Read Feral Online

Authors: Anne Berkeley






By Anne Berkeley

2013 by Anne Berkeley




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I’ve never quite understood the fascination people have with the supernatural.  Probably because I’ve always been a
strong believer of science.  Or maybe it was because I wasn’t raised religiously.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m open to possibilities.  But I need hard physical proof to believe.  Ghosts, werewolves, vampires, fairies, and higher beings simply don’t exist.  Unless, of course, you count Kellan Lutz or Chris Hemsworth Gods, and if you deem gaping at their eight-pack abs on the internet, worship.  In that case, I’m a devout Homo sapien.

Nevertheless, here I sit in Rock East’s school cafeteria, discussing of all things, my plans for
All Hallows Eve.  I loved the holiday when I was younger, but it ran its course, and the novelty of it faded somewhere around eighth grade, with a little help from Mother Nature, whom I also consider a complete myth.  Curse her.  The sad truth is at five foot nine inches tall; you’re youthful appearance matters not to the people dispersing the candy into your gently used Scooby Doo pillowcase.  Typically they give you a disapproving look, but on occasion, some total douche bag feels the need to add insult to injury with a little verbal censure like, ‘ You’re a little old for trick or treating, aren’t you?’ or ‘Don’t you think you should leave some candy for the children?”  I was a child, but my C cups told them otherwise.

Hence, I quit the holiday.

wearing a costume,” I refused for the gazillionth time.  “I’ve been to all the stores.  The only thing they have in my size is skanky, and that I can find in your closet for free.”

I smiled drolly at my best friend Peyton.

To clarify, in eighth grade, I was five nine.  Now, two months into my senior year, I reached a heinous six foot two.  I really shouldn’t complain.  I’m not a gawky string bean with a flat chest and a matching posterior.  I have curves.  But I elicit plenty of stares for it too.  The added attention a skanky costume would generate was the last thing I wanted or needed.

Thale, we should all be so cursed to have a body like yours,” Peyton complained.  “And it’s not skanky; it’s provocative.  If I didn’t dress this way, no one would notice me next to you.  People think I’m your shadow or the inferior twin made from the swill of your creation.”

“They do not.  You’re being too critical of yourself.”

Looking up from her salad, Peyton snorted.  “Really?  This morning, Joey Basso called me a garden gnome.”

Mid-swallow, I had to cup my hand over my face, hoping the cola I just sipped didn’t shoot through my nose.  Peyton, all four foot five inches of her, glared irascibly.  I laughed harder.  Between the red knit hat, the white cotton scarf, the green
Hollister tee and the fawn-colored Ugg boots, she indeed looked like the well-known garden gnome.  Carbonated bubbles tickled my nose.


“Fine, Peyton.  Maybe I can go emo,” I caved, returning to the former topic.  “I’ll chalk my hair and borrow some of Bennie’s stuff.  He’s got plenty.”

Bernardo, Bennie for short, was my thirteen-year-old brother.  He wasn’t emotionally unstable by any standard.  He was an artist, and his talent was reflected through his choice of apparel.  He played the suffering artist role to the tee.  But really, he was an amazing, funny, witty and uber-talented kid.

“Emo Barbie,” Peyton mused. 
I was Barbie.  She always referred to me as the unnaturally endowed, hourglass-figured doll.  “Why haven’t they ever made one?”

“They have.  They’re called Brats.”

“No, they’re like…I don’t know…divas or something.  So Jersey Shore.”  Peyton’s eyes focused just over my shoulder.  “Here comes your man.”

My man, as Peyton called him, was Marcus Pera, kissing extraordinaire.  A strapping six foot
five, he was the only male in the school I had to incline my head to kiss.  And I did so with appreciation, gazing into his chocolate brown eyes.  He smiled and pushed the dirty blonde hair from his face as he dropped onto the seat next to me.

“Peyton,” he said in greeting.  “I get the whole Travelocity thing, but you’re dressing up a little early, aren’t you? 
Trick or treating doesn’t start till after dark.”  Peyton responded by scowling.  “No, really, I’m impressed that you could come up with such a witty costume and all within the boundaries of your everyday attire.”

