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Nice and Blue, Pt. II

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As Candie walked up the steps, her heart was full of hope, but as she stared into her parents' eyes,the hope trickled away. Seemingly abhorred by the rusty tail that dangled beside her, the love and adoration in their eyes was quickly replaced with fear and loathing. Her head went fuzzy as it recalled a long-lost memory.

I was fourteen years old, freshly bitten and lonely. The moon shone blue in through my bedroom window. Its waxing was coming to a close. I woke up trembling. The room was spinning, wobbling. Nausea teased my stomach. Soon after, pain began to creep down my spine and into my limbs. Red dots filled my vision. Within an instant, I was on the floor, crouched low, gasping for breath. And I saw my parents' eyes, full of pure, icy fear. And I saw a forest grow in the city.

They made terribly nostalgic screams and shut the door in her face. Her throat tight and painful, she blinked out a tear. It ran stickily down her face like honey, leaving her vulnerable to the victimizing chill of fall.

She turned, kicking a clump of damp, rotting leaves off the stairs. She realized that she shouldn't have been so stupid, to try and get her family to take her back, when they had ignored and rejected her. When she had ran away, because her house was no longer her home. The city was her home, with its rich culture and muted colors splashed with grey.

The clump of leaves fell and broke into two moldy, brown halves, and Candie stepped back into the outside world, her tail lashing angrily back and forth.

~

She gazed into the starry sky that night, directly at the moon, bathed in its cold, but comforting light. And then the signature wave of burgundy heat washed over her again. She loped away, a rose petal in a sea of stones.

The following morning, while sitting in an obscure but welcoming coffee house, Kyle walked in. He sat down quietly.

"I went to my parents' yesterday," she said. Her face was blank but her eyes were those of a dog, beaten and left to die.

Kyle nodded, he looked as though he understood what had happened.

"Tough time with that?" he asked, pointing to the tail, which was curled around her in her chair, occasionally twitching.

"Of course," she looked troubled, "It didn't go away last night." She paused and toyed with a pink sugar packet.

"Sometimes things are funny like that," he said, and went to the counter, leaving Candie alone.

He returned with two old, off-white mugs. He placed one of them in front of her.

"Hope espresso is fine."

She nodded, ripping open the pink packet. She poured its contents in. She took a sip, and burned her tongue.

"I mean, I just thought they would be different this time. That they would take me back. I thought people could change."

Kyle nodded and downed all his coffee in seconds. Candie sipped at the coffee shyly, staring out the window at the traffic. She pushed the mug towards Kyle.

"Want the rest?" she asked, and stood up. Feeling uneasy, she walked away. She felt bad for leaving Kyle.

Faintly, from behind her, she heard, "I don't take sugar."

~

Candie spent the rest of the morning looking for a safe place to stay. By the sun was directly above her, she had settled down under a tree in the park.

A leaf fell on her leg, yellow and dying, and she put it in her bag. Her hand almost jumped as it brushed against something small and cold. She gently pulled it out of the tangled mess of plastic, it was her house key.

Sighing, she tossed the key nonchalantly behind her, satisfied at the delicate crunch it made landing in the leaves.

She got up and walked away, glancing back briefly, just in time to see the key, before it was covered by a passing leaf.

~

The lights Candie saw were a pleasant jumble of the chilled lunar light and the securing yellow glow of streetlights. They stood confidently, long, dark shadows next to them as if the concrete was a mirror.

She was a beast, an atrocious animal, cursed to wander the streets. She could never remember what possibly terrible things she did, and that terrified her.

"How many people have seen me?" she would wonder.

"How many times have I been the last thing they would ever see?"

She wandered, her pulse setting a tempo for monstrously large claws, clacking in the urban forest. Her chest heaved, tiny black whiskers twitched, as she jumped what appeared to be in her eyes, a stream.

