The sun rose over the hot blacktop lot as a snake slithered between two rocks escaping the hot sun.
Two vultures eyed a dead rodent flying in a crisscross motion as they slowly descended upon its flesh, meaty and still warm.
There was a sound in the distance of motorcycles as they pulled into a lodge parking lot.
I stood up, half expecting someone or something to scream at me.
I had been late every morning this week, and I knew I’d be fired.
I put out the cigarette I was smoking and went back to cleaning the now vacant rooms I had half-assedly been going back and forth since I clocked in shortly after nine.
I couldn’t help but stare at the motorcycles. There was something sinisterly sexy about the riders on them. I couldn’t see their faces, but I knew their type. They’d spend a large amount of money for one night at the Great Wolf Lodge and then be gone by morning. The beds wouldn’t be slept in, but our bar would be a mess tomorrow morning.
My black hair fell into my eyes, sticking to my forehead. I took it down and then rolled it up again. I had forgotten myself as I fanned my legs with my apron. I leaned up against the door to one of the rooms and felt eyes on me.
“Atsila!” My granny was screaming for me.
I rolled my eyes. She had gotten me this job, and I seemed to piss away any chance of making my aunt look like she had made the right decision by begging her boss to hire me when the other girl quit. Things had been hard on my aunt since she took me in. My father died of a drug overdose, and because my aunt had strong ties to the Cherokee Nation, she helped out with her boss “Bright Eyes” whenever he needed her. The Tennessee lodge was a short distance from the Casino.
The Smoky Mountains had been my backyard since I could remember. Come the fall, it would die down, and there would be nothing left of the chaos that I knew as my life. I lived for the hustle and bustle of the tourists. I got to meet so many people, and I didn’t have a care in the world.
At 19, you could be that way. At 42, you had responsibilities. Perception is a lot, and this is where mine was incredibly dulled.
I had a boyfriend at this time in my life by the name of Rich. He was tall, with black eyes, light brown skin, and jet black hair. His mother was part Cherokee, and he had a smile that would go on for days.
He loved motorcycles, and so when he came to visit me later that evening and caught sight of those seriously badass motorcycles our guests had parked out front, he couldn’t help but make sure he mentioned it to the guy standing next to his bike. He was nearly seven-foot-tall, with long black, gray hair and a long beard. He was most likely quite handsome in his youth, but now the sun damage had taken its toll as well as the hard life I imagined this guy had lived.
The man introduced himself as Snake. I recall thinking it wasn’t all that original, given the way the guy looked. He was the perfect bad biker. It was growing late, and Rich seemed to be too comfortable hanging out with the gang of guests.
I finished my shift and headed down to the bar where Rich was drinking with the guests.
“Rich, sorry to interrupt your fun time, but we had dinner plans?”
“Oh, sorry, babe, I forgot the time. Did you know that my new friend here, Snake, has lived on his own since he was ten? That is so crazy man, how did you ever do it?” he turned to Snake, who seemed to be looking right through me while my boyfriend made a big fool of himself.
The handsome stranger finally looked away as the waitress brought over another round of drinks. I tried not to think about the fact that this stranger made me feel uncomfortable. Yet, there was something about him that I could not place. It was as if he knew me before. At first, he seemed menacing, but the look in his dark eyes told me that his intentions were not malicious.
“Mind, if we take you and your boyfriend for a ride? He seems keen on our bikes. My uncle made mine for me, and I wanted to show it to him. You can ride with me, and he can ride with Tracie. Don’t worry; she will take care of him.”
I didn’t recall having a choice even as I was lead by his hand and gently placed on his bike while he climbed in front of me. He put his hands on my side, and that is when I noticed his bike was long in the front, and it was shaped like a wolf’s head. It had fiery red eyes, and the back of the bake was a silver and black tail not too different from Snake’s hair.
I looked over at Rich, who was on the back of another similar bike, only it was white with a more feminine-styled wolf. Rich looked so happy he was like a kid in a candy store.
He gave me the thumbs-up sign, and the engine roared beneath me, and we were off.
Snake sped way ahead of all the others. Rich hung on to the woman by the name of Tracie, and I recall thinking how funny he looked on that girl’s motorcycle. We approached a ridge, and Snake pulled up and into a cave. There were already people inside with fires lit. I felt my breath heave as he pulled into a spot and parked. The cave was short and at the other opening of it was a waterfall. People were smoking and drinking by it. It was a very chill atmosphere.
