*Just how the hell do you tell somebody she’s been bitten by a werewolf?* Cadee asked herself for the thousandth time that week, after she had made up her mind about the matter.
“You show your colours first, girl. ‘Look, I’m not normal myself: I heal fast, I am strong!’” had been Anne’s answer, accompanied by a very silly performance of cutting veins and bending spoons. “And then you point out the changes she must be suffering.” If she could, she would have made an internet survey or a ballot!
Thing was, she was alone with Meredith, planning to tell the other woman some news she couldn’t possibly believe, so… what was the point?
*She needs to know,* she answered herself for the thousandth time too. *She won’t believe it, but if I can’t help her, at least she’ll know what happened… and she’ll know she can count on me afterwards.* It wasn’t much, but it was all she could do.
Cadee turned towards the other girl, who was enjoying the sunshine just like she had and grinned. “I see you don’t have the bandage on your arm anymore; you heal fast.”
Meredith looked down at her arm, fingering the light scar that curved around her forearm. “It still aches, actually I thought it’d scar more… thank-god it didn’t right? Last thing I need is some ugly ass scar…” *because sometimes I feel like this body is the only thing I have going for me* was the unspoken thought that would have finished that sentence. Meredith continued to touch the scar in silence for a moment before smiling as she returned her attention to Cadee.
“I’d not really noticed, to be honest, the healing thing. I guess that surgeon did a pretty good job, huh? Maybe I shouldn’t bitch about medical bills so much.”
“Well, it looked pretty nasty when I saw it, so I guess you shouldn’t. How did you get it?” Cadee asked, even if she already knew the answer.
“Oh, some huge dog bit me, I was jogging around here actually,” Meredith gestured around the park, “at night, I know, dumb idea, but it’s nice at night. Really… peaceful, and I’m careful, I always carry a knife- not that I’m some freaky knife wielding maniac, but a girl has to be careful, right? Anyway, this dog, I think it was wild, it just flew out of the bushes and-” she held up her arm. “I banged my head, in fact, I’m not really sure what happened next, except this young couple crouching over me asking if I was okay.”
“Hope you don’t believe I’m a knife wielding maniac myself…” Cadee said, grinning as she sat down and raised her well worn jeans to take her own knife from its ankle holster. “A girl has to be careful.” Then she frowned. “I remember something about a big dog in the park, the SCU was investigating it.”
“The SCU? Why would be they be interested in some dog… oh wait! Lemme guess…” Meredith laughed, thinking for a moment. Seeing that knife strapped around Cadee’s ankle made her feel strangely happy. If a pretty, popular girl like Cadee thought it was okay to take that sort of precaution, then maybe she wasn’t so odd herself.
“Um… okay, so they would be looking for dog sized aliens or.. Oh wait, wait! A werewolf! That’s what it was!” Meredith grinned, laughing and taking another swig from her soda. “It was a full moon too!. Oooooh, I guess that makes me a werewolf too! Damn, I‘d better stock up on those home waxing kits! Extreme body hair coming my way!”
Cadee grinned again, but got serious before jumping for the window Meredith had opened. “I don’t know. Have you been ravenously hungry lately? What about mood changes, sudden anger? Are you stronger than usual? We’ve already stated you heal faster…”
“Yeah, well…” Meredith laughed, brushing her hair out of her eyes. It took her a moment to realise that Cadee had stopped smiling, that in fact her face was intently serious and watching her every move closely. Meredith sat up suddenly, her back stiff and that last mouthful of tortilla sitting heavy in her stomach. Was she joking? She certainly looked serious enough… though she could just be trying it on, pretending to be a kook to freak her out. A prank, but not a nice one. “Come on, Cadee…” she said after a minute, “don’t take the piss.”
