A/N: This story is a submission for Fan Fiction Challenge: First Day of School, Sept-Oct 2010 contest.
I want to thank my first beta reader, Mr. Bigg, a man among men. Also, big thank yous to Great Chemistry, and Project Team Beta for their invaluable insights.
All characters are the property of Stephenie Meyer. No disrespect or copyright infringement is intended.
Her hand shot up in the air just two beats faster than the smartest human child in the room.
"Renesmee?" Mrs. Rhinemueller liked Renesmee. Everyone liked Renesmee.
"The Cumberland Gap?" she asked, glancing in my direction. I formed it like a question, Dad. Yes, she formed it like a question, knowing she was right, and knowing I would know.
"Very good, Renesmee. Now who can tell me where Lewis and Clark explored?" The instructor droned on, but I scarcely heard a word. My thoughts were focused on my daughter.
Renesmee was a bright and beautiful child. We'd been fortunate. She had the beauty of her mother and so many of her tiny idiosyncrasies, it was impossible to watch her and not see Bella as a fifteen year old. But I was represented there as well; she had my wild, bronze hair, though hers was down to her waist with a dainty curl. She had her mother's quick mind and my analytical qualities, making her a fast learner. But as bright and beautiful as she was, it was her kindness that was the real fortune.
I was always surprised at how difficult it was to restrain my pride. Renesmee was new to this existence, new to this world. It was remarkable that one so young would care so deeply and profoundly for humankind. The thoughts of the other children in her class were not always kind; humans of that age were often jealous and petty, or insecure and malicious. Simply by her being, she gave so many reasons for that envy to manifest. And yet, she still treated them with care and equality. Though she witnessed compassion watching her grandfathers, she had her own sense of empathy that surpassed those of her apparent age. Her heart still beat within her chest, and I often wondered if it wasn't her beating heart that separated her from the rest of our species.
As I watched the class from my desk beside the instructor, the scattered thoughts of the other students bubbled and rose to my attention. Kindness, there. Awe, over there. Desire, there, in the back of the room. I felt my muscles stiffen instinctively, my need to protect her overtaking all else for a moment. And then Renesmee's thoughts broke through. Dad, relax. Everything's okay, okay? My daughter. My sweet, half-vampire daughter.
The bell rang and the children began collecting their gear. Carol Rhinemueller turned to me, paper-grading and lust on her mind.
"Edward -" she began.
"Why don't I grade these papers for you, ma'am?" I offered, trying to speed the conversation along. "It would be my pleasure."
"Why, thank you, Mr. Masen," she said, blushing. Her thoughts were disingenuous and unbecoming, but she held her mask of propriety as she spoke. "I'm so lucky to have your help. It's so good to have such a capable TA." There are a few other things you could help me with, you capable young man.
"Thank you, ma'am. I will try to have these back by tomorrow. I have to help my dad after school." I overemphasized the words 'my dad' hoping she'd seize control of herself. It worked nicely. She turned back to the board, erasing the lesson.
We're outside, dad. Renesmee stood outside the classroom with her mother waiting for me. I watched Bella's face through Renesmee's eyes as she listened intently to the stories of her classes, her friends, and her first day of school. I came around the corner to Bella's beautiful smile and the gentle lift of her shield. The first time I saw you. Images paged through her mind in a photo documentary of our lives. I smiled.
"Edward," Bella said, leaning over to kiss me on the cheek, "How was your first TA assignment?"
"In-class essay to grade," I said, holding up the student's papers. "Should be entertaining. And your day, Ms. Cullen?" Renesmee and Bella retained the Cullen name, while I opted for the name of my prior existence. Bella and I could be close to each other this way, without rumors or gossip of social disgrace.
"Nothing too exciting," she said, shrugging. "Except I didn't hate gym so much this time. It was weird being able to actually hit the ball and have it actually go in the right direction. The hardest part was not showing off, but I sort of made that into a game, seeing how accurately I could be inaccurate. It was fun."
