I remember how it happened. I been sneaking out, late at night. It felt wrong doing it at the time. I mean, I always feel bad doing stuff against my parents wishes. But this time, it was a different kind of wrong. Like, something was going to happen, I guess. Something bad and big, something that would ruin my life. But as usual, I don't listen to my conscience. I mean, I used to not listen to it. Now, it’s like my best friend. I had made it through the squeaky gate, moving ever so slowly so the hinges that thirsted for oil didn’t announce my escape to the whole neighborhood. As I ran through the forest just behind my house, a head of familiar, sweeping white hair swing down from a tree ten feet in front of me. Slowing from my run to a light jog, I called out to the form hanging upside down from a tree branch.
“Marcia!”. But she hadn’t answered me that day.
“Marcia?”, the feeling of wrongness that settled deep in my stomach had me slowing down to a walk that day. As I had gotten closer to Marcia, the light from the moon had illuminated her through the trees surrounding us. I stopped walking. There was something about the way that Marcia had hung there that day, something that made my blood turn cold just by looking at her. Looking back, I wish I had just stayed in my warm bed, the comforting sounds of crickets outside my window lulling me to sleep. But as I said earlier, I never listen to my conscience. That is, until after that happened.
If you saw me today versus what I was like all those years ago, you would have thought me a liar, because surely someone so pretty can’t look like… This. How I look now. But it is me. My hair hanging from my shoulders as if it were dead. Sunken cheeks, hollow eyes, once bright with joy, but now just… Dead. And the scars. Jagged and big, covering most of my body. So much to the extent that I can’t tell where they end and where they start. They ache. All of the time. Like the one on the left side of my waist, that stretches down to be near my right thigh.
“And if you look to the left of Sagittarius, we see Delphinus, which is Latin for Dolphin. Many myths are attached to Delphinus, like how it is said that Poseidon planted his image in the stars after delivering him a nymph he wished to marry. Or, his image was put in the stars after he saved a poet and music maker, Arion. But either way, it is believed that Delphinus has a noble past, and is highly respected. But of course, these are myths, and they were made by a delusional old man in the sixteenth century.”, Sister Joan’s sharp voice cut through my thoughts. I snuck a glance at the old grandfather clock near the door. It looked like how I felt. Tired. Wasted. In pain. And it read half past seven. I groaned. An hour left until I would be excused to the privacy of my bedroom. That is, some privacy before I would be ushered out of the school and off the ‘holy-grounds-that-has-been-gifted-to-us-by-god-where-we-do-not-hurt-others-but-lift-them-up’ owned by the Feretrum Lux, the church that so graciously opened their arms for me. They were the reason I couldn’t feel happy. The reason I was labeled ‘Devil Child’. The reason that every month I would be-
“And what can we deduce from that, Delphina?”, Sister Joan’s gruff voice interrupted my thoughts, snapping me back to reality. A giggling came from across the room. Of course, Sister Joan picked on me, the least favourite. The ‘Devil Child’.
“I’m not quite sure, Sister Joan.”, I croaked. This time of the month, my body was in pain and I was violent. It was hard not to sucker punch her right in the wrinkled old face, considering that she had pushed it only inches from my own. Her brown eyes gleamed with malice.
“You will have to stay after you are dismissed, I guess.”, her rancid breath billowed in my face.
“You know I can’t do that.”, I whispered. She only smirked.
“Who can tell me what we can deduce from that?”, she pulled her face back and continued with the lesson.
“Well, we can deduce that if you were to look north to Orion’s Belt, and follow those stars diagonally down, then we can locate Sirius without using a compass or map.”, a shrill, pointed accent echoed through the room, followed by Sister Joan’s usual approval for anyone other than me.
“Well done, Arabella!”, she glanced at the clock, “You may all leave. All of you except Delphina.”, she added and looked pointedly at me. I sighed. I’d be writing lines until eleven tonight, no doubt. She slid a piece of paper and a pen in front of my hands.
“I will not act like a Devil Child. You will keep writing until I say you may stop. If it is not neat enough, you will be writing again tomorrow night.”.
“But I will be in the infirmary ward tomorrow.”, I said indignantly.
“Well, you should have been paying attention then, Delphina.”.
It had taken hours. Almost too many, it was cutting it close, but I had managed to write quick enough to get out of there and gather my things. Running up the spiral steps to my room, I couldn’t believe how many times I felt my arm twitch or heard one of my bones cracking, getting ready for the change. I finally reached the oak doors leading into my room. Pushing them open, I grabbed my knapsack that I had prepared this morning that was lying on my bed. Running back downstairs and into the landing, I paused when I heard that same shrill, pointed voice from earlier.
“Can you imagine being named after a Dolphin? A fake dolphin who forced a woman into marriage because he wanted to be famous. And what’s with all of those scars? She looks like Freddie Krueger.”. My hand went up to touch a scar on my face, running from my hairline down my nose and cutting across the side of my lip. This one was the newest edition to my collection. I heard footsteps walking near the staircase that I was in. I stepped into the shadow of the wall, hoping they would hide me from whoever was walking by. As I guessed, it was Arabella, but this time with her friends.
“You’re so right. Can’t they just like, put her down or something?” one of them said.
“I wish they would. God, she acts so innocent. I heard that her parents were mauled by a bear because they tried to get a picture with it or something.”, the other one said.
Arabella snorted. “I call bull on that. I betcha she’s the one who did it. Maybe that’s how she got all of her scars.”. My leg twitched painfully. I winced and swallowed my cry of pain. It was coming, and it wasn’t going to wait for Arabella and her cronies to get a move on. Pulling my hood over my head, I launched myself down the remaining stairs and pushed through Arabella. I thought I was free until she grabbed me by the sleeve.
