“Rylie Ada Marston! Get your ass out of bed! It is graduation day!” My best friend, Andie, yells at me as she runs from the front door to my bedroom.
“Watch your language, Andie!” Mom yells at my friend causing me to lightly smile.
“Yes, ma’am,” Andie replies, probably with a salute added on.
When she enters my room, she throws the blanket off me, messes up my hair, and begins to jump on the bed to further wake me. At one point, which is when I decide to wake up, her foot jabs me in the rib cage.
“Ugh!” I make a very unladylike noise, “Alright, Andie, I’m up!” I sit up in bed, showing my hands in a guilty plea for sleeping in late. Today is our graduation day, and I was supposed to wake up early for it.
“Good,” the chirpy eighteen year old falls to her butt on my bed, and I smile at her. She’s always so happy. I’m glad to have her as a friend. “So, you’re going for a run before we get ready, right?” I nod my head. For the past three years Andie has been coming over every morning, and we’ve worked out a sort of schedule: She wakes me, I go on a run while she picks me out an outfit for the day, I shower when I return, get dressed, and then we eat whatever my moms made for breakfast. I enjoy our routine, but sometimes Andie complains about why she can’t come running with me. I always tell her I just need some alone time before I start my day, but I think she thinks I’m just meeting up with some secret lover or something. The real truth is, Andie doesn’t yet know about my being a werewolf, and I don’t want her to know... Yet. She’d only run away screaming.
When I found out I was a werewolf- almost five years ago now- when I turned thirteen, I freaked out and decided it needed to be kept a secret. I shut myself out from the world around me for a few weeks. I turned off my phone for good, almost never leaving my room. My moms thought I was depressed, but I always assured them I wasn’t. Every night I’d sneak out to take a run, and I got to know the forest really well.
High school started a few weeks later, and it was terrible. I was too scared of my secret getting out, and someone putting me in the looney bin that I separated myself from everyone. I spent my entire grade nine year friendless. Although, I spent every afternoon at the track running and every night running through the forest. The thing I used to hate became something I loved to do. By the end of my first high school year, the track team coach started watching me practice everyday which always ended in him trying to convince me to join the team. I eventually agreed to join in grade ten, making Mr. K joyous and excited for the next year.
In grade ten I kept my promise and joined the team. I won many races and ended up making friends with Andie, a girl on the track team. I’d gotten less scared of having to hide my wolf and decided it was time to let someone into my life again. All my old friends bullied me since I was no longer popular but a loser for refusing to talk to anyone for so long. Andie helped me through that and even introduced me to Arii who also became a close friend. The three of us have been unbreakable since.
I grab some clothes and make my way outside. I hide behind a tree and begin my transformation into a wolf. It’s become so natural to me now. My bones shift and my fur sprouts, my clothes ripping. I always forget to take them off beforehand...
I’m on all fours when I hear a yelp of surprise. I look back to see Andie staring at me, holding my running shorts in her hand. I realize I must’ve dropped them, and she had followed to give them back to me. I rapidly change back to my human form, hiding naked behind a tree.
“Andie...” I begin not exactly sure what to say to her. She’s probably scared out of her mind of me now. I’ve just lost a close friend, I think.
“H-how?” She stutters, and I simply shrug.
“Ever since I turned thirteen I’ve just been able to do it. I don’t know how or why. I’m sorry for keeping it a secret Andie, but I didn’t think you’d take it well, and I didn’t want you to run from me. I was scared of becoming your friend, scared you’d find out and leave me forever or hurt me or something, and I don’t want that,” I gush in a word vomit. I feel like I suddenly need to explain everything to her.
Out of nowhere, she begins pacing, head in hands. She grabs her hair and begins to mutter to herself, “I’m going crazy. I’m going crazy! Rylie is NOT a werewolf. I’m going crazy. Maybe this is all a dream. I’m going crazy!”
“Andie,” my voice snaps her out of her crazy haze, and she stands still, hands in hair, giving me her infamous stink eye, “that’s how I felt, too, when I first found out. You’re not crazy. This isn’t a dream. I promise.”
Andie, her face pale in shock, eyes wide, mutters something to herself that sounds like an obscure word. She closes her eyes for a moment to think, her hands falling to her sides leaving her hair messy, before she tells me, “You should’ve told me,” she bends over to pick up my shorts causing me to realize that she even dropped them in the first place. She tosses them to me, and I notice her cheeks are starting to gain more colour. Maybe she’s getting it together...
“I thought you’d leave me. I needed a friend so bad.” I murmur in response. I feel so bad for not telling her, so guilty.
“I can’t very well leave you now, you dumb butt. You’re my best friend. Now get dressed. We need to have a talk.” Andie turns on her heel and makes her way back to the house. I smile in strain. I still have my best friend.
