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One Year Anniversary

by Aaron Urbank

This is my first posting to TSA-TALK (for Phaedrus' contest, category 1)...funny how a little "contest" can get procrastinators like me to get up off their a.. well, anyway. Here goes...

One Year Anniversary
by Aaron Urbank

One year.

It didn't seem very long at all for most people, or even that important to them, but to us, it was a great milestone in our marriage. Sarah and I had been married for one year now. Twelve months of true joy and love... and a hint of deception. I wasn't having an affair or anything like that. No, no, nothing like that! I loved Sarah with all my heart and soul, and I truly believe that she loved me. It was... the little things. The little quirks of my personality that I had kept hidden for all this time. Why? Well, I suppose I wanted to wait until I was _sure_ that she loved me, and that she would understand. Yeah, I know, it sounds dumb, being that we're married and all, and especially since I just said that we had so many months of true romance, but, I don't know... I've always been a trifle paranoid. Even more so with personal issues like this. But I had made up my mind. Tonight, when we had the "romantic candlelight dinner" that all married couples have on their one year anniversary, I would bare my soul to her. I felt that she would understand. She had to... I loved her, and she had to love me. ... Tonight she would know everything.

Why did I decide to wait until tonight? I was nearly a nervous wreck at work. My coworkers jokingly attributed it to my nervousness over the anniversary. Well, they partially were right. But they didn't know the half of it. Then again, I found out, neither did I...

I got home as early as I could that night, but even anniversaries don't negate the fact that there is still a lot of work to do at the office on Mondays. Consequently, I pulled into the driveway close to nine o'clock that night. I steeled myself psychologically as I turned off the engine. Forget my plans. Forget dinner. I had to tell her now, right now, as soon as I got through the door.

I opened the door and there she was waiting to greet me, as stunning as ever, even in her "around-the-house" clothes. She was simply beautiful, and without expensive makeup or dresses. She was just naturally lovely, and the love of my life. I tossed my briefcase down on the floor and gave her the best kiss I could manage under my stressed circumstances. After a long moment, I stepped back with a strained smile.

"Happy anniversary, Steve," she said with a large, genuine smile.

I lost my train of thought for a moment, almost forgetting what the true significance of this day was. Quickly though, I regained my composure.

"Honey," I began with a more serious look on my face, "I believe I have something
to tell you." She almost started to say something, but I cut her off. "No, I have to say this while I still have the nerve to." I ran through about four possible ways to lead into this in my mind. They all stunk, so I just started talking without too much thought to my words.

"Sarah, I know that we told each other from the  beginning that we would have no secrets between us. That it could only lead to trouble... and I admit now that I have been keeping one secret from you." I expected her to say something, but she obviously knew that this was as hard for me to do as it looked. "I have always been faithful to you, Sarah. This isn't about an affair or anything drastic like that," I reassured her. "Sarah... I'm sure that you've noticed when I occasionally get out of bed in the middle of the night. But, I don't think you realize where exactly I go."

I felt my nerve failing me. This seemed so dumb. Why did she need to know? It could just be my personal fantasy and nothing else. I didn't have to go through this. But now, she was expecting me to finish. I had passed beyond the point of turning back.

"Sarah, we bought this house so we could have more room than an apartment. So we could be a little 'out-of-the-way'. But, I also wanted this house because of what is just outside those back doors. The woods out back. That's where I go on those dark nights." OK, I'd gotten going with my little confession. I couldn't stop now.

"I go out there just long enough to dream of other possibilities. You see, I have this desire, a deep one, to... to be a wolf. At least sometimes. I feel like that's where I belong. It's almost as if nature is calling me to change my life. To end this human one, and begin anew. But I thought all of that would change when I met you. I love you with all my heart, but these 'desires' only seem to have intensified. Maybe it's how close we are to the woods, maybe it's..."

She cut me off by raising one finger in front of her lips. "Steve," she spoke softly to me, "let's go to your woods. If that is what this is about, let's go there to talk about it. Perhaps we can discuss it more comfortably there. I believe I understand, in a way. Come on, let's go out back."

We walked out the back door and started to walk silently towards the dark, towering trees that comprised the border of the forest. This certainly wasn't the response I was expecting, but I preferred it completely over what I had been fearing all day.

"Steve," she began again. We both stopped, not five feet from the first tree, marking the edge of the wooded area. The moonlight was shining on both of us, heightening the intimacy of the conversation. "Steve, I also, haven't been completely honest with you. You see, I know about your walks at night. You see, I followed you on every single occasion. I saw your sorrow every night you crept back here to follow your dreams, and I have to say that, I was shocked. It wasn't about your desire to be a wolf. It was that... I have that power that you long for so much, to become a wolf, yet, I think of it as a curse, instead of a blessing. Those same calls that you heed subconsciencly from these woods, echo through my mind, compelling me to join them. I feel that one day, I will be powerless to resist them, the last ounce of will drained from my body, and I will resort to being merely an animal. No longer will I be a part of the human world. And most sadly..." A tear fell down her face as she blinked her eyes a few times to regain her composure. "Most sadly, not a part of your world either, Steve," she finished.

I gripped her in the firmest and most heart-felt hug we had ever shared. Her tears began to run in streams, and she started to sob openly. I found myself joining her in her misery. This wasn't the anniversary I had expected.

