Not good. Not good. Definitely not good! I don’t know how I came to be in this mess but here I am. You see, I came here to gather information, but at the minute? I’m currently running very fast and thinking shit, shit, shit over and over again in my head. It doesn’t get much worse than this.
You see, my name is Jez, and I’m a werewolf. I was bitten when I was just seven years old by a really good friend of mine. He was actually my fourteen years old next door neighbour who always took me to the park and bought me ice cream.
I grew up in a home with a sister that hated me, a father who abused me, and a mother who didn’t want me. I was just known as the weird girl who lived in the house at the end of the street and was very strange. I didn’t have any friends. Not in the street, not in school, not anywhere. Life was grey.
Then Charlie moved in next door and my world got a little bit brighter.
Even though he was a lot older than me he could immediately tell that something wasn’t quite right with my family. He could tell I was a stranger in my own home and that I didn’t fit in. He wanted to know why.
His family spent a month or so flitting backwards and forwards to their new house. They decorated and move their furniture in. I would watch them laughing and having fun, saddened that they were such a happy family. They were like the family I dreamed of, but could never have. Then, about a week after his family settled in next door for good Charlie came out when I was sitting in the garden making daisy chains. I was five at the time. He leaned on the fence, watching me. When I looked up at him he smiled. A smile I would never forget. His blue eyes glistened as he asked me who I was and how old I was. I looked closely at him. Reddish blond hair, friendly smile, calm and chilled. So, I answered, thinking that this might just be my chance to make a friend. Even though I didn’t really know how to make friends.
Things continued like this for about a week and a half. I would come out to play in the garden every afternoon, and he would come and talk to me over the fence. Then one Wednesday afternoon, I had been out in the garden for about ten minutes when, as expected, Charlie flung open his front door and jumped down the steps. He reached the fence in about 6 strides. ‘Jez, is there a park around here?’ he asked, a boyish grin on his face.
‘Yeah,’ I answered, and I told him about the park through the woods. I’d heard about it but I’d never been there. My parents would never think of doing such a thing. Charlie grinned, and told me to go ask them if I was allowed to go there with him. He promised to take me there. So I went inside to find my father. ‘Daddy?’
‘What do you want?’ That was what I got. He never even looked up from his paper he was writing on. He sat at his desk with his back to the door. His head bowed forward slightly as he hastily read through his work.
‘Can I go to the park? With Charlie next door?’
He put his pen down and turned so he was facing me directly. ‘Why would a nice boy like him, want to take someone like you, to the park?’ He had one of his usual looks on his face. Like he was trying to keep back a smirk but wasn’t succeeding. And I didn’t even know what to say to that. I didn’t even know myself. Because he was my friend? Was he my friend? I thought he was my friend but how did I know for sure? I didn’t know. Charlie had never said we were friends, so maybe we weren’t. I wouldn’t know. So I stayed silent.
‘Come here.’ My father ordered. I shuffled towards him through the office door. I knew what was coming.
As I got within arms reach of him he reached out and grabbed my arm tight, pulling me to him. I didn’t flinch. I didn’t react. I didn’t do anything but look up at him. I saw his hatred for me reflected in his eyes. Saw his disgust at being near me, and at being related to someone as worthless as me.
‘You are a lying little rat. You know that?’ His face inches from mine. ‘That boy doesn’t like you. He hates you! Everybody hates you. No one likes a worthless little thing like you.’ With that, he flung me against the wall where I fell to the floor gasping for breath.
‘Get out of here. Go where ever you want. I don’t care.’ He muttered, then he turned back to his work.
I picked myself up of the floor and stood for a few seconds, just looking at him. He hated me, I knew that. He had hated me since the day I was conceived. But it still hurt to know, to be reminded every day. I turned and walked out of the room, head high. I walked up to the front door and looked at it. Daddy had said I could go anywhere. He said he didn’t care. Did that mean I could go the park with Charlie? Charlie. Daddy said Charlie hated me too. Was that true? I’d go to the park on my own, if I could find it. Not that anyone would miss me if I got lost and never came back.
I opened the door and looked outside. Charlie was leaning on the fence, fingers intertwined, thumbs twiddling slightly in front of him. His head was bowed forward. He almost looked like he was praying. As I closed the front door behind me he looked up.
‘Can you come then?’
I froze, and then ran down the steps and out of the front gate. I could hear Charlie shouting for me to slow down behind me but I didn’t. I kept running until I reached the woods which were just around the corner and over the field. I didn’t want to have to talk to Charlie. I couldn’t. I was beginning to think of him as a friend and I couldn’t bare the thought of him around me and knowing he hated me. When I reached the edge of the woods I tripped over a fallen tree branch.
