Sunday, October 18, 2009

Not Easy

by Michelle Howarth

For Jackie, life never comes easy. Nothing is natural to him. Like water for instance. Forget it. He sinks like a dirty great rock, and usually ends up getting fished out by some small, weedy kid nobody likes, or worse, the next door neighbour’s toy poodle.

Riding a bike. He’d tell you the story of his one and only attempt, but he’ll be damned if he can remember it. The paramedics say it’s best he avoids anything with wheels from now on.

To most, Jackie is just an everyday kid, a bit of a disaster zone, and not someone cool to have at parties, but there’s nothing exceptional about him. His eyes are an ordinary shade of brown, and Douglas will tell you he’s a bit on the fat side, and Brody will say he’s too short for his age— but how many kids are there with brown eyes, a bit on the fat side, and too short for their age?



Nothing extraordinary there.

That’s what Jackie likes them to think. He’s read the Guidebook twice, and it says it’s best no one suspects. People start suspecting and he’ll have to deal with them, and as already explained such things have a giant tendency not to come easy.

Especially for Jackie.

It’s difficult at the best of times. Everything that’s supposed to happen, doesn’t. Perhaps if he keeps his teeth sharply filed they’ll learn to grow like that? Maybe it’s like pruning a bonsai tree? His whiskers could still use some work, and his ears, and his tail–work, work, work. There has to be a better solution to stuffing his belt into the back of his pants.

And the moon, well, that’s supposed to work wonders, but not for Jackie. He’s howled and bayed at it until his throat is sore, but it seems to glow on without even noticing.

It’s not easy, not easy at all, and worse, people are starting to suspect. They give him weird looks in the street. They cross over to the other side. If you ask them about Jackie, they’ll raise an eyebrow, look left and then right, and whisper, “That kid is weird. Something strange about him.”

It’s a real problem, and the Guidebook says they can’t know. They have to be dealt with. His life will be at risk if he doesn’t.

Still, the moon refuses to take effect, and it doesn’t surprise him one bit. Nothing comes naturally for him, nothing at all—so he’s sat on the lawn with his pencilled on whiskers, newspaper ears, and belt of a tail, sorting out the final part of his transformation.


He’s filed his teeth to make his fangs, and now it seems logical to do likewise for claws. Blood flicks from each finger as he uses the knife to mould it, slicing nail and skin to get the perfect design.

He’s biting his lip and drawing the nub of his thumb into a fine point, almost ready to deal with the people. Those who suspect.

It’s hard, painful work, but then, like everything else, this werewolf business doesn’t come easy.


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Cate Gardner said...

Ouch! My fingers are almost too sore to type now...

Michael Stone said...

The first para drew me in. We're told -- without the author actually telling us -- all we need to know about the protag, and it just builds from there, layer upon layer. Loved it. Excellent work.

Jodi Lee (Morrighan) said...

Ouch ouch ouch. Damn it. Ow.

My hands curled up in self-defense... good one, Michelle!

Anonymous said...

Your stories always make me hurt in a good way!