I decided to write a fictional piece for this using two characters from a WIP of mine that has been much neglected for quite some time. For those unfamiliar with this WIP (i.e. anyone who wasn’t in my classes at Uni or roped in as a proof reader) here’s a brief bit of background which might make it all make a bit more sense:
Tahni, the narrator, is a fifteen year old girl in her first year of GCSEs. She was adopted as a child but other than that leads a typical teenage life. When she starts at the school she meets Lyall, another typical teenager with all the bluff and bravado you expect from a reasonably attractive and intelligent fourteen year old male. The only thing is that Lyall’s eyes are a highly unusual shade of green – unnaturally bright and defined with a tendency to flash even brighter and almost gold when he’s emotional in any way. This is odd in itself, but not so much as the fact that Tahni’s eyes are exactly the same.
This similarity often makes their teachers and school-friends assume they are siblings (which they aren’t) and this has always been a point of irritation for Tahni and amusement for Lyall, who loves to play on it just to annoy her.
The truth is that Lyall is a werewolf and his eyes are the only outward show of this (aside from when he gets hairy, obviously) and Tahni is too, however due to being raised outside of any pack she doesn’t know it. Werewolves mature when they are around fifteen and as she approaches her birthday Tahni begins to experience a series of unusual feelings and events which any other ‘wolf would know was the onset of her first change. Tahni hasn’t got a clue and Lyall doesn’t realise that she doesn’t know…yet.
I sat on the stone tiles and ran my fingers over the cracks that had formed after years of over-excited kids running back and forth to P.E. lessons and football practice. My head hurt.
I felt Mr Minshall approaching long before he turned the corner to the changing room corridor, his heavy footfalls vibrating the floor in their distinctive pattern. No-one knew why he limped, we were all too afraid of him to ask and he never volunteered the information himself. It was a topic of much speculation but not one I had ever really thought much about. I spent most of my time avoiding him in P.E. as he seemed to dislike me more than everyone else in the school. Aside from Lyall that is. Typically.
“Did I say you could sit down?” His voice always sounded like he hadn’t used it in a while, gruff and gravely.
“No, Sir.” I dragged myself to my feet. “Sorry, Sir.”
He presented me with a Pink Slip and a glare. “Office. Now.”
I nodded, folded the paper into my pocket and set off for the main school office to hand it in. My parents were going to love this. First I break someone’s arm by accident at a disco, next I almost knock someone out in Netball class and get an official warning. Three of those and you get suspended. Now I had two to my name in the space of four weeks. It really wasn’t my year so far.
Someone else was in the office being yelled at by the Head, so I sat down on the worn seat outside the door to wait for my turn. I shut my eyes to try and stop the pounding behind them. It felt like they were trying to jump out of my skull in time with my heartbeat and the bright corridor lights just made it worse. I felt sick even before I started worrying about Mum and Dad’s faces when I got home after they’d received ‘the phone call’.
“That was a good shot on Duxley, Tahni. She’s much more attractive when she’s stunned into silence.”
I groaned inwardly. “Get lost, Lyall.”
“Can’t, I know my way round. Anyway, been sent to give you this by Minshall.”
I opened my eyes a crack to see Lyall’s hand offering me another folded sheet of paper. I squinted up at his face, suspicious. “What is it?”
“His official report apparently. More detailed than the Pinky. Wonder if he remembered to put in about how she went cross-eyed as she fell over.” Lyall grinned his always-too-white grin and his eyes flashed that abnormal shade of green I’d seen a few times before.
“Wonderful.” I took the paper and shut my eyes again. “Ugh. I feel like it was me that got elbowed in the head, not her. Are these lights brighter than normal?”
I squinted my eyes open again to discover he’d gone. Though how he’d managed it so silently I hadn’t a clue. Creepy boy.
The shouting from the office increased as whoever-it-was started answering back and pleading their case using less than polite terminology. They had clearly run out of chances and were getting the killer phone call made. The one where they tell your parents to take you home indefinitely. Every syllable echoed in my head and made me feel sicker. This headache was getting silly.
I shivered. There was a draft from somewhere too, despite being right in the heart of the building. My P.E. kit was hardly the warmest thing to be wearing as it was and I kept getting ripples of cold across my body like waves of ice water. All the hairs on my arms kept standing up, making them look even darker than normal. I frowned and rubbed at them to make them go flat.
I started counting seconds in my head to distract myself from my general discomfort and was up to three-hundred-and-four when I became aware of someone standing beside me and jumped slightly.
“Don’t open your eyes, just take these.” I felt two small tablets being pressed into one hand and a glass into the other. “They help make it feel less bright. Should help the headache too.”
“Thanks,” I said, slightly confused. I took the tablets one at a time, assuming they were just paracetamol or Aspirin, then sat with my head resting against the wall. “Lyall?”
“Mmm?” He sounded nervous.
“How did you know I had a headache?” I asked, stifling another shudder as the cold flowed across my body again.
“Lucky guess.” His voice had hardened and I got the impression he wasn’t going to give me any answers. “Is your jacket in the corridor or in the changing room?”
“Corridor. Hangers by the girls’ door. Why?”
“You need to keep warm. I’ll get it.”
He left again and I cracked my eyes open a little to watch him go. He was almost out of sight already, as always, moving a little too fast to be normal. He had been right though, the lights did seem less bright and I was able to open my eyes properly without them hurting.
I waited not long enough for someone to make the trip all the way to the P.E. department and back again without sprinting and there he was. He should have been out of breath but he wasn’t even flushed. Lyall Hargreaves was possibly the strangest person I had ever met. And, most of the time, one of the most annoying, rude and obnoxious. This sudden niceness was more than a little weird.
“Here.” He handed me my coat, studying my face closely as he did so. “Put it on and make sure you drink all that water. Headache better?”
“Yes, thanks. The lights aren’t so vicious now.” I wanted to ask how he seemed to know what was wrong with me but somehow suspected I wouldn’t get a straight answer. “Shouldn’t you be in class?”
“Probably.” He paused and stared at me some more. “If your eyes hurt like that again, make sure you tell me. I’ll give you some more stuff to make it stop. It gets worse otherwise, trust me.”
I nodded dumbly, wondering if the pain was something directly related to having freakishly green eyes. The one thing Lyall and I shared.
“I’ve got to go. Promise me you’ll find me next time?” Lyall sounded genuinely worried.
“Promise. But, Lyall, what’s with all the niceness? No offence, but it’s not like you.”
He shrugged. “I just know how you feel that’s all. I always wished someone had been there for me through it, I don’t want you to feel like that.”
“Oh.” I had no idea what he was talking about. “Right.”
I watched him leave, slower this time, as if he was distracted or lost in thought. I hadn’t a clue how he knew what I was feeling, what it was I’d taken, why he knew how to make me feel more human again or even why he suddenly cared, but I was glad he had. The gift of kindness wasn’t one I often got these days and the feeling it left me with was one of peace. Even though the person who gave me it was Lyall of all people.