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Chapter 5

  • “Never come back. Stay away forever.” His tone was dark and I could hear the warning in it.
  • Swallowing hard, I nodded. It was good advice, honestly. I’d seen this place destroy my own mother. She’d been a decent mom when I was young. Then something inside her snapped. I always wondered if it was the whole denying the inner wolf the ability to shift. They said my grandfather went crazy and killed himself because not shifting was too much. I never let myself put too much stock in those rumors because I didn’t want to believe it could happen to me. Maybe staying away would help slow it down or prevent me from following the same path.
  • “Get out of here,” he said.
  • I stuffed the envelope into the waistband of my jeans and covered it with my shirt. Damn girl jean pockets were too fucking small to actually fit anything. “Thanks, again.”
  • He grunted as he picked up a broom and started sweeping. Our conversation was officially over. My throat was a little tight as I walked to the front door. Jud wasn’t nice, exactly, but he had shown me kindness in his own way.
  • The night air was cool and clean. The scent of lilac filled the air. Summer was the best time of year in Wolf Creek. Warmth, sunshine, no school. It was the time of year when I could avoid the bullies. I smiled as I realized I was about to avoid them forever.
  • The walk to my mom’s trailer seemed longer than usual tonight. Maybe it was because I kept pausing to take everything in. It was my last night here, after all. Despite my attempts to stir up nostalgia, every memory I recalled was bad. By the time I reached home, I was more than ready to leave.
  • My mom’s door was closed and grunting sounds escaped the thin walls. I wrinkled my nose and quickly made my way to my room, closing the door behind me. I was not going to miss that. I flipped on the light switch, but nothing happened.Dammit, Mom.She must not have paid the power bill again.
  • Looked like my last night here was going to end with a cold shower. Somehow, it seemed a fitting end to this stint in hell.
  • Using a flashlight, I double checked my bag. It was a surreal feeling packing your whole life into a duffel bag. Thankfully, I didn’t have a lot. The clothes that weren’t too worn out, money from my job, a folder with my transcripts from school, and my two favorite books. That was it. My whole life in a bag. It was a little sad when I realized this was it. No photos, nothing sentimental. Even though this had been my life for a while, I knew it was wrong. It wasn’t any way to live. I was going to break free, though. Even if I went nuts and ended it all, I’d give myself a few good years first.
  • After a quick, cold shower in the dark, I locked my bedroom door then crawled into bed. As my eyelids grew heavy, I wondered where I’d be sleeping tomorrow. It didn’t really matter as long as I was far from here.
  • A door slammed and I sat up, fully awake, heart pounding. A man yelled, then my mom yelled and something crashed against a wall. I scrambled out of bed and unlocked my door. Just as I stumbled into the living room, the front door to our trailer slammed shut.
  • My mom was standing in front of her open bedroom door in a ratty bathrobe. Her red hair was a mess and she had lipstick smeared on her mouth. The streaks of her mascara running down her face gave away the tears even if she wasn’t crying now.
  • “You okay?” I asked.
  • My mom turned away from the door and looked at me. Her eyes widened as if noticing me for the first time. We often went weeks without speaking about anything other than her cigarette stash. It was like we were roommates rather than mother and daughter. It suited me fine. She’d given up on me and herself sometime around fifth grade. I’d tried to pull her out of the funk for a while, but eventually I gave up and got a job and bought my own groceries. Shortly after the power went out for the first time, she started having male visitors over and the power went back on. I knew enough not to ask questions. She’d shut me out and she wasn’t the same mom I had before.
  • “Mom? Did he hurt you?”
  • “No, it’s fine, everything is fine. It’s a full moon tonight. You know how they get,” she said.
  • “Yeah.”
  • “How’s work?” She tied her robe closed and walked into the tiny kitchen.
  • “Fine.” I wasn’t sure what she was playing at. We never talked about anything anymore.
  • “Coffee?” She picked up a bag of grounds and held it up.
  • I nodded then stood there in silence watching her go through the motions of adding the filter, scooping grounds, and filling the pot with water. I knew she made herself coffee every day, but I was usually at school when she did. When I got home, I’d drink the leftovers over ice and dump the grounds.
  • “You’re leaving tonight, aren’t you?” she asked without looking up.