The following events took place after the Cullens returned to Forks, just before everything changed, just before everything fell apart…
Nowadays, I feel like I need to explain myself to people. No one seems to understand my furious anger. Even Seth doesn't really identify with me. The wolf pack treats me like an outcast and an annoyance; Jacob Black's thoughts frequently refer to me as a 'harpy'. I feel that I have every right to be vengeful and emotionally damaged. What Sam did to me is inexcusable.
I'm glad that Sam is happy, as reluctant as I am to admit it. I just wish that he could have been that happy with me. I also wish that there had been some sort of warning before he had deserted me. I hadn't expected Sam's imprinting, but it had happened before my very eyes.
I want everyone to know the truth of the events that led up to Sam and Emily's engagement. I want everyone to be aware of what I've been through so that they can understand me better. I hope that whoever reads this will be able to see past the vengeful person that I appear to be on the outside to the emotionally hurting person that I am on the inside.
The scenes here that I wrote from Sam's perspective are entirely accurate – I compiled information from both his journal and his mind, which I am now connected to, since the werewolves have a 'universal mind'. I will identify the narrator before each scene in Bold/Italic.
Please don't judge me. I hope that you'll see me in a new light after this. Here's your chance to learn the truth.
I didn't understand. Sam had agreed to this.
We had both checked our schedules for conflicts; there had been none. I had spoken to him the night before to confirm that we were both on the same page. So why wasn't he here to pick me up? Sam had assured me that he would arrive at my house at 5:00 sharp to take me to the restaurant we had made reservations with. It was going to be the most romantic date ever. He hadn't informed me of a cancellation, so he should be here by now. It was nearly a quarter-after!
I was beginning to grow increasingly agitated as the hour became later. Each passing second increased my frustration. Fury wiggled its way into my mind, twisting my nervous thoughts into angry ones. I was gradually morphing into an emotional wreck! Calming myself, I determined that the most logical reaction would be to call Sam and see what had happened, but at the moment I didn't feel like doing anything even remotely logical. I was much too annoyed to be reasonable with Sam. I would just end up yelling at him and making a fool of myself. No, I decided. I would wait it out and we would talk when he arrived. Then I would be less worried and upset and more capable of avoiding an unnecessary altercation. So I sat down in a comfortable chair to wait.
And I tried. I really did try.
I struggled to distract myself – to think about something else. All I could manage to do was to stare at the clock angrily. This only served to nurture the seeds of rage within me, so I tried to ignore the late hour. I would read, I decided – there was a newspaper on the counter. I reached over and retrieved it without leaving my seat. It was in disarray – Seth had obviously been flipping through it. On the top of the disorganized pile were the comics. Seth had probably been reading those. I decided that I might as well relax and laugh a little; it would ease my anxiety. My eyes scanned the page, uninterested. Come on, I told myself. You have to think about something besides Sam.
So I continued to move my eyes down the page until I found a comic strip with bright colors that looked somewhat appealing. Unfortunately, it involved a teenage girl and boy who were on a date. This reminded me of Sam, which reminded me of my angst, which reminded me of how angry I was with him. All of my attempts at creating distractions were futile, I decided. I would just wait, suffocating under the weight of my misery.
Then I would let Sam have it later.
I rested my head in my hands, defeated. At this rate, I might be asleep when Sam arrived, which might not happen until after several hours had passed. All the stress was making my skin moist with sweat. My heart was beating abnormally fast. It felt as if I had been sitting there for an hour or more. Exasperated, I glanced at the clock. It was 5:22 - still no Sam. To my shock, I discovered that I had only lasted for about seven minutes. I grunted under my breath.
Finally, I submitted to my stress and resorted to my original solution. Leaping up from the chair, I furiously dialed Sam's number – angry – but, at the same time, partially worried. Something was obviously awry; Sam wasn't one to be late – it just wasn't like him.
The phone started to ring. It rang for what felt like an eternity. I was beginning to think that I would get the answering machine. I was about to hang up when someone finally answered.
"Hello?" The voice was distinctly feminine.
"Hi, Mrs. Uley? It's Leah. Is Sam home?" I asked. I was trying to sound as calm, cheerful, and unconcerned as possible, but my voice still had a certain edge to it.
"You want to talk to him?" Mrs. Uley asked. Her voice sounded fatigued and somewhat irritated, as if she had been hoping to be left alone for a while.
I felt more like interrogating Sam than talking to him, but I supposed that talk was an accurate enough description.
"Yeah, could you put him on the phone?" I requested. I kept my reply short, attempting to bury my growing frustration and remain as polite as possible. "He was supposed to be at my house half-an-hour ago and I was wondering what happened."
"Oh… your date! Oh no… he completely forgot!" Mrs. Uley exclaimed. I felt rage rising in my chest. Completely forgot. Just like that – Sam had forgotten about me!
"Forgot? Forgot? What do you mean he forgot?" I hissed angrily. "I need to speak to Sam. I have a few choice words for him." That was putting it mildly. Once Sam answered the phone…
"No, it's not like that. Sam's not feeling well…" Mrs. Uley began. I didn't even allow her to finish.
"How is he?" I asked, interrupting her in mid-sentence. I had suddenly gone from furious to concerned. I was beginning to feel guilty; I shouldn't have doubted Sam. I should have known that he had a rational reason for abruptly altering his plans. Now I felt uncomfortable – almost embarrassed – about being so quick to judge him.
"He caught the virus – or whatever it is – late this afternoon," Mrs. Uley informed me. "I didn't even see it coming. It was really odd – one minute he was fine, the next minute he looked terrible, and I mean terrible. The poor boy says that he's running like a hundred and two."
A hundred and two! My mind whirled.
"Wow…that's a really high fever," I stammered. "That's… like… that really is just terrible."
