Disclaimer: Characters and situations are all from my imagination.
Warnings: Sex and love between women
Author’s Note: Thank you to everyone who has read/bought/reviewed my stories in the past! Since the last Valentine’s Invitational, I’ve gotten an official Stargate SG-1 novel released (and managed to get a gay character into the universe!). It all started because I had the guts to start sending my stories here. This website gave me my start, and I’m forever grateful for the people I’ve met here. You can find all my original stories - both free and for sale - on geonncannon.com.
Feedback: Constructive criticism and feedback, both welcomed at email@example.com
Werewolves of Dreamland, TX
by Geonn Cannon
Two steps to the right, arms out and bent up at the elbows with her hands up on either side of her head. High-step back to the left. Bring the right foot back, drop the arms, roll the shoulders. Erin Garza sweated inside the wolf mask as she ran through the choreography in her mind. She clapped her hands together and put her hands on her knees as she bopped her head to the music coming from the PA system. Out on the field, the Dreamland Wolves were playing their first game of the season against the Gracie Titans. It was hard to feel intimidated by a team called “Gracie,” but it would be even more embarrassing to lose to a team with such an infantile name. It was her job to make sure they stayed revved up.
Erin was the Werewolf, the official mascot of their high school. Her costume was an oversized wolf head and a torn football uniform over a muscular, furry torso. When she finished her dance, she jogged down the dirt track between the field and the stands, urging the crowd to cheer louder. Crowd was perhaps the wrong word. There were a few dozen people in the aluminum seats but the gaps were hard to ignore. It was just the first game of the season. There would be plenty of others with plenty more opportunities to put butts in seats.
When she got to the other end of the stands, she stopped and bent at the knees, waving her arms in the universal gesture of ‘let’s all get up!’ A few people did get onto their feet, and she raced back down the way she had come, one arm raised as if she was drawing a curtain. The crowd’s roar became louder, and she pumped her fists over her head in victory when the managed to drown out the music on the speakers.
The coach had told her that she should always be doing something, even when she was resting. She had to be in character for the entire game. When she stopped on the sidelines she planted her feet shoulder-width apart, put her hands on her hips, and rocked back and forth in time to the music. She turned her back to the field and leaned slightly forward to shake her tail at the opposing team. The wolf head cut off her peripheral vision so she didn’t know someone had joined her until she straightened up and turned to go into her next bit.
Sarah Burnett wasn’t one of the cheerleaders who had been at the mascot audition, since she was also a junior, but Erin knew who she was. Everyone knew Sarah, the tall, blonde, and gorgeous newest arrival in Dreamland. She was the sort of girl Erin would ordinarily watch from afar. Or more accurately, duck her head and stare at the floor when their paths crossed so she wouldn’t be caught staring.
But at the moment she wasn’t Erin Garza. She was the Werewolf. So she reached out and took Sarah’s hand in hers. She was wearing gray gloves with fake fur glued to the back, but she could feel the warmth of Sarah’s skin through the thick cotton. Sarah laughed and shook her ponytail as she stepped in close, her hand on the furry hip of Erin’s costume, and they began to do an erratic jumping dance with each other. Erin wasn’t exactly what the style was - it felt like something from a square dance - but it was certainly fun. She rocked her head from side to side, the chinstrap pulling at her jaw as it struggled to keep the wolf’s head in place.
She ended the dance by dipping Sarah, who obligingly brought her knee up and dropped her head so that her ponytail dangled toward the ground. Erin let her go and bowed to her in gratitude, and Sarah curtsied in her short cheerleading skirt before squatting to pick up her pompons and run back to join the rest of her squad. Erin watched her go, the flair of her skirt and the bounce of her ponytail, and forced herself to look away.
Her ears were burning, and the sweat on her forehead and upper lip had nothing to do with wearing the wolf head in the August heat. Now she was glad the crowd was so paltry; she would have been mortified if their entire school had seen her dancing with a girl. If they brought it up on Monday when she wasn’t wearing a mask she would be unable to hide her red cheeks and then they would know. She would be out and she would be shunned. She turned away from the cheerleaders and focused on the game. She had been standing still too long, so she went back into her routine. Two steps to the right, arms out and bent up at the elbows...
