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Breathe for Mercy

Summary:
No one knows her real name. But everyone calls her Mercy. And she's running from a world of pain and fear, desperately searching for a place to hide from the monsters that haunt her footsteps. But she's found again-this time by Dr. Carlisle Cullen, who takes her under his wing even though he's vampire and she's human, and takes her home to live with the rest of his family, unaware of the wicked web she's caught in. But they don't know who she is, what she's done, what she's capable of. And the voices just won't go away. This is my story. My nightmare. And now I'm putting you through it. *Rated for some graphic violence* What the heck, why is no one reviewing? Is my story that bad?


Notes:
Her real name is unknown. But everyone calls her Mercy. She's running from a world where there is nothing but pain but she is looking for a new life, a new way. That's when she runs into the Cullen family and they bring her in and take her under their wing, even though she is human. But they don't really know who she is, what she's done. And the voices just won't go away. This is my story. My nightmare.And now I'm putting you through it.


7. The Story Unfolds

Rating 5/5   Word Count 6601   Review this Chapter

Do I have to bleed

For you to see me?

Do I have to scream

For you to hear me?

Cause I grieve: you're not listening to me

Do I need to scream?

On that night, the night I had wanted Aimee to sleep over but my mom refused because it was a school night, I sneaked out of the house at ten. My parents were stuck in their own ruts: snoozing in front of the television after coming home cranky and exhausted from his conference (Dad), and buried in the office studying some new legal twist a case threatened to take (Mom). I left my lights off, figuring that y the time they went by my room-they never came into it-they'd think I was asleep. I wouldn't be expected to show my face until the next morning around seven, seven fifteen if I was running behind.

This was the last night we needed to stand guard, because Aimee's dad had called to say he was returning the next day, Friday. We, as a group, were going to talk to him then.

I called Aimee before sneaking out so she wouldn't be surprised when I showed up. That's how I found out Aimee's stepmother had canceled her Bible study group to "be with" Aimee that night. But her stepmother was gone by the time I arrived. She'd gone to meet Aimee's dad. Aimee was waiting for me in a long blue gown that fell almost to her toes. "My latest gift from the bitch." She twirled, and the dress fluted out around her thin claves, showing sneakers beneath. She saw me looking at them and said, "Didn't get any new shoes with it, though. Can't be too generous, can we?" She hiccupped.

"What's it for, and did you drink a lot of liquor?" I asked, moving past her to the kitchen. Every bottle in the house was sitting on the table, arranged by size and color, not type. I picked up the gin and rum, trying to judge how much she'd drank.

"Homecoming, and you found it." She pulled a cigarette out of her purse.

"Is this your parents' liquor?"

"Hell no! I called the store and had it delivered." She chuckled as I rolled my eyes in disbelief.

"You don't need to live it up. You need to sleep." I chided her. I poured myself a cranberry juice.

Her thin face was watchful. "I don't need sleep. I need to have some fun. Maybe fuck around, but you're the wrong sex for that." She lurched toward the phone. "I should call-"

I grabbed the phone from her hand. "No one else it coming."

"Chad," she said, her voice losing some of its slur. "He's always good for a fuck."

"Cut it out." Her language alone told me she was in a strange mood, and nothing else she was doing made me think otherwise. She'd twirl one moment, watching the crushed velvet ruffle and swirl, then she'd collapse on a chair and stare sullenly into a bottle before unending it. All the bottles were missing their caps, and she drank from whichever bottle was closest.

"Why should I cut it out?" She said, drinking from a nearby empty bottle of schnapps. "Who's going to make me? If you won't have him, he's got to find someone else. Doesn't he? Don't we all? Miss Pure? Huh?" Despite her steady pouring of alcohol down her throat, there was no trace of a slur in her voice now. Hard-edged, it slashed me. Even though I knew she was lashing out, trying to hurt someone else like she'd been hurt, I couldn't stop the anger rising in me.

"I said-"

"I said," she mocked, swaying and waving her hand at me. She looked so grand in the dress, so in charge, until I looked closely and saw that she had two different colors of eye makeup on, green on her left lid, brown on her right.

"Cut it out."

"Cut it out." She stopped and turned to the window. "I don't think I can cut it out." She pushed her sleeves back to her el bows and eyed her think wrists. She prodded her skin as if she were looking for an opening.

She had such tiny bones, such white skin.

