----"All men kill the thing they hate, too, unless, of course, it kills them first."
~James Thurber


Ragweeds.
Chapter Two : The Storm That Came
What happened in Edward's life before Bella came along that made it all change.


PLEASE READ FIRST. Three commonly asked reader questions :
1. How soon will you update this story? I plan to try & post a new chapter once a week, every Monday. If schedule goes haywire, I will try and give you some form of notice before, on Twilighted or here at the end of a chapter update.
2. Is this story going to be as long as The Ex Factor? No. There are only 2 planned character POV's, not 6-8 character POV's, placed multiple times, per chapter. I will have more than 1 E/B POV as chapters progresses and characters become more developed, but I don't see it being as long... Although I tend to be into the little details, so you never know. It still may be good size. ;)
3. Is the biological parents Edward Sr, Elizabeth, Esme, Carlisle, Renee, Charlie...? Though the father's are the same in this story as most (Edward Sr & Charlie), the biological mother's in this story have been changed. I want Renee/Esme to have a different, more permanent role, and I've used "Elizabeth" as a character so much, that I really wanted to switch things up and make it fresh. It'll all make sense as you read it.

Special Shout-Out's:
-- To my faithful readers/reviewers/twilighters.... You are AMAZING and you give me strength. Thank you for your input.
-- To my lovey, my beta, Caryn (Jazz Girl)... thank you for holding my hand and encouraging me to carry the light as we walk down the dark tunnel. With you by my side, I'm not so afraid.
-- To one of my favorite published author's, Janet Fitch, for your first novel has inspired me to write this story. Your writing is more than simple poetry to my ears. It taught me something.
-- Special thank you to Kayla (OpenHome) for your kindness and your foster care information, and to Aura (Rebecca's Mom) for being my "private investigator", finding the visual details.
Disclaimer: I own nothing that is Twilight or Stephenie Meyer related. (But I busted my ass to write this story. Do not take what is not yours.)


"You don't wanna hurt me... but see how deep the bullet lies?
Unaware that I'm tearing you asunder... There is thunder in our hearts, baby.
So much hate for the ones we loved. Tell me, we both matter, don't we?
You... you and me... you and me won't be unhappy.
And if I only could make a deal with God, and get him to swap our places,
be running up that road, be running up that hill, be running up that building..."
~ Placebo, "Running Up That Hill"
(The theme song for this story.)


Chapter Two : The Storm That Came

EdwardPOV

"Edward... talk to me."

I didn't want to respond.

"Edward..."

Looking away, I shook my head in disgust. I felt ashamed and angry.

"Edward," she whispered again, "talk to me. Please."

"I was careless," I murmured. "I should have waited longer to leave. I should have fought back, I could have stopped him. I locked up."

My mother frowned and fiddled with a dirty fork on our kitchen table, careful not to touch me. "We just have to be very cooperative with him, do whatever he wants, and maybe... he'll let this go. Get better."

I glared at her, at the split lip, the cut on her cheek, the bruise over her eye, the fingertip marks on her arms. I'd heard this speech so many times before. "Why do we have to live like this?" She frowned and began to answer, but I cut her off, "No, I'm serious. He's going to kill us one of these days."

"Edw-"

"Mom, he tried to drown me in the pool!"

"You shouldn't have been there in the first place!" she snipped. I scoffed and pushed back from the table, walking away. She sighed in defeat. "Edward, you need to try and underst-"

"No, you need to understand," I cut her off. "You may have decided to give up your life, to allow him to run you into the dirt. But I'm not going to do it anymore."

"You don't have a choice! What are you going to do? Leave?"

"Yes."

I walked down the narrow hallway toward my room, which was completely wrecked thanks to my father's outburst. There was blood on the carpet from where he busted my nose. I couldn't recall how long I was out. All I remembered was waking up to my mother screaming in the hallway. He held her down on the floor, his hand wrapped around her hair and throat. He struck her multiple times. I crawled over and tried to stop him, and faintly remember seeing a boot come toward me. Then I was out again.

But I couldn't think about that. I had ten minutes to gather some clothes and get out of there before he got back. Or else.

"You can't leave," my mother whimpered. "You have nowhere to go. You're just a boy."

"You can go with me."

"We don't have any mon-"

"I'd rather sleep in the most disgusting, disease infested gutter than live in this house for another second."

