The three days of my phasing period pass slowly. James doesn’t return again until late on the eve of the third day. By this point, the wolf is beginning to take sway over me as it always does near a transformation. It is only the familiarity of his scent that stops me from reacting furiously when he approaches the cage.
I watch as he slides something on a newspaper under the gate. I sniff the air, taking in the smell of the raw meat. I approach the package, hungry and eager for the food. John left me some food, but not quite enough. He always underestimates how much the wolf in me likes to eat. After eating the meat, I stare up at James. In his hands is a brown paper bag with the logo of a nearby butcher printed on it. I can smell more meat inside and wonder if any of it was meant for me.
James takes a seat by the cage. He looks around the yard anxiously, as though he is waiting for someone. I follow the direction of his head and allow my gaze to circle the yard with him. His gaze keeps landing on the house and its emptiness. I hear him ask where “she” could be aloud to the night air.
The moon is almost overhead and I know that my transformation will be happening soon. I can’t have this human hanging around during that. I rear back on my hind legs and let out a loud growl. I continue to growl as James slowly backs away from the cage, whispering soothing phrases.
He doesn’t leave though. He simply backs away and stands staring, trying to process the sudden shift in my temperament. The moon creeps higher and higher in the sky. I can tell that there are only moments left before the shift from wolf to human will occur. There is no way that I can let James see that. I can vaguely remember from my younger years before I was able to change what the phasing process looked like.
To me, it had always looked like a fairy-tale. The body of the wolf would shake and twist as a deep magic surged through it. The animal’s eyes would go blank and no sound would be heard. Not the beating of the heart. Not the soft breathing of the lungs. It was as though time stood still as the animal lifted up on its hind legs and allowed the bones to fall in and out of place. Eventually, a human would be standing where the animal once stood. The human would be stark naked and a bit dazed from the experience. The experience was painful, but the pain was more than bearable.
The moon is quickly approaching the top of the night sky and I am all out of options for sending James away. He stands several yards from the cage still staring at me. Every time he thinks it’s safe to approach and begins crossing the yard, I let out a low growl. Each time, he backs away and waits again.
My body begins to shake uncontrollably. I sit down and allow myself to be hoisted onto my hind legs. Time stands still for a moment and I black-out for a fraction of a second. I come to and find myself staring into the eyes of James, who had now come directly up to the cage at some point. I stare at him from human eyes for a moment before the fact that I am stark naked registers with me.
I scurry to the corner of the cage and grab a blanket to wrap around myself. I am thankful to John at this very moment because he actually thought to give me a blanket. James continues to stare.
“Do you think you could advert your eyes?” I ask harshly.
“Sorry.” He places his hands over his eyes and turns away from the cage. “What just happened?”
“You saw?” I ask, astonished that he had watched me transform. I am more astonished that he stuck around.
“Yeah.” He seems to be waiting for an explanation.
“That’s who I am.” I say, fumbling to unlock the cage. Luckily, wolves can’t use keys so it’s safe to leave it in the cage for after the transformation.
“Let me help.” He cups his hands over mine and takes the key from me. From the outside of the cage, it is much easier for him to unlock it.
“Can I ask you something?” I ask while he unlocks the cage.
“Why haven’t you run yet?”
“Let’s just say I’m a sucker for animals.” He says with a crooked smile.
“Have you been around a werewolf before or something?” I am thoroughly confused by his calm reaction.
“Is that what you are?” He asks, following me to the house.
“Yes. It is.” I reply, waiting for him to run. He doesn’t.
“Then, now I’ve met a werewolf.” His smile is lopsided again.
“And you’re not afraid?”
“Should I be?”
“I don’t know.” I give him the honest answer. “Why are you here anyways?”
“Well, I’ve been trying to catch you all weekend. I hope you don’t mind – I found your address in your wallet.”
“Why did you look in my wallet?” I ask confused.
“Because you left in such a hurry that you forgot it. I was trying to find a way to reach you.” He says, holding the wallet out to me. I take it carefully and finger it for a moment.
“Thank you.” I say, politely. I am standing in the open door. He seems to be waiting for an invite despite the late hour.
“Well, I guess I’ll see you around?” He asks, seeming to have given up.
“Maybe.” I say before heading into the house.
I head straight for the upstairs and my bed. A phasing period always wears me out. It takes a lot of energy to shift your body from one shape to another.
* * * * *
Howling by Pamela MacLean is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.