"I'm happy you found something novel to entertain you, love," I said, smiling and wrapping my arm around her waist. "Renesmee, will we meet you at home, later?"
Geez, Dad. Where do you think I'm going to go? "Yes sir," she replied, rolling her eyes. "Jake said he'd meet me outside the school perimeter and we'd race to the house."
"All right," I said, trying to relinquish my need to control and protect her. Even though she was a vampire, she was still a teenager and younger in so many ways. Her mother watched my face as I struggled.
"Hey, bring Jake in. I'll fix him dinner, say five thirty?" Bella knew how to ensure Renesmee would make it home at a decent hour.
"Okay. Hey, I got to go, or I'll be late for practice." Renesmee leaned forward and kissed her mother on the cheek. "See you later."
Bella and I watched her walk through the children to the orchestra room. "Are you really worried about her?" she asked.
"I will always worry about her," I said in a whisper too low for human ears. "She's our daughter."
The little melody drifted through my thoughts, playing off my tongue and fingertips. What're you playing? Bella's curiosity always got the best of her.
"It's really nothing yet, but I'm thinking it will be a concerto for Portland," I said. "Something for piano and violin."
"Don't put pressure on her, Edward," she cautioned as the tune developed. "She may not even like the violin."
"My daughter?" I said, raising an eyebrow and looking into my wife's face. "Not like the violin? Impossible."
"Well –" Bella's words snapped off as Jacob's smell preceded him. "Jake!"
Jake ran up the stairs, pulling up his shorts. "Bella!" He picked her up in a bear hug, twirling her around and lifting her off her feet. I closed the keyboard and stood, just in time to receive my own hug. "Edward!"
"Hello, Jacob," I said, grinning to see my friend. Bella moved to my side as Renesmee trudged up the stairs. Her footsteps were unnecessary loud.
"I'm. Coming. Up. The. Stairs," she called, each syllable enunciated with perfect clarity. Everyone better be dressed!" She peeked around the corner and saw us standing with a clothed Jacob. "Dang," she said, snapping her fingers.
The three of us held an awkward, embarrassed silence as Renesmee came to join us. I longed for the day when this discomfort around her impending sexuality would be a thing of the past and we could all breathe easier.
"Hey, Jake, come help me in the kitchen," Bella said, poking him in the ribs with her elbow. She turned to Renesmee. "You coming?"
"Uh, no," she said, wrinkling her nose. "I still don't know how you stand that stuff, mom."
"Your loss, Cullen," Jake teased. He turned to Bella. "C'mon. So, what's cookin'?"
I sat back down at the piano and lifted the cover, exposing the keys. "How was orchestra? Did you like the violin?" I asked as I laid my fingers on the opening chord of my would-be concerto.
"Dad," she began, concern tingeing her voice. I didn't get violin. She laid her finger against my cheek.
"Well, well, you have fine hands, young lady," the teacher's voice boomed out in a strong tenor. "What's your name?"
"Renesmee Cullen," Renesmee responded, slightly embarrassed.
"Ms. Cullen, I see you've chosen the violin with all these others." He motioned dismissively to the other students. "I'd really like to see you on something more beautiful, more… expressive." He turned and looked at the small bespectacled boy sitting by himself near the cellos, then turned back to Renesmee. "The viola is the most beautiful string instrument next to the piano, Renesmee. Would you care to try it?"
Renesmee turned and looked behind her to the other thirty-two students in the violin section. "Sure," she said, turning back to face him. "Where do I sit?"
"Right this way, Ms. Cullen." The teacher offered his hand, stretching the other arm out to guide her. Renesmee picked up her backpack, ignoring his hand. As she stood, he turned to the small boy with the thick glasses. "You – get out of the way."
The little boy stood up immediately and looked around for another seat. He dragged his backpack and instrument case behind the chair where he'd been sitting and pulled his small frame into a chair.
