It’s time for Josie’s Writing Workshop over at Sleep Is For The Weak again. I really love doing this because it makes me think and I love reading everyone else’s interpretations too because there’s always so many different ways of looking at the same prompt.
This week’s prompt jumped me forward a bit in Lyall and Tahni’s story to a key point in their relationship where Tahni has to face the truth of everything and accept who she is. (If you are new to Lyall and Tahni have a quick peek at the summary here to get the background, it’ll make everything below make more sense! And should you want to read the other short stories about Lyall and Tahni they are all linked under the Fiction and Poetry button at the top of the page.)
I Was, I Am, I Will Be
Revelations -A Tale Of Lyall and Tahni
I shivered and looked up at Lyall who was crouching over me with his head on one side and his eyes on mine.
“Lyall.” My voice was nothing but a broken whisper. “I still don’t understand.”
He whined and touched his nose to my cheek. It was wet but warm and somehow reassuring.
I shivered again and felt cold ripple through me like a wave on a beach, leaving behind it an itch that almost burned, touching every single inch of my body. I wanted to scratch but my arms were aching so fiercely I could barely move them.
I forced myself to move, rolling onto my belly and drawing my knees up under myself. My eyes were squeezed shut in pain and I dropped my head onto my arms breathing heavily to try and ease the hurt.
Then I froze. My arms were warm. In the same way a cat is warm when you rest your face against its fur.
I squinted. Swallowed. Closed my eyes again.
I felt Lyall shifting beside me. I could smell something odd, tangy like oranges mixed with something much less sweet. It made me uneasy. It felt like fear.
I could hear a strange whining noise and it was only when I realised it stopped whenever I feverishly gasped in a breath that it was coming from me. I sounded like a dog left out in the rain.
There was a sudden series of crunching and grinding noises and I was aware of Lyall moving away briefly before returning to my side.
“Tahni. It’s going to be okay, just keep breathing deeply.” His voice was rough, as though he really needed a drink or had been crying. “The itching will stop soon. You…your fur is almost through now. Then the ache will fade.”
I wailed involuntarily. He stroked the back of my head.
“It’s okay. Shhh. The first time is always the worst. Next time will be quicker and not so scary. Just try and relax.”
I panicked then. This was not happening. I’m a girl. A normal, fifteen year old girl. Human. All the way through. If you cut me in half it would be written through me like a stick of rock: Homo Sapiens.
I’m not a mythical creature. Mythical creatures are just that. Mythical. Not real.
I forced myself up onto my hands and knees and glared at Lyall. I desperately wanted to shout at him, blame him, ask him why he seemed to know everything. I couldn’t manage anything other than a wonky sort of growling which hurt my throat.
I tried to launch myself at him. Hurt him like I was hurting. I just fell on him instead and he held me. Firmly but gently against his chest, which was naked but still warm despite the cold air. His hands stroked my head slowly and rhythmically and I found myself breathing along with the pattern, letting myself focus on that and nothing else.
“I’m sorry, Tahni. I thought you knew. I didn’t know you never knew your parents and they never told you. I should have told you who you are before…” He paused and stopped stroking. I whimpered until he started again. “At least you aren’t alone.”
I think I blacked out after that. Everything hurt so much the world went white and all I could hear was crackling like fireworks exploding right next to my head.
Then I was quivering on the floor and my entire body felt full of electricity, shivering through me every which way and back again. I opened my eyes and my heart skipped. The world had gone mad. Everything was tinted blue or yellow, as if I were looking through a stained glass window. I whined.
“Weird isn’t it? You’ll get used to it after a while. I think it’s a canine thing, different colour spectrum.” Lyall sounded a bit amused.
I stood, realising as I unfolded myself that it felt strangely normal to have four feet. Concentrating I turned to face Lyall who was sitting cross-legged on the grass totally naked but for his jumper laid across his lap.
“You’re a very beautiful wolf, Tahni. Deep reddish brown, like your hair when you’re human.” He caught my eyes with his and held me with a look so intense I didn’t dare blink. “You’re going to be okay you know? I’ll help you. The pack will let you in. They have to.”
He paused and looked at the floor.
“It’ll all be okay.”
I just stared at him and thought about what he’d said.
I am a wolf.
I will be fine.
I had to believe him. I had no choice.