We Told Six Lies(11)


This was your kingdom, not mine.

A fire lit the forest clearing, and people from our school swayed to music that blasted from truck speakers. Joints passed hand to hand, and warm beer poured down eager throats.

I held a drained beer in my own hand. Wanted to get another to obliterate the sensation that I didn’t belong here. But you’d invited me. Said you wanted to see me there, so damn it all, I had come.

Why couldn’t we have come together, I wanted to know. But you’d touched my nose, like there was a hidden button there, and said to find you.

You were talking to a dude I didn’t know.

I wanted to dismember him.

Another guy walked by then. He had a girl on his arm, and his hood was pulled up over his head, though it was unseasonably warm for late fall.

“Hey, man,” he said. “You good?”

He nodded toward my beer can, his shaggy, reddish-blond hair flopping over his freckled forehead, and I shook it to show it was empty. I was grateful someone was speaking to me. The tension in my chest incinerated, and I felt myself smiling at this guy even though I had rules against smiling.

“You want another?” he asked.

“Yeah,” I said, too quickly. “Do you know—?”

“Better go get one, then,” he said, and laughed.

The girl laughed, too, and the twosome sauntered off toward the fire. He was just messing around. He might have said the same thing to his friends, but it felt personal. I made things personal. If I could acquire one secret power, it wouldn’t be to fly or turn invisible or tell the future. It would be an impenetrable shield that protected me from anything feeling personal.

You need thicker skin, dude, someone had said to me once. Don’t be so damn sensitive.

But my skin was made of paper. Maybe that’s why I had to compensate with muscle.

I’m too quiet?

Get bigger.

I’m too weird?

Get bigger.

I’m fucking Frankenstein?

Get bigger.

I thought about turning to go. Maybe I already was heading toward my dad’s car. I can’t remember. What I do remember is my name on your tongue.

You walked toward me with a smile.

You were drunk, a little. I liked it, a lot, but it also made me want to catch up, like your mind was in an alternate state and I didn’t want your head and mine to be in different places.

“You made it.” You grabbed my hand, squeezed, and then released. “Come on. Let’s get another drink.”

I started to walk after you and then froze when I saw the dude who’d laughed at me standing at the cooler. You noticed I’d stopped, but I wished you hadn’t. It made me feel weak that you noticed.

“What’s wrong?” you asked.

It felt odd that you had to ask that as music swept between the dancing bodies and people laughed and kissed and slipped their hands beneath skirts and under shirts. Everyone was happy, and yet you had to ask me, What’s wrong?

“Nothing,” I said. “Thought I forgot something in the car.”

Your eyes darted toward the dude. And the guy lifted his beer and shook it at me. Why couldn’t I just laugh? Get in on the joke?

Because I was the joke, that’s why. People knew when they were in on the joke and when they weren’t.

Your face changed then—a flash of something undeniably dark.

Your mind spun in that brain of yours. I could see it happening, and it was as beautiful as it was terrifying.

“Listen to me,” you said. “You want friends?”

I bit down. Shook my head. “I just want people to leave me the hell alone, Molly.” Pause, pause. “I don’t want to fucking be here.”

“Well, too late,” you said. Your eyes ran over my shoulders, my chest, my abdomen. “You want to be seen. Just look at you. You’re literally growing so that you can’t be ignored. So put an end to the invisibility. Right now.”

I licked my lips, felt my stomach clench with excitement and dread. “How?”

“You want to know the fastest way to make a friend?” you asked.

I searched your face for the answer.

“Make an enemy.”

My brow furrowed in confusion.

You leaned in closer, your breasts brushing my chest. “No one feels more vulnerable, or more upset, than when they’re a target. So target someone.”

“I don’t get it,” I said. “How will targeting someone make them a friend?”

You dropped your head to one side, smiling. Your lips were so close, more intoxicating than the beer charting a course to my brain. “You don’t target the person you want to befriend, my wolf. You target the enemy of the person you want to befriend.”

I found myself smiling, too. “There is something really wrong in your head.”

But I was already searching the crowd, looking for an opportunity. Wondering if it could be so easy.

“You like my head,” you said, but I noted the uncertainty beneath the confidence. So I grabbed your face like you did mine that first day, and I brought my lips down, down, and for a moment your head fell back and your mouth parted and pleasure relaxed every last muscle in your face. Our lips touched, and in an instant, I remembered why I came here. But then you stepped back, abandoning our kiss, remembering yourself. Remembering something you kept hidden, even from me.

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