"You'll be first chair, Ms. Cullen, in charge of the whole section."
Renesmee dropped her hand away from my face, her story over.
"How do you feel about that, Renesmee?"
"You're not disappointed?" A little v appeared between her brows as she waited for my reaction. So like her mother.
I reached out and grasped her hand. "No, daughter, I am not disappointed. You never disappoint me."
"I'm alright with it," she said, her face still tense. "But I don't like the way Mr. Adams treats Anthony." The v deepened as she continued. "He's really nice to me, but he seems really mean to Anthony. And Anthony's been playing for a year, and I've just started." She winced and closed her eyes before her face relaxed. "Maybe it will get better as we learn more."
Bella appeared in the doorway, laughing and breathless. "Who wants to hunt while Jacob eats the entire kitchen?" A mumbled protest launched through a full mouth rolled out of the other room. "Hey, shut it, Jake and eat your mountain of food," she teased. "Anyone?"
High school was not unfamiliar to Bella and me. I'd lived through it countless times, biding my time until I was on my own. I remained outside, uninvolved with the students. It was a means to an end.
Though she'd lived through the experience only once before, Bella understood the social structure within a circle of friends better than I did. Before we'd met, she connected to the outside world through one or two trusted friends and her parents. She existed outside that structure, but was acutely aware of it.
This was all new to Renesmee. She was cautious and kept mostly to herself, except when she was with us. She had friends in our vampiric circle, but Anthony was the first real human outside her family.
Each day for the first few weeks of school, the ride home was spent with incessant stories about Anthony's observations, quips, and opinions. As I drove the winding road, Bella would lift her shield, seized with pride or delight for Renesmee's happiness. And she was happy. Of that, there was no doubt.
"So, Renesmee," Bella said one afternoon, "Are we ever going to meet Anthony?"
"Do you want to?"
"Well, yeah," Bella responded. "You talk about him, like, all the time. We'd like to know a little bit more about your friend."
"Okay. How about tomorrow? After orchestra? If you guys wait for me outside the practice hall, then I'll bring him out."
"We can do that, can't we Edward?" Bella was excited and happy.
"Of course," I added, smiling. "It will be nice to meet him."
"How's Jake handling all this?" Bella asked, teasing Renesmee about her werewolf boyfriend.
"Oh, he's fine with it… We talked." Renesmee continued on about Jake's reaction, but I stopped listening. The pictures in my daughter's head as she discovered friendship and joy in this small young man held my train of thought captive. I wasn't sure she had the entire picture of who he was, but I wasn't sure it mattered.
"Edward, Bella, this is Anthony," Renesmee said, her face beaming. The child stepped forward and set down his instrument case. "Anthony, this is Bella, my sister, and her boyfriend, Edward."
Anthony pushed his thick glasses up his nose and shoved his hands in his pockets. He seemed less animated and convivial than Renesmee's mental images of him. I supposed it was understandable, given the joy she'd found in their friendship, and the fact that he'd just met us.
"Hey," Bella said quietly, leaning into my side.
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Anthony," I said, attempting to sound warm and open. Anthony's thinking was a whirlwind; he was excited to meet us, but at the back of his mind, an idea he wanted kept secret made him cautious and shy to share.
"Thank you," he said, and shuffled from one foot to the other. "What grade are you guys in?"
Bella leaned closer to me and wrapped her arm around my waist. "We're juniors. Are you a sophomore like Renesmee?"
"I'm a freshman," Anthony replied. He was mentally finding a safe place, a place where he could be himself without fear. Thoughts of walking home down the railroad tracks and playing his viola in the little fort he'd constructed out of old cardboard and branches flooded his mind. He was afraid to stay here and wanted to leave, but we weren't the cause of his discomfiture. "It's nice to meet you, but I gotta –"
"Renesmee?" A voice boomed out behind her and Anthony jumped. Don't let him see you're scared! It will just make it worse. Don't run! He won't do anything if other people are around. Don't turn around!