He held my hand as he helped me off and then took me towards a waterfall. He said nothing at all; he just stared at me.
“What do you see in that boy?” he asked me, smiling.
“He’s a good guy; we have been sweethearts since we were crawling,” I smiled, recalling the photos my grandma had shown me of Rich.
“Don’t you want more in life?”
“You mean someone like you?”
“So you caught that, huh?”
God damn his eyes.
It was so hard to look away from him, but I knew I was falling out of love with Rich, and at that moment, I was falling in love with this stranger. Ashamed of myself, I stood and watched the other side of the cave. At that moment, Rich came riding in with Tracie, and I ran over to him and flung my arms around him.
“Hey girl, are you okay?” he laughed.
“Yeah, I just haven’t really seen you all damn day,”
“Tracie said I could get some more parts for my bike at this store about two hours from here. She said they specialize in trade show items. It’s where she got most of her stuff. Look at those tires. Man, babe, this is awesome. I’m so glad I came to see you tonight.” He kissed me, and I turned, looking at Snake, who stood watching, amused at my expense.
There was a quiet relaxation that seemed to gravitate over all of us as we hung out most of the night drinking and chatting. Snake and his friends would be moving on towards Vegas not far from Henderson after tonight.
Part of me wished that they would stay on just a little while longer.
It wasn’t long before my granny texted me to find out if I were okay.
I let her know I was with Rich, and we would be out late.
I watched the fire flames dance over the camp they created inside the cave, and I watched bats flutter to and fro. Rich seemed to fall asleep after some time, and I got up to watch the stars.
It was a beautiful, quiet night. The moon was big and hung over the pines, and as I hid under the rocks of the small cave, I could hear coyotes in the distance. I took a deep breath and felt myself get cold. I wrapped my arms around myself, and then I felt a heavy coat embracing me.
“You looked cold,” it was Snake.
“Thanks, I was,”
“I’m not going to lie. It will be hard leaving in the morning. This place has an unusual peace to it. Too bad we only just met too,” he said, brushing my hair from my face.
I backed away from his gaze and then handed him his jacket back.
“I have a boyfriend, Snake,”
“So you keep saying,” he chuckled to himself.
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“Nothing, nothing at all. Listen, we will take you two back first thing at dawn’s light.”
I smiled at him, trying to forget his eyes for a minute while I gathered myself together.
I went and curled up next to Rich in the sleeping bag they had given us. It wasn’t much, but it was enough to keep us warm.
I began to doze off when I was startled by the horrible sound of a gun going off.
I sat up and nudged Rich.
I saw Snake running from just near the waterfall towards us.
“Get up now!” he was yelling as he ran past us towards the others who were still sleeping.
“Get your asses out of here. Something is coming!”
I saw something in the distance and froze.
I couldn’t identify what it was or why it was there. I rubbed my eyes quickly, trying to adjust, but before I could, I felt Rich pick me up by my shoulders and dragging me away from the area on foot.
Tracie was revving up her bike, and I was on my way running next to Rich when he stopped to help an older woman who was trying to make it.
He had me take her hand, and she got in a bucket seat of an older man, and they were off. I was trying to find Rich, but it was happening so damn fast.
What was that thing by the water? I couldn’t get a good look at it because it was so dark. The only other thing I noticed was that it smelled rotten, like dog shit.
Then I saw a shadow run past me.
I ducked out of the way before I could feel its large black claws.
Then I felt someone pull me to the ground. When I looked down, it was Rich.
He was bleeding profusely from the jugular. I tried to hold Rich by the neck while looking around. There was chaos, and I did not know where that thing was that had done this.
I felt a hand pull me away and toss me on the seat of their bike. When I realized who it was, I could only look back at the disarray that lay behind me. The panic I could feel in Snake’s chest as he breathed in deep breaths of panic.
When I turned to look behind me, all I could see were bodies and other people screaming for help.
I wondered why Snake didn’t go back, but then I saw a shadowy figure with red eyes. I could barely make it out, but I could see it stood nine feet tall, if not more. I turned my head towards his back and sobbed.
Rich was dead.
That was the most devastating thing that had ever happened to me. Even more so than when my mom and dad ran off and got themselves hooked on drugs and died.
