Scars of my Imprint
POV: Sam Uley
A thousand unrelated thoughts went off in my head, exploding all at once like fireworks.
My first phase…
Old Quil's explanation…
I wondered if I was dying, if that was why my life was flashing before my eyes. I had to be dying. My emotional pain had become unbearably fierce, like an inescapable prison. Chained within the pitch-black depths, I saw no hope, felt no joy. Despair hung over my head, choking me, blotting out the sun. Various emotions filled me – love and hatred, confusion and calm. The passion within me, the love I had for Emily, fought the misery that also arose – misery that I deserved.
Leah was heartbroken. How could I possibly be happy, knowing the terrible thing that I had done? I didn't know whether to bawl or smile – and I knew in my heart that such opposing emotions could not coexist in the same body for long. Surely, eventually, I would have to die. If that were the case, at least I would be at peace.
Madly and needlessly, I paced around my room, my head reeling.
The tortured look on Leah's face still haunted me. A whole day had passed since that look, but still, it plagued me. The tragic scene played over and over in my mind, and each time, it stung all the more.
Leah had bawled, "You're a liar, Sam Uley. You've broken… every promise… that you made to me. I trusted you, Sam!" Tears had rolled down her face as she shrieked, "I believed you. I stood by you. I loved you! And now you've betrayed me!"
Now, against my will, my own tears welled up. I fought them, determined to prevent my sorrowful feelings from winning out against the joyful ones. But still, I knew the truth in my heart.
I'd failed! All my attempts to stand by Leah had failed! I hated what I had done; it was like watching someone else, someone self-absorbed and heartless. But yet, against my will, I loved Emily. No, more than loved… I was infatuated with her. I had loved Leah, too, but not like this. I'd failed her, failed myself. Everything had been futile. I'd failed…
A delicate, crystal voice broke my train of thought. "Stop saying that you've failed, Sam."
Abruptly, I realized that I was speaking aloud. Still pacing, I bit my tongue – hard.
My door gently opened with a drawn-out squeak as Emily slipped into my room – arriving for a visit, apparently, and at a rather inconvenient time. I didn't want her to see me like this, didn't want my pain to become her burden. After all, she had her own problems to worry about. I had never had a father to guide me, so I had learned to fend for myself. And I would do the same now.
Emily took several steps towards me. I avoided her gaze, knowing that I would get lost in her eyes and forget the horror of what I'd done. And I couldn't forget, as much as it hurt to remember. Somehow, I had to do something, anything, to heal the damage I'd left on Leah's heart.
Finally, I stopped pacing and came to a stop as Emily's comforting hand touched my shoulder. "You've done all that you could," she murmured.
"It's not enough!" I wheeled around, still avoiding Emily's eyes, and hurried to the door. I had to escape, to be alone where I could cry in solitude. This was not the time for Emily to be here.
"Sam, stop it!" she insisted, rushing after me. "This isn't your fault."
I paused in the doorway, still suppressing tears. Whoever's fault it was, Leah was beside herself with grief, so I just said, "It doesn't matter."
"It absolutely matters," Emily retorted, "when you insist on tormenting yourself like this!"
With a moan, I turned around, sauntered across the room, and sat down on the foot of my bed. "You don't understand," I sighed, staring at the floor.
I was starting to feel annoyed, but Emily hurriedly sat down beside me anyway. "Sam…"
"Just look at Leah! I've ruined her!" I shrieked.
Emily put her arm around me. "What happened with Leah was out of your control. It's not your fault."
"Whose fault is it, then?" Now I was crying, but since I was defeated, I just let the tears flow. There was no way to stop them.
"It's not Leah's fault!" I wailed. "Not yours. Not anyone else's." I paused and gasped through the endless tears. "It's my fault! Everything is my fault!"
"But the imprint–"
"If I… if I'd just managed to stop phasing, I wouldn't be a werewolf… and I wouldn't have imprinted!" I shouted. The realization came abruptly – striking suddenly, like a… a disgusting vampire – and I knew right then that this was completely and totally my fault. Didn't I have enough self-control to stop phasing long enough to revert to mortal form? Was I really selfish enough not to try?
"You remained a werewolf because you needed to protect the tribe," Emily countered. "It was the right thing to do. Sam… it was your duty."
"No duty is worth this!" I bellowed, leaping to my feet, suddenly pacing all over again. "Look at what I've caused! Leah's devastated. You can't live without me. And I'mfalling apart!"
Emily raced to my side, grabbed my arm, and turned me around so that we were eye-to-eye. "You were a better friend than Leah could hope for," she soothed. For a moment, I was calmed, mesmerized by her perfect face, stupefied by her unconditional love. It was as if Emily had a direct line to my heart, as if she knew the true intentions behind everything that I'd done. As if she knew how much I really cared.
But even Emily couldn't calm me now.
"I deserted Leah when she needed me the most!" I yelled.
Emily was silent for a long moment. Eventually, she stuttered, "We… we both tried. That was all we could do. You had to leave her… this wasn't something you chose."
In that moment, as Emily spoke, my sadness gave way to anger – anger with myself, with my animalistic nature, with the Cullens that had likely caused my transformation. Everything else dissipated as my emotions bubbled up, and there was only rage, barely contained and ready to explode, resurfacing all at once and seizing control. Tremors coursed through me, sweat drenched me, my head spun, my limbs shook, my fists clenched, my heart raced…
I was going to phase. Everything was about to climax.
