Dedication: For Jasper1863Hale. Thanks for the grand idea!
Warning: This story contains corporal punishment. If that is upsetting to you, please look away.
Disclaimer: The Twilight story and characters belong to Stephenie Meyer (i.e., not me).
"I bet nobody invites this queen to sleepovers because he would try to kiss the other boys while they slept."
I might do worse than that, I thought snidely. Other than that stray remark, I tried to ignore the imbecile on the opposite bench as I changed into my gym uniform.
It was the year after Jack Kennedy was assassinated. I had been in the tenth grade here when that happened during our third hour class. My history teacher, Mr. Cooper, had thrown his chalk across the room when the announcement was made that the president had been shot. I idly wondered when we would quit designating time based on that atrocious event.
Now I had moved up a grade...and the country had a new president and a new war. But that was all. I was the same as ever. Rosalie still drove me and Emmett and Alice to school. I returned home to hunt, play piano, read books, or drive my performance sports car at reckless speeds up windy rural highways.
Nothing much had changed in the mountains of North Carolina either.
Our gym suits were comprised of mustard yellow tee shirts and tiny red shorts. Short enough to make any of us look campy—even that big ugly caveman-boy with the beard, who had failed the eleventh grade four times, and walked around the locker room in only a towel. We were the Bryson High Cherokees, although none of the students here were Native American—Cherokee or otherwise. And yet there were tomahawks and feathers painted by the school's name on the gymnasium wall. I figured it was supposed to sound fierce and intimidating to the other local varsity football teams, such as the Cullowhee Cougars. Besides Neanderthal man over by the water fountains, it was white skin and knobby knees everywhere you looked.
God, it was torture in here. The smell of sweat swelled with the heat of the boys' blood, which was heightened by the steam from the showers, and I was suddenly swallowing venom. I pulled my shirt over my head, taking a moment to breathe in its scent of laundry soap and my home.
Our shirts came printed with the owners' initials in oversized red letters on the chest, and so mine read E.M.C. This discriminatory reprobate eyeing me while I changed my clothes was Anthony Scott Sinclair. Although I despised the fate that had us sharing the same name (Anthony was my middle name), what made it better was that his shirt sported a big A.S.S. on it.
No wonder he was jerk.
On the other hand, I was grouchy because Alice and I had gotten into it that morning. In her consistently annoying way, she insisted that I was headed for the principal's office today. Of course, I could see the vague future right there in her conscious, but I knew she was making it up. Edward Cullen getting sent to the principal's office? In trouble? Ridiculous! I was each and every teacher's pet. Still, she said I ought to take the day off, and I would have been happy to had Emmett not been so interested in why Edward goody-two-shoes was being sent to the office. I assured him that nothing would come of Alice's vision. Besides, I had made it this far in the day. Whatever came my way, I was certain I could handle it.
"Look at his white socks! What a dork!"
That would be ASS again. It seemed he wanted me to wear black socks like all the other boys in my class. Well, when you've got legs as white as mine, and you have to wear little red shorts for gym, black socks are a dreadful idea. Alice assured me that this fad for young men would pass—despite that, even as the males of this generation aged, they would keep the no-white-sock rule as fashion eventually eliminated this faux pas. Oh, well. I would have to remain a bore for a few decades longer.*
"And those sideburns! Who does he think he is? Paul McCartney? He'd have to use cement to get rid of those stupid cowlicks. Like he could ever be as cool as a Beatle."
When we exited the changing rooms for class to begin, the gym teacher, Coach Allen, ordered us to run laps around the court. Then he rolled out a bin full of basketballs and divided us into two teams. My team wore a black jersey over our yellow shirts. Because of my height, I was picked for the position of center. We would rotate between plays.
I ran up and down the court, but managed for the most part to stay out of the action. If the ball was passed my way, I passed it to another player when it was possible. I took shots twice, purposefully missing once. When it was my turn to play forward, I found myself guarding the other team's forward—none other than Anthony, his red ASS shining brightly under the fluorescent lighting.
"This fairy thinks he can compete with me?" The boy was still aiming contemptuous insults at me mentally as he dribbled the ball. He challenged me with a self-satisfied smile.