Rich had been like the family I never had. I loved him. He was one of the kindest people I had ever known.
Finally, we pulled over to a bend in the road and got out. I could have sworn we only had driven a few minutes, but when I looked at the time on my phone, three hours had passed.
Snake got off the bike and snood over a cliff looking at the sun as it began to come up over the mountains in the distance.
“I lost three of my best men and one woman tonight. People I had come to know that was part of my pack, my clan, so to speak,” Snake said with tears in his eyes.
I looked up at this beaten man and instantly felt a bond.
He turned to look at me, and we recognized one another’s pain.
Snake helped me back on the bike with a silent nod, and we rode till we found a place to rest. There was a little out of the way cabin up a long dirt road, and Snake seemed familiar with it. He pulled in the isolated driveway and parked his bike out front. The cabin couldn’t have been more than fourteen by fourteen.
I got off the bike, and he helped me inside. The strangest part is I never questioned being with him. I knew he wasn’t someone that would hurt me. I could see it in his eyes.
“There is some cereal up here, and some fresh milk here. We had planned to stop here on the way back too. It was Tracie’s idea that we come back the same way we came to go back home.”
“Thanks,” I said, looking around at the small cabin. It was shockingly clean, and I guessed that had been because of Tracie too.
I sat down on the sofa and stared blankly.
Snake realized I wasn’t paying much attention to him and came over. Standing in front of me, he placed his hand under my chin.
“You are going to be alright. I promise.”
For some reason, his reassurance was the most comforting thing in the world. I ate it up the way a small child eats up affection.
There was still something between us, no matter how much I tried to pretend that there wasn’t. It wasn’t that he was handsome in the traditional sense. He wasn’t even that old. His grayish hair was no indication of his age because seeing him outside of a bar setting; he looked maybe thirty at most.
He made us a small dinner of hotdogs and corn. There were buns and ketchup from one of the ketchup packets in a jark over the stove.
“So, are you originally from around here?” I asked him.
“Yes, I have a sister I haven’t seen in years. She is one of those weird types who isolates herself in the woods says she will put voodoo on me if I ever set foot on her property. In short, she is bat shit nuts!”
His remembrance seemed to make him smile a genuine smile for the first time in ages.
“What about parents?”
“Dead,” he took a bit of his hotdog.
“Mine too,” I said.
Without skipping a beat, “How?”
“Mine died of old age. I had another sister too, but her husband murdered her, they said cuz she had a kid out of wedlock or some crazy thing. I don’t know, I was never really close, and both were a lot older than my brother and me.”
“I don’t have any siblings, but I often wondered what it would be like.”
“It means you have people who give you hand me downs and means they get more food at dinner than you.” that same smirk appeared.
I looked at him thoughtfully.
“What was that thing back there?”
“Whatever it was, it got me good, but I have some first aid stuff here to treat it. With my drunken friends and guns, you never go without a first aid kid.”
“Your arm is bleeding!”
He held his hand out to me as he stood up.
Grabbing the first aid kit, he took off his white shirt, and I saw him then. I felt weird looking at him. He was thin but not lean. He had good-sized arms and about twelve tattoos on his upper shoulder and back. Even his body was attractive, I thought.
I pushed it out of my mind, though. After everything that had happened, I should be thinking of Rich, not this man in front of me. It was so disrespectful. Suddenly I could eat no more.
“I need to grab a smoke; I’ll be back in a few,” I said, standing up grabbing my jacket.
“Stay in here!” he snarled at me.
“Why? That thing is long gone by now.”
“I don’t want to have to worry about you,”
“It’s just a cigarette. I’ll stay on the porch, okay?”
“Fine, it’s your funeral.”
I walked out of the cabin and sat on the small wooden rocking chair that looked like it had seen better days. I lit my cigarette with the lighter Rich had gotten me the previous Christmas.
Tears fell again, and I closed my eyes.
How was I going to do it without him?
Rich was and had been my best friend.
My only friend.
I puffed on my cigarette, not because the only reason I had ever started was to get a few breaks at work, but right now, I needed it to relax.
Breathe in, breathe out.
I told myself.
I closed my eyes, but when I did, all I could see was Rich bleeding.
I still had blood on the sleeve of my jacket.
As if he could read my mind, Snake came out onto the porch at that exact moment.
“You can shower, and Tracie left some clothes behind that I think will fit you.”
