So, this story's been bugging me for a while. I spent an entire weekend doing research and getting stories off the Internet and from people I talk to about what it's like to be bulimic. This story, unlike Breaking Beauty, is going to be completely realistic...well as much as fiction really can be. It's by no means a cheery story, so if that's what you were hoping for, you picked the wrong story.

The title of this story is based off the song by Anberlin. I even dissected it into parts as to who it fits and where and yeah. Gorgeous song.

And as I said in the recent Breaking Beauty chapter, BB is my number one priority. Updates on this will be VERY slow until I finish the other story. I'm thinking I might up chapter two, which is Edward's story, towards the end of the month? Ish? I don't know. Once I'm out of school, updates will be better.

I don't own blah blah blah and much thanks to the lovely people at Project Team Beta for betaing this.


*1*

I couldn't tell you what day of the week it was. I couldn't tell you what color my shirt was. I couldn't even tell you if it was day or night. But I still remember the moment my childhood ended with a clarity that scares me sometimes.

I was freshly nine years old. We had just celebrated my birthday with cake and presents and the whole out celebration. My mom had even cooked my favorite dinner – chicken fingers with corn on the cob. My cake was shaped like a Barbie doll and was the smoothest chocolate I'd ever had. My mom had gotten me Barbie's Dream House, complete with movable furniture and a miniature bathroom. I was confident that this was my best birthday ever. What could beat a Barbie Dream House?

I spent hours with that little house and its miniature rooms. Barbie and Ken were happily moved in and were going to bed when I realized I had to go to the bathroom. We only had one bathroom in our little bungalow, and I knew I had to knock if the door was closed. I would hear strange noises from behind the door sometimes, but I thought it was nothing. Mommy still looked fine, so what monsters could've attacked? I never would've thought they were her personal, inner monsters.

I skipped to the bathroom, happier than I thought it was possible to be, and found the door slightly ajar. I pushed it open just a little more and there was my mom. There was the end of my childhood.

She was on her knees, leaning over the toilet. Her blonde hair had fallen from its neatly arranged bun, shielding her face, but not the noises coming from her mouth. Her form seemed skinnier than I'd ever remembered, absolutely swimming in her pink flower – covered black dress. Her feet had lost their shoes and the pantyhose she wore had holes in them.

I squealed, thinking she was sick, and I remember the look she gave me. Her eyes were bloodshot, red, and swollen. Her lips were dry and cracked and her right hand – pointer finger still straight out – was just inches away. As she turned, her hair became messier, and the clip clattered to the floor. She stood shakily, using the wall for support. There were holes in the knees of her pantyhose from where she landed on the floor, and her dress was crooked.

I cowered away and whimpered softly, hating the thought that my mommy, my superhero, could be sick.

"You stupid bitsh." She slurred. She took a moment to spit in the sink. "You know you're not supposed to come in here when the door is closed."

"B– but it wasn't closed. I just had to go potty. Mommy, are you sick?" I was such a naïve little girl. My mother had sheltered me well from the demons in the world, and in herself.

"No, no I'm not. Just… don't tell anybody what you saw, okay? Promise me?" She stood in front of me now, grasping my bony shoulders and shaking me slightly.

"I promise, Mommy," I sobbed. My mother had always seemed so put together and in control. I didn't understand why she was throwing up if she wasn't sick. Why would she seem so upset about it anyway? She was allowed to be sick. My nine year old mind simply didn't understand what my older mind embraced.

She nodded and pushed me towards my room. "Go get ready for bed. When you're done getting ready and cleaning up you can come back and use the bathroom."

My mother didn't realize what she had done at the time. She didn't realize that I was broken beyond repair from that one night. I didn't even know it yet. I don't remember feeling anything beyond confusion then. What was my mommy doing if she wasn't sick? Maybe I had gone into shock or maybe I was just learning to stay unattached earlier than I thought. Either way, I knew things could never be the same again.

I listened and diligently followed the directions I was given. I shut the door to my room behind me and looked at the Barbie Dream House.

Suddenly, there was nothing dreamy or perfect about it.

