Minutes later, we pulled onto the gravel drive of my uncle’s house. Trees rustled in the breeze. Birdsong filled the air.
“Do you own this place?” I asked.
“No. I rent. You know how it is. I don’t want to be bogged down if I have to move on.” He pulled the bags from the back. “Get the door for me, will you?”
I skipped up the steps and opened the front door. Unlocked again. Bob carried the bags into the kitchen and set them on the table. He’d gotten other things to eat—Spaghetti-Os, bread, peanut butter. He also bought a dozen coat hangers and a couple of twenty-six inch bicycle inner tubes.
“You’re probably used to a live-in housekeeper to cook and clean for you,” he said as he put the food into the cupboard.
“No,” I said. “Mom handled everything.” I didn’t add that we had a cleaning service come in three times a week.
“We don’t have anyone on staff here, either.” He looked at me. “We don’t even have a dishwasher. So here’s the thing. You clean up after yourself or you don’t. But the rule is, you don’t complain about it. The place gets to be a mess, you don’t complain. You want something, you either get it or you don’t complain. You need help, you ask or—”
“Don’t complain,” I said. “Got it.”
“Good.” He clapped me on the back. “Let’s go get the rest of your stuff.”
We went to the truck where he loaded me up with clothes, towels, and bedding. The blanket made my nose itch, and I wondered if its last owner had been a horse. I carried everything inside. But as I reached my room, I stopped.
Evidence. That’s what I held in my arms. Physical proof that I lived there. If anyone saw this, I would be lost. I sat on the edge of the bed, afraid to set the stuff down, and thought about running away. My dad always gave me my allowance via a debit card. I had enough in the account for a bus ticket home. I could live in the bathhouse. My parents would never know I was there.
Until my friends came calling.
I groaned and thought about my friends, all of them enjoying holiday break with families who didn’t want to send them away, all of them looking forward to nighttime without worrying about what kind of monster they might become. This was a nightmare. How could anyone turn into a wolf? It was impossible.
I sat up straight. Yes, it was impossible. This couldn’t be real. And if I was stuck in some sort of dream, all I could do was keep moving forward until I woke up.
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