AN: So I'm sorry if the story isn't how it's been written before. I'm done with this story now and this will be the final chapter. I've actually been writing on a new story called Sympathy for the Devil and I have a little more to do on it, before I can start to publish. Anywho… here it is!
It all started about two years ago. I wasn't living in Chicago by then. I was home in Texas. My mother had just finished another can of beer and as much as I wanted to help her, I couldn't.
Over time as she kept beating me, she yelled how I ruined her life. If I hadn't come along, she and my dad would have been okay. But I know she means nothing of it. She's just mad because he was a weak piece of shit that couldn't take care of anyone, not even himself. He should have been better. He should have taken better care up us but he was too selfish to do that.
And then… then she had to drive to get more alcohol. And I wasn't there to save her, to stop her. If she'd just beat me a little less I would have been there, to either be crushed like her or maybe made her stop the car. And then she maybe would have been alive today.
I couldn't possibly explain just how much I miss her. She was my mother for god's sake. She was everything and now she was gone and I was all alone.
But that wasn't the worst part.
When I went through her stuff to determine what should be thrown out, I found letters, a lot of them. From my father. Or at least someone who claimed to be him.
This made no sense to me. Why would he contact us? He wanted nothing to do with us. He was too selfish and weak to take care of us. But the letters were long and he openly talked about how he wanted to know me; that I was his kid too. Nothing made sense to me. But he gave an address so I looked it up and it was in Chicago.
I don't know why but I went to see him, packed everything I owned for I knew I would never come back to Texas.
He said how sorry he was for leaving, that he didn't love my mother anymore, that she was the reason they split. It was all a lie, of course. My mother said he was weak. If he truly wanted me, he wouldn't have left. He would have stayed and waited it out. My mother could have gotten better. If she had just gone to some meetings she would have been able to stop. She would have.
He tells me he wanted to come back and even tried one but my mother wouldn't let him.
He says he's been good, not doing drugs anymore, not drinking anymore. He even says he's been seeing someone for some time. She's married but she's going to tell her husband and they'd get a divorce.
For as long as he talked, I was in a muted alternate universe.
It wasn't bad enough he'd abandoned me most my life but now he was screwing a married woman! I could understand my so-called father but that woman… she's married! Marriage is supposed to be sacred and not be toyed with.
I saw red as I left his place and got into my rental car.
I went back to the motel and thought… a lot.
After a day of only thinking about this woman and her poor husband who was living life, clueless of his wife's adulteress ways. I had to do something about it.
I went to see her one afternoon.
She opened the door and smiled at me. I wanted to punch her.
"Hello. Do I know you?"
"No. But I believe you know my father, though."
"Wow. So you're Lauren? You're all grown up."
"As opposed to what?"
"Well I've only seen baby pictures so far." He's been telling her about me? Somehow, that made me angrier.
"I would ask you in but I don't think that would be appropriate."
"Yeah. Must be a bitch keeping the affair a secret." She stared at me before I pulled out my Stanley knife, keeping it up to her throat.
"What are you-"
"Don't ask silly questions and get in."
She never saw the sun again. All the things I did to her, it was all worth it as I heard her noises of pain.
When it was over and she'd finally stopped breathing I sat down on the staircase and looked at her. What a whore. She didn't deserve to live. She was a sinner and she'd go to hell either way. Why delay the inevitable?
After a few minutes I got up but as I came to the door, a slam of another door halted my movements.
"Mom!" Someone called out. Mom? I crept closer to the door and opened it slowly.
A girl was standing in the kitchen, with her hand on an open refrigerator door. She barely looked to be 18.
I didn't feel guilty for what I'd just done. I felt angrier, somehow. I can't explain it. Everything I'd just whipped out at her mother, I felt for her daughter and nothing would have made me happier than to stab this knife into her back also. But this wasn't the time and I knew it.
As the girl retrieved up the stairs, I sneaked out of the house and got over the street and into my rental. I drove off fast and I'm not sure how but I managed to get myself back at the motel.
I turned on the TV, looking for anything regarding what I had done.
It wasn't until later that night. The first report came in.
Of course things don't always go as they planned.
Lauren continued to lean against the doorway, observing my every movement.
