The diner was full of people at this time of the day. It wasn’t surprising; during the rush hour, many people stopped on their way home to grab a bite in the roadside diner. It was the time of the day we had a serious peak and got fat tips.
Right now, I was having my break from the turmoil. I leaned against the counter in the kitchens and sipped my favorite brand of grape-juice. Jefferson, my hosting body’s father, was the founder of the “Dance with the Danes” Diner, and he was also the so-called chef. Currently he was a grilling some steak that smelt delicious, too busy to notice me standing there.
He’s always like that, a familiar gloomy voice murmured in my mind. Always too busy to ever notice me. No wonder I ended up killing myself.
I sighed aloud. Chloe and I had been sharing her body for five months now. When I – we – first found ourselves alive and in the same body, it took us some time to get over the shock and realize where we were, what we were going to do, and what actually happened to us.
We’d been in a graveyard, lying next to Chloe’s grave. With us was Norma Danes, Chloe’s mother; Candace McGee, Chloe’s big sister; and Caitlyn Danes, Chloe’s second big sister. Her father, for some reason, hadn’t been in presence.
Norma had cried when she realized I – we – were awake. She called me Chloe, her precious daughter, and so dd Candace and Caitlyn. It was a no-brainer that they thought me to be their long-dead daughter. They didn’t even consider there might’ve been a malfunction during the resurrection that shoved not one but two souls – or three, if you count the wolf – into Chloe Danes’ body.
Later on, when the mother and the sisters calmed down, they explained that they hired an anonymous man who claimed he could bring people back from the dead. They paid him in advance and were sworn to secrecy – which meant that no one outside of the family knew about it – and they waited outside the graveyard while he worked his magic. They didn’t know what his name was or what he looked like – he was anonymous alright – but they did know he was male, since when they spoke over the phone he had a deep voice that indicated his gender.
Anyhow, that mysterious magician somehow revived our souls and here we were, Chloe, her wolf and I in the same body, all thanks to some weird resurrector. Not that I was complaining to be alive – on the contrary, I was ecstatic to be out of the void and be able to breathe normal air again – but having to share a body with Chloe, a body that wasn’t even mine... Yeah, you get my gist.
Chloe, I now though chidingly, don’t say such horrible stuff. You killed yourself because you believed no one loved you. Well, I guess since your family went through the all the troubles, finding some weirdo who could resurrect you and paying him for it, that it’s not really true.
I could hear the girl grimacing. Well, then, why my father wasn’t there when I was revived? Why is he ignoring me ever since that day?
Your dad is an oddball himself, I retorted, which was true, at least from what I saw in the past five months. Maybe he just wants life to return to the way they used to be before you committed suicide.
Chloe’s scoff in my mind meant the discussion had come to an end. It was her own unique way of ending arguments she knew I would win eventually.
Once I finished drinking my grape-juice, I went to the toilet to get ready for the next few hours of my shift. After I did what I did, I walked to the sink and washed my face. When I looked in the mirror, I saw the girl who’d at first been a stranger, but now was actually me.
When I’d been me, the real Claire Hill, I didn’t look so good. I’d been of average height with mousy-brown hair I always put in a restraining bun, murky hazel eyes that were always covered by a pair of hideous glasses because I’d been half-blind, and full body, much on the fatter side. I’d been average, normal, unpretty, simply insignificant. People bumped into me because I was transparent. I had no charisma, no presence.
Now, however, the situation was different. Chloe’s body was that of a stunner. She had golden locks reaching just past the shoulders, sexy dark-brown eyes, sun-kissed skin, and while her height was as average as mine used to be, her figure was unbelievably gorgeous, with narrow waist, full hips, tight butt and perky breasts, Chloe Danes was a southern bombshell, unlike Claire Hill, the plain, four-eyed, flat-chested girl.
While the upgrade was a definite improvement, this body was still alien to me. I was trying to get used to being leered at and to have men flirt with me outrageously, but I was still shy yet.
You know, you take care of my body better than I did, Chloe murmured in my mind, probably catching on my thoughts. She had a tendency to do that. What she didn’t do was praising me about anything. Still, I didn’t comment on it. My break was almost over and I needed to get my head back on track.
Everyone in the neighborhood believed Chloe’s family when they said Chloe was very ill and therefore didn’t make any public appearance. A week after Chloe’s “illness”, she was suddenly healthy and well, walking around and being a happier person, because she faced death and realized that you only live once.
All that was, of course, a lie. Chloe had killed herself by hanging herself in the shower, and her family held a private funeral, keeping everything hushed because they didn’t want to face the humiliation of having a daughter dead because she committed suicide. Then Norma found that resurrection magician and a week after Chloe’s death, she was revived. Or rather, I was revived, and Chloe and her wolf were locked inside my mind.