Sarah and Steve stood basked in moonlight, head on each other's shoulders, not knowing just what to do next. Some sort of bird, or other animal passed overhead, making a quick silhouette over the huge, round moon. Sarah stepped back from Steve, with the ends of her mouth turned up into a crooked smile. A few small, shaky laughs escaped her throat as she came up with an idea to turn the tables on fate.

"What is it?" Steve asked his wife.

She merely took another step back and whispered, "You'll see." She quickly stepped out of her clothes and smiled at him. Steve merely watched her in confusion. He didn't think that making love in the woods was too appropriate after the emotional episode which they had both just shared.

Sarah closed her eyes. Steve watched, still wrapped in a harsh sheet of confusion, before he realized what was happening. Ominous clouds abruptly passed over the moon, but through the few beams of moonlight, Steve saw Sarah's posture hunch over until she was standing on all four of her limbs. Her arms had reshaped themselves into more appropriate limbs, and her legs were diminishing from their earlier, shapelier curves to the gaunt, rigid arches of a wolf. Her face extended forward as her tail extended back. Grayish-silver fur steadily pushed it's way out from all areas of Sarah's skin. Her head reshaped itself into a more canine appearance with here ears streaking to the top of her head, and growing pointed. By then her hands and feet were nothing more than small paws, with thick pads on the bottom, rimmed by claws that looked capable of slicing a man in two. Her entire body rigidly snapped into it's new structure. Large, sharp teeth broke past the gums to accent the finish of the metamorphosis.

 Sarah opened her now lupine eyes, and saw her loving husband before her. She felt that she could grant his wish. From what she had tried to learn about her "illness", she reasoned that, a small bite while in her present form should either transfer or otherwise give her lycanthropic "gift" to him. It may pain him for a moment, but he could recover, and it would be the one thing that he had always wanted. It almost made her own curse worthwhile. It may even mean that they could still be together, no matter what happened with the persistent calls from the dark woods. The thought filled Sarah with adrenaline. Finally, an answer had emerged for her! She reared back on her hind legs, and pounced on Steve, aiming for his shoulder, fully intending to apply just enough force to break through the skin, and set her plan into action.

All Steve saw was the wolf that was once Sarah with its jaws wide open, teeth bared in an expression of rage, leaping at him. He mistook the look of rage for the smile of a wolf, for they both looked similarly dangerous, and instinctively tried to leap out of the way. The dim lighting provided by the scant moonbeams confused his eyes, and he dodged in the wrong direction, thinking that the wolf was on the other side of his head. The wolf's jaw snapped shut, not on his shoulder as intended, but on the tender sides of his throat. Steve tried to scream in pain but he couldn't fight past the shock. He tried to jerk away, but this merely made the wound much larger as the wolf's teeth were torn from the tender flesh. Steve fell to the ground, silent now, his mind subdued into a deeper stage of shock. Neither his mind, nor his body could cope with the intense fear that electrified his entire being. Blood was pouring from his neck. The wolf looked at the man on the ground, and a mental scream of anguish filled it's mind as it realized how things had taken a fatal turn for the utmost worst. As Steve lay on the ground, with blood flowing from his body at a hopelessly fast rate, his features slowly reshaped themselves into that of a wolf.

Through the utter shock that Steve was experiencing, none of the incredible changes that were wracking his body even registered. Even though, each second that the change took place, seemed to exchange a part of his humanity with the graceful features of a wolf, the sudden contortions of his body only made the open wound expel even more blood. The blood covered most of his body, matting the newly created fur, and ruining the image of lupine perfection, which Steve had so richly desired. Finally, after only a few agonizing seconds, both the metamorphosis and the bleeding had stopped.

The process was complete, Steve had gotten his wish, but only with enough time to die in that new form. Sarah concentrated, willing herself back to her human form. Tears of sorrow and remorse flooded her face. In her actions, she had killed her only true love. Without Steve, she felt that she had no other course of action. And if her curse was still with her, she could not bear to even be reminded of the horror of this night by once again becoming a wolf. Sarah gathered up her clothes without bothering to put them on. She made her way back to the house, her soul filled with depression, her face deathly pale and expressionless, save for the occasional tear that fell onto the carpet of dead leaves beneath her feet.

She made her way to the bathroom, searching through the medicine cabinet until she found the bottle of pills that she was looking for. After downing the entire contents of the bottle with a cup of water from the bathroom sink, she lay down on the soft, comfortable bed that she had shared with Steve for such a long time.

She closed her tear-filled eyes. "Happy anniversary," she said aloud as she drifted off into atonement for her sin.

The police finally found Sarah's body when Steve failed to show up for work and excited neighbors called in reports of some sort of body down by the woods. They were afraid to go near it. The police detectives weren't sure exactly what to put down in their reports after seeing a wolf with it's neck nearly split open snugly fit into Steve's clothing. The official report was that Sarah had murdered and disposed of Steve's body before taking her own life. The wolf was never officially reported. Yet, there were many people in the town that gossiped about the fact that Steve, an apparent werewolf, was able to marry such a sweet, innocent girl as Sarah. And it all happened in just one year.

One year.

Copyright 1997: Aaron Urbank <aaronu@ktc.com> . If you want to post this anywhere else, please ask the author for permission first.       Thank you

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