There's that little punk, that human garbage. I wonder why she likes him... Who's that with her? "Waiting for your ride?"
"No, Mr. Adams, this is my sister, Bella, and her boyfriend, Edward. I ride home with them." She wasn't happy to see Mr. Adams; Anthony was petrified with fear.
"Well, don't stay here too late. The school's going to lock down in about a half hour."
"Yes, Mr. Adams," Renesmee said dutifully.
"That goes for you too, squirt." He put his enormous hand on top of Anthony's head, and the boy's heart began to pound furiously. Anthony's mind raced in panic, the need to get away confusing his thoughts and lighting his nerves. Mr. Adams pushed his hand, tilting Anthony's head back and forcing Anthony to look at him. "You hear me?" Anthony tried to respond, but fear choked his voice. Thought so, you little puke.
This was unacceptable. Bella and I both tensed, fighting the urge to respond to the man dominating this small boy, wrestling to maintain our façade. Mr. Adams released Anthony's head with a small backwards shove. "Good," he said, turning back to us. "Well, be careful going home. I'll see you tomorrow, Renesmee."
Bella and I watched Mr. Adam's back as he walked away. Renesmee bent down, looking directly into Anthony's eyes. "Are you okay?" Her voice was calm and gentle.
"Y-ye-yes," Anthony stammered. "I just really gotta go." He picked up his instrument case and hitched his backpack. I gotta go, I gotta go, gotta go, go, go! His need to flee ran through his mind, becoming a mantra of exodus. He turned and walk-ran towards the gates. "Nice to meet you!" he called over his shoulder as he withdrew from us to find his haven.
"Is Mr. Adams always that mean?" Bella asked, her voice incredulous.
Renesmee sighed. "He is to Anthony."
"Renesmee, promise me you'll stay out of Mr. Adam's way. He isn't a good person," I said, knowing she could take care of herself if she had to, but hoping the situation would never arise.
"Okay, dad. I don't really like him, so that won't be hard to do."
Weeks went by and the school year progressed without incident. I'd done this many, many times before, but it was fascinating to watch my wife and daughter adapt their skills to blend in. They were so alike that passing as sisters was no work whatsoever.
Portland suited us well. Although we'd originally chosen the area to be close to the reservation for Jake, the weather was similar to Forks where Carlisle, Esme, my siblings and Bella's father still lived. There was enough distance to separate us from Charlie and other humans who might notice our continued youth, but we were close enough to make our way out every so often for a visit or to participate in a holiday get-together.
"Dad, can you take me into town? I want to get something for Grandpa Charlie," Renesmee asked one Saturday afternoon. Christmas was still well over a month away, but, like her mother, she was anxious to get the gift once she'd decided on it.
"Anything, beloved," I said, rising to fetch my keys. "Where shall we go?"
"Um, I was thinking," Powell's, she finished silently. There are some gardening books I want for mom there, too.
"Bella?" I called to her. She was in the garden, tending to her tomatoes. "Renesmee and I are going into the city. Do you want anything?"
"No, you guys have fun," she called, then added laughingly, "Be safe!"
"Funny," I said, knowing she could hear me perfectly well. Her giggled tinkled back to me as we headed to the garage.
"Dad, can I talk to you about something?" Renesmee's voice was small and tentative as we got in the car.
"You can talk to me about anything, Renesmee," I breathed, silently praying this was not the talk, the one every parent dreads. Surely her mother would have… I shook my head. "Do you need to tell me, or show me?"
"I think I want to tell you first," she said, looking into her lap.
I put the key in the ignition and started the engine. "Please, go ahead."
She looked straight ahead as we pulled into the street. Her stillness was atypical and frightening.
"Dad, what do you think about gay people?"
Immediately, I knew the root of her question. I was proud and relieved that she had come to me with her concern. "Are we talking about someone in particular?"