Lunging across the table, I restrained her from tearing the knit cap from her head.  “Really, Peyton, you don’t want to do that.  Someone gets a pic of your hat hair with their phone it’ll spread like wildfire.  Next thing you know, it’ll end up on
the internet.  Think about it.”

Marcus raised his hands in supplication.  “Kidding, Peyton.  Chill.”

“Ha ha,” Peyton sneered, readjusting her cap.  “You’re coming tonight, aren’t you?  Jack Medley’s house.  It’s up off four thirteen.  Practically deserted.  There’s nothing but woods surrounding the place, which means: no neighbors, no police.”

Reluctance flashed through Marcus’s eyes, but he nodded.
  “I’ll be there.”

“What?” I asked him, nudging his
elbow with mine.  I’d never know Marcus to shun a party.  If there was beer, he was game.

“It’s nothing.  I know some kids from around there.  We don’t get along.”

“Seriously?” Peyton said. “It’s Newtown, not the boon docks.  The chances of you running into anyone are slim to none.”

said I’ll be there. I’ll be there, ok?”  Directing his attention at his cheeseburger, he bit off half the patty in one mouthful, licking ketchup off his finger as it oozed from the side of the bun.  “But I’m not dressing up.  Only dorks dress up.”

“You two suck,” Peyton
griped.  “If you don’t dress up, Thale won’t dress up.  I’m not going to be the only one dressing up.  And I already bought my costume, which means I just wasted eighty-five bucks.”

Marcus smirked. 
“Like I said, only dorks dress up.”

You do realize Halloween is all about commercialism?” I added.  Eighty-five bucks for a cheap rayon costume and a handful of tulle…where was the justice?

“It’s the American way,” Peyton agreed.  “You still suck.”

The warning bell rang, signaling the end of lunch hour.  Slinging my backpack over my shoulder, I carried my tray to the trashcan and dumped the remainder of my meal.

“Text me when
you’re on your way,” Peyton said in farewell.  She disappeared around the corner, her middle finger trailing flippantly behind.

Marcus shook his head.  “You really should rethink her as a friend.”

“This is coming from someone who threw paper footballs at my head to get me to go out with him.”

“They were sonnets, perjured just for you by yours

It’s plagiarized, Marcus.”

“It was never my brains that won you over, it was my wolfishly good looks.”  He smiled puckishly, wagging his brows at me.

Actually, it was his inaptitude to rhyme that won me over.  I remember his attempt clearly. 
Roses are red.  Violets are …
, I suck at rhyming so spare me the trouble
.  Bronte, Burns, Tennyson, Chaucer, couldn’t compare to his self-depreciation.

“Forgive and forget, Marcus,” I said, giving him a light peck on the lips.  “Life’s too short to hold grudges.”  Dissatisfied, Marcus pulled me into his arms, deepening the kiss.  I ran my fingers into his hair, tracing the line of his ear, matching his enthusiasm.

“You’re right,” he said between kisses.  “Let’s forget about Peyton.”

Llorente, Mr. Pera,” rumbled Principal Shaffer.  He was young for a principal and not half-bad looking.  But he had an annoying habit of snapping his fingers.  On occasion, he filled in for Phys Ed, and combining the finger snapping habit with the whistle blowing, he turned into a class A dick.  “Bells about to ring and I believe you have classes to attend.”  Snapping his fingers, he gawked until Marcus and I broke apart and went our separate ways.  I had to jog to make it to class in time.  The bell rang just as I bounded through the door.

The afternoon went swiftly with only
chemistry and advanced literature.  I did my chemistry homework on the bus so I could have the weekend free.  When we got home, Bennie and I raided the fridge and then his wardrobe.  He painted my face and chalked my pale blonde hair with florescent pink streaks, but when he offered to pierce my lip, I had to decline.

“Sorry Bennie, I don’t do permanent,” I said, skipping down the stairs.  Mom wasn’t home yet, and the doorbell was ringing as if it were malfunctioning.  Dusk now, the younger kids were probably making their rounds.  Grabbing the bowl of candy, I tugged open the door.