"Terrible is definitely the right word to describe it. Sam doesn't want any assistance from me at all. I want to help him, but he says that he doesn't want to waste my time. In my opinion, you can't outgrow a need for parental support, but he insists that he'll be alright without me babying him, as he calls it."
In my mind's eye, I could almost see Mrs. Uley cupping her hands into tiny quotations at the words 'babying him'.
"The poor boy," Mrs. Uley continued. "I wish that he would let me help him."
Now I didn't just feel guilty – I felt miserable for Sam. He must have been feeling downright awful; he had even forgotten to call me and cancel our date.
"That really is… just… well… awful," I stuttered. I abruptly realized that Mrs. Uley probably wanted to go console Sam, whether or not he would appreciate it. No wonder she had seemed aggravated when I had called. Sam was obviously faring badly – he needed his mother's support.
"Well, thanks anyway, Mrs. Uley," I continued, trying to end the conversation. "Tell Sam that I hope he feels better soon."
"Sure, Leah – he'll be glad to hear it. It's great to know that you were concerned. He's lucky to have a good girlfriend like you."
A good girlfriend like me. At the moment, I didn't even feel like a decent girlfriend. I'd doubted Sam, judged him, and proceeded to attempt to unleash my wrath over the phone. The whole time, he'd been ailing… and I'd been too selfish and self-focused to consider that as a possibility. Now guilt gripped me like a vice, suffocating me, refusing to relinquish its grip…
"Leah?" Mrs. Uley's voice snapped me back to the moment.
"Sorry… and… uh…thanks, Mrs. Uley. Goodbye."
So that was it – Sam had caught some sort of virus. I supposed we'd have to arrange something for a different day. I might as well have a sandwich or something – I wouldn't be eating out tonight. As disappointed as I was, I knew that Sam was feeling even worse, so I wasn't angry anymore. Even so, I felt pretty let down. I peeked at the clock.
A quarter-to-six. Already!
The day had simply gotten away from me. Since there was nothing else better to do, I decided to just have some dinner and go to bed. I'd call Sam tomorrow and see how he was feeling. He'd be doing better soon, and then we could arrange another date. As for now, I'd best grab some rest; tomorrow was the last day of the weekend and soon I'd be headed back to school.
Once I finally climbed into bed, I began to realize that all the day's stress had made me utterly exhausted. In only a moment, my eyes closed and I finally felt relief from my stress as I drifted off into a peaceful sleep.
ABOUT A WEEK LATER
I simply wanted it to end. I couldn't endure this any longer. I just couldn't take it.
It wasn't so much physical pain that was torturing me. Sure, my whole body was somewhat sore from my continuous shaking, but that wasn't the real problem. It was the mental discomfort that I truly couldn't bear. I didn't know what it was, but it was disorienting and unpleasant. Not physical, headache-like pain – more like a bizarre sensation that made me sweat and tremble. It made we want to scream; I didn't know why, but it did. It felt inhuman, it made my head spin. I was sure that this illness that I had contracted wasn't just a normal flu that would heal on its own. It was some sort of freaky disease that seemed as if it would torture me for eternity. I didn't know why it was so mentally distressing, but the mental spasms were unbearable.
The throbbing wouldn't end – I was sweating and shaking like crazy, even though I was lying in bed on my back in a relaxed position. Of course, I had put on a brave face for my mom. Her usual life continued around me – I refused to monopolize her time. I would be fine; she should go about her business. I saw no reason to drag her into this. She had more important things to do. Although I was in severe pain, it was bound to end soon, and I didn't want to be the sole focus of her attention. I was old enough to take care of myself. Anyway, I was probably going crazy – this kind of pain just wasn't normal. If it passed – which I was desperately hoping it would – then she would never have to know about my unusual symptoms.
Besides the mental spasms, something else was frightening me. There was no way to take my temperature and see if I was improving – my mother's old thermometer had finally broken. When I had attempted to use it, it had said that my temperature was a hundred and ten. That was impossible – I would be dead! The thermometer was obviously out-of-date and malfunctioning.
No need to scare my mom, of course. She'd get all freaked out and waste her time buying another thermometer. So I had pretended that it was working fine. Whenever she had offered to take my temperature for me, I had pretended to be insulted and had said that I could take care of myself and wasn't a baby.
That had been the truth… mostly.
I had over-exaggerated a little bit to make a point. Thank goodness, my mom had believed me – and then I had invented imaginary numbers to tell her when she returned.
I was in endless agony. The pain would end soon, it had to. I couldn't imagine lasting another week like this.
Suddenly, as if in response to my growing stress, the throbbing began to ease. The mental pressure was gradually lessening, in a moment it vanished entirely. I stopped shaking. The sweating ceased. I forced myself into a sitting position. Was it really over? Was I really free? Or would the pain return without warning to torment me even more? I blinked. Was I dreaming? I didn't think so – I felt too awake for that.
I stretched my arms. They were stiff, but the soreness was gone. So far, so good. Maybe I should attempt to stand. No, I thought. Don't push it. Give it a few minutes. So I waited, each moment expecting the discomfort to return.
The late afternoon sun shone through the small window of my bedroom. The sunlight was warm, comforting. I missed the sun – I missed being able to move about the house without violent pain assaulting me. It was time to leave the confines of my room, I decided – I needed to get out of here. After about five minutes of inactivity, I still wasn't aching. I determined that I was ready to stand. Gradually rising from the bed, I stumbled to my feet.
I didn't lose my balance; the mental spasms did not revive themselves. What a relief, I thought. I should probably head downstairs; there was a humongous pile of accumulated homework waiting for me. On second thought, homework could wait. I needed to go see Leah – I owed her an apology. It had been downright stupid of me to forget about our date and I wanted to tell her that I felt awful about it and wanted to arrange something else.
