Two weeks before her eighteenth birthday, Claire decided to do something about her seemingly requited feelings for Grant. She had waited and waited and finally, in just two weeks, it would be legal for something to happen between them – not that she was sure something would, she just wanted to wait until it was actually a possibility. Well, except for the fact that he was sort of her teacher, kind of…
She walked into class and, as usual, Grant was the first to greet her.
"Hey, there’s my favorite student! I was starting to wonder if I’d have to go all day without seeing that pretty face."
See, totally flirting, she thought. She could picture his gorgeous face, and Claire was almost certain she was blushing. He’s not my real teacher, she thought, just an assistant, so it’s okay if we like each other… She tried to convince herself, but she really didn’t care either way. She was going to graduate in a couple months anyway.
"Hi Grant. Sorry I’m late; my sister has trouble getting up at what she calls the crack of dawn, which is nine a.m. to the rest of us. Are you mad?" She knew he wasn’t, she just wanted to hear him say it.
"Are you kidding? I could never be mad at you. Just look at that smile." He jokingly pinched her cheek, and Claire’s heart started pounding with excitement. Since when did just a few sweet words from him make me melt? She wondered.
The first day she had met Grant, they had hit it off. He was nervous – first day as assistant teacher at a blind school had to be stressful – and Claire had told him not to worry. She had joked that even if he did do something wrong, no one would see it anyway. And he laughed, hard. Most people she made those kinds of jokes to just gave a sympathetic sigh, or didn’t respond at all. It made them feel uncomfortable, it made them feel pity. Not Grant, though. He had always treated her and everyone else there just as he would treat anyone else. Claire was pretty sure all of the other girls in her class had crushes on him too, but this was different, because she considered Grant a close friend. He had even taken her home a few times and hung around for hours, just making conversation and listening to music. A couple times he had held her hand when they walked, and Catherine said that he looked at Claire like he wanted much more than just friendship.
So Claire had decided to finally tell him how she felt, and ask him out on a real date. After class, Claire asked Grant if he could drive her home and, of course, he agreed. When he stopped the car in front of her house, Claire didn’t move to get out.
"Grant, I –." Claire stopped herself, she had almost said "I think you’re cute," when she realized that as far as he knew she had never seen his face.
"Claire? What is it?"
"I, um…nevermind." She couldn’t go through with it.
Claire suddenly realized that she couldn’t tell him, couldn’t have a relationship with him – or anyone else. She had a secret, a huge secret. What kind of relationship could she have with anyone if she had to lie to him on a regular basis? She couldn’t do that, especially not to Grant – she cared too much about him.
"Thanks for the ride," she said, but as she moved to go, he stopped her.
"Claire, I like you… well, obviously I like you, but, I mean…I really like you, Claire."
She froze. She hadn’t been expecting this.
"I’ve never felt this way," he continued, "and I was wondering if maybe…maybe you feel it too."
As much as she wanted to turn and just grab him and kiss him and tell him how she felt, she simply replied "I really have to go, Grant," and walked quickly to her door, stumbling as she hurried to feel her way there.
She waited until she heard him drive away, and began to sob uncontrollably. Catherine rushed to her side, asking what the matter was.
"It’s Grant, he likes me," Claire told her. Catherine was baffled.
"Well, that’s great! Isn’t it? Why are you crying?"
"Because," Claire responded, "I can’t be with him, or anyone. No one will ever understand."
"Is this because…because you’re a wolf? Claire, just don’t tell him."
"I can’t lie to him Catherine. I could never be with someone and keep that from them, certainly not Grant. I want to tell him everything, but this…he would hate me, he would think I was evil, and maybe I am…he’s too good for me."
"What are you talking about, Claire?" Catherine replied. "You’re not evil, why would you say that? And he’s certainly not too good for you, you’re the best person I know – you have such a good heart. Why would you think otherwise?"
"Because it’s wrong, what I do," Claire responded. "Becoming a wolf, hunting and killing, spying, lying to everyone. I’m not a good person. He would never love me if he knew."
"Dad loved mom," Catherine shot back.
"Mom was…mom," Claire said, "and dad is a much more open and understanding person than most. Besides, he loved her before she told him. She managed to hide it for years, I couldn’t do that. It’s alright Catherine, you don’t have to console me. I’m going to be alone – that’s just how it is." With that, Claire went in her room and locked the door, fresh tears soaking her pillow as she lay in her bed, dreaming of a love that couldn’t be and for the first time wishing she hadn’t been able to see what she was missing.
Later that night, Claire started to feel bad about how she had responded – or really, not responded at all – to Grant’s revelation, so she decided to go and see how he was doing – from afar, that is. At around 11 p.m. she changed into the wolf and set out around the lake toward Grant’s cabin. As she got deeper into the woods, Claire thought she heard voices coming from deep within the trees. She looked closer and saw headlight beams from an area just off of a secluded hiking trail, and she decided to investigate.
