I wake up with my heart pounding and my palms tingling. I try to breathe as the sensation takes over again. Shit, please, not now! my mind begged as my chest heaved. Shuddering gasps echoed softly as I tried not to lose control. Tingly panic rushed through my veins like a drug. I claw at my ears as the voices start, making me feel at my worst. No not you you're worthless so worthless and never good enough stupid idiot retard slow not fast enough move faster you dummy you walk too slow no not you I don't love you you didn't do it right do it again-No! So much fear churned inside that I felt like I was about to choke on the little air left in my lungs. Hot flashes tremored down my body. The walls were closing in on me. This wasn't fair, why did it have to happen again? My eyes quickly darted around the room, searching for an escape. I could hardly see a thing. Dizziness tunneled my vision into a smaller world filled with a suffocating sense of doom. Sweat rolled down my palms, barely felt past the tingling numbness that only worsened. Minutes ticked by as the insanity mounted. Just as I attempted to get a handle on myself, nausea began to churn within. I felt slightly sick.

The voices decided to make themselves known once more. Lily is the favorite you aren't worth anything, don't you know, she does it all right and you don't you complete failure I love everyone but you so you will be punished constantly until you learn your lesson! I wrapped an arm around my stomach and moaned breathlessly. My heart was pounding so loudly I thought it was going to explode. I'd rather lose my heart, than my mind, though. However, I knew it was far too late for the latter. My whole too-bony, awkward frame shook with small tremors. Nothing felt quite real, and yet all too real. I didn't feel like myself anymore; it was as if someone had stepped into my body while I watched it fall apart. More time slowly and surely passed. I fell back against the wall as the shaking stopped. My clammy palms began to regain feeling once again.

I wanted to scream in frustration with the little air I was able to suck down my windpipe, because surviving this meant it could happen at any time. I wished this fear would kill me already, because whatever was beyond the veil was better than this hell. It was another stretch of time before every horrible sensation faded enough for me to think. I needed to figure out what day it was. Sunday, obviously, according to my accurate internal days-of-the-week calendar. But what day? Was today the day I'd have to hide away from everyone? I scooted off my bed and let my pale, bare feet touch cold wood. Finally standing upright for the first time that morning. I didn't feel feverish or thirsty in the slightest, so perhaps the attack was late this time. I sighed and shook my head; soft brown hair flung into my face and stuck in my mostly dry mouth as a result. I wrinkled my nose and spat out the offending object. How graceful of me. After quickly slipping into a bra and short black dress, I padded downstairs into the kitchen.

"Rose," my mother Grace said in a warning tone. Most of the harshness was covered by a sweet sugary tone, like honey. I knew better than to fall for that, though. It was only because Lily was in the room. Perfect five year-old Lily. My sister. My worst enemy. I pursed my lips together and examined my mother. Or at least, the woman who was supposed to be my mother. She was nearly forty, so almost middle aged. She still looked young as ever, though. No crow's feet in the corners or gray hairs to diminish the perfect bun of midnight shaded hair. Grace's bright green eyes were a mirror image of my sister. None of my face mimicked hers. I was my father in every way, which I'd take pride in if I knew where he was. I haven't heard a word from him in the past month since he went off on some trip far out of town. No letters or calls. Maybe he was gone for good. I wished he would have thought to take me with him. However, that wasn't important right now. Grace wanted me for something, again. I bit back the urge to sigh and made eye contact with her at last.

"Yes?" I responded in the most apathetic tone I could manage. Nope, wrong again. I was supposed to sound like an angel for little Lily. We wouldn't want to frighten her, would we? Grace spun around and glared at me. Her commanding eyes flashed in warning as she raised the spatula like a meancing weapon of murder. I didn't even blink as I watched her. With Lily at the table less than ten feet away, Mother wouldn't try anything on me. That was saved for behind locked doors after she was in bed or was still at school. I knew the routine, sometimes, but the one thing which never varied was the awareness of keeping Lily in the dark about everything, because of her precious innocence.

But mostly because she was perfect, and I was horrid. It was a simple fact of life. I had long since accepted it the day she was born, just over five years ago. There was a brief silence as my mother lowered the spatula and mostly hid the anger in her eyes, just as Lily looked over at us in concern and fear. Despite her obvious lack of flaws, she had her frailities and she was easily frightened, the poor skittish thing. I glanced at my little sister. She was what my mother would look like, if you erased her adulthood and brought her back to this innocent stage of life. A fork clattered to the floor, breaking the silence. Lily gasped and dropped down to retrieve the fallen silverware. Mother used the distraction to give me a light slap on the wrist, which I knew was to be a warning for what was to come later.

