Having a depressed parent isn’t easy. Especially when said parent is the alpha werewolf of your pack and controls every minute detail of your life.
You don’t love your father. You don’t think you ever have, or maybe it’s just been so long that any feelings have faded. Sure, you feel responsible for him, you feel some kind of bond, but love? It’s hard to love someone who’s depressed. Especially when you’re depressed yourself, and you struggle to start every day with a smile. And him? Nothing. He wallows in it. He likes his position of power, manipulating everyone from the bottom of his dark hole.
“You didn’t answer my howls,” he said this morning, his joints creaking from the recent full moon.
You wanted to reply: can you blame me? But you apologized instead. “I was really busy.”
“With your boyfriend?” He stuck his nose in your direction and sniffed the air, a tantrum already brewing.
“I don’t have a boyfriend.”
He just scoffed. “Everyone has a boyfriend. No one thinks about me. No one cares. I’m the alpha of this pack but I may as well be the omega.”
There was nothing to say. You stared down at your toast and counted the crumbs.
“You’re a whore,” he said from the doorway, leaning against the frame as if gravity had somehow abandoned him. “Just like your mother.”
It’s a familiar rant, one you desperately try to block out. You can’t even remember a time when your father was nice. You look at old photos of your parents, grinning happily together, young and fresh-faced, and it is like looking at two strangers. The couple in the photos have all these hopes and dreams and haven’t yet become disillusioned by life, jaded and weary of the day-to-day tedium, of the monthly forced changes, of the shedding fur and aching backs.
Now all your father cares about is himself. And your mother does too, to a lesser extent. Both wrapped up in their little pity parties, no longer interested in watching their children grow.
Oh, they ask you questions. How was school? What did you do today? They don’t listen to the answers. Sometimes you wish they were all dead. Dead, dead, dead. And things would be better, or at the very least different.
On good days, it amuses you to think you have taken after them, and are an expert pity partier yourself. On bad days, you lock yourself in the upstairs bathroom with a silver spoon in your gloved hands, and burn ovals into the inside of your thighs. The fur there when you change is getting patchy, but no one has thought to look or to ask, which fills you with a sick, shameful pride.
That morning, when your father left the kitchen, you bit your tongue to push down the well of emotion, but it wasn’t enough, it’s never enough. So now you hold your breath and place the silver spoon just next to the freckle on your left thigh, the smoke curling up and singeing your nostrils. The smell of burning makes you smile.
A knock on the door. “You’re going to be late for school!”
“Just a minute,” you call out. A minute is all it takes for a new scar to form. And if you can handle this, you can handle anything.