The most common type of seizure is a Tonic-Clonic seizure, also known as a Grand Mal seizure.
Some think the word ‘seizure’ comes from the great Ceasar himself, rumored to have suffered fits. But cognates don't work that way, leaping across centuries, from the head of a Roman emperor to that of a teenage girl. They’re shared and traded remnants, confusing in their laziness, or simply mundane. Libraire is not a library, but a bookstore. Epilepsy is épilepsie.
Seizure, in French, is crise or attaque. Crisis. Attack.
Sometimes, the cognate seems more accurate.
She sees it occur to Stiles, because he didn’t sit in front of her in French class for the last two years for nothing. “Grand.” He says it quietly, the English way. “Mal.”
On her other side, Jackson doodles the names of precious metals. L'or. Le platine. L'argent.
Derek warns them they will not be invulnerable. There is still the blue flower, wolfsbane. There is still the stinging metal, silver. There are always the hunters.
“L'argent,” Erica says, in proper accent, letting the t slip unvoiced past her suddenly sharper teeth. “The Argents,” she clarifies. “They're hunters aren't they?”
Derek looks surprised. “Yes,” he says.
Erica doesn’t tell him that silver shows its Latin roots plainly, old argentum lurking just underneath. One of the few elements she can remember in chemistry, when Harris is bemoaning their collective stupidity, is the small Ag.
Boyd though, his textbook heavy in his bag, smiles across at her.
She reads the legends, later. The old French would call her bête, but she is not a beast, she is strong and sleek. She is louve, the she-wolf, the feminine form of swift loping loup, an extra growl at the end.
It is not a cognate. It has nothing to do with the English word it sounds like.
Hers is not the wolf disease. That's lupus, stealing the Latin root, so called because of the coloration that spreads its mask over the woman’s cheeks (almost everyone who has it is a woman) and looks, supposedly, like wolf markings. Her disease does not have such distinctive physical hallmarks. It marks her face in other ways, wraps her in a camouflage of grey sweatshirt that doesn’t betray the shape of her body when she writhes inside it.
But Erica’s disease is wolf-like just the same. It hunts her down. It nips at her heels. It announces itself, but only just prior to striking.
Until one day it stands on its hind legs, and steps out of the hospital shadows.
Erica is sitting in French 1A, first semester freshman year. They are learning adjectives. Gros. Mince. Fat. Skinny. She sits, waiting for the most familiar of words, ones she's been writing on forms for years. She knows the words are coming, can feel them rolling towards her the way she senses other terrible and inevitable events. She tastes them in her mouth, like the blood, even as she dutifully repeats them aloud. Grand. Mal. She prints them carefully in her notebook.
In French, seizure is crise or attaque.
She has a choice how to end the phrase (crisis, attack) but Erica prefers accuracy in her language. Her monster, épilepsie, sounds like a flower or bird, but it is still a monster. It still rips her from limb to limb, still fills her mouth with the taste of blood.
Carefully she writes loup.
Big bad wolf.
Months later, Derek, her disease in the shape of a man, offers a cure.
Erica prefers accuracy in her language, and so she reminds herself it is not a cure. There is no cure. There is only choosing a different form of illness.
Language is a trick, anyone can link words, anything can sound alike. Cognate comes from the Latin that means blood relative. But even blood betrays.
Lycanthropy, she learns later, is from the Greek, but she still hears enough of the loup within it, to recognize her old familiar monster.
She offers her arm. She chooses the monster that chose her first.
She looks down at her pack sometimes, at Isaac's curly head, and Boyd's smooth one, and even Derek's bristly skull, and thinks how young they all are, still. Derek may have lived with werewolves his whole life, but Erica has lived with monsters for much longer.
A wolf cub in French is louveteau. Derived from the female form, because without she-wolves there can be no wolf cubs, there can be no pack.
They are in the woods and the moon is growing fat. Grosse, her mind supplies, the feminine of gros, because the moon, of course, is a woman.
Au clair de la lune. By the light of the moon, Erica becomes her monster. She feels her pack leaping at her sides. She tastes blood. Even in her new life she encounters the aura. There is the same metal taste on her tongue. It is real blood that fills her mouth now, but it still heralds the same thing. Crisis. Attack.
Erica bares her fangs, throws back her head. Her howl means the same in any language.