As new energy flowed through my veins, I hurried down the stairs. It was liberating to be able to run – to move, even – without sharp pain shooting through me. I quickly retrieved my car keys and hurried to the door. Suddenly, I heard a voice behind me.
"Sam, what are you doing? I thought that you were too sick to move!"
My mother's tone was irritated. She seemed slightly confused about my abrupt recovery.
I turned to face her. Her eyes glared at me and her mouth was locked in a frown. Her arms were crossed in a disciplinary posture. Shoot, I thought. She would insist that I complete the growing pile of homework.
"I'm feeling better, Mom," I explained, placing my keys on the couch. Hopefully, I would be able to change the subject to my health as opposed to my schoolwork. "The pain is just, well, gone. I feel great!"
My mother's eyes seemed to stare through me, as if they were searching my expression for indicators that I was being only partially truthful about my regained strength.
"Really, I'm doing much better," I continued. "You have no idea how great I feel. It's a real relief to be able to stand without feeling dizzy."
My mom's posture relaxed slightly. Her arms uncrossed, her eyes grew slightly calmer. I took that as a sign that I had successfully distracted from the homework.
"Now that I'm feeling up to it, I need to go and apologize to Leah about missing our date," I said. It was a statement, not a request or a possibility. I was going to visit Leah, and even my mom couldn't stop me. Abruptly, as if reading my mind, my mother's expression became authoritative and firm.
"You're not going anywhere, young man. Have you checked your temperature? And don't you have a week's worth of homework to catch up on?"
As I had expected – parents were always way too strict about homework.
"The homework can wait… I owe Leah an apology!" I yelled. The defiance in my tone surprised me – I hadn't meant to come off too headstrong.
"Homework comes first, son. Can't you talk to Leah after you've finished?" she asked. I opened my mouth to respond, but she continued to speak, interrupting me. "And you still haven't answered my first question – how's your temperature?"
A stifled moan escaped my throat. I quickly stopped and became silent.
"Much better – I'm back to normal," I stated. I assumed that I probably was; I certainly felt normal.
My mother stepped forward to feel my forehead with her palm.
"Son… my gosh! You're burning up!" she shouted. She removed her hand from my forehead, took a couple of steps back, and looked me right in the eyes. "Sam Uley, are you lying to me?" Her voice was a mix of shock, confusion, and disappointment. She stared at me with hurt in her expression, as if she thought that I didn't trust her with the truth and might have other secrets.
"No, no, no!" I shouted, flailing my arms wildly. Now I would have to explain. "The thermometer's broken – I feel normal and I thought that I was normal."
That was true… almost.
The thermometer had been broken all week – but my mom didn't need to know the details. I wanted to justify my actions, not get myself into deeper trouble.
"Really, Mom. I feel fine!" I shouted.
"You rather obviously aren't healthy enough to leave the house, Sam. I need to go out and buy another thermometer…and you need to go back to bed."
"I NEED TO APOLIZE TO LEAH!" I whined angrily. As always, my mother didn't antagonize me. She drew in a deep breath, exhaled slowly, and responded in a relaxed but firm manner.
"Leah will understand, Sam. If you're feeling up to it, you can go and finish your homework."
Again with the stupid homework!
Now I was furious. I was about to respond irately when it hit me that maybe this wasn't such a big deal. Why was I so worked up over it? There was no need to begin a long tirade. I wasn't usually this irascible. My mom was being reasonable – she hadn't said that I couldn't apologize to Leah, only that I needed to finish my homework first. Even so, I found myself becoming more and more defiant. This kind of fury just wasn't characteristic of me, but somehow I couldn't control it. I wanted to do things my way, and no one was going to stop me.
For a moment, there was only awkward silence. I could almost feel the weight of the heavy tension in the air. After taking a short, deep breath, I spoke.
"I'm going to see Leah," I stated in a low, almost inaudible growl. I had to make myself become calm, to control the rage building in my chest.
"Sam Uley, you will do as I say. Go upstairs… now." She wasn't yelling at me, but her voice was slightly louder than before – more assertive.
I couldn't even find the words to say. All of my anger was bubbling up inside of me; I felt as if I was about to explode. The low growl in the back of my throat was rising, growing louder and louder until it became a guttural snarl. I was past reason now. As far as I was concerned, my mother was being unfair, insensitive, unsympathetic, and downright cruel.
The snarl in my throat grew even louder and deeper. I suddenly realized that I was shaking involuntarily. And I was sweating again; my skin felt moist and sticky.
"Sam, are you alright?" My mother sounded concerned.
Her voice seemed distant… irrelevant. All that I could think of was my wild rage. In a furious outburst, I stormed past my mom and to the back door.
"Sam Uley, where are you going?" Somehow, I didn't even care where I was going. Anywhere was better than here.
"Sam Uley, you don't even have your keys!" As if I cared.
I raced outside and the door slammed behind me. I kept running – I had no idea where I was headed. I just ran. I found myself beginning to shake more violently, and suddenly a tremor ripped through me and I fell forwards onto my hands. Several things hit me then.
First of all, my senses had abruptly been enhanced. My eyesight was much keener; I was seeing much farther into the distance now. My sense of smell had also improved – I smelled the trees, the animals, the flowers – and all of those scents were much more potent and noticeable.
Second, I was still running, but at an abnormally rapid speed. My surroundings were little more than indistinct blurs as I tore past. The chilly evening wind rushed past me, but I was not cold. My body seemed unaffected.
Lastly, not only was I running, but I was doing so on all fours. That wasn't normal.
I stopped running and turned to look back. My house was barely visible and was far behind me – how had I come so far so fast? Leafy trees were everywhere; I appeared to be in the heart of a forest. This was very strange; I was beginning to feel a little frightened. I abruptly noticed that I was still standing on all fours; I could feel the hard, rocky ground beneath my hands. This was becoming increasingly bizarre; what was happening to me?