"Please, just... We can fix it," she begged. "We can fix it, and then maybe he'll calm dow-"

"He won't."

"Yes, he does sometimes if we give him a-"

"Yeah, until we piss him off again!" I shouted. "He's never going to stop. He has us wrapped around his finger, trembling and living in fear. I'm not going to-"

"What about me?" she cried, holding her hands to her chest. "What about me if you leave?"

Sighing, I stilled and sat my bag on my bed, upset that she had played that card. She always did it during moments like these. Moments when I tried to be brave and get out.

She took a step forward, her face pale as a ghost, "You can't leave me here. I would never leave you."

I glared at her, pissed off at the world. "I wouldn't have blamed you if you did."

She gave a nod and sniffled silently. Her eyes were drained of every emotion, of everything. "...That's because you're stronger than me." Her voice was so small.

I scoffed and stared down at my bag, my jeans hanging from the opening. "Then find some strength, mother. Because I can't do this much longer."


Three weeks came and went. I couldn't leave No matter how bad I wanted to run for the hills and never look back, I'd never abandon my mother, and I knew she'd never leave him. She was too scared, too afraid that he'd catch us again. Just like he did before.

I was four at the time. I remember my mother telling me we were going for groceries, back when he'd allow her to drive the car. She threw a few bags in the back, loaded me up, and drove off. We made it all the way to Nevada, and then something happened. I don't know if she lost her nerve, got scared, or felt she was in over her head. We stayed at a motel and she made the terrible decision to call him. I remember her screaming on the phone, refusing to tell him where we were, swearing that he'd never touch us again. She hung up after a few choice words, ordered us a pizza, and held me while we watched Nick at Night until I fell asleep.

I woke up to the sound of banging on the door. My father was screaming at her from the other side of the door. He'd traced the call somehow and caught the first flight out. My mother checked us in to the hotel under our actual last name, so it was easy for him to trace. She wouldn't let him in. She hid me in the bathroom, beneath the rusty, leaking sink. My father punched out the glass window beside the door, turned the lock, and the next thing I knew, we were in the car, driving back. My mother moaned in the back seat the whole time. I remember being terrified and crying, seeing all the cuts and blood and bruises on her face and hands. My father didn't hit me back then. He always tried to tell me that it was her fault, not mine.

When I turned eight it all changed. Up to that point, he'd call me names and punish me with chores that pushed me to my physical limit. But nothing serious. I don't know why, or where, or what I did to piss him off. But something changed and I have vague memories of being thrown across the room. From that moment, the abuse escalated. Every time I had the courage to take the hits for my mother, he'd punish me until I blacked out. Then he'd beat her, too.

With each incident, I tried to be tougher, stronger. I tried to focus my mind, take more hits, protect her longer. I prayed she'd run and hide, get out of the house and never look back. She never did. She was too scared of him. And anytime I stood up to him, the next punishment was more severe. It was a sick game he played with us. If I didn't fight back, I was a pussy, and he'd swing harder. But if I did... well, let's just say most days I was thankful to be able to wake up, and others... I wished I hadn't.

I watched my mother get angry. There had been times before when she'd get mad. But, after a few kicks to the face from my father's boot, she'd cower do what he wanted. But I noticed something different about her this time, saw it in her eyes whenever she had the strength to glance at me. There was mystery there. A glowing ember. She was planning something. I knew it. A few times I asked her about it, if she was okay. Her only response was, "the breeze blows in strange directions." I had no idea what she meant. She kept those secrets to herself.

But me? I had no secrets. My father took everything that I loved away. My journal was ruined. I'd left it in the pool after the attack, and the legible parts were smeared all around the school thanks to my teammate, Salvador Johnson. He found it when he dove in for practice the next morning. I didn't return to school until the following week, allowing time for the bruises to fade. When I entered the halls, I quickly found out that everyone knew how much I hated my father, and how shitty my life was. No one cared enough to cradle me or reach out in any way. But their laughter and stares intensified. I did my best to keep my chin up and go to class, but I felt their eyes on me, heard their whispers. Eventually, I began to bail, hide in the bathrooms, fake that I was sick. Some teachers would take pity on me and allow me to leave, but no one called the cops. I wasn't surprised. Forks was a small town.