“Speak of the devil!”, she breathed. Her groupies let out an evil cackle. I tried to shake her grip off of my arm.
“You’re not going anywhere!”, she laughed in my face.
“Please, I have to go.”, I tried pulling my arm again. She still wouldn’t let go. I sent a nervous look at the clock hanging above our heads. Eleven thirty. I had fifteen minutes to get out of the school.
“Why in such a rush?”, she batted her eyelashes at me.
“I just… I have to go.”, she pulled harder on my hoodie. “I said, I have to go!”, I yanked my sleeve from her hand as hard as I could. My knee buckled and Arabella went crashing into a wall from me pulling my arm back. Her friends shrieked as I pushed past them and ran from the landing of the staircase and out the front door. I kept running across the grounds until I came to the edge of the forest that bordered the church grounds. My legs felt like jelly as I tried to catch my breath. I heard the sickening crack of my spine getting ready to change before I felt it. I let out a shriek of pain as my back bent backward too far. My knees hit the ground as the searing hot pain shot through my body, tearing at every nerve I possessed until it was unbearable. I screamed. I screamed and screamed because the pain wouldn’t stop. My clothes tore as my body shifted, every bone cracking and shifting and breaking as they changed, every muscle being pulled and twisted and stretched to far as my body changed. My lungs grew and shrank, not functioning properly. My heart stopped pumping blood, the change shifting the size to abruptly. My fingers turned to claws and my face lengthened as my hair grew short spurts of thick, coarse fur grew from every inch of my body. I fell forwards, half human half werewolf. I took a final gasp of air before I blacked out.
I opened my eyes. It was daytime now. I was curled up in a ball, laying on the forest floor. That was the first moon that I didn’t make it off the church grounds. If the Sisters found out, I would be out of here. I looked around for my knapsack. I didn’t see it. It must have been left behind from when I was changing. I pushed myself onto my knees. My entire body ached, whether it was from the change or the new cuts that stung my body. The Wolf inside me didn’t like the restraint the human part of me had on it. So instead of letting it run free, rampaging and tearing humans limb from limb, I let it tear me limb from limb. I know the price. The scars don’t heal, their cursed injuries. They never will heal, never fade. They will forever stay the same puckered, jagged red lines criss crossing my body. I took a shaky breath and tried to stand up. My knees buckled and sent me crashing back down onto the hard ground. I gasped as pain shot through me as the fresh cuts on my legs came into contact with the ground. I don’t know why, but for some reason the aftermath of this moon seemed worse then the rest. I grabbed a low hanging branch of a nearby tree and pulled myself up using it. When I felt like I could stand on my own, I turned away from the tree. I took one look at the field facing me and I turned around to empty my stomach. Did I do this? I turned back around. The field was massacred, ruined beyond repair. Trees and logs lay torn around the clearing, covered in a scarlet substance I had dreaded ever since those years ago. Claw marks and teeth marks decorated the ground and trees. Three deer carcasses lay in the middle of the field, their tan coats dyed a new shade of red. What was I to do with those? I strode over to them, and realized that they were not deers. In fact, they were far from being deers. They were humans. And not just any humans. It was Arabella and her friends. I choked back a cry and backed away into the bushes. They must have followed me out here after I got away from them and met… I didn’t like them, but they didn’t have to die… I sank to my knees. What was I going to do with them? I ran my hands over the scars on my face and arms, a nervous habit I got ever since I got placed in the church. I glanced back over to their cold, limp bodies.
I could bury them, I thought. I won’t be able to do anything special but I could make an effort. I looked around for my clothes. There were torn underneath a tree not far from me. I would have to bury those with the girls. I sighed and stumbled over to where the slashed mess of cotton lay. I was going to be here a while.
“Delphina! Close the curtains before someone sees you!”, the matron, Sister Noel snapped
at me as soon as I entered the infirmary ward. Slinking to the nearest bed and flicking my hangings shut, I drew my knees to my chest on the bed. I felt numb.
I killed Arabella and her friends. I thought the sentence so calmly it scared me.
I killed them. I killed them. I killed them. I kept repeating it. Repeating, repeating, repeating… I kept repeating the sentence in my head, I didn’t even realize that Sister Noel had come to tend to my cuts. She sterilized and bandaged, cleaned and packed my wounds, but I felt… Nothing. Not even the cold sting of the alcohol or the piercing ache of the needle and thread going through my skin.
I killed them. I killed them. I killed them. No, I didn’t kill them. The wolf killed them. But you could have stopped the wolf, the voice taunted in my head. No. The wolf killed them. But, aren’t you the wolf? No. I’m Delphina. And the wolf is in you, Delphina. You are the wolf. The wolf is you. And nobody can change that, the voice said in a fake innocent voice. Accept it, Delphina. Before you hurt someone else.
“Delphina!”, Sister Noel’s voice echoes through my cloudy thoughts. I snapped my head up to look at her disapproving gaze. “Get out of here before someone sees this mess of yourself that you’ve created.” she pushed me off the cot and towards the door. I stalked out into the empty hallways, glad that everyone was in class. I didn’t feel like getting the usual stares and questioning looks. I grumbled under my breath about being prejudiced and stomped up the stairs to my dusty old room. I threw my torn up bag onto my bed and flopped down beside it. I wasn’t sure how or when but I eventually fell asleep. Sometime later I was woken by a polite knocking on my door, which was strange, because no one comes to visit me unless I somehow did something wrong.
“What is it?”, I shouted at the door. Sister Joan popped her head in to make sure I was fully awake before pushing to door open to walk in with someone in tow.
“Delphina, this is Lucia, your new roommate.”
That was something I would never have expected to come out of anyone's mouth. Especially Sister Joan’s.