"Hold on, hold on, hold on" they said, "You're a dandelion in the breeze, Look what the winds of change have done to all these autumn leaves."
"Hold on, hold on, hold on, This big wide world is not for you, Hold on for long enough for the last gust to dance on through."
So I held on, held on, held on, They said that's how you know you're strong, But not until I wilted did I notice something wrong.
I thought holding on was bravery, But when winds of change do blow, Sometimes it's even braver still to let go, let go, let go.
The corner of the garden where I lounged was shaded from the trees just enough that I wouldn’t be found unless someone actively sought me out. I liked to surround myself with people, I did, but I didn’t always wish to socialise with them. Sometimes conversing was just too harrowing, especially with these people. My pack. Sometimes I was content with just observing from the backgrounds.
Unfortunately, my sister didn’t understand that. It was different for her; she was one of them. They were a unit, all of them, identical. I was not.
“Come on Emily,” she laughed, ascending to the porch from the grass outside the main house where the party was congregated. Her thick, curled hair bounced against her shoulders, the dark colour seeming amber under the natural light. The thin dress that swirled around her thighs was perfect for the heat, unlike my black training gear and trainers. “I think Alpha Athan was looking for you. You need to go speak to everyone; they’ve all been asking about you.” As usual.
No sigh passed my lips, Margaret hated it when I sighed. But my movements were sluggish as I rose to my feet and followed her down the wooden steps towards the grass. It was Margaret’s birthday and it would be unfair of me to hide away.
From the back of the party, eyes were locked onto Margaret, following her every move. Mitchell had joined the pack three years ago. He had been living with my sister since the day he arrived, and I hadn’t seen her happier than she was when she was with him. That was how it was. How it always was.
Mitchell had briefly been a part of the only pack in our culture that was formed to protect us all - to keep the peace. Though ‘pack’ was a loose term for what they were, they still had an Alpha and a Beta. They were a warrior pack of unmated wolves used to enforce pack law and keep the peace. Free to train without distraction, at the peak of their physical abilities. A pack to fear and a pack to respect. A pack I longed to join.
Only those who had lost their mates could officially join, but it was often that packs sent their fighters to train and better themselves over a year or two. Mitchel had been a wolf keen to rise through the ranks, one his Alpha had recognised potential in, and was sent away for training. He found Margaret just short of his second year at the annual mating rotations - when the packs intermingled to increase the chance of finding your mate.
“Emily,” a deep voice called out to me just as a hand grazed my elbow, drawing my attention softly to the tall, lean man suddenly at my side. A grin stretched across my lips. Jack.
"Alpha Athan,” I mused, my heart jumping at the slow smile curving across his lips.
“Jack; you know how much it irks me that you call me Athan,” he teased, offering out a hand. It was then I noticed the glass he offered, ice clinking against the sides as I gratefully took it from his grasp. The air was uncomfortably hot today. Jack had been smart, clad in a loose white vest and grey shorts. The exposed skin only meant that my eyes would wander as we spoke, like they had come to do so often in the recent months. “Hiding again?”
Queue the eye roll. Jack was one of the only pack members that I felt no need to keep up pretences, he knew my struggle all too well and my lies would be pointless.
He’d been my closest friend. I’d seen him grow from the temperamental boy that he was, to an accomplished man. It was the Alpha family that my father had turned to when my issue began. Jack had only been young then, like me, and he’d helped me find some normalcy in my life. It was needed when everything else pointed towards abnormal. He was the only one I could speak honestly with, the only one I was allowed to train with, the only one I wanted to spend most of my time with.
When he had found his mate, I had been distraught. Suddenly he was no longer my friend, he had belonged to Amy. When we weren’t training, he was with her and I was alone. At first, I had been jealous, there was no denying the ugly feeling that had poisoned my soul. I had hated her, despised her existence, but it couldn’t last forever. She was my Alpha Female, their Alpha Female. She had been beautiful, and far more deserving of Jack than I had been. She had made him, his life, altered him into the man he was now, and she had become a dear friend to me.
“People love your company and yet you’re forever hiding yourself away,” Jack chided. While his tone aimed to be humorous, his words were heavy and accompanied with a soft sigh. Feet shuffling, my gaze dropped as I took a long sip of the chilling drink.
“You know how I feel about the pack,” I muttered, my lips hidden behind the glass.
Jack’s shoulder slumped; his mouth forcibly quirked into a smile.
“I know, I know,” he breathed, grazing a hand through his hair as he glanced around the party at the members of his pack; young and old. “I worry about you is all. You’re loved and welcome here Emily, I know you don’t see it, but you are.”
“I don’t belong,” was all I could whisper out softly, arms crossing protectively against my chest.
My mother’s voice calling my name was the distraction I needed from this conversation. Without glancing back, I left Jack where he stood.