"How wonderful of you to visit," she said, her voice smooth with a hint of a southern accent. I said nothing.
"I don't get many visits you know." She cooked her head to the side, narrowing her eyes.
"I knew you'd come… alone."
"Yeah?" She nodded.
"You're so naïve. Why did you come here alone?"
"I don't know."
"Sure you do." I shook my head. Her smile turned into a frown.
"Still lying I see. That's unfortunate."
"Why did you kill them?" Her smirk returned now and she pushed herself off the doorway and took a step forward.
"Maybe they talked to me the wrong way? Maybe I was just having a bad day? Maybe I was just bored? It really doesn't matter anymore."
"Sure it does. People don't just wake up and decide to kill four people."
"No. That's true," she sighed, making a scene of looking troubled and searching for an answer. "And why should I tell you? You were smart enough to "expose me" so I'm sure you're smart enough to figure this one out." I shook my head.
"I'm not gonna play this game."
"But games are so fun."
"You really think so? Because you're about to lose yours." Lauren straightened up and narrowed her eyes menacingly.
"What do you mean?"
"The FBI must know by now I'm gone. They're gonna come look for me."
"Like they know where to look." I opened my mouth to talk but shut it immediately.
"Because no one knows about this place… right?" I stayed quiet.
"You stupid bitch! You told him?" She took a step forward and I took one back. "Well… it seems I've underestimated you. Don't worry though, before they even get here, you'll be long gone."
"They'll know it was you."
"Sure. But by then I'll be halfway to Mexico and once I've crossed the border, there is nothing anyone can do." She was right about that, of course. But they would get here in time. But as the seconds ticked, I became more and more worried that Edward would have forgotten about this place.
"You are the only one, you know."
"The only one what?"
"The only one that counts." With that, Lauren reached down on the couch and that's when I saw a Jason-like machete gleaming in the light.
"Do you like it?" I said nothing but swallowed against the large lump in my throat.
"It used to belong to my father. Apparently he had quite the little obsession with knifes." I take another step back. "I can understand why he would find this so fascinating. It's beautiful. And speaking of my father, this used to be his home. I know, it's so… homey. Though I'm not surprised, he liked to pay house with people he shouldn't be involved with." She stopped walking and looked purposefully at me, her head cocked to the side, as if thoughtful of some information.
"I don't know."
"If I should tell you this."
"Why wouldn't you. You're going to kill me either way… what's the difference?" Lauren nodded.
"You're right. I think it's time. Wow… you have no idea how long I've been wanting to talk about this and having anyone to talk to… at all." She started touching the machete like it was made of glass. "You know… my mother died about two years ago."
"I'm sorry about that." If she's as psychotic as I thought, talking might be the only way to not get shopped up in tiny pieces.
"Are you?" I nodded. "I'm sure you won't when you hear the rest. When she died, I found my father and went to visit him, here, actually. He was so pathetic. Saying how he's changed and all that crap. He hadn't change." She looked into my eyes as she said the next. "He was seeing someone, you know."
"Why's that bad?"
"Because-!" She exclaimed but stopped herself before speaking more calmly. "Because he was seeing a married woman. He talked so animatedly about her… it made me sick. So I had to check it out. But not before getting rid of the helping adulterer." Lauren broke eye contact and stared at the kitchen floor. "That's where I took a knife and slit his throat. Then I sat down opposite him and watched how all the blood flooded out of him. When he finally stopped breathing, I took his body down into the basement and sliced him up into pieces. Then I wrapped each piece in a garbage bag and filled it with rock and dumped it in the harbor." My face had drained or all color by the time she finished and I thought I would throw up from the mental images.
"I'm sorry," she didn't sound it. "Was that too much information?" I didn't answer but continued to stare at her.
"I suppose it would be to someone like you. But you know, that's not the whole story. You see, after I killed my father and got rid of his body and the evidence; I took a little trip to the suburbs. It was a quiet afternoon. The sun was shining and barely a cloud was visible… As she opened the door, I became enraged." Lauren smirked at some inner thought and then looked me straight in the eye. "Your mother was very pretty, Bella."
I couldn't breathe.