When I get to my room I see Andie sitting on my bed, scrolling through something on my laptop. I sit beside her but not too close. I don’t want to make her uncomfortable... She looks at me warily like she’s still a bit scared, “Tell me everything you know.”
And so, I do. I tell her all about my first change and all the pain. I tell her all about my beautiful wolf’s personality and how she can talk to me whenever she feels like. I tell her it’s pretty much just like a human spirit and wolf spirit living in one body, and we can simply switch between the two spirits. I explain that my wolf’s name is Lilliana, but I call her Lili, and she knows as little about werewolves as I do. “I’m not sure, but I think I’m the only one. A mutation of some sort, probably.” I finish off my explanation with a sigh. I wish I knew at least one other person like me. I wish I just knew more about werewolves in general.
Andie stayed quiet throughout my whole explanation, but now she has something to say. Looking up from my laptop at which she’s been staring the entire time, she repeats what she has learned, “Well, according to the Internet, werewolves change for the first time either at nine or thirteen. I betcha thirteen is the real deal like you, and nine is some faker.” Andie, always trying to make me feel better.
I give her a small smile in thanks, “I don’t think there are any others like me, though, Andie.” A lot of my nights growing up I spent dreaming of meeting another werewolf like me, sometimes an entire pack of them, but I always felt this dread deep down that I was the only one. I always felt so out of place, like I would never fit in anywhere I go because of this stupid secret.
“The most common thing to come up about werewolves are mates.” I wait for her to explain what a mate is, but she continues to scroll and read, not paying much attention to me. I’m just glad she’s getting more comfortable around me. I’m giddy she didn’t leave.
“What’s a mate?” I prompt.
“A soul mate. Apparently, every wolf has one, and it seems to be a common consensus that you’ll find yours anytime after you turn sixteen, and you just know it’s them when you first meet. Oh em gee, Ry! What if you have a mate?!” Andie squeals in my ear, grabbing my arm tightly. I giggle and blush at the thought but quickly brush it aside. I would die of happiness if there’s even more like me, but mates seem like an improbability.
“What if that’s just a silly Internet myth, and I’m the only werewolf the world has ever seen?” I counter with a raised eyebrow.
“What if it’s true, and you have a mate,” she counters with a raised eyebrow in challenge.
“What if I don’t,” I mimic her raised eyebrow challenge.
“I doubt that.” I simply roll my eyes at her. She doesn’t even notice, though, too interested in her research on werewolves. I lay my head back on the wall and close my eyes. I only get a moment of rest, though, before Momma D kicks- yes, she literally kicks- open my door.
“GIRLS!” She screeches when she sees our lazy butts lounging around on my bed, “It’s your graduation in a few hours! We have to get ready!” Mom rushes in the room after hearing Momma D’s reminder and in her hands are our dresses.
“Here, change.” Mom shoves the dresses into our arms before pulling Momma D out of the room, closing the door behind them. Andie and I giggle as we take out our dresses. Andie has a striking lime green dress which is shorter in the front than in the back. The are a few jewels along the plunging neckline. It’s the perfect dress for her personality and figure.
I, on the other hand, have a simple white dress that flows into black tips on the end. It’s supposed to be the opposite of my hair. Momma D said when we bought them that it’ll be a “perfect opposition.” Silly Momma D.
Andie and I quickly dress before my parents enter the room again with their hands full of makeup and hair things. I groan. I used to love dressing up, but since I found out about my wolf, and I lost all my girly friends, I also lost my want to be girly. I prefer simple. “Don’t worry sweety,” Mom starts, “this is mostly for Andie. For you, we’ll keep everything pretty simple.” My lips pull up in the corners in thanks. My moms know me well. “Now let’s get started!”
A couple hours later, and we’re ready to go. Andie’s face is caked with makeup how she likes it, and my makeup was kept simple and natural. As for our hair, Andie and I decided as best friends to get the same do. We each got a Katniss braid like the nerds we are. My moms thought it was adorable.
Now we’re standing in front of our high school for the last time ever getting our pictures taken by our parents. “Andie! Rylie!” I hear our friend Arii calling to us, and she soon joins for more pictures. Arii is wearing a cute peach pink dress that fits the contours of her chest well before flowing out nicely to just above her knees. Simple but strikingly beautiful on her.
When our parents are all satisfied with having a gazillion pictures of us, we make our way inside for the ceremony. The entire thing is long and winded, way too drawn out for my liking, but when it’s over, I couldn’t be happier. With my diploma in hand, friends, and family by my side, and a good future at the ready, how couldn’t I be happy? Finally, I’m out of high school and onto becoming an Olympic racer.