My Age of Discovery
© 2004 Ginny O.
My mother was a lunatic. Or at least that’s what they said. I hadn’t believed it until now.
My mouth gaped and my fingers grasped the varnished stair banister. My mother stood in the living room looking up at me. Face off, I thought. She let go of the front door and it swung close with a dreaded thump. I wanted to say something, anything, but my tongue felt thick, dry and heavy and my head felt light. My fingers tightened on the banister, knuckles whitening and I locked my knees to keep from tumbling down the stairs. She didn’t look away from me and I wondered, what does she see? And what do I see when I look at her? I wished she would look away because I didn’t want to find out.
She licked her lips and sucked her cheeks in and out. Her hands clenched and unclenched. She shifted from foot to foot like a naughty schoolgirl. She had been caught and she knew it. Her eyes thought, they didn’t leave me. They went up and down my figure. She finally settled on looking in my eyes. Her eyes were large and brown. I always felt they were warm and caring, like she was. Now, they were different. There was a layer of coldness and even distance over the eyes I thought I knew so well. It made me think of a wild beast, who had once been the prey but was now the predator.
“Damn it, Beth, I didn’t want you to know or find out in this manner,” she said softly, afterwards inhaling deeply. Her jaw bunched. I didn’t know whether she was mad at me or herself.
Somehow my voice became unglued. My sixteen year old brain scrambled to control it. It didn’t succeed. “Since when did you swear?” I asked and tossed my straight brown hair.
She ran her fingers through her mop of curly hair, a few shades darker than my own. It was matted with twigs, leaves and what appeared to be granules of earth. “We’re getting off the subject,” she grimaced as her fingers encountered knots and bits of shrubbery. I had always wanted curly hair, perhaps I should reconsider.
I blinked. I hadn’t realized that there was a subject. “You tell me not to swear all the time,” I persevered, trying to steer the conversation in the direction I wanted it to go.
“Where do you think you learned those words?” She asked.
I shrugged. “School mostly.”
She frowned. School was not an easy subject between us. I inwardly winced knowing, I had lost control of the conversation.
“You’re up early,” she commented. “You usually sleep in on Saturday.”
“Early enough to see,” I trailed off. There was no way I could avoid the thought of what I had seen five minutes earlier and felt like a lifetime ago. My fingers had finally relaxed from the banister but they tightened again and my eyes closed. The morning was still gray. As the sun hadn’t risen over the hills yet. I was coming down the stairs. Clump, clump, clump, the loud elephant steps were my favorite and were my family’s bane. The front door crashed open. Miraculously the glass panes didn’t break and it stayed on its hinges. A growling, lump of fur tumbled through the opening and onto the welcome mat. My throat closed and my chest ached. I opened my mouth to scream to find I didn’t have enough air to do so. A ray of sun peaked over the hills and the hairy lump blurred. I couldn’t look at it for when I did I wanted to hurl. It made my eyes itch and tear up so I couldn’t see entirely what was happening. It took a few seconds before I could see clearly again and what I assumed to be an animal was standing up, clutching the doorknob for support and looking at me with my mother’s face.
My eyes fluttered open, I saw she was still standing there. She looked out of place in the middle of our homey, normal living room. Yet, something strange had happened and she wanted to deal with it. Well, I don’t, mom. You’re not the lunatic here, mom. I am for even thinking what I saw could possibly happen, I thought.
“Aren’t you the last bit curious?” she asked. Her eyes were wide and she smiled slightly. Gods, I used to live for that smile. Her fingernails were encrusted with dirt.
“No,” I kept my reply short and winced. The sun was in the perfect position to get in your eyes no matter how you stood. I hoped she wouldn’t detect I was lying. I really wanted to scream that scream which had been stolen from me. I specifically wanted to scream it at her. I wanted to pound her chest with my hands and collapse on it afterwards. I couldn’t. It required my mother and I wasn’t sure if the woman standing in front of me was my mother anymore.
“Oh, “ she looked down at the floor and away. Sh sucked her bottom lip between her teeth. They looked sharp and cruel, like her eyes were distant and hard. We stood in silence, glancing at each other when we thought the other wasn’t looking. I know I saw thinks about her I had’t before. The little things stood out, her loose unfitted clothing and the half healed scratches and bruises over what I could see of her arms. It was like I had a new set of eyes.
“I’m not crazy.” She threw her head back and looked at me full on, her body taut.
Who are you trying to convince? And right on that thought’s heels for the second time that morning was, I’m the crazy one. I descended the rest of the stairs. Clump, clump, clump, loud elephant steps reassuring my sanity. Clump, clump, clump, reaffirmed that this was real and not a surreal dream in the pale morning light. Clump, clump, clump, I lightly held on to the bannister, just in case something else happened. At the bottom, I turned towards the kitchen, away from her and her eyes. They burned my back and tried to read my thoughts. “No, you’re a werewolf.” I stated.
“And a housewife,” she replied.