“It’s not permanent,” Bennie pleaded.  “It’ll close up if you take it out.”

“I thought you were going to a costume party?” Mom inquired, coming through the door,
her arms full of groceries.  I’d hoped that Marcus would arrive before she got home, but he was late as usual.  I passed the bowl of candy to Bennie and took a bag from mom.

my costume, Mom.”

Mom arched a quizzical brow.  “But it’s all Bennie’s stuff.”


“I don’t understand.  You’re making light of your brother’s individuality?”

“Think about it this way, Mom,” Bennie hypothesized.  “Halloween is the one day a year you can expand the diverse facets of your character and not be condemned because of it.  Thale is now one step closer to discovering her true self.  And deep down inside, she wants to be just like me.”

“Oh,” said Mom
, beaming.  “Wonderful!”

Bennie winked at me behind mom’s back.  “I still think you should let me pierce your lip.  It won’t hurt.  I did Frank Carpaccio’s last week.”

“I told you that you could do my nipples if I’m still passed out come morning.”

My mom laughed.  I shook my head, aghast.  It was a joke; one she should’ve responded to with abject horror, but my mother was an anomaly, having been raised by my grandpare
nts who’d grown up in the sixties.  They nurtured her with phrases like ‘Make love not war’ and encouraged her self-expression by deviating from the norm.  Still, I tested her regularly.

“My parents were hippies,” Mom dismissed.

They raised me objectively
,” Bennie and I droned in unison having heard this speech a dozen times before.  “
A person needs to find their own niche in life.  I try to offer you the same freedom they offered me

About fifteen years ago, my parents opened a smoothie shop dubbed ‘O’berries’ after my mother’s maiden name.  Her surname was actually O’bary, but being a smoothie shop, they found O’berries more fitting.  Anyhow, the chain went nationwide, with over five hundred shops peppered down the eastern seaboard.  Despite this, we lived a modest life.   They decided raising their children in middle class suburbia would provide us with better morals.

Mom inherited her eccentric outlook from my grandparents, who, as mentioned, were honest to God hippies.  Indeed, they wore tie-dye, smoked weed, and at times, experimented with other various non-medicinal drugs apropos to their radical generation.

Still, when I think of my mother and her philosophical viewpoints, I think back to all the stories my grandparents regaled, and those I’d rather block from memory completely.  This all falls back to those visions I liked to suppress at all costs.  I reiterate, some things are not meant to be witnessed.  Or envisioned for that matter.  My grandparents, being ‘The Irish’
, were naturally talented at storytelling, and painted, regrettably, a relatively vivid portrait of their affairs.

“Seriously,” I went on.  “There are lines that need to be drawn.”

“Bennie has his nipple pierced,” Mom said.  “Forbidding you to do the same would be biased.  And I
have lines.  Teen parenthood being one of them.  Remember that when you’re out with Marcus tonight.  Babies don’t come from storks, mind you. College would be rather difficult with an infant at your breast.”

“Mom, please!”

“I’m not naïve, Thaleia,” my mom rattled on.  “I was your age once.  If you absolutely must, at least promise me you’ll use protection.  Not that I’m condoning intercourse, but I want you to behave responsibly.  And be safe.  Children are a huge responsibility.  While we’re on the subject, I’ll take the opportunity to point out that sexually transmitted diseases are no joke either.  Might I remind you that they’re not only vaginal, so don’t think oral sex is any less dangerous.”

“Bye, Mom!” I said, deciding to wait on the stoop until Marcus arrived.  Luckily, his
H2 was pulling up to the curb as I walked out the door.  As was my father in his BMW.

“Evo,” Dad said with a wink.  “The hippies of the new millennium.”

“Emo, Dad.  And they’re not hippies promoting peace and love.  They’re all about teen angst and self-pity.”  Hugging Dad, I ruffled his wavy blonde hair.  “In Bennie’s case,” I added because he looked concerned, “it’s a form of artistic expression.”

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