"No," she fibbed, Anthony's face popping into her thoughts as she lied to protect him. As the words left her lips, she realized her mistake. "Well, yes." She dropped her gaze into her lap again. "It's Anthony."
"He told you he was gay?"
"Yes," she said, her mind once again flipping to his mouth as he said the words to her. "You won't tell anyone, will you?"
"I think you know me better than that," I said. "It's not my story to tell… What is it that you want to know, Renesmee?"
Are gay people bad?
This question I wasn't expecting, nor did I understand its origins. "What do you think?"
Please, father, please tell me what you think. I want to know.
She rarely called me father; I knew she was worried. I tried to be honest and forthright with her. "I've met people of all walks in my existence. I can hear no difference in the minds of gay people as opposed to straight. Like everyone else in this world, they struggle to find love, approval and friendship as we all do. Their road has been tougher than most, especially of late."
"So, you don't think they're bad people?"
Her inexperience and youth rang loudly through her question. "Because they're gay? No." I waited for her to continue, listening for unanswered questions in her thoughts. She mulled the answer around, matching what I told her with her existing ideas.
"Renesmee, why are you asking these questions?"
Because Mr. Adams doesn't seem to like gay people, even though he didn't come out and say it. He just says things that seem… mean. And Mr. Adams doesn't like Anthony. She took a deep breath. I don't like the way Mr. Adams talks to him or about him, like he's not there or really, like he's not worth talking to. Anthony's a really nice boy and he's having a really hard time. "And he's afraid of Mr. Adams."
"What is he afraid of? Is he afraid Mr. Adams will get him in trouble, or fail him?"
He's afraid he'll hurt him. She watched the trees file past the window as they became less dense. Her thoughts fell into a gray fog as she worked through her ideas and feelings. The silence and obscurity were familiar to me; it was the same enigmatic mind as her mother.
I did not speak, or attempt to coax her to continue talking. I knew my daughter; she needed this time to weigh and consider, to let her notions lock into place. Again, her process reminded me of her mother, who was stubborn and convicted once she made up her mind.
As we pulled into the parking space beside the bookstore, she turned to me. "Thank you, Dad. Thank you for your thoughts and for letting me have mine."
"I love you, Renesmee. You can always talk to me," I said.
"I know that. That's one of the reasons I love you so much."
I knew I had to let Renesmee work this out for herself, but at school on Monday morning, I was anxious and concerned. She was so very young, so inexperienced, and I knew her concern for Anthony was great.
"This is part of her learning process, Edward," Bella coached me as we walked across campus. "You'll have to learn to trust her. She's smart. She knows when to get help from us."
Bella's voice was the sound of my reverie later as I watched the children vie for Mrs. Rhinemueller's attention. Renesmee's head was down as she doodled aimlessly in the margins of her notebook. My gaze fell heavy upon her. She lifted her head and looked into my eyes. Anthony wasn't in class this morning. I rolled a tiny shrug off my shoulders, willing her to understand. I know, it could be anything. Maybe he'll be at practice after school. She tried to brighten and sit up in her chair. Mrs. Rhinemueller's next question found Renesmee's hand up, her mind eager to divert to a problem she could solve.
"Bella," I said, catching up to her after school. "We need to wait for Renesmee today."
"Okay. Why? Is everything okay?" Her mind was closed and protected, immediately and instinctively shielding herself from any danger. I felt certain that the shield extended to me, and had our daughter been within her view, she would have been protected as well.
"Renesmee is safe," I said, and Bella's face relaxed. "She's worried about her friend Anthony though, and I want to be sure she has someone to turn to if there's any problem. You know me, cautious to a fault."
"Hmpf," Bella grumbled. She did know me well, better than anyone on the planet. She knew I would be distressed and uneasy until I could see Renesmee's face and hear her thoughts. She leaned toward me, picking up my arm to sidle next to me. I sighed. Her very nearness brought me comfort and respite from worry.