I never returned to the pool. I left Mr. Harvey a letter, thanked him for the time he'd given me and the lessons he taught, and apologized about not being able to clean it. I didn't see him any more, but I did notice that there were still snacks in my locker; Pringles, Doritos, Gatorade. We had a silent understanding way back when I first joined the team. He never asked about my situation but he always looked out for me. He usually left them in my pool locker by the atrium. But, because he knew I'd never be back to swim again, he put them in my school locker.

Sometimes I'd leave sticky notes, thank you's with smiley faces. It was all I had. The notes were gone when I returned from my class, replaced with a fresh turkey sandwich in a baggie or a candy bar. He never responded to me in writing though. I considered him an angel. He didn't show his face now, but did things that let me know he was there, and that he cared. I would always be grateful to him, although I felt ashamed and guilt-ridden because of my situation. I only hoped that one day I could repay him.

My chores doubled and my father remained a lunatic. Some days, he'd sit in his recliner, drinking and shouting commands at us. I didn't want to do what he asked, but my mother would glower at me when I didn't respond, and I'd eventually cave. Other days, he'd wake up mad and go to bed angrier, with busted knuckles and marks left on either our bodies or the walls.

It was a sick world we lived in, with trap doors and no exit signs.

I felt hope fading fast. But my mother... she still had that glimmering, orange light in her eyes.

Some days, she frightened me more with her silence than my father did with his hands.


Another week passed. My mother's attitude persisted. She began to smile whenever he wasn't around, and she'd narrow her eyes at him when he was. She fought back harder. It didn't matter, knowing he'd win eventually. She'd still swung back.

She didn't speak much, unless she felt like talking to herself. I gave up trying to ask her what was going on, what she was thinking. I always got the same answer, the same discussion, about a breeze, or the way the dirt blew up from the ground, or how the clouds rotated in the sky. I had no idea where her head was, but I started to fear more for her mind than her body.

It was all strange. I hated it when she wouldn't fight back, wouldn't stand up for herself. But, lately, I wished that she would stop trying. She walked around in a constant haze, as if she'd taken drugs, or was born with the habit. It seemed as if my father's shouts went right over her head. Her bruises were darker, the gashes deeper. When I went to hand her an ice-pack one day and she spoke in this eerie, dark, disconnected voice.

"Bruises are makeup in some countries. Maybe I should wear them with pride, knowing I survived."

I sighed and told her to wake up.

She said she didn't want to.

Instead of lashing out at my father and getting knocked out again, I did my chores with anger. I scrubbed the dishes relentlessly, like an artist erasing lines, removing bad memories. Swept up the resentment, mopped up the blood and tears. Each time the axe hacked into a new chunk of wood, I imagined it be his fingers. Each one, a new piece of wood, until he couldn't hit me anymore. Then I did his toes, his legs, his ankles. I cut and chopped and slaughtered, until the images in my head were of my father sitting paralyzed, with no limbs, so he couldn't hurt us. I wished I had the courage to do it. But I wasn't that person. No matter how dark my life became, I didn't live in shadows.

I caught my mother outside Thursday night. She sat on the steps smoking a cigarette while my father sat passed out in the recliner. It could turn ugly if he woke up, and I feared that moment. We weren't allowed outside unsupervised, not even to take out the trash. I stood inside, by the broken screen door, and watched her inhale.

She knew I was behind her. She smiled at the moon and whispered the lyrics to a John Lennon song I couldn't remember the name of.

"You know the funny thing about bitter hate?" she said calmly, not bothering to look back at me. "It's easier to understand. You decide upon it quicker. There's no second guessing, no pondering. There's many different types of love, but only one version of hate. And hatred... it wraps you up in a warm blanket and sets the room on fire. It disintegrates you, but you don't care because it disintegrates everything else in the room too... Everything is equal then, and justice prevails."

I sighed and pressed my forehead to the trim. I wished she wouldn't go down this road tonight. I prayed my father wouldn't wake up and catch her. Who knew what would happen then. Maybe she'd never make it back up the steps to get inside.

"You should try to get some rest," I suggested, opening the door for her, wincing as the springs squeaked.

She stared blankly at the brightest star, unphased by my voice. "Exhaustion pushes you much harder than rest ever can. It's only a state of mind. It tests your willpower, sees if you can beat it."

