I rocked on the creaking porch swing until the sky turned purple and the crickets came out. It was like waiting for a bomb to drop. I was scared, and the more scared I felt, the angrier I got. I was not going to change into a wolf. I didn’t deserve this.
I stomped into the house, made a cold Spaghetti-O sandwich, and ate it over the sink. The kitchen window was open. It let in a variety of smells I wouldn’t have noticed before, from night blooming jasmine to the garbage can behind the shed. I faced the growing darkness as if to stare down an enemy.
My muscles itched to move. I wanted to burst out the door and run as fast as I could, feel my legs stretch beneath me, feel the wind in my face. But I figured that was the wolf in me, eager to get out. So I compromised—I walked. I walked from the kitchen to my bedroom and back again. I turned on every light I could find. Occasionally, I checked to see that hair hadn’t sprouted from my knuckles.
I’d left the television on and soon heard the beginning of a football game. Purdue and Central Michigan. I tried to watch but couldn’t hold still, so I turned up the volume and paced. It was a maddening game. Central Michigan scored four times in the third quarter and still lost. I yelled at the referees, yelled at the sportscasters, tore at my hair, and shredded my uncle’s newspaper. I don’t think I ever felt so angry in my life—and I’m not even a CMU fan. With my rage barely in check, I kept walking.
Sometime after midnight, exhaustion set in. I collapsed face down on my bed, aching and sweaty. The horse blanket itched where it touched bare skin. I didn’t mind. At least, I still had bare skin. That filled me with intense pride. I was human. I had beaten this thing.
With a tired grin, I sat up, pulled out my cell, and called my mom in France.
My father answered. “Hello, Cody.”
“Hi, Dad. Where’s Mom? Is she okay?”
“Yes, she’s...” he hesitated, “taking a shower.”
I heard the lie. She didn’t want to talk to me. I let it slide. “I’m calling with good news. It’s the middle of the night, and I haven’t turned into a wolf.”
“That is good news.”
“I can come home now.”
He hesitated again. “That’s a little premature, don’t you think, son?”
“I can control it. I promise it won’t happen again.”
There was a moment of silence as my life flitted across my eyes.
Then my dad said, “It would be better if you stayed in Florida for a while. Spend some time on your own. How are you getting along with Uncle Bob?”
A crushing disappointment hit. They didn’t want me. It had nothing to do with my turning into a wolf. They’d waited for an excuse to get rid of me.
“Cody? Are you there?”
“Yeah. I’m here.”
“Is there anything you need?”
Why did everyone keep asking that? I rubbed my eyes. “My computer. I need my computer.”
“I’ll see to it.” His voice was cheerful. “Hey, thanks for calling. It’s good to hear from you.”
“Yeah. Enjoy your vacation.”
“We’re cutting it short, actually. Going home today.”
Home. I winced. A lump grew in my throat.
My shoulders sagged. I sat on the edge of my bed, staring at the phone. Call ended. It might as well have said life ended.
What had I done to make my parents hate me? I got decent grades. Never been arrested. Of course, there was the time Mickey Martin and I said we were spending the night in his tree house, and we really went to a party. They were angry about that. But hate?
Maybe I was just no good.
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