art by Tais Teng
by Elena Gleason
Karlen washed the flecks of blood from her face and patted it dry, and as she ran the towel under her chin, she realized she'd missed a spot again. The towel was already stained, covered in streaks and splotches from other evenings, and she knew the new red mark would darken to match soon enough. She never quite managed to get all the blood on the first try.
Earlier that night, she'd left Peter with a kiss and a promise to be careful. Then she'd walked down to the park at the end of the block and sat under the big maple to wait, as she had every full moon for the past eleven months. Every full moon she would sit under the tree, take the folded snapshot out of her pocket, and remember the day the photo had been taken right in that spot. The tree had been bright orange with its fall foliage, and Wes had laughed as leaves were thrown into the air by sudden gusts of wind only to float gently down around them. He had been so happy that day. He had been happy, and so she and Peter had been happy too, all of them wearing silly grins with their hats and scarves, staring out of the photo with no clue that five months later Wes would be a monster. It was no wonder that Wes had been drawn to this place for his night of remembrance, the one night that he would recall who he had been. Remember his former life, and despise the memory.
With Karlen's father, it had been their house, and that had been harder. Her mother hadn't been able to bear to hurt him at first, and would send Karlen and her sister to stay with their aunt on full moon nights. When they came back the next day, something was always wrong: a picture missing from the wall, a new doorknob, plastic sheeting covering a window. Then one night, her mother hadn't sent them away. They stayed in their room, and her sister crawled into bed with Karlen, and all night they listened to their mother crying on the other side of the wall.