After waking up with a new bandage the day after I had my first transformation, I remembered asking my mom where the handkerchief that was used to cover my wound were. She admitted that she had thrown it out, but I managed to rummage through the trash bin to take it back.
The white handkerchief turned red because of my blood. I had to wash it numerous times to get its original color back, but the best I could do was to leave a faded red stain on it. At first look, nobody would notice that it used to be blood because it looked like some kind of splattered paint.
Going back home, I found Selene hanging out with Nathan in front of the TV. I walked past them and went straight to my room. I crouched by my bed and took out a turquoise box containing some memory stuffs. The handkerchief was rested well inside the box and it bloomed a smile on my face.
After six years, I couldn’t believe I would meet the boy again, who already grew into a gorgeous, tall boy with the same warm smile. I had never forgotten the first human who didn’t show an ounce of fear to the wolves, but the thought of our fates crossing for the second time never occurred to me. It was exactly why I treasured the handkerchief so much.
That afternoon, I had to leave the gymnasium to fulfill my curiosity. It was such a coincidence that we went to the same high school in a completely different town than before but I never realized it. How long have we actually crossed path before—knowing that I saw Jim every so often because of his on-and-off friendship with Olive?
Before the questions started exploding out from my own mouth, I sneakily followed those boys who had to drag around the box in the end because their arms gave up.
“Why do you have to tell her, man? She’s friends with Olive and you know how unbearably fussy she is,” complained Jim.
“Well, you blurted out ‘the studio’ so I have to get it straight,” replied Carson. “Besides, we can’t just take it without telling anyone—that would be stealing.”
“I never knew you were such a prude, Carson Rivers,” Jim mocked. “Is that what you get from Auckland? Or Seoul? Or whatever cities you’ve been to in the last ten years?”
“Shut up,” Carson scoffed. “I already told you that we can practice at my house.”
“Nah. Your dad still scares me.” Jim barely dodged a small slap that Carson directed to his arm. “Come on—he’s still the same grumpy old man from ten years ago. I remembered how he scolded me because I almost entered a wrong room. I didn’t even step inside, dude!” He boggled his eyes out. “No offense, though.”
“None taken,” Carson chuckled. “We don’t have to meet him to play music.”
“Yeah, but the band thinks it’s better to practice at school,” said Jim. He took a deep breath and pushed the box with all his might. “Let’s go, Burn to Ashes!”
Hiding behind a wall, I saw them entering a small room that I knew as Ashborne High School’s very own unused room. I didn’t know that it was already turned into a music studio. Or, maybe, these boys made their own in there.
Before I moved, I remembered reading about Burn to Ashes somewhere. I took out my phone and checked the event schedule of the homecoming night that Mrs. Keener, the supervisor of the event, had already sent to our emails.
Burn to Ashes was one of the bands who was appointed to play at the homecoming night. No wonder they were so eager to practice and wasn’t afraid to tell Mrs. Keener—it was for the event after all.
I approached the door slowly. A rectangle glass on the door made it easier for me to peek inside. The room had a drum set, a keyboard, a guitar and a bass put side-by-side, and some microphones arranged in the middle. Besides Carson and Jim, there were two other boys, Philip Maynard and Kenzo Kimura, from my physics class.
The boys were setting the sound system fast. Carson strummed the guitar. His fingers were skillfully ruling the guitar. The melodious harmony that came out of the speaker made the others nodded happily.
“It’s a good speaker, indeed,” Philip tapped on the black box.
“You complimented the speaker but not my performance?” Carson frowned.
“Stop showing off,” Jim knocked Carson’s head lightly with his elbow. He took a pair of drumsticks and sat behind the drum set. “Get ready, Ashes!”
At Jim’s cue, Kenzo went to the keyboard, Philip wrapped the bass strap on his shoulder, and Carson, who was ready with his guitar, set himself behind one of the standing microphones.
Jim struck his drumsticks to each other, and after three beats, the band started to play.
Even after I went home and rested myself on my bed, I still remembered how the music just went along with Carson’s voice as the vocalist of Burn to Ashes.
Early in the next morning, I got a text from Olive to meet her at the gymnasium before the class started. I didn’t tell her anything about the speaker yesterday, so I prepared myself to be scolded. Being her best friend for the last six years, I knew her too well to not expecting anything.
In the middle of the spacious gymnasium, I found not only Olive standing there, but also a middle-aged woman known as Mrs. Jill Keener and two other boys—Jim and Carson. I halted my steps when I recognized them, but they had already spotted me.
“Come here, Miss Whitlock,” called Mrs. Keener.
When I approached them, both Jim and Carson put their head down and Olive was folding her arms in front of her chest.
“Is it true that you let Mr. Rivers and Mr. Roth here take the sound system set from the gymnasium yesterday?” Mrs. Keener didn’t even let me say good morning. She went straight to the point.
I looked at the boys, but they avoided eye contact. “That’s true, Ma’am,” I replied.
“Are you sure they didn’t take it by force or by threatening you?” Olive raised her tone.
