Sometimes as I am lying in bed at night I think, I cannot take one more day of this.
But dawn brings with it the curse of perpetual hope. As the day passes I wait for a change
that never comes. Then as night draws near I begin to panic. Before I know it I find
myself lying awake again.
One afternoon that followed one of those sleepless nights I stopped and hid
myself half way behind a tree and watched. Dennis sat on a bench a few feet away staring
out at the ocean. I took a sip of the soda I no longer wanted. It tasted mostly of syrup and
left a slimy sweetness in the back of my throat. It was a cloudy day and almost the end of
September but there were still a few people on the beach trying to hold onto the summer
for a little while longer.
The sky and sand met in a monotonous blend of beige and the dullest of blues.
The foamy waves crashing against the shore reminded me of saliva. I saw Dennis’ head
turn and follow a girl in bright red jogging along the boardwalk. Such a little thing but I
knew what it meant. If I could look into his eyes I knew what I would see. I knew what
his hunger looked like now. I know it’s going to happen again.
He did promise but I have heard that before. I said I believed him as I always do. I
don’t I sounded anymore sincere than he did. I have become so tired of his lies I don’t
have much energy for my own anymore. He’s said he can learn to control himself but
I’ve learned you just can’t change what you are. That’s must be why I keep coming back.
Another night and it’s all different. We are at the bar. It’s long past midnight but
we’re all wide awake and together. Dennis had his arm around me. I’m drinking
something hard and strong and my belly is warm. Jen is laughing and telling us about her
latest conquest. It’s dim and cozy and there is an overwhelming feeling of protection and
closeness. Like a womb. Dennis whispers in my ear and we laugh together. The others
pretend not to be looking curiously. It is our private joke. And it is good. It is so good.
A man approaches and says, Nice Ink. Jen lifts her shirtsleeve, showing off her
arm with its colors and pictures. Mom, Dad and a bluebird, Swirls of purple entwined
with flowers and stars from shoulder to wrist. She laughs and looks up at this man with
half closed eyes. I snicker and look to Dennis to confirm our shared amusement at Jen’s
usual tricks. But he is looking away and frowning. I have a premonition of danger. He
has that look of hunger. But it can’t be for Jen. It would never be for Jen.
Later, after we have made love I watch Dennis’ face. He yawns and I can see
every single one of his teeth. They are very small and rounded, made for tearing small
pieces off a little at a time. But his eyes are beautiful. Baby blue with darker specks all
around the iris. They make me think of cathedral ceilings. Pretty things with false
I’m going out, he says. I just need to go for a walk. To think.
I know he doesn’t want me to come but I ask anyway. I look around at our apartment.
The walls are yellow. I think they must have been white once but now they are slick with
years of cigarette smoke. If I move one corner of the cheap painting hanging over the bed
I’ll see the ghost of what the wall once was. The full moon is brilliant, shining through
the window. I don’t want to stay here alone tonight.
He doesn’t answer my question and we sit in silence. I ask what’s wrong. The
unbearable emptiness between us prompts me to say the unspeakable. Another girl, I ask?
He looks at me with his beautiful eyes and says, sometimes I can’t stand you. And then
he goes. It’s not until I hear the door slam that I allow the sob to escape me. It sounds like
some kind of animal, howling at the moon.
It’s another new day and I’m sliding my key into the lock of our front door. I
stand on the threshold and listen. I hear the noises in the bedroom and I think I can’t
believe he is doing this here. I feel the urge to giggle hysterically at the cliché. Still
somehow when it is happening to you and not on television or to a friend the betrayal
seems so much darker. I feel the pain and realization bloom in my stomach like a shot of
strong alcohol. In a moment the adrenaline will kick in. I know I will feel full of self pity,
and self loathing.
I’ve done this before.
It’s in these moments that I always forget that I will probably forgive him in the
end. Still one rational part of my mind remembers that I will have to wait until the change
comes before I can confront him. I sit down on the couch and wait. It’s then that I notice
the mess on the floor leading into the bedroom. I begin to think how I will probably be
the one to clean it up as usual and then something familiar catches my eye. Purple stars
and the letters M O and D A. A torn scrap of flesh and it takes me a moment to realize
where I have seen this before.
MY BEST FRIEND! I begin to scream despite the danger of catching him before
he has changed back. MY BEST FUCKING FRIEND! YOU MONSTER. My only
friend my head echoes back at me. I storm into the bedroom not caring any more but it is
happening. The shrinking back down to average height, claws retracting until they are
only slightly rough human hands. The thick black pelt growing in reverse, devoured by
smooth freckled flesh. Those teeth becoming small again but still quite capable of
tearing little pieces of me apart. Then it is just Dennis. Covered in blood and sitting
among the bones and bits of meat that is left of Jen, with a look of surprise and guilt that
would almost be comical under other circumstances. I rush toward him fists up thinking
this is what it feels like to want the kill.
Later I am feeding Jen’s scraps to the water below. I do mourn her. We had such
good times. I think of her flirting ways and how the men always came like flies to honey.
Still I hate her as well. She was supposed to be my friend. What was she doing with my
man in my apartment? Regardless of what happened he said it was easy to lure her in.
Maybe she got what she deserved after all.
This does not mean I won’t miss her. But now Dennis is all I have. It has been so
long since the last one that maybe I really can believe he is learning control. Smokers quit
an average of seven times before they are successful. I know he never wanted to be this
way. He needs me. And after all he loves me. He didn’t love Jen or any of the others.
They just feed the hunger.