I left her where she sat and went to bed.


A storm began to brew. I felt it when the wind touched my arms, in every pore on my body. The hairs rose, the skin tensed. My complexion paled.

Every day that came and went intensified the hold on me. I woke up earlier, stayed up later, rushed to get my chores done, just so I could watch over my parents. I studied them when I cooked their dinner or did their laundry. I watched my mother's feet pad lightly across the cracked linoleum, as if she were floating instead of walking. I noticed that she wouldn't dress in her regular clothes anymore. She stayed in a long, white, bleach-spotted nightgown. Her face slimmed, since she wouldn't eat anything. Her red hair flowed past her shoulders in an unkempt fashion. The bruises showed quicker now. It took no time at all to see my father's hatred show across her lips, below her eyes.

She didn't loud scream when he hit her now. She didn't shiver when he threw me through the bathroom door. She became mute, only speaking when she talked to herself. After my father slept, she'd sometimes crawl into my room and sit over my bed when she thought I was dreaming, whispering something about how a person, with time, could be sculpted into something else entirely. She spoke of love, mentioning how it was deceitful, how it lied, how it no longer existed for her. She said it changed it's mind, chose a different home to bless, a different family to care for. She prayed for my soul but no one else's. Not even her own.

"Don't let it be too late for him," she wept, her hand hovering over my legs but never touching. "Maybe someday he'll forget it all."

She sometimes wished for a time machine, a device we could climb in and have it take us away. She spoke of Rome, of Asia, of Canada. About beautiful islands and waterfalls and seagulls. She began to write on napkins instead of chewing food, numbers and dates. I dug them out of the trash later while everyone slept, tried to decode them. I came up empty. It was nothing but numeric scribbles.

I listened as my father forced my mother have sex with him one night. It was the only time she'd scream, the only time she'd speak up and ask him to stop. The only time the fear came back. He felt he didn't have to stop because they were married. He saw nothing wrong in what he made her do.

I thought of different ways I could bust through the door, get him off of her. But I didn't, because I couldn't, and I hated myself for it. The last time I tried, he'd pulled a gun on me. Thankfully it wasn't loaded.

I punched my pillows, screamed into my sheets, praying that he'd stop and it'd all be over soon. I prayed she'd escape her body.

Time crawled, her screams turned to whimpers, and, for a moment, I thought maybe he had strangled her. But then I heard her cough, and spit, curse him as he passed out from his high. "Stupid bastard," she whimpered, her voice growing angry again as she tossed things around the room.

She spoke of hatred only when he couldn't hear her and react. But what she screamed about him sent shivers through my spine.

The next night, I lay in bed massaging my wrist. It was a wound earned after the trashbag he filled up couldn't support the strain and exploded all over the carpet in the living room. I was on my way to the front door with it.

I never liked to hit my father unless I had no other way out. With my hands and feet, I tried to push him off of me. He caught my right wrist and slammed it on the ground where the step to the kitchen and the living room met, and it popped out of its socket. I quit fighting back instantly, trying not to show the pain in my eyes. I knew he'd enjoy it. After a few more jabs with his knee, he grew tired and climbed off of me to get another beer.

I popped it back in place when he wasn't looking, but it still swelled. I cut up one of my sheets and wrapped it tightly so it would stay in place. It throbbed all night, but I didn't care. He left us alone for the rest of the day and, for that, I considered the evening a success.

Before I knew it, summer arrived. That meant longer hours at home and no more school.

Forks was well known for it's thunderstorms, but the last week had been constant. It rained nonstop. Thunder cracked and roared, lightning fizzled and sparked. The weak ceiling where my bedroom and the hall met sprung a leak. I sat a pot there to catch the rain.

The wooden doors attached to the garage beside my bedroom window banged in resistance to the wind. Each time it set my ears to ring.

My anxiety built as the hours passed. I didn't know why. My father had been tamer the last two days, and I tried to take that into consideration, but it didn't help. I couldn't calm myself down, couldn't quit shaking. I couldn't stop thinking that something was terribly wrong.

It was too quiet. Too eerie. Too dark.

I trembled in my bed, wishing I hadn't cut up my sheet. I didn't have another blanket. Swiftly, I dressed in a gray hoodie and the heaviest jeans I owned with the fewest holes, and curled into a ball. I counted the seconds until daylight.