Monday after the game, Erin was at her locker. She was perched like a flamingo, one leg bent with the foot planted on her other leg so she could attempt to balance her backpack on it as she dug what she needed from the depths of her locker. She had just wrestled her Chemistry book free when someone touched her shoulder and said, “Hey.”
She wasn’t jumpy enough to drop everything, but her things almost ended up on the floor anyway when she saw who was talking to her. Sarah Burnett, flanked by Heather McNeil, Olivia Schultz, and Marissa Kim, three of the most popular girls in school. The Three Witches looked bored and tried to hurry Sarah along, but she ignored them and smiled at Erin.
“You’re the Werewolf, right? The mascot?”
Erin wished she could pull her hoodie up and cinch it tight until she disappeared inside. “Uh. Y-yeah. I mean, usually. There’s a back-up, and another kid does it for the away games, but usually. Yeah. It’s me.”
“Last Friday was you, though, right?”
“That was me.”
Her smile widened. She had a dimple on her left cheek but not her right, and it made her face delightfully lopsided. “Cool. Uh, I just wanted to say I was sorry for jumping in on your butt-wiggle thing. But the dance was awesome. If you wanted to do that again, I’d be up for it.”
Panic set in. Did she mean in the game, or was she actually asking for a dance right there in front of everyone. She tried to will herself not to blush. “Uh. Cool... okay.”
“Great.” She finally succumbed to her friends and began walking away with them. “Well, see you around, Werewolf.”
Sarah was already around the corner by the time Erin said, “M-my name is Erin...”
That was her problem. When she was the Werewolf, she could stand in front of an entire crowd and act like an imbecile. She would dance and do skits, she would incite a riot if she had to. She would dance like no one was watching even though she knew there were dozens of eyes locked on her every move. It didn’t matter as much when she was under the mask. She was safe under the wolf head. Once she took it off she would either talk too much while saying nothing or revert to a monosyllabic fool.
She finished loading her backpack and slung it over her shoulder as she shut the locker door. Sarah was definitely talking about dancing at the next game. It was wishful thinking to make the leap to the other possibility. Girls didn’t just casually ask other girls to dance, not at Dreamland High School.
The speakers were playing “Howlin’ for You” by the Black Keys, and the Werewolf was doing an elaborate dance to the beat. The crowd was clapping along with her as she breathlessly moved from one side of the bleachers rocking her head and playing the air guitar. They were a handful of games into the season now, and the spectators were finally starting to show up in force. She neared the Gatorade table when the song got to “Every guy grab a girl,” and Erin ran over to where the cheerleaders had gathered.
Sarah saw her coming and ran over to her. She took Erin’s hand and the two of them did a wild dance over the dirt track. Even over the commotion of the game, the music, and the crowd, she could hear Sarah laughing. When the song ended Sarah threw an arm across Erin’s shoulders and surprised her by jumping up. Erin went on instinct and put her arm under Sarah’s rump to give her somewhere to land. Sarah sat in the crook of Erin’s arm, and Erin could only think about how thin her costume was. She was just one layer of cotton away from touching the bare backside of Sarah Burnett’s thighs, and the thought made her lightheaded.
She put Sarah down without dropping her and motioned for the crowd to give her a round of applause. Sarah shook her pompons as she ran back to the other cheerleaders. Erin added a bit of a drunken swagger to her walk and brought up one hand to fan herself off. That drew a laugh, and she clutched the wolf’s head as she shook it back and forth as if to clear her thoughts. Once she was able to continue she pumped her fists in the air and went into another skit.
When the game ended - the Wolves lost, but by a margin thin enough that they were more disappointed than angry - Sarah ran over to her before she could leave the field. She was still wearing the mask, and Sarah took a second to determine if she wanted to look into the mask’s eyes or the thin black mesh that Erin was actually looking though.
“Hey. Sorry about jumping on you like that. I’m so used to improvising with people who know our routines and who I know can catch me...”
