3: Thanks For The Memories

Henry

The night was humid and the air was thick with smoke. The bonfire lent a mysterious, thrilling, atmosphere that left us teens sweaty and feverish. However, the fevered look in my eyes, I knew, had nothing to do with the temperature. Looking around at the wild dancing by girls who'd shed their shirts in favor of bikini tops and Daisy Dukes I had to wonder if it wasn't just me. A squeeze of my hand brought my attention, which hardly ever wavered, back to my side. Her sea green eyes matched the wicked smile that stretched across her mouth. The burning in my soul, in the pit of my stomach, heightened just by looking at her.

She stood and led me away from our classmates and towards a clearing in the woods we knew all too well. The gnarled old oak had been inscribed with our names two years prior, when we'd first started dating. A soft blanket was along the ground beside it and I looked at Val. We'd put off this moment for so long, because we had wanted to know each other in every other way first. There was no one in the world I felt closer to and in the moonlight, with her looking at me, I knew she'd be the one I'd spent the rest of my life with. Cupping her face with my hand I leaned in to kiss her gently, a question that lingered on my lips was passed onto hers, and with her returning embrace, it was answered. So, for the first time, in what would be a thousand other times, we gave ourselves to each other. It was as perfect, she was as perfect, as I knew it would be.

Then something happened. Small at first, post-anxiety perhaps? Her breathing seemed to quicken rather than slow down. Her face became more and more flushed and her skin clammy. Did I do something wrong? It had felt perfect to me and she'd seemed to feel the same way….so why were her eyes filled with worry and fear. Was she afraid of me? She couldn't be. But as I tried to console her and find out what was wrong she became even more panicky, her body shaking as she threw her clothes back on hastily and took off. I was so shocked that for a few minutes I couldn't even move. I remember taking my time getting dressed and then wandering back to the party to look for her….but she wasn't there. We'd driven together so she couldn't have gone far. As I thought about it an answer appeared. Her grandmothers. She didn't live far from this spot. I ran there as fast as I could.

I hadn't known what to expect; her crying to her grandmother about a mistake she'd make? But, I hadn't expected this. Valerie sat on the ground in front of the cabin, bleeding profusely from her face, neck, and shoulder. She was stark naked and a wolf lay decapitated in the yard. However, the most disturbing was the fact that her grandmother lay dead across her lap. Silent tears hit her grandmother's face and as hard as I tried I could not get a response from Valerie. I ran into the cabin and grabbed the first item of clothing I saw, a red cloak. As I pulled Valerie away from her grandmother and towards the cabin, calling the police while I walked her, it began. She stayed closed off to me….she never opened up again.

...

As I left the library the memory hit me and for a moment I was thrown back in time. Two years and it was still as fresh, and sweet, and devastating as the day it happened. It was never discovered what had happened. The medical examiner said her grandmother had been killed by a wolf, and that the deep gouges that scarred Valerie were also from the wolf. She claimed to never have recovered her memory. Post traumatic stress. Even odder, her father disappeared in the same night and was never heard from again. To this day, they don't know what happened to him. It was like Valerie disappeared with him, at least to me that's the way it seemed