It never came.


I was having a nightmare. I stood in a crowded street and watched the glowing orange ember in my mother's eyes flare bright in the distance. My father's face was in the sky, like a god, large and shouting. His hands reached down to choke her. I tried to run to her, to save her from what he was doing, to take the blows. But then she burst into flames.

Gasping, I shot out of the bed, blinking wildly. I quickly focused my eyes. My clock flashed 12:00 over and over again. The power must have gone out.

The wind howled angrily at me. It woke me after I dozed off briefly. It begged me to get out of bed, asked me to see what was going on.

Once the rhythm in my heart slowed, I heard struggling in the next room. My father grunted, threatening my mother's life once more. He called her a slut and a whore, told her how useless she was. I don't know what happened, what set him off this time. He'd been quiet most of the day.

I shut my eyes, shivering, and tugged my hair. I prayed that, if I got out of this bed and went to help her, he wouldn't kill us. Each time I tried to protect her, it felt like my life span shortened.

Something in the back of my head told me to stay where I was, to let it die down on its own. I wouldn't not listen though. What if she needed me?

She never tried to protect me from him, never stood in the way and took any hits for me like I did for her. She even blamed me for setting him off all the time, sometimes said it was my fault. None of that mattered, though. I knew what was right and wrong. I couldn't let it continue.

I hesitated momentarily before crawling to the end of the bed. The dingy green carpet was damp from the bitter storm around us. I noticed it through the slight flashes of light in the hall. Filling my lungs with air, I stepped down into the wet. Everything in the atmosphere felt wrong, charged, misplaced somehow. I never thought out loud much, but I couldn't help myself in that moment. I was scared.

My fingers touched the hinges where my door once hung, and I stilled in the hall, listening to the struggle go on fifteen feet to my left. My father growled as his voice reached a new decibel of hatred. He told her how much he hated her, how she was going to die. "No," my mother begged, followed by thumping of feet or elbows hitting the floor. "No, no, no!"

I leaned forward and pressed my ear to the door, trying to figure out their locations in the room. I didn't want to swing it open and hit my mother in the head if he had her on the floor in a death grip.

With a burst of energy, my hand reached the doorknob. Then everything changed.

A cannon went off. A bomb exploded. A war ended.

Gasping, I stumbled back in shock with the loud boom echoing in my ears. My hands found my heaving chest.

There was no more movement beyond the door. No noise.

The storm outside roared louder, though.

I didn't know what to do. I couldn't think. My body moved before my brain registered any courage, and I swung the door open in a panic.

Like getting stuck in a revolving door, or being trapped in a maze you cannot escape, what I saw behind that door returns and returns and returns to my nightmares. My mother's crumpled and distorted body, clothes torn and bloody, restless and propped against the far wall. My father lay still on the ground.

I stayed in the door frame, hardened, like a skeleton. Just bones.

A tornado spun around my head. Things started to become clear.

This was impossible. It could not be happening.

It was a bad dream. A forgotten photograph. A movie. These were not my parents. No, they were paid actors.

There was no blood, no splatters, no whimpering. My mother did not hold a gun in her left hand. And my father was not laying motionless in a pool of his own blood.

I fell to my knees, struggling to find air. Thunder ricocheted around us, awakening me, sending chills through my frame. It told me what I didn't want to hear, what I desperately tried to deny. This was real.

With a loud gasp, I crawled over to my father and pressed my fingers to his pulse points. I tried not to look at his bloody broken face.

There was no response. I fought back the urge to throw up.

"What did you do?" I whispered weakly as soon as I found my voice.

My mother trembled, staring off into space, her finger still on the trigger of the loaded gun.

"MOM!" I screamed, as loud as I possibly could. "WHAT DID YOU DO?!"

She shivered, her eyes locked on a fresh hole in the wall behind my head, where the bullet went through him.

Then she whispered three faint, numbing words that changed everything. "I ended it."


----AUTHOR'S NOTES----

Please let me know your thoughts. Feedback means a lot to writer's who dedicate their time to provide a story, so make sure to hit that green button if it pleases you. ;)
Reviews are better than... well, this chapter was depressing as hell to write, so let's just say that reviews will cheer me up. :(
Bella's POV is next.