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The Beast in Me (completed)
I didn't get time to mull over it. Mom crashed into me and hugged me like a mother bear who just found her cub again. The air went out of my lungs and before I could respond she released me again. She mustered me from head to toe. Her underlip was trembling,
“Dear Lord, look at you!”
I rather didn't.
“What happened to you? All the blood! Are you in pain? Why aren't they taking care of you?”
“Mom, I'm fine! This isn't my blood!” I disregarded my scratches for simplicity, as they had healed of their own account anyway. “Sheena got hurt...”
“They told me about the girl! They said you had gone to the dam and there was an accident? -- What have you been doing there, anyway? How could you put yourself and this girl...”
“Sheena...” I threw in but that didn't stop the flow of words.
“...into such danger? Did you go beyond the trespassing sign?”
I couldn't deny that.
“Yes, mom but...” only to save her, I thought. But there was no way I could change my story now.
“How could you do anything so irresponsible? Who is this girl anyway? Did she talk you into this?”
“No mom! She'e a new student in our class. She's very nice....” I mumbled. I was embarrassed for my mother who, in her worry for me, didn't consider that Sheena's father could hear every word of our conversation.
“And how could you just leave without telling us where you were going? Sue was completely confused when you dashed away from our house like wild mustang. We were worried to death!”
“I'm sorry mom... I didn't mean to...”
“What's wrong with you? I don't recognize you today. Did turning sixteen blow a fuse?”
“It's your birthday today?” That was Sheena's father. He had approached us while we were standing and discussing loudly. I turned to him. He was smiling. Relief was radiating from the corners of his mouth.
“Yeah...” I answered.
“Congratulations!” He held out his hand and I shook it. “Sorry about that earlier on... I... I was so worried out of my head, I didn't know what I was doing or saying. -- Miles de Veela”, he held out his hand to mom, “I'm Sheena's father. I owe Sheena's life to your son's quick actions. Take it easy on him. Whatever happened earlier... I'm just so grateful that he brought my daughter back alive... you know, she's all I have on this planet since my wife passed away this summer.”
My mother stood there baffled for a few seconds.
“Mr. de Veela. My son... Byron... is the best boy you can find in this town...” Her eyes turned fiery, like a lioness protecting her cub, “With all due respect for your loss, Mr. de Veela... I have no idea how your daughter managed to get into this trouble but believe me, I will not let my son be drawn into anything...”
“She's awake! She's speaking!” A nurse had rushed out of the operation room and was hurrying up the hall towards us. She stopped in front of us and looked at us with wide eyes. Everyone stood as if paralyzed. “She wants to talk to... Byron!”
Mom and Sheena's father looked at me and I just stood there with a half-open mouth. A second later, Sheena's father jogged down the hall. The nurse kept looking at me and my mother.
“Byron... what happened at the dam? What on earth made you charge away from us and go to that place... that I explicitly told you to stay away from?!”
My mind was racing. Why was Sheena asking for me? By this time, her father had disappeared into the operation room. I should have felt relieved and happy that Sheena was so well that she was speaking. But my insides squirmed at the thought that I needed to do some explaining. Especially, to myself. I was amazed at how quickly my feelings were shifting. My self-destructive thoughts from a few minutes ago had transformed into a feeling of pride and longing. The weaker I was feeling physically, the more I wished to take on the form of the monstrous beast that I knew was inside of me. I was confused. Rationally, I told myself that it was appalling to have such thoughts and that I should do everything to prevent becoming a werewolf again, even if in some part of my mind, I still knew right from wrong. I knew it was wrong to act like a beast and to hurt other people. I knew that violence was a bad thing. Yet, the beast in me cherished all the great things that I had accomplished when I was in command of my full powers. A part of me wanted to control the power, to use it for... for what?
“Answer me, son! What happened up there?” Mom demanded. I was feeling weak. All my energy seemed to have vanished now. The idea that I had performed superhero tasks seemed ridiculous if not impossible. I suddenly felt a sense of irreality. I was just a normal sixteen year old boy who had gotten into some mess that he couldn't explain.
