Rumors said Renata was a werewolf. The villagers preferred it than what her family could come up with, which was nothing.
What caused the sudden convulsions? When asked, she could barely say, “I don’t know,” as her shoulders jerked and her eyes rolled around and around like the wheels on a wagon. It made Renata dizzy and the people in her village whisper to one another in confusion, judgment, and fear. It was enough to launch her mother into tears over the loss of her future and her father at a loss for what to do with his dowry. He gave up on a legacy through sons long ago, but this was another slight by a higher power that hated him.
Of course it began the day before a full moon. Even if it wasn’t timed exactly right according to legend, it was just convenient enough for the villagers to joke about melting their fine silver into bullets as she walked. Each time their eyes watched Renata twist and turn they would throw bullet-like stares straight at her head. She did not see them all, but Renata saw one little boy point his toy pistol her way.
“Bang, bang, Werewolf Lady!” he cried.
Renata’s body jerked in multiple places with no warning, sparking a catastrophic symphony of twitches that tumbled out one after another. The boy dropped his toy gun and ran away, calling out for his mother in a panic. Passerbys gave her disgusted glances as she unraveled in the streets. By the time she got home, the only thing that stopped it was her sheer exhaustion.
When she went to bed that night, she overheard her parents discussing what could be made of her future. Their verdict? Ruined. Girls were already damaged goods as far as children were concerned, but this was another level of damage in their eyes.
What difference did it make? Perhaps a puppet daughter would have made a better match; they would have the tools to fix her the way they dreamed. They always made Renata’s future about their wants, but if she no longer had one, she had no obligation to obey. Her body would never obey her command, so she would follow its wildness into the woods. If she was damned by her community, then she would enjoy the privileges of being a beast of society: solitude.
Renata’s form had no rules, no restrictions. She was wired to spark without caution in spite of the bodies she was supposed to mimic around her. In the woods, she could be unapologetically feral. It wasn’t without pains and aches from her unpredictable choreography, but wasn’t there always a deal that had to be made, even without the presence of gods or devils? That is the one rule Renata figured could not be broken, even in favor of disorder.
A legend came about shortly thereafter, but there was no origin story. No divine intervention. No stories about the full moon being an exclusive night for her prowling. She was more terrifying than that: Renata simply was.
About the author:
A content writer by day and the executive editor of Quail Bell Magazine at night, Gretchen is obsessed with words. Her work has appeared in Next Avenue, The Mighty, Blanket Sea, Rooted in Rights, and others. See more of Gretchen's work at www.writinggales.com.