Calm down, I told myself. Everything is going to be alright. Somehow, I couldn't relax. I only paced in repetitive circles. The shaking and sweating had ceased, but I was still terrified and confused as to what was going on. I was angry with my teacher for assigning so much homework and furious with my mother for being overly strict about that fact. I was also worried about Leah and what she must think of me, and my stomach growled at the thought of dinner.
Suddenly, I realized that the sky had darkened. Abruptly, it began to rain – not just a drizzle or a light shower – more like a storm. It had come out of nowhere. Alone and terrified, I decided to just go home. Maybe my mom would know what was wrong with me.
I decided to walk back to the house, not run – at the speed that I was suddenly capable of, I might miss the house entirely. I slowly trudged home, the torrents of rain pouring down upon me. I must look downright pitiful, I thought. I glanced into a puddle to see my reflection.
An enormous, black wolf stared back.
I tried to scream, but all that came out was a distraught howl. I was going insane. What was happening? I turned to run, only to find myself attempting to do so on all fours once again. A second time, I attempted to shout, but to no avail. I heard a miniscule, high-pitched yelp and discovered that it had come from my own throat.
That, that dog in the puddle couldn't be me, I told myself. It was impossible. I couldn't go home as a…as a WOLF.
I looked down at my hands. They weren't hands at all… they were PAWS. I spun around. I had a TAIL… and FUR. My back itched. I reached to scratch it… with my foot? Now I was scratching like a DOG… with my HIND LEG!
I wiggled my ears nervously. Wait a minute, I thought. I was wiggling my ears? I'd never been able to do that. Oh no, I thought. I rubbed my head with my hand… uh, PAW. Sure enough, I had WOLF EARS! I gritted my teeth to keep from howling again. Wait… they weren't just teeth… they were WOLF TEETH, as sharp as swords and as long as needles.
I was officially going insane – I must be hallucinating. I had to be. Maybe I was dreaming. "Wake up… wake up!" I told myself. But I couldn't. I wondered, was there a way to change back, to become a human again? Or would I be a… a WOLF… for the rest of my life?
"Change back, Sam," I repeated over and over again in my head. "Turn back into a human. Change back!" Repeating the phrase only increased my fright. Would I ever be human again?
I stared at the callous, unfeeling sky, a tortured human in the hideous body of a canine monster, unable to even scream. I only howled at the moon, a long, strangled howl of misery and loneliness.
TWO WEEKS LATER
The phone continued to ring. I was practically crushing it in my sweaty hand.
We are not available to answer the phone right now. Please leave a message after the beep.
I groaned at the automated voice.
Finally! Now I could vent my anger! I launched into a wild stream of questions and insults.
"Sam…" I began, "…you have no idea how angry I am. I am FURIOUS with you. Where have you been for the past three weeks? My mom, dad, Seth, and I have been searching in the woods like crazy… I thought that something had happened to you! And I haven't heard from your mother at all, so I don't know what else to think! Two weeks ago, she told me that you were sick… but for THREE WEEKS? SAM, ARE YOU KIDDING ME? How STUPID do you think I am? I mean, COME ON! Why are you avoiding me? What did I do to warrant this? WHY HAVEN'T YOU SPOKEN TO ME? If you're mad at me or something, this is a STUPID, INFANTILE, IDIOTIC way to handle it. GROW UP! Some boyfriend you are! SAM ULEY, you had better call me back… FAST… OR I'LL…"
I heard a clicking noise on the other line.
"Leah?" My cell phone's connection was weak; static made the voice scratchy and fragmented.
"Sam… finally!" I shrieked. At last, I would have revenge! I opened my mouth to speak. "YOU…"
"Leah?"– static – "It's Mrs. Uley."
Mrs. Uley? I bit my tongue.
"Mrs. Uley… sorry," I apologized, flustered and miserably humiliated. "It's not you… I'm sorry… so sorry. I'm just…"
"Angry." – static – "I can tell," Mrs. Uley said. She didn't mean it as an insult; she was simply stating that she understood my fury. "I totally get it, Leah," she continued. "You have every right to be furious with Sam." – static – "I don't know what got into him…" – static – "I'm sorry too."
Sam's mother was sorry? Perhaps all of the static had caused me to misunderstand her. Now I was hopelessly confused.
"I don't get it. What happened – is Sam hurt?" I inquired. I assumed that I was correct because it was the only logical explanation that I could think of. But, even so, I wanted to be sure.
"I don't know if Sam's hurt or not," Mrs. Uley replied.
She didn't know? Sam's own mother didn't know?
"I'm sorry, Mrs. Uley… I just don't understand. What do you mean you don't know?" I stuttered. Mrs. Uley tried to speak, but heavy static made her inaudible. "Sorry… my connection's bad. Could you please repeat yourself?" I asked.
"Sure," she answered. "I haven't seen Sam…" – static – "…for two weeks now. He ran away from home. I meant to…" – static – "…contact you, but I was too busy…" – static – "looking for him. I've been spreading the news…" – static – "…I'm surprised that you haven't heard already. He's just…" – static – "…gone!"
Sam had RUN AWAY? And been gone for TWO WEEKS?
"If Sam told you to tell me this, tell him that I need to speak to him. NOW," I growled from between clenched teeth.
"I'm not lying, Leah. He was sick for about a week…" – static – "…and then he suddenly felt better. I felt his forehead…" – static – "…he was burning up. He wanted to go…" – static – "…and apologize to you anyway."
Apologize? Again, I had doubted Sam unnecessarily.