Normally that would have made me laugh. Yet, my cheeks felt hot and my eyes stung. My face had to be red. I would not cry. I refused to cry. Must we treat it like a normal occurrence! I don’t want to see that ever again and if I don’t have to see it, I shouldn’t have to face it. I knew she wouldn’t keep quiet though. The problem is, I live with it. There was no stopping her from talking. She was my mother.
“It isn’t like you see in the movies or read in books,” she told me.
I didn’t want to hear. The kitchen held the nearest tap and I turned the handle for cold water and waited for it to get icy. I checked the temperature by running my fingers through it. I wished I could close my ears as easily as I could turn my back and close my eyes from the truth.
“You are one too,” She added.
My brain stuttered and stopped. It left my body on autopilot. I tucked my hair behind my ears before cupping my hands under the flow of water and splashing my face a few times. I shook my head violently and reached for a towel. She could not be serious. The hair on the back of my neck stood up and the base of my back tingled and I shuddered involuntarily. Nothing this morning was making sense. This had to be a dream. Too bad the water wasn’t waking me up. My brain resumed and the restart helped me regain control over it. “Yet,” I gritted my teeth. “You didn’t want me to know.” I used the rough towel to pat my face dry.
“I made a mistake.”
“No shit Sherlock,” I muttered and glared out the window over the sink. Even though the sun hadn’t reached this side of the house yet. I could tell that today was going to be beautiful. The inside of this house was what I had to deal with though, and it wasn’t at all pretty. My hands shook and I closed them to try and make them stop.
“I’m sorry,” she said.
I whirled. “And that’s supposed to make it better!”
“And it doesn’t make it right” I screamed, giving into my repressed anger.
“You didn’t trust me! You didn’t tell me. Why?” I begged for an answer that made sense. A once point I had thought that we were the best of friends, despite the fact we were mother and daughter. We did and shared everything together or so I had thought. Once again I wanted to cry because all these years she had been doing this without me and hadn’t seen fit to tell me. Just like a parent would do, until I had caught her then she was the child. The irony of the role reversal hit me like a club. I couldn’t enjoy it though. She was still too much of a parent to be too much of the child. She was too calm and too resigned to this or she was better at hiding her emotions. My emotions were getting the better of me.
“I wanted to, I tried to everyday, but the words wouldn’t come.” She moved closer to me. So close I could smell the grass she must have rolled in. It was clean and crisp and almost innocent. Suddenly, I hated it, that smell shouldn’t come from her. She wasn’t innocent. She had kept something from me: her past, her heritage and her double life.
“Things like this just don’t happen. Werewolves are a myth, a legend!” I said, wildly gesturing. It was my last chance to make a verbal denial of the entire situation so we could go back to the way things used to be.
“Propaganda to keep us safe,” she replied evenly.
“There is no us,” I spat and crossed my arms. For if I must admit there were werewolves and that she was one of them, there was no way I was going to believe I was one of them.
“Just you wait until your first change,” she gloated. Her face lit up with a teeth baring smile. I wished I could scratch it off her face. Was this supposed to make me feel better, that thought that I too would become an animal? That I would get filthy and beat up from whatever happened while I was that animal? My nose wrinkled.
This is worse than thinking that your parents had had sex. I inwardly groaned.
“It’s not disgusting. Nor is it something to be scared of going through.” She said calmly. Did I look afraid anymore? ‘Cause I wasn’t. Angry, most definitely, and disgusted, certainly, but the fear had been buried by the rage and the eww of everything.
“Says you, you who have been lying to me. How can I trust you? And FYI, I’m not scared.” I said, tossed my hair and deliberately leaned against the sink.
“You’re also not very honest with yourself.”
“Oh, that’s a good one,” I muttered but couldn’t look at her. “So, when was I supposed to find out I was a werewolf, if I am a werewolf, still not sure about that one, in the middle of transformation or even after my moonlit romp? Those are the myths you know.” I raised an eyebrow.
She grimaced. “I was going to sit down and tell everything to you. How the moonlight only affects you that first time and how you are in complete control after that. You know, rationally explain.”
I laughed. “Rationally explain, please mom.” I stared down my nose at her. “We both know how I would’ve handled that.” I had seen it and still had trouble believing it. If she had told me flat out I know I would have laughed at her. In light of that my emotions washed away. I couldn’t ever remain angry for long, especially at her. It took too much energy. I felt numb and tired, even though I had just got up.
She didn’t say anything for a few moments. “I should have tried sooner,” she said after the silence became too hard.
I had no response that wouldn’t have been more sarcastic or more accusing than anything I had already said. So, I said nothing and the silence returned, but it wasn’t so heavy or hard this time. A long streak of light coming through the glass in the front doorway extended into the kitchen and backlit this person across from me. We were just two people, two strangers standing in a room, meeting for the very first time. I wonder what her impression was of me and what was my impression of her?
A/N: This was obviously written for a class. It’s stiff. There is no context and let’s be honest, no teenager really thinks like this. I have put this up to show how a story idea can change and grow over time. This isn’t a fair representation of my writing level then or now.