I lay in bed staring at the ceiling. Swirling patterns in paint, sometimes I could lay here for hours and, like looking at clouds, make figures in the ridges. The ceiling was done in a soft quiet yellow which I found unusual at first until is realize what it must mean. Paired with the darker warm orange wall it made up only pieces of a beautiful sunset.
That's what I did now. It was well into the morning but I still lay under the covers of this massive queen size bed by myself, watching the glow of the sun through the windows brighten the rich colors of the room.
It's been four days since we arrived at the house of the Blue Ridge pack. Both my mother and I had been given rooms side by side on the first floor after that first night. One that we called our own. We spent a couple hours unpacking our things and had shared the rest of the night with just each other.
We told stories to help the other relax but tension at the unfamiliar surrounding really kept us underfoot. I watched my mother laugh and wished I'd been born with the ability to hear her voice. Sometimes when she pulled me to her chest and spoke, just for the pure reason to give me comforting vibration, I could almost taste the sound. The way the vibration grew heavy when her voice would go lower and vice versa for her laughter and such. That first night I had dreamt of flying and in my dream I could always hear the sound of the wind singing in my ears. When I'd wake I grasped for it but the dream always slipped through my fingers like sand.
I rubbed my face and tapped my ears for vibration. It was a comforting notion. I wonder what it would feel like to hear?
Last night I dreamt of dad,
"Don't speak, Annabear, just start by making the motions of the word with your mouth."
I stomped my foot frustrated, tired of my constant lack of ability.
"Why should I learn to speak? I can't hear so it's stupid."
His steel eyes flash and yellow streaked through those eyes so like mine. We both endured my restless impatience this last couple weeks, ever since my first change.
I'd just turned fifteen this spring and a few days later I'd made my first change. Maybe it's my disability or my unwillingness to be what's in my blood but the first change was doubly difficult for me. It took me twice as long as most pups. It put the fear of God into my mother as she rocked me and kissed my ears like she's done since I was a baby. I smelled her tears as dad had told her that everything would be okay.
"Never say that again pup. You are not stupid, nothing about you is."
"But dad, what's the point? I hate this. I hate being deaf. I don't want to be a werewolf."
"I know baby but we have our lot in life, we carry all the cards of our destiny in our hands right now. Yes, you're deaf. Yes, people will always think you're less or stupid or whatever but what matters is if you let them be right. They can think whatever they want but it your mission to prove them wrong. No one thinks you can understand so prove them wrong by learning, striving and educating yourself. And when no one thinks you can speak..."
He waited for me to finish. He gripped the back of my neck to make me focus. Make me understand the strength of his words.
I sign tentatively, "Then I speak."
His eyes filled with tears but he smiled proudly as he spoke.
"No baby, that's when you sing."
I didn't feel the door open but I felt it slam shut. My lids cracked open and my mother's face came into view just before she hopped onto my bed to curl up beside me. She did this most days and like always we wrapped ourselves around each other and basked in the other's warmth. It was one thing I could say I was grateful for, a mother for which I was incredibly close to.
"How long have you been up?"
I signed that I'd been up most of the night.
"Me too honey, it's the new place I'm sure. It'll get easier." She caressed my cheek and frown.
"Have you been crying?"
"I dreamt of dad last night."
"Oh baby, come here," She hugged me close, kissing my ears before pulling back so I could see her, "What did you dream of?"
I told her and by the end we were sitting up and I was cry, she was crying. Our tears salted the air.
"I miss your father so much."
"It's my fault he's dead, mom."
She pat my cheek forcefully and scowl,
"Never say that again. It's never your fault. Your daddy owned his actions and I bet if he could do it again he would. He was protecting you and it was the ultimate way to show he loves you."
"I just wish he was here."
Her head turned to the door. It opened to the smell of bacon and strawberries, a mesh of tastes curling around my nose.
Marla had bludgeoned through the door like a tornado with a tray of delicious things.
"I heard a voice and assumed you were up! I've brought you two breakfast-slash-lunch."
"Oh thank you but-"
The woman that I'd come to know only as Marla was our resident master chef. While some of this pack's members didn't actually live in their Alpha's home, Marla did. She had the most curves I'd ever seen on a werewolf but she was by no means a large woman. Half her hair was up in a messy bun while the other half was wild around her face and neck. I wonder if she even noticed. The few times we'd met she always looked the same.
"No buts Nicole. Not once have you or Julianna been down for breakfast and I run myself ragged with the thought of you two up here withering away. Our kind needs a lot of sustenance and the way you two pick at dinner you'd think you were were-birds!"
