“Did you hear,” someone giggled in the corridor, palm shelling around their mouth, covert, “August Chaudry has gone missing.”
Baz wanted to punch their teeth out their mouth. The girl’s lips were still twisted in mirth; she tipped her head back, laughing; the topic of conversation had already changed. Just a tidbit. August Chaudry. Missing.
Of course everyone knew who he was.
He was the loner, the loser, the kid at the back of the class, the kid that was probably hiding self-harm scars under long sleeves and reels of gauze; the person that was so apart from the norm that he was attractive, unattainable, a waste of good looks. That’s one thing Baz heard a lot. A waste.
It was a shame, really. Baz could hear the rain pelting on the school building like a metronome under the noise from the hyperactive students.
One could not simply search for a wolf that did not want to be found.
Baz found himself doing it anyway.
Under the blanket of October rain, one month had passed, and still August was out of sight. He could have been anywhere in the world. Ran to any end of the country by this point. All Baz was hoping on was that these grounds, this territory, was the closest thing August had allowed to resemble home in a long time.
His shoes were caked in mud when he returned home but entering alone would be accepting defeat so Baz sat on the porch and waited, dripping rain and desperation.
What had happened? What had even happened? Baz stared himself in the mirror. His skin was washed out, looked chalky. They were supposed to be…Baz squeezed the porcelain sink. They were supposed to be in this together. They had promised each other.
The rain hadn’t stopped. A drop slid down his cheek; in the mirror, his expression was blank.
Baz walked down the school halls alone.
What had happened?
He couldn’t…he didn’t know.
Nothing. Perhaps nothing had happened.
Maybe August was dead.
It had been a long time since Baz had seen him last.
Baz resented him.
But still, he would wait on the porch until the sky turned dark blue and he got tired of counting stars.
There was no point searching for him anymore, chasing him. August would be far away. He had left Baz behind. It was his choice – he had that choice, was allowed it.
The night air was toxic.
the screams were loud, bloodcurdling,
a lullaby to fall asleep to.
August’s quivering hand reached through the bars,
A sliver of moonlight catching an eye, chapped lips,
their fingers brushed.
I won’t leave you behind.
The memories would come back in fragments.
they were starving to death, so
they ate her.
after the first hump it wasn’t so bad,
flesh wet and gummy.
the feeling of fullness was so good,
they regained their appetite
and split her halvsies.
and oddly enough,
August doubled back for him.
Baz would not have done the same;
they ran away, barefoot, hand-in-hand,
thieves escaping to the night.
Maybe that was it. Maybe it had gotten too much for him. Baz stared out to the landscape.
This was it, the last time, a last time of many. How many more last times would there be?
How many more…would just…go?
one night August held Baz’s hand through the bars
his fingers long and cold on Baz’s wrist
eyes hooded as he stared down
I’m a monster
he whispered, voice small, scared, afraid
his throat bobbing as he swallowed down dehydration-thickened saliva
Baz told him
slowly, as if time wasn’t real
I’m a monster too
“Did you hear,”
One of the girls giggled,
“That August that went missing
was a werewolf
Someone else interjected
“I let him borrow my pen once,
“And that kid, staring at us right now
The one who was always hanging around with him
with that weird red hair
I bet he’s a werewolf too.”
will you come home soon
because it’s been so long and
I’m worried that with every day that passes
I lose a little more of
even if you hated me so much
you didn’t have to leave.
Baz ran his fingers over the overgrown weeds, watching them flicker at his touch, ripple and bob.
Each step led him further into the forest, the place where August and Baz came –
to strip away the human
This place August would remember, Baz knew.
When he was writhing on the floor and they were alone and August gripped his hand so tightly,
Hold on, Baz,
And Baz tried, but after hours of agony he – let go –
August soon followed
More than human, more than animal
dancing under the shadows of the moonlight
without the agony of humanity restraining
That had been the first time since
but still, that forest held echoes of many full moons together
in how Baz remembered the curves of the land
the rhythm of the wind in the trees
and the smell of something that felt like
“August,” he called out to the forest – for a response, a sign, some kind of answer, he didn’t know.
“August,” and the forest sung back, leaves shifting and birds –
He would spend the next few hours calling for
someone who wouldn’t respond.
Misbah Ahmed received her Masters in Global Literature and Culture from the University of York. Misbah’s research primarily focusses on contemporary British South Asian women’s fiction with a special consideration of trauma, gender, and the everyday. She was recently shortlisted for the Ruth Selina poetry prize and writes fiction in her spare time. You can tweet her @misbahahhmed.