Chloe gave me a long lesson about who’s who, and how her relationship worked with various of people. Since I was the one in charge of this body, I had to act like I knew everyone, like I was Chloe, but unfortunately I couldn’t pretend having Chloe’s Emo persona, since I wasn’t that good of an actress, and so I acted like myself, like Claire, and said that my death experience changed me for the better. Since no one suspected that something as absurd as what had happened to us had happened, everyone embraced the “new” Chloe and live on as usual.
There was one thing that worked in our favor; Chloe had been twenty-two when she committed suicide. I’d died twenty-two three years ago, according to a short research I’d done after our revival, and therefore I mainly had the state-of-mine of a twenty-two-year-old woman. Of course, I was a much happy-happy-joy-joy person than Chloe, but the fact remained that we had the same amount of maturity, at least in the aspects that counted such as financially and so on.
I looked into the dark-brown eyes of my body in the reflection and slapped my cheeks. “Focus,” I told myself in the voice that was, for some reason, mine. I would’ve thought that the voice was part of a person’s body, that the vocal chords would remain the same, but apparently it didn’t work like that. The body’s voice was my voice. Chloe’s voice was much more high-pitched than mine, and when she talked in my mind, I could hear it was 180 degrees different than mine. Magic was a strange thing.
Shaking my head at myself, I walked out of the toilet and launched right back into work. I didn’t know what Chloe’s attitude toward waitering was, but mine was cheerful. I served the people with a big smile on my face, joked around with the younger ones, paid respect to the older ones, and chit-chatted with everyone else. It was fun, working like that. Chloe snorted at my enthusiasm.
A few hours later, it was time to close the diner. Once that was done, Norma walked into the diner and smiled at me with love I couldn’t quite comprehend. “Sweetheart,” she cooed and grabbed me into a hug full of affection. “I missed you.”
She hadn’t seen me since this morning. “Hey, Mom,” I said, already accustomed to call her that. “How was work?” While Jefferson was the official manager of “Dance with the Danes” diner, Norma worked as a wedding/Mating Ceremony planner. From what I’d seen of her projects in the past five months, she was good at what she did, and was one of the most prestigious wedding planners in Houston.
“It was great,” she said, beckoning me to the exit without waiting for Jeff, since he always worked extra hours after the diner was closed, needing to take care of the paperwork and whatnot. “Maxine and Eugene looked lovely at the rehearsal,” she sighed happily. “Eugene especially looked like the luckiest wolf in the world.”
Eugene was the beta of the Texas Pack. Since he found his mate – Maxine – it was a very big deal and their Mating Ceremony, which was due tomorrow, was rumored to be the biggest event after the Texas Pack alpha’s Mating Ceremony a few years back. Everyone was invited, human and wolf, and Norma was responsible for getting everything to be perfect, while Jeff was handling the catering, obviously.
“Sounds great,” I said, smiling brightly at Norma. She beamed at me in return, so giddy she was almost like a small child.
It’s all pretense, Chloe said darkly in my mind. She’s never really cared about anything but planning weddings and Mating Ceremonies, and by anything I mean me.
Sometimes I imagined Chloe as a little devil sitting on my shoulder, like in those old cartoons. She was that delightful to have around. Knock it off, Chloe, I scolded her. Norma loves you.
No, she doesn’t, she shot back just as I was beginning to walk with Norma to her car. She loves her job more than even my father. The only people she does love are Candace and Caitlyn.
It was our daily argument. Chloe was adamant that Norma had never liked her as she liked her sisters, and I always begged to differ. Because if Norma didn’t love Chloe, why did she go through all the trouble of using some mysterious magician and bring her back to life? No one would’ve done that if they didn’t love the person.
I gave the girl a mental sigh. Let’s drop it for now.
Gladly, she retorted venomously.
Since Chloe didn’t have a driving license, Norma was the one who drove her everywhere, which I also used as an example for her motherly love. It was also inconvenient for me as Claire, because I actually used to have a driving license. Like I also used to have a college degree, unlike Chloe who didn’t even bother going to university once she got her high-school diploma – which also had bad grades. At least I managed some Bs in my diploma. She barely scratched the C.
Chloe and I were as different as night and day. It was quite a bummer, to say the least, that we were stuck together indefinitely.
I prompted Norma to talk about the upcoming Mating Ceremony tomorrow and she gladly obliged. She liked talking about her job and she got this glazed look in her brown eyes that made it evident she was in love with what she did. I couldn’t help but concede a little that Chloe was right about one thing; Norma held some disturbingly deep emotions toward her occupation.