"Your sister's got quicker reflexes than you, Cullen," he said aloud. He was fantasizing about Rosalie being in his bedroom.
I lowered my chin and glowered. "At least my sister isn't spreading her legs for half the football team behind the bleachers," I growled softly.
He shook his head. Of course he didn't know the truth about his sister, who was a year older and on the cheer-leading squad.
"Upset you're not getting any?" he asked.
"How do you know I'm not?" I returned. "I know my way around the bleachers."
A shrill whistle sounded. "Hey!" yelled Coach Allen. "Cullen and Sinclair! Break it up, ladies! The boys want to play."
I raised an eyebrow at Anthony.
"Ah, he's probably sore 'cause he has a small pecker."
That was it.
I snapped. This boy needed to learn a lesson about prejudices and I was going to teach it to him.
I meant to snatch the ball from his hand, but in my fury I used too much force. I heard the bones of his hand crack in unison before he felt anything. A second later, his brain registered the pain of the breaks and he began to scream—holding his wrist and howling at the ceiling.
He sucked in deep breath, and before I could discern his intention, he slammed his other fist into my cheekbone, effectively shattering the bones in his left hand.
I hastily considered my options. Perhaps I could snap his neck, which would cut off the screaming, and run him out of here. Then what? Would I hide the body? Would I return before anybody noticed my absence and act like he had disappeared? Would I stay gone and move away until the missing person/homicide case turned cold. I really wasn't supposed to be murdering people...or breaking their bones.
Damn it! Carlisle was going to kill me. It was no use—I would have to face the music on this one. I had assaulted ASS with what would seem like little provocation...and my father was going to go ballistic on my ass. My ass was grass, as they would say.
The class surrounded us. The coach blew his whistle in short blasts and made his way to ASS and me.
"He—he—he—my hands," Anthony stuttered.
"Don't try to talk. Take deep breaths," I instructed him.
"What the hell happened, Cullen?" Coach Allen asked, his cigar breath wrinkling my nose.
"Sir, I was only trying to steal the ball," I said calmly.
"You two were having a fight—I saw you glaring daggers at him. McCarter! Go get the nurse."
"I'll go—" I started to say.
"You're not going anywhere," he said gruffly. Then he grabbed me roughly by the shirtsleeve and pointed me at the locker room. "There. Now! You can wait for me."
I did as he asked. They took ASS to the bleachers and made him hold his hands still on his lap, since they were flapping grotesquely at awkward angles. His injury was making me feel even more hostile toward him. For the love of God, will he shut up! I thought. He was blubbering nonsense, and then without warning he vomited all over the coach's sweater vest.
Where is Alice? I wondered. This was no doubt the event that wound me in the principal's office. Let me see. She would be in biology class... I reached out and found my sister's familiar thought patterns. Her mind was full of panic, which made me overwrought. My body, in defense to stress, became so still, I had to remind myself to blink when the occasional student walked past.
While I was by my locker, I decided to distract myself by changing out my absurd gym uniform and back into my corduroys and collared shirt.
The nurse arrived in the gym, a steely old dame with a chronic cough, and she declared the hands to be broken and said ASS would need to go to the hospital. How ironic it was that my father was working at the hospital today. He might even be the doctor treating ASS, I suspected. The right hand was starting to swell, and Doris the cigarette-smoking nurse made him hold it over his head.
"Cullen," Coach Allen called, after he had shed his defiled outer layer. "Let's go." We were going—you guessed it—to the principal's office. I got to listen to a lecture along the way.
"I don't understand where this violence came from. You hardly ever talk to the other students, much less argue."
"He was insulting me. And I didn't mean to hurt him." It was no use trying to defend myself, because he wasn't listening. What was I supposed to say anyway? I tried to steal the ball, breaking the right hand, and then he threw a punch at me with other, which then broke the left hand as well. The story would sound like bad fiction.
"I reckon your parents will be contacted by the Sinclairs and expected to cover their medical bills. Your father's a doctor, right? That's a good thing. That boy's hands are mangled. I've never seen such an injury in my fifteen years of coaching."
