"Smooth like butter, like a criminal undercover
Gon' pop like trouble breaking into your heart like that (ooh)"
For third time, I am disturbed by Mom singing this new BTS song. She is so energetic as ever. She is currently driving our van, but you will see both her hands in the air throwing slaps she calls "Gen Z dance moves".
"Too loud, Mom" I nag while pulling down my yellow hoodie down because it has been covering half of my face, including my airway preventing my nice breathing.
"Oh! You're awake, honey," she replies and turns down her music.
"Are we there yet?" My impatient little brother, Alex, says. Alex is only 13 years old but his physique is that of a 17-year-old teenage boy. That is why it always sores my eyes when I see him doing childish things such as sucking two lollipops at the same time.
"Iw. You're drooling," I comment.
"Mind your business, grandma," he mocks me, "or you wanna try it," and he shoves his lollipops on my face. I scream when I feel something sticky touch my face.
"Iw! I'm gonna smack that head off your shoulder. You retard!" I can only scream but he is too childish to stop and he only laughs at me as I smack his head and fail.
"Stop! You two or else-" Mom growls, and we immediately go back to the opposite sides. Alex and I always squabble but Mom knows how to make us stop. She loves us but she is the queen of punishments. We don't even want to hear what comes after "or else", because we never enjoy anything that comes after it.
"Good," she says proudly, and her face suddenly lights up. "Welcome to your new home!" she steps on the break and we lean onwards due to the sudden stop. We murmur our complaints but Mom is too preoccupied to even give us a damn. She animatedly shakes her hands pointing to the house on our right.
In sync, Alex and I look out at the right window to stare at our new house. Most people will get excited about a new house, but not me. This is my 22nd time moving houses, and I am so used to it already. I look at Alex and see a hint of excitement in his dark green eyes. It is his first time moving houses, so I can sort of understand.
Mom told us to stop gawking and get out of the car. She commands us two to move the suitcases into the house. Alex is not listening to her and leaves me alone with the suitcases.
Great! He's really a 13-year-old brat.
I look at the house again and critic it for some minutes. It is a two-story house painted in blue and white. The windows are all tinted and each has little hanging pots on their sides with little flowers in full bloom. There is a low terrace with a comfortable-looking hammock and square sofa chairs at the entrance door. It has an unexpectedly wide front yard guarded by opaque white fences in hip height.
It is a decent house, but it is nothing compared to the mansion we left in St. Patrick. I suddenly remember how peaceful our lives were in St. Patrick. If only I had been more careful.
"Wha-what the hell?! What is that on your hand? Did you? Did you kill her?!" says a man in fear. He holds on to a rake as if his life depends on it. He is so ready to stab me with it if I make a wrong move. I look at my dangerous hands soaking in blood and some moss I got from clawing a tree. The tips of my sharp nails make a rustling sound when I try to remove the dirt. I realize how monstrous I must look like in his eyes.
"Nathan, it's not what you think. I-I-" my voice is deep and rough. I stutter in finding words.
"Monster," he says in fear and rage.
"Hansel!" a growl from behind gets me nervous. It is my brother, Martin. Nathan's eyes are now much bigger and his mouth almost drops on the dirty forest ground. I look behind and see my brother in his full wolf form.
"I told you to never get too personal with a human," I hear his growl say.
"I shall kill him," he says and growls even louder.
"No!" I growl back trying to release my inner wolf.
I am back to reality when I hear Mom talking loudly on her phone. I think it is someone from the home moving company. I hiss at the thought of arranging our things in the new house.
When I am about to enter our gate, I hear sounds of racing cars, loud music, and flirtatious giggles. I follow the sound and see two approaching convertibles; both have teenagers on them singing and laughing in glee. The cars are still meters to pass through our new house but a man in a black shirt catch my full attention.
He has the blackest hair that I have ever seen, which ends turn red and orange through the sunlight. His eyes are pale gray, soft but manly. His nose and cheeks are sharp and detailed, and his lips are so pink you'll think he used something to color it. He is handsome. Probably the most handsome I have ever seen. He almost looks like someone from high-definition video games, but his presence shouts an invitation, and domination at the same time. He is a magnet.
I am enjoying my view of him when he looks straight back at me as their car pass in front of our house. It was a brief, unknown moment - he is so magnetic I think time slowed down a bit when he stared back at me. He and I have the same look - wonder.
Do I know him? Does he know me? How can he look at me like that? Is that a bond I felt? But, he is definitely a human. Is he?
The dinner later that night is so silent, so unusual. In St. Patrick our dinners are always the noisiest, with Alex and I bickering, Mom and Dad exchanging compliments, and Martin and Suzanne flirting quietly while laughing at us. But now, it is only me, Alex, and Mom. All of us are so tired from arranging the house.
