"NOT THAT BIG OF A DEAL?" I shouted, "I have wolf parts growing out of my face!"
"We all have our baggage," she said. "We all have shit to deal with."
And so I tried to deal with it. I started going to work again. After work, I came home, made dinner, and watched TV. I craved red meat, rare and juicy. I ate it as often as possible.
Once the wolf head had fully emerged, it didn't hurt anymore. A few clumps of my own hair remained, but mostly, I had wolf fur from the neck up. My human face was hairless, but hidden between the upper and lower jaws.
As long as the wolf mouth was open, I could see and talk and eat, so my life felt relatively normal. I scratched my wolf ears sometimes, and it felt good. Soon, I was able to listen through them, too. My hearing was better than ever.
I saw several doctors and plastic surgeons, but they all ran the same tests and came to the same conclusions. The wolf skull had fused with my own skull and there was no way to remove it. They weren't sure why it had happened, and theorized about environmental triggers.
I felt lucky to have friends and coworkers who appreciated me, wolf head and all. My boss didn't care what I looked like, as long as I got my work done. My friends knew I was still the same person on the inside.
The only thing that really bothered me was being thirty-seven and single. Would I be alone forever?
I asked Emily for dating advice and she told me what she'd been saying all along, even before I started developing the new features. "Be yourself."
"A woman who's part wolf?" I sighed.
"Listen, it's who you are. You can't change it, so why hide it?"
At Emily's urging, I set up an online dating profile. We did a photo shoot in the park. She brushed my wolf fur until it gleamed, and suggested wearing extra eyeliner, so my human face was visible inside the wolf's mouth.
A few of the pictures turned out all right. I filled out the rest of the profile and posted it. I used my real age, height, and weight, because I didn't see the point of lying about the little stuff. In the main section of the profile, I wrote: I'm not wearing a mask. My own skull is fused with a wolf skull. It grew that way earlier this year. I am either a freak of nature, or a woman who likes to be scratched behind the ears. If you're interested, send me a message.
I got a few nasty comments, and some from people who assumed it was a joke, but the second day the profile was up, I got a short note from a guy named Leonard. He was 42, and in his picture, he was hiking on a tree-lined trail. He had glasses, and looked nice enough. We liked a few of the same bands. His message said he'd be happy to scratch me "anywhere I want to be scratched" and that he had a special appreciation for miracles of nature.
We met for a drink, and after a brief but pleasant conversation, I surprised myself by agreeing to go back to his place. He was an artist, he said. He wanted to show me his work.
I followed him home, and parked behind him in his driveway. He opened the garage door and revealed his studio. His art was creative taxidermy.
"I thought you might appreciate this," he said, "since you're one of a kind, too."
The walls and shelves of the garage were covered with projects. I saw a chicken with rabbit
10 | Psychopomp Magazine