Alone with the pain I was inconsolable. My tears were a heavy rain of hopelessness making my head hurt. Later, when the weeping stopped and my  senses returned, I was able to smell the acrid scent of poplar wood burning in the campfire . I could hear the snap and crackle of logs being consumed by the flames. I was aware of the sand, damp and grainy, clinging to my cold bare feet.  My heart, so grievously damaged by despair was breaking, no even worse, it was disintegrating into dust.

“Life is so strange” I thought, raising my head and scrutinizing the soon to be full moon hanging cold and aloof in a clear, star-studded sky.  An October moon is known as the Hunter’s Moon, or Blood Moon… what a perfect name for this horrible, horrible Halloween night.

Kenji was out there, somewhere … waiting. What little remained of my heart clenched in anguish. Because of him, my life was irrevocably changed, but for the time being I was finished with crying. Standing up I left the dock and moved closer to the fire and sat as close to it as I could. For at least the thousandth time I asked myself why this was happening but there really wasn’t any use in trying to make sense of madness. I could spend eternity trying.

“Good grief,” I thought to myself, “I’m freezing!”  Wrapping my arms around my shoulders, I leaned even closer into the fire’s heat, but it was of no use. The chill gripping my body was a stone cold horror that penetrated my very soul. There would be no warmth tonight. Hanging my head between my knees, my skull throbbed relentlessly like a clock measuring out doom.  How many hours had it been anyway…? I had no idea. Time felt different somehow. The only thing I knew for certain was that tomorrow night the moon would become completely full and the change would come.

My puffy eyes ached like hell, swollen and burning in their sockets. I almost welcomed the pain. My body felt numb and weird and somehow disassociated from the rest of me… I shivered dreading what needed to be done.  It was still difficult  for me to believe Kenji expected me to go through the metamorphosis alone! Disgusted I shook my head. He was insane! This man I thought I loved was neither a man nor was he ever really in love with me. He just wanted control. Kenji was, to put it bluntly …a beast.

There was no cure. He made that perfectly clear. When the moon waxed full I too would become a monster. How did he expect me to live like this? Shock made any sort of logic impossible. Over and over again I relived the moment; his savage kiss, the intense white hot pain, and my blood, warm and sticky, trickling through my fingers. Kenji’s look of triumph was a twisted sneer that marred that strong, angular face I once found attractive. He was, I discovered, quite indifferent to the harm he caused me and impervious to my horror. I stood before him in total disbelief.  I could not for the life of me understand why he had bitten me so savagely and so deeply. Then he told me everything.

He said the transformation would be painful, and he didn’t want to stick around to witness my agony. His nose had wrinkled up in distaste. My head was spinning; I felt as if I were in a nightmare and just wanted to wake up. “I will find you,” he said, “on the full moon.” That was three days ago, give or take. He told me we would hunt together as mates. Revulsion scurried across my flesh in waves.

I have only ever seen Kenji as a man. He told me his taint was ancient and very strong. There was no need for him to be in wolf form when making me into his kind. In fact, he told me it was more likely I would have been killed and devoured while he was in “the frenzy.” The bite was done the way it was because Kenji wanted me for his mate. My spirit writhed in defiance. I would never be his mate … never! Kenji’s dominate nature was always a red flag I had foolishly ignored. Now I was paying for that foolishness with my very soul.

My preparations began shortly after his disclosure and I was almost ready now. Halloween night was perfect for what had to be done. Armed with my father’s pistol and a silver bullet made from a bracelet my mother had given me, I made my way to the lake. I had always loved it here. After making a fire and once again crying myself hollow, I sat staring into the flames… the bracelet’s inscription once read… Happy Sweet 16 Erin! Love Always, Mom and Dad.

Sitting there in total devastation my life unfolded before me, from my idyllic childhood right  into my tumultuous teens …. “Damn it, it’s not enough” I screamed, “I’m only 17… this can’t be real!”  I sat alone with my memories until a faint blush of pink hinted at dawn. “How quickly time flies!” I said out loud, “when there is so very little of it left.” My heart ached. From the darkness a loon’s mournful tremolo echoed from across the lake.

Summers had always been the best. Long hot days that seemed to stretch out endlessly… They were carefree days full of adventure. We’d swim and fish and explore to our heart’s content. I remember when Dean showed me and our little brother Mikey how to make tiny canoes out of birch bark. We spent the afternoon sailing them on the calm side of Sandy Point.

Sometimes , dad told ghost stories while we roasted marshmallows. I remember watching Mikey’s ten year old eyes grow rounder by the second. I smiled to myself each time he peered nervously into the darkness! An old favorite tale of mine was the one about the Windigo. According to Algonquian legend, the Windigo is a malevolent, cannibalistic spirit that can possess humans or sometimes it’s a monster that human beings transform into if they eat human flesh. This old legend has about as many nuances as the name has spellings.  My dad and brothers and I would always laugh at mom because that story always freaked her out….