I fell onto my hand and knees crying and gasping for breath. I heard someone call my name behind me and I looked back. Charlie was running towards me. No! I had to stay away from him. I stumbled to my feet and kept running. I’d never run through the woods before. It was harder than I thought it would be. Everywhere I ran tree branches lashed out at me, slashing through my clothes and cutting my face and arms. It hurt. A sleeveless top and three quarter lengths weren’t the best things for running through woods in.
I kept running as fast as I could manage until I came to a clearing and sank down to the ground. I was lost, alone, and out of breath. I just sat there panting, and cried.
I don’t know how long I sat there but it wasn’t long before I felt a warm hand on my bare shoulder and someone kneeling down beside me. I knew it was Charlie, and there was no point trying to run from him anymore. He just sat there, hand on my shoulder, thumb rubbing in comforting circles. He stayed silent until I started to calm down and my tears subsided. Then he pulled me gently on to his knee and wrapped his arms around me, hugging me, swaying gently and rocking me till I was calm. I felt safe in his arms. Why did I though? Why did I feel safe in the arm of someone my father told me hated me?
I looked up at Charlie, my green eyes boring into his blue ones.
‘Why?’ I asked. Why being the only word I could seem to manage at that time. Charlie tilted his head to the side, eyebrows knitting together in confusion.
‘Why what, Jez?’ He asked, moving his hand up to stroke my hair.
‘Why,’ I took a deep breath, ‘Why did you talk to me the other week? Why do you act like you care when you don’t? Why did you ask me to go to the park with you? Why did you follow me when I ran? Why did you bother to follow me out here?’
Charlie brushed my hair out of my face gently and smiled that smile I had loved since I first saw it.
‘I do care about you. You’re my friend Jez. And that’s why I came after you.’
He said he was my friend. I didn’t know what to make of that. Could I believe what he said? Daddy had said he hated me. Had daddy lied? No. Daddy never lied. But what if he did? I was confused. Charlie looked like he meant it, but I couldn’t be sure.
I started crying again and buried my face in Charlie’s shoulder. He hugged me closer and whispered comforting words to me, rocking me like he had before. Rocking me until I calmed down again.
‘Shh. It’s okay Jez.’ He whispered. ‘Tell me what’s happened. What’s wrong?’
Tell him? How could I? How could I tell what had happened when I went inside to find my father? He pulled me back slightly and looked at my face. My fear at telling him must have showed in my eyes because his eyebrows knitted together ever so slightly the same way they had before. He gently moved me back so I was kneeling up in front of him and he moved so he was sitting on the floor rather than on his heels. He was now looking up at me ever so slightly. He held my hands tight, but not too tight.
‘Tell me Jez. Tell me what’s wrong. You know you can tell me anything.’
I looked down. ‘I can’t…’ I trailed off.
‘You can Jez. Come on, tell me, please.’ He squeezed my hands gently.
I looked back up at him. I could see worry etched on his face. His eyes confirmed it. I had to tell him.
‘Daddy says you hate me, just like everybody does.’ I held my breath, waiting to hear him laugh and tell me it was true.
But Charlie did neither. He just looked shocked.
‘Hate you? Jez, I don’t hate you. I never have hated you. Why would he say something like that?’
‘He says everyone hates me. That no one would like someone worthless like me.’
Charlie pulled me back towards him and I buried my face on his shoulder again.
‘Don’t say that! That’s not true Jez. You’re not worthless, you’re lovely, lots of people like you.’
Lovely? Me? But my father always said I was horrible. It didn’t make sense.
‘No one likes me Charlie.’ I said as I stumbled to my feet and pulled back from him, stepping out of his grasp. ‘No one. People know me as the weird girl. The strange girl. At school people avoid me. Even the teachers try to stay away. I’m a freak Charlie! A freak with no friends.’
I let the tears fall freely and turned so that I didn’t have to look at Charlie.
We stayed like that for a few minutes. Then I turned to look back at him. Charlie just looked at me. His eyes filled with emotions I didn’t even want to know, his mouth slightly open like he wanted to say something but didn’t know what.
‘You know it’s true. You think so too.’ I whispered, looking down at my feet.
What had I done to deserve this? This wasn’t how things were supposed to be. Families were supposed to be happy. Children were supposed to be loved. They were supposed to have friends. They were supposed to have a happy life. I had none of it. I had a family that hated me and nothing about my life was happy.
‘Except Charlie’, a part of my mind whispered. Charlie was my happiness. My only friend. He was the one person I could trust. The person I felt safest around.
I needed Charlie.