Three. That’s how old I was when they killed my Dad. I don’t remember. There is a lot I don’t remember, but then why would I? I was so young. I know about it now though. I’ve seen pictures.
Sometimes I can’t believe how much my life has changed in the last 18 or so months. I mean getting your first period is kinda a big deal, I just didn’t think it would actually change my life. I stare at my reflection, the glyph on my hip is dark and glossy. It has never meant so much to me as it does in this moment. I have made a decision. I am about to change my life again. Difference is this time it’s my choice.
Perhaps I need to back up a bit. and then you’ll understand why I’m about to do this thing.
I was closer to 15 than 14 when I had my first bleed, which would have meant so very little ordinarily. I mean the only thing it’s really supposed to change is once that happens you’re able to have kids and who really wants that. Certainly not me.
Actually I think I need to go back further than that. Not much before it because it wasn’t that much earlier that Ronan started hanging around. He was new to school and made no effort to fit in. I liked that about him but still probably would have ignored him, most likely, except he never really gave me the option. He came up to me on his first day of school and said, ‘Well it’s a pleasure to meet you puppy.’ Seriously I thought he was such a dick, and he was so scruffy looking. I mean who calls someone that? He didn’t even tell me his name. I had really wanted to say something clever back but everything I thought of sounded so lame. So I just walked away.
It wasn’t the only odd thing he did in those weeks. Thing was it never sounded like he was being deliberately cruel or even like he was pretending to be nice and really stabbing me in the back very publicly. He just sounded friendly.
I used to see him around when I was out but truthfully I never really thought about it. It’s a small town with not that many places to go. It wasn’t till later I found out he’d been following me. He’d known what was going to happen and was there to make sure I wasn’t alone when it did.
The day my life changed didn’t start like any other day. They always say it does but it didn’t. I noticed this mark on my skin when I was in the shower trying to wake up, mornings are not my strong suit, never have been. It was pretty indistinct that morning. Looked more like dirt, or even a bruise, but it didn’t wash off or hurt.
I went to school like normal but by mid-morning I was feeling pretty weird. I went to the loo and well don’t remember much of what happened next. Except I collapsed and I remembered thinking it was strange that Ronan was on the phone in the girls loo. I heard him saying, ‘No, it’s now. I’m pulling her out’.
When I came to I was in the bush, naked and he was there. So were two others. I freaked. I mean really freaked out. I didn’t know where I was, or what had happened. As I was losing it I kept getting these flashes of running through the bush and eating a raw rabbit. The blood splashing down my throat and the bones crunching between my teeth.
They gave me clothes, not my own, but they wouldn’t let me leave. That was when they explained it all to me. That I really was different from my classmates, it wasn’t just your everyday, run of the mill feelings of alienation. I didn’t want to believe them. I wanted it to be some bad reaction to a drug I didn’t know I‘d taken. I know, crazy hey. It’s got to be pretty strange when being drugged is what you were hoping to be told.
I was sore all over. I mean seriously sore. Every muscle ached and every joint groaned. There was an esky full of food. Ronan ate with me. The other two just watched. I don’t know when I’ve eaten so much. Well there has been a few times since but not before. I was kind of scared you know. How else was I supposed to react to being told I was a lycan? That’s right, not quite as cool in the emo stakes as a vampire but still…
It never felt like a good thing to me. I was just another problem to add to every other one that comes from being my age.
So there you have it. Choose what you want to believe, either I’m telling the truth or I’m full of it. It matters little to me. I never asked for it.
My father died because of it. And so did my mother, though perhaps a little indirectly in her case.
I said earlier I didn’t really remember dad and I don’t, just a few little flashes. Mostly they’ve come back in the last few months. Bits and pieces, strangely most often when I’ve been in wolf form. Mum though I have a few memories of but mostly what I have are her journals. My pack found someone who knew her, one of my dad’s old pack mates.
Mum gave me up for adoption about fifteen months after dad died. She was killed five months after that. She was killed because she couldn’t forget what had been done to him, because she didn’t want to forget. She couldn’t let go so she set out to get even. She gave me up so I would at least have a chance for a life that might resemble something normal. Not that foster care and adoption are all that normal.
I understand what she did. I understood it before Heather came over and cried in my arms. Now I understand it even more.
Heather is my best friend, she gets I can be prickly, she can be too. She is considered by the others just as odd as I am. Two misfits that fit so well together.
I saw red when she told me what happened. It took all my will power not to give in to the urge burning through me.
This is how it happened and this is what bought me to the place I’m at now.
Heather climbed through my window earlier tonight and I knew right away that something was wrong. She wasn’t moving right and I could smell the sex and blood on her. Her eyes were haunted and shadowed. She tried to hold back the tears but as soon as I touched her they come pouring out. Hot, angry and scared.
My blood quickened through my veins. She didn’t need to tell me. I could smell them on her but she didn’t know that. In a trembling voice she detailed the degradation and humiliation. She was unable to look me in the eye. I am her best friend, she shouldn’t feel that way with me and I could kill them for that alone, but it’s not that alone is it? That look wouldn’t be there without the actions that put it there. ‘Stupid boys’, I thought as I tried to calm my breathing, relax my muscles. I cannot allow myself to turn while Heather is here and in so much need. I could not release the more animal instincts that were clawing at me. Not until she was safe.
Once she had left I knew just what I had to do. This thing is crystal in my mind. Perhaps the clearest thought I’ve had in all this time. Pack or no, I have to do this. I stripped to how I stand now, naked, the cool breeze from my still open window bringing relief to my burning flesh.
I stand and stare at that black, glossy glyph on my hip. It marks me as what I am. This is my destiny. For the first time since that mark appeared I am totally willing to embrace all that my blood and past has made me. I will not sit by and allow these things to happen. Not when I can do something about them.
I have been cautioned that we must keep our true selves secret. Why? Who will believe anyone who sees me? But then if I’m smart there won’t be any witnesses. What is the point of having this ability if I don’t get to use it as I see fit. This is my place, I will do what needs to be done.
The Australian Literature Review