The static grew worse, interrupting Mrs. Uley after every couple of words. "I told him to go back to bed…" – static – "…and finish his homework," she continued. "He ignored me. Usually he's very…" – static – "…obedient. It was very strange. He was shaking…" – static – "…and sweating…" – heavy static – "…it was bizarre. That's the angriest he's ever been in…" – static – "…well…" – static – "…a while. I'm telling you, it was bizarre!"
That was bizarre. Sam wasn't normally so petulant.
"It was silent for a few seconds," Mrs. Uley explained, "and then he growled and…" – static – "…said that he was going to…" – heavy static – "…visit you anyway. I ordered him to go to his room…" – static – "…immediately, and he ignored me…" – static – "…for the second time. He stared at me for…" – static – "…a few seconds, and then he tore out the back door…" – static – "…like a wild animal. I'm worried sick…" – static – "…he just ran off…" – heavy static – "I haven't seen him since."
Haven't seen him since. Mrs. Uley's closing words reverberated off the weakening walls of my brain.
"That was… two weeks ago?" I stammered.
"Yes, two weeks," she answered. "I'm worried about him…" A wave of heavy static suddenly started, but it stopped after a brief second. "I've looked everywhere!" Mrs. Uley shouted. Her voice was frightened; I'd never heard her sound so terrified. This whole situation seemed wrong to me; this was extremely uncharacteristic of Sam. But Sam's mother had mentioned so many details that I had no doubt she was telling the truth.
I heard a crash on the other line. It startled me and I jumped.
"Mrs. Uley…are you alright? What was that?" I asked.
"It's alright… I'm alright…" More static came, and it became nearly impossible to hear her.
"Stupid phone," I muttered under my breath. The static abruptly stopped, as if in response. Mrs. Uley's voice again became audible.
"The noise came from upstairs; hang on a second," she mumbled. I heard the noise of running feet as she hurried up the staircase in her home, carrying the phone with her. "IT'S SAM!" she shouted. Her ear-piercing shriek burst out of the speakers in my phone, nearly causing me to drop it. "Sorry… I need to go," she explained. "Bye, Leah." I didn't even have the chance to answer her. I heard a click, and then she was gone.
AT THAT SAME MOMENT
What would I tell my mother now? After all, it's not every day that people randomly transform into gigantic black wolves. How would I explain this?
It had been frightening being trapped in the body of a wolf. For two weeks straight, I had been unable to control my emotions, and, as a result, unable to change back. Finally, I had calmed down enough to return to my natural form. Unfortunately, I had discovered something very inconvenient. When I had transformed, my clothes had shredded. As a result, I had been without clothing once I had changed back.
After throwing out the torn scraps of fabric, I had climbed into my bedroom through the window. In my hurry to get dressed, I had accidentally broken one of my drawers. My newly acquired strength had knocked it from its position on the track, causing it to crash to the floor with a bang. In a panic, I had hurriedly gotten dressed. I had heard my mother on the phone downstairs, but I hadn't been sure who was on the other line.
"It's alright… I'm alright. It came from upstairs… hang on a second," she had stammered. She had raced up the staircase and approached my room. I had just barely wiggled into my T-shirt when she had burst through the door. "IT'S SAM!" she had shrieked. "Sorry… I need to go. Bye, Leah." She had turned off the phone and slammed it down on the table beside my doorway.
Leah. My mother had been talking with Leah, I had realized. I had felt no doubt that Leah had been furious with me. I had desperately wanted to speak to her, but I had known that I needed to face my mother's wrath first.
And so here I stood, face-to-face with my mom. At last, I was a human again – an unfortunate, soon-to-be-scolded human, but a human all the same.
"Sam Uley, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN FOR THE PAST TWO WEEKS?"
I had no logical answer to give her. Running around as a wolf? Hallucinating? Losing my mind? Going insane? They all seemed to be true.
"I said, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?"
My mother's arms were crossed. Her expression was enraged and perplexed. She was tapping her foot; counting how many seconds it was taking for me to answer her question. I opened my mouth to speak, but then closed it. It would be better to remain silent, I decided.
"Sam Uley, answer me." I ignored the command. "Sam Uley, do as you are told. Otherwise…"
I didn't allow her to finish the threat – any lecture would be better than the approaching punishment. "I'm sorry," I said. That was all. Simple, short, but I had answered her, remaining calm and collected. If I endured the scolding and didn't respond angrily, the tirade would be over more quickly.
"Sam Uley, you had better be sorry. WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?" Her voice was pure venom; I wasn't going to get away without answering the question. "Sam, WHERE?" she repeated.
"Around," I stated. "I don't know exactly where… all over, I guess." She glowered at me. She was beyond angry, but she seemed to consider my answer satisfactory. She was much too furious at the moment to be concerned about whether or not my response was valid – she simply wanted an answer, whether or not it was a good one.
"Sam Uley… from this point on, you are GROUNDED. DO YOU HEAR ME?"
"Good. Now get some shoes on…NOW!"
"I thought that I was grounded." I regretted the words as soon as they had slipped from my lips.
"DON'T ANSWER ME BACK! SAM ULEY, GET YOUR SHOES ON."
I did so, hoping to avoid yet another drawn out repetition of my name. 'Sam Uley' this. 'Sam Uley' that. It was practically coming out of my ears!
"Where are we going?" I asked. This time, I avoided challenging my mother. I asked the question innocently and in a non-antagonistic manner.
"All of the Quileutes are going to meet by a bonfire at the beach. Everyone on the reservation is going to be there. It's a meeting with the council – the Cullens are back."
The name echoed within me. Somehow, I felt pure hatred towards them, although they had never done anything to me personally.
The name sent tremors running through me. I felt that the Cullens were my adversaries, but I wasn't sure why.
I hated them without reason.
I abhorred the name.
I felt rage and loathing rising within me, and I almost transformed again, but I controlled my emotions and became calm.
My mother continued, oblivious to my inner anger. "We must remember the treaty."
