Were-Mutt

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The Last Full Moon Night

Jed got out of bed at around two in the afternoon. He went out through the living room on his way to lazily make brunch for us to start our evening with, when he paused, turned and headed for my room. He opened the door with barely a knock and blurted out, “I don’t suppose Annabel is in here.”

I sat up, shaking my head and yawning. As I got up and followed him about the house I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and informed him, “I hope Warrick does a better job of naming our friend, because I want her to like her name.”

Jed paused for a moment and asked, “Is it really that bad?”

I nodded my head and stumbled into the living room. I noticed that Annabel’s pillow was where it belonged, the blankets were half on the floor, but Annabel couldn’t be seen, nor a trace of where she went.

“The doors are still locked.” Jed announced, “And there’s no open windows.”

I called out, “Annabel, cousin, where are you?”

Jed chuckled at me calling into the empty room, but before he could say anything we heard movement. Then we heard some thuds, followed by what appeared to be muffled talking. I listened carefully, and when I finally realized where the noises were coming from I exclaimed, “She’s trapped between the couch and the wall!”

Jed moved the coffee table in a split second. Then we each took a couch end, lifted and stepped sideways, and placed the couch back down. As we picked the couch up she fell out, much like our dog used to when he would get stuck back there, since she was bigger her thud was louder, but I was to busy being amazed that she had managed to get down there to begin with.

Jed rushed to help her up as he mumbled, “How on earth did you manage?”

She looked up at him and sheepishly confessed, “I forgot to mention that I sometimes move about in my sleep, and find myself waking up in strange places.”

Jed took a deep breath, chuckled, and asked, “Is there anything else I need to worry about?”

In response she turned her head towards the front door. A few moments later there was a knock. Jed and I were startled, and a little spooked by the timing. Jed grinned nervously and said, “I wonder who that could be.”

Annabel plugged her nose and stuck out her tongue. So I whispered, “Stinky, Sheriff, circles some more.”

Jed’s eyes widened. He grabbed the end of the couch, and I grabbed the other while Annabel moved out of the way. Once the couch was in place he signaled for us to head to the kitchen. Annabel took a seat at one of the stools by the counter. I went immediately to getting the bread, bacon, eggs and various dishes he’s going to need to make brunch. As I put the last of the things I gathered down on the counter Jed and the Sheriff walked in.

The Sheriff looked at Annabel with a wide grin. She was struggling to breath shallow, without making it noticeable that she was. The Sheriff on the other hand was breathing as deeply as he could. “The air sure smells good today.” he exclaimed.

After many long, deep inhales, meant to pass as thinking moments, he informed her, “This has been the longest, quietest, mornings I’ve seen in this town in ages, followed immediately next by the most talkative afternoon ever. And I don’t mind telling you young lady, most of it is about you. Everyone hopes your family sees fit to move here. Apparently the town is so enamored with you, that they just can’t bear not seeing the woman you grow into.”

Annabel smiled back as sweetly as she could. “As much as I adore this town, and its people; I will be leaving tomorrow morning. One of my sisters may come back at a later date, after I’ve returned home, and told them what a great place it is. Of course how much they’ll want to come will depend greatly on how much I enjoy my last day, and I really like my privacy.”

The Sheriff’s grin softened, he even took half a step back, and asked in an almost pleasing tone, “Will this be an older sister?”

Annabel started to nod, but, kind of turned it into a shrug while she replied, “ Most likely, since Jed needs more help than I can give, I fear I’m really more burden than help. Of course the decision is ultimately up to the leaders of our family.”

The Sheriff’s grin changed into something I didn’t recognize as he took off his hat and inquired, “Might I know the names of your sisters?”

Annabel shook her head softly. “My family firmly believes that to speak of one’s name before a person is met is to harm them with pre-made judgments. For if you know another with the same, or even similar name, then you think of characteristics from that person you would like to see in the new, and that ruins the first meeting.” she informed him, “I assure you not one of their names have passed through my lips, nor will they before I leave. I think it’s better anyways if you go about your day wondering about who will come, and what she will be called.” She leaned forward and added in a whisper, “As long as you understand, about privacy.”

He cleared his throat and answered her, “I’ll make certain no one bothers you, least of all me.” Then he nodded his head, replaced his hat, and excused himself.

As I walked him to the door I decided to declare, “It shouldn’t be hard, we’re just going to be here, resting up for the Last Full Night Dance. Can’t let the full moon go to waste.”

The Sheriff nodded his head, stepped through the door and told me over his shoulder, “Have a pleasant day, and a great Last Moon Night.”

