There's a wolf in my skin.
Well, under it, really, if we're being exact.
I feel it pacing night after night, its patience worn thin. I feel the way it craves warm touch, the way it wants to burrow deep. I feel the way it lunges each time the door is left open, its longing to run a bittersweet pull.
I can even smell the musk of it every time I brush my hair; the dark, burnished chocolate softer than fur but still bristling at the hint of danger.
Well, at least it does now.
I'm not sure how it got there, if I'm being honest.
If I'm being honest, I'm sure it has always been there.
I remember the first time I realized there was something more to me.
The tree didn't look that tall from the ground. They never do, though, do they? Not when you're 11-years-old. When you're 11-years-old, every fence can be scaled, every hill can be ridden, and every tree can be conquered.
So, I climbed.
Leaning in, my hands griped the rough bark as my shoes found footholds I couldn't see. Sam cheered me on, her voice drowning out the jeering group of boys because that's what best friends do for each other when there is a dare on the table.
"Ava, you got this! Don't slow down!" I figured if she was encouraging me, then how could what I was doing be dangerous. Sam is the cautious one. The one who looks both ways and then waits a minute before crossing the street. Sam would never steer me wrong.
And she didn't. Even if she'll tell you otherwise.
No, it wasn't Sam's fault the branch broke, and I fell 20 feet. It wasn't Sam's fault I broke my leg in two places and knocked myself unconscious.
No, it wasn't Sam's fault, no matter what she might tell you.
If anyone is responsible for what happened, it's me.
The fault was mine.
It was all mine.
The growl in my head startled me.