Suddenly, it was just another prop in the façade my mother had created.

***

I started middle school, and then there was Jacob Black. He was taller than any person I'd ever seen; I was convinced he was Shaq's brother. He was Native American by birth, including the tanned skin and black hair. He was strong and it definitely showed. He wore his hair long until he turned twelve, when I was still ten. Then he kept it at a constant buzz cut, probably because he had decided he wanted to join the Army.

"My ancestors fought to keep even small portions of this land," he would say. "I refuse to let the little we have left taken away as well."

I followed him around school as if he was keeping me alive. He was always with his equally-impressive Native American friends, the only girl in their group being Leah Clearwater, and she was only there because her brother was. Jake never dated, but he was as friendly as any little puppy. I loved him with every fiber of my ten-year-old self.

When I was eleven, I had told my friends, Lauren and Jessica, about my crush on him. Unfortunately, they didn't tell me that Lauren also had a crush on Jake. To get back at me for wanting the guy Lauren did, they told Jake all about my "love" for him. They told him I would take pictures of him when he wasn't looking, post them on my wall, and make out with them. Apparently, I also went to his house and stood outside his window at night, hoping to see him changing clothes.

During lunch that day, I sat there eating the apple I had meticulously cut up the night before, when he tapped me on the shoulder. My heart fluttered, and I thought I would swoon right there as he confessed his love for me. I would be the only eleven–year–old girl in the entire school to have a thirteen–year–old boyfriend. A gorgeous one at that. Me, little Bella Swan, the luckiest girl in school.

"You fucking stalker. Why the fuck would you stand outside my room at night, you sicko? What's your fucking problem? Stay the hell away from me, you freak. I want nothing to do with you, you little slut. Don't talk to me anymore, don't even look at me. I want absolutely nothing to do with you!" he shouted, making sure the entire cafeteria could hear him.

What did I do? I was confused again, something that seemed to happen constantly since I discovered my mother's secret. Why would he call me out like this? What could I have done that he would curse at me so much?

My face flushed, and tears filled my eyes. "Jake, I – "

"I told you not to talk to me." He bellowed before walking away. Lauren and Jessica snickered from where his friends usually sat, where he usually sat. He sat down and muttered something, sending them into an outright cackle. They turned to me and glowered, and by then I couldn't hold in the tears any longer. They raced down my cheeks like rain drops, causing me to flee from the cafeteria. I left my book bag behind, as well as my French text book, and my perfectly cut apple.

That was the day that I truly learned that nothing is ever as perfect as it seems.

***

I ran out of the school and all the way to my house that day. I couldn't stay there, where I'd been so utterly humiliated. Flat–out broken in front of four thousand kids. There wasn't a chance in hell that I would stay there.

I felt sick to my stomach. I was being weighed down by something, and I wanted to get rid of it. I wanted to get rid of everything. Jake. Lauren. Jessica. School. Myself. I mostly wanted to get rid of myself.

I thought back to Renée–sure it wasn't proper to use first names when addressing your parents, but after ruining my childhood, was I really supposed to call her mommy? – And I thought about how she took care of her problems. She was always calm, cool, and collected. And she was beautiful. Skinny and gorgeous, always getting guys to fall for her. I was the ugly duckling, with my gangly limbs and lanky brown hair and bug like brown eyes. She used to tell me it was just a part of puberty and growing up, but I thought it was bull. Jessica and Lauren had curves that guys wanted. I had a twig of a body with limbs that were too big.

Renée was perfect and gorgeous, and everyone loved her. Not to mention, she was happy. Maybe if I was more like her, if I did what she did, I would be happy too. And everyone would love me, and I would be perfect and gorgeous.

My mom wasn't home yet, so I simply plucked the key from the flower pot where we kept it and let myself in. The usual humming from Renée was absent, as well as the music on the radio she played when she wasn't humming, making the house feel eerie and surreal. I re–locked the door, just for good measure, and hurried into the bathroom before I could change my mind.