I woke to texts from my grandmother.
I felt horrible that I had left with no explanation. I was stupid and 19 with no idea what I’d say to her.
I didn’t know if she knew anything about what happened in that cave off the highway. She only asked when I was coming back that there was work to be done. I felt so horrible. I didn’t know what to say or how to say what happened.
Rich was attacked by something that should not exist that much I knew.
I got out of the small bed, my new friend, Snake, had afforded me, and I wandered towards the tiny kitchen to see if that smell was the smell of coffee.
I walked in and grabbed one of the cups he had set out for me.
I poured a cup of black coffee as I didn’t see any sugar or cream signs for me to add.
I looked around, and outside I could see him. He was sitting on the small porch looking at his phone.
I approached him, wondering what on earth could be the matter as he was so dead focused on something.
He seemed to sense me and turned around even before he heard my footsteps.
“Who knows what?” I asked stupidly.
Then it hit me. He was referring to the authorities.
“They are looking for witnesses that may know what happened.”
“We should tell someone.”
Snake nodded at me and then put down his phone. “What do we say? I’d rather stay about three million feet away from any law enforcement.”
“We owe it to our friends and their families.”
“I’ll make a call. I’m going to go out closer to the road where I can get better reception.”
I didn’t question it. I stayed back at the cabin and got freshened up in case one of the cops came to question us.
It was a very long while before Snake came back. I began to worry about him. He had not taken his bike.
When he finally returned, he had something in his hand.
When I took one look at what he was holding in his hand, I nearly threw up in my mouth.
It was a dead squirrel.
“Fresh roadkill,” he said, putting it on an old newspaper and began to skin it.
“I think I will stick to the cereal until I can find something a little more appetizing,” I said, getting up.
He laughed and continued skinning the vermin.
“You know my daddy used to take us hunting in these very woods. We would eat skunks, squirrels, pretty much anything that crawled on four legs. My favorite was the fish in the river. You learn how to survive at an early age in these mountains. I take it you didn’t grow up here.”
“Cleveland,” I said, looking over his shoulder to see if he was finished. “But my granny raised me from the time I was six. I grew up in a tourist trap basically,”
“Oh, you a basketball fan?”
He smiled at me again and then stood to wash off the dead meat in the sink and to wash his hands.
“What did the police say when you talked to them?”
“They said they would get back to us if they had any other questions.” The Snake grew quiet then.
The day wore on, and we chatted about everything under the sun, trying to get to know each other. I didn’t know how long I should stay with him, but I was in no hurry to leave him either.
Everything he said was fascinating. He had a story for everything, and nothing was too shameful to discuss. He told me about his first love and how they used to blow lines of cocaine until the sun came up. He laughed when he told me he once found his ex dancing naked with only her apron on in the middle of a city street. I laughed too as I pictured it in my mind.
It felt natural being this way here with him. Soon the days passed into weeks, and I noticed that his wound still had not healed.
“Snake, you think you oughta have that looked at?” I was genuinely concerned for his well being.
“Oh, I’m fine. It was just a serious injury. If I had been smart, I’d have stitched it up right after it happened.” He stood from his chair and patted me on the head. He was so big sometimes I forgot how big.
That wound began to fester and puss something awful, though. I could barely look at it.
It had been nearly a month that we had been hiding in the cabin. I had begun to forget the fact that anyone may be concerned about either one of us.
I couldn’t explain it—the way he made me feel like I’d die if I left his side.
Then one day, something changed, and not for the better.
There was a scream.
It woke me from a dead sleep. Then I heard something shake and then a thud. I slowly got out of my bed, and when I did, I was met with one of the most grotesque faces I had ever seen. Snake was sweaty and green like he had the flu. He was hitting himself in the head and puking in the hallway. He kept screaming until he had no voice left.
The scream was coming from Snake, my friend.
I didn’t know what to do, so I locked my door.
I was scared to death, and the strangeness went on for about an hour. Finally, he called out to me that he was okay, and would I please come to him.
Slowly unlocking the door, I went to him. He was on the floor, sick and crying. There was something wrong.
“We need to get you to a hospital,”
Touching my cheek, he smiled. “I am too far gone for that now,” as he undid the bandage showing the wound had begun to heal.
“You’re healing! That means the worst of it is over.”
“You are so good to me, but I am worse than we thought.”
“What do you mean?”
