I put the lid on and carefully placed it in the trash so it wouldn’t break. My complexion hadn’t worsened, but I’d found the best thing I could do when feeling a little lacking in the confidence department was to put on some war paint. I finished off my brown smoky eyes with some liner and mascara. Happy with the results, I grabbed a chapstick and went back into my room to try to figure out what I needed for class.
My schedule sat on top of the pile of books on my desk. I stared at it for a minute before shoving everything in my backpack. Who knew what I’d need for metaphysics or Were history? Whatever they were. I folded up the schedule and put it in my pocket.
Meredith’s flip-flops clacked on the tile bathroom floor. “Give me five, and we can go down to breakfast together.”
“Okay.” I didn’t want to face the cafeteria alone anyway. People didn’t give you the stink-eye like those girls gave me and then let it go. The last thing I needed was a fight on my first day of school.
I plopped back on my bed. The whole situation was awful. One stupid party. One stupid boy. One stupid kiss. And my life was virtually over.
Disgusted with my own whining, I pulled my schedule back out and tried to focus on what it said. Normal classes were before lunch, and after seemed to be the weird stuff—Were history, metaphysics, and martial arts & yoga.
The more I thought about it the worse my nerves got. A bead of sweat rolled down my face, which was odd. Even during gym class I didn’t sweat that much. Maybe I was still sick.
I took deep breaths, but that made me feel dizzy. My skin crawled. Head between the knees was all I could think to do.
My stomach twisted and my bones ached.
Not this. Not again.
“Okay, Tess. Ready—” Meredith’s voice dropped off as her footsteps quickened on carpet. “Breathe deep for me. Calm. It’s going to be okay. You’re fine. No reason to panic. Just stop fighting the change.”
“I’m not feeling super fantastic.”
“You’re fine. Your body’s just on the verge of deciding whether or not to go furry.”
“That’s crazy. Do you know how that sounds? Completely batshit crazy.”
“I know. It’s gotta be weird for you.”
“If you don’t want to shift, then don’t get too worked up over anything. Deep slow breaths. Food will help. You didn’t eat enough last night.”
“Not enough.” She looked around my room. “Damn it. They should’ve put a mini-fridge in here. Once you get used to eating more, you won’t need it. Until then, I’ll get Mr. Dawson to put one in here for emergencies. You’ll have to rely on the one in the common area until then.”
After a minute of deep breathing, I started to feel okay, and glanced up at her. “Thanks.”
Meredith knelt in front of me, her mouth quirked up at one side. “Any time. I know you don’t trust me yet, but I hope we’ll be friends.”
I shrugged. “I’ll do my best. No promises.”
“Cool.” She grinned. “Rad shirt.”
“You like KMFDM?”
She shook her head. “No idea who they are, but love the screen print—black on electric blue is kind of my thing.”
“I can tell.” She’d complemented her blue streaks with blue eye make-up.
“Feeling good enough to walk to breakfast?”
I stood up slowly, and took a second to make sure I was all right. “You really think food will fix this?”
“It’ll help keep your wolf happy so you’ll be less likely to change.”
That meant absolutely nothing to me, but it didn’t really matter. “Okay. Let’s go eat.” I swung my backpack over my shoulder. I had to start trusting someone here, and Meredith seemed as good an option as any.
We walked outside in silence. A light breeze ruffled the leaves. Birds called to each other. They sounded different than before. Usually I couldn’t tell the difference between birdcalls, but now I could hear distinct pitches and tones. It was more musical. More melodic.
“You better?” Meredith’s voice brought me back to reality.
“Rumor is that you’ll be changing with the next full moon, but you should talk to Mr. Dawson or Dr. Gonzales about it. You seem like you’ve already changed, and—if I’m right—you’re going to need to get some control. You’ll need help.”
I was pretty sure somewhere in the week I’d lost, I probably went full-furry, but I wasn’t trying to repeat that. The whole idea of turning into a wolf freaked me out. It was the last thing I wanted to talk about right then.