I always questioned life, is this really it? We are all born and grow up naive, go to school, some graduate and get a job and others go into debt for more school. Then at some point, we find a steady job we either love or hate, get married maybe have a few kids and that is about it. It’s all so mundane. I never felt normal, I always expected big things to come out of my life. I did so much reading that I became jealous of every character having some grand adventure and finding their epic loves. If I could have crawled inside to live in one of those books as the main character I would have. I would have loved to feel the wind on my face, sea salt in my hair, and hot sun on my skin as I sailed across the ocean as a pirate. I wondered if I would ever wake up one morning and meet someone that would change my life forever . My favorite series was about a girl destined to turn into an immortal fae and find her mate, the love of her life for an eternity. That is the story I would have killed to be apart of to have eternal youth and find the other half of yourself. I was always a hopeless romantic, I had a soul that cried out for someone I had yet to meet, I craved passion, a love that would set me on fire. I wanted the kind of love that connected on a spiritual, emotional, and physical level. I wanted someone that was only made for me and I for him, that there were no limits as to what we would do for each other.
Then I turned twenty and realized that none of what I wanted for myself could be possible. The adventures I wanted, the endless youth I so desperately craved. Not that I have ever feared death, death can come whenever he wants me, it’s the aging. When I turned 20 is when I realized aging is something no one can escape. My body will betray me, my muscles will deteriorate, my bones will become frail, and my skin will become like wet paper and sag. I watched my grandmother grow old, though the aging seemed to be slow, I watched her own heart betray her. Her heart no longer wanted to beat in rhythm for her body. Then her mind began to betray her as well, it no longer wanted to make sense of things for her. Since her heart and mind decided it was time to give up I watched her body wither. She was my best friend, my safe place, the only person I think knew who I really was. She always thought I was destined to do something great. I always thought it was my love for animals that made her say that.
From a young age I had a connection with them, any living creature non-human I loved. When I say loved I mean loved with my whole heart and soul. It was as if there was a piece of me, an extension of my own soul, sitting there just behind their eyes. I looked into the eyes of every animal and it was like they knew; they knew how badly I wanted to be their voice and speak for them. Naturally that is how I ended up going to college for veterinary medical technology. That’s right VMT not veterinarian. Not only does being a veterinarian cost more than my house, but the time I’d spend in school would feel like half my life was spent there. I never felt like I had an infinite amount of time on earth, the time we spend in life seems to be so short especially when you grow too old at some point to do anything. You’re only young and healthy for so long and I never wanted to waste a second of it. There was nothing I wanted more than to save the animals, that is what I intended to do for as long as I could.
My roommate is the only person that kept me sane at school. Not only with classes but drama seems to follow me everywhere I go. She holds me together even when I want to fall apart, we do that for each other. We are bonded in a way sisters would be. We depend on each other for support, honesty, and every once in awhile kindness. She is the only person I have been able to spend everyday with 24/7 and not grow tired of. She is the person that sticks by my side even now when my whole life has changed.
I always wanted a soulmate. The person that I can feel my soul itching for. I can feel this itch under my skin, I can feel my heart tighten because of the strain. Besides my need to save the animals, there is nothing I want more than for my soul’s call to finally be answered. Night after night I listen to it, feel it, my heart seize up, a call that never seems to quiet. So many times I have thought I found the person my soul had been screaming for and every time I have been let down. Today, however, I have given up. I am so sick of hurting. Tired of feeling my heart ripping apart and falling into my stomach. I deserve to be happy and that obviously means that can only happen if I am alone. So today I give up looking, I have no reason to believe he exists, even though I know there is a part of me deep down that will always hope. Not only is my heart tired but I know my soul is too, as if it has finally gone hoarse from its pleading.
So tomorrow I would wake up with no texts on my phone from a guy. I would wake up happy to know that I will not have to hurt anymore. For once I was choosing me, I know that if I would have kept that up I was going to die, who I am would slowly fade away. I only had six more days left at school and I would go home and be happy with my animals, friends and family. I felt myself slowly losing consciousness thinking about the summer I was going to have in my dorm room that night, accepting that I no longer wanted a love life. I filled my heart with thoughts of all the things I loved most and because of that I missed a small shift under my skin.
I woke up the next morning full of energy, I was a night person not a morning person. However, when I woke up colors were more vibrant, sounds were clearer, and I felt light. I felt like I could do anything, I felt confident and strong. I figured it was because it was the first morning in a long time I woke up worry free. No boys to worry about no texts to check for, nothing to let me down. My roommate Sarah and I readied ourselves for the most dreaded class we had, anatomy and physiology. My life had become nothing but anatomy, the professor was not lying when he said we would sleep, eat and breath that class because that is the only thing we did this semester. We walked to class in comfortable silence, after just last night I had talked her ear off ranting about how over my own love life I was. Of course, like always, she supported me fully.