I grabbed her arm. "Aimee! Stop talking like this. It's not right. You have a lot to live for."

"Name something."

"I'm going to call your mother." I picked up the phone and shook it at her.

"Which one? The one who left me on her husband's altar, or the one who met me there? I already tried calling the former, but she's out. More than likely with steady boyfriend number seventeen. They probably went to boob-and-ass show in Las Vegas, which means she'll be out late. I left a message. She'll call me in the morning, if she's home by then."

"She will," I said, but Aimee barreled on.

"And mother number two, the one we all know, love, and cherish, has gone to meet her delinquent husband and convince him that he's crazy, that there's no one else, and that she loves only him. He called right after the gift part of the evening was over, but before I could express my thanks. I still owe her my thanks." Aimee sat down with a thump. Her chair tilted, but she didn't fall. "He's been in Maryland the whole time, visiting some college buddy and lying low, waiting for her to miss him."

"Did you talk to him?'

"Oh yeah, but he didn't invite me down like he did obedient child number two. My brother went with her. Instead, dear old Dad asked me about school and dating. I told him I was fucking Chad, and the bitch took the phone away."

I felt my stomach boil. Was she serious about Chad? Her face was blank, oddly out of her sync with her uneven makeup, but she kept on talking, I couldn't ask her about Chad. I couldn't ask her about Chad. I couldn't ask her about anything. She wasn't listening. Not to me.

"So I went upstairs," Aimee continued, "and got on the phone in their bedroom. I told him about my cat dying, and he said that's too bad, but at least se went peacefully. He might as well have said, ‘Oh good, now your stepmother doesn't have to take allergy shots anymore,' which is what he was thinking. I'm sure. She probably slipped the cat something to kill it because she was tired of sneezing and being poked in the arm."

She drew a breath, and I jumped in. "When are they coming back?"

"Hopefully never. None of them should come back. They should all die in an accident, and then I'd be free of the bunch of them. Assholes one and all."

"Aimee!"

"No one to say what a pain in the ass I am, no one to say what a liar I am, no one to whisper how beautiful I am at two o'clock in the morning. Won't it be lonely?" she looked up at me and her eyes were open so wide the eye shadow disappeared. Then they squinted, and a bark came out of her mouth. I think she was laughing.

"Sounds like it," I said, crouching next to her. "But you'll have us. Chad, Kates, Jason, Kyle, and me. You won't be lonely. You aren't alone."

"Yes, I am. Yes, I will be lonely tonight," she sang softly.

I took her arm and guided her toward the steps. I had already lifted the skirt of her dress so she wouldn't trip. "No you won't," I said. "I'm here."

"Don't you want to know who I'm going to homecoming with?" she said, sinking to the steps. She leaned forward with her hands between her knees, and for a second, I thought she was going to puke, but she didn't. Her head lifted as if someone had pulled it up by her hair. "Don't you? Don't you want to know?"

I bit my lip, trying not to be drawn into her game. Aimee wasn't normally mean when she drank, but she must have drunk a lot before I arrived.

"Chad, sweeties. I'm going with your Chad," Aimee said. "Called and asked him tonight. Yup. Called and asked him. Figured it's never too soon to find a date for Homecoming. I thought I should act fast, before someone else snapped him up." She leaned against me, one arm draped over my shoulders, the other clinging to the banister as I struggled to get back on her feet. "Should've claimed him when I told you he was your for the taking." She laughed again, tugged her skirt free of my hands, and darted up the rest of the stairs.

When I'm ninety, I don't think I'll feel older than I didn't that night, dragging myself up the stairs to her room, wanting to leave, but knowing she needed me. Knowing she was lying, but doubting at the same time. She had asked him to the Sadie Hawkins dance. She went to his house all the time. Chad had known all about the abuse when I hadn't pieced it together. What if she wasn't lying?

She was lying sideways on her bed, her dress wadded up beneath her so that most of her legs stuck out. I sat next to her and slide her zipper down.

"Boy, is this familiar," she said without raising her head off the comforter.

"You have to undress so you can sleep. You'll ruin the dress otherwise."

"What do I care? I can weasel another lousy dress out of her."

"You should try to shower, try to sober up, then sleep. Take off the dress. I'm going downstairs to make coffee. Good and strong." I didn't add that I needed it.