"I'm sorry, sir." I tried to subtly cover my mouth and nose. He reeked of ASS and vomit.
"Well, you can tell it to Mr. Kirkpatrick, son. And if you pray, I would start doing some praying right now."
As a matter of fact, I did start praying. Praying that Carlisle would come fix this mess. Alice's head was a jumble of various scenarios. I wanted to run—that was my instinct. However, in addition to injuring humans, I was not supposed evade consequences. But what if those consequences could expose our family's secret? All right, I decided. If I could get alone for a second, I would escape. I was smart; I could figure this one out. Just bide your time, Cullen.
When we got to the office, the coach sat me in the notorious line-up of chairs against the wall. The school secretary, Ms. Gallant, started fussing over me. "Are you all right, Edward?" she asked, in her rhapsodic southern accent. When she leaned by my head, the ends of her auburn ponytail brushed my face and I got an eye-full of cleavage peeking out from her green cardigan sweater.
"Mm. How is it that he smells so good after gym class?"
I really liked Ms. Gallant. She was a decent and caring young woman.
Coach Allen grumbled. "It's not Cullen who's hurt. It's Tony Sinclair. Cullen somehow broke the boy's hands. Where's Dick?"
"Oh my! Uh, he's in his office. You can go in." Ms. Gallant, whose first name was Judy, looked at me with suspicion. I put on my best puppy-dog expression. "Edward, do you want me to call your mother?" she asked.
Oh, damn. My mother was in Denali. "Could you call my father at work, please? My mother's not home."
"Of course, Edward." She dialed and spoke to an assistant who said Dr. Cullen was in trauma at the moment, but they would give him the message. Judy told me all of this after she hung up, and I listened as if I didn't already know. "I'll keep trying," she promised.
Finally the coach exited the principal's office—throwing me black glare before going back to his class—and Judy ran to the door, her plaid skirt flouncing over taut calves and kitten heels. She spoke to Mr. Kirkpatrick, and I saw the man in her mind. "Sir, I tried to call Edward's parents, but his mother's not home and I left a message at Dr. Cullen's work."
Ah-ha, so Judy was a naughty girl. I caught a glimpse of a fantasy she had involving the respected principal and his overlarge wooden desk.
I can get a big wooden desk, too, I considered impulsively before reprimanding my wayward train of thought. Ms. Gallant liked older men, not eleventh-grade boys. Although I was technically older than Mr. Kirkpatrick, she wasn't my type anyway. Get your mind out of the gutter, Cullen. You're in big trouble. Be contrite.
Ms. Gallant came and escorted me the twenty feet to Mr. Kirkpatrick's door. "Go on in, Edward. I'll give your daddy another call." She absent-mindedly patted my behind.
I turned and gave her a hard look and was about to follow up with a sharp word about how inappropriate it was to touch students that way...but alas, I had frightened her. Judy's heartbeat quickened and I softened my expression and tried to smile. "Thank you," I murmured. I didn't need any others joining the offensive team.
The principal hadn't noticed our exchange. He put out his cigarette in the ashtray on his desk and crooked his fingers at me. Then he nodded to the chair on the right. I sat.
"Judy. Send a note to the teacher of Mr. Cullen's next class, please."
"Of course, Mr. Kirkpatrick." She left, imagining me bending over for "swats," which was what they called getting whacked by the school paddle. Although the paddle didn't worry me, the humbling posture did not make a pretty picture.
"Edward Cullen," the principal said gruffly, his gray mutton chops wriggling. "I've not seen you in here before." He wasn't quite sure how to react to me. Perfect behavior. Perfect GPA. Perfectly messed up hair. How does a perfect kid wind up in the principal's office on assault charges?
"No, sir." I was trying on a new stance—it was called meekness.
"What do you have to say for yourself, son?"
I knew for a fact that this man was a shouter. He loved nothing more than to ream a kid out and scare the life out of him...or her, whichever be the case. Putting the fear of God into 'em, he called it in his head. It was his job, and he took his job very seriously. I prepared myself to do my best sucking up.