Once we got to the grand villa that was the Danes’ household, Norma continue managing the Mating Ceremony in her office. I went to my bedroom, which was really a suite with private bathroom and a walk-in closet. The Danes were well-off, obviously, and Chloe enjoyed many luxuries.
When I asked her why she didn’t leave home to get an apartment by herself, she said that it was easier staying in a place where someone else cooked for her, where she didn’t have to pay for residency, and where she had her mother – aka the taxi driver – available 24/7. Another dissimilarity between Chloe and I: she was spoilt and dependent on her family, while I’d been anything but. Maybe it was because I’d grown up in an average family to an average life, when I’d done everything according to protocol; finish high-school, go to local, community college, and then work at something while managing my independency, I wouldn’t know. But one thing was clear and it was that there were no girls as different as Chloe and I.
After I finished getting ready to bed, I took a seat on the queen-sized bed and closed my eyes. Let’s try to shift again.
Chloe groaned in my mind. It didn’t work for the past five months we’ve been trying. What makes you think it’ll work now?
We mustn’t give up, Chloe, I responded stubbornly. The wolf is part of this body whether it’s detached from your soul or not. We have to keep trying or the wolf will suffocate. After the revival, I did a research about werewolves since in my previous life I’d been Claire Hill, the most average human you would’ve encountered. Now I was playing Chloe Danes, daughter to a rich family of werewolves, and I had to be knowledgable of my current race if I wanted to slip under the suspicious radar. So in my research I found that if a werewolf didn’t shift into its wolf form for more than a couple of months, it can cause severe damage to the wolf and vise versa.
Unfortunately, ever since the revival I wasn’t able to shift into the wolf form, which frustrated the wolf’s soul that resided in my mind alongside Chloe. Chloe thought it was because her soul and the wolf’s soul were split up that the wolf couldn’t come outside, and of course there was the issue of me, a human, holding the control over the body.
Still, I was determined. I wouldn’t give up and I wouldn’t let the poor wolf suffer because of my inability to somehow let the reins go.
Prepare to failure, Chloe murmured ominously. It’s doomed from the start and you know it.
Stop being so pessimistic and let yourself believe for once, I told her. Her gloomy personality was really rubbing me the wrong way.
Whatever, she scoffed. I hated her scoffs. They were supremely annoying. Taking a deep, harsh breath, I forced myself to clear my mind from Chloe’s dark notions fill it with my own determined ones. Then I searched for the wolf’s soul.
For the past five months, the wolf didn’t make so much of a sound. She cowered in the back of my mind, her head lowered submissively, and refused to answer to my pleas for her to take over and shift. But, while her lack of cooperation was possibly hindering, I didn’t give up. I refused to give up.
Come on, little wolf, I whispered to that broken, lonely soul. I can only imagine how much you want to be out there, playing in the grass, running through the woods, feeling the wind brushing against your fur. You can have all that if you trust me and help me work through this body and make the shift occur.
The wolf whimpered, cowering even more to the corner. Told you, Chloe said triumphantly.
I ignored her. It’s okay to trust me, little wolf. I won’t hurt you. I’m trying to help you.
This time, the wolf didn’t even bother to comment. She was curled into herself, her soul blocking me from trying to reach her again, and my heart broke at that mental sight. I sighed, opened my eyes, and lay down on the bed. “Why doesn’t she want to shift?” I mumbled aloud, grimacing.
Because she knows you’re not the true owner of this body, Chloe replied. And she’s still crippled by the fact she and I aren’t one anymore.
I’d pondered that for a long time. How come Chloe and her wolf were not one anymore? Why did the split occurred? Why was I even sucked into this body to begin with? But no answers ever came, because the man who’d brought us from the dead was long gone. I’d actually tried to call him after I found the number in Norma’s cellphone, but it didn’t even ring, just reached the voicemail. There wasn’t anyone I could ask these questions.
Sighing again, I pulled the blanket over me and curled to my side. This day was just as any other day of these past five months. Life was mundane and plain, not to mention even more boring than my previous life had been. I was still at a dead-end with the entire resurrection thing, and I was still unable to shift into a wolf, which was crippling the wolf more and more with every day that passed. For everyone else, life was going on as usual; Jeff was making food and running a diner for a living, Norma was planning big weddings and Mating Ceremonies, and other people did what they usually did.
Then there was me, a human soul trapped in a werewolf’s body, the impostor of Chloe Danes the suicidal rich girl.
The void was starting to look better than ever.