Frostbite- Chapter 24

For a couple of weeks Chey’s mom walked around the house like a ghost. She would walk into a room and look around as if she didn’t recognize it. She didn’t talk much and when she did it was just to say she was alright, she was fine, she was just tired. She worked pretty hard at boxing up all of Chey’s father’s stuff. Most of it went to the local church, even though the Clark family had never been particularly religious. Other things were just thrown away. Everything he’d ever owned had to be seen to.The car that the wolf had attacked was still out there, still out west sitting in a police station parking lot. Chey’s mom asked them to donate it to a good charity, but there were insurance problems with that, so every day for a week she had to make phone calls and send letters and emails until eventually somebody agreed to take responsibility for the car. Her dad’s will was pretty simple; everything went to her mom, but it turned out that even a really simple will took a lot of work to execute. A lawyer came to the house a couple of times. He brought Chey a box of chocolates, which was weird, but she thanked him po¬litely and even ate a few while he watched and smiled.

Eventually Chey’s mom went back to work. She was a paralegal at a firm of business lawyers. She said she desperately didn’t want to go back, that she wanted to stay home with Chey and help her, but Chey said she would be okay on her own. It was another lie, and her mom even said she knew it was a lie, but when Chey didn’t say anything more, her mom said it was alright, that she would go to work, that they would find a way to make things okay together. The first day back she called Chey at least a dozen times just to see how she was doing. That night she came home and fell asleep on the couch and Chey could smell alcohol on her. But that didn’t turn out to be a long- term thing. After a couple days back on her job Chey’s mom wasn’t wandering around the house anymore. She looked more like her old self.

It took Chey a while longer to figure things out.

The neighbor’s dog was a little schnauzer with whiskers hanging down from its face. It didn’t look anything like a wolf, but still, every time it barked, she would jump. Her heart would race and she would hug herself, pull herself into a ball. When they walked around town, when her mom would take her to do the shopping and she saw a dog, she would cross the street.

She didn’t sleep much. Maybe a few hours every night. Her grades started dropping at school because she kept falling asleep during algebra. She tried all kinds of tricks to stay awake. She jammed pencil points into her thighs, bit her tongue, anything, but it never seemed to work.

The therapist gave her tranquilizers so she could sleep and Prozac so she wouldn’t just sleep all day. The combination made Chey feel like live eels were swimming around and around inside her skull, so after a while she only pretended to take the pills and hid them in the back of her desk drawer.

The therapist was supposed to be somebody she could talk to, but she had nothing to say. She would go and sit in his office and not say anything, thinking she could just wait him out. For a couple of sessions that was exactly what happened—he just waited until her time was up, then sent her home. After a while, though, he started asking her questions. Weird questions that made her feel angry or upset and she didn’t know why.

He asked her about dogs a lot. He told her that he owned a dog, a dalmatian. He asked if she’d like him to bring his dog to the office so she could pet it. She said no thank you. He got a very knowing look on his face and lifted his eyebrows like he expected her to say something more. She didn’t. He never mentioned his dalmatian again.

During one session he started asking her questions she definitely didn’t like. This time he wouldn’t take silence for an answer, though. He wanted to know what she remembered about her father. He wanted to know what her father had looked like, and she thought that would be easy, but then she couldn’t quite remember. Then he asked her if she ever thought about how her father had died and she had to admit that she did.

“Do you ever get excited when you think about that?” he asked. Her heart jumped in her chest when he said that. She stared at him as hard as she could, but he just sat back in his chair and waited for her answer. “This is really important, Chey,” he said to her. “I think this might be a breakthrough. I want to show you a picture,” he said. “I want you to tell me if this picture is arousing.” He pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket, a folded sheet torn from the pages of a magazine. Carefully he unfolded it and passed it to her. It was a picture of a wolf with snow on its muzzle.

She told her mom about what had happened, and then Chey didn’t have to go to therapy anymore.

She tried to be a normal kid, then. Tried her hardest to just fit in and do okay. Tried to act like a spinny chick and flirt with boys and get invited to parties. It never felt quite right, but it did lead to one unexpected bonus. At the parties there was always alcohol. She discovered that two or three beers would ensure she slept the whole night through.

Check out the previous chapters of Frostbite right here.

Excerpted from Frostbite: A Werewolf Tale by David Wellington. Copyright © 2009 by David Wellington. Published in the Unites States by Three Rivers Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc. Published in the UK as Cursed by Piatkus Books, an imprint of Little, Brown Book Group.

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