"I really didn't mean to hurt him. He—kind of—sort of—hurt...himself."
"Uh-huh. Is that all you want to say? It might be a good idea to explain what happened then." His raised his voice sternly.
What would I say? How do you explain an accidental fracture when it was not one bone, but many? Not one hand but two?
"I'm sorry, sir," I said with a lame shrug. "I was only trying to steal the basketball. I guess I lost my temper and ASS's—ah, I mean, Anthony's hand was in the way."
He cleared his throat, not believing me. "Well, you're looking at a suspension. It would be expulsion, except that this is your first offense."
"Honestly I don't know why I'm being kind to him. The boy's lying through his teeth."
"Suspension? I don't think that's necessary. I'm very sorry about what happened, sir. It was unintentional."
"You're lucky I don't call the sheriff," he shouted, his jowls jiggling. "In fact, I can't promise that Mr. Sinclair's parents won't do just that."
I sighed. "I understand you are required to follow protocol."
"Exactly. So until we can reach your parents, I'll have to hold you here. I'm sorry to say that disciplinary procedure demands you submit to"—he consulted the manual on his desk—"ten licks of the paddle. We might as well take care of those now."
I could see the instrument displayed on the shelf behind Mr. Kirkpatrick's head. It looked big enough to row a boat. I wanted to roll my eyes. The board was signed by the myriad students who had taken its brand of medicine.
Just then, the bell rang, ending class.
"I insist that my father be present before you carry through with your policy." I knew Carlisle would get me out of here.
"You are not in position to insist anything, Mr. Cullen." "Spoiled rich kid," he thought with contempt. "Thinks he can do whatever he wants and expects Daddy to rescue him..."
I smiled with fake friendliness despite his hatred. (Wouldn't Carlisle be proud?) I could hear Alice outside trying to talk to Ms. Gallant. "I need to speak with Edward! Now!" That was when I saw what was going to happen. I had to delay the man, or he was going to get hurt. That would make two victims to add to my tally.
He slid his chair back, stood up, and turned to retrieve the implement.
"Look, Mr. Kirkpatrick. Sir, I don't want anyone to get hurt here..."
He scoffed. Okay, so that probably wasn't the best persuasive argument.
"Imagine how much pain Mr. Sinclair is experiencing in the emergency room," was his reply.
"He hit me, you know!" I argued.
"Was that before or after you broke his hands?" The ire had returned, and a blood vessel stood out in his neck.
"After. Well, after the first hand was broken anyway."
"I would like nothing more than to take that boy over my knee and let my hand teach his smart mouth a lesson. Damned regulations."
No, you wouldn't, Mr. Kirkpatrick. You really...just...wouldn't want to do that.
"Stand up, Mr. Cullen. Turn around. Bend over and grab your ankles." He was intent on carrying out the sentence before Carlisle could show up and save me.
Run away, my instinct was telling me. What was the old saying? Let your heart lead and your feet will follow...? My heart and my feet were in competition about which could persuade me to move first. Problem was, Mr. Kirkpatrick was now between me and the door. He would get hurt anyway. The window on the other side opened to a courtyard, from which there was no escape. Of course, I could leap over buildings in a single bound, but that wouldn't do for keeping the integrity of our secret identity.
"No, Edward! Just hold on!" Alice's head was telling me that Carlisle was on his way...but he wouldn't come soon enough. I needed to stall.
"Uh...sir? How many strokes are we talking about here again?"
"Ten. If you ask me, it ought to be more. It's your clean record you've got to thank for that."
I resentfully listened to his inner monologue. "I sure hope his daddy finishes the job at home tonight, because he is really getting off with a slap on the wrist."
"Sir, my father prefers to do the whipping at home."
"I'm not going to ask you again, Mr. Cullen. Stand up and bend over!"
Fine. This SOB was starting to tick me off. I'd let him get hurt, since he was so hell-bent to humiliate me. I stood up and smoothed my shirttails. I stepped to the side, where Mr. Kirkpatrick pointed, and positioned my feet, about twelve inches apart. Then I folded myself in half, grabbed my ankles, and watched from between my legs as the principal came behind me.
