Onus Angelorum

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True Nature

I walked outside to the fire pit as one of the warlocks cast a dramatic looking spell. Green and blue animal shapes lept out of the flames landing in nearby drinks. Everyone in the area cheered and clapped at the magical man’s colorful accomplishment.

Not to be outdone, a stunning dark-haired witch seated with Kate cast a spell revealing everyone’s true form in the room. Purple fog raced around the walls like a Nascar driver on a windy track.

The table of beautiful young witches was revealed as bald, old decrepit women in tattered clothes. They laughed and cackled as the purple fog rolled over their skin. Kate’s image appeared untouched, but she seemed embarrassed by the spell.

Next to feel the effects of the fog was the clutch of vampires seated under the stairwell. Only a few parts of their skeleton bodies retained any skin. All of them were in some state of decay. Even Emma appeared ghoulishly distorted under the spells fog. They all laughed and pointed at each other. Maybe it was the stiff drinks, but they were the most haunted looking of all the creatures in the room.

Leo sat motionless next to the vampires. When his eyes met mine, I could see he was anxious. I winked at him and smiled. The spell would end soon. We just needed to ride it out without making a scene.

As the fog rolled over Leo. His face and body remained unchanged, but I could see a white wolf curled up inside his chest. The calm, beautiful animal was sleeping with its mouth open around Leo’s heart. Its long tongue licked Leo’s fast-beating heart just before turning to look at me. White light beamed out from the wolf’s eyes and pierced into my skin. Its gaze drew me closer to Leo.

Walking away from the witches, Dagen and his friends were staring at me. I could see Bruce’s huge, sleeping black wolf coiled around his spine with its head poking toward his brain.

Sean’s brown wolf with yellow eyes stretched out inside the length of his whole body. Filling his arms and legs with wolf fur.

Dagen’s light golden wolf stared at me with beaming white eyes as it coiled around Dagen’s heart. The wolf twisting around to follow me, its paws coming to rest on Dagen’s ribcage.

I put my hand on Dagen’s chest. His wolf met my fingers with its outstretched paw and a lazy yawn before licking its long tongue around Dagen’s heart and resting its black snout pointed toward my chest.

“I’ll be right back. I want to see my wolf.”

“She’s awake and pointing toward my chest.” Dagen sounded surprised and reverent. “She’s pure white, Alerie. You haven’t killed anyone.” With that new logic, Bruce’s pure black wolf became very concerning to me.

I wanted to find a mirror to see if my wolf with my own eyes. Searching the kitchen catch-all drawer, I found a little mirror among the chopsticks and extra sauce packets. I could see my wolf was pure white with white eyes and black paw pads. She was small but fully awake and busy scanning the room.

Pax’s voice entered my mind. “Just look at me and smile at the others. You know what I really look like. Don’t let them see any fear in your face. It’s what the witch wants.”

“Pax?” I answered. “Where are you?”

“At the outside fire pit. I’m here in front of the flames. No one changed merely because their true image is unpleasing to view. It is an intimacy to share one’s true self with others.”

“Leo’s image didn’t change. His wolf lives inside his chest. His wolf is white and looks just like mine.”

“The witch can’t skew true love,” Pax explained.

“Oh, it’s not like that with Leo.”

“I see now your Leo could be anything to you, a father, a brother, a sister, a mother. But a lover. Hmm, that was an interesting choice.” Pax walked closer to me. Isaac’s body is close to six feet tall like Dagen, but Pax’s image easily soared above him, scraping at the ceiling.

“I wonder which one of you couldn’t incarnate alone. Do the poor boy a favor and find yourself a full-blood lover in secret. You can’t keep biting him, or that carefree spirit you love will wither and turn dark. When you see what’s happens to him at your hands, it will break you.

“When you come to me, drowning in sorrow and calling out for the help of God and the Devil with the same passion, I will be unable to resist answering your plea. What small measure of compassion I cultivated over the centuries will vanish, and I will happily consume your soul. How sad will that day be for me?”

“Absolutely fucking tragic, I hope.” I made it back to the patio and out into the cold early morning air. Pax hugged me tightly.

“I have stayed too long within Isaac. This was not the time frame we agreed upon. He was more than charitable with his time this evening. I’m working on a new vessel. I think you will approve of him as well.”