She clicked her tongue and shook her head. She harrumphed as she push her hair behind her ears and laid the tray on the bed.
"Now eat up! I better not see a morsel left when the tray lands in the sink."
And like that the whirlwind of a woman was out the door.
"Well she's a little cuckoo, don't you think?"
I watched her giggle at the joke she made. My shoulders shook as we grin at each other. We spent the next half hour swapping bird puns and joke until tears rolled from our eyes. All the while sampling Marla's incredible breakfast.
An hour and one full tray of food eaten later mom hopped off the bed and said she was off to take shower.
"Gretchen is going to be showing me around the woods. Showing me the paths nearby to run." Her eyes had a bright fae-ish quality, alight with the joy of running loose and making friends. It's heartbreaking how little it took to overjoy her, especially knowing what we'd come from. I'm happy she's made a friend in Gretchen.
"Does Gretchen live here like Marla does?"
She shook her head and smiled. "No, Gretchen lives a few miles down the street with her daughter. You saw her briefly the first time we were shown around. She has red hair too."
I think back to the young girl reading alone in the pool table room. I hadn't seen her mulling around the ground since that first day. Most of the kids my age seem to stick together but not her.
"Okay, would you mind taking the tray downstairs?"
I shook my head before she kissed my ears and stepped out of the room, closing the door behind her. Hopping out of bed I did my own morning rituals, brushing my teeth, shower and the like until I pulled my on my old paint colored jeans and a painted shirt. I run my fingers over the dry, thick inks on the material and close my eyes remembering how each one got there. Painting, it was my outlet for as long as I could hold a brush.
"You're a natural Annabear, it's almost like you were born to hear color, not sound. You were born to hear the colors of the world."
I grab the empty tray and hug it to my chest, a shield against my father's voice and the pain it caused. My heart wrenched with mourning and for a moment all I could do was wait for it to pass.
"You know their have been great people in history that lack the ability to conform and yet have risen above the rest. Lois Braille who was blinded created the Braille the blind use today, both Beethoven and Hellen Keller were deaf, Harriet Tubman was partially blind, Stevie Wonder, the list goes on and on. They lacked and yet they succeeded. I have faith that you will too."
I blew out a deep breath, wiped my eyes and started for the door, with my father's faith backing my every step.
I stepped out into the hall where everything was still. Keeping my head down I started for the stairs to the ground floor where the kitchen was. My thoughts were still dogged by my father's ghost. I could still feel him, his presence, his strength, his safety.
I looked up at movement in front of me and everything happened so suddenly. The person coming down from the second floor ran into me. They reached to catch me as my balance tipped, the tray slipped from my hands and hit the stairs, sliding down them to the ground level. All the while I reached for the banister to keep myself from following the tray down the stairs head first. I gasped, heart pounding in my chest. Slowly everything went still again, the silence almost seemed to echo in my mind.
Wind on my hair. I looked up.
Chrysocolla. Such beautiful color. Mesmerizing.
"Are you okay?"
I jerked away too suddenly trying to put distance between us and hadn't accounted for my precarious position. My hands gripped the banister and the Alpha's hands gripped me as we both perched gingerly over the top step of the stairs. We stood teetering over a plateau. I pulled back, he pulled me closer.
"Stop. You'll fall." He growled and I could tell as he clenched his jaw and the sound shook us.
Instead I glared, freed one hand from the railing and pushed him back. He pulled me with him and we did this until we'd found solid footing. I forced his hands away not wanting the touch of another Alpha on me. If I hadn't been so shaken by my sudden brush with a potential concussion and this big fist thumping male man-handling me then I would have given him a piece of my mind. Instead I looked up into now burning canary eyes and narrow lids. Adrenaline and sheer force of will made it impossible to look away. It was almost funny how he seemed all riled up at my stare down.
"You are trouble, little girl." Was all he said. He said through clenched teeth so much so I almost couldn't read his lips. I smiled sharply. I hate it when people call me "little girl", it always feels like an insult. I gave him a one finger hand gesture that would be impossible to misconstrue. His eyes flared but before he could respond I whirled around and bound down the stairs. Scooping up my tray I glanced back as he started down the stairs in my direction, all the time, watching me with a fierce expression.
My heart beat like a hummingbird and suddenly I didn't feel like the victor anymore. The look in his eyes said he was the hunter. I ran for the kitchen as fast as I could.