I pulled back my hair the best I could and leaned over the toilet. I stared at the water and hesitated before opening my mouth, and sticking in my pointer finger. I gagged a few times, but the weight wouldn't leave. I thought about using a fork or spoon, but decided it would hurt too much and leave clear evidence of my shame. I looked at the counter and an object I could use dawned on me.

I grabbed my toothbrush and opened my mouth and suddenly, I was weightless. Lighter than air. Free. It was impossible that I was still in that bathroom. I was in London, Paris, Rome, Heaven; wearing dresses made out of gold that still felt light as a feather. I was an angel, better than Renee and Jessica and Lauren. Jacob wanted me, body and soul, forever. I was free.

I pulled away from the porcelain bowl, gasping for air. With each intake, I could feel the itch in my throat. My lips were as dry as my throat, and my toothbrush was beyond repair. I wrapped it carefully in tissues and set it in the garbage can. I stood up slowly, unsure of my own footing, and looked in the mirror. My eyes were red and puffy, and there was red streak going through my left eye. A broken blood vessel, perhaps. My lips were almost white and my cheeks had puffed out a little. My hands shook as I turned on the cold water and filled the cup with it. I took a small swig of water and spit it out before greedily drinking the rest of the cup's contents, feeling my throat slowly become less rough and watching my lips become slightly pinker.

I wet a wash cloth with some cold water and let it lie on my face for a moment. Then I pulled it off and dabbed at my cheeks and hairline. I grabbed the brush still sitting on the counter from this morning and removed the cloth. I brushed out my hair roughly, almost needing the pain to bring me back to earth. I prayed Renée wouldn't notice.

I sighed, knowing that I couldn't explain why I'd left my stuff at school and come home early. My only option would be to walk back to the school, get my stuff, and wait in the bathroom until school was over. Then I would go stand outside the school, and she would pick me up and ask how school was, and I would smile, and assure her it was wonderful. I would entertain her with a story about my wacky science teacher and Jessica's newest crush and she would believe every word of it.

I repeated the thought to myself, letting it become my mantra, because I knew if I didn't make myself believe it would work, it never would.

***

Renée and I lived in our own little worlds for the next four years. I'd binge once a day, usually just after dinner, and then purge. As time went by, I proudly upgraded from a toothbrush to my finger by itself.

Renée continued to purge as well, several times a day. Maybe if I thought of her having bulimia, I would've noticed how much time she spent locked up, but I hadn't. Now I could notice when she was in the bathroom for more than twenty minutes, because I knew what I was looking for. She never asked about me since the day it started. Did she know? Probably, but she kept it to herself. And that was all that mattered.

I lost weight and confidence at the same rate. With every pound I dropped, there was a small victory, then the belief I had to lose more hit with an overwhelming force. Could an insecure teenage girl battle such a thing? Like fuck she could. I was weak and puny and stupid. Who was I to try to beat my own monster? My own dictator? Renée couldn't do it, so why should I?

Lauren and Jessica stayed away from me. The day after–I knew it was pathetic, but I had started to measure time in terms of 'before my first purge' and 'after my first purge'–they attempted to approach me. They apologized and spouted bull like it was the honest-to-God truth, and they were saints in a world of sinners. I told them that they should fuck off if they wanted to keep their nose jobs intact.

After just a month of binging and purging, I noticed more guys looking at me. Jacob looked at me. I told myself not to care, that any man that only liked me because I vomited up my food every day wasn't the man for me. But still… it was Jacob. I flirted like any common slut did, shamelessly and obnoxiously, but I never did anything else. Tease them to the edge and let somebody else push them over. A flirt I was, but I refused to degrade myself any further and become a full fledged whore.

And above all, I was happy. When I purged, I was free: flying away. How could I be in little old Phoenix when I felt so wonderful and above this earth? Everything worked perfectly. I kept away weight, I stayed skinny, I stayed happy, I got attention. What more could a teenage girl want?

I made sure to keep my grades up as high school began. I'd always known what I did was a disgusting habit, but by age fourteen I was realizing that it was actually a disorder. I figured that once I left here, and went to college, my problems would go away, even my bulimia, and my life would still be perfect. I just had to maintain the best possible grades so I could get into an amazing school as far away from Lauren, Jessica, my mother, this school, and Phoenix, as possible.

