Chapter 2


"Hey Belle. How was your first day?" Thomas asked in the car on the way home.

"It was good. I met some cool people. I hung out with them at lunch." I replied happily. My stomach growled and I threw a hand over it, hoping Thomas hadn't heard.

"Did you eat lunch today, Belle?" He asked. I shook my head. "That's it, I'm getting you food now. You need to eat, you're going to starve yourself." He said turning into a fast food drive-thru. "What do you want?"

"Nothing." I mumbled. My father would murder me if he found out I was eating stuff like this.

"Fine, I'll order for you. I'm going to make you eat it. You already have the body of a model, you don't need to diet or anything." Thomas said before turning and ordering a couple hamburgers. He drove through, paid for the food and received the bag. He put the bag on my lap and drove away. "Eat something." He said sternly. I couldn't remember the last time I had a hamburger. It had to have been when my parents were still together.

"You don't get it, do you?" I asked, examining the food in front of me.

"What? Don't get what?" Thomas said, grabbing one of the hamburgers from the bag and unwrapping it.

"You don't get why I don't eat lunch? Why I wear so much makeup? Why my breakfast is always so small? Why I wear these clothes? You don't get any of it?" I asked angrily.

"No Belle, I don't." Thomas replied quietly.

"Of course not. It's all dad. Every morning while you're still sleeping he's making sure I look perfect. Everything you do is perfect to him. I can't do anything right. He thinks I'm ugly. I think he's worried I'll end up like mom. Which, who knows, if he continues doing this to me, I just might." I said, taking a bite of the hamburger.

"That's not true." Thomas mumbled with food in his mouth. I made sure I swallowed the food in my mouth before replying.

"Thomas, I said lots of things. You're going to have to a bit more specific than that." I glared at him.

"Sorry. None of it. He doesn't think everything you do is wrong; he doesn't think you're ugly. And you're nothing like mom." He took another giant bite from his hamburger.

"Thomas… he's told me how ugly I am. He tells me all the time. He's also told me I never do anything right. You're so caught up in your girlfriends, friends, and sports that you don't notice anything." I put the hamburger on the foil in my lap and stared out the window. I will be like mom. I thought bitterly. Our parents divorced when I was 6 and Thomas was 9. There were was a big custody battle and our father won only because our mother was deemed insane and unfit to be a mother. She lives in an insane asylum half the time. We can only see her under supervision. They're afraid she might try to kill us, or something. Even when she's at her house she's never alone. She has 5 'friends' she talks to every day. They live in her head. She thinks all real people are out to get her. That's why my parents divorced. She was too much to handle for our father. He's the sort that wants everything to be perfect. Everything has to be perfect.

I was so lost in thought I barely noticed the car had stopped.

"You're not going to eat that, are you?" Thomas asked, bringing me back to the present. I shook my head and got out of the car, carrying my garbage with me. Thomas shook his head and followed me into the house. I was just taking off my shoes when the phone rang. I dropped everything and ran to the kitchen to answer it.

"Hello? Oh… hi dad. Yeah he's here, just a minute." I said, putting the phone on the counter. "Thomas, dad wants you on the phone." I said as I went back to pick up my garbage. Thomas ran into the kitchen and picked up the phone. I threw out my garbage and went up to my room to hide for most of the night. A little while later Thomas knocked on my door.

"Come on, put something decent on and let's go." He said from the hall.

"Where are we going?" I asked angrily.

"Mom's in the hospital." He replied.

"What else is new?"

"I'm serious Belle. She's been hurt. She's not in the asylum again; she's actually in the hospital. We have to go see her." He sounded serious. I found a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. Throwing them on quickly I ran out my door and down the stairs. By the time I had my shoes on Thomas was waiting in the car for me.


"How was the first day, Jay?" Megan asked as I walked in the house.

"Fine." I mumbled as I went up to my room.

"You got a phone call." Megan called up the stairs to my retreating back. I stopped and turned to face her. "Your mom called." She said sadly.

"Why does she always seem to call while I'm at school? Is she actually calling, or do you just say that to make me think she still cares." I said angrily. I turned and started going back up to my room.

"She's getting parole." Megan said quietly. I almost didn't hear what she said, but I turned around and looked at her. I was sure my eyes must have been wide in shock. "She won't have custody of you, but you'll be able to visit her more often." Megan explained. I nodded my head slowly and went to my room in silence. When I arrived in my room I turned on my music and sat on my bed, staring at the wall. I had seen my mom about once a month for the past 10 years. I never had a moment alone to talk to her because there were always other people there. My aunt, the other inmates and their visitors, and some of my mom's friends that believed what she did was right.