"Mom, you should buy me my own car," Alex says out of nowhere. I shake my head while looking at Mom. She always favors Alex, so she might actually say yes.
"No. You're only thirteen, honey," Mom says then bites on her meat. I chuckle in approval.
"But Mom, I was so good today. I helped you clean up."
"A thing family naturally does," I can't help but intervene. He only snorts and makes face on me. "By the way, Mom, the garage is too small for two cars, where will I park mine. It's coming tomorrow," I ask Mom.
"That- Your Dad will talk to you about it," she tries to avoid answering. But I nag her and she gives up. She is almost annoyed but she looks at me with kindness. She only looks at me like that when she feels sorry for me.
"You can't use your car anymore. We have to maintain a low profile. You know what I mean."
I discuss with her how can a Chevrolet Colorado be suspicious. It is everyone's pick up truck. Alex butts in saying I should be responsible and obedient since it is my fault why we are here. I am insulted and so I sarcastically ask about all the troubles he did in St. Patricks. I remind him of all the cover-up we did for his carelessness: burying a bear from a zoo, deleting a viral video of him showing his fangs, and paying cops to stay silent when he wrecked our neighbors' mailboxes. We are getting louder when Mom intervenes.
"You two are attending high school," she says calmly as she continues cutting her veggies.
"What? Mom?" I ask confused.
"Really Mom! You'll allow me to school now?" Alex says sounding so excited. He even punches in the air and imagines what he will do on his first day. Mom is not explaining any follow up and I think I must have misheard her. But no - I heard it right! But why?!
"Wait, Mom!" I want silence and clarity. Alex stops daydreaming because I almost growl.
"Sorry," I apologize and continue, "Alex and who will be going to school?"
"You," Mom says. I know my eyes are wider now as I gape to what Mom answers.
"Mom! I am 121 years old, I've repeated high school three times already. Isn't that unnecessary for me?"
"Why unnecessary?" Mom replies playing dumb game.
"Mom!" I can't contain myself so I stand up. "I already have a PhD in psychology and Masters in Chemistry and Pharmaceutical - I don't need high school!" I explain. I can see Alex making fun of me but I don't have time to handle him now. If this dinner ends and I do not convince Mom to change her mind - it's over. I will be forced to attend this frigging high school.
"Sit down, Hansel," she says with her sharp eyes. "It's the alpha's order."
I freeze in my position. The Alpha... so it is uncle. He must have heard the incident in St. Patrick. I lowered down my gaze and I suddenly feel ashamed of myself. If the Alpha knows about it, the whole pack knows about it too. And I can imagine now their reactions. They will ridicule my family again. Dad will surely take the blame and my relatives will say he doesn't deserve to be the beta for having a troublesome daughter like me. "She's a female wolf. Your daughter. But, you can't control her? What a pity..." I can hear them say.
"Do you want to go against the Alpha, Hansel? Do you want to disappoint your family?" Mom ask rhetorically. I don't answer her and instead walk out of the dining area. I can hear her calling me to come back and continue with my food, but I lost my apetite now. I must look like a rebellious and immature teenager to her while I am over a hundred years old.
Instead of locking myself in my room, I go out of the house to find some peace. I can feel the wetness of the atmosphere on my bare legs as I am wearing shorts. I have my yellow hoodie on me so I don't feel very cold.
As I am walking in this new neighborhood, I find myself regretting my previous decisions. My head is full of "ifs" - if I had been more careful, if I didn't trust a human, if I didn't go there that night, if Nathan didn't see me, and many other ifs that make me sigh in frustration.
I can only age, but I think I can't mature.
I have walked so long and so far but it is just now that I realize that there are no houses on the road anymore. I look back and see the lights from the little villa that I come from, so I breathe in relief. At least, I am not lost yet. I keep on walking thinking over things until I arrive in some sort of a clearing. I enter the vacant lot and realize that it is actually a flower field.
"Sunflower under the moonlight..." I mumbled by myself, and finally I calm down. I am admiring how vibrant the sunflowers are under my phone's flashlight when a call comes.
It is my Dad. Almost hesitant, I answer the call.
"Where are you, lady?" his voice is as calm as ever. I feel more guilty now.
"Uhm, just walking..."
"Go home. Your mother won't let me rest with her calls. She's worried 'bout you. It's an unfamiliar neighborhood you see."
"Okay," I can only say. I am always shy and submissive to my Dad. I always think he is smart and strong, and I don't deserve being her daughter. The "mateless wolf", the "troublesome one" our relatives call me. Though I always get involve in trouble, I am actually weak. The weakest in my pack I think, and having no mate at this age makes me weaker everyday. But, my Dad never hated me for it.
"Did you hear from your mother?" he asks and I think I hear him stands up.
"The highschool thing? - Yes... Uncle knows now, I bet," I said in a polite tone.