Erin waved off the apology. “It’s fine.” Her voice sounded epic and immense inside the mask, but she knew it would be hollow and muffled to Sarah. “It’s exactly what the moment called for. I’m pretty athletic, you know.”
“Oh, I know! Even the players get to sit down and rest every now and then. You must be exhausted by the end of the night.”
Erin shrugged. “I’m used to it. I was the backup mascot last year, so I found out how hard I’d have to work.”
Sarah nodded. “Do you want to take off your mask?”
“I’ll take it off in the locker room. There’s straps and things...”
“Oh, okay. So... you must be really strong, huh?”
“I guess. But you’re light. I’m just glad I didn’t drop you.”
“You and me both.” She turned her head away and then quickly back, turning her ponytail into a whip. “I should go. Until next week?”
“Cool. See you.” She flicked two fingers in a quick goodbye and then hurried off.
Erin thought back over their conversation and was amazed to discover it actually was a conversation. It was full of words and complete ideas and everything. She knew that if she’d taken off the mask it would have been awkward and full of filler words like “uh” and “um.” Those were her catchphrases, especially when it came to talking to girls. She wondered if she could get away with wearing it at all times, whenever she had to be social or there was the opportunity to spend time with someone attractive. There had to be someone who would find it quirky and charming.
So began their partnership. When the cheerleaders weren’t doing routines, Sarah would make her way over and she and Erin would improvise something. Sometimes Sarah would act like Little Red Riding Hood - since the school colors were red and white - and she would throw towels at the Werewolf or use them as capes while Erin would paw the ground and charge it like a bull. There were only ten games in the season before playoffs, and by the fourth game they already had a good rapport going and people were starting to anticipate their shenanigans at every game.
It wasn’t until a pep rally for the eighth game of the season that she realized just how obsessed people had gotten. One of the posters hanging from the bleachers had a stick figure version of Sarah and the Werewolf with the words PROM KING + QUEEN written in big red letters between them. She knew that two-thirds of the school had no idea their mascot was a girl, but those who did know thought it was the biggest joke in the world.
She just went through her routine, bouncing and pumping her fists, and acted as if she hadn’t even noticed the sign. The pep rally involved the players and cheerleaders playing games, and in a few of them Erin was expected to act as judge. She couldn’t speak, so she would pantomime her choices with broad arm movements and body language. One of the events was a foot race, and Erin was standing next to the starting line where Sarah was stretching.
“Did you see...?” Sarah asked.
“Yeah,” Erin muttered, shifting her weight from one foot to the other. “People are weird, huh?”
Sarah chuckled. “Isn’t it a riot?”
A moment before the race was to begin, someone must have noticed they were talking to each other, because a chant started rolling through the upper bleachers.
“Sa-rah and the Were-wolf, sitting in a tree...”
Sarah rolled her eyes. “God, are we in elementary school?”
Erin strolled over to the side of the gym that had started the chant. She held her arms out, then cupped one hand by the wolf’s ear. The chanting got louder, and Erin dropped into a crouch and threw her head back for a silent howl. Dreamland football players and fans were all well-trained by that point: when the Werewolf howled, they had to give it a voice. The chant cut off mid-word and changed into a plaintive “AHHH-OOOOOOOOOOO!” that echoed off the rafters. Erin made her hands into hooks and dropped them to the floor before lifting them up. The volume rose as if she was conducting them, and soon people were stomping their feet on the metal risers.
She punched the air, nodded her head - “Yeah, that’s right, we’re the WOLVES!” - and strutted back to the starting line.
“Damn, you’re good at that,” Sarah muttered.
“I’m the wolf, sister.”
Sarah grinned, and the coach moved into position to start the race.
The team went to the playoffs, but they were soundly eliminated and sent home in defeat. The entire team took it hard, of course, but no one took it harder than Erin. The school didn’t have a basketball team, so her duties as mascot were finished for the year. She had to hang up the Werewolf costume for eight whole months. That meant she would have to go that entire time without speaking to Sarah. They’d struck up such an amazing relationship that relied on Erin being able to hide her face. She didn’t want to change that and risk screwing everything up.