The nurse tugged me at my arm. She looked intensely into my eyes. Her own were filled with a kind of frightened but respectful awe. Then I remembered that Sheena had asked for me.
“I... I was showing off and... things got out of hand. It's my fault.” I gave my false testimony with convincing remorse and conviction. Mom sighed but looked relieved at the same time,
“OK, Byron... It honors you that you stand for your actions.” She shook her head, “...but you're grounded at least all of next week.”
I nodded weakly and shuffled off with the nurse who took me to Sheena's room. Her father was stroking her head when I entered the room. It was lighted sparsely. Sheena caught my eye immediately. It hit me with a shock. There was strength and determination in these eyes. No sign that she had been flirting with the reaper a short while ago.
“Try to get some rest, Sheena! Even if you don't feel tired right now your body needs it after what you've been through. The drugs are making you feel better than you actually are...”
“Dad...” Sheena said softly, “I'll rest as you told me. Now don't worry any more! I'll be fine! - Let me talk to Byron a few minutes now.” He was holding her hand when he retreated and only disengaged when they were fully extended. Our eyes met for a fraction of a second before he went past me and left the room with the nurse.
I kept my distance and didn't lift my eyes to meet hers again.
“Thanks Ron.” She said suddenly. It almost startled me to hear her voice say those words to me. I was still blaming myself for acting like a monster when I pulled her out at the reservoir.
“Ohhh...” I only managed to get out. “Don't... mention it.”
She giggled. I was surprised again. But this time it made me happy. I looked up. Her expression was almost exuberant.
“Silly! You saved my life! Isn't that worth mentioning?!” The words were scolding but the crinkles in the corners of her eyes were benign.
“No, I didn't mean to...”
“Come closer! It's a bit tiring having to crane my neck all the time to talk to you.”
I hurried over to the left side of her bed, obeying her wish.
“You've been so nice to me all day... and now you even... “ She sighed. I nodded. She looked down and played around awkwardly with her hands, before saying,
“I'd like...uhmm... us to be friends...” She stole a look up at me. “I guess it's quite clear I need someone I can trust around here.” She chuckled. My eyes widened with fear,
“No!” It came out before I could stop myself. “I mean... I'd like to but... I'm grounded for some time...”
The light in her eyes suddenly faded,
“Oh.” Our eyes scanned each others faces. I felt pain. I was no one to be trusted. How could I make this clear without hurting anyone's feelings. “How selfish of me...” she mumbled apologetically, “Of course, it was my fault... I brought you into trouble...”
I shook my head.
“No, no, please don't blame yourself! It's got nothing to do with you.”
Sheena looked sad again. It was agonizing to see how I was hurting the people I liked. I saw my knuckles whiten as my hands cramped around the metal rail around her bed.
She braved a smile,
“I think I need to rest as my dad told me to, now.” She patted my hand and tried to shift her weight in her bed. Then she suddenly moaned. She pressed her eyelids shut for a second as if enduring excruciating pain. I gasped,
“Sheena! Are you okay?”
She opened her eyes again and smiled tiredly,
“I'm fine. It was only...”
“What?” I grasped her hand.
“It's over, don't worry. Nevermind.” She shrugged it off. Then she cringed again.
“Ahh...” She moaned.
“What, what?! Shall I get a nurse?!” I was worried out of my mind now. My skin was covered with goosebumps and I was shivering as if the air had become freezing cold.
“No, no! It's under control. My thigh...”
My blood ran cold when she said that.
“I felt a searing pain when...” she looked at me as if trying to understand something. Then she lifted her hand and touched mine carefully. I looked confused at her doing and was horrified when she flinched again. Her reaction was more controlled however.
“That's strange...” She smiled. “It's like you're electrostatically charged or something... each time I touch you I feel this pain in my thigh...not as bad this time though.”
“No, it can't be...” I mumbled. Sheena turned in her bed again.
“You're probably right... I'm imagining it... but it feels...” she closed her eyes and pulled up the sheets, “funny... in a way... like we're... connected or something... I'm tired... I'm gonna... sleep.”
Then she was gone leaving me to my fears. I started shivering uncontrollably.
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