"What treaty?" I inquired. I hoped that I didn't sound ignorant.
"You'll learn about the treaty at the bonfire. I'm surprised that you don't remember – I was sure that I'd told you the legend before."
"I don't think you did," I stated. "Why is the treaty so important, anyway?" I cupped my hands into little quotations at the word 'treaty'. "I mean, you're un-grounding me because of some ancient treaty."
My mother sighed. "You'll learn all of the details tonight. As of now, hurry up and get your coat on. It's time to head for the beach."
"Right now, before anything else?" It was a simple question – I wanted a chance to rest. After all, I'd only just returned home.
"Sam Uley…" I groaned. "Yes, right now. Get a move on!"
I hurriedly grabbed my coat, headed outside into the warm glow of the sunset, and clambered into the car as fast as I could, hoping to avoid arousing any further fury from my mother. She followed me outside, but at a slower pace, and she stopped to lock door. I began to fasten my seat belt. "Will there be food at the bonfire?" I questioned innocently. "I'm hungry."
I slammed the car door.
FIFTEEN MINUTES LATER
The smell of the evening air wafted past my nostrils, blending with the tantalizing smell of freshly cooked hotdogs. The icy wind blew by, but I was not cold, and the log bench that I was sitting upon was surprisingly comfortable, despite being somewhat stiff. Murmuring voices, lost in conversation, nearly drowned out all else, but I could still hear the faint chirping of the crickets and the gentle crash of the waves as they struck the shore. Familiar faces surrounded me – Jacob Black, his friends Embry and Quil, Seth, and then Paul and Jared… all lost in conversation. The glow of the bonfire gave the gathering a cheerful feel. So far, we hadn't discussed the treaty – not that I cared. I was too preoccupied with the food to be worried about some archaic treaty. My only complaint was Leah's absence. I'd asked Seth where she was, and he had said that Leah was angry with me and had refused to come to the bonfire.
"She wants you to go and apologize to her," he had explained. "She doesn't want to go and demand an apology from you; she wants youto offer it. She's been rambling on about it nonstop. 'I deserve an apology. Sam's being a jerk,' she said." Seth had imitated Leah's voice perfectly – it had sounded just like her. "My dad says that Leah's being ridiculous. My mom tried to talk to her, but she refuses to discuss it. It's sort of stupid," Seth had mumbled, shrugging. "She's just sitting around, holed up in her room, looking both angry and ready to cry."
I had felt a fresh stab of guilt after hearing Seth's story, but I had pushed it aside. There was no point in agonizing about the situation now; I might as well enjoy the bonfire in the meantime.
I wolfed down another fresh hotdog. As of now, this whole bonfire thing was pretty fun. And my mother hadn't become angry yet…
"Sam Uley, how many of those hotdogs have you eaten?"
Never mind, I thought. "I don't know! I lost count," I admitted grudgingly.
"Son, you eat like a wolf!" She announced it a little louder than necessary. Seth giggled. Jared tried not to respond, but he simply couldn't help it. That set off Quil and Embry, and then Jacob… soon even Paul couldn't stifle his laughter. I laughed too – the description might be more accurate than my mother realized. Once the laughter died down, normal conversation resumed. Unfortunately, it wasn't long before the questions started pouring in like an approaching flood.
"Sam, I heard you ran away a couple weeks ago," Jared said.
It seemed that my mother must have told everyone about my disappearance. Already, both Quil and Embry had pressed me for details. I'd refused to share the story – they'd think I was crazy – but it had frustrated them that I was reluctant to tell the tale. They seemed to look up to me, as if I'd done something that none of them had ever dared to do. All of a sudden, I was being admired. It was sort of creepy; being a 'cool kid' to people that hadn't really paid much attention to me before. I wasn't sure that I was ready for this.
And now Jared was growing curious too.
"Really," he pleaded, "tell me."
"Sorry Jared, I don't really want to talk about it," I groaned.
"Aw… come on! You were brave, Sam. You've got guts… I want to hear the whole story!"
I grunted. "No."
"Why not? You told Quil. He says that you told him everything!"
What a braggart – I'd only told Quil when it had happened and why I had been mad at my mother.
"I hardly told Quil anything… just leave me alone!" I yelled.
"You told Quil something, but you won't talk to me at all!" Jared retorted.
I felt ferocity rising in my chest. Don't change, I thought. Stay human, Sam. Not here… don't transform here, in front of all of these people.
I clenched my teeth. "Jared, no. I'm not discussing it." I spoke slowly, separating each word and taking deep breaths in between.
Jared moaned. "You're boring." I'd gone from courageous to uninteresting in a matter of moments. I supposed that maybe I was being a little bit too harsh; I could at least tell the beginning of the story, with a few slight alterations. But Jared was already trudging away.
"Jared…" I began, stretching out my hand towards him. I didn't have the chance to finish.
An elderly man approached. As if on cue, everything became quiet. Even the wind seemed to pause and the waves practically slowed as the old man approached. He looked frail and his hair was white with age. For a brief moment, the silence made the whole scene feel awkward, and I couldn't seem to recall who the man was. As if reading my mind, Quil leaned over to me and whispered in my ear, "That's my grandfather, remember? His name is Quil too… you can call him 'Old Quil'. He doesn't mind – it makes everything less confusing."
I nodded to Quil, and he smiled. Now I remembered – the man was Old Quil, the leader of the council. He opened his mouth to speak.
"I, Quil Ateara, as the leader of the council, will tell the legend tonight. For those of you who don't remember, I will start at the beginning. Our ancestors, the spirit warriors…"
I tuned out, uninterested. I didn't care about the legends. I wanted another hotdog.
