“Curse Cabin Confession,” by Sarah Diemer
When Robin invites her girlfriend, Malinda, up to her family cabin for the weekend, it’s not just for a romantic time. Robin has a confession to make: she’s not exactly human.
(photo by ANDR3W A)
(Part of Project Unicorn: A Lesbian YA Extravaganza, updated twice weekly on Mondays and Fridays with a free, original, never-before-published YA short story featuring a lesbian heroine. Also, every story is a work of genre fiction [Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Dystopian, Post-apocalyptic, etc.].)
“Curse Cabin Confession”
by Sarah Diemer
“So, you’re bringing me up to the cabin to chop me up into little bits and make pies out of my liver, right?”
It was a joke. Why wouldn’t it be a joke? I was trying to make her smile, but she’s been so uptight, ever since her parents dropped us off, her freckled nose going white as cream as she stares at me with those big brown eyes.
“Robin, seriously,” I tell her when she pales even further, a feat I thought impossible. “Are you sick or something? You’re shaking.”
“Not sick,” she tells me resolutely, yanking my hands out of hers. I run my fingers through my hair, frown at her. A lot. She ignores it, wiggles her shoulders so her backpack shifts. “I’m just…nervous…” she tells me, which, you know, I could never have determined! “This is the first time we’re sleeping over…together…alone.”
“Right,” I say, hands on hips, my bullshit detector pinging. “Because the times we’ve done it in the locker room…”
“The library rest room…”
“The church basement?”
She gives me a withering look, mouth sideways. “It’s not about the sex, okay?”
“Because it’s not like you’re a stranger to…”
“Mal,” she says, stopping on the trail. She rubs at her eyes with both hands, and when she looks away, the blood drains out of my face.
“Robin…” I’m suddenly afraid. I reach out, take her hands, which she lets me, this time. “Did you take me out to your family’s cabin…” I can’t swallow around the lump in my throat, but I do it anyway. “Are you breaking up with me? Is that why?”
“What?” She turns and looks at me, and in a heartbeat has me gathered in her arms, rocking me back and forth. “God, baby, no. God. Just…no.”
“Then what’s the matter?” I ask her, keeping my voice low and level, the words echoing among the silent pines. She sighs, clasping her hands around the small of my back, pressing her nose against my shoulder.
“I’ve got to tell you at the cabin.” She says, and then she’s stepping away, rubbing at her eyes again. “God, I should have just told you from the start. I’ve been so freaking stupid, I just didn’t think…I mean…”
“Okay, this is super weird, and you’re kind of terrifying me. Just so you know,” I tell her, and we continue walking down the path. “How far is this cabin? And why do you have to tell me there? Is it something terrible? Tell me you’re not dying. Or that, God, I don’t know…you’re related to…”
“No, nothing like that,” she says quickly, hitching the backpack straps up higher, moving faster, legs blurring in the almost dark. “I mean, I’ve completely psyched myself out for this, you know? I’ve dreaded telling you…ever since we got together. I just know that when you find out, you’re going to…” She gulps down air, won’t look at me. “You’re going to be the one to break up with me.”
I stop in my tracks. “Did you sleep with Jenna?”
She stops, too, face hard to see in the twilight, now. Especially since she won’t look at me. “No. Can we just get to the cabin?”
“Did you let Jenna bite you?”
“I…don’t know how I feel about vampires, yet. But we could work through this if you were changing,” I tell her, because when she said it, her voice shook.
She doesn’t answer.
“I mean…I’ve done a little reading. They’re doing a lot of campaigning now for equal rights, and…”
“Let’s just get to the cabin,” she whispers, her voice strained.
Yup. She’s a vampire.
As we walk along in the dark, a little thrill runs through me. I mean, it’s not like I haven’t watched the shows. I’m not immune to the oozing sex that’s pumped out of the TV in relation to them. I know it’s all their PR, it’s not really like that, but yeah, I mean it wouldn’t be terrible to have a vampire for a girlfriend. I kind of wish she’d talked to me about it before she decided, but maybe she’d already decided before I came into the picture. We’ve been dating a year, and a year is a long time, but we’ve never talked about vampires, which is kind of weird, now that I think about it. But I need to be supportive. It’s important.
And then we’re there. It looms up out of the darkness pretty quickly, and Robin’s clicked on the lantern. It looks like a camping cabin, not much better than the ones I used to stay in with my family when I was little. When Robin dusts off the lock, unlocks it, the door creaks open, extra eerie because it rained earlier today, and there’s a fine fog everywhere, eating up the lantern light.
