I used the towel to dry myself before pulling on my school uniform. I dropped the towel on the floor and slipped into my shoes. I hated shoes, it felt unnatural. I was a wolf at heart as well as in form. It was hard for me to stop myself from growling while I was human, but after the first – and last– time, it was easier.
I never got away from the pack; we all went to the same school. Most of us were in the same year, except David, Nate, Gryph and Chase. David and Nate were the oldest, they were years elevens. Gryph and Chase were year tens and the rest of us were year nines.
I stood in front of the floor-length mirror. My yellow wolf eyes shone in the sunlight. The long scar that Thor had once lovingly given me was a white line down the right side of my face. My auburn hair hung straight, coming to my shoulders. My hair was growing fast; winter was coming.
There was a knock at my door. I looked in the mirror to see who it was. It was Mum.
“Winter’s coming,” I said.
“Yes, it is. Are you all right?” Mum asked.
“It’s very degrading to come through a dog door, you know?”
“Well you choose to go out at night.”
“Would you rather I spent the night howling at home?”
“No. Look, I want to talk to you, not argue.”
She came into my room and sat on the bed, carefully avoiding the wolf-sized wet patch. I turned to her and crossed my arms expectantly.
“I’m worried about you,” she admitted.
I raised an eyebrow. “Why?” I asked, with a slight laugh in my voice.
“Well, you don’t have any... friends.”
“I have 28 friends.”
“I mean, you don’t have any friends that are girls.”
“I don’t like girls. I’ve got nothing in common with them.”
Mum sighed and went to speak again but I interrupted her.
“I’m going to go to Spike’s. So, if you don’t mind...” I gestured towards the door.
She sighed again but left nevertheless. I looked out of the window. The rain had stopped thankfully. I smiled. I grabbed my school bag and shut the door behind me. I ran down the stairs. I was almost out the front door.
“Ingrid!” shouted Dad from the kitchen.
I stopped mid-step. I walked the way I’d just come, going past the stairs and into the kitchen.
“What?” I asked impatiently.
He threw his arms up and looked around the floor with an exasperated expression. “What happened?!”
The floor was covered with puddles and muddy paw prints. I shrugged, making him angrier.
“Don’t just shrug at me! I want a proper answer!”
“It was pouring down!” I shouted back.
“Then just shake yourself off!”
“I’m not a dog!”
I turned and stormed out of the house. Without thinking, I put the handle of my bag in between my teeth while running away from the house. I heard the door open. As it did, I changed. A ripping sound filled the air as my uniform tore away from my fur.
I cursed mentally but carried on running. My bag swung madly in my jaws. It didn’t take long to reach Spike’s; he didn’t live too far away. I trotted around to his ground floor window. I jumped up to the window and tapped at it with my claws.
Spike appeared in a few seconds. He smiled when he saw me. He opened the window and I jumped through the open frame. I landed gently on the laminate flooring of his room.
I walked past him and behind the wooden screen in the furthest corner of the room. My home from home. I changed back and popped my head around the side of the screen. I smiled sweetly at him. He rolled his eyes and ambled off to go and get some uniform for me.
I often ended up ripping my clothes so I kept several spare sets of uniform at Spike’s. A pair of tights, a tight knee-length skirt and a white shirt; the girls’ uniform for our school. Spike returned with a full outfit, including underwear. I took the clothes from him and started to put them on.
“Thank you, darling,” I said jokily.
He laughed. “So what was it this morning?” he asked.
“Oh, God, don’t remind me.”