A War in My Mind
A/N: This has been recently beta-read by Project Team Beta. You may not find many new details, but I did. Enjoy.
To anyone on the outside looking in, I was perfect.
I was impeccable.
I was amazing, and unique, and above all, spoiled rotten.
I had a perfect life, perfect parents, and a perfect man that loved me and admired me with every single beat of his werewolf heart. They thought they knew me, though, but they didn't.
And part of that was why I'd left.
I'm getting ahead of myself.
It all started on my fifteenth birthday. In actuality, it was my fifth, but Happy Fifteenth Birthday, Renesmee was the phrase swirled onto a chocolate cake that only one person would eat.
My day, like my life back then, had really been perfect. Absolutely flawless. Like every day, I had been showered with love. That's what happens when you're a vampire hybrid child. That's what happens when you're a Cullen. Everybody loves you, no matter what. At the time, what my father had told me was right; family will always be there; friends won't.
He didn't understand what it was like to be friendless in a time of need, though.
I never had many friends. Of course I didn't. My mother had always told me that I wouldn't need friends if I had family. She was just like my father in that way, nonetheless; she didn't get it.
She wasn't a freaky hybrid.
She wasn't being home-schooled.
She wasn't still being treated like a little girl.
She had found her people.
She'd had the chance to find her people, whereas, I did not.
I did have a happy fifteenth birthday, though. It was friendless, but happy.
That night, however, wasn't as happy.
I didn't care for my iPod, or my cell phone, or the many books I'd received for my birthday. I only truly wanted one thing, and God forbid that I would have it, even skating around imprinting.
I wanted Jacob. I wanted him badly.
I'd approached him in the woods that night, tried to get him to think about something. Something like sex.
No, not something like sex. Sex was exactly what I'd wanted. I always got what I wanted. That was how the game was played.
But Jacob had said no.
Straight and simple.
And that was the first time I'd been told no by Jacob.
After being denied a normal teenage life, time and time again (yet being spoiled nevertheless) by my parents, even Jacob, the man who I loved, said no. He finally did.
And that was never forgotten by me. It couldn't be.
For the rest of that year, I took the time to focus on what my parents and Jacob thought I'd wanted, and what I'd actually wanted.
My father had wanted me to play the piano, like he did; I'd wanted to play the electric bass because electric instruments were what normal teenagers liked.
My mother had wanted me to read more, like she did; I'd wanted to paint because getting messy instead of staying clean was what normal teenagers liked.
Jacob had wanted me to still be a little girl; I wanted to grow up and have a taste of real life because going off and discovering the world were what normal teenagers liked.
It was then I realized that I didn't want anything the house had to offer me.
I left that next August. I was just about to turn sixteen. My family had been out on a big hunting trip. Jacob had been with the pack, patrolling. I'd told everyone I would be fine. I was determined to be free.
And I would be, eventually.
With so much family that adored me, you'd think I would know how to drive, or at least been taught recently. But I didn't know how to drive, and I wasn't going to risk anyone finding me that easily because of a car, so I walked. I hadn't expected it to make it anywhere far.
I took a chance to stop and think for a little while, and as I stood on that street corner in downtown Forks, I realized a couple of things.
I did not have a special place in the real world rather than the fantasy land that was my home. I wasn't important out here. I wasn't even half the deal that my family made about me. I was a vampire hybrid, but nobody out here could see that. There's no sympathy on the streets. But there was also nobody to decide my life for me. Nobody could decide what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be. That was my job, finally.
I also belonged to nobody. Jacob belonged to me, but did I belong to him? Never. I'd been a fool as a little girl. But at the same time, I belonged to everybody. Going into the cars of older men now made me feel like I had some sort of place. I was the other woman. The homewrecker that could mess things up in just one bad move. It wasn't ideal, but it was something. I even had some kind of power, something I'd lost over the years, since the haughty vampires had thought they knew me.
But you know why I belonged to older men? Why I was fine with being the other woman?
I had daddy issues.
For a while, I couldn't understand why. My father hadn't been dead or even absent. He and I used to live right in the same house. He had always been there, but he was never there. He never knew what I wanted.
My mother never did understand me, but I had expected my father to be there. Didn't every little girl think they could count on their father to always be there? To always support her and make her feel special? To lift her up to the highest branch and pick just the right apple because it was just the one for her? My father was never there.
I had even expected Jacob to understand a while ago. He'd been my confidant, my utter heart and soul. I'd had dreams of being with him forever, because we had that long to be together. If he never stopped phasing, we would always be together.
Those dreams faded away, though, just like everything else.
Every night as I was on my own, the little people in my head came up with funny scenarios that could never happen. Oh, how much I would love to call up the people I used to know and tell them, "Hey, it's Renesmee. You remember me, right? I go by Nessie? Well, I'm living a different life now. I'm not a prostitute, I promise, but I'm not being exactly good. I'm asserting my independence."
And then the people I used to know would judge me, or sometimes find me and take me in. Wrap me up in a blanket, tell me they love me, smooth out my hair, drop me off at home in the morning…
But you can't be comforted by old friends when you never had any friends to begin with.