Fortunately they had Christmas break coming up. It was the perfect opportunity to fall out of the habit of talking to all of her friends. When school resumed in January, it would be easy to start a new routine. A routine of avoidance and hiding, but she was great at that. She had been practicing for it all her life. Besides, there was no way Sarah would want someone like her hanging around. It made sense for them to be friendly when they were both running back and forth on the sidelines. But in the real world, when the uniforms were put away and they were just normal students, she couldn’t imagine what they would if they did hang out. They were just absolutely different people from utterly different worlds.
And for the most part, she was good. When she got back to school after the break she found new routes to her classes and to her locker. Sarah was taller than average, so it was easy to spot her in a crowd and get out of her way before she was spotted. By the beginning of February, she thought she had broken the habit of talking to Sarah. She had almost forgotten the sound of her voice and the way her ponytail would shake and that one damn dimple...
She wasn’t going to get sucked into a crush. A crush could only be cured if she revealed her feelings, and there was no way she would do that. She could live with a crush, but the alternative was horrifying to her.
Then the school did something that was utterly unfair. On the second day of February, a bulletin board went up in the library. “LET THEM KNOW YOU CARE!” Students could pay a dollar to fill out a heart-shaped card and pin it to the board. On February 13, the cards would be delivered to the student who was identified on the inside. The sender could be completely anonymous.
For the first three days, Erin would eye the bulletin board whenever she walked past it. She envisioned herself buying one of the hearts and writing Sarah’s name in it, pinning it to the wall, and then staring at the ceiling all night waiting for the moment it was dropped on Sarah’s desk.
She would recognize my handwriting. (Not that she’s ever seen it.)
Everyone would know. (How?)
It would be so obvious when it was dropped on her desk. (Along with eighty other Valentines from everyone else in school.)
She agonized over it until one day she was waiting for her friend Greg after school. He had a project he needed to finish, and she could only wander the halls until he was ready to go. She went to the library, which was still open, and stared at the blank notes. The bulletin board was already full with pink, red, and white hearts. Hers would just be a drop in the bucket. She worried her bottom lip with her teeth and held the straps of her backpack as she considered it.
The librarian said, “I’m sure he’d love to get a card.”
She jumped and turned to face the desk “Who?”
“Whoever you’re standing there thinking about. Boys act like they don’t want Valentines, but they’re the same as us.”
“Oh... right...” She stepped forward and picked up a heart, then panicked. What if she didn’t have a dollar? What if she had finally bravely made it this far and couldn’t afford one? She dug in the pocket of her bag and found three quarters and three dimes. That sealed the deal, in her mind. She had the money so now she had to do it. She handed the coins over, refused the change, and took the heart to one of the nearby tables. She sat down and held her pen over the fuzzy construction paper. Her hand was shaking.
What the hell was she going to write? She needed to play it safe, just in case her identity was deduced. No big declarations of love, no revelation of her sexuality. Hell, she wasn’t even going to put her name. She just wanted Sarah to know that she was appreciated and that she was precious in someone’s eyes. That was what Valentines were for, right? Love in all its facets.
“Sarah. You’re a wonderful person. My life got better when I met you.”
She stared at it a moment longer and then, forcing her hand to be steady, she added another sentence.
“I wish I could tell you how I felt in person. But for now this will do. You’re a special person.”
She folded the heart in half, her face burning beet red as she put the pen back in her bag and returned to the bulletin board. She tucked it under a handful of identical hearts and pinned it in place. She hoped that doing it that way meant she wouldn’t be able to find and remove it herself if she chickened out in a few days.
The deed done, she smiled at the library and hurried to see if Greg was ready to go yet.
She expected to spend the rest of the week staring at the ceiling and hating herself for putting such a schmaltzy message in the heart, but the exact opposite was true. Once the words were out there and couldn’t be easily retracted she felt free. She slept better, she was more relaxed, and she was less anxious about accidentally running into Sarah in the halls. If just writing down the words made her feel better, a part of her wondered how marvelous it would feel if she said it out loud.