From downstairs, I heard the shower running. I dumped my drink down the drain. I didn't think it was ever a good idea to drink alcohol and Aimee had accepted that before. The rest of the liquor I stuck hodgepodge in the closet where her parents kept it.

Later they'd find my finger prints all over the bottles and say that it was me who started Aimee drinking.

The coffee pot was ready to brew, as though someone had set it up and then forgotten to turn the timer on. I plugged it back in and switched it on. I washed my face at the kitchen sink, dried it on a dish towel, and stared at myself in the black glass of the window above the sink. I felt drained, washed up, and unable to cope, and I'd been there less than an hour.

Maybe Aimee would fall asleep from the liquor. Maybe she'd pass out on the bathroom floor, bang her head, and need stitches. I could call an ambulance, check her into the hospital, and say she was an alcoholic. They'd have to keep her for the rest of the night at least, and I'd be free of any responsibility for whatever else she did, said, or made happen.

But when I went upstairs with the pot of coffee, I found her dressed in her pajamas, sitting on her bed in a scrunched over ball, rocking back and forth, and crying. I set the mugs of coffee on the desk.

"I'm such a bitch," she moaned into her hands.

"Don't I know it," I said. I lifted her head with one hand. "Here, drink this. You'll feel better."

"I'll throw it up."

"Drink it."

She took a mouthful, then pretended to gag and puke.

"Are you done yet?"

Aimee unwadded herself, turned, then swung her legs up under her. "You're not much fun tonight, are you?"

"Neither are you." I sipped the coffee, not taking my eyes from her white face. Now that she had showered away all traces of makeup, she looked awful.

"Maybe that's why Chad doesn't go for you. You're no fun. What happened to your drink?"

"I want coffee," I said, focusing only on the last part of her comment.

"You should drink more. People would like you better."

"Like Chad, I suppose?" I closed my eyes, sighed, and turned away. I balanced my cup on my knees. I'd fallen for her game.

"Maybe," she said, warming her hands on her cup. "Maybe it's too late for that."

I didn't have the energy for this, not tonight, not ever. I took her cup away, and she let go of it like a tired child. Then I leaned her back on the bed none too gently, pulled the spread off the other bed, and covered her up. "Sleep," I said. I turned off the light and lay down on the empty bed.

"Yes, Mommie," she said to the darkness. Her breathing slowed, then became inaudible. She fell asleep.

I finished my coffee, then used the restroom. When I came back to her room, she had rolled over and was facing away from me. I climbed under the covers of my bed and allowed myself to sleep.

I woke to see Aimee creeping back into the room. The front of her pajama top was wet, as if she had spilled water on herself while washing her face, or maybe she had tried to clean some puke off her. Which was possible, giving her drunken condition earlier. I sat up and watched her walk. She was steady, not tripping or banging into anything.

She saw me sit up and sank onto her bed. "I'm scared," she said, like a child who's woken from a vague but frightening dream. "I'm scared," she repeated.

I struggled out from under my tangled sheets and blankets and sat next to her. "I'm here." I had woken to the memory that she'd been ticking me off before she fell asleep, and I wasn't sure why. I did know, looking at her in the light from the streetlamp outside, that I didn't want her to be in pain anymore. She was big-eyed, quiet, almost stunned, but underneath there lurked something that made me uneasy. I put my arm around her and pulled her against me. "Everything will be fine," I said.

And I thought I was right. She looked like my old friend, not like the stranger she had been earlier.

"I know," she whispered. "I'm glad you're here." She rested her head on my shoulder. She didn't smell of puke, so I guessed the water came from her trying to bring down the swelling and redness in her eyes. She wasn't crying at least. "I'm sorry I'm such a bitch, and I don't-" She stopped.

"I don't what?" I asked, cringing as she cussed. My Jewish upbringing was to blame for that.

She yawned and said, "I don't think I could have come this far without you as my friend. Will you stay with me tonight? One last time?"

"What a weird thing to say, one last time. Of course I'll stay. Tonight and any night you need me. But why should this be the last time?" Something inside me jerked awake, something I had let sleep or maybe was hiding beneath my anger. Warning lights, sirens, bells, everything started clambering in my jittery mind.

Before I was concerned about Aimee. Now I was terrified for her. "What do you mean, Aimee? One last time?" My hands shook as I twisted her shoulders so that she faced me.

She looked blank, unaware of what she had said.

