Bill was doing something funny with his mouth much to the amusement of Anna. She giggled with joy and her chubby cheeks flushed pink. They’re so cute. We decided to tease Anna into tagging Bill and I. We were all so engaged with the chase, jumping with joy, I didn’t realize we were headed towards the kitchen. An electric current ran through me as I realized he was in the kitchen. My steps faltered.
I didn’t want Anna or Bill to question why I was stopping so I dragged my feet to the kitchen. He looked up from the cooking and smiled at us. He started tickling us all. I froze and stood stiffly as he advanced towards me. Bill. Then Anna. And finally, me. Of course, I was last so that no one would see it. I saw those grubby, onion smelling hands come towards me. They roughly groped, grabbed. I stood erect, unyielding. After my senses recovered, I shoved him and ran away.
It had started suddenly, a couple weeks ago. He was fine before then. Like a guardian who was also a friend. Safe harbour but a companion in the silly childish games of a ten-year-old. We were playing hide and seek. We both happened to hide in the same room from Bill. I was hiding on the bed, behind the headboard. He was on the floor beside it. In a flash I was on my back. He was licking my neck, my hands pinned to the bed. I was confused. The tongue felt dirty and wet as it roamed around my neck. Physically I felt violated. But my brain was behind, thinking of my hiding hole where I was buzzing with suppressed glee just a few seconds before. I couldn’t push him off. Suddenly he jumped off as if I was burning. A second later my dad turned on the light. He bade us to play in another room. I cried myself to sleep.
I prayed hard and stayed away. My beloved holidays to my grandparent’s house felt like a curse. I stayed away. I felt dirty and guilty. There were times when everything seemed fine. When we were surrounded by family. Comfortable. I saw glimpses of the man I once knew, the one who had played with me in the playground and the one who took me to my kindergarten classes. But whenever we were alone, a monster revealed itself and took over. A couple years later when I read Harry Potter for the first time and came across the term Animagus, I thought of him. An animagus is a shapeshift who can change from their human and animal shape at will and need. One second a perfectly normal man and another a werewolf of society, preying on children. The word werewolf comes from the old English word “werewulf”, “wer or were” meaning man and wolf meaning wolf. Man wolf.
Every time I saw him alone, my heartbeat faster and I was a caged dove looking for a way out. It looked like what the characters on my grandma’s shows were doing but they were both adults.
I was devastated when I learnt my family was moving. To be honest, a part of me was relieved that my monthly visits to grandma’s wouldn’t be as frequent. The first few months I dreamt a lot of him, of the good old times but I always woke up from dreams anxious, scared and restless. What haunts me the most though, to this day, were the tears I shed for the wer, but it was all a waste because he was now a wolf. I was disgusted with myself as the tears poured out of me involuntarily. My heart ached for the man who had watched me grow but disgusted the one who had taken my innocence. Why couldn’t I stop? A few months later, we received a call from my grandma. My mom started tearing up for the little boy she had watched grow up. He had died from a burst appendicitis. I had a dreamless sleep that night.
Years later when I revisited my ancestral home, surrounded by many generations, some reminisced how kind and compassionate he was. I pretended to sleep while I pushed my face in my pillow until it hurt. Mourning. Why couldn’t I stop?