“Pax, I don’t want to be the reason you find a new body.”

“But I wish to keep a body, so I will. I found a young, strong man terribly addicted to poison dying alone in an abandoned building. I intervened. He lives again. It’s an act of charity on my part. Emma is helping me clear his blood.”

“Thank you for your help, Pax. If I survive, it will only be because of your lessons.” I looked up into his eyes and felt my stomach flutter. My heart began to race as he bent down to kiss me. I could hear Emma warning, ’this won’t end well.’

It was a light kiss, more than a friendly peck but a bit less grabby than passionate. The sensation of cold water being poured over my head removed my ability to think.

“No end is ever welcome. I can’t promise I won’t hurt you, but I can promise I will be deeply sorry if I do.”

“Your honesty is a bit terrifying.” Pax smiled and brushed my hair off my neck.

“Live as you please. Your days here, in this beautiful body, are numbered regardless of what you choose.” Pax bent down and, with his face on my throat, inhaled a deep exaggerated breath. “I will see you soon, my Little Worm.”

As Pax walked away, my teeth began to chatter, and my eyes welled up with tears. I noticed Dagen staring at me and felt Kate whispering in my ear.

“Damn-it, Alerie! Can you hear me?” Kate growled.

“Yes, sorry. I was distracted.”

“Everyone can see how easily distracted you are, and everyone here knows Pax is a greater demon. You can’t continue with whatever that was.”

“I think it’s a little too late for that bit of advice.” I kissed Kate on the cheek. “Excuse me for a minute.” Dagen seemed to be waiting for me to return.

Dagen took my arm as I got close enough to grab. “Come with me to the bar. I need something strong and mind-wiping. Kill-devil and coconut water should do the trick,” Dagen ordered two glasses of 1703 rum. I sipped mine slowly, trying to acclimate to the taste.

“Why was your curse activated if you didn’t kill anyone?”

“Honestly, I have no clue. My Elder appeared to me a few days before the shooting. I even saw a short waking dream about being on that very piece of concrete. I was out with a guy I really liked and needed to bite him so he would stop bleeding to death.”

“I don’t get it. That’s not the same as murder. Your wolf is pure white,” Dagen contemplated out loud.

“Your wolf is blond or golden. It’s not white, but its eyes are white like mine, and he was pawing at me?”

“I’ve killed twice in three-hundred forty-one years. They were both justified kills, and I would do it again. Our wolves are compatible even if yours is hyperactive.”

“I’ve got a few things on my mind right now. She might as well be a crack addict.” We laughed and drank together for what seemed like hours. Dagen didn’t linger too close or attempt to touch me. I found it odd but refreshing. He wasn’t grabby.

Leo located me as the crowd started to thin. He and I stood in the middle of the room like an old, married couple and wished everyone a good night and a safe trip home.

Dagen kissed me on the cheek before he left. His friends seemed to calm down a bit, but they still looked at me with disgust.

Kate’s sewing circle left the apartment last. Each perfectly dressed woman kissed and hugged Leo and me excessively before leaving. My dark blue pants set hung on the pantry door, ready for my walk into the White.

Just as Kate promised, all my furniture returned shortly after the park, benches disappeared from my living room. The large square patch of missing wall filled in after the last guest left the room. Every surface looked clean and dry. The air smelled like soap and candle wax.

Leo locked up the house and trudged upstairs, yanking off his tie. He looked so grown up in the dark suit I wanted him to leave it on.

Kate went home with a nice-looking group of witch people who seemed to pique her interest. Leo and I were finally alone after what felt like a year of living with strangers.

Part of me wanted to hide under Leo’s warm biceps and never speak of wolves and witches or the White ever again. The sound of the running water and Leo’s shower rendition of ‘Purple Rain’ lured me upstairs for the night. I grabbed a few bottles of water and turned off all the lights.

An old saying came to mind. Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for. Epicurus offered this timely advice three hundred years before Christ walked the earth.

I decided I would not spoil what I have by taking the day’s baggage into bed with me. Leo could have left with any number of love-struck women eager to get under him for the night, but he chose to stay with me. Loyalty was his true nature.

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