"Good luck Holly!" Momma cheers.
I stuff my rabbit's foot into my short's pocket as I focus my eyes on the field, filled with the sickening perfumed bodies of 30 girls trying out for the Portland Rose soccer team.
"I can do this." I whisper in my head.
Just me and a herd of sheep.
This is a bad. Why am I here? Roddy and Barry don't have to play soccer. I …
My hand starts to rub my throat as the azure sky begins to choke me and the smell of cut grass overwhelms.
I look over my shoulder into mom's dark blue eyes of happiness.
I follow the coach's warm-up instructions as I remember the conversation from last night.
"Holly please" she cried as she picked me up from Monroe's house.
"Both your psychiatrist and I support your decision to continue home schooling…but you also agreed to take part in limited social activities."
"Hanging out with Roddy and his uncle isn't being social, it's avoidance. Playing video games and watching Roddy prepare for his Julliard audition isn't going to help you adapt or -
"I don't just hang out with Roddy! Ther—" I stop myself before saying Barry's name.
Barry my running partner, my friend, the one who introduce me to action movies.
Mom doesn't like Barry very much. She almost threw me in the car the one time he said hi to me at the food store. She says his face was in the newspapers a while ago and that he was a bad man. After that, Nick, Monroe and I decided it was a good idea to not mention Barry around her. He laughs about it but every time he runs into Monroe's attic when she comes over, the pit of my stomach boils.
"I don't understand why I have to join a club and take an art class at the high school." I retorted.
"You love soccer and as nice as Roddy and Monroe are…"
"I USED to like soccer"
Her statement recalled an old memory of fresh fields and pink shorts, the warm summer before the woods swallowed me whole. Back when I had girlfriends and owned dresses. Before the wolf surfaced and the moon pulled at my blood, before the feel of a room full of people made me think of lunch. Mom thinks my fear of crowds is mostly due to my life in the woods. She does not know nor understand the wolf.
The wolf does not like the overcrowded world of the city.
It's too noisy, silly and full of bad lunchmeat.
"Please Holly, just give it another try, this is good for you. Plus it is something we can do together." She said sadly, her eyes looking straight ahead.
I stopped talking and placed my left hand on her thigh. I understand conversation of the body. She fears losing me, again.
"I'll give it a try" I muttered.
"Breathe, just Breathe" I tell myself as I recall Monroe's Pilates training. "I can do this, I can",
My face screams.
"Wake up Mowgli! Some of us want to play!" yells a voice from the herd of sheep.
Weak, pamper sheep. Who were so nice to introduce my face to the ball.
For an hour my world glows red.
"Clark, CLARK!" coach voice yells, as my shoulder connects with Lin's rib cage.
The wind dancing with me as I charge the field, my enemies passed out and crippled.
The bloods rushes and I howl, sweat flying off me as the field opens and I'm alone to run, to dominate and to have fun.
The only thing in my way is the red wall at the end of the field.
The spider in the net. She has blocked and prevented every volley today. Her smirk burning my soul as my face recalls her gentle "wake up" call.
"Control Holly control." I can hear Monroe scream in my head. For the passed hour, I have tried a variety of volleys and jumps, but all my attempts to score have been blocked.
"Think small" I remember Roddy telling me one day after he spilled a storm of marbles under Barry feet during a basketball game, "and dirty".
Our coach forbade us from using the bicycle kick maneuver during tryouts, insistent that we didn't have the experience or the training yet to perfect it, however…
I race towards the goal line guiding my body to partake the flip motion, as Sally quickly switches her game to catch high, when with wolf like speed I ground myself and kick tight and low directly into the net, clipping the right ankle of my smug tormentor.
The wolf laughs and the spider screams.
Meeting after try-outs
"I think it is safe to say that Sally will be our first string goalie," several girls breathe a sigh of relief. "Clark, you have the ability to be the best box to box midfielder I've ever seen, however…your lack of restraint might kill someone one day, so for now you'll be playing defense. "
"At least we got our perfect guard dog" Sally quips. Few of the girls giggle.
Every girl in the room except Sally had at least two bruises from me and none were willing to welcome more.
"Sal shut it, you may be good but I am not above cutting you." Coach warned before leaving the change room.
My muscles scream pleasantly at me as I turn to change into my normal clothes when a tall, thin girl with dark chocolate looking skin smiles and waves.
"YOU WERE AMAZING! How are you able to move so fast?!" She gushes, her lips and arms move so fast it was hard to focus on any one part.
"Must be nice to have four legs to run with." Sally snides.