"I am taking Lily shoe shopping for her first day of kindergarten," Grace announced as I served myself some scrambled eggs and fruit. I quickly ate my meal while I was given instructions. "You know your chores for today, and if this house isn't completely spotless by the time I get back..." She didn't have to finish her sentence for me to know. It was only a matter of which punishment she deemed most suited for my crime. Lily took one last bite of her breakfast before leaping up from the small table, showing no hint of fear that had sparked just minutes before.

"I'm ready to go, Mommy!" she declared in her small, melodic voice. It was the most precious sound in the world, next to her unrestrained laughter. Lily currently wore a pure white dress with lace, matching Mary Janes, and pale blue ribbons to tie off her black pigtails. Grace gently took her by the hand and walked out the front door with her. I winced as it slammed loudly. A whole sixty seconds passed before I realized I was all alone. There was no time to celebrate, though. I had chores to do. At last, I allowed the sigh to pass my lips before getting started on the dishes. The entire kitchen was scrubbed down, furniture polished and dusted, and the floor mopped not once but twice just to make sure it was done flawlessly. After that, it was my duty to make sure the laundry was done, and every room picked up. Mine, of course, always remained completely clear of any objects on the floor and everything had its place. Extreme obsessive compulsive disorder can do that to a person.

At last, all three bedrooms were finished, and the laundry was put away. It was a shame that my list of chores had only begun. I vaccummed the entire house, washed the windows, and to top it all off, cleaned all three of the bathrooms. The only room which was to be left untouched no matter what was the attic. I wasn't even allowed to enter the place. However, right now I was home alone and there was no one to tell me what I could and couldn't do. Not even Grace. I stood in the living room for a moment, ignoring the throb of my very sore arms. My mother and sister were certain to return soon. Almost four hours had passed since their departure. There was the matter of knowing the mall was almost an hours' drive alone, not counting the factor of traffic. The mall was always crowded, packed with frenzied people fighting over saled items that had gone out of fashion nearly a month ago. Anything to save money, though. Just as I took a step toward the stairs which would lead me to the attic, I heard a car pulling into the driveway. I let out another sigh, the second noise I had made since Grace and Lily left the house. The 2007 mini van's engine shuddered into silence. Car doors opened and closed. I stood in absolute silence as footsteps approached the front door, awaiting my doom.

"Look at my new shoes!" Lily said happily as she crashed through the door, quickly followed by Grace. I looked down at her feet and noticed she was wearing black flats. They didn't appear to have a cheap price tag, judging by the material and swirled, fancy designs. I glanced at my own still bare feet and tried to remember if I had ever been given expensive shoes, but my memory came up empty. "Aren't they pretty?" Lily asked loudly, stomping around the living room to show off her newest fashion item.

"They're wonderful," I told her. My sister beamed at me, then ran into her room, which was right next to Grace's. Mine was upstairs by the smaller bathroom. There was also a guest room in this house, along with a spare room, but I wasn't allowed in those either. I was hardly interested to know what was in those areas, at least not as much as the attic. The door slammed shut with a bang. My heart skipped a beat in fright, knowing I was alone with Grace now. Her eyes blazed with the promise of punishment. She gripped me very hard by the arm and dragged me into her bedroom. That door was also shut, then locked. I was trapped in this nightmare.

I was violently thrown onto Grace's bed and pinned down by the wrists. I didn't even have time to gasp in pain as she held me down by force. She fiercely nodded to herself then walked into her small closet only the two of us knew about. What weapon would she use today to bring me close to death again? It was funny how I could contemplate my own death so calmly, as if it was a daily occurrence instead of the end of a journey. Finally, she returned with a rusty knife. How normal. Perhaps she'd only do the usual today. She dragged the weapon down my arms, making sure to use the sharp, serrated side to dig down through all three layers of skin so I could feel the pain. I partially disconnected from this reality, floating high above the torture as more gashes were carved into my soft skin. Of course, I could only space out for so long before the pain actually made itself known. I bit my lip to keep myself from screaming as Grace moved to make sure my legs looked the same. I was sliced up in so many places, and blood had already soaked up the sheets. The sweet aroma, instead of making me feel sick, caused my mouth to water slightly. No, the attack was here. No now, no! I forced myself to focus on the pain instead as a brief distraction.