I sought out safety in other people, though. I made new friends. Not just men. These people weren't like my family, self-absorbed and conceited (but wasn't I just like my family?); they were good people. And my father had turned out to be dead wrong; friends can stick with you longer than family. Especially when your family is actually a group of narcissistic snobs.
With my new friends, though, I was significant, and most importantly, I was beautiful. I knew I was beautiful; it was just that nobody had told me. Jacob had never looked at me in that way. I'd been a cute, innocent, little girl to Jake. But with these other people, my new friends—especially the men—they gave me what I truly wanted, and they never judged me for it. Never.
I now felt beautiful. I now had my people. I could now shine. I was now in touch with my darkest fantasies, and I could live them, too.
In a way, I was kind of like my mother. She'd met a guy who wasn't good for her, he was older (just not visually), and she felt beautiful. She had also found her people. She had found a place where she could truly shine. She had been lucky. Still was. She had her happily ever after and more.
So, how come I had to run away to find my people, learn how to shine, and become in touch with myself? It didn't make sense.
In a way, I was better than my mother. I hadn't led any men on. I hadn't caused hell for my family.
Hadn't I caused hell for my family?
I had been out on my own for a year when I'd decided that I should probably go back home for good. I contemplated this decision for a while. The little people in my head—the same little people who came up with little, silly scenarios—kept reminding me of a few things, though.
They never even tried to look for you, Renesmee.
They let you go, Renesmee.
They let you fall, Renesmee.
Nobody wants you, Renesmee, and nobody needs you.
Maybe I would just check in, then. No staying for good.
I returned to Forks on my seventeenth birthday. Imagine that: giving a present on your own birthday instead of receiving one. I was a lost, selfish, and greedy person (just like my mother), but I wasn't a bad one. I sometimes knew how to not mess things up.
I found my parents' cottage first, and I knew that things had not been okay in my absence.
The tiny house was burned. Blackened completely. Planks of wood were still hanging from it, and the trees surrounding it were charred as well.
And not a soul in the entire forest—not even the soul of a vampire —was stirring.
I made my way to the main house. A forest fire could have taken the cottage down, no biggie. Everyone had to be inside, my father playing the piano, Jasper and Emmett watching television, Alice organizing her shoes… Everything had to be normal.
When I approached the house, it was just like the cottage.
Singed to a skeleton of what the house had used to be.
All because of me.
I wanted to still believe that things were fine with everyone, so I hurried to the place where the front door had been. I didn't care if slabs of wood would fall on me. I had to see something… just a sign that they were here, or if they had only recently left. Couldn't I find them if I really tried? I was the new and improved Renesmee Cullen, after all. More independent and free. I made my way to where the staircase had been and found the dilapidated coat closet.
I looked inside, and there was Jacob.
Jacob's naked body, hanging, with a rope tied around his neck. He looked pale and grotesque. Absolutely dismaying.
I stumbled backward and stepped on a board of wood. I looked down at it, and carved into it was a sentence. Five words, seven syllables.
LET ME BE FREE, RENESMEE.
The truth was blatantly obvious.
Everything was my fault.
I had been free.
I had also driven my family away and killed the man who loved me more than himself. More than the world.
More than life itself.
I really was just like my mother. My aunts and uncles really hadn't been exaggerating when they'd told me about how she was as a human.
I heard quiet footsteps coming from behind me. I turned around, and there she was. My mother, Bella Cullen, was standing right there. Looking at her made me sick, even as this was my entire fault.
What made me even sicker was how I was half of her, though. I was becoming more like her every single day. Hell, I was already her.
She looked lifeless. As lifeless as an undead being could even be. It was like looking into a mirror.
And I wanted to kill her.
I wanted to kill her for letting all of this happen. As inconsiderate and selfish as she was, she was supposed to hold the family together. I had expected something bad, but this bad? Not even.
And this wasn't even all her fault; I wanted to kill both of my parents. I'd used to have faith in my father. I'd used to trust him completely. My mother was beyond irresponsible, but my father was definitely not supposed to let this happen. From what it looked like, however, judging from my mother's bare fingers, he didn't seem to be in the picture anymore. Even as I was furious with him, I couldn't blame him for leaving her.
I still wanted to kill my entire family, though. Carlisle, Esmé, Alice, Jasper, Emmett, Rosalie… all of them.
I would much rather have them gone for good, in their extra special place in hell for vain monsters like themselves.
I would much rather take their lives and my own to have Jacob back. He hadn't deserved this.
But imprinting changes people.
And the only thing that can break an imprint is death.
It was also then that I'd realized that maybe—just maybe—my mother had still wanted Jacob for herself, back when he was alive. She'd always been selfish like that. I'd grown up to be just like her, after all. How could I have been so blind? Why else would she be here with me at this very moment?
And what, exactly, made her think it was right for her to say anything to me?
My mother stood next to me and looked up at Jacob, her dead best friend.
Her voice was monotone. Bleak as can be.
"He can be free now, Renesmee. Let him."