The pack watches me. I know that sounds like I’m paranoid but it’s true. We don’t talk about it. Maybe they don’t even know they do it. Isa and Wren work with me. They make me run fighting drills again and again until my muscles burn and my brain is numb. Maybe they’re trying to distract me. Maybe they are trying to show me that my…disability…doesn’t mean I can’t fight, can’t shift. That I can still run with them. That I can be a productive member of the pack. I don’t know how to make them understand that it’s not about that.
I can live without my hand. It’s been a difficult adjustment but I can do it. I can be okay. I don’t feel like less of a person because of it. At least not in the way they think. Maybe if I’d lost it in a battle or in some car accident I would just pick myself up and get on with my life. Growing up, my father always told me happiness was a choice. When my mom died, he could have wallowed in her loss but instead he chose to be happy because she would want him to be. He chose to be happy because he had me and the pack. My dad is a good man and I always believed what he said to be true. So I chose to be happy even when my grandmother had my entire pack beat me almost to death, I knew it was for a greater purpose. I was…at peace…with my choice. I chose to be happy.
This is different. I’m different. When those demons threw that machete at me and told me I’d have to leave a piece of myself behind if I wanted to go home they meant it literally. They wanted their lump of flesh. But I didn’t have to cut anything from my body to leave a part of myself behind. I cut out a part of my soul and left it right there in that dirt cell and I’ll never get it back.
I know the pack is just worried about me. I’m worried too. I get that I’m not the same person anymore but I don’t know if they get that I want to be. That I’m trying to be. I don’t want to be this person. I wasn’t raised to be a victim. I was raised to be a wolf. A soldier. To pick myself up and carry on with my mission.
But I just can’t do it. Things that I used to do all the time are so hard now. I don’t know how to maintain anymore much less choose to be happy. Dr. Ling says I have PTSD, that I’ve got severe depression and anxiety. She tried to put me on meds but I burn them off too quickly. My metabolism is too high. Besides, they make me feel funny. She says sometimes just claiming the diagnosis can help but it’s not helping me. I don’t see how any of this is helping me.
Some days just dragging myself out of bed seems monumental…but I do it. I shower. I brush my teeth. I get dressed. I try to even smile if I can just for their sake, to reassure them somehow that the person they loved is still in here somewhere but it’s the eating part I can’t get past. Not since…just not since-
Dr. Ling says I’ll feel better if I just talk about it but I don’t know how that could be true. Whenever I think of being there in that place, in that cage, the more it’s like being back there. I can hear Evangeline humming to herself, can hear her crying softly. Can smell the stench of sickness and sweat. Can smell the scent of rotting flesh as the bodies those demons wore started to decay around them, skin slipping like a mask that didn’t fit right.
When I think about it, it’s like there’s a gaping hole in my stomach. I don’t know how to say the words without claiming them. Without having to acknowledge my part in the things I did and if I acknowledge it…I don’t know how to live with myself.
I didn’t have to eat…I could have resisted. Even wounded, even crazed from whatever they were drugging me with. I could have fought harder. In the end, it was a choice. Just like being happy. In the end, I chose to do it. The hunger was too overwhelming, the scent of blood, the scent of fear on the air, it was too much to resist.
I wish I could say I snapped. I wish I could say that my wolf took over and I was a slave to my animal instincts…but I’d be lying. I’m bitten, not born. It’s harder for me to fight my shift but not impossible. They knew that. They wouldn’t let me shift. They forced me to keep my human form even as my wolf fought to be free. Maybe that’s the part that really gets me. The things I did; I did in human form. It wasn’t my wolf that snapped. It was me. It was just me.
Everybody wants me to talk about it, to tell them what happened but when I try to think about it I can feel myself starting to shift and that can’t happen. If I couldn’t control myself in my human form, what happens when I give myself over to the wolf again? What if what they say is true? What if once an animal tastes human flesh they crave it? What if the animal craving it isn’t the wolf at all? What if it’s just me?
I’ve killed before. We all have. Hunting the supernatural is sometimes kill or be killed, but this…what I did? They weren’t a threat. They were just humans. They were just frightened humans. I was just human.
So, how do I get past that? How does writing all this in some dumb journal fix me? I can’t stand the smell of cooked meat. I can’t stand the sight or smell of it. Isa has banned it from the house because she knows it bothers me. She doesn’t make me work the kitchen anymore because of it. But that’s not really the issue. If I just hated cooked meat, I could adapt.
But it’s not cooked meat that is the real problem. It’s the raw meat. It makes my mouth water. It makes my teeth itch with the need to tear into it. Me, the human me. I crave it like I crave air. So I won’t shift. I’ll fight the change and I’ll fight my cravings for as long as I can. I’ll avoid meat. Not just meat, anything that comes from another living creature.
Yesterday, I read an article that warriors used to eat the flesh of their enemies because they believed they absorbed their essence. I can’t stop thinking of that. Isn’t the essence of a person their soul? Did I absorb their souls? Have I taken that from them too? Are they a part of me now? How does that make me any better than Mace? I don’t want to consume the life force of another being human or animal. There’s already too many people living inside me now.
I don’t know if I can take anymore.