Renesmee came around the corner from the orchestra room with her eyes downcast. She looked the picture of despair, and I heard her quiet misery as she approached. She looked up, saw us, and jogged to where we stood. He wasn't there! He wasn't there!
"She's upset," I murmured to Bella as Renesmee approached. Bella broke away from me and held her arms up to embrace our daughter.
"Oh momma," she cried once in Bella's embrace, "Anthony wasn't in class. I asked Mr. Adams where he was, and he wouldn't tell me." What if something bad happened to him? What if I could have helped him and I didn't? What if he's hurt? What if…
"Renesmee, slow down. It's only been one day," I said, trying to put her at ease. "Shouldn't we wait? He could be safe at home, just sick or playing hooky… I mean, skipping school."
"I know you're right," she said with resignation. "I'll just feel better once I see him and know he's okay."
Bella lifted her shield. Gee, I wonder where she gets that?
By Wednesday night, Renesmee was frantic. The gossip around school was that Anthony had run away, but no one knew why or where he'd gone. Posters had littered the city overnight, pleas for contact or information.
"Dad, I've got to do something, anything. I have to find him," she pleaded. The pictures in her head detailed her panic and desperation. I couldn't disagree.
"Renesmee, you and Jake go to the school and start there. Bella and I will look around town," I said. "Take your cell phone, and call if you find anything. We'll do the same."
Thank you, father. Thank you. "I hope he's alright," she said as she and Jake left through the back door.
I turned to my wife. "Bella, I have an idea of where to look. Bring a blanket."
We parked the car at the station and set out on foot. The railroad tracks seemed to roll on forever, dissolving in the murkiness of the dimming twilight. We ran, searching for signs familiar to me from the view inside Anthony's head. The tracks turned slightly, then rose on a small hillock, matching the pattern in his mind. Around the bend, we spotted Anthony's makeshift refuge, and the sound of the viola told us we'd found the right spot.
He'd taken great care to stay hidden, but hadn't counted on the night eyes of a vampire.
"Anthony?" I called his name tentatively, not wanting to frighten him. "Anthony, it's Edward and Bella. Remember?" The music stopped, and the boy's heartbeat accelerated to the tempo of a march. "We won't hurt you, Anthony. It's okay."
I looked to Bella, and she stepped forward. "Anthony? Are you alright?"
"Yes," a small voice ushered forth from the hideaway. "Who else is with you?"
"No one, it's just me and Edward," Bella said, pulling back the branches and looking inside.
"You can come in, if you want to," he said, his voice a mixture of fear, anxiety and relief.
"Anthony, we're so happy you're safe. We were really worried," Bella said, entering the leafy fort. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm okay. Kinda hungry, though. I ran out of food this morning," he said pointing to a small pile of emptied cans and crumpled candy wrappers. His tears had etched a trail through the dirt on his face.
Bella's voice was soft and reassuring as she coaxed information from Anthony. The images in his head raked against her soothing: his parents yelling at him for leaving, his sister taking his room, the police waiting outside. His imagination was vivid and spinning out of control, until Bella asked the one, pivotal question.
"Why did you leave?"
With the pounding of his heart, Anthony's imagination broke into a thousand pieces of meaningless trivia. Memory broken into shards by fear, anger and humiliation reassembled into a jigsaw of Mr. Adam's huge hands, reaching for Anthony's head and chest, moving down…
"Just a second, Anthony," Bella said, her thoughts shouting beneath her suspended shield. Edward, try to get hold of yourself. You're growling and it's scaring him. "It's okay, Anthony, you don't have to talk. We care about you. It's okay."
Anthony's eyes began to shine with new tears as Bella spoke, finally spilling over. "I want to go home," he said, leaning forward to hug Bella. With a mother's grace, Bella wrapped him in her arms and whispered soft shooings and coos. Call Renesmee, tell her to meet us at home.