The wolf smelled fear. As she neared the darkened clearing, a muffled din of voices reached her alert ears. She crept through the trees and tried to make sense of what she was seeing. There was a car parked there, the headlights no longer beaming. Inside, two figures appeared to be having an argument. From where she hid among the shadows, Claire could make out one of the faces clearly – it was father Boyd, the priest from her church.
She had only ever seen the man once, on a daring prowl through town near the church one night, but Claire never forgot a face – she had only seen a precious few, after all.
She saw Father Boyd put his hand on the other person’s face and stroke their cheek, then lean in as if to kiss them.
As Claire the wolf mulled over why her priest seemed to be partaking in some sort of illicit sexual affair in the middle of the woods, the car door burst open and now she could make out the face of the other figure.
It was a young boy, about thirteen years old. He had fair skin and pale blond hair that hung over his young eyes, and he was dressed in the white gown of an alter boy.
Claire was horrified. Had Father Boyd just tried to kiss that young boy? She couldn’t believe what she was seeing.
When the door opened, the young boy was scrambling to get away from Father Boyd.
"David, come back here! Wait," Father Boyd cried after the boy.
Claire didn’t know what to do; she wasn’t sure what was happening. Well, actually, she had an idea but was too disgusted to take any kind of action.
The boy, David, tripped over a fallen branch, and Father Boyd caught up to him, grabbing his small arm fiercely. "Now David, just let me take you home, and we can just forget this ever happened."
"No! Let me go, I’m telling my father what you tried to do and he’s gonna kick your ass!," David screamed back, all the while trying to free himself of the priest’s tight grip.
Father Boyd looked furious. Claire wanted to do something, wanted to help David escape, but she was frozen with fear at the scene playing out before her. The man reached down, then. She couldn’t see what he was reaching for. Suddenly, he hit David over the head with a sharp rock, and blood splattered on the priest’s white collar. David slumped to the ground, and Father Boyd hit him again – a final, killing blow. Then he threw the murdering stone hard, and far – Claire’s heightened wolf hearing heard the distant splash as it landed in the lake.
Claire was in shock, but the wolf inside was fuming. All of the sudden, Claire had lost control and she – the wolf – was barreling toward Father Boyd, who was no busy trying to conceal the body. He saw the wolf coming and leaped to his feet in terror. The priest started to run back toward his car, and as she gave chase the wolf could smell the little alter boy’s blood all over the fleeing man of God. As the man ran, she saw him stumble and drop something, giving it a second glance but continuing to run for his life. As he reached for the door of his car, the wolf latched onto his forearm with her teeth. Father Boyd cried out in pain, and Claire bit harder.
How could he do that? She thought angrily. How could anyone do something so cruel, so…evil?
It took every bit of Claire’s will power to open her jaw and let the man go, but she knew she had to – Claire was not like him, she wasn’t a killer. She turned and darted home to tell her sister of the disturbing, awful event she had just witnessed.
"So let me get this straight," Catherine said, unable to process what she had just heard, "Father Boyd, our priest, who we’ve known pretty much all our lives, just murdered a boy after trying to molest him? That’s…that’s just…Claire, are you sure you saw right? Are you certain it was Father Boyd?"
"I’m sure. I’ve seen him before, Catherine, I know his face. And he was wearing his collar."
"God Claire, what are you gonna do? You have to call the cops, tell them what you saw."
"Sure," Claire replied, "I’ll tell them that I saw Father Boyd kill an alter boy, and then I’ll go down to the police station with my walking stick and ask if I can file my report in Braille."
"Right," Catherine muttered. "Sometimes it’s just so easy to forget you’re blind, Claire. I’m sorry."
"It’s alright Catherine, but what can I do? He can’t get away with this, it’s just…wrong. But no one will ever suspect him…God, I just wish I had never seen it!" Claire said, she was crying again now. "It was horrible, Catherine. I hate that I saw it, that I can still see it in my head!," Claire yelled, "and I hate mom for passing this damn curse onto me!"
At that, Catherine slapped Claire hard across the face. "Don’t say that, Claire," Catherine shouted at her sister, "don’t ever talk about mom that way! You think being the wolf is a curse? Claire, it lets you see! It brings you out of the darkness and lets you see light, lets you see me, and dad. And you know, at least mom left you with something to remember her by. You’re connected to her in a way that…well, to be honest, sometimes I wish she had left it to me too, that she’d left me anything – "
You got to see her face," Claire interrupted. "You got to see her face when she smiled at you or kissed you goodnight, you have those memories, and you can see her in your head whenever you want. I’d rather have seen her face, even just once, than be able to see anything ever again as the wolf."
With that, Claire stormed into her room, crying for the awful image that would stay with her forever, and for the one image that was never there at all.