She had played out this scenario a hundred times in her head. She would lie in her bed at night and stare at the ceiling with the glowing stars her father had attached when she was 8, and think about what would happen if people found out. Sometimes these thoughts followed her into her dreams.
She was at school, in the garden or at home. Sometimes she was changing, sometimes she was already changed. But always, always people were screaming. “Who are you? What are you?” They would look at her and turn away in fear, in disgust, shame. Her mother. Her father. Her friends who weren’t really even friends anymore.
She would wake up, covered in sweat, and remember that no one knew, no one had found out. Yet.
In her new room there were no glowing stars at the ceiling, just an ugly crack that ran from the wall behind her past the ceiling lamp. Some nights she could see it better, when the moon was approaching that dreaded bright circle.
Tonight, it stood out clearly. She could hear her brother’s calm breathing in the other bed as she finally slipped out from under the covers and got dressed. She was lacing her boots when the shape in the other bed moved. “Sissy?” the sleepy voice of her brother sounded over.
“I just have to go pee”, she said. “Go back to sleep.”
But instead of snuggling back into his blanket, he sat up and switched the lamp on the nightstand on. She squinted at the bright light.
“You’re wearing your boots”, he observed.
She sighed internally. Now what?
But she didn’t even get a chance to say something. “You always leave when there’s a full moon. And you don’t come back for hours, I’ve checked.” He pointed to the alarm clock on the nightstand with its glowing hands. She cursed the days she had taught him to read it.
He cocked his head, his chewed plush bunny in one arm. “Are you a werewolf?”
Of course not. Don’t be ridiculous. Go back to sleep, Toby.
But there was a sudden lump in her throat that didn’t allow her to speak.
“It would be okay if you would be. Mitchell’s a vampire, and he’s okay, I guess.”
She just nodded. And then she was crying, with loud sobs and big tears that rolled down her cheeks and dripped on her half-tied boots.
He padded over to her with bare feet on the cold floor, and sat down next to her on the bed. He hugged her, and this was wrong, it wasn’t supposed to be this way. She was supposed to be the one to take care of him, to protect him and dry his tears.
“It’s okay”, he said quietly and patted her back awkwardly with his little hand. “I still love you.”
She sniffed and wiped the sleeve of her shirt over her wet face. “Don’t tell Mum and Dad.”
“Scout’s honour”, he said seriously and made the sign.
She laughed through her tears. “Wrong hand.”