“Think about it. That thing that bit me made me very sick. I have nightmares of severing flesh from its body in a fit of rage that I have never known before. I see faces all around me turn into the darkness. It feels like all of the light inside me has gone out forever. I will never know true bliss again.” His sadness was all consuming, and his eyes had no light left in them. I didn’t exactly understand what he meant by it right then. It took me longer those days to put things together.
Young and stupid.
Then I realized he meant that he thought he was turning into one of those creatures. I had not gotten a perfect look at whatever it was back there that killed Rich and the others. I only knew I wanted to stay and figure out a way to help Snake.
In the following days, he had moments when he wasn’t feeling unwell and taken over. Sometimes I even got him to smile. Other days were terrible. I would lock him in his bedroom until his fits, which were like seizures, were finished. Some days he would only have one fit, and others would be in there all night.
Their likeness was hard to explain. He was still a man, but he screamed and yelled as though he were suffering from hallucinations. Maybe that is all these were. Perhaps this was the result of misdiagnosis on his part. Stubborn man, he was refusing medical care.
I blamed myself, and this was no exception.
On one awful day, I had left him to the entire cabin. He went about throwing things and tearing them to pieces, so I locked him in and went to catch some fish, hoping the worst of it would be over.
Yet, when I got back to the cabin, he had found a way to escape it. I searched and searched the woods around the cabin. There was no sign of him.
By nightfall, I had figured he was never coming back, or he was, in fact, dead. A part of me could not believe it. I could still feel him. So I waited until dawn.
Then I waited more.
That day turned into two. Then two turned into a week and that week turned into nearly three.
Every night I waited for him.
Every night I hoped he’d come.
Every night I slept only to wake disappointed.
I couldn’t even call anyone to tell them where I was or that he was missing.
My phone had long died with no charger, and there was no landline.
I made due for the time I was alone. I spruced the place up so that it smelled clean and welcoming. The only thing that worked in this tiny cabin was one lamp in the kitchen. The rest were candles, and at least there was running water. Granted, there wasn’t much water pressure, but it was better than nothing.
It was nearly fall.
I felt it in the air.
I felt it in my bones.
I even felt it by the way my soul cried.
The world was darker now.
I was alone, going on longer than I wished. I had grown depressed and hopeless. I had made up my mind; I would hike the thirty or so miles up the road to the nearest town and never look back.
I went to bed, not even bothering to lock my doors.
Yet, still at just after three, I was awoken by a knock. It was not loud or commanding. It was just soft as though the person on the other end of the door wasn’t sure.
I wrapped one of Snake’s sweatshirts around me and opened the door.
When I opened the door, I nearly fell over from shock.
It was my beloved friend who came back.
He looked different too, and I couldn’t explain it. His eyes seemed brighter, his hair fuller and less gray. His body was more muscular, but his hands were just as soft as he put them around me.
“I’m so sorry I left you here,”
He picked me up, and it was as if we both knew what each one meant to the other.
Snake held me in a bear hug as my feet dangled from above his shins.
He put me down gently then and then kissed me.
I cannot explain what it felt like to be kissed by someone who set your very existence on fire. His touch blinded me to the point I could feel nothing except his touch.
His kiss was gentle like his hands. He didn’t want to hurt me in any way. Snake danced with me in that unique way. He went left, and I went right.
Our bodies enveloped each other, and if you had asked me my name, I guarantee you I would not have known. I was in paradise lost and didn’t even know it.
Every finger, every hand, glance, or touch of skin against skin felt like a thousand tiny butterflies all over my body. My stomach rippled against the troublesome nerves that would plague me as he kissed me there.
There was no doubt in my mind. He loved me.
He always felt me, read me so well. He barely had to try to love me. He just always did. I wondered if he had before he met me.
I knew I most certainly did not understand what all those corny romance novels mentioned in their sultry pages of passion. One thing they got so wrong was how many times a person climaxed. No one did that that many times!
When we tired ourselves, I let him hold me.
“There is something I have to tell you,” he said gently in my ear,
“I’m not like I was before, Atsila, something has caused me a lot of trouble, and I think you know what it is.”
I knew, and I didn’t care. I didn’t want to think about his fits.
“Whatever you are going through, I’m here,”
“It isn’t like before, my silly Atsila,” he kissed me on the shoulder.
“You don’t mean you are so different? Did you go see a doctor about your fits?”