"Maybe this will teach you a lesson to do something right for once!" she shrieked in my face. "Now go off and do your freaky healing or whatever, I'm sick of seeing your miserable, worthless face!" Funny how I was ordered this when I couldn't even sit up. As I slowly attempted to bring myself into a sitting position, burning pain radiated from all my injuries. The blood dripping from Grace's knife looked so appealing. I needed it. Just a drop. I shook my head, ignoring the resulting dizziness. I couldn't afford to lose control now of all times. I watched as the bleeding began to slow. Clotting was accelerated. It was a good thing I still had enough energy to heal this much. I crawled off the bed, leaving behind a trail of blood even as the sped up healing process continued. The bleeding stopped just as I reached the stairs that would take me to my bedroom. Severely weakened, I knew that I had to get out of here for awhile. I unsteadily stumbled out the door just as my fangs began to grow. I really need blood, but where can I find some on such short notice? Down the street was a mostly abandoned house. Our crazy old neighbor lived here.

I stepped into the ancient, dilapitated home, trying to control the feverish flashes of hunger pulsating in my veins. My fangs were completely extended. Venom dripped down my chin and splashed onto the old wood. It sizzled slightly upon contact. My breath comes out in desperate pants as the instinct to hunt took over. I could smell the old man around here somewhere. A shame that I never learned his name, but that was beside the point right now. He was somewhere in the kitchen, getting a glass of water. My enhanced hearing picked up soft swallows and a beating heart. My mouth welled with more acidic venom. It was time for me to hunt. I moved into the kitchen and made my attack, lunging for the man's jugular vein. He fell to the floor and cried out. I winced as I heard frail bones crunch. It wasn't long before he was drained of his life force and laying there like a shriveled prune. Blood steadily dripped off my still extended fangs onto the tiled floor. I quickly retracted the lethal weapons and licked my lips, sighing in relief at the bittersweet flavor sliding down my throat. Most of the heated flushes drained out of my system, leaving behind a cool comfort. That should hold me over for a couple weeks, until I figure out a new source of blood to sneakily seek out.

Finally, after making sure the body was properly taken care of; bite marks covered up, blood cleaned up, and the corpse on the couch, I quickly returned home to see Grace was nowhere to be seen, or Lily. But a familiar brown haired man laid in the armchair, looking completely exhausted. The man was Robert, also known as my father. He had been away from home for thirty days, six hours, and seventeen minutes. He might as well have aged ten years in that amount of time. I gazed at him in silence, wondering if I should be disappointed, angry, or relieved. Unfortunately, I felt all three emotions equally and sharply.

"Dad," I whispered, knowing I probably sounded like a complete idiot crying out for my father like a six year-old wimp. "Where have you been all this time? Lily keeps asking for you." There was an elongated silence as my father wearily opened his eyes and looked up at me from the reclined chair. I looked into his eyes, mirror image of my own. Would I ever become so broken and defeated as this?

"Rose...your mother is not in her right mind," Dad said slowly. "I've been trying to file for a divorce, because I just can't take it any longer. The way she treats you just isn't right." I bit my lip as I processed what he was implying. A divorce, meaning he would leave. The owner of the household almost always gets custody of the kids. So without my father here there would be no one, unless he fought hard enough to keep us and made sure Grace got nothing in the end.

"Please tell me Lily and I will live with you," I begged. My father sat up and looked straight at me. It was there I could see all forty-two years of his life, sagging in lines, horrors unseen, and sleepless nights in bags under the eyes. The completely defeated gaze was more of an answer than I ever was hoping to recieve. I turned away and ran up into my room to hide the stinging tears gathering in my eyes. Without my father around, hope may as well have abandoned me, for what reason did I have to keep on fighting?

Here in my bedroom, I could be anything, or do anything I wanted. The door fell shut behind me as the tears finally started to stream down my face, blurring my vision behind a veil of watery sorrow and hopelessness. I collapsed at the vanity and gazed into the mirror. My hazel eyes were filled with fresh tears that constantly spilled over in a river of despair. The pain in my eyes from the stinging sensation was nothing compared to the ache in my chest. There has to be something to make it all go away. No one was there to care about me. Especially not Dad. He was going to leave me behind. This was completely unfair. I messily wiped my eyes and looked down at my wrists as the tears began to slow. Fangs silently extended again. There was a way, after all. With regret, I reared back my head and moaned in relief when teeth pierced skin. I bit myself again and again. Soon, five sets of bleeding teeth marks showed for my efforts. Instead of willing myself to heal at an accelerated rate like I normally did, I watched the wounds bleed. Oh, it hurt a lot, but it was a good hurt. I smiled, the urge to cry suddenly disappearing. All better, I thought.