Four years after it began, when I was just fifteen, Phil entered our lives. Renée had met him while grocery shopping, in the ice cream aisle of course. How Renée, the zaniest, wackiest, most insane, untraditional person met a guy in such a normal way will forever befuddle me.

Phil was everything Renée needed. He was smart and quiet, strong but playful. He played in a local minor league baseball team and coached baseball for little kids when he could. He had a steady job, a lot of money, and appreciated girls that had a healthy appetite. When he walked into our lives, I was sure he'd find out about Renée's secret, and maybe mine. Then he could get at least one of us to stop the insane habits we couldn't end on our own. Phil would be the man to overthrow our dictators, I was sure of it.

Several weeks after they began dating, Phil was over so he could take Renée to a movie. She had excused herself to the bathroom, probably to purge her dinner and then do her hair and makeup. Phil and I sat on the couch and watched a sitcom, whatever Renée had left on the TV really. With the way she worked on her hair and make-up after a purge, it would be about an hour before they would leave.

In one movement, a movement I didn't even notice, Phil grasped my hand. I tried to pull my hand away, but from there he managed to pin me underneath him on the couch. He ripped my shirt clean in two, my sweats and panties only moving down to my knees. I closed my eyes and pretended that it wasn't happening. I pretended that it was all just a horrible nightmare and Renée would wake me up with her obnoxious hollering any moment.

The pain was excruciating and relentless on my fragile body. I kept my eyes clothes, telling myself that once I counted from one to one hundred it would all be done. Then if I counted to two hundred I would wake up. Finally I couldn't take it anymore I told myself if I ever reached a thousand I'd have to kill myself.

He raped me that night, and Renée never knew.

"God you're so tight," he cried as he finished, and I reached six hundred ninety two. He lay on top of me gasping, while I tried my hardest not to cry and show any weakness.

He pulled himself up slowly and stared down at me for a moment. He reminded me of a caveman in that moment, and it scared me enough to make the tears overflow.

"You know, considering that your whorish mother is bulimic, I would've hoped you'd catch on. You're so fucking fat. Do you eat an entire horse every day or something, fat ass?" I cried harder as he pulled on his pants and smoothed his hair. "Oh great, you're a fucking baby too? Stop blubbering, Shamu." He sneered and went into the kitchen for a beer.

I bit my lip to hold back a sob and gathered my clothes. I checked carefully to make sure he wasn't following and ran for my room. I cried harder as I thought I felt the floor shaking with each pounding step my little feet took.

Slamming the door behind me, I dropped my clothes and locked the door. I walked cautiously to the mirror on my closet door and stood back. I looked straight at myself, poking my swollen cheeks first. I ran my hands over my flat breasts and sighed that I couldn't be as curvy as other girls.

I turned so my side would face the mirror and looked first at my legs, trying to avoid the inevitable. My legs were scrawny and boney, surely too small to hold up my weight. I moved my gaze up to my stomach, and the tears fell harder. My ribs stuck out slightly, but not enough. You couldn't see all my ribs and that made me feel fat. You could see every single one of my mom's ribs when she wore something tight. She was skinnier than me.

And that wasn't acceptable.

***

After Phil and Renée left that night, I binged for three hours, eating anything edible that I could get my hands on. I purged once an hour, just to be cautious. It scared me, because I had already purged for the day, but I didn't care. Screw chocolate or music, bulimia was my comfort. I didn't need drugs or alcohol. Purging gave me the high I needed.

The next three years passed quietly. My bulimia grew steadily worse, to the point where I'd purge after every meal if I ate at all. I was careful never to do it in school, just skipping lunch instead.

Phil took every opportunity he could to abuse me. A quick squeeze of a boob, a pinch to my ass, a whispered "Whale," in my ear. When he had the time, he'd straight out rape me. Not only did he take my virginity, but he came back for more. I began to associate sex with pain, something I knew would hurt me later in life.