“Do you think we will get our exams back today?” Sarah asked, always eager to see the grade she worked so hard to earn.
“I’m not sure, I’m okay with not seeing what I got anyway I’m really nervous to see it.” I replied.
“You shouldn’t be worried I’m sure you did fine it’s better to know than not know anyway.” she reassured me.
As I drifted off into my thoughts I thought I heard Sarah say something and when I turned to look at her I realized with shock that her lips were not moving. I slowly looked around us as we walked and there was no one on the grounds near us. As we passed the financial aid building on the way to the science center I looked in through the window to see a woman talking on the phone. With a small horror in my stomach I found the voice I had been hearing, I could hear the woman speaking on the phone from yards away while she was inside. I quickly checked to look for the window that had to be open, some natural explanation as to why I could hear her talking. I found none, there was no open windows, no open doors, not even some kind speaker system. I reined in the disbelief and shock as we continued on our way, and I only stopped hearing her when we finally reached the doors of the science center. The financial aid office is separated from the science center by the new library the college had just finished building. All the buildings were constructed of stone with exaggerated features. The rooftops ended in points, the buildings were multiple floors in height, and they all had floor to ceiling glass windows. Every time you walked past the library there was a high chance that someone you knew was inside taking a snapchat video of you walking by. You could see everything from the library windows. Once we walked through the doors of the science center is when chaos rained down on me. I could hear everything. I could hear all the professors lecturing, all the students talking, their voices echoing off the walls as if everyone had a megaphone. All those voices and the tiniest sounds were merging together to become a mind numbing ring in my ears. I must have cried out in pain because amongst the painful screeching of all the sounds I heard Sarah say, “What’s wrong?”
Having no idea what to do and the only thought in my mind being to get away from the sound, I took off running. I had no idea where I was going, anywhere that would make the ringing stop. I quickly found one of the restrooms, I darted straight inside for a stall, grabbed some toilet paper and started stuffing it into my ears. After what felt like an eternity and a whole roll of toilet paper, the horrifying screeching turned to a dull hum. Tears began to well up in my eyes at not only the pain that the sound had caused but from the shock of realizing what had just happened. I had to focus, I could not walk around all afternoon with wads of toilet paper stuffed in my ears so I willed myself to focus. Whatever was happening to me could be figured out after class it was too important to miss I just had to make it through the rest of the afternoon. I slowly removed the toilet paper from my ears and willed myself to focus and tune out the painful ring. I breathed deeply closed my eyes and let the ring slowly fade into a bearable hum. I pulled myself together and made my way into class.
Unfortunately for me, Sarah and I had chosen seats in the very front row of the class so I had to watch every head in class turn and watch me walk in. As if the horror that now became a knot in my stomach could not get worse I realized that not only could I hear everything in that building but I could smell everything too. I could smell the tiny particles of the chalk my professor was writing with, I could smell all the body sprays and cologne and deodorant my classmates were wearing, and something else. There was one scent that came out of nowhere and stuck out amongst the others. It smelled of metal, a sweet metal I realized with hair raising shock what that powerful scent was, blood. A student sitting in the very back of the classroom got a nosebleed, and I could smell it. As if realizing I was smelling blood in excruciating detail from across a large classroom was not enough, so was the realization that I liked the smell. In school I often practiced drawing blood from the dogs and cats that lived on campus so I was no stranger to the smell of blood. Before today the smell of blood to me was sickening, it just smelled like liquid metal and now to me it smelled sweet.
I made it through the rest of the lecture without anything else happening, after class Sarah asked me what happened. I had no explanation for her and could not tell her the truth so I just told her I had felt sick. I needed to be alone, I needed time to process what was happening to me. Since Sarah and I shared an all open dorm room the only place I could think to go was my car. I told Sarah that I would catch up with her later and practically ran to sanctuary. When I finally had crossed the street to get to my car, I was shocked to find a stranger leaning against it. His black hair was cut short against his head but spiked up in the front, his skin was tan as if he was recently kissed by the sun, and his body was muscular which was obvious because of how his shirt slightly tighten against his body. His arms were crossed so his biceps bulged with the slight constriction of his sleeves. The stranger looked up at me over his dark sunglasses to reveal his piercing blue eyes that reminded me of a deep blue ocean. He was wearing a plain gray shirt with black jeans, and he just stared at me. I got lost in the blue of his eyes and his clear jawline, and I watched as he smiled at me, I felt my heart leap in my chest. “Uhm…hi?” I said having no idea what else to say to this stranger.