"He's not happy about it. You know he hates it when our relatives talk bad about you, " Father reports. It's true, these two brothers are pampering me too much and they always take the hate for me.
Dad keeps talking and explains that our pack think I can't handle human interaction and they say I can only bring danger to our family. Some even suggest to send me to the wild where there is no human. The suggestion scared me, it is literally banishment from the world.
"Of course I didn't agree. The last time we send a family to the wild, it was hunted by soldiers on its wolf form." Dad mentioned he stood up for me and won, but he's not sure if he can win again next time. So he warned me as my father.
In order for our pack to believe that I can bring myself up in front of the humans, they think putting me to a crowded school is the best showoff.
"Only a year of peace, my dearest. Prove them they are wrong," Dad advises for the last time.
"Okay, Dad. I'll prove them I am a good wolf," I say in confidence and even howl to show my sincere feelings. Dad hungs up and I feel more relieved now. I am ready to go home but I freeze the moment I turn around.
There is a man... and I think he hears me.
Did he hear me howl?
I believe I just stand there looking shocked at the man. I am totally unmoving. I am clouded with thoughts of how to deal with this smoothly. A flash of myself in the wilderness bring me back to reality. If I screw up now, there is no hope for me, and I will live as a wild wolf forever. What do I do? Kill him? Bribe him? Talk it out? The man is looking at me with the same expression, brows are arched and lips are literally saying "what?" "That's not a howl..." I say but then regret. What! Who says it's a howl. I am initiating the suspicion. I am panicking. "No, I mean... Uhm," I am doomed. My father just told me to stay out of trouble, and here I am howling on the street and a human hears me. "Sorry miss... you need something?" I hear the man asks politely. I look at him. Is he playing innocent? I feel like an idiot when I see him holding his earphones using his both hands. He just removed it probably because he can't hear me clearly. A splash of relief wash down my growing anxie
"I've seen you before." I freeze in my position. How unlucky this day can be to meet this man, at this moment, on this first day. I just stand there looking at him and thinking what can be best said. He saw me last night with a totally different image: no glasses, no braces, short shorts, and a bun. I can say I look like a chic yesterday, and now I am instantly a nerd. What will he think? Is this the end of my cover? "I think you are mistaken. I-" "Hansel! Your the girl from last night, right? In the flower field?"he says calmly but I can sense the excitement in his voice.
Narration... Carrie is staring in a blank space by the window when the doorbell rings. She peeks at the window to check her visitors and she nods at the two men waiting by her doorsteps. She seems to be expecting the visitors so she unhesitantly opens the door and greets them. "Good morning, Doctor," she tries to smile but her smile can't seem to reach her eyes. Who wants to meet the Doctor anyway. This old hermit is one of the wolves one can only see in worst-case scenarios. The last time Carrie saw this man was when they signed a treaty of peace with some Asian wolves they met a few hundred years ago. He is the oldest official who runs their pack behind the shadows. His wolf is not that powerful, its presence is actually almost nonexistent to Carrie, but his old intellectual mind holds their pack's history and wisdom enough for him to earn respect and an august position. "Good morning, Hill?" the older man responds. Carrie nods to his unstated question. "How long have you been u
Everything happens so fast. Kaze gets the ball and he passes it to Alex. Annoyance is evident on Arche's fine face as Alex runs for the basket, and my heart literally stops as I pray he won't use his wolf strength and speed. My prayers are heard because he doesn't use it, but I think he is having a hard time controlling his own natural strength. He passes the ball right away to his teammate in the three-point zone, and his teammate fire for a three-point shot. It goes in and the crowd starts cheering Kaze's team again. The game goes on and the basketball show-off just gets fiercer and stronger. There are student referees on the side, but they can't seem to handle the game. I don't know much about basketball, but I can see many fouls from Arche's team that are not called by the referees. The bench members on Kaze's team seem to observe the bias officiating, and try to signal Kaze about it. I know Kaze knows it too, but he is so game on, he doesn't care anymore
I try my best on the following days to avoid Arche and even Kaze. I see Kaze casually talking to Alex about some stuff they only understand, and since Alex is always the talkative and clingy friend, I get to avoid Kaze easily. For Arche, avoiding him is the hardest, because he intentionally does things that catch my attention. Like in our PE class, we were running some lapses while his football team was doing warm-ups. In the middle of my run, he intentionally kicked the ball in my direction that I almost fell on the ground when the ball whistled past me. I even saw him grinning maniacally at my shocked reaction. People, even our teacher, just laughed at me like I was some kind of entertainment. I almost growled at their annoying happy faces. I think I need a tap on my back for all the holding back I did for that Arche. That kid is wildly sipping on my nerves. "You look stressed." Mom said as she puts milk on my cereal. "School," I simply say. "Being a nerd is taking its toll on m