I knew what she meant by that. Of course I knew. Everything fell into pieces now. It all made sense and I couldn't have been more broken about it. I couldn't even think it. It seemed too surreal.
"That's why you took the job at Walmart," I whispered to myself. Lauren nodded in appreciation.
"I needed to get close to you, earn your trust. I'd be so much more enjoyable that way."
"Then why'd you kill the rest of them? Why go through all the trouble?" Lauren sighed.
"They meant nothing. They were nothing. They didn't deserve to live. They were disgracing their lives, for what? Money? That's not a good enough reason. And then I saw you and that man. It wasn't until later I found out he was your father's new partner. That made me angrier than you being your mother's daughter. You were screwing him in secret. You were ashamed of your "relationship". So why should you be so privileged. That's when I started this whole thing." Lauren took a step towards me and since my back was to the wall, I couldn't move an inch.
"I wasn't ashamed-"
"Stop lying! Don't commit anymore sins!"
"I'm not lying!"
"Stop it! Stop it! Stop it!" Lauren raised her hands to her hair and pulled at it in anger. She finally let go and lifted the machete, pointing it at me.
"I need you to say it."
"Say what?" I whisper, hoping Edward has figured out where I am by now. It suddenly seems so stupid, coming here by myself. I really don't know why. I must have been momentarily insane.
"Say you're a liar and we can end this. Maybe you're even worthy enough to go to heaven."
"Shit, you're crazy," I whisper in pity. If she'd just had help and if someone would have just seen some signs, any signs, maybe Lauren might have been better now. Be able to live her life without this enormous guilt on her conscience.
"I. Am. Not. Crazy!" She yells and I swear the windows moved.
"You need help."
"Help? What kind of help? The one where they put you in the loony-bin? No thank you. I'm very fine right here."
"They will know it was you."
"Are you sure about that?" She takes a step forward.
"Yes." But my voice cracks and Lauren smiles darkly, taking another step forward.
"You see. I think that after not finding your body, your poor father will eventually go mad and he'll have to be put in an asylum." I shake my head but it has no meaning.
"Just think how horrible his life will be after this. His only living relative will be gone and he will be all alone in the world. Maybe I'll get lucky and they will think you've fled the country. They already suspect you of committing the murders."
"No I'm having fun." Lauren stalks right up to me and place the blade at my neck. But then she frowns and takes it away, seeming to have some sort of inner battle with herself. With her momentary distraction, I grab at anything behind me and once I have a steady grip – of what I can only assume is some kind of figurine – I smash it as hard as I can into her temple.
Lauren goes down with a noise of pain and I scrambled to get to the machete. But she gets a hold of my legs, making me fall down and I can't reach now. She claws at my legs and I try to kick her away but she's stronger than she looks.
When she finally has the upper hand, Lauren grabs both my arms and knocks her fist into my forehead. I could feel blood trickle down my face.
I manage to get one of my hands free and slam it into her nose. I hear cracking and she lets me go for a second. I get up on two legs and decide to make a run for it but Lauren's fast and she grab a hold of my waist and flings me back.
My head slammed into a wall and the last thing I remember is Lauren's figure leaning over me. Then I blacked out.
There was a distinctive beeping. That's the first thing I heard. I tried to locate its origin and it took some time before I finally realized it was a heart monitor. I try to open my eyes but the light is too bright and I groan softly.
My head is pounding at my left side and I try to raise my hand but it feels too heavy to move. Before I have time to understand and remember why I'm in a hospital, a warm feeling spreads through me and I'm asleep within seconds.
The second time I awoke, it was much darker in the room. The blinds were down but there was no light streaming through the cracks so I assumed it was sometime during the night. I was much more lucid now but my head was still pounding. I tried to lift my left arm but was stopped. I looked down and could see several long tubes strapped to my arm. Frowning, I diverted my gaze to my right and what I saw made me fill with guilt.
Edward sat on a tacky and uncomfortable-looking chair, his head resting on the wall behind him. He was reading something resembling a police report. I simply watched him for a moment before he looked up and saw me awake.
"Hey," he says softly and gets closer, resting his elbows on the mattress. I tried to talk but had to clear my throat several times before being able to make a word.
"What happened?" Great. I sound like I've been smoking for twenty years.