"Taha Aki was the one of the greatest warriors…"
I glanced over at Quil. He seemed fascinated, probably because his grandfather was telling the story. I looked at Paul, hoping that at least someone else was as bored as I was. To my shock, even Paul seemed to respect the legend. I wondered why. After all, it was only mumbo-jumbo. To actually believe these stories was the height of stupidity.
"Taha Aki's enemy returned to the tribe in Taha Aki's body …"
I groaned. Each time that I looked up, hoping that the story was over, Old Quil was still rambling on in the same dull monotone.
"For many years, Taha Aki was no more than a wanderer, until…"
I grunted. This was dumb and boring. My mother must be crazy to actually find these legends important. I myself was struggling to keep my eyes open.
"Later, Taha Aki's descendants…"
My thoughts meandered back to the subject of Leah. I felt guilty for not speaking to her sooner, worried that she might never forgive me, and just generally stressed over the whole situation. I completely ignored Old Quil's story, only catching tiny fragments of the tale.
"They were… one day… discovered… horrified… ashes… defend…"
Suddenly, Old Quil said something else that sent a shiver down my spine. This time, I didn't just catch individual fragments of phrases, but a whole sentence, each and every word.
"The enemies of the Quiletes – the blood drinkers – were known as the cold ones."
The cold ones.
I began to have the same reaction as I had to the Cullens. A tremor ran down my spine. The name reverberated within my mind, growing louder, drowning out all else. Every few seconds, Old Quil would say cold ones again, and soon the echo in my head was a chorus.
The cold ones. The cold ones. The cold ones.
Another tremor ripped through me. I was sweating… my hands were shaking… my fists were clenched…
No, no, no!
"The third wife approached the cold woman and plunged the dagger into her own heart…"
The cold woman. The phrase echoed in my mind.
I could tell that Old Quil was nearing the end of the story, but I couldn't wait any longer. I was going to transform into a wolf at any moment. I immediately leapt up from my log-bench and slipped between Quil and Embry, whose distant eyes were riveted on Old Quil as he spoke, making them oblivious to my inner turmoil. I rushed past them, unnoticed by anyone. Everyone was too focused on the legend to pay attention to me. In only a moment I would be out of sight, and it probably wouldn't take long to get home, even if I was on foot. Just when I thought that I was safe, I heard a whisper behind me.
"Hey, Jared? What happened to Sam?"
Uh-oh. Quil and Jared began to glance around, searching for me. Soon they told Embry, who told Paul, who told Jacob, who told Seth. Seth got worried and immediately did what all the other boys had attempted to avoid.
He hurried to tell my mother.
"Mrs. Uley?" Seth's whisper was a bit too loud. Everyone turned to stare at him. "Sorry to interrupt, Old Quil. It's just… well… Jacob said… uh… Sam's gone!"
My mother's expression grew panicked. "What? Not again!" She turned to call for me. "SAM? SAM ULEY?"
I ran. I ran faster than I had ever run before. It felt as if I would become a wolf at any moment. I was shaking wildly and involuntarily. Moist sweat was collecting on my skin. I heard a strange growling noise and abruptly realized that I was making it. Unhindered, I continued to flee from the bonfire. I had to get away from here, before… before… I didn't even want to think about it.
"Sam, stop! Come back!" The voice was Old Quil's; I ignored it. "Is something wrong? Are you alright?" he yelled.
I kept running, refusing to halt. Only a few seconds… then I would transform… they would all see it… or, if I was hallucinating, I would look deranged. Without warning, in my haste to escape, I tripped over a large stick. Tumbling to the ground, I allowed a strangled shriek to escape my throat. Thankfully, the impact as I struck the sand snapped me out of my frenzy. The eternal chorus in my mind of "the cold ones" finally dissipated. I stopped shaking and sweating, and at last I felt human again.
My fall had given Old Quil enough time to catch up to me.
"Are you hurt?" he questioned, bending down and extending a hand towards me. "Here, I'll help you up." I reached for his hand with my own, and he gripped it securely, but then recoiled and drew his hand back. "Son, you're producing excessive heat," he stated quietly. Suddenly, his eyes lit up, the way that a child's eyes light up when they finally understand a difficult concept. At that moment, everyone started crowding around me.
"Where were you going?"
"Did you hurt yourself when you fell?"
The voices mingled into incomprehensible chaos. One exclamation stood out from the others.
"Sam Uley, what is your problem?"
Old Quil held up a hand for silence. For a moment, there was no sound. He opened his mouth to speak.
"Everyone give him some breathing room."
Obediently, the crowd backed away. Without warning, I realized that I had been holding my breath the entire time. I exhaled, inhaled deeply, and began to breathe normally again.
"Alright, now we can find out what happened. Sam, what was wrong?" Old Quil questioned.
I thought for a moment, and then replied, "I ate too many hotdogs. I was going to puke. The nausea passed, though. I feel alright now." My answer sounded logical enough. Hopefully everyone would believe me.
"Sam Uley, I should have known!" my mother exclaimed. "Once you lose count of how many hotdogs you've eaten, you've already had too many. Be more careful next time. And please, just tell me when something like that happens. I panicked when you disappeared!"
"Okay," I answered. "I get it."
"Now that everything appears to be back to normal, I need to finish the story," Old Quil interjected. "Everyone, you may return to your seats."
Everyone receded to their log benches immediately. After only a few minutes, the legend was over, and the crowd began to disperse and prepare to go home. I was about to head for the car when I felt a hand on my shoulder. Expecting to see my mom, I turned around, only to discover that Old Quil was behind me.
"Sam, I need to speak to you. Bring your mother," he demanded.
"Why?" I questioned, confused. "Did I do something wrong?"
"No!" he explained loudly. "You didn't do anything wrong. It's something else, and it's important." His voice had become a quiet whisper. "I need to speak to you… alone," he continued, emphasizing the last word.