"What do you mean?" I asked again.

"I need it to end, and I can't. Not without your help. Not without you here. It's so dark and scary doing it alone."

I grabbed her wrists, then dragged her to the desk. She hadn't cried out, and neither wrist felt wet or sticky, so I didn't think she had slashed them, but I had to be sure. The light blinded me as I clicked on the desk lamp, but immediately I could see there was no blood, no gaping wound. So this was still just talk.

"No, Aimee. Not that. I can't do that. You're my best friend." I closed my arms around her. "I can't live without you. I'll help you live, not here, if that's what you want. I'll support you any way I can, tell them I've seen her come for you, tell them I've seen her beat you, tell everyone about what happened until they believe it, but I need you alive. We all do. Chad-"

She snorted. The light had made her blink, but if anything she seemed more groggy than before. "I'm not your best friend. Chad's your best friend. And don't kid yourself. Remember scary problem number fifty-nine? Overpopulation results in worldwide famine and epidemics. We either (a) survive, or (b) die." She yawned again and leaned against me, heavier this time.

I stroked her hair, although I wanted to yank it out by the roots I was so mad at her for twisting everything.

"You're good at that," she continued. "Surviving. Not me. But you know, I can't do it alone. Just can't. So you'll have to stay. Please stay."
"Aimee, I can't take this. Snap out of it. Your dad will be home tomorrow, and we're going to tell him, we will. We'll support you one hundred percent."

"Then support me how I want you to support me. I can't do it your way. Hell, I can't do it at all. I'm tired. Tired of everything. And none of this-" She waved an arm at her room, but her hand flopped on the end of her arm like a dying fish.

I shivered watching her.

"I have to sleep. But you have to stay with me so I can do this," she murmured.

"Aimee, I will not help you. You have to fight, darn it. You have so much going for you. You just wait. Things will look brighter in the morning. You'll come home with me. I don't care what my mother says, and you'll see, things will be better. Heck, you might even meet Mr. Right." I glanced at her, knowing that I sounded like an idiot, like someone offering comfort without meaning any of it. But I meant all of it. Things would get better. They had to.

"I just want to sleep. Guys are pains in the asses. I'm going to lie down." She didn't say anything about Chad, but I wasn't sure whom she was referring to. I needed to be sure she wasn't talking about him. I was obsessing and hating myself for it.

"All guys? Even Jason, Kyle, and Chad? Aren't some guys worth it?"
"Nothing is worth it anymore. Let me sleep. You have to stay, though. Have to stay. Help me do this, okay? And everything will be alright."

"No, I will not help you kill yourself." I still didn't, at that point, have much a clue about what exactly she was talking about. Did she mean help her slice her wrists? Hold her hand while she did? Watch her die?

I remembered the razor blade I had taken from her. I didn't want to spend the rest of the night staring into the darkness, making sure she didn't sneak off to find another to use. I'd check the bathrooms for razors now. "I'm going to the bathroom to pee. Pull yourself together, Aimee," I said as I stood up.

"Bring me the bottle on the sink," she muttered without raising her head. "I want to take something."

My mouth went dry. Drier than when I had found the razor in her hand and saw her pretending to cut. Drier than when she had asked me to help her die. Then I felt nausea sweep over me, and the salvia ran wild in my mouth. I swallowed and swallowed again, edging toward the door, trying not to hurry. Trying to see her and leave the room at the same time. "What bottle?" I called, with my foot out the door, my body ready to bolt for the bathroom.

"Bottle on the sink. Very important. Stupid stepmother should never leave sleeping pills out with kids in the house. Never. Never. Never. How many times will they replace her lost pills?" Aimee started to laugh, a deep gagging laugh. She coughed, sat up for a moment, then rolled back onto the bed.

I raced for the bathroom. I didn't walk into or stop in any other rooms. I told the police that. I told the court that. I wasted no time trying to discover what she was talking about, but even then, I thought I just need to hide the bottle, that she hadn't taken anything or done anything. She needed me there to do it. She said so herself. What else could she mean by "Stay with me tonight? Help me die?"

On the floor of the bathroom were a billion pieces of glass. Since she had left the smaller bathroom light on, I managed to see it before I stepped on it. My hands sprang out from my sides and grabbed the door frame, halting me midstep. I stood panting and stared.