"You don't remember?" I tried to think back but hit a wall.
"What's the last thing you remember?" I sighed heavily.
"I don't know. I was in your office and then I'm with Jake and then it's really cold and then-" I stop, now remembering most details. "Where's Lauren?"
"A bullet to the back of her head."
"It took longer than we thought to get there. I remembered the place from when you asked me to pick you up." So he did remember. I'm not sure why but I grew more appreciative of him in that moment. "She was about to um…"
"Kill me?" He winced so softly I barely caught it but nodded nonetheless.
"I should get the doctor." But when he reached for the button, my hand grabbed him and made him sit down again.
"No. They'll just make you leave. Stay."
"Okay," he says reluctantly with a sigh and sits back down.
"Do you know?" I ask in a whisper. Edward's face crows confused.
"Know about what?"
"Why she did all of this?"
"Bella. She was nuts. She thought she was the one to decide whether or not these people deserved to live or die." So he didn't know the absolute real reason.
"She killed my mom," I whisper, almost not hear myself say it.
"My mom was having an affair… with her father; she killed him right before her." Edward started into space for a long while and then looked back at me and shook his head.
"Don't think about it now. You need to rest. We'll deal with this later."
"I want it to be over."
"It is over."
Even though it was, to me, it was only a second beginning. My mother's murder was reopened and while my father would not believe the words of Lauren, after divers found the dismembered limbs of Steven Mallory, he couldn't ignore the facts anymore.
I think he felt so guilty; for doing whatever he did to make my mother go to another man and for not being there when she needed him. While he's never been good with talking about her, now, whenever she's mentioned, he quickly changes the subject and I see him close his eyes for just a second, knowing he's trying to erase mental images that won't seem to go away. I do the same, even today.
Not long after getting released from the hospital, I had Edward pack what was left of my stuff and momentarily placing it in his apartment. I've never been back to that house. Alice was a rock and took the time and energy to, all by herself; clean the house and hiring a realtor to sell it. I never appreciated our friendship as much as I did then.
While I tried going back to my old self after things calmed down, there was always someone too interested to leave me alone. I signed to transfer in less than two months.
My father, of course, wasn't happy with this. He wanted me within walking distance, if he could have his way. But I wasn't going to let anyone tell me how to live my life anymore. I feel like I've been a doormat for the better part of my life – just going by everyone else's needs and wants over mine. This transfer was my decision and I swear it's the best one I've ever made in my life. Well… almost.
It's been just over six months and just when I think I'm actually going to be okay, something always reminds me of reality and every memory I have tried to suppress comes back up. Even relocating to Virginia keeps the memories flowing. But at least I'm not alone.
I'm sitting on the white steps, just below the giant sitting figure of Abraham Lincoln. While there's a school tour just inside and people chattering all over, I've never been at a more peaceful place to just sit. My lattes getting colder and I frown at the growing distaste but sips the last nonetheless.
I place the paper mug beside me and let my chin fall into my open palm and I sigh as I watch the water move with the wind. The Beatles blast through my ears and I don't know why but the words are so fitting for this moment.
It's not long before a figure sits down beside me and I turn off my mp3 player. I twist my head to the side and smile at Edward.
"Hi." He whispers back and leans in and gives me a fast kiss. "How's it going?" I shrug and dig through my bag to get the papers. I hand them over and turn back to the water.
"These are all really nice. Just pick one."
"Don't you even care?"
"It's just an apartment. If we don't like then we'll get another one." I chuckle but it's not really humoristic.
"You make it sound like a goldfish, trading up if it's not good enough."
"I'm actually giving you free reign to get whichever you prefer."
"Most people would be thrilled by that."
"I'm not most people," I remind him.
"No you're not," he says with a smile.
AN: So I hope it's not too horrible. I am truly sorry it's taking this long and I wish I could have written it better but the words weren't coming to me like they used to and I've been so busy with my other story – which I haven't even published yet.
For now, I'm publishing this so that all of you can just get closure. I might go back – later – to make some touchups.
Bella and Edward are not married or are going to get married. They're just going to live together. Somehow, I felt the need to have this clarified. Maybe it's because I'm so against marriage myself that even the idea of it makes me frown.