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Last week, Ms. Merrok—who is something of a traditionalist—asked how Tom, whose wereanimal is technically prey,* could consider a werewolf his brother.
And Tom took off his shirt.
Okay, he just untucked it to show her a scar on his side, which she recognized as an old wolf bite.
Here’s the first draft of the story behind the scar:
The summer before I went to kindergarten, one of our neighbors—who was neither a were nor Aware, as the saying goes—had changed his Buick’s oil and let the old stuff run into the stormwater drain that fed our pond.
The next day, I’d jumped in without paying attention to the sheen on the water. I hadn’t been old enough to realize why my pinfeathers didn’t feel right, or why the water had tasted terrible when I’d started to sink. And I could never remember if I’d been too panicked to change or to even think about it, but I hadn’t, so I couldn’t cry for help.
My parents, who were doing yardwork, though I was just fooling around like I always did. But Bryan—who had been fostered with us for maybe half a year and was still spending most of his free time in fur—realized that my gurgles and splashes didn’t sound right and headed for the pond, just as I finally went under.
He’d plunged in, nabbed me, and carried me to Mom, so scared that he’d bit down too hard and nearly ended things then and there.
Bryan still felt guilty about that—but my scar marked the first time he’d treated me like he belonged to us.
I haven’t edited this part yet, so I’m not sure if it will remain something Tom tells the reader or be turned into dialogue to Merrock. Though I’m thinking he wouldn’t share the whole thing with someone he doesn’t trust, or at least, not as written.
The reason the voice in this bit sounds different from Tom’s usual deadpan snark is that he was younger when he originally said it. When this story was still percolating (“Okay. There’s a wereduck and he… um… is a wereduck, so… um … yeah…”), I thought it was going to be a YA story.
But I kept that attempt as backstory for this one. And I think the above has had such an effect on Tom that it belongs on page.
*Ducks in general, and Mallards and Muscovy in particular, do not consider themselves prey. They consider themselves players with titanium testes—and there’s a good reason Mother Nature didn’t give them teeth. We should really thank her for that.