Such a fucked up kid. Connecting puking with freedom and sex with torture.

I never had a real boyfriend throughout high school. I went on dates and made sure to have gorgeous men on my arm for dances, but never anything real. I didn't want any attachments here after I left, not even Renée. I kept myself distant from her the best I could living in one small house.

Seven years after it began, I was going off to college. I'd be attending New York University after graduating high school in the top twenty of my class. I was on top of the world, and I was sure nobody could push me down.

By the end of my first semester, things had spiraled out of control. I was determined not to gain the freshman fifteen, and bulimia… it took over my life. I thought it was bad before, but now I had absolutely no control over my life. The evil dictator finally won.

My roommates ignored me, and I ignored them. It was a happy arrangement for all of us.

Left completely on my own, I rarely went to classes. On the occasion I did go, I was confused about everything and failed all my tests and assignments – the few I bothered to hand in. My professors would try to talk to me, but I would just shake them off. What would they know? They couldn't beat my dictator. He was unstoppable.

By the middle of my second semester, I quit. I never went to class and spent my days eating and puking all my money away. No reason to waste a room and crucial money being used to pay for my classes.

I needed a fresh start if I wanted a chance to get my act together. I flew across the country to Forks, Washington. I remembered from when I was younger and loved to study maps, seeing a place called Forks on a map and wanting to do there so badly and saw this as my chance. It was a tiny place with little sun or warmth – a perfect climate for me. I knew there was a tiny bookstore there that needed an employee, and I happily took the job. Through the years, I had loved to read. It couldn't give me the high purging did, but when I managed to quit purging for a few days, reading would take its place.

I found working at the book store to be a monotonous job that occupied my hands, paid my rent, and still allowed me to think about my eating plan for the day, my calorie count, how many more calories I could ingest, what I'd binge on at home, and how many times I'd purge myself that night. Sometimes I even decided to throw in some laxatives or other weight loss pills, just for the sake of variety. At times, I loved my job for allowing me this freedom. Other times I wanted to kill myself for allowing all of it to get to this point. As years went on and my job became more of a routine that required very little thought, my disorder seemed to get worse.

I worked with Tanya Denali, a woman over six feet with strawberry blonde hair and aquamarine eyes adorning her tan and curvy frame. Standing next to her, my self esteem would plunge down the Grand Canyon. Eventually, after working with her for several years, my self esteem was lower than the floor of the Mariana Trench. She was a bit ditzy and seemed to only be working in the book store for the cash in between modeling jobs. The economy was rough on us all, apparently.

I found an apartment, complete with a roommate and a best friend. Her name was Alice Brandon, a tiny woman with spiked black hair and golden eyes that seemed to glow. She was just a little tanned and slim, naturally of course, but still managed to have more in her hips and boobs than I could ever dream of. Living with her made me feel extremely inferior. I worked with a model and now had to live with another gorgeous girl. She was usually very perky and upbeat, the perfect personal assistant to a local millionaire. Her and her psychologist boyfriend, Jasper, were the perfect couple. He was blonde and tall with blue eyes and a serene temperament. He balanced Alice well, and I couldn't have been more grateful for it.

Seeing Tanya come and go with her many boyfriends and Amazonian good looks always made me feel worse about myself. Alice and Jasper being so in love and beautiful together made me feel like complete shit. I always felt like if I was skinny enough I might be as confident and happy as they are. But first I had to throw up everything I ate. My bulimia seemed to worsen as my friends' fortune grew.

As I hit twenty four, I knew my life was spiraling out of control. I had no real future ahead of me. No college degree, no career ideas, and a disorder that just seemed to get worse no matter how good my life was. At the moment, I was stuck working at a book store, and living in an apartment with my own collection of stray cats seemed to be my future. But I also knew nothing could save me from the dictator named bulimia.


Don't think all chapters will be this long. My chapters are usually about a third of this size. Next chapter will probably be about the same length, but I won't guarentee all chapters will be. I can promise most will be decent sized since I actually went ahead and made a guideline for this.

Reviews are amazing. =]