“Hello, I guess you’re wondering why I’m leaning against your car,” he said casually.
“No not at all I’m used to finding strange men just leaning against my car,” I said using all my effort to keep my voice steady.
“Well my name is Layne, and you are?” it amazed me how calm he spoke, as if he leaned against random cars everyday.
“Cece, why are you leaning against my car?” I could no longer bear the casual conversation.
“Cece? Is that short for something?” he asked ignoring my question.
“Celia, did you just ignore my question?” I was growing annoyed with him.
“No I just wanted the answer to my question first, no need to be snarky,” he spoke to me as if he’d known me his whole life.
“I was not being snarky I think I deserve to know why there is a strange guy leaning against my car,” I snapped back at him unable to cover up my annoyance.
“Why don’t we get inside your car and I will tell you,” he smiled up at me as if he knew his smile could get anyone to do what he wanted. Which only annoyed me further.
“Oh so you can murder me and steal my car?” I replied trying so hard not to let any of my fear or anger show.
“If I wanted to steal your car I wouldn’t have waited for you to find me here and I have nothing to gain from murdering you.” his voice was genuine and reassuring.
I hesitated and looked around the street to look for anyone else witnessing this strange man ask me to get inside my car with him. I saw a few people walking on the sidewalks, witnesses, I slowly got into the driver’s side of my car. I watched him move from my front bumper and casually stroll and sit inside the passenger seat of my car. His scent hit me like a wave, he smelled like pine trees and mint, my heart fluttered yet again at the smell of him. I had nothing to say, so I just sat in my seat and waited for him to explain himself. He took his sunglasses off, and casually ran his eyes over me as if he was looking for something.
“How did you feel when you woke up this morning?” It was a quick straight to the point question, there was no hesitation in his voice. My stomach jumped into my chest as I could see in his eyes what he was asking me, as if he knew what kind of morning I had been having.
“Different, I can hear and smell unnaturally well, colors are brighter, I feel alive, more so than I ever have.” My own honesty surprised me as I could not hold in my terror of what was happening to me any longer. There was so much I no longer understood about myself and I needed someone to know, someone that had no idea who I was before today.
“Do not be afraid,” he reassured me. “What is happening is believe it or not normal and you are not alone, more is about to happen to you, but do not be afraid, just embrace it,” he spoke so calmly. I was so lost, I had no idea what he was talking about and it only raised more questions for me. I looked away out my window as I tried to piece together what he was telling me. When I looked back to ask him all my questions he was gone. There was no trace that the handsome stranger had even existed. I looked around for him, with no other idea what to do I just let every emotion I had felt today hit me. The panic of hearing the woman’s voice this morning, the searing pain of the science center as soon as I walked inside, the unnervingly sweet smell of the nosebleed during class, and finally the loss of the stranger named Layne that sparked some hope in my chest that I was not going crazy. It was very clear to me that I was slowly losing my mind, my body seemed to be changing in ways I could not control or understand and I was terrified. After allowing myself to break down, I slowly pieced myself back together and promised myself that everything was going to be okay. I walked slowly back to the dorm and spent the rest of my day studying and keeping casual conversation with Sarah.
I have no idea what time it was when I woke up from a deep sleep that night with my eyes feeling as though they were on fire. My skin was coated in a thick layer of sweat, and my entire body in excruciating pain. I had to get outside, I do not know why but I had a feeling that once I was outside I would be okay. I made my way to the door, as quietly as I could not to wake Sarah, once the door was shut behind me I ran faster than I ever had in my whole life. My muscles screamed at the sudden burst of energy but I needed to move I needed to go faster. The sprint downstairs to the door is a blur, my college sat on the edge of a deep forest, and that is exactly where I was headed. With my eyes burning, coated in sweat and in more pain than I had ever felt in my life, I sprinted straight into the darkness of the trees with no idea where I was going. That is when I felt the shift, I had to keep running but I felt my screaming muscles finally stretch and force my bones to change shape. I could feel my body taking on a new shape as I ran, the shifting of my bones and muscles made the unbearable pain finally cease. Before I knew it I was running on all four legs, my face changed and elongated and my skin had grown thick white fur. My mind connected the dots, and as I pointed my head up to scream a beautiful howl came out of my mouth, and that is when I realized, this was my new beginning and I could not wait to see where it would take me.