"It makes me so mad," she shouted, her voice carrying through the house. "Who the heck does that guy think he is? He can't touch a student!" Bella's rage matched my own. She paced back and forth, her arms crossed tight across her chest until she began to talk and her hands balled into fists. "I just want to… Ooh!"
"Love, what can we do? We promised Anthony we wouldn't tell," I said, as dawn bled into the room. I wished Jasper were here; the entire room was too keyed up to be calmed with logic. "We could tell Charlie, let him handle it."
"I know what to do," Renesmee murmured. Her thoughts were cloudy and indistinct, but the image of Mr. Adams pushed its way to the surface.
"Renesmee, no," I said, speaking our desires. "You can't kill him. As much as he may deserve it, I won't allow it."
"I don't want to kill him, Dad," she said sadly. "I just can't let him think he got away with this, and I can't let him do this to somebody else." She was on her feet, grabbing her backpack and coat. "Let me do this first, before you tell Grandpa Charlie. You're just going to have to trust me." And I'll be careful.
"Renesmee, please," I said, knowing her mind was made up, but unsure of what she intended to do. "Show me what you're thinking. Let me know what you're going to do, please."
No. "You're going to have to learn to trust me, dad. I know what I have to do."
I knew the day would come when she would defy me. I knew that it was a natural part of the growing process for parents as much as it was for their children, but I was not prepared for this. I could not allow her to simply leave, alone, her plan unidentified and unknown.
"Take me with you," I said, pleading. "I won't interfere, unless you're in danger. I trust you, beloved, but I can't just let you walk away from me. Not into danger." Bella stepped forward, wrapping her arm around my waist. She stared at Renesmee, too frightened to speak. Renesmee wavered a bit, then nodded. "Alright."
It was still early when we arrived at school. Students were sparse; the staff was arriving and shuffling off to the coffee machine or to their classrooms. Renesmee and I walked directly to the practice hall. She leaned against the wall, one leg bent at the knee with her foot on the bricks, the picture of a disinterested teen.
"Renesmee. Beloved," I said in an urgent whisper. "Show me what you're thinking."
"I can't," she said under her breath. "Here he is."
Surprise registered on Mr. Adams' face as he strolled toward the classroom. "Renesmee. Young fellow," he said with a nod. "Why are you here so early?" His thoughts was far away, musing about coffee and brioche, his plans for the class today and the new rumble he heard in the engine of his car.
"Mr. Adams, I wanted to talk to you for a minute," Renesmee said. Her mind revealed nothing. She turned to me. "Thanks, Edward. I'll see you later." Don't worry.
"Okay," I said, feeling anything but okay. I turned and pretended to leave, walking toward the corner of the building.
"Why don't we go inside, Renesmee?" His thoughts were dark and lecherous. He fancied himself a ladies man, irresistible to this young girl. I'll have to let her down slowly. No sense in scaring her off. Maybe she wants it? Maybe she'd like to see what a real man is like.
The door fell closed and locked with a slashing smick. I returned to the door immediately, tense and ready to rip it off the hinges if he laid one finger on my darling girl. I felt the growl growing in my chest as I watched the scene from his mind.
He walked to the front of the class, his back to Renesmee. "So, what can I do for you, Renesmee?" He got to his desk, and, laying his briefcase down, turned to her. Her gaze was burning with intensity, her expression ferocious.
"I know what you did," she said quietly. His mind was unable to grasp the ambiguity of this beauty sylph of a girl with the savage look in her eyes. She advanced on him slowly, with stealth, as his heart rate beat out a wild tattoo. "You think you've gotten away with it, don't you?"
It wasn't a question, and his mind recognized the threat. "Now, just hold on there, little missy," he said, backing up. She's just a girl, nothing to…
His mind went blank as suddenly, Renesmee stood directly before him. How… He watched in terror as her hand reached forward to rest against his cheek.