~

Morning came, and so did the startling confusion. Her memory was like a cloudy dream, and recalling was hard, that is, until you saw something that triggered the memories, and they would unfold like a spring leaf.

She rolled over, blinking at the orange rising sun. She was in the alley most familiar to her. The one she called "home." Her belongings were in a crevice a few yards away, sandwiched between brick and steel.

As she got up, crawling in the shadows, eyes accustomed to the dark, she saw a splash of pink. Confused, she reached her hand out and picked up the grimy, slobbery key.

The memories then slithered out of her mind, first smells; musky fur, rotten meat, sewage, and dust. Then came sights; tall buildings, raccoons, streetlights, people. The people didn't seem to know she was there, lurking behind them like a bad experience.

As she pulled on her torn jeans and button-up black blouse, she played back more memories, they were like a movie in her head. There were not only smells and sights, but feelings, both physical and emotional. She remembered the rough concrete under her paws, and the feeling she got seeing the humans. It felt like rage. She feared for her self-control.

Her thoughts were stopped abruptly when she heard a shout, equivalent to her ears as nails on a chalkboard. The tone indicated a need for help. Her body felt frozen, but she forced herself to run. Anything could happen in a city before dawn.

She followed the noise, heart thumping, alarmed and alert. She flung herself at a chain-link fence, rusted and bent, but still able to contain the wild secrets the city hid. She hid the stone heavily, feeling the shock settle into her bones, an aching, useless pain to have. She turned a corner, though the sun was now golden, set on the horizon like a jewel, and blinding her, she knew what she saw.

She felt a snarl rumble deep in her core. Now she could hear all the sounds, from the birds twittering in the distance, to the rapid heartbeat of perhaps her only friend, to the violent, urgent breathing of the two men that stood before him.

They all saw her, the two men utterly terrified, while Kyle almost looked glad to see her, an ochre, lupine brute.

Candie remembered almost nothing after that. Occasionally, there was a thin strand of a scream, a drop of crimson blood on her tongue, or a prickle of blue fear that crawled in her chest. Red and blue, red and blue.

~

She walked down the weathered cement road. Kyle was safe, she had walked back to the site of the attack after she had shifted back. His signature was on the cold sidewalk, a yellow leaf, a "K" lettered intricately in ink. She had picked it up and stashed it in her bag, planning on returning it to him later. Kyle kept a sketchbook where he kept all his work, foliage or not.

~

The doorstep was damp when she finally reached their house. She took out her key, but before she could leave, she noticed the daily newspaper. Local Teen Saved By So-Called "Werewolf."

She picked it up, and looked at the monotonous, blurry picture smacked on the front. It looked beastly, like something out of a horror movie. But it was her nonetheless. She read the first few sentences:

"Early this morning, a local teenager was saved by muggers by what appeared to be a werewolf. "Scared the hell outta me," says one of the attackers. "Came up to me, and next thing I know, I'm on the ground, begging for mercy." The boy says he knows nothing about this mysterious beast, he has never seen it before in his life. The two men are being charged for attempted battery and burglary. It turns out, it is not the size and strength of the beast that counts, but its intentions. Continued on page 3."

"What would Kyle have had then that those men wanted?" Candie wondered. Kyle never had much except his sketchbook and cash. It was never more than $50.

She took out her key, which was sitting in her pocket. She folded a note and placed it as well as the key on the doormat. 'Forget all about me,' it read.

She was about to step off the porch, when she saw a package, cleverly tucked in a niche. It was wrapped in vibrant violet paper. She looked at the gold name tag tied on with string. It read 'Candie' in familiar penmanship. She opened it and gasped. Inside was a bracelet, gold and covered in rubies and sapphires. Red and blue, red and blue.

The note inside read:

Candie, I knew you were going to be at your parents. I saw it in your eyes when you saved me. The whole reason I was in that jumble was because of this bracelet. I got it for you. I don't have much to give, but I'd like to give this to you, you can never quite give enough appreciation to my best, my only, friend.'



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