I knew I couldn’t kill Kenji. He was just too strong, too wily and too aware of my inner workings. He’d never let it happen.  Besides, my rage was a giveaway. Kenji may be many things but he is never stupid. I was reminded of the crafty manipulations he used to “pick me up.” I was reading an Anne Rice novel,  Lives of the Mayfair Witches, while enjoying the sun at Buena Vista Park only a couple of blocks away from where I lived on Lorne Avenue. After three straight days of rain sunshine was a welcomed relief. The park benches were dry but puddles had filled the low areas of the warped walkways. As Kenji rode past me on his mountain bike he splashed me from head to toe. I was a mess. My white tee shirt clung to my breasts and covered with muddy water. Some had even splattered onto my face and into my hair. My jeans were soaked as well and my book ruined.  Furiously I jumped up and called him every dirty name I could think of, then I noticed his smile. Damn he was good looking! Apologizing all over the place, Kenji offered to buy me a new book. So after arranging to meet him later at the White Cat Book Store on Broadway, I went home and cleaned up. That turned into our first date. Later he confessed the “accident” had all been a ploy to meet me!

Initially it was indescribable joy.  Looking back now it was too good to be true. He was smart and he knew how to make me laugh. We could talk for hours about everything and nothing. We liked the same books, the same movies. I am all about fantasy adventure and most guys I knew scoffed at vampires and ghosts calling them chick flicks or girly stuff but Kenji loved it all. He could name the authors, the actors, the directors, producers, dates, times, year, you name it, and like me, he enjoyed both the classics as well as newer versions. When I was with Kenji I felt beautiful, powerful…and loved! I was walking on cloud 9. Never had I felt such an intense connection with another human being.

I have a temper… a bad one. I conceal it from most people but anyone who knows me well is familiar with it; especially my family. My temper has been an embarrassment for most of my life and has caused me to lose more friends and potential boyfriends than I could shake a stick at. I try to control it but when I get mad it’s like I’m possessed or something. Mom says its an excuse and that I don’t take responsibility for my emotions. She just doesn’t seem to understand that no matter how I try to control it nothing seems to work. Kenji, on the other hand, thought my temper was amusing!!! When I’d freak out he’d just look at me with this funny little smile on his face and somehow it calmed me. Or it used to.

I don’t know when it all started to change, but it did; slowly…so slowly it was undetectable at first. He began playing with my head by getting me all riled up. He’d pick fights over stupid little things or flirt shamelessly with my girlfriends knowing it pissed me off. When my temper boiled over He’d laugh and call me his little wild cat while holding me and kissing my neck and face, which when in a rage I loathed. I’d try to squirm free but it was simply impossible. He was as strong as an ox. Finally, exhausted, I would lie limply in his arms as he caressed my body. Sometimes I would feel his erection. It made feel sick and slightly dirty. My anger would form into a lump clenched in my gut.

We never “did it” but we came close to it. I said I wasn’t ready and Kenji said he respected me for that. We’d get into some pretty hot make-out sessions and believe it or not it was Kenji’s cooler head that would prevail.  I’d be panting with desire and Kenji would smile at me with that funny little secret smile of his then push me away. For awhile I thought he was sweetly protecting my purity. Little did I know he was biding time until he was ready. Then our make-out sessions began to get rough. He’d grab me by my hair, bending me backward while kissing my breasts, biting my flesh.  More and more often Kenji used my anger as a source of amusement. What had once been beautiful and empowering now became uncomfortable and confusing. My anger seemed to turn him on. His hands would be merciless; exploring the hidden places of my body and creating pleasure, pain and then shame and I wasn’t even sure what I was ashamed about. Then came the part where he bit me and everything fell into place. Gotta love the clarity of 20/20 hindsight.

Kenji controlled me from the moment we met  and I followed wherever he directed like a love sick puppy. Secretly I had always wondered what a twenty year old, six foot three, 210 pound blonde Adonis saw in an averaged sized, 16 year old girl with pale skin and a huge temper. My only claim to fame was my long, gleaming curtain of jet black hair that fell to my waist which I often hid behind. The rest of me was unspectacular; I was rather skinny with small hips and average sized boobs. My legs were long though and mom always told me that my large, wide-spaced grey eyes were beautiful… other than that I hadn’t a clue what Kenji found so intriguing but I know now, it was my rage.

That is how I became damned. No matter how I look at it, it is what it is. In truth I was damned the first time Kenji laid eyes on me. I think he could smell the rage simmering beneath my mild exterior. As far as I could figure, there was only one way out and I wasn’t going to let the bastard win, so I put dad’s gun to my temple, whispered my goodbyes and pulled the trigger.

So I escaped fate as a werewolf. But now I am doomed to repeat, for a lack of a better phrase, my emancipation from lycanthropy. For three days leading up to the cusp of a full moon I must re-enact the events that resulted in my demise and after the gunshot ceases to echo throughout the forest and all sits quiet and still for a moment, and after I see my body, small and crumpled, lying next to the fire. I realize I am dead. It never fails to shock me.

My rage that has kept me here, I know that, but I also believe everything has a purpose. I get this feeling perhaps there is something I’m still suppose to do or figure out… and since I’ve got nothing but eternity fueled by a whole lot of rage, I’m going to do my damnedest to figure out just what that something is.