It would take so little…
"Sorry I didn't hear you, I don't pay attention to bugs" I reply.
For a moment, the entire shower room stands still as Sally and I glare at each other openly.
The spider and the wolf.
I can see her hands itching to grab the wall surface while I shift my body weight to allow my legs full ability to spring.
I almost hear myself grrr when the thin girl bravely stands between us and raises her arms.
"Girls please, this team is large enough for two psycho bitches. "
"We don't need her Talia" Sally directs her comment to the thin girl.
"Actually, we do Sally. Your ability to prevent goals is useless if this team can't form attacks in the middle of the field, which will allow us to get the ball to score. SO I suggest you get over yourself and realize that you do not speak for the team, WE do," Talia pauses to point to all the girls hugging her back and nodding in agreement.
"Fine" she says as she quickly gathers her things "but don't complain to me when she becomes dead weight, good players are not based on skill alone." She retorts before slamming the change room door behind her.
Talia sighs before turning back to me.
"Welcome to team bitch" she says warmly, "don't let Sally fool you, I'm sure we'll all be the best of friends by November."
I've never had a female friend before.
Who knows, maybe I'll learn to like soccer?
Later that night
"Tisk, tisk, tisk " startles me from my bed.
"What time is it Ms. Wolf?"
My jaws droops at the smell of instant midnight snack when I realize the snack was the smirking form of Roddy sitting on my window plane, trying very hard not to laugh.
"Hahahaha I can't believe I made it to the second floor of your house without you ripping my throat out. Must be the city living, it's making you soft" Roddy mocks, trying desperately to sound serious.
Too bad his deep blue eye can't help but dance in the soft moonlight.
"I only attack threats."
"Ouch, when did a sweet girl like you learn to be so mean?" He says with his puppy dogface. Too bad he's a rat, all it does is make he look even more sneaky.
I raise my eyebrow at him, as I push down my blanket and cross my arms under my chest.
Suddenly he looks away. His face red and nervously looking around the room.
"Ummm Holly, I, ah, don't…aren't you cold?" he stutters.
"Cold? What? Why would I be cold? Blutbaden are always -"
I look down and see my bare chest. Ah yes, humans wear clothes at night. I can't understand why, I boil just having the blanket over me…I really hate wearing clothes indoors. However Monroe looked very upset when I tried walking around his house without clothes. Maybe men do not like seeing naked girls?
I walk over to my dresser and put on a long t-shirt.
Roddy slowly looks over.
"I don't know about better, but it does make certain things easier."
"Why are you here?"
"I just wanted to see how you were. Did you like soccer?"
Did I like soccer? I liked the running and the smashing. It was nice to see momma happy. Plus it was exciting to meet Talia.
"I'm not sure."
"What do you mean you're not sure, either you like it or you don't?"
For a moment I can feel my heart quicken. Sometimes I wish it were easier for me to talk in abstract ways. In the woods, the things I liked were simple. Either my captures tasted good or not. It was a sunny day or a rainy day. It was easy to say if these things were good or bad, yet in the city…everything is more complicated, which makes explaining them very difficult.
"Um well there was a girl named Sa—" I stopped. I didn't want to mention her, in case he told Monroe. I don't want Monroe to think I can't make my wolf behave…
"I made a friend."
"That WONDERFUL Holly!" Roddy exclaimed and twirled me in his arms, his lean tone arms comforting and warm. "Tho am not sure if Barry and I will like sharing you with the outside world. It might make you soft and pampered. OMG…you could come back…wearing…MAKE-UP" He mocks until I tripped him with my left leg.
"Well I guess you're safe for awhile. But please on behalf of the Holly Clark male appreciation club, can you promise no romance for a little while?" he continues and pulls me down to sit beside him.
Romance, why would I want romance?
Silly Roddy. Silly cute Roddy.
"I promise Roddy"
"Good. Well before the female Holly Clark appreciation club comes in here with a shotgun, I wanted to give you a present."
I barely blink before the silver wrapping paper is torn on the ground.
In my hand is the soft form of a small stuff bear, wolf and rat.
"What's that in the wolf's paw?"
"It's a mini hand cuff from a Ken doll, I bought it to represent Nick. I figured you could bring these to soccer practices and games to bring you good luck and all that sport superstition malarkey…"
I swing two powerful arms around him.
"THANK YOU RODDY!"
"Hey, we're family."
I blush and try not to cry as I hug him one more time before he leaves to go back to Monroe's.
Thankfully he's not around to see me blush as I place most of my family on the bed stand and take the rat to lie in bed with me.