The mirror over the sink had been shattered. I saw my eyes, wide and startled, in a dozen places when I bent down. My nose, big and little, my hair, and my cheeks fragmented as I swung my head from side to side in disbelief. The noise of Aimee breaking the mirror should have woken me, and maybe it had. But then, why didn't I remember anything before she crept back into the room? I racked my brains, trying to figure out when she had done this. How she had done this. Her feet hadn't been cut, so she hadn't walked in the bathroom. Then I saw that mixed with the mirror's shards were pieces of the drinking glass that usually stood on the sink. She must have thrown it at the mirror.

I also saw fragments of what appeared to be one of the family photo albums. Judging from the little I could piece together of the pictures, it was her father and stepmother's wedding album. Every picture of her stepmother had been cut into tiny fragments. The picture of Aimee's dad and brother were mostly intact.

There were no remains of Aimee anywhere.

But the bottle was there. A little brown plastic bottle, the kind that holds antibiotics. I strained forward, so tense everything shook, but I couldn't reach it.

With my body wrenched sideways to close it, I tried to shut the toilet lid so I could stand on it and grab the bottle. When I looked down, I froze. Inside the toilet bowl floated three or four slashed versions of Aimee. All had been carefully cut from a larger picture, and all had been sliced into ribbons. I reached into the water and pulled out one of the mutilated pictures.

I was almost unaware of my tears as I picked up the bottle. There was no rattle of pills, no weight to the bottle at all, and the prescription had been soaked in water or something so that I couldn't read it.

"Aimee!"
I felt devoid of hope.

"Aimee!" I screamed again, feeling as though my limbs were being pulled in opposite directions like a puppet in a warped play.

I thought of all the things she had said earlier that had infuriated me, and I wondered if it was part of her plan, to make me so angry I wouldn't pay attention to what she was doing.

Whether that was true of not, she had already carried out the other part of her plan.

She had taken the pills.

My head cleared in a spasm of guilt. Here I was standing and staring at broken glass trying to figure out if she had lied about her and Chad.

I need to get to Aimee. I needed to get help.

Panic overwhelmed me, and I lunged for the door, landing on a shard of glass. I stopped to pull it out, with blood seeping across my fingers and down the insides of my hands. But I didn't stop to bandage the gash in my foot. I didn't wince or hobble when I ran. That would have taken time, and I had none.

"Aimee!"

She wasn't answering.

"Aimee!" I shrieked from the door of her room. I held up the bottle for her to see but, of course, she didn't see it.

She was lying face down on the bed, an arm sprawled above her. Her back rose, fell, rose, fell, but slowly, too slowly.

I rolled her over and came face to face with despair. A long slug trail of vomit slithered down the side of the bed. I had planned on making her throw up, but she already had. It was the only thing I knew to do that would slow things down and get some of the drugs out of her system.

No pills were visible in the slime. How long did it take to digest them? Could all of the poison be in her system already? Had she chewed them to get them into her body faster?

"Oh God! Oh God!" I cried, my hands dancing through the air.

"Aimee," I said louder, closer to her ear.

She didn't respond.

I pulled her mouth open to shove my finger down her throat, thinking maybe she hadn't thrown up enough. If she did it again, maybe the pills would come up. "Try again! Throw them up! Come one, Aimee! You've got to be okay." I pushed her up, and she slumped forward.

There was blood on the bed, and I searched her body for the wounds, then the room to wrap whatever was bleeding on her. It was then that I saw my trial of bloody footprints on the floor and realized the blood on the bed was mine.

Then I saw the phone.

I lowered Aimee back onto the bed and jumped for the phone. Aimee groaned, and I turned back to her, grabbing her shoulder, slapping her face lightly, trying to get a response. "How much of this stuff did you take? Answer me! Answer me!"

But she didn't. She couldn't.

She didn't groan again.

The phone. I picked it up, tried to dial, but somewhere in the house Aimee had left a phone off the hook.

"Idiot!" I screamed. "Why did you do this?" I was hobbling and crying, snot ran down my face. I raced from room to room.

I did, too. Whatever the police said and her parents' attorneys say, I did check everywhere I could think of for the disengaged phone. I didn't save her, but I did that. My bloody footprints were everywhere in the house. Everywhere. Not because I freaked out and was chasing Aimee to make her take pills. Which some idiotic newspaper reporter said I did. Was he there, or was I? I was checking for a phone that worked. I even crawled under the tables and beneath beds to make sure the phones I found were plugged in.