Abruptly, my vision of the scene inside broke into stereo, receiving both the man's wild perceptions and the girl's directed thoughts.
Anthony sat on the sofa, disheveled, dirty, and crying. "H-h-he tried to t-t-touch m-m-me. I didn't know what to d-do.I was afraid and I –" He took a deep, shuddering breath, trying to find his strength. "I p-p-peed my pants. I didn't d-d-do anything t-to him, I s-swear." His words were cut off by his keening sobs.
Renesmee's thoughts were acutely sharp and painful, contorting in the agony of Anthony's humiliation and pain. Mr. Adams' breath caught in his throat, his hand rising instinctively, pressing against his collarbone as he tried to breathe. Renesmee continued the vision, relentlessly.
Bella wrapped her arm around him, rocking him back and forth. "Shh, shh… It's all right now. It's all right." Her eyes were round and sorrowful, her heart breaking for the small boy. She looked to Renesmee, beseeching her to comfort Anthony. Renesmee rose and walked hunched over to where Anthony sat with Bella..
"Anthony," Renesmee whispered, "Your parents are on their way, and soon you can go home. You don't have to go back to orchestra. We'll talk to the principal."
"No!" Anthony shot to his feet, his hands gripping the sides of his face. "He'll hurt me! No! Don't!" He eyes caromed from side to side, looking for the nearest escape. "I gotta go! I gotta get away from here! He's gonna find me!"
Once again, the man's face twisted in pain and terror. Anthony's tears bled on the man's face as he saw himself as the monster of this boy's nightmares. The images were raw and agonizing, caustic in their lack of exaggeration.
Renesmee's hand fell away from his cheek, and the big man fell face forward, coughing and sputtering across the desk.
"See, I know what you did," she said calmly.
She waited as Mr. Adams regained some control of himself. He lifted his huge frame from the desk, his face violet-red in stress, and wiped his hand across his mouth.
"I won't tell," she said, "But you'll never touch Anthony, or any child, again." Immediately, she was very close to his face. "Because if you do, it will be the last thing you ever do."
She turned her back to him dismissively and slowly walked to the door. I felt the man's anger turn to rage, his chest puffing out with indignation as he strode forward, reaching for Renesmee neck. I gasped.
Don't worry, Dad. Her thought was reserved, prepared, measured. The big man's hand fell to her shoulder. She calmly reached up and grabbed his index finger as it curled around her throat. She pulled up, and the man was seized with indescribably intense pain, his bladder releasing in reflex. Renesmee held the finger aloft, pinching as she pirouetted, pulverizing the bones in her grip.
"Let's not make this lesson any more painful than it already is," she said, the sneer in her voice chilling the man's rage. "Don't push me," she said with a toss of his hand.
Mr. Adams was terrified beyond coherent speech, suffering the searing pain in his hand. He wasted no time, shuffling his briefcase under his arm, grabbing his coat and running to the other door. I gotta go, go, go, go! Overmastering fear of violence replaced rational thought, urging egress and escape. The loud bang of the door as he fled broke our connection and brought me face to face with Renesmee.
"Dad," she said, slipping her arms around my neck and resting her head on my shoulder. "I didn't want to hurt him."
I wrapped my arms around my child and held her close. "I know, Renesmee. I'm so proud of you," I said, stroking her hair to soothe her. "It's how we learn – and a painful lesson is never forgotten."
Just for those parents out there who might be grinding their teeth a bit at Mr. Adams' behavior: This is based on actual events. The teacher was this brazen (and more violent) in front of many other students, but was not reported or disciplined. Sometimes kids don't know what to do if it hasn't happened to them personally. (After all, they are just kids.) I wanted to be afford "Anthony" a champion who could confront the teacher without fear of reprisal, which was the impetus for the story.
I hope you enjoyed the story and will consider voting for it at twilightnovelnovice dot com after November 8, 2010. There will be lots of stories on this theme that you may enjoy - please check them out! ~ Mrs. C