After taking the world’s longest shower, I slipped sluggishly into bed. I shuffled over to Kyle’s side and took in his lingering scent. My eyes felt very heavy, sleep overtook me quickly. I woke up to the smell of breakfast and coffee. After getting dressed, I stumbled into the kitchen to find Tom preparing it all. I was starving.
“You slept for two days, your first change always takes a lot out of you.” Jesus, two days! Tom watched with a slight smile as I inhaled my food and coffee. I was famished. Once finished, we cleaned up. It was time to get down to business.
Tom explained everything. He went into details about our family history with lycanthropy. It all began when our grand-father moved to Wolf Lake. He was exploring the trails in the area when he got lost, forcing him to build a crude shelter and camp out ‘til morning. Sometime during that cold night he woke to the blood chilling wail of unearthly howls, and before he could react he was surrounded by creatures unlike anything he had ever seen before. He reached beside him and grabbed whatever he could to defend himself. He fought them off long and hard, eventually winning the battle. But he didn’t escape unscarred.
Grandma had a secret of her own. She was born with lycanthropy in her blood. She was an ‘Original’, one of many that originated from Wolf Lake. She was present the night Grandpa was attacked. She stayed hidden behind a bush, watching the ordeal, not wanting to participate. There was something about this man that was different…her instincts told her to hang back and observe. The rest of the pack thought they’d have an easy meal, they didn’t expect such a fight. After realizing how strong he was, they ran off. They didn’t want to kill him…not when he’d make such a strong addition to their pack. She approached him in human form after the attack and helped nurse him back to health. That’s when they fell in love.
After the first Blue Moon since the attack, grand-dad experienced his first change. Our grand-parents were out on a date when it happened. Grandma helped him as much as she could. That’s when he found out she was also a werewolf, as she transformed to keep an eye on him that night. They ran through the forest and enjoyed the night. They woke up together near the lake, it was a peaceful scene. Grand-dad had a whole new appreciation for the beautiful woman that laid on his chest smiling up at him. He decided to propose to her that day.
Every family has secrets, but this one took the cake. A pack of wolves that owned and ran a summer resort on Wolf Lake…classy. I wondered what other secrets they had kept from me. My mind was reeling, my whole world had just been turned upside down and inside out. Suddenly I noticed the time on my phone and realized I was late for work.
“Shit! I got to run, thanks for everything Tom.” He nodded his head and followed me out the front door. The summer was coming to an end and clients were leaving by the handful. We spent the day cleaning out empty cottages and closing them off for the cold months ahead. I couldn’t properly concentrate throughout the day. My emotions were a mix between sad and mad and bewildered. I was glad when my work day was over. I made my way to my parents’ house.
I barged in not bothering to knock. I needed answers. Though Tom had given me a quick overview of our family history, I needed to know why I wasn’t told this sooner. I could have avoided all this shit with Kyle. I missed him, it hurt thinking about him. My parents were sitting at the kitchen table having coffee. A third cup was sitting on the table, my mom pointed to it as I marched into the room. Clearly they were expecting me.
“Kyle’s mom called today honey, said he had a bad car accident. They just found the car off the dirt road. The police report read it looked like he was dragged from the car by an animal. He didn’t make it.” I stared at my mom as she spoke, fully knowing the truth. My dad reached for my hand but I pulled it away. They knew what had actually happened.
“Baby girl, we are sorry we didn’t tell you sooner. After you found the body when you were a kid, we got scared. It was Tom’s first change and he lost control when he got angry with a passerby, resulting in his death. It took a toll on you, we were trying to protect you from that world. We are so sorry.” He looked genuine and sad. I teared up at the thought of losing Kyle. My parents explained they still didn’t know what triggered the change. When Tom first changed he was a teenager. They all were… They figured, because I had passed my teenage years without any signs, I hadn’t inherited the gene... My head hurt, this was all too much.
Kyle’s funeral was a couple days later. The ceremony was beautiful, and loads of people came. It was hard for me to be there, knowing the truth about his death. I tried to sit in the back during the ceremony, but Kyle’s mother wouldn’t have it. Thankfully, it was a closed casket. The weather outside was appropriate for the day and my mood: It was pouring rain and the sky was dark grey. Tom offered me a ride to the cemetery for the burial. I skipped out and decided to walk. It was a wet and miserable walk, but I needed to be alone. When I finally got there, the majority of the people had left. It took me long to get across town, but I had purposely done so to avoid the crowd.
I knelt by his plot and let the rain soak me further. My brain was flooded with images from my time with Kyle. It had been an amazing five years. “Are you okay dear? You are shivering badly.” I hadn’t noticed anyone around me until Kyle’s mom popped my daydream bubble. I looked up at her and saw the face of a defeated woman who had lost her only child. If only she knew what had actually happened.
I gave her a broken smile and stood up; “I was just leaving.” I hugged her gently and was about to leave but she grabbed my hand.
“Let me bring you home love, I know you’d like to be alone, but I just can’t bear to be alone right now.” Despite my misgivings, keeping her company was the least I could do. I nodded and followed her to her car. The car ride felt like an eternity. The longer I was with her, the worse I felt. Hey lady, I have something to say. It’s no biggie, BUT I killed your son! That would go over well, right? She pulled up to the house and gave me a forced smile.
“I’d come in for tea, but you look wet and tired. Poor thing, take it easy.” I hugged her tightly and thanked her for the ride. As I approached my house, I could see the silhouette of someone inside. I wasn’t excepting anyone today and curiosity overtook me. I crept inside the front door as quietly as I could and slowly made my way to the living room. Shock and horror overwhelmed me as I turned the corner…standing in the center of the room was Kyle. My head spun, I couldn’t breathe. Was this a hallucination? Last time I saw him, he was very much dead. He looked different. He was wearing the clothes they had put him in for the funeral. “You look surprised Jane.” He finally said, smirking at me.
Author Notes: Editor: James Armes