Before Mary walked out the door to catch the school bus, she clenched her neck. Her necklace was up stairs in her bathroom where she had taken it off to shower. She felt her blood rush and fear taking over her body. She rushed upstairs and grabbed her azurite flower necklace. How could she let herself get so close to forgetting the one thing that protects her friends from her?
At a young age, Mary discovered that she is cursed to become a monster at any moment if she is not careful. She has fangs and claws, hidden inside her flesh. She will keep it that way. Hiding it away means keeping the monster chained. Keeping everyone safe. The necklace keeps the monster at bay without her having to focus on doing it herself.
This is not the only secret Mary has. And the azurite flower does more than keeping her monster at bay.
A little over a week ago, Mary found the beautiful blue stone wrapped in a silver casing, chained with silver, in the woods behind her house. She was on her way to her favorite spot by the stream to read a not so monstrous book. The necklace had been placed perfectly on a big, funny looking, rock (that Mary must have overlooked a million times because she swore she had never seen it before), set in a way that would make one think it was being displayed in a shop window.
She was almost quick to grab it, but before her hands touched the stone, she pulled back. What if it belonged to a neighbor? They would come back for a necklace like this once they realized it was left behind. But why would a neighbor be in her part of the woods? She shrugged to herself and carried on to the stream that separated the woods from a field of tall grass that bloomed daisies in the early summer, and she began reading.
Everyday on her way to her spot by the stream, she would see the stone necklace, unchanging, as she walked by that funny looking rock, always stopping to examine its veins, being careful not to let her long and dull brown hair disturb it when she peered at it from above. No one ever came for it. When a week passed, Mary finally took claim to the beautiful blue stone necklace with the silver chain.
She hurried inside and ran up the stairs to her bathroom. She admired the way the color of the stone complimented her eyes as she put it on. When she fastened the silver chain behind her neck, she felt an immediate warmth grow through her. She felt the monster that tugged at her thoughts fade away into oblivion. She clutched the stone and found it warm. She pulled it closer to her face to examine the now strange thing.
The stone shone suddenly and made Mary blink, dropping the stone. She gazed into the mirror at the shining blue light. A ball of light pulled out of it. Mary dropped the stone and backed into the wall, never letting her eyes leave the small orb. It only hovered. Curious, Mary moved closer whispering “What in the hell?”
She went to poke it. But before she could, it touched her finger instead. Its warm touch did not keep Mary from screaming and hitting the floor.
“I’m not a bomb,” said a voice coming from the orb. It sounded all over the place. Like an echo in her head. “I’m here to help.”
Mary was wide eyed now. She looked up. That mouthless floating light thing just spoke to her!
“Ok,” she squeaked.
The orb gently floated down to her. “My name is Adohi.”
“I am of the Nunnehi. I’m here to protect you.”
At school, Mrs. Williams, Mary’s English teacher, passed out a copy of the same book to each student. On the cover is a big hairy monster howling at the moon. Before Mary can even read the title, she flips the book over to stare at the words inside a full moon where other authors have been quoted for their praise on this book.
“All of you are required to read this book by Halloween.” Mrs Williams began in a standard teacher’s tone. “That’s two weeks from now. I agree that it is unfortunate that Halloween is on a Wednesday this year, so this should be a fun read to keep your spirits up. On Halloween, you will have an open discussion about the book.”
The class made a disappointed sound. Collin said, “Can’t we just eat candy and watch the movie instead?”
“Maybe if all of you are good enough throughout the next couple of weeks, we can bring snacks and watch the movie,” Mrs. Williams said.
There was a happy murmur among Mary’s classmates. Except for Mary. She thinks about how she will cope with the upcoming holiday and all the monsters being shoved in her face. Real and fake.
At lunch, Mary’s best friend, Kenzie, plops down beside her. Both of them bring their own lunches out of disgust of the school food. “How goes the day?” Kenzie asks.
“Nothing out of the ordinary,” Mary replies.
“Did Mrs. Williams give your class “Werewolf in Paris?”
Mary cocked her head at her friend.
Kenzie cocks her head in the same direction as Mary as to mimic her and squints her eyes at Mary as if she cannot believe she exists. “The book? For Halloween?”
“Oh!” Mary sat upright. “Yeah, yeah…I haven’t even looked at it. Sorry.”
“Haven’t you seen the movie?” Kenzie asks with her head still cocked.
“I don’t watch…,” she hesitates before saying the word monster. She swallows, “those kinds of movies. Remember?”
“Ugh! It’s a classic! Maybe you should turn over a new leaf. They really aren’t that bad. Especially this one.”
Mary shrugs and picks at her food.
“You look like you are way to deep in thought.”
Mary looks at her and smiles, “You might be right.”
Kenzie did not know it, but she had a point. If Kenzie is going to do what she has to do now, she will need to understand monsters a little better. Maybe not mythical creatures like werewolves, but they are a start.