No. No way was she there yet. But she was willing to settle for the unburdened feeling she had now.
The week flew by, and then it was delivery day. The Valentines were delivered throughout the day. Library staff and student council members arrived in each class with a basket full of Valentines, which they then handed out. Erin thought it was particularly rude to turn it into a public spectacle. Sure, there was no problem with the kids getting five or six missives, but the people who didn’t get any were forced to sit there until the pageant was over. Erin got one from Greg, a friendship Valentine so she wouldn’t be left out, and she felt horrible for not returning the favor. She would have to be sure that she thanked him profusely for the very sweet gesture.
After school she was waiting for him to finish his project again, and she went to the library to find something to read. She was wandering down one of the aisles when she heard a soft wheezing noise and followed it to the source to discover Sarah was sitting on the floor in the References section, her backpack in her lap, one sleeve of her sweater pulled over her hand so she could dab at her eyes.
Her shoulders jumped and she wiped her cheeks. “Oh. Sorry. I didn’t think anyone was here.”
“What’s wrong?” She could see a pile of the Valentines in a variety of colors piled on top of her backpack. She tried to see if she recognized one of them as her own, but they were all still closed.
“Nothing. It’s stupid.”
Erin sat down across from her. “Try me.”
Sarah sniffled and flicked the stack with her finger. “These fucking things.”
“You got a lot, though. Some people didn’t get any.”
“I know. I’m not...” She swallowed and grunted. “They’re all the same. Look...” She picked up a handful and went through them. ‘You’re fiery hot!’, ‘Love those legs!’, ‘You’re so pretty!’, ‘Love seeing you in that cheerleader uniform’ with a disgusting winky face. These are stalkers. Pervy and gross stalkers who only care about my tits and my ass. And look. They all signed their names. Just in case I was so overcome by their poetry that I had to throw myself at his feet.”
“They’re... nice, though.”
Sarah said, “Nice? These aren’t nice. These are hormonal teenage imbeciles who decided to drool all over me. All day I got this shit dropped on my desk. ‘Here you go, Sarah, some guy thinks you have a great ass.’ This has been the worst day ever.” A sob broke her last word, and she dropped her head, pressing the heel of her hand against one eye.
“I’m so sorry. I didn’t know.”
“And the worst part is... this is the worst one.” She dug through the stack, dumping some on the floor beside her. “This one.” She held it up and Erin felt her insides clench when she recognized her handwriting on the front.
Erin said, “That’s the worst one? Why? Wha-what does it say?”
“‘My life got better when I met you.’” She sobbed again. “And this is the one that isn’t signed. The one that actually made me feel good. The one that actually acknowledged I was a damn human being, and he didn’t even sign it. It was probably a teacher or... or a gay kid or something.”
“Maybe it was one of your friends.”
“I don’t have any friends,” Sarah said. “I put on that cheerleader uniform and it’s like I’m royalty or something. They just want the popularity that splashes off of me. I have one person who gives a shit about me, and he didn’t even sign his name. Story of my life.”
Erin started to say something, stopped herself, and then said, “It also said you were a wonderful person.”
Sarah sniffed. “What?”
“The note. It said you were a wonderful person, and then it said... my life got bette when I met you.”
Sarah stared at her. “How did you know that?”
“I wrote it.”
Sarah’s frown deepened. “But you hate me.”
Somewhere in the depths of the library, someone shushed her. Sarah said, “You don’t even like me. Why would you write something so beautiful? And... thank you, by the way.”
“You’re welcome. Why do you think I hate you?”
“Because I haven’t seen you since before Christmas. I thought, okay, we’re not seeing each other as much because there are no games. That’s fine. But it’s not a big school, Werewolf. You had to be making an effort to go unseen. Eventually I figured out you were just going out of your way to avoid me.”
“Not... not because I don’t like you. Because of... all that stuff about you and the Werewolf being a couple. I thought if we hung out, people might start rumors or something. I figured you were popular enough that a rumor like that might hurt you. So I stayed away.”
“I wish you hadn’t.”
“Me too, now,” she said. “I’m so sorry you got the wrong idea.”
