They had told her she had a weak immune system, when she asked why she had to take the medicine. She'd been taking them for as long as she could remember, but this was the first time she questioned it. Her parents gave it to her, and she trusted them implicitly, like children do. Parents are safe. They keep you safe. They won't make you do anything that's bad for you. Ever.
But the question had been bubbling up in her mind every so often, and the rate at which it bubbled up had been increasing significantly lately.
A weak immune system. And the medicine kept the bad away, so she would be healthy and able to play and it was all good. She trusted them and the question ebbed away again. For a while.
As she grew older, she eventually reached an age where what parents tell you to do isn't what you are going to do. Even if you pretend to, there's this urge to test the limits, to find out what you'd do if you didn't listen to your parents.
So she stopped taking them. She had decided to only stop until she would feel anything being out of the ordinary. Like if she started feeling sick, or weak or something. She did get rid of the pills she was supposed to be taking, so that if they counted her pills, it would at least seem like she'd been taking them. That way, she could claim they just weren't working as well for her anymore.
She'd felt pretty smart.
At first, nothing changed. She just kept doing her daily thing, and even forgot about the medicine a couple of times, throwing away a double dose the day after.
Then, one evening, she was out with friends, watching the stars out in a field. The moon was full and dominated the sky, but it was still beautiful. The field was lit up and they could see each other enough that it didn't seem like it was pitch black. They were talking about the kind of things teenagers of that age talk about. Stupid things. Stupid things that were very important to them.
And then she felt something being out of the ordinary. A feeling somewhere between an all-encompassing itch and a nasty muscle cramp rippled through her body, her joints twitching as it did.
Her friends looked at her as she flailed an arm.
"What's wrong?" they asked.
"I don't know!" she had shouted back, as her back arched up unnaturally and she let out a howl of pain.
She doubled over forwards and into a ball, shaking visibly. Her muscles tightened intensely, her clothes tight and torn in some places, and then she just stopped shaking.
"Melly?" one of her friends tried. No answer.
Then she unfurled her body and stood up. She was taller than before, and her legs were bent oddly, curving back from the knees. She seemed to be standing on her toes.
Then she turned towards them, and they noticed her face. Covered in dark, bristly hair. Yellow eyes with black, dilated pupils, looking angry and bewildered. Her teeth had changed too, sporting visible canines with sharp points. Her fingers ended in sharp nails that looked like they could cut through flesh.
So they ran. As hard as they could, in any direction.
Melly sniffed the air, threw her head back and let out a howl. Then she picked one of her friends and on all four ran after him, as fast as the wolf she now partly resembled.
Not long after, screams and other unseemly sounds rang across the field, for nobody to hear. Her other friends had long fled the area.
The day after, the doorbell rang at Melly's house. Her mom opened the door.
"Ma'am?" the officer said, taking off his hat.
"Yes?" the woman said, looking like she'd been crying.
"We've found your daughter."
The woman, in a reflex, lunged forwards and gave the officer a hug so tight the officer yelped.
"Oh thank god!" she exclaimed. "Where is she?"
"She's at the police station right now."
She let go of the officer and took a step back. "Why didn't you just bring her home?"
"Well, ma'am, we found her in the forest, this morning, sleeping next to a... Body."
"Yes. And due to protocol, we had to take her in for questioning."
"The ID in his wallet said it was Jeremy McCormick."
"Jeremy?!" the woman said, shocked.
"Yes. I assume you know him?"
"Yeah, he's one of Melly's best friends. Yes, I know him. He's been over at our house many times. He's... Dead?"
"I'm sorry to say that he is, yes. His parents are also at the station. We would like to ask you and your husband, if he's available, to also come to the station."
"My husband's on a business trip. I run my own business from here, so I'm available right now. I'll be able to see Melly? Is she okay?"
"She's fine, ma'am."
She went inside and grabbed her coat and her keys.
"So Melly's a witness?"
The officer coughed.
"Not exactly, ma'am. We found her in the forest, as I said, sleeping next to the body of Jeremy. She was covered in blood -- his blood, to be precise -- and she had blood all over her hands and face."
The woman stood still, looking at him wide-eyed. This was the moment she had realized Melly had probably stopped taking her medication. Part of her had known it would go wrong some day, that she would find out she didn't have a weak immune system at all, but a completely different condition. One that had serious consequences when and if it manifested.
"Ma'am, if you'll come with us, we'll explain more when we get to the station."
This snapped her out of her thoughts. "I need to get my daughter's medication first," she said as she darted back into the house.
She ran up to Melly's room and searched for the pill box, found it, opened it, counted it, checked the garbage bin, checked the garbage bin in the bathroom, realized what had happened, sighed, and then went back downstairs with the pill box in her hand.
"Are you ready?" the police officer asked.
"Yes," she said resolutely, no longer shocked, just angry.
It would not take her daughter as it had taken her mother. She had fought too hard to keep Melly from finding out, from having to deal with the consequences she, her mother, grandmother and every female generation before had had to deal with.
No, Melly deserved better. This curse would not be hers to bear.