Then I heard my father's worried mind as he neared the school. I stood up again rethinking my plan. "Um, Mr. Kirkpatrick, I feel dizzy. I don't think I'll be able to remain upright for all ten."
I was making him angry. I looked him in his squinty gray eyes for any trace of mercy and, finding none, turned back around and bent over.
I felt the paddle make light contact with my hindquarters as Mr. Kirkpatrick took aim. It arced back and he swung with full force.
The board hit my backside with a throbbing smack and broke into two splintered pieces. I jerked myself upright at the impact and turned around to face my attacker. Then I sank into a predatory crouch and snarled. The principal still held the handle end of the broken paddle. His mouth was open, his eyes bulged, and his face red. He dropped what was left of the shattered wood and grabbed his forearm.
"I'm Carlisle Cullen," I heard my father say quickly to Ms. Gallant in the outside office. At the sound of his voice, I shook myself out of my vampire reaction.
"Oh, yes, Dr. Cullen. Your son is in with Mr. Kirkpatrick—"
Mr. Kirkpatrick was on his knees in a silent scream. I ran to the door and opened it. "Carlisle!"
He took one look at my face and ran in to help the man on the floor.
"Oh, Mr. Kirkpatrick!" Ms. Gallant cried, coming also to the door.
"I think he's fractured the ulna," Carlisle muttered. "But we'll need an X-ray to confirm. Alice! Go get my bag from the car. I can give him a pain killer and try to splint the arm."
"Edward," was his terse greeting. He was trying to be supportive of me—to let me know that he was here and would handle things—but he was also annoyed.
"Him!" the injured man grunted. "Get him out of here."
"Edward," Judy said, "I think you'd better go sit outside."
I sat again in the chairs for bad boys and girls and shut my mouth while my father tended to the principal.
"I don't understand what the hell happened," Mr. Kirkpatrick huffed while Carlisle held his arm still, waiting for Alice. "I think—I think he's possessed by a demon!"
Carlisle made up an explanation. "It looks like the paddle was too long. Perhaps from now on you ought to use two hands...or get a shorter paddle. I'm afraid this one is rubbish."
"Your son. He's suspended. Indefinitely."
"I understand. You won't have to worry about Edward. I'll make sure he gets what's coming to him," Carlisle promised.
He meant it, too. That's when I really started to lose my cool. Alice returned and sat by me, silently commiserating and holding my hand while Carlisle worked.
To further my humiliation, I rode in the backseat of my father's car to the hospital with Mr. Kirkpatrick in the front passenger seat. Fortunately, once the principal had an analgesic in him, he was quite mellow. There was no more yelling anyway—only nasty backward glances.
With the wounded—and thoroughly stoned—Mr. Kirkpatrick delivered to the care of the E.R. docs, I was put to wait in my father's office, while he sought out the Sinclairs and wrote them a nice fat cheque for their trouble. In return, they agreed not to press charges.
Carlisle met me back in his office, closed the door, and crossed his arms at me.
"Are you hungry, Edward? You don't look hungry," he said.
"No," I answered quietly. "I just lost my temper. The boy was saying rude things about me."
"Well, no, but—"
"And I suppose you didn't mean to hurt him."
"I didn't. As much as we would hope, when I'm angry, my self-control isn't perfect." My voice had an edge to it, even though I didn't want to sound bitter.
"All right. Let's go home," he said sadly. "I'm finished here."
We rode in silence for a while.
"Will we need to relocate?" I asked.
"I think so. We'll talk about it together—as a family." He shook his head. "I don't expect you to be perfect, son. But that was an accident—two accidents actually—which could have been avoided had you learnt to keep your head when angered. We go over and over this same thing all the bloody time—"
"Oh, come on! Rosalie killed people!"
"People who had nearly killed her."
"Right. It was justified. And she had your permission," I muttered, sarcastic.
"Edward. Don't make me hit you in the car."
That was all he would say to me—out loud or in his thoughts—until we arrived at the house. I knew it was bad, because he'd never punished spur-of-the-moment like that. And although he didn't follow through with that threat (nor did I push him on it), the fact that he thought about striking me so hastily unnerved me.