Sarah nodded and looked down at the cards still on her lap. She opened her bag, got out a pen, and used one of her books as a surface to write on it. She scribbled out whatever the original sender had written and then leaned forward to give Erin a hug.
“Thank you so much. It’s not the worst day ever anymore.”
She put the folded card on Erin’s lap and stood up. She was still clutching the note Erin had written in her hand, but all the others had been dumped and forgotten on the floor.
“I’ll see you around from now on, right? No more avoiding me just because of dumb gossip.”
“Cool. And thank you, Werewolf. It really was the sweetest card I’ve ever gotten.”
Erin ducked her head to hide her blush. When Sarah was gone, Erin opened the card that had been dropped on her lap. Sarah’s handwriting was small and ornate, not quite cursive but also not plain enough to be print, either.
“You’re exactly the person I hoped I would meet when I changed schools. Thnx for being here.”
Erin bit her lip and smiled, rereading the note five times before Greg came looking for her. She gathered up the notes Sarah had left behind so the librarian wouldn’t have to, and on the way out of the school she dropped them into the first trash can they passed. When she got home she tucked Sarah’s Valentine in the corner of a picture frame where she could see it from her desk and from the bed.
For the rest of the weekend, she stayed in her room and rarely looked at anything else.
Over the next few weeks, Erin made an effort to not hide. Sarah asked her to lunch a couple of times a week, and after the first couple of times her snooty friends stopped trying to freeze her out when it became clear Sarah wasn’t going to “come to her senses.” She was sure they were expecting some kind of Carrie situation where they befriended the nerd only to gain her confidence so they could pull off some massive prank, but she knew Sarah was genuine.
Being friends with Sarah, someone she was growing to like even more with each passing day, was better than cutting her out entirely. It was a little painful to hear her talk about the boys she liked. It was even worse when she actually went on dates with them. But Erin knew she would have to get used to unrequited love in the future. Sarah would be good practice.
One day, by some miracle, Sarah and Erin were alone together at lunch. The Three Witches had some kind of class project due and they were working through lunch. Sarah let Erin pick where they went and they ended up at a small by-the-slice pizza place that was empty save for them and the old man behind the counter.
“So who are you going to prom with?” Sarah asked as she ate a pepperoni.
“Oh. Uh, Coach Davison said the student council might want the Werewolf there. You know, for pictures and stuff.”
Sarah frowned. “That sucks. So you don’t get to go to prom?”
“It’s not like I have people beating down my door to go with me.”
“What about Greg?”
Erin stuck her tongue out in disgust. “You might as well ask ‘what about my brother’? I mean, I love Greg and all. But. No. Ew.”
“Okay. Well, there’s gotta be someone.”
Erin shrugged and sipped her soda.
A few days later, Sean Osborne asked Sarah to the prom and she accepted. Erin also accepted her invitation to the dance: a free ticket in exchange for being the Werewolf during part of the night. She wouldn’t have to get dressed up, and she would have an excuse when anyone asked her who she was going with. It was unthinkable to so many of her classmates that she might not even go, that she would just sit at home when something like THE PROM was going on. She didn’t need or want the pressure, and once again putting on the wolf mask would save her from facing the hard questions.
When the big night came around, she put on the costume and headed downtown. There was one hotel in town, and it had one ballroom, and that was where Dreamland High’s prom was taking place. Erin arrived early and helped the student council greet people as they came in. Everyone wanted to high-five the Werewolf, and it seemed like every other girl asked if Erin would be in their official prom picture.
The music started, and a handful of people called on the Werewolf to dance. Erin obliged them, strutting out into a circle of cleared space on the dance floor and pulling out every move she could think of. She did the sprinkler. She did the running man. She even threw in a few moves she had picked up from Ellen Degeneres, and she got a couple of football players to join her in doing Gangnam Style. She stumbled a bit in her routine when she saw Sarah watching but she managed to recover. At the end of the song she gave an exaggerated pantomime of exhaustion and dragged herself off the dance floor to raucous cheers and applause from people who would never have given Erin Garza the time of day if they saw her in class. She knew that if she was at the party as herself she would have been firmly entrenched by the punchbowl. The Werewolf, though, was the life of the party.
