Claire never knew much about her mom's family, let alone imprinting. Hearing voices and having strange dreams leads her on a path to La Push, finding answers to questions she never asked.
1. Chapter 1
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Disclaimer: All characters belong to Stephenie Meyer.
Ah, Southern California.
I never really appreciated my life here. Though I was put in a good school, lived in pretty suburbs that mirrored the idea of 'Pleasantville,' and belonged to a family that was strangely similar to that of a Stepford, the idea of being 'privileged' or 'lucky' never really felt natural to me. I refer to my family as a Stepford one, because that's what my mom is to me. She's a nice lady, I suppose. Or more so, she's adamant on people believing she is; on believing every part of her life is. A nice big house surrounded by a nice white picket fence, a nice husband in a nice suit, nice children dressed in nice clothes. All wrapped in a nice bow.
Little did she know, I was just about going crazy. In the literal sense, not the normal, rebellious, out-of-control teenager sense. Quite the opposite actually. Crazy in the sense that lack of proper socialization had triggered voices in my head. Or maybe just one voice to be accurate, and it rarely occurred. Sometimes, I would convince myself I'd just imagined it. I didn't really feel like a "crazy" person despite this, so I just never told anyone about it. I wasn't sure how healthy it was to keep that kind of thing to myself, but knowing my mother, I was sure it wouldn't be helpful to say anything to her.
It rarely told me anything of consequence anyway. The few times in my life I did hear it, it randomly hurled out pre-cautionaries, like, "STOP!" that time I nearly crossed the road into passing traffic, looking the wrong way. I concluded it was probably God or my guardian angel or something. Maybe everyone else had one too, but mine was just a bit more present, working overtime thanks to my unhelpful tendency to day-dream, and get lost in thoughts.
Growing up, I always felt a little out of place in the world my parents had built up around me. I wasn't soul searching or feeling empty, or any other cliche babble like that, but more so just socially awkward. No one got me. It took me until I was fifteen to come to that conclusion. Figuring it was pointless to drown in self-pity, I spent my time engaging in solitary hobbies. Reading books, music, and art. Oh, art. My wild imagination that longed to run out far and wide from my monotonous life, had paved the way to an obsession for painting. I was getting quite good now. At first my mom worried about me, always locked away in the basement alone, painting for hours on end. People would rarely see me outside the house or engaging in social activity, and she worried what they would think. Somehow, it worked out for her though. I got so good that I actually received state-wide recognition for a collection I put together at school. My work was displayed in an exhibition, where my mother kindly didn't let anyone forget that I, the artist, was her daughter.
"They're beautiful pieces."
I stood in a loose small circle of my parents' closest acquaintances, as Mrs RedLipstick-FourthChampagne complimented my work to my father.
"Yeah, she didn't get the talent from me, I'll tell you that much!" he chuckled.
"Oh, must have been from your side then?" she implied, looking at my mother expectantly.
My mother hesitated for the shortest second, though I'm sure this would have gone unnoticed by ChampagneLady, who was now at the point of holding on to her husband to maintain her balance. My mother simply nodded, then was conveniently occupied with a passing cater-waiter who offered her some wine. Considering my mother doesn't drink, I knew she was avoiding the lady's question. She probably just didn't want to engage in conversation with a drunk. Being drunk in public is not classy, after all. And God forbid my mother be associated with someone without class.
I rolled my eyes at the thought.
The rest of the night went by like this. Maternal bragging, trite conversations, fake laughs, awkward vibes and much eye rolling on my part. By the last hour, the room was nearly empty. Of course, we had to stay behind, with me being the guest of honor and all. As my mother continued to mindlessly talk to the remaining guests by the bar, I stole away to the back wall where my paintings hung. Against the blinding white wall and glowing down-lights, they really were something.
I stood admiring my work; smirking at the fact that I was now officially considered an "artist."
"So what was your inspiration?"
I was pulled from my reverie by a now-taskless waiter, who stood in the corner to my right, empty tray in hand.
"Dreams," I answered.
"Oh. Thought you were trying to send some sort of environmentalist or animal activist message across," he responded, smiling.
"Well, the beach, the forest.. the wolf," he answered, growing more hesitant as he continued, like he was afraid he was offending me.
"Oh," was all I replied, then turned back slowly to look at my work. He rightfully interpreted that as the end of our conversation, and quietly made his way out of the room.
It probably was a strange combination of images to put into a single collection. There wasn't much consistency between the paintings. They didn't tell a story, or stand for anything metaphorical. And his assumption did make sense, I supposed. I'd never admitted the true inspiration for my work to anyone else, but I figured since I would probably never see the guy again, the truth would be safe with him.
I'd been having the same dreams for as long as I could remember. The setting was always the beach or the forest. No where else. And sometimes there would be a wolf with me. With me. Not just passing by, but as if he were walking next to me. Of course there was another thing I dreamed about, more than anything else.
Or more rightfully, a man. Maybe somewhere in between. He had tan skin, and dark hair; a prominent jaw line, and a large frame; paired with long lean muscles. I could list every detail about his exterior. I knew his face so well. He was beautiful. But I knew nothing else about him. I'd never met him before, and in my dreams he never spoke. He was the only missing part of my painting collection. Though I dreamed about him the most, I chose not to submit the portrait I had painted of him. It was still locked away in my basement, yet to see the light of day. I couldn't explain to myself why I chose not to show it to anyone. It just seemed so private to me. He just seemed so private to me. Like he belonged to me, and no one else.
On the ride home, I reflected over the night, and the irony in my anti-social-dream delusions turning into a social event for my mom to joyfully engage in.
"Do you think I did?" I asked, finishing a thought that had barely registered in my head.
"Did what sweetie?" My father asked in response, looking into his rear view mirror to meet my eyes.
"Get my talent from mom's side?"
The more I thought about it, the more curious I became. I never considered it an inherited talent, as my mother never had much interest in arts. But what about her mother? Her sister?
Dad furrowed his eyebrows together for a moment, before looking back to the road, and simply shrugged. I didn't take that as a no, rather a subtle gesture telling me that I shouldn't be asking. He turned his head slightly, I assumed to check that my mother was still asleep in her seat.
My mother never talked about her family. All I knew was that she had a sister, Emily. She was sensitive at any allusion to Emily and La Push, where she lived. Aside from Emily, I didn't know of anything else. I always assumed she was embarrassed of the small town life her family lived. She prided herself too much on the life she built after that, and never answered directly when speaking about them to friends and acquaintances. All in the name of keeping up appearances, I surmised.
Dad's eyes cautiously returned to the rear-view mirror a few more times on the way home. It felt like he kept checking on me. Checking to see if I would press the conversation further.
I didn't look back into the mirror, in hopes of avoiding the awkwardness of being caught checking on him-checking on me. Why did it matter so much that I asked about mom's side? What image did she have to keep up with me anyway? Technically they were my family too. What do I care about their social status? I'd at least like to know enough about them to make that judgment for myself, thank you very much. My brows knit together as I mentally hurled verbal retaliations at my sleeping mother.
As soon as we were home, I quickened my pace through the front door and up the stairs into my room, eager to escape the watchful eye of my father.
I knew there was something I didn't know. My father had always been very laid-back and easy-going. He rarely wore the worried expression that I was surveillanced by almost the whole way home.
I laid on my bed, huffing out a large sigh. I was physically and mentally exhausted.
Of course the dreams followed.