I didn't know what I thought about my mom being free, well, to an extent anyways. I was 5 when I came to live here, with her sister. No one had ever really told me exactly what happened in my house 10 years ago. I had overheard bits and pieces of conversations, and sometimes I had dreams of what I saw. I don't remember very well because I was hiding behind the couch and was rushed out of the house when my father was lying on the floor.

"Jay, honey." Megan called from the hall. "Supper's ready." She said softly, as though she was afraid to break something.

"I'm not hungry." I growled. I could feel my stomach starting to rumble but I didn't want to eat.

"You didn't eat breakfast. I'm going to guess you didn't eat lunch. You have to eat something." She pleaded.

"I'll eat later." I lied. I blinked as my door opened and there was sudden light in my room. I hadn't realized how dark my room was.

"I know you're confused, Jared. She's your mother and you don't know anything about her. What do you want to know? I'm her sister. I know everything about her." Megan said, sitting beside me on my bed.

"I want to know what happened." I said angrily, fighting back tears.


I walked through the door after school and threw my bag on the floor grumpily. I walked into the kitchen and noticed there was a message on the phone. I picked up the phone and listened to the message.

"Hi Lara, sweetheart. I'm going to be late again. Can you get the kids from school? Daniel shouldn't be too late tonight. Tell him to start dinner. Could you help them with any homework they might have? I'm really sorry." My dad said. He was late for work at least 3 times a week. He still asked me to pick my brother and sister up from school, even though Anne is 13 and Rylin is 10. They were old enough to figure out that if dad isn't there in a few minutes after school's out, they're walking home. If Daniel was home it would be different, he could go and pick them up. I wasn't going to worry about it, they knew the way home. I deleted the message and went up to my room to watch TV for a little while.

I sat on my bed and turned the TV on, absently flipping through the channels. I was barely even looking at the TV because I was too busy staring at the picture of my mom sitting on top of the TV.

I wish you were here mom. Everything would be so much easier. I'd have someone to talk to all the time. I need someone to talk to. He's been cheating again, but I love him. I just want him to stop and I keep thinking he will. Every time things seem to be looking up, I hear about another girl, or see him with another girl. I don't know what to do, mom. I thought. It had been 6 years since I saw her last. She had always been my best friend as a kid. We did everything together. I had been jealous of my sister and brother when they were born, she was mine, and Daniel's of course. Rylin made me especially jealous because he was a momma's boy when he was young and got a lot of attention. Now Rylin was the closest to me in the family, he had only been 4. I took over as 'mom' and took care of him. He had been too young to fully understand what had happened. Anne understood more. She had been 7. Now they both understood fully that mom was never coming back. They knew as well as I did that it was no one's fault. It wasn't the doctor's, it wasn't ours, and it wasn't our dad's. It was no one.

I turned the TV off and sat against my wall, continuing to stare at the picture. Memories of her ran through my head and I felt the tears coming.


"Jessie, you're home!" Dahlia, my 'mom,' exclaimed as I came through the door, dropping my bag on the floor.

"Yeah… I'm home." I said quietly.

"Did you meet anyone? How were your classes? How was the first day? Did it go well? Do you like the teachers?" She asked in a rush.

"Yes, fine, fine, yes, sure." I said in order of questions asked. In the short time I had been living here I had grown used to questions like this.

"That's good. You want something to eat or drink?" She asked.

"No, I'm okay. I ate enough at lunch." I said.

"Mommy!" I little voice called from the TV room. I followed Dahlia in to see Melissa sitting on the floor playing with some toys. I smiled and turned on the TV. Melissa was probably my favourite person in this house. The younger kids were always my favourite. I flipped through the channels and looked for something to watch. Finding nothing after a while I went upstairs to read. I had been reading for a little while when my door opened and I felt someone sit on the end of my bed.

"Hi Christine." I said, without looking away from my book.

"Hi Jessie. Wanna play a game?" She asked. Christine was the older of the two Staler children. She was 9, and looked up to me like a big sister, even though I had only been living with her for a few months.

"Not right now, Christine." I looked up from my book and noticed she look hurt. "Maybe after supper." I suggested. She seemed satisfied with the response as she happily skipped out of my room. I had been told she had never done this to the older kids they housed. They usually had to try to win her affection. Melissa was the easy one. They both seemed to like me, even though Melissa was still a little young to be able to fully understand.

"Jessica?" Dahlia said, poking her head into my room through the open door. There were a few bags lying around the room with stuff in them because I had never bothered to fully unpack when I moved in. I never ended up staying very long anyways. I raised my head in acknowledgement of Dahlia and waited for her to continue. "There's something Ryan and I wanted to talk to you about." She said. She sounded a little unsure and it made me nervous.