number, my hand shaking.
He picked up on the second ring."What is it Bells? What's that asshole Cullen done now? I swear to God, I'll-" my father's gruff voice greeted me.
I almost laughed through my tears. Of course he would know it was Edward.
"Dad, please come get me. I need to leave," I heard the momentary silence on his end of the line. He had offered to transfer me to another school before, and I always refused. Yet today was the last straw.
He cleared his throat."Okay, Bells. I'll come get you and give Billy Black a call, I think the La Push school is still open for enrollment-"
"No," I said, "I want to leave Forks. I can't stay here."
The secretary's mouth opened audibly. My father was silent for a moment before I heard his engine start.
"We'll talk about it after I pick you up," he said slowly before hanging up.
I sighed, knowing I'd hurt his feelings. But I couldn't take it anymore. Not this town, not these people. I'd lived here my entire life, and suffered for it.
I waited in the kitchen, anxiously stirring the vegetables. I was trying not to be irritated- Carlisle was working progressively later and later days, and it was taking a toll on our marriage. It didn't help that Edward was getting to that age where he absolutely loathed being seen in public with his mother. I was lonely.
A sharp rap on the door interrupted my reverie. I looked at the oven clock, confused. Edward's friends never had the decency to knock, and 7:30PM seemed a bit late for casual social calls. I wiped my hands on a dishcloth, walking to the front door.
I opened it to find Charlie Swan. He looked very, very upset. His face was red and he was pacing on the front porch. I immediately became alarmed. Had Carlisle been in an accident?
"Mrs. Cullen, may I come in? I need to speak with you." He said, blunt and to the point.
"Yes, of course. Please call me Esme." I had only met the police chief once or twice since we'd moved here, but he always seemed to be a peaceable man.
What had happened to agitate him so? He walked past me into the living room before beginning to pace again. I touched his arm, concerned.
"What is it?" I asked. He let out a ragged breath.
"Esme, I've always been a believer in letting a kid fight their own battles. I stood by for years and watched my daughter come home, harassed and humiliated. She insisted I not involve the principal or anyone's parents. Since she's leaving tomorrow, I feel I have to break that promise." He paused, clenching his fist, "I can't take it anymore."
Confusion and foreboding filled my mind. "What do you mean? What happened to Bella?" I had only seen the girl once or twice around town; very sweet, quiet, shy. She seemed like the type that could be bullied.
And Charlie was here…
"No," I said, realization reaching me. "Oh, Charlie, you can't think that Edward had anything to do with-"
He raised a hand, cutting me off.
No, it couldn't be true. Yes, Edward was a little more pompous these days, and certainly less polite to Carlisle and I, but bullying? And a girl, no less? I'd taught him better.
"This has to be a mistake…"
Charlie met my eyes, harsh resentment in them. I shrank back instinctively. He closed his eyes, appearing to try to collect himself. "I don't mean to place the blame on you. But you have to know. Your son has been tormenting my daughter ever since your family moved here. From teasing to harassing her locker and property, he's made it so bad that she couldn't last a day at school without being mercilessly teased."
I opened my mouth and closed it, surprise in my expression. "I would've heard about this before. No, someone would've told me…" I whispered, almost to myself. I sat down on the couch.
Charlie stood next to me, awkwardly handing me a note. "I thought you should see this. I just went to clean out her locker. He left her this."
I took it, my hand shaking slightly. Jesus. I would know Edward's messy scrawl anywhere. My heart sank as I read the words:
Hey Swan, or should I call you fat BELLy? Way to go crying to daddy today. Probably the only person who doesn't see you for the pathetic loser you are. Hope you had fun at home- at least you can dream about a world where you have friends and aren't a complete freak.
I dropped the paper, my head falling to my hands. How could I have missed this? Yes, Edward had been distant, but I could have never imagined that he'd intentionally hurt another human being this way. Carlisle and I taught him so much better.
"I'm so sorry-" I began, my teary eyes rising to meet Charlie's.
He waved my apology away. "We're all at fault a little, Esme. I should've let you know about this when it started, nipped it in the bud. I just think you should know. Today was the last straw- Bella's insisted on moving to Phoenix with her mother."
I sniffled, tears tracking down my cheeks. My son had caused so much damage. My son.
Charlie nodded goodbye to me, and left. As the door clicked shut, I slowly reached to pick up the note. I climbed up the stairs, my anger and sadness both growing with each step.
I fiddled with the television on my dresser, trying to find something interesting to watch. My door suddenly came flying open. I scoffed, disbelief on my face.
"Mom? What happened to knocking?" I asked in a petulant voice. I stopped at the expression on her face.
Retreat, retreat, retreat! My brain screamed at me. I took a step back as she took a step forward, a small piece of notebook paper clasped in her hand. My eyes flickered over to it.
Shit. I recognized the red pen. It had finally happened. Swan had finally tattled. I rolled my eyes, flouncing back onto my bed.
"Care to explain this?" my mother asked in a soft voice.
I shrugged. The vein above her eye twitched. She was really mad. What, about me screwing with Swan? Everyone did. She was the school piñata.
"EXPLAIN!" she yelled, shaking my windows.
I flinched, shrinking farther back onto the bed. My mother had never spoken to me in any way besides her usual sweet soprano voice. I began to genuinely feel afraid.