And all the phones were on the hook. Except the portable. Which I couldn't find.

The clock said four A.M. Maybe some insane commuter would be up or I could wake one up. I opened the front door to an empty street as if to run out, but then I turned back. I couldn't leave her alone.

This is where I failed. Here was where I made the wrong choice, did the wrong thing. I should have kept going, but I wasn't thinking. I was reacting, and what I reacted to right then was leaving Aimee alone when she had begged me not to and explaining to everyone later that she died alone.

I would check on Aimee first. I had to see if there was anything else I could do, should do before I abandoned her to find help.

So I spun around and slammed the door. I flew back up the stairs, three at a time-according to the report and the footprint analysis. I was planning on making her drink something before I left. Anything. Coffee. Her full mug was still on the desk. I'd force some down in her to counteract with the pills, but who was I kidding? A cup of coffee against a bottle of sleeping pills?

I raised her head, tried to support her with my shoulder while I cradled her from behind. I opened her jaw with one hand and dumped coffee through her lips with the other.

Her throat didn't respond to the cold coffee dribbling through her pried open lips. She didn't swallow.

I tried to make her vomit again. That's when her bladder let go.

Later, in court, I learned that this is a normal part of death when someone takes sleeping pills. At the time, I was horrified, disgusted, and positive this was not a good sign.

I hugged her, with a finger on her pulse, trying to be sure she was still alive, thinking I'd do mouth-to-mouth until I found the phone, not even understanding that I couldn't do both.

When her bowls released, I knew I was done for. I wouldn't have my best friend anymore. I was screaming, shrieking, moaning. Keening might be the right word for what I was doing, but I don't remember exactly.

Aimee's window was open partway. It always was, and I thought someone would hear me. Some jogger, somebody walking a dog. I couldn't see the clock. Couldn't let go of Aimee. She was gurgling now, and I thought I should lay her down. So I draped her unmoving body, heavy in its stillness, across my legs, where it weighed me down and put my legs to sleep.

My screams weren't even making Aimee twitch.

I had forgotten all about escaping out the front door, running away to find someone else to take care of this mess. Someone who knew better what to do. All I knew, lying there listening to her labored, slowing, ending breathing, was that I was losing the dearest thing in my life, and there was nothing I could do.

Nothing would stop it. Even if I managed to find help now, looking at her bluing lips, I, who had never seen death, knew she was beyond help.

"Help me! Oh, God! Don't do this. Don't take her. Chad? Kyle? Jason? Kates? Where is everyone? Why doesn't anyone come? Why is this happening? I hate you, Aimee! I hate you!"

I screamed on and on, and eventually, when Aimee's eyes were fixed and dilated, when she was cold and blue and filthy and beginning to stiffen up in my arms, someone heard.

There was a pounding at the door, but I would have had to let go of Aimee to let them in. And I couldn't.

I just kept screaming, incoherent rages against God, the country, and everyone in between.

The pounding stopped, and shouts rose up from the ground below the window, and all I could do was moan, "She's dead. She's dead. Aimee's dead," in a hoarse whisper that was grotesque in itself.

Then a car pulled in, and car doors slammed.

I figured it would be the police, and they would help me. They would take Aimee away and take me home. They would call her parents. Then I could get a pill of my own that would take away the sight of Aimee's twisted legs wrapped around mine and the smell of crap and urine mixed with vomit and coffee, maybe the police would do something about my foot, which throbbed and still bled a puddle on the yellow spread like an ever-growing, ever blooming flower.

I quit screaming, I quit moaning, I waited, watching the flower spread and grow, my eyes glazed over. I slipped away. I stopped thinking, stopped reacting like a human being. I became still, cold, dead inside.

I still feel that way most of the time.

Sometimes, though, I feel opposite, filled with a rage that's uncontrollable and unknowable to anyone else. When it wasn't the police who walked into the room, but Aimee's father and stepmother, who had come home because they couldn't get through on the phone and were worried sick, the rage appeared for the first time.

The police report says I dropped Aimee on the floor and charged her stepmother. I remember her face, the shock and horror mixed with the smug satisfaction of knowing she was safe, that Aimee wouldn't tell. I still don't know if she cared for Aimee in her own sick way. But something snapped inside me when I saw her.