Before he got out of the car once we were parked, he spoke to me again. "Just you wait until your mother gets home. You are in so much trouble, young man." He was not trying to be funny.
Jasper was home. "What did you do, Edward?"
I told him the whole story (although I kept Anthony's mental insults a secret). It felt good to unload. Jasper was a strange and yet sympathetic spirit...and he was non-judgemental, which was precisely the sort of friend I needed at that moment.
When Esme came home the next day—and after she had scolded me into the wee hours of the night—we met for a family meeting. The decision was made to move north a ways and keep an ear out on the rumor mill around here. I would be getting a whipping for losing my temper around humans.
"Can I watch?" Emmett asked, enjoying my mortification.
Alice tried to argue in my defense that the injuries I had caused were unintentional and not nearly as damaging as some of the futures I had caused her to envision.
"That's not fair," Rosalie had complained. "If I hit Edward, Carlisle hits me. It shouldn't be any different in this situation. And we have to move because of his tantrum."
Then Carlisle argued that Alice had tried to tell me to stay home that morning, and I had been stubborn and not listened.
Within the week, we moved to Southern Virginia—the Great Dismal Swamp area, which was quite foggy and would lend itself nicely to increased school attendance for juvenile vampires. We worked on the new house, moved our belongings, and changed our identifications.
All the while I knew my punishment was coming...but I didn't know when. I heard it being anticipated in Carlisle's mind and Alice's visions, but the former wanted to wait until we were settled in our new habitat first.
Then, one day, I knew it was time. I knew the morning Carlisle decided that today was the day, but he didn't actually approach me until that evening. I was sitting on the rug in my new room working on a puzzle. He asked me to follow him to his and Esme's bedroom. His mood was dismal, like our new swampy environment, as he carried the folded strap by his side. He laid a pillow on the center edge of the bed. I was asked to strip and lay with the pillow under my loins.
When I was positioned properly, he put a firm hand on the back of my head and leaned down to my ear. "This is for your own good, son," he whispered. "Don't despise my discipline." Then silently, he added, "I love you, Edward."
I had accidentally broken human bones, but Carlisle's trust in me was shattered. That was what hurt him. I would hurt a lot more in a moment.
I squeezed my eyes shut, but through his "mind's eye" I saw my bare backside and the strap that was crashing across it.
"Ah!" I yelled with the first lash, paradoxically thankful that I could bury my face into the bed covers.
I suffered those ten licks I was assigned by Mr. Kirkpatrick, plus ten more, that night in my parents' bedroom. But with each slap of the leather, Carlisle and I experienced a resuscitation of sorts. With the fulfillment of this thrashing, the whole abominable event would be over at last. Forgiven, but not forgotten. Still, it was time to move on.
He left me alone to re-dress and pull myself together.
And time moved on like it always had. Civil rights, Vietnam, space exploration, flower power, birth control, the Beatles and the Stones...and those all too frequent trips to the time-honored woodshed.
It wasn't by any means the last time I needed a whipping, but it was certainly one that stood out in my memory. I'd pretty much learned my lesson about allowing myself to become too irate and/or too rough around humans. I fought with my brothers and sisters consistently but managed to keep a safe distance from people. If a human got too interested in me or mentally ill-mannered, I simply flashed my teeth in a menacing way and that would be the end of that. Carlisle and Esme trusted me again, and that felt good.
It was a lonely existence...but a fortunate one. I knew that much. I guessed some things needed to be broken before they could be mended—including me.
*My father and all my friends' fathers, who were born in the early fifties, will not—to this day—wear white socks. To wear white socks meant that you were the nerdiest of nerds. And so they sport their black socks, sandals, and shorts to mow the grass with their pasty white legs showing. Oh, and don't forget the mustaches and pipes...and the hats (you know, so they don't get sunburned on their bald spots). Not my dad, though. My dad is cool when he pimps his black socks and Converse oxfords. He's got all his hair still, too, and a goatee. I was talking about all the other "non-dorky" hippie dads who are in their sixties. Groovy, man! You dudes rock your black socks.