“I don’t need a doctor. You see, I’ll never need one ever again, Atsila.”
I still didn’t understand.
“My dear girl, I am not afraid of anything, and those creatures cannot hurt you ever again as long as I am here. Does that make sense?”
It hit me, and I wanted to pass out. This wasn’t happening. He is trying to tell me he is one of those things.
I jumped out of bed, naked and unconcerned.
He jumped out, turning to hold me.
“Please, I will never hurt you.” He continued.
Tears had stained my eyes far too many times these last few months. If he turned, I could die. What would happen if we were in the real world? How would we be together?
“I can’t not like this.”
“You can; I only turn on the full moon,”
“Do you have any idea what this all sounds like?”
“I do. It isn’t like the movies. We only feed to survive.”
“Feed on what?”
“What difference does it make?”
“You’re a murderer!” I stood back from him.
His eyes began to glow. The eyeshine that was once so dark brown was more like caramel or amber now. He was angry with me. I was starting to get scared. “I am NO MURDERER!” he glared accusingly.
“Let me be alone,” I cried.
I ran away from him, but he caught my arm with his hand pulling me at me as he gently squeezed me until the tips of his fingers let go of me.
“Please, Atsila!” I heard him calling, but he did not follow.
He left me alone and sat in the woods with only a bed sheet wrapped around me. I believed him when he said he didn’t murder anyone for food.
That didn’t change the fact of what he was.
I sat for a long while, thinking about it.
My wrist began to itch, and I scratched furiously. I hated allergy season, and I said to myself as I finally reasoned to go back to the cabin.
When I did, a tall man was standing at the door with Snake. He had an odd tattoo on his upper arm and had at least three other men just as tall.
Snake jumped down away from them and held me in his arms.
“I have to go again,”
“Again? Why? You only just got back.”
“I belong to them now,” he said.
“No one belongs to anyone,” I growled.
“Let’s go, lizard man or whatever you call yourself,” said the fat man standing in front of me.
“Is this your bitch?”
“You don’t call her that!” Snake glared.
“Why not? Isn’t she?”
“Come on, we have things to do, and we don’t have time for bull shit romance novels,” the man said as he spits near my foot.
The men were familiar to me, and I had no idea why. I stood watching them treat Snake like garbage, and I watched him let them. It was like a pack of wolves, and then it hit me.
Wolves or Dogmen, whatever they were, this one smells exactly like dog shit. It smelled like dog shit the night Rich got murdered by these supernatural thugs.
“Snake isn’t going anywhere with you,”
“Atsila, stop it. You don’t know what you are saying,”
“Oh, I know exactly what I am saying.”
I didn’t care about the sheet covering my body as it fell off of me. I was naked as the day I was born, but there was something inside of me, something fierce. I stood up taller than I ever had before.
The man chuckled as he looked at me.
I looked at him for a long time as if I could kill him by looking at him.
Then I did something unexpected.
I grabbed him by his throat, holding on for dear life. I would not stop holding on to him until my nails pinched his skin, and he began to bleed from both ends of his neck. My strength was outweighing his by every single second.
I didn’t give a shit. I knew this fuck had killed my Rich. He deserved to pay, and he was serving his time between my fingertips.
I don’t know why he didn’t fight back; there was something in his eyes. It was unexpected as though whatever I was saying with my eyes, he understood. He didn’t mind the challenge and accepted it.
He fell limp to the ground, and I turned to see the other men running away.
Snake could only look at me, confused for a moment. Then I blinked and walked over, picked up the sheet, and grabbed him by the hand.
“We can figure out something to do with the body in the morning, unless wild hogs eat it by then, good riddance,” I slammed the door.
“What on earth?”
It was Snake’s turn not to understand.
I looked up at him with tears of empathy in my eyes, not for the man that I killed, not for Snake, not for myself, but for Rich, who deserved to live his life. I would live one for both of us. Eternal, Immortal fucking life.
I held up my wrist, and that is when he saw his fingernail prints from where he had grabbed me earlier.
“I don’t think you meant to turn me. As it is, here we are.”
He grabbed me in his arms as his eyes turned bright amber and that was the beginning.
This night I became something else entirely; not only was I supernatural, but I had grown confident in my skin. I had only known what it felt to lose, but I finally could feel what it must feel like to gain.
My happy beginning.