For ages mankind has been fascinated with the primal allure of shape-shifting. The ability to alter one's physical appearance, for the civilized human creature to revert once more into a form that is honest to their truer animalistic nature, has been the subject of many a legend throughout the course of time. Some believe it to be a curse. Others believe it is a form of freedom, to shed one's polite homo sapiens mask in favor of a physical reflection of one's own spirit. What if it were possible, Lycan thought to himself as he stared into an empty coffee cup. What if all it took was enough hope? What if all it took were one wish?
What if it were that easy to change?
"Are you listening?" a voice wafted through like a wisp of smoke over this thoughts.
"Mr. Gruff!" The sound of his name snapped the writer back into attention.
"Aye, I'm listening," he replied, furrowing his brow slightly as he squinted at the very cross looking woman adjacent him at the bar. Slowly removing her glasses from her face, his editor slowly cleaned the lenses. Something she only did when she was irritated.
"Look, Mr. Gruff, this is about your career," the editor said curtly. "There are matters that need your attention, and they need you attention now. You don't have time for day dreaming."
"You are a writer. Part of that job description means you have deadlines, expectations to meet, events and signings to attend, and publicity stunts to pull. Without you feeding your career, it will die as fast as a campfire with no wood added to it." Lycan listened to the woman go on, his chest feeling heavier and heavier with each word. The weight was so great, if felt stifling.
"When I first began writing, it was all about creating something," he said, more to the dregs of coffee in his mug than to the woman beside him. "Every time I set my pen to paper, I was free. Free to experience joy, to ride the river of my thoughts, to roll and swim through the depths of my imagination, as if nothing could weigh me down." For an instant his mind drifted back to those tales of shifters.
What if I could change? He thought. Become a reflection of my spirit; a joyful spirit, untamed and free.
"I wish I could feel that way again." As the words passed his lips, Lycan felt the world grow still around him as he waited for something to shift. The seconds ticked by, and nothing happened.
"Look, Mr. Gruff, you can wish all you want," the editor said impatiently. "But this is business and things are different now."
Feeling quite defeated, the writer lowered his face into the palm of his hand. Well, Lycan, he thought, what else did you really expect? With a long, heavy sigh, he ran his hand down his face. Much to his surprise, something unusually wiry tickled his fingers as they passed over his cheek.
"Now, back our discussion, I wanted-" stopping abruptly, the editor raised an eyebrow at the man. "Mr. Gruff, have you shaved recently?"
"You're looking a bit scruffier than usual." Her voice was dripping with displeasure. "Do make sure you take care of that before your next signing or your publisher will have a fit."
But I shaved this morning. Lycan thought, reaching back up to his cheeks. Sure enough, when he touched his face his fingers brushed over a large patch of wiry stubble. Well, that was certainly odd. As his editor continued to grumble- 'bloody writers and their trashy visage'- Lycan absent-mindedly scratched at his arm as he tried to organize his thoughts.
Now, I know I cleaned myself up this morning. I am certain of it. He thought, his fingers now scratching at his other arm.
It is impossible that I've gone scruffy in less than a few hours. Pulling at his shirt, Lycan began to drag his nails over his chest. And there is no way that I missed a spot that big while shaving. Why the bloody hell do I itch so bad? With frustration and concern for why his skin seemed so irritated, the writer yanked on his sweater sleeve. He felt his jaw physically gape as he looked over his own arm.
Hair, dark and slick as oil, had begun to sprout along the length of his forearm. Quickly jerking back down his sleeve, he hastily checked the other. Sure enough they looked nearly identical with dark hair growing from wrist to elbow. Something strange was happening and as he stood up from his seat Lycan could feel his bones rattling. Was it from the apprehension?
"Hey, Maggie, I need to go." He announced as he pulled a wad of money from his pocket and set it on the counter to pay for his drink. Without even waiting for the woman's reply, Lycan Gruff swiftly made for the door and burst from the café onto the city sidewalk.
Written by palantean-writer on 21 February 2016
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