It wasn’t at all unusual for your average college student to pull an all-nighter. In fact, most college students pull at least a couple by the time they finish their bachelor’s degrees, several a semester if they happened to have the tendency to procrastinate before big deadlines. However, Elizabeth Anne Micrada pulled an all-nighter once a month in her childhood home, sitting at the top of the stairs to her basement with her mother.
They would sit there, from sun down to sun up, talking about the last month since they had sat there. Beth’s classes, Margie’s studying, her mother and step-father’s different escapades over the month, and so on and so forth. Together, they tried to ignore the howling, scratching, and creaking coming from the basement below. When the sun finally danced in through the kitchen window, Beth’s mother would head down into the basement to make sure that Beth’s stepfather was appropriately covered, then Beth would follow, scoop up her 12-year-old sister, and would carry ‘Little’ Margie to her bed upstairs.
Beth’s mother would tend to her step-father in the basement, and Beth would stay with her half-sister, carefully bandaging any injures, icing bruises, and waiting patiently for her to regain consciousness. Margie’s first words were always, “Thank you, Beth, I love you, Beth.” Beth would kiss Margie carefully on the forehead, and then would head downstairs to check on her step-father and to inform her mother that Margie was awake. Once the news was passed on, Beth would drive the two hours back to school, hopefully arriving in time for her 10:30am class, and if not, then she would sit outside her professor’s office to apologize for her absence, and to get the lecture slides.
Everyone was slack with their rules when it came to Beth missing class. They thought she went home every month to steel her sister as she prepared for intense chemotherapy treatments for a cancer that had been plaguing her almost since birth. That wasn’t strictly true, but it was the closest thing that anyone would believe. Beth often tried to imagine the look on her friends’ face if she had told them the truth—that Beth went home every month to tend to her sister and her step-father, both of whom were werewolves.
Beth glanced at her dashboard clock, as she pulled onto campus. 10:38. Too late. Beth parked in the lot closest to her dorm, and then slowly made her way to the English department building. She was exhausted, but she tried to not fall asleep as she waited. Last night had been particularly rough. Margie had dislocated her shoulder somewhere during the night. Beth had mastered relocating Margie’s joints over the years, but it always made Beth extremely nervous for Margie’s awakening, and she usually ended up sticking around a bit longer than she had to, just to make sure Margie was alright. The pain on her sister’s face always broke Beth’s heart, and made her feel even more tired than she had before. Beth shut her eyes for just a moment, and rested her head back against the wall behind her chair. Of course, right at that moment, someone came up to talk to her.