Chapter 9

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After half an hour of waiting, the nurse finally came in and checked up on me. As expected, I was completely fine. Alex drove me home.

“So are you going to be okay by yourself here?” He asked when we got upstairs to my room and I sat down on my bed.

“Yes I’ll be fine, don’t worry about me. Depending on how long it takes my mother to wake up... if she wakes up...” I looked down and felt Alex sit down next to me. He softly grabbed my face and pulled it up to look into his dark brown eyes. A tear slid down my cheek.

“Ali, she will wake up. I promise.” He moved closer, stroking my cheek with his thumb. I looked back down and rested it on his shoulder. He put his arms around me, resting his head on mine. We stayed there for what felt like forever until finally I sat up.

“Alex, what if she doesn’t? Where will I go? I don’t have anyone else.” My father disappeared when I was 8. He was a teacher at Wildebridge Highschool and one day, while driving home from work he saw smoke from a fire in the preserve. He called the fire department, which is how we know that much. Everything else is a mystery. When they turned up at the scene, all that was left was my father’s car. Shortly after the fire was put out, the car had disappeared too. Rumours said that it was somewhere in the preserve, but no-one had ever found it.

“You have me. You’ll always have me. Don’t ever think like that Aliyah.” I smiled a tiny smile while still crying. I would have no-one else other than him and Braeden. 

Once Alex left, after hours of talking and just sitting together, it was 7pm. I convinced myself that the best thing to do right now was talk to Thomas. I grabbed my car and house keys and got into my car. I drove to Thomas’s with the music blared. Silence let me think about everything and I didn’t want to do that, otherwise I would feel the pain of my heart splitting into one million pieces. I knocked on his apartment door loudly. Something smelt different, there was no blood this time, which meant that at least one thing was going well. Finally he answered the door.

“Braeden told me what happened.” He said, letting me inside. I walked straight in and sat down on his couch without even saying hello.

“Thomas. What am I supposed to say to her? How do I convince her that I’m not the monster she thinks I am? And what even attacked her?” I’d been too busy considering ways to talk to her about what she saw, I hadn’t even begun to answer the question of who or what actually attacked her in the first place.

“Look... Aliyah... This is not going to be pretty, and I can’t even believe I’m the one saying it, but you have to tell her the truth. You have to tell her everything.” He said, sitting on the table opposite me. 

“What? I can’t do that!  What about everything you told me about keeping our secret? I’ll be exposing you and Braeden too!” I couldn’t even comprehend telling her the truth, telling her everything I had been lying to her about.

“Ali. Think about it. You have to, there’s no other way.” Thomas looked at me sympathetically, it was a new look for him. He was usually just the strong, serious one.

“She’ll never forgive me. I’ve been lying to her for the whole summer!” I shouted at him. I started to cry again, putting my head in my hands. I wasn’t normally like this. 

“Aliyah. She will forgive you. She’s your mother.” Thomas said slowly, taking big pauses in between sentences.

“I have to go.” I said, sternly. I stood up with a straight face, wiping off my tears.

“Ali...” He started.

“No. Don’t... I’ve heard enough.” I turned towards his front door and started walking towards it.

“Aliyah. I’ll drive you home.” Thomas said, grabbing my arm as I opened the front door.

“I said no Tom!” I yelled, flashing my yellow werecoyote eyes at him and yanking my hand away from his tight grip. I walked out of the front door leaving Thomas standing guiltily behind me.

I climbed into my car and immediately called Alex.

“Hello? Ali?” He said through the phone. He answered almost immediately.

“Alex... I... I...” I stuttered between sobs.

“Ali? Where are you? I’m coming to get you.” He quickly said, clearly stressed.

“Alex... don’t... just...” 

“Aliyah! Tell me where you are!” He almost shouted. I could hear his car keys clanging in the background, his front door slamming, his running footsteps, his heavy breathing, his car door opening and shutting.

“I’m... the parking... outside the apartments... near the west... side of the preserve...” I managed to say. I couldn’t breathe. My head felt dizzy. I struggled to hold the phone to my ear. My chest hurt like something was trying to eat away at my insides and burst out. 

“I’ll be there as soon as I can. Ali, stay calm, keep talking to me while I drive. What homework do we have due on Thursday for English that I gave you yesterday?” He asked clearly wanting me to keep focused.

“An... essay... on Shakespeare’s plays...” I tried to calm myself down, I needed to calm, down.

“Okay. What day is it today?” He asked.

“Monday...” I hoped I was right. With everything going on, the day of the week meant nothing to me.

“Correct. Now...” Alex said, a hint of relief in his voice that I knew the answer. He stopped as he heard my phone go dead. 

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