I don't remember trying to kill her though. The report states that I lunged for her neck, screaming and ranting. According to the first newspaper story, I tried to kill Aimee's stepmother, too.

I do remember a man, with strength unmatchable, as he held me down with icy hands until the police arrived. Then he went over to Aimee's prone body, took one brief look at her than shook his head slowly, his face an expression of pity. I remember his eyes holding my own as though he was trying to read what was inside of me. They had been a honey gold and had calmed the panic shooting through me.

I didn't go to the funeral. I wasn't allowed.

I did hear where she had hidden the phone-on her stepmother's pillow, covered by blankets and tucked into the arm of her teddy bear. The paper reported the facts, but no one understood the significance of them. Even when I told them what the significance was, they didn't believe me. They accused me of hiding it earlier in the night, before I had cut my foot, because there were no bloodstains anywhere near her stepmother's bed. There were no footprints by the bed because there was no phone on the bed. Not normally anyway.

When they found it, the phone had long since quit bleating its recorded message: "If you'd like to make a call, please hang up and dial again."

But Aimee had completed her call.

Though they had acquitted me of murder, I was still charged of breaking and entering for they had no proof Aimee let me in. They also diagnosed me with psychotic problems and mild schizophrenia. They said I was mentally unstable, unsafe around other people my age and that's when a Heart for Hope showed their faces and with smooth-talking and tempting persuasion, my parents put me in their charge to better my life.

They didn't know they had put me in a torture cell where they prodded, poked, cut, and zapped. I don't think they would've cared anyways.

And there were the red-eyed people with immune beauty and grace-ness that seemed to be unnatural to us victims. They told me I was special and that I was meant to be like them in due time.

Aimee had always known about my odd gifts. She never told anyone but she always told me I was special and that I was destined for some better than this hell-of-a-life. She always knew I was different but still accepted me as me. She had told me different was a good thing.

I disagreed with her later, after being strapped to a metal bed, needles stuck in my arms, surrounded by six vampires.

I dropped my head, unable to continue, feeling the stillness of the Cullens around me. Dear, Aimee...where are you? Do you realize what you've done? What I've done? I'm sorry for leaving you alone.

*****

Carlisle

"I can't believe the Volturi would stoop that low," Jasper just kept shaking his head, disbelief written all over his frustrated face.

"I can believe it," Edward nearly growled.

"But human testing-for talents?" Jasper shot back.

"Think about all those poor children..." Esme held a hand to her chest. She looks at me with a silent plea in her eyes.

"They do it out of fear," Alice murmured. "They want to remain at the stop and make sure no one can threaten that fact."

"Think of Mercy," Edward cut in. "What could she be capable of that would have the Volturi scrambling for her?"

"Maybe we should ask her," said Jasper, glowering at no one in particular.

I look down at Mercy, her face peaceful in sleep. Her cheek rested on my leg while her small feet rested in Esme's lap. I lay a hand on her arm, avoiding the healing cuts.

"Let her rest-she's been through enough today as it is. She'll tell us in her own time."

Jasper twitched from suppressed emotion and glared out the window.

"The Volturi are afraid-they will act irrationally." Edward thought aloud to himself.

"Should we leave?" Esme asked. "They know where we live."

"There'd be no point," Alice cut in. "It is impossible to outrun the Volturi?"

"What if we went into hiding?" Esme continued. "Carlisle could go on extended leave from the hospital...we have Alice's vision, Bella's protection, Edward's mind reading to keep us safe..."

"And whatever Mercy can do." Emmett cut in with a grin.

I raised an eyebrow at him and Esme continued once more. "Especially if Bella keeps a bubble over us as we leave and whenever Edward or Alice feel something out of the norm. If we stay here, we put everyone in Forks at risk as well."

"She's right." I spoke. "We need to get out of here as soon as we can."

Rosalie crossed her arms, her eyes narrowing and she looked away, clenching her teeth.

"At least we'll be in a secluded spot-maybe we can even visit Denali."

"Tomorrow morning then?" Emmett asked, nearly bouncing.

I shake my head. "No, let's leave at midnight."

A child's sob in the silence curses deeper than a strong man in his wrath.

Has anybody seen what's been done

Where was my defense?

No one heard my protest

The eyes of God were watching me

It's time I made my peace

Let it go and be released

So I can breathe again

I'm on my knees