"I'm… gonna… phase!" I panted, feeling short of breath. But I forced myself to demand, "GET OUT!"
Emily, abruptly realizing the danger, reacted quickly, her eyes wide as she stumbled back towards the door, dazed.
But it was too late.
A monstrous tremor struck as a snarl ripped from my throat. Then there was the familiar flash of heat that wasn't painful but felt inhuman, followed by the peculiar sensation of rapidly expanding muscles and shifting bones as they grew and changed. My hair faded to thick black fur that cascaded down my spine like a fuzzy curtain. I howled as my hands and feet morphed into paws attached to four identical legs. Then suddenly I grew a tail, a muzzle, and mighty teeth. My heartbeat slowed to a steady rhythm, pounding powerfully in the center of my chest like a massive drum. Then, finally, after the split second of searing discomfort, I fell forward, no longer human but, rather, a terrifying beast.
To my horror, Emily was still in my path, her expression the picture of fear. There was nothing that I could do to prevent my massive claws from tearing into her exposed face.
Her answering scream was ear-splitting.
She fell backwards, gashes marring her once flawless features. Wet, crimson blood flowed from the wounds.
"Emily!" My shout was an inhuman howl. Emily kept screaming – long, shrill shrieks of pain – and she covered her face with her hand. That was when she started unexpectedly gasping for air, and I suddenly realized that I was on top of her.
Instantly, I backed away from Emily, howling again. Was this my destiny, then? To ruin Leah and kill my soul mate?
Emily's agonized wails started to slowly die, growing quieter and then fading away completely. Her eyes drifted closed. Had I…? Was she…? Could she be…?
I tried to fight the word, but it cut me like a dagger to the heart. Was Emily…
I tried to check her pulse, but I couldn't feel a thing through my stupid fur. So I nudged her chest with my nose. Thankfully, she was still breathing. She must have fainted.
Relief that I hadn't killed Emily flooded my mind long enough for me to somehow phase back, breathing hard. Doctor. I needed to get a doctor. I sped down the stairs, snatching the phone with a sweaty hand and dialing 911 with urgent speed.
After a torturous second that felt like ages, someone answered the phone. I quickly gave the best explanation that I could think of, explaining that Emily had been the victim of a "bear attack". The lady on the phone assured me that help would arrive as soon as possible.
I hung up the phone, feeling utterly helpless as the seconds inched by. That was when I realized that my clothes had shredded again, so I quickly slipped into a new outfit. Then I decided to do what little I could and use the tattered scraps of my ruined T-shirt to soak up the blood on Emily's face.
"It's alright," I whispered to her, although she was unconscious. In truth, the assurance was more for me than for her. "You'll be alright, Emily. It's going to be alright." I lightly dabbed at her face with the shredded shirt. The wounds really did look as though she had been attacked by an animal.
Ultimately, after the seemingly infinite wait, I heard the sound of an approaching ambulance. I sprinted outside, my heart racing again as the vehicle slid to a stop, its sirens blaring like panicked dogs. Several people clambered out, moving incredibly fast, but to me it still felt way too slow.
"Where is the victim?" a man asked.
I would have preferred that he called Emily by name, but at the moment, I was too desperate for help to care all that much. Although I wanted to hold her in my arms and never let her go, I knew that getting her to the hospital was absolutely critical.
"I took Emily inside," I told the man. "Follow me."
He did, hurrying after me. His cohorts obediently followed close behind, lugging a stretcher. This slowed them down somewhat, much to my annoyance.
After that, the rest was a sort of blur. This was partially because the medical professionals moved so speedily and methodically. But it was mainly due to my abrupt explosion of uncontainable tears.
I'm not sure how kept from phasing again. I'm not sure how I remained human as I stared at Emily's maimed face. I'm not even sure how long we were in the ambulance, the landscape darting by as the deafening siren that still couldn't drown out my pain shrieked on and on. That endless drive to the hospital was but a haze of guilt, shock, fear, regret, and loss. I drowned in questions that had no answers, wrestled with thoughts that could not be defeated, burned in the grip of unending self-interrogation that tormented me and called me what I truly was.
And now, if Emily… died… I would be a killer.
There was no logic in my self-rebuke. In that moment, I only saw the world through the lens of misdirected anger and emotional chaos. I suffered at the hands of my worries and accusations, and I was so overly stressed that I couldn't distinguish them from reality. During that ride in the ambulance, my reality was a nightmare. I wondered if I would ever wake up.
Eventually, we reached the hospital – an immaculate, bleak-white labyrinth with an ambience of death and depression. I hated hospitals. But, despite the unnerving atmosphere, it was a shelter where Emily could get help.
I waited for eternity, pacing the waiting room, until – at long last – the doctors were finished with Emily. A door slowly opened as one of them emerged and approached me. Speedily, I hurried to meet him, trying to stay calm but failing. "Is… is she… is Emily alright?" I stammered. "Please tell me she's alright."
"We've done all that we can do," the doctor replied. "She will be alright. The gashes will heal. But anything this severe doesn't just vanish into the past. But there will always be scars."
I nodded as he departed, but his final words rang in my ears. There will always be scars.
All of a sudden, I knew the truth of that phrase. Emily's injury would never completely disappear. Neither would Leah's emotional wound. Neither would my own pain. There will always be scars.
The scars of my imprint.