Avoiding Conflict Can Keep You Alive Sometimes #22
by Cherie Ann Turpin
(30 Stories in 30 Days)
He sent me a birthday card right out of the blue. I decided not to open it, but that proved to be ineffective when he called me on my birthday. He asked me to show up to a lecture he was giving at the college. I knew then that there was a reason why I bought a ticket to a performance that would keep me away from him that night. In fact, I knew there was a reason I was not supposed to be in town. When I told him I would not be in town in the middle of the week because of family issues, he seemed confused at the idea of me traveling to West Virginia in the middle of the week. Only part of what I told him was a lie, so I was able to convince him.
When I first saw the email about the featured writers performing at Cultural Space in Providence, Rhode Island I almost deleted it. My familiar whispered a suggestion that made me pause before clicking on the link instead of clicking on delete. I looked at the inexpensive ticket price, and calculated the hours it would take to drive there and back, coming to the conclusion that it was too much of a pain in the ass to bother. My familiar’s specter came to me in full manifestation, insisting that I buy the ticket anyway and keep it just in case. Just in case of what, I asked. Doing her best version of barking orders, she said, just do it. I pulled out my Discover card and typed in the numbers, saving the electronic ticket while muttering all manner of fuckery and other choice words.
Two months later I scrounged up that same ticket and gassed up my car to drive down I-90 towards Providence. I did not want to admit that I was leaving my home to avoid running into my ex-boyfriend when he came to town. I didn’t like having to leave my own apartment and my own town just to avoid seeing him, but I knew why he called me late at night–and it wasn’t just because it was my birthday. The two possible outcomes of me seeing him were unacceptable to me, and quite frankly, I did not want to die.
I did not curse him when we split for good those many years ago. I spoke a prophecy brought forth in the midst of emotional and spiritual turmoil, where crises of the heart often lead to a certain clarity as to what the future will yield for us, regardless of what we believe or want to believe we deserve. I did not curse him. Okay, maybe I wanted to right at that moment, but I didn’t do it. I just knew that where he was headed would lead him to be at a certain place at a certain time, and so would the lycanthrope who would tear his left shoulder into ribbons and infect him with a blood lust that compelled him to travel to other cities once every six months to hunt for human flesh. What happened to him in France was devastating to him, something he could not share with his wife.
We stopped speaking one year ago after he invited me to come with him to Maine to visit his family’s summer cabin. He didn’t invite his wife. I knew one of two things would happen: either he would try to eat me, or fuck me. Or both. Rather than being terrified, I was insulted. Good enough to fuck and eat, but not good enough to marry. I wondered then if he blamed me for his curse. Figuring myself to be likely to be seen as prey if I brought attention to the obvious, I ignored the werewolf issue and focused on his invite as a way of turning me into his mistress. After spending about 30 minutes cussing him out for trying to treat me like a whore, I deleted him from my Facebook page, hoping he wouldn’t show up to Springfield, Massachusetts wolfed out. He kept his distance. Until my birthday.
Sooner or later I would need to confront the monster stalking me in slow motion. Short of becoming a lycanthrope myself, I had few options, and my gifts, while formidable in deception, defense, and retreat, were ultimately ineffective against bone-crunching jaws and knife-sharp claws. Eventually, he would tire of hunting substitutes and come for me, the woman who had the nerve to move on from him. I needed a bigger monster to stop him. Or a hunter.