She retreated to the sidelines so she could catch her breath. Sweat was pouring down her face inside the mask, but she felt amazing. She had just sagged against the wall when Sarah caught up with her.
“Hey! You were amazing out there.”
“Thanks,” Erin said.
“You must be burning up. You can take the mask off. No one will see you back here.”
Erin shrugged. “Once I’m in the costume, I like to keep the mask on.”
“Oh. Okay.” She hugged herself and looked down at her shoes. “So I’m glad you came. I can’t believe no one asked you to the prom. Or did they, and you had to turn them down?”
Erin laughed. “No one asked me. I’m not... you know, you.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Nothing. Just... pretty. Popular. You had your choice of dates.”
“No, I didn’t.”
Erin said, “Sure you did. You could have gone with anyone you wanted.”
“Not anyone.” Sarah opened her purse and took out the Valentine. “Not the one I really wish would have asked me.”
Erin’s heart leapt into her throat. “What?” She sounded strangled even to her own ears, and she doubted the word was strong enough to be heard outside the mask.
“I left my old school because I had a fight with a girl I liked, and she told everyone I was gay. We moved away because people were harassing me so bad. My parents just wanted to give me a normal school life before I graduated. And here I am, screwing it up again. But you seem... you’re not the kind of person I think would use this against me. And you’re not the kind of person to hate me for what I’m about to say. If I really could have had my pick for prom date, I would have picked you, Erin.”
Erin reached under the wolf’s mask and unhooked the strap. When she lifted it off, her sweat pulled her hair up in jagged spikes. Sarah looked terrified, but she didn’t look away when Erin dropped the mask. Erin swallowed the lump in her throat and put her hands on either side of Sarah’s face. She was shaking, but Sarah was shaking too much to feel it. Erin’s eyes were wide, and she felt like she was in a car watching in slow motion as a semi switched lanes in front of her.
“What are you doing?” Sarah whispered.
“I dunno. I’ve never done it before.”
It was less than a heartbeat, lasting barely two beats of the song playing on the dance floor. The song was David Bowie’s “Heroes,” and Erin couldn’t help but think about the verse that talked about kissing without shame or fear. She suddenly knew exactly what he was talking about.
Erin’s face burned when she took a step back and risked a look at Sarah’s face, wary of finding horror or disgust there despite what she had said. Sarah’s eyes were open and her lips - lips that tasted like the plastic strawberries in lip gloss - were still parted.
“Was that your first kiss?” Sarah asked.
Erin nodded; she’d used up all her brave words.
“Mine too. So I guess we’ll always remember each other.”
Erin laughed and wiped at her eyes.
“God, you idiot,” Sarah said, suddenly shoving Erin’s arm. “You know how long I’ve been hoping you were gay? You should have just said something!”
“Me?! I... I was...”
“I’m kidding.” She put her arms around Erin’s neck and hugged her tightly. “But now you really are the person I hoped to meet when we changed schools.”
Erin rested her cheek against Sarah’s. “Yeah? Awkward dorky girl in a werewolf costume?”
“We were both werewolves,” Sarah said. They were swaying to the music now, dancing in the shadows in the far corner of the room. “You had that mascot mask, I had the cheerleading outfit. Made it easy for both of us to hide, I guess.”
“No more hiding. At least not from each other. Deal?”
Erin smiled. “I like that deal.”
Sarah moved her hand in search of Erin’s, squeezing the furry wolf glove she was wearing. “We’re sort of dancing.”
“I noticed. I didn’t want to say anything in case you thought I was complaining.”
Sarah said, “I take that to mean...”
“I’m not against it.”
“Good. Because I want to keep dancing. Just for a little bit.”
Erin bit her bottom lip and nodded. “Sounds good to me.”
The music changed to another fast song, and as the rest of their class danced under the bright yellow-and-blue spotlights set up by the hotel, Erin and Sarah swayed slowly in the shadows to a tune only they could hear.