“What do you think we are? Some thugs?” Jim clenched his jaw.
“Okay, calm down. I’m talking to Miss Whitlock here,” Mrs. Keener came between Olive and Jim before they started grabbing each other’s collar. “Miss Hartwell reported that the sound system set was missing. According to the students at the gym yesterday, they saw Mr. Rivers and Mr. Roth took it. These gentlemen said that you let them take it. Can you elaborate about the event on your part, Miss Whitlock?”
To be honest, I didn’t think I could explain it any clearer. She just told it exactly what happened, but Olive didn’t seem to believe that I would do such thing.
“Actually, they said that they would return it the next day,” I clarified, “and they said they would personally ask for your permission about it.”
All attention was now on the two boys. They widened their eyes before glancing at each other.
“Well… I didn’t think I’ve heard anything about that,” Mrs. Keener was now staring at Carson and Jim.
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Keener. I did tell her that, but we actually forgot,” Carson spoke out. “We didn’t mean to take it without permission.”
“Actually, Mrs. Keener,” I was surprised when my own mouth let these words out to interrupt the teacher’s judgmental stare, “I let them use it because they needed it to practice for the homecoming. Right?”
I raised my eyebrows to give them a signal to agree with me. They were confused at first, but then they nodded.
“What? Did they tell you that?” Olive asked callously. “Burn to Ashes was no longer part of the homecoming night! They chose this band competition that’s happening at the same night than their own school!”
Jim was about to counter attack, but Carson held him. It was my turn to drop my jaw.
“Were you lying to my friend?!” Olive stepped forward. “Over a speaker?!”
“Good God, Olive—we’ve returned the sound system! What more do you want?” Jim shouted.
“You only returned it because you got called here!”
“Oh, you just have to be the one who is right like always, don’t you?”
“ALRIGHT, ALRIGHT!” Mrs. Keener finally yelled louder than those two people. “The most important is that the sound system is returned and the committee can set it up for the event. For Miss Hartwell, thank you for caring about the properties. Miss Whitlock, thank you for telling the truth. As for you boys, thank you for returning—but please, don’t repeat this again.”
Olive crooked her eyebrows. “That’s it? No punishment?”
“Not for now,” Mrs. Keener sighed. “Homecoming is two days away. We should focus on making it happen, okay, guys?”
The weak ‘okay’ echoed in the room. Mrs. Keener left the gymnasium, followed closely by Olive. Jim walked a bit faster than Carson, who seemed to wait for me to go as well.
“Did I almost get you in trouble?” I asked carefully.
“No. If anything, it was me that almost got you in trouble,” he chuckled. “I’m sorry for lying to you—Thea Whitlock, isn’t it?”
I nodded. He remembered my name. It brought a faint smile on my face. I put both of my hands into the pockets of my jacket nervously.
“How was the practice?” I could feel my lips trembling, but I managed to ask it.
“It was good. The speaker helped a lot,” he laughed. “Thank you for defending us back then.”
“No problem. Good luck for the competition,” I said as I walked twice as faster.
Carson flashed his palm at me. “Thanks. See you around, Whitlock.”
I took out my hands to wave back, but my handkerchief—Carson’s old handkerchief—that was in the jacket flew away and landed on the floor. I gasped and quickly took it back, but Carson’s hand was faster.
“Here you go,” Carson extended his hand to give the handkerchief.
With drummed heartbeat, I took the handkerchief. For a split second, I felt like Carson was holding it back, but it was just a feeling after all. I truly hoped he didn’t remember about losing a handkerchief that night. I hoped he didn’t remember anything.