"What? It's just a prank," I explained, my voice coming out higher than I intended. I'd only recently prided myself on it dropping sufficiently, and it was in danger of cracking at the moment.
My mother took another step towards me, throwing the note on the bed. "It's more than a prank, Edward. Chief Swan just stopped by."
My eyes widened. After all that I'd done, this was what Swan told?
My mother cleared her throat, "He told me everything you've done, Edward. Not just that," she pointed towards the note, "but all that you've done. How could you? How could you be such a bully? I raised you to treat people with RESPECT, and you've been making this girl's life so bad she has to MOVE to get away from YOU!" Her voice shook my room again.
I just watched her, shock settling into my body. Swan was moving? She was… gone? I felt a pang of something nibble at my insides.
"What? Do you feel bad?" I nodded, "Well, that's only the beginning, Edward. Obviously I can't trust you to behave like a civilized person. If you want to act like a cruel little child, you'll be treated like one."
"What? What are you going to do?" I croaked out.
She smiled sadly through her tears. "I don't even know, Edward. Things have to change. I've obviously failed you as a parent. I can't believe what you've done... I'm ashamed of you."
It was worse than if she'd hit me. I felt guilt and shame. I was drowning in it.
She walked slowly towards my door before turning to me once more, "I'll be in my room. You explain what you've done to your father when he gets home." She slammed the door behind her. I could hear her sobbing, even through the thick walls of our home.
I rose before sliding down against the wall to sit on the floor. The little bit of conscience that I still had regarding Swan came back with full force. Ever since we'd moved to Forks, I'd talked myself into thinking that it was just the way school was.
She was at the bottom of the food chain, and I was at the top. I liked being popular, and I wanted to stay that way. So I learned to block my own reactions to her. I would hum inside my head if I had the instinct to tell Lauren not to trip her, for once. I would bite my lip if I thought of not humiliating her when she gave me a perfectly good chance.
I couldn't get the look she'd given me today out of my head. I'd gotten a close look at her eyes when her glasses were pushed almost to the end of her nose. They were a unique shade of brown, swimming with tears. My defenses had been down. I'd momentarily felt awful for what I'd just said and done. Jasper's plea for me to leave her alone gave me the chance to walk away before I made the mistake of apologizing.
I put a hand over my eyes, still feeling wave upon wave of guilt. I knew it was wrong. I knew it. But this place… I'd just wanted to fit in.
When Lauren, the prettiest girl in elementary school, made fun of Bella, I thought it was only natural that I do so, too. It got out of control. I could see that now. All of the times that I had repressed my feelings of guilt were coming back to bite me in the ass.
Now she was gone. Good for her.
I still had to live with me.
I smiled as I descended the stairs from the plane, meandering around to wait for Charlie. Remembering the day I'd decided to leave always made me feel proud.
I pulled out the small mirror my mother had given me from my purse, running my manicured fingertips over it gently. I flicked it open, observing my face out of habit. Light makeup in place, my hair falling in gentle smooth waves past my shoulders. I bared my whitened teeth, snapping them. I giggled as I shut the compact. How things change.
I was thankful for my years in Phoenix. There I had made friends, real friends that didn't care that I was clumsy or disheveled.
As I entered high school, puberty hit me like a freight train. It seemed like overnight my body had transformed into a petite frame with curves in all the right places. My hair began to calm, as my mother always said it would. The braces came off, and the contacts replaced the glasses. Imagine my mother's surprise that she had to send her good girl back home to Daddy because of her worries.
I sighed, thinking of Laurent again. The first day of tenth grade he had pulled me aside and explained in no uncertain terms that I had it "goin' on" and I needed to "accessorize that tight ass".
He had dragged me to the salon, dying my hair a lighter shade of brown and highlighting it with blond streaks. He had immediately proclaimed that I was worthy of being his "wing woman". Needless to say, I liked his sense of humor. Plus, we had similar taste in guys.
Worried that I was "running with the wrong crowd", Renee decided to send me back to Charlie for my senior year, despite my protests.
Even though we disagreed often, I still had an affectionate relationship with my mom. I didn't blame her for sending me here. Plus, in a year I'd be free to do whatever I want with her blessing. I was planning on joining Laurent at ASU.
Plus, this year could be very, very… interesting. I knew from my phone calls and summer trips to California with my dad that he busted Edward Cullen for multiple underage alcohol possession charges, as well as busting up several of his house parties. Pretty boy must still be big man on campus.
Oh, revenge will be sweet.
The Forks police uniform was easy to spot in the crowd. I side-stepped a gawking pimply kid as I walked towards my father. My years on the dance team in Phoenix had all but solved my balance issues as I navigated through the crowd.
"Hey, dad." I spoke softly. Although I'd grown a tough exterior in Phoenix, I still had a soft spot for my bumbling father.
He smiled, although it looked a bit forced. He was probably worried about the upcoming school year. He should know that I'm not going to be bullied this time around. The thought was almost laughable.
"Hey, Bells." He said, grabbing my second suitcase for me, "Let's go home."
I nodded, still pondering how much I'd changed over the years. The drive home was painfully slow, but not really all that awkward. The silence left me more time to think about what this school year would bring.