By Jennifer Hickey
“I’ll be back by eight!” I called over my shoulder as I opened the door, but my words fell on deaf ears. Mom was still fussing over Jude’s return; dad and Charity were no better. The only one who wasn’t completely obsessed with my brother was Baby James. As the door swung shut behind me I started jogging away from the house.
I ran out of my neighborhood, my backpack bouncing against my back. My feet pounded on the ground as I made my first stop of the night at Maryanne Duke’s, I wasn’t entirely sure why I was here, I knew that Daniel was waiting for me elsewhere, but I was sick of not being able to do anything. I jimmied the lock and made my way into Daniel’s apartment.
On the table beside his bed was a sketch pad, I scooped it up, along with an assortment of paint and threw them in my bag. I left quickly, breaking into a sprint again. I curved around the neighborhood and ran into the woods that surrounded the area, avoiding the area near my house. Daniel was waiting for me somewhere out here.
After running for several miles I slowed my pace to a halt and closed my eyes. Daniel. I chanted his name in my head, clearing my mind of anything else. I turned my head to the left and caught a miniscule whiff of almonds mixed with dirt and the barest hint of varnish. My eyes shot open and I took off running in that direction, constantly sniffing and searching the air for Daniel’s scent, I ended up running straight through his path and had to skid to an abrupt stop and make a sharp right.
As I ran I could hear Daniel ahead of me, with a smile I let out a long howl, cutting off with a laugh as he answered me with his own deep rumble. I desperately craved the need to run faster, my legs ached with a need for power but I drowned out the thoughts with images of Daniel. I heard his footsteps stop and I rushed through the last line of trees into a clearing where my white wolf was waiting for me. Daniel licked at my face eagerly; I smiled and reached up my hands, hugging his massive head in my arms.
“Has Gabriel found out anything?” I asked softly after Daniel’s initial excitement wore off. He whimpered and lay on the ground. He had been trapped in his wolf body for over two weeks and with dad lurking over Jude’s shoulder, the only one helping us was Gabriel who was nearly impossible to get ahold of. “It’ll be okay Daniel. It has to be.” I smiled and sat down beside him.
I leaned against his furry body and we sat in silence for several minutes before he nudged my backpack. Remembering my idea I felt a blush creeping up my neck. “I had an idea. And I know it’s going to sound a little stupid but I think you can do it.” I fumbled with the zipper on my bag, taking a deep breath before I took out the sketch pad and paint. At first Daniel looked a little angry and I knew why, he was a wolf, this was going to be impossible.
“Calm down, but imagine what this could do for your Trenton application. Seeing things through your eyes, no one else could ever do that,” Daniel let out a rough breath and turned his head away. I sighed and looked away at the fading sun just past the trees, a few minutes later Daniel nosed into his paints, smearing long streaks of brown and green across the paper. It was impossible not to watch him at work; even now his mud-pie eyes were glowing with a passion for his work.
Daniel was intently focused on his work, frustrated by his wolf handicaps. But as he continued I saw his picture come to life. He painted the forest around him at high speed; I could almost feel the wind rushing past my hair, the ground flying under my feet. Even as a wolf he was still making art at a higher quality than I could even dream of accomplishing. As he sat back I continued to admire his work. I gave him a smile of approval, his face was covered in paint, but the look in his eyes was loud and clear, thank you, I love you.