When I was younger, six or seven maybe, and my mother was still alive and my father still sane, I used to play out in the spacious backyard behind our house. Back then, my mother was just beginning the downward spiral she would never come out of, and she was no longer able to care for the once-bright garden that we had planted together. I remember how she would watch me from the kitchen window and give me a tired smile, trying to remain strong for her little girl, though already her hair was thinning and her face was growing gaunt. I didn't notice. Not then.
One day while I was swinging alone on the swing set I heard a sound coming from behind one of the lilac bushes--a sort of growling, wheezing sound. I don't remember feeling any fear then--just curiosity, that innocent sense of wonder that we lose so quickly. I dragged my feet on the ground to stop my swing from carrying me any higher and toddled over to the plant.
There, cradled in the shelter of the towering lilac blooms, was my pet cat Abbey, who I'd had since I was two and loved more than anything else in the world. I was too young, then, to see the blood matting her fur and the feral look in her eyes as she crouched beneath me and stared up with yellow eyes.
It was then that I reached down to pet her and she clawed at me, ripping parallel gashes in my soft flesh that burned like fire. I remember screaming, in fear and in confusion, and running inside where my mother quickly tended to my wound. She took me aside and in a soft voice explained that Abbey was sick. Something had bitten her and now she wasn't the same. And it was in those moments of my young life that I first experienced what it was like to be betrayed by someone who had your complete and unconditional trust.
The second time I was betrayed was the day that Hunter came back.
The tears stung my eyes and blurred my vision as I stared at the instrument of death that rested on the couch, absurdly out of place in the spotless living room. I felt hollow inside. "Please," I said, unable to meet his eyes. My voice sounded flat and toneless in the silence. "Please, I just...need some time to think. Can you leave? Now?"
I glanced up at him and saw that he had shifted back to his normal form. His gray skin seemed to flush darker as he gave me a curt nod and tucked his pendant back inside his shirt, then turned and left the room without a word.
I stood staring after him for a moment, then collapsed onto the couch and cried.