When I wake up, I am me again: Khwezi. My body aches – I’ve been sleeping on stony ground. I look out at the patch of sky at the cave’s mouth and it is grey and quiet. I wriggle my way out. I am still in yesterday’s clothes. They’re a mess. My shorts are torn, there’s a scratch on my neck, and my vest is muddy.
I look down at the house, trying to figure out what time it is. I see very few cars on the freeway. It is just before dawn, I estimate. The air has a nip; it’s been raining.
Slowly, I pick my way down the slope. It is weird to be back in human form. I feel heavier.
And tired. Very tired.
I walk past the field where Lizo tried to rape me. He is not where I left him. There are streaks of brown on the grass where blood fell, that is all. So, he survived.
Nobody will believe him when he says I turned into a leopard and tried to kill him. He’s known to get drunk and make up tales anyway.
At the bottom of the verge I join the streets. It is quiet. I can hear the sound of a radio through a window as I walk past someone’s house. Another early riser.
I start to think.
The police will talk to Piko, I am sure. Even if the paramedics thought he was nuts, that doesn’t mean everyone will. I will need to remain cautious.
Plus, there are people around here who do believe some people can turn into animals, so there’s that danger as well.
There is a lot to think about.
I approach the door. It’s unhinged. Did I burst through it in my cat state? I can’t remember.
I venture inside. It’s dark.
I poke my head into the kitchen. Pieces of spilled chicken flesh litter the floor. A cockroach scuttles, surprised at my presence.
The place feels like it has been deserted for a long time.
I exit this house that has been my prison. I don’t even look back at the door to say farewell. It feels like a skin is shedding off me – like a snake I saw in a documentary once.
What once covered me, now falls away. I feel calm.
An elderly couple are snooping around on the pavement. They’re greedy for gossip.
“Little girl,” the gogo says, “do you know what happened here?”
“Domestic abuse,” I say, not wanting to talk.
“Apparently, a young girl used to live here with her uncle,” queries the man. “Do you know what happened to her?”
My eyes start to water, but I hold the tears back. A breeze rustles in the trees. The sky is grey, with wisps of white.
“She’s dead,” I say, and walk on, leaving them with frowns and open mouths.
I walk in the direction of the mountain. It’s good to walk. My eyes blaze with fire. I’m angry.
Angry with Piko, with my mother for dying, with school, with those nosy people.
Before I know it I am on all fours, my claws gripping the earth, pulling it powerfully under me.
I ascend the mountain incline like a sinewy shadow.
The town recedes below me, growing increasingly small. How agile I am! How fast, how shadowy, how quiet. I am like a lethal whisper.
My anger melts away. Now I just taste joy in my mouth.
On the top of the mountain, I scale a large rock overlooking the town. I climb onto it. Slowly, like a blessing, the pink sun rises over the horizon. The rays ripple over my skin, like honey.
I am alive.
I am safe.
I am independent.
I am free.
Tell us: How did you like this tale of supernatural shape-shifting? Would you like a superpower like this?