"Okay," I answered, feeling slightly awkward and relatively nervous. "I'll find my mother."I quickly summoned her and returned to Old Quil.
"Follow me," he said. He gestured to the edge of the beach, down by a cluster of trees. He started towards the area, and I followed beside my mother, who appeared to be just as perplexed as I was. After a few minutes, Old Quil signaled for us to stop. We were far away from the dying bonfire; it was only a faint glimmer in the distance. Finally, Old Quil spoke.
"Sam," he began, "something very special has happened to you. I assume that you've already discovered the symptoms and that you're desperately struggling to grasp the truth. It's a strange experience that you're undergoing… but I can explain."
"I don't understand what you're talking about," I admitted.
Did Old Quil know about my bizarre, wolfish behavior, or were there other things wrong with me? Or maybe he was just rambling on about who-knows-what. Maybe it was all nonsense.
"I'm sorry, but I'm just as baffled as my son," my mother confessed. "What are you trying to say? I don't get it."
"I know," Old Quil answered. He turned to me, and our eyes met for a brief moment. "Sam Uley, you are a werewolf."
THE NEXT DAY
I heard the door open with a rusty creak, but I didn't see it. I had my face buried in a pillow, trying to stop the tears from returning. My eyes were puffy and red, my hair disheveled, my mind exhausted, my heart damaged. Sam hadn't seen me for over three weeks, and he still hadn't come to apologize. Now I was torn between feelings of rage and misery. I was angry. I was upset. Maybe I was somewhere in between. It didn't matter. I just wanted to be alone.
The door opened further, and light streamed into my otherwise dark bedroom. I squinted, trying to shut out the light.
"Leah?" The voice was Seth's.
"Go away. I told you… leave me alone!" I hissed, my voice both a shout of fury and a moan of emotional pain.
"Leah, there's someone that wants to talk to you."
"If it's Mom or Dad, tell them to go away and let me be! If it's one of my friends, just tell them that I'll talk to them later," I ordered.
"What if it's your boyfriend? What do I say then?" Seth inquired. For a moment, hope that Sam might still care about me welled up in my heart.
"Sam? Sam's here? What does he want?" I asked.
"I don't know," Seth groaned. "Should I let him in?"
"Yes… please," I requested, my voice muffled by the pillow beneath my face. I heard footsteps, the creak of a floorboard, and then a deep voice.
"Leah… it's me, Sam," the voice bellowed.
"I know. What do you want?" I yelled. "Seth, you can go now." I heard my brother's footsteps recede.
"Leah, I came… to apologize," Sam explained. I heard another shriek of protest from the door as Sam inched it closed. "I was… stupid," he continued.
"What in the world made you leave home? And for two weeks? You could have been hurt," I said. I raised my head from the pillow and sat up, somewhat ashamed at my unkempt appearance.
"I can't… I can't tell you what happened, Leah. I'm really sorry," Sam said. "I'm so, so sorry."
"Why can't you explain? Because you don't trust me? Because I'm not good enough for you?" I wailed.
"No! It's not like that." Sam's expression was distant and in pain. "It's something that I can't tell anyone, because knowing it could hurt both me and them."
"Are you involved in something… illegal?" I asked, desperately hoping that I was wrong. I slid off of my bed and onto my feet.
"No, nothing illegal," Sam replied. I exhaled in relief. "I just… can't tell you. But I'll tell you this. No matter what happens, I won't let this… this thing… get in the way of our relationship."
"I still don't understand!" I shrieked. "Just explain! What happens as a result is out of my control, but please, Sam, tell me!"
"I can't. But Leah, I love you. Please, trust me. Would I lie to you? Would I keep a secret that was better off told?"
I thought about it. Constantly, I doubted Sam, judged him, and, as a result, created all sorts of problems for myself. Maybe it was time to simply trust in the noble, wonderful, loving person that I knew Sam truly was, rather than looking at the confusing circumstances.
"Sam, you're right. I just have to trust you. I'm sorry for… for… for being a fickle jerk," I gasped, my voice cracking. "This isn't your fault. It's my fault… for doubting you."
The sudden realization rushed over me like a wave. Maybe Sam's story didn't make sense at the moment, but it was the truth, and I was going to trust Sam regardless. My eyes started tearing up, and, despite my attempts to control them, tears rolled down my cheeks in an endless flood.
"Leah," Sam said, "I love you."
"I love you too, Sam," I whimpered.
And then we hugged. It was the most wonderful hug that I had ever experienced. His warm hands closed around me in a loving embrace, and suddenly we were friends again, and nothing else mattered. I tried to stifle my tears, but I couldn't, so I just cried into Sam's shirt. I would trust him, not matter what, forever.
If I only I had known that the person I had trusted the most would hurt me more than any other, leaving me damaged for eternity. If only I had known that I would be betrayed.
AT THE SAME TIME
As I hugged Leah, suddenly the barrier between us shattered, and we were as good friends as we had been before my transformation into a werewolf. But one thing still frightened me.
Old Quil had warned me of a specific effect of becoming a werewolf – imprinting. And it was rather obvious that I hadn't imprinted on Leah. If I continued to date her, I might imprint on someone else, and that would hurt her. According to Old Quil, it would be impossible to fight the imprint. Therefore, he had advised that I stop dating Leah. But somewhere in my heart, I knew that doing that would hurt her even more than imprinting on someone else. I would find a way to get around the imprint. I would not leave Leah. Not ever.
Little did I know, fighting the imprint would be impossible. When someone imprints, suddenly nothing else matters, and the world dissolves, and all that matters is the one who has been imprinted upon. I would be unable to fight the imprint, and Leah would indeed be betrayed. She would hate me forever, until my dying day, and I would never forgive myself. I would betray Leah. She would – despite my noble efforts – drown in a sea of searing pain.
Leah would be betrayed.
And I would be to blame.