I was staring at the handkerchief for the millionth time when I heard footsteps approaching. Two knocks on my door were enough to send me into a tidying up frenzy. It wasn’t safe to bring the handkerchief around, so I put it back to the box along with other stuffs and slid it under my bed. My door was opened as soon as I jumped on to the bed, posing as natural as I could.“Hey, Mom,” I grinned widely as my mom opened the door. She couldn’t just find out that I had been keeping the dirty handkerchief she had thrown out before. She would ask questions and that would end up with me having to tell her about Carson.“Someone’s here to see you,” she said.Another figure appeared behind her. A boy with a neck length, black hair smiled radiantly as our eyes met.“Elliott?” I gasped. I got on my feet and just received the hug from his muscular body, still with a bewildered expression. “Elliott Calloway?&r
When I was into my deep thought, I heard Elliott shout.“Oh, look!” He almost jumped excitedly. He looked over my shoulder and then walked past me. “It’s a spring!”I caught up with his steps. From the distance, I could see a small waterfall above a pool of spring, glistening under the moonlight. The sound of the water was serene and soothing. The stones were reflecting the luminescence of the moon. It reminded me of this one spring in the middle of the woods in Grassmere, but this spring was wider and deeper. The waterfall just made it more exquisite.I had gone around these woods before, but I never realized that there was a beautiful spring here.“Do you remember when we were kids, there was this tale about Moon Goddess descended to the Earth on the night of the brightest Full Moon?” Elliott asked, almost with a whisper because he didn’t want to ruin the nature’s sound.Mom used to read it to
Dad wasn’t amused hearing my story about how some people were hunting deer at night in the woods that wasn’t even a hunting ground. Elliott, who joined the dinner, backed up my story. “The place was perfect for gathering, but we don’t think it’s safe,” he said. I really thought he would hold on to his ‘hunters-don’t-exist’ view in front of Nathan, but fortunately, he went with what I suggested. “It’s forbidden to hunt outside the hunting ground,” Dad said. “I should report this to the Sheriff.” “And tell him what?” Nathan chimed in, with his mouth still full of mashed potato. “That two teenagers—one happened to be your daughter—snuck into the woods at night and witnessed the shooting?” Here we go again. Nathan gaslighting someone on the dinner table wasn’t really a new thing. “Yes, that’s exactly what he should say,” I insisted, ignoring how the wording could put Dad into shame for having a teenage daughter going into the dark woods wi
The decoration for the homecoming night was already 80% finished, making it a forbidden room for any students other than the committees. It was decorated with black, gold, and silver color. Sparkling star decorations were hung on each corner, the paper lanterns were arranged as an arch in the entrance, and gold draperies was put as a background for the photo booth. The high ceiling was covered with black cloth, which would be luminated by light projector, making it look like a sky full of stars. Olive was raving about it this morning, but she couldn’t help after school because she had to take her mother to the clinic. So, she listed all the stuffs that needed to be done today and sent it to me. A little advice for those who bore missions from Olive Hartwell: do it right or have her knock on your door at night just because you put the wrong size of cups on the table. At the same time, Mom also sent me the list of groceries I had to purchase for the Full Moon.
The stories about hunters had been circling around werewolf tribes for long, as the history of supernatural beings was shaped partly because of them. There were two kinds of hunters—the ordinary one, humans who just liked to hunt wild animals; and the ones who hunted the supernaturals. The latter was what we always feared of, although many werewolves just fended it off because there had not been many cases about our kinds dying because of them. Nathan was definitely one of the skeptical ones. He thought being hit with a silver arrow was just a coincidence, or just Little Thea craving for attention. He couldn’t prove me wrong back then, but he still stayed with his principle: hunters were real, but they were not a threat to us as long as we stayed hidden. Mom’s explanations just struck me like a lightning bolt. If Nathan was right, both kind of hunters didn’t just threaten wild animals out there, but also humans. I heard from my parents once that hunters would
Nathan looked around the empty garage which was turned into a small music studio. From the radiance in his eyes, he actually admired the view. I wasn’t wrong about him being a guitar player, but he did it just for fun because he didn’t seem to care much about music that time. “You had friends over?” He glanced at me. “These are their stuffs?” “Yes,” I answered lazily. I truly didn’t want to deal with Nathan tonight after Dad gave me a cold shoulder about the garage being used by my human friends. Besides, Nathan didn’t even discuss about what he found last night over dinner. If he really did want to change like Mom said, he would let me know that a human was hurt and I witnessed it. “Are they performing for the homecoming tomorrow?” He asked again as his hand snatched an apple on the table. “No,” I replied, still focusing on my homework. “Too bad. I would like to see them perform,” he said and then bit the apple. “Mom, is my suit for the homec
The cancelled Full Moon celebration obviously made Elliott curious. Dad had talked to the Elders about the cancellation with a client’s death as a reason. While it was true, he didn’t say anything about hunters and such. Elliott called me when I was busy at school. I had to go out of the gymnasium to take his call and it only just full of him trying to dig deeper into the ‘reason’ that apparently didn’t satisfy him. He wasn’t this nosy when he was a kid, but it really wasn’t a surprise for me. “Is it because those hunters?” He asked after I refused to give him a clear answer. “Come on. I don’t think Elder Whitlock is that paranoid. He’s one of the strongest wolves I’ve ever met.” “He’s not an Elder anymore and he’s not paranoid,” I sighed. “He just feels like it’s not the right time to celebrate when he’s mourning.” Another thing I didn’t tell Elliott was Dad’s client who died was one of the hunters we saw back then. I would trust 10-year-old Elliott
Two hours before the homecoming night, the preparation was finally complete. Mrs. Keener let us come home to dress up. Even though it seemed like she would let us to have fun, she also expected us to be ready whenever a decoration fell down or the food ran out. I was resting my body on the bed when Mom knocked my door. She walked in and her jaw dropped at the sight of me lying down. “Thea, why aren’t you dressed yet?” Mom went into a sudden panic. She grabbed the maroon dress that I hung in front of my closet and gave it to me. “Calm down, Mom, it’s still two hours away,” I drawled. I really needed to close my eyes even for just five minutes, but Mom wouldn’t let me as she pulled me out of my bed. “At least, let’s do your hair first,” she urged. After forcing me to sit in front of my make-up table, she undid the hair tie that bound my hair into a bun. “Selene can do the rest.” “Selene?” I almost forgot that my brother would go to the homecomin