Cadee noticed Meredith’s agitation and forced a smile. “Look, Meri. Just listen to me for a second before biting my head off, okay? I wasn’t completely honest with you earlier. The SCU investigate scams, yes, but sometimes they investigate the real thing too. And there is a werewolf running wild in Central Park. I know I can’t prove it to you, and you’re probably thinking I’m a nut job right now, but…”
Okay, she was getting there, but Meredith was reacting exactly as she’d expected. Maybe Anne’s approach could soften things a little… *or scare the crap out of her, but, what the hell.*
She took her knife from out of its holster again, and opened a gash in her forearm, long, but not very deep, enough to soak the picnic blanket in blood though. Quickly, before the other girl would start shouting or tried to stop the haemorrhage, she extended her arm to her and said. “Shhhh, Meri, please don’t shout. Look!”
As the horrified girl watched it, mesmerized, the bleeding stopped and her flesh started to restore itself. A couple of minutes later, her arm looked perfectly fit, bloody, but fit.
Meredith scrambled up, rolling back onto the balls of her sneakers in a crouched position. “What the fu-” she looked around but no one was within earshot to be able to hear them. “Cadee…” Meredith hesitantly ran a finger over the other girl’s bloody arm, but there was no cut, not even a scratch. She continued to frown in puzzlement until realisation finally dawned. “Oh, good one,” she said with a grin, “but I think they showed that one on Fox, Breaking the Magician’s Code. It’s a dummy knife with a channel for fake blood, right?”
It was Cadee’s time to stare, of all the reactions, all the things that Meri could say, that was… just incredible.
“It’s no dummy… Be careful, it’s sharp,” she said, when she managed to speak, as she presented the knife to the other girl, handle first, but Meredith didn’t move from her spot. Frustrated, Cadee moved a little forward, but the girl just drew back. “Please, Meri, I’m not joking and this is not an act. I just wanted to show you that I’m not an ordinary girl either... there’s not a rational explanation for me, or the cut.”
She wasn’t going to take the knife, Meredith wasn’t even sure why, but everything inside was screaming at her not to. “Maybe you’re not ordinary…” *No, you’re a fucking weirdo, that’s what you are!* she thought, a slight edge of panic making her breathing just a little more heavy. Cadee had seemed so normal, but she was obviously seriously mental. “But I am, just an ordinary girl and nothing more. What? You do some stupid trick with a knife and I’m suppose to believe that I’m a- a… what? A werewolf? Because I got bitten by some stray dog? You‘re disturbed,” she tapped a finger against her forehead, “in the head.”
*Well, this is more like it, * Cadee thought as she watched Meredith rant about her mental health. She wasn’t really hearing what she said, it all seemed a slow motion scene in a movie. *Were you really expecting something different?* She wasn’t but it hurt every time it happened. She liked Meredith; it wasn’t nice to have her believe she was crazy.
She thought frantically, trying to find a way for the other to believe her, even if she knew it wasn’t possible. Meredith was protecting herself using the ‘logical explanation’ approach; she’d seen it happen often enough. Vampire victims who insisted they had been attacked by scarred crooks or ghost sightings that were explained away as ‘holograms’. If she followed Anne’s advice and bent a spoon, she’ll probably say it was made of Plasticine.
She let the woman blow off a little steam, and then spoke again, trying to sound calm, have her actions, at least, not be those of a lunatic. She was going for plan B –which had been the only viable one all along.
“Listen to me. I understand you not believing me, but just listen to me.” She said, looking intently into the agitated woman’s eye. “You want to be an investigative journalist, so investigate . Research, gather data and then reach a conclusion. One: you were bitten by a big dog. On a full moon. Two: you’ve been ravenous lately. Third: your healing rates have risen. I don’t know about the mood changes, but I’m sure they are there, along with some heightened senses and reflexes too, if I’m not wrong.” She sighed, “can you honestly tell me none of this is true?”