I spent the length of the early afternoon finding peace under a certain willow tree's bare branches. The air felt different here, as opposed to New Mexico, the atmosphere was clearer. Over the tips of the trees I could see the barest amount of what Marla had called the Blue Ridge Mountains. She said with almost a sense of wonder that they were the most beautiful places to run, that from a distance the mountains were blankets in a soft blue glow. I could see it here. The mountains were coated with snow while the grounds here were free of the white stuff. I amused myself for a while by taking a stick and carving figures into the barren ground. I found a uniform calm in the silence I kept, almost as if my mind had found a sense of peace. It was the first moment I'd felt relaxed in a long time.
Surprisingly I could smell it before I felt it. As the wind blew heavily from the north the mass of fur and scent burned up my nose and the beast in me relished in the smell. I did not but I couldn't fight my curiosity so I stood and dusted myself off before following the trail. It took me around the back of the house, a place I had yet to see.
The backyard was spacious, surrounded on two sides by forest as far as I could see and to the right a shallow creek with water glistening in the sun. In the water two wolves tumbled into each other, snapping playfully and lunging. They bared their teeth in a joyful manner, genuinely enjoying being covered in mud and dirt as the rolled into the bed then out. From the woods a group of five wolves entered the clearing. Their colors all ranged in grays, browns, black, white and reds. They were beautiful, in their graceful walks and powerful strides. I watched, entranced the way the colors in their furs almost seemed to shift hues as the muscle moved under their skin. Two wolves broke off from the group and laid down, curling around each other and from there seemed to nap agaisnt the other.
I blinked at the thought in my mind and turned as the other three wolves padded lightly over two almost completely caked in mud. A wolf, leaner than the rest with a coat of almost pure black, hints of gray between its ears and on its left shoulder, strode up and snatched one of the players from the stream. The movement was almost chastising as it snapped and softly bit the young one's nose. Covered in mud it jerked and shook to rid itself of dirt, in the process splattering it all over the black. The black snarled, it's upper lip lifting and suddenly it's position was hunched and like that the young one took off towards the house. Towards me.
I didn't move. On it's heels ran the black, barking. I couldn't feel it but the way it's mouth moved told me.
At the last moment they both zipped around me, blowing past me causing a whirlwind to send my hair flying. When I looked back all eyes had followed the pair running and now focused on me. I met them, one by one, searching their gazes. The white moved closer. While it was mainly pure snow it carried long brown streaks like zebra stripes, one over it's muzzle and two across its back and hips. I watched this one, meeting it's gaze and it bared it's teeth. At me. Why-
I couldn't help it. It just happened.
I bared my teeth back.
What bothered me so much about him? His ignorant stupidity. His insufferable arrogance. His dominance. His walk. His talk. His aura. Him.
I had been so focused on him that I almost completely missed the new pair of wolves coming into the clearing. Right at the edge of my vision but as one bound up to me my other half reacted. The gray and white wolf pounced but I'd already crouched and rolled away. I'd long sense compensated for my lack of hearing when it came to my balance and movement so the swift change came easily.
It was a quick moment that brought back painful memories and because of that the wolf in me reared up. The past was a strike across my thoughts, cutting off my vision. My eyes shifted to a burning yellow and my fangs filled my mouth. I gave the wolf a silent growl, blinded by the past. I fought the memories, the feeling of claws tearing into my skin, the pain of my heart slamming into my ribs.
Slowly I was able to see again. I don't know how long I was out of it but when I looked up from where I sat on the ground the backyard was mostly cleared out. Around me sat the same grey and white wolf, it's familiar warmth comforting me.
"Mom?" I sign weakly. In response the wolf licked my ear. I laughed, a short, broken sound leaving my throat before I pushed her away.
"I'm sorry." I said, looking into her wolf eyes. She nuzzled me softly. I leaned into her, shaken my the ghosts of the past and the pain we'd endured. Softly my mother thrummed and slowly I recognized her purring, surrounding me by her strength and care. It was her insistent love and dependability that shook me from the past and stabled me in the present. Movement caught my attention from the corner of my eye. I looked over and inwardly cursed.
There he stood. White with three dark stripes. Sitting on his haunches and watching us with a discernible gaze. I looked away not wanting him to be here. This wasn't a show. We weren't entertainment. My pain wasn't for your amusement. I hissed and rubbed my face into mom's shoulder, so drained of strength. I don't know how long the three of us sat there but my mother stayed wrapped around me for long moments.
Next thing I know I woke softly to the shift of my balance and a steady movement. I was being lifted into arms and carried up stairs. More stairs. Then covers blanketed me. I was so exhausted but I thanked my mother with my eyes closed and then burrowed into my bed where for one night I fell into a dreamless slumber.ns 22.214.171.124da2