Flash Fiction: Skin (349 words)

Her wolf stared at her. She could feel his eyes burning into her, could feel his worry under her skin. She ignored him, staring up at the moon. She sat on the edge of the cliff, legs scrunched up to her chest, wondering how long they would let her sit this time. The howls rung out around her and she sighed. Not long.
A pup nipped at her elbow and another nudged her back. They always managed to find her. Why couldn’t they understand her need to be alone sometimes? The pack surrounded her, prodding her until she got to her feet.
‘Alright,’ she snapped, and they moved back. Her wolf got to his feet when she did, coming to her side. She turn and ran, knowing that’s what they wanted. They ran with her, keeping stride with her, and the fur of her wolf brushed against her arm. He would always be beside her.
Sometimes she wished she could out run them, that they didn’t always look to her. Wished she didn’t have to always worry that she would fail them.
The air was cold and her breath puffed out in front of her. Her heart raced with the same speed as her feet. Her skin felt wrong, like it always did when the moon was full, and she wished it would obey her and shift. She was so much wolf, yet no wolf at all. Why did they look to her when she couldn’t even shift?
They ran through the forest, a wave of fur rolling over the leaf litter. Their love and joy wrapped around her, making her heart swell and causing tears to fill her eyes.
She slowed to a walk to enter their cave. She sunk to the ground and curled up, the pack pressing against her to keep her warm. Her wolf rested his head beside hers, his eyes sad. She stroked his snout.
“Not long now,” she whispered to him. When the sun rose she would have him back and she wouldn’t feel so out of place in her human skin.

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