“It’s insane, is what it is…” Meredith tried to calm herself, starting with her breathing which was heavy and ragged. She didn’t know what was upsetting her the most, the things that Cadee was saying, or the fact that she was obviously a very sick girl. So what if some of what she’d said was true? So she seemed to be more hungry than usual… that could mean anything, diabetes, hyperthyroidism… even pregnancy. Not that the last seemed likely considering…
And what if her bite wound had healed quickly? Some people did heal faster than others that wasn’t so strange. She was healthy and young, why shouldn’t she heal fast? And the stuff about mood swings… well that was just a lucky guess and a symptom of being a pre-menstrual woman. As for heightened senses and reflexes… well, sure she had noticed that she could hear better, and her sense of smell did seem more acute… but did that automatically mean she was a werewolf? The mere thought was absurd!
“Cadee,” she couldn’t help but feel angry. Meredith had spent her whole life feeling like an outsider. First she was the orphan girl without any parents, the girl who screamed and wet the bed at night, the girl who’d had three failed adoptions. Then she was the frustrated foster child, passed from one family to another, never at any school long enough to make friends so what was the point in trying? Then she was the attention-seeking teen, making up stories about her foster father who touched her in places that felt wrong, that made her feel dirty, then called her a liar and a troublemaker.
She’d spent the past ten years trying desperately to fit in, to be normal. It was all she ever wanted - the kind of ordinary, boring life that most people took for granted. What Cadee was saying was mad, it was ludicrous, but it did make Meredith feel that the gulf between herself and that ordinary life she longed for grow even wider.
“Cadee,” she said again, barely able to keep herself calm, “I really think you need some professional help. I mean, you obviously really believe all this, for whatever reason… Do you have any medication you should be taking? Or is there someone I can call for you?”
Cadee closed her eyes, it shouldn’t bother her so much to be treated this way, but it did; she had anticipated it, predicted every word, but yet, it hurt. She could hear the fear in Meredith’s words, disguised as anger, and the anger too, and hated herself for being the cause. She felt fortunate for knowing the real word, being part of it; even if she had had to hide herself for most of her life, wander around half the nation, fleeing some not-so-imaginary danger in her mother’s mind. She liked being who she was, what she was… most of the time. At that moment, she hated it.
Finally, she opened her eyes and watched Meredith for a second before answering her. “I’m sorry, I really am.” She stood up, and raised her bike from the ground, then she smiled weakly to the other girl. “I understand if you don’t want to speak to me again, but please remember: I’ll be here for you when the time comes… just call me, ok? I can help, even if it’s just to hear you out.”
“No, Cadee… look, this is wrong,” Meredith got to her feet quickly, glancing around. She’d believe this whole thing to be some dumb joke, a cruel trick designed to humiliate her… except there was no one around to witness it. The lack of an audience left her with the sad truth - that Cadee was indeed mentally disturbed. What other explanation was there for a girl that believed in werewolves? Not only that but seemed obsessed with making her believe that she was one!
Meredith sighed. She’d never met a truly crazy person, even in New York. Sure she’d crossed paths with the odd kook, but never someone who had absolutely no idea they were a few sandwiches short of a picnic. What was she supposed to do? Alert the authorities? Walk her into the nearest hospital? Aside from the werewolf thing and the knife trick she appeared okay…
“Look… you seem like a really nice girl, but obviously you‘re… So thanks for the lunch… and, you know… maybe think about calling someone, a professional. There are drugs you can take nowadays that can help.” Hesitantly, Meredith patted Cadee on the shoulder before gathering her backpack and heading off towards one of the jogging tracks. She gave Cadee a last glance - to make sure she hadn’t decided to follow her, then resumed a steady pace.
Cadee just watched her go, her hands gripping the handle of her bike as if it were a piece of driftwood in the middle of the sea. Again, Meredith words stung like hell, probably because prior to that day, she hadn’t really cared what people thought… it was the first time she’d tried to convince somebody of the ‘real world’.
The whole conversation had been a fiasco and she was clueless about how to go on, hopefully she’d contact that wizard, and with any luck he’d had some answers, but she wasn’t very optimistic about it.
“I’ll figure it out,” she spoke to Meredith’s retreating figure, even though she wasn’t out of earshot. “I don’t care if I have to chase you myself and lock you in a cage. I promise.”