I closed and locked the door behind him. Then I waited a few moments before returning to my brother and Annabel. When I finally reappeared in the kitchen Jed was cooking, and Annabel was setting out the dishes. Jed was explaining to her the art of cooking. I rolled my eyes, having heard it half a dozen times before. Annabel paid attention, asked questions, and kept asking till she understood.

I quietly slipped off to my room, until they called me out to eat. After Jed led us in our prayer, and all our plates were served, Jed informed me, “Annabel needs you to teach her how to read and write, and all the basics up to where you are at in school. She is too intelligent not to know what two plus two is.”

I gasped, “Do you have any idea how long that will take?”

“She’s a quick study.” Jed replied, “But the only way to find out is to get started. I’ll keep snacks and drinks coming, as long as you keep the learning going.”

Annabel smiled weakly as she took a cautious bite of the french toast stick. The surprise at the pleasure of the taste in her mouth, was as evident as the pleasure. It made for a unique look.

Jed stated, “I take it you’ve never had this before.”

She swallowed the bite and declared, “It is very sweet and delicious, much better than I expected.”

“Now, try a bite of bacon.” I told her.

She did, and was almost as pleased with the salty flavor. Then she stuck the piece of bacon next to the strip of french toast, dipped them in the syrup, took another bite, and stated, “Best way to eat them.”

After a bit Jed ruined the escape of the moment by asking Annabel, “Why did you tell the Sheriff you’ll be sending a sister back?”

“To explain the name change.” she answered, “I’m not staying Annabel. The name doesn’t suit me. Plus if I’m correct his only interest in me is my availability. I’m too young and weak to put up much of a fight. He sees the two of you as a mere nuisance. This way, he backs off while he patiently waits for the new sister.”

.I asked, “Isn’t that a mean thing to do to your sister?”

Annabel giggled before replying, “It will be me, I’ll just claim to be a more mature twin, or something. We can deal with that when the time comes, for now we got him to give us some space.”

Jed inquired, "Do you think it will work?”

“On everyone else, as long as we do it right, yes.” Annabel answered, “The Sheriff, on the other hand, will know without a doubt that it is still me, but he’ll play along. To call me out, would take revealing how he knows what he knows, and I don’t think he’s ready for that yet.”

“What makes you so certain he has something to hide?” I asked.

Her response was, “He’s Evil. EVIL, like the kind that haunts a grown man’s nightmares. The stuff our waking minds barely fathom. That is what I smell whenever he comes near, it oozes from him, and he’s proud of it. Evil like that doesn’t exist in the light, without hiding a lot in the shadows.”

“See.” Jed blurted out, “It’s things like this that make you so perplexing.” She stared at him wide eyed and innocent looking as he continued, “How can you be so wise a couple of days after not knowing the difference between a girl’s dress and a sheet?”

Annabel explained, “I’ve learned much among the humans.”

I shook my head, and buried my face into my hands, as Jed stated, “You have to quit saying things like that! I mean I care about you, and I want to press you for more information. If anyone else heard what you just said, we’d be facing a lot of troubling questions, and who knows what else.”

She nodded her head slowly for a bit. “If you help me learn these things as well, I will do my best to fit in.” she declared.

I informed her, “You still have to stay unique though, it’s not cool to be exactly like someone else.”

“I doubt we have to worry about her being just like anyone else.” Jed stated, “No matter what name Warrick gives her.”

So the rest of the day was spent teaching her how to read, write, and do math. We told her about the history of our town, as well as highlights of history from our state and national history. As we went we also ended up teaching her about manners, sarcasm, and other silly human skills she needed to know.

As sun down approached we took showers, put on clean clothes, and headed off to the Last Moon Dance. Annabel held her own throughout the night, with small talk between dances, and refreshments to refuel. We used the party to break the news to the town about Annabel’s leaving, to be replaced by a sister who’s name was yet for them to discover.

Many people expressed regret at her having to leave, even if there was another to meet. But soon their minds focused on wondering how similar and different the sister would be, and of course when she would arrive.

Just before dawn Annabel walked with us back to our house. We didn’t notice when she didn’t follow us inside. Jed went to make her bed up, but discovered she was long gone before he was finished. Later that afternoon I found the latest outfit of my clothes in a neat pile by the shed, all resting on the green shoes.

Warrick came home late that afternoon, and doubted our story about the strange girl who became our cousin, and who would be coming back, expecting him to give her a name. Until some of the women started stopping by, asking him if he got the chance to meet his cousin before she left.

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