We go inside, shut the door. It has a beautifully carved wooden bed frame, ancient stove straight out of the old west (probably), really cute decorations, ala Smoky the Bear. It’s nice. It’s not my style, but it’s nice. A vacation home, which is what Robin’s parents have always used it for, she said.
And now we’re here. Together. Alone.
I sidle up next to her, batting my eyes as she sets down the bright lantern on the stove top, flicks the light switch. It’s a low light, overhead, but she clicks the lantern off as I put my arms about her neck, kiss her cheek.
“This is nice,” I tell her, and press my head against her shoulder. “Now tell me what you were going to tell me so we can make the hotdogs.”
“So romantic,” she sighs, rolling her eyes, but her grin is only a little one, and she’s pushing away from me, gently, pacing into the center of the room, running her hands through her hair. Again, she won’t look at me.
“So you’re a vampire,” I tell her, shaking my head. “We’ll get through it.”
“Mal, I’m not a vampire,” she tells me, face turned away.
I stare at her back, at her bent head. “Then what is it?” My voice wasn’t as assured as I hoped it’d be. It comes out a little…weak.
“You know, it’s kind of funny…” If my voice was weak, her voice is shaking. “My family always called this ‘Curse Cabin.’ I never knew why when I was a kid…” She looks back at me, her eyes shining in the soft light. “Mal, I wanted to ask you if, whatever I tell you, would you still love me? But I can’t,” she says, shaking her head, biting her lip, looking up and at me. “Because that’s stupidly unfair. You deserve someone not like me. Not a freak.” She takes off her coat, folds it carefully, sets it on the back of the couch.
“A…freak…” I prompt her, my heart beating so fast, it’s like a horror movie soundtrack.
“Okay, you know what? I’m just going to tell you, really fast, and then it’ll be out there, and you can do whatever you want with it.” She closes her eyes tightly, hands balled into fists. “Mal, I’m a werecat.”
I blink. She said it so quietly, it takes a full minute before I’ve deconstructed it in my head and understood.
“A…werecat.” I repeat, blinking again. “Like. A werewolf. But. A cat.”
“Oh God, I knew it,” she wails, flopping down on the couch. “I’m ruined to you. Ruined forever…”
“Robin, would you just shush,” I tell her, kneeling down, next to the couch, smooshing my palm over her mouth. “I’m just trying to understand, okay?”
Werecat. I’m picturing a cat like the one I used to have, a tabby with extra whiskers and a knowing expression who would pee on my bookbag when he was pissed at me. Which was often. He was named Mr. Snuggles because I’d had him since I was two, and my parents were brave enough to ask a two year old what to name a kitten.
“I’m sorry,” I tell her slowly, carefully, “I’m just surprised, because I thought there was only…I mean, I thought only werewolves existed.”
“Werewolves,” she says, lip raised, disgust dripping from her voice. “Everyone always knows about werewolves because they’re cool. They’re sexy. Not like werecats.” She sighs for a very long time. “I will understand,” she says coolly, “if you wish to break off our current arrangement.”
“You idiot,” I laugh, falling on top of her, tickling her stomach. And then I’m kissing her. She tastes of coffee and bubblegum and she’s kissing back, which is the most important thing. “Look, it doesn’t matter to me,” I tell her, firmly. “It’s just an idea I have to get used to. I’m used to looking at Robin, the human, and now I’ve got to get used to Robin, the…werecat.”
She looks relieved, breathing out, putting her arms around my neck. “Really? You don’t think it’s…God, I don’t know…totally repulsive and weird?”
“Repulsive. I know someone who’s been watching too much Secret Diaries of Hell Beasts.” I kiss her nose. “So…” I say, dragging out the word, lips arched. “Are you going to show me your kitty side?”
She shakes her head. “I can do it on the full moon, and when I’m surprised or frightened…until I turn eighteen. Then I can do it at will. It’s in the rulebook,” she grins, and I half wonder if there is an actual werecat rulebook.
“Okay,” I whisper to her, nodding. And then: “I’m glad you told me.” I kiss her again.
We kind of forget about the hotdogs.
I’m having a nightmare. I know it’s a nightmare—those are the most terrible dreams, where you know you’re dreaming, but you can’t do anything about it, trapped. There’s a shadow, moving along the wall, a shadow sort of a body shape, a human, but with spikes coming out of its back, its face, its hands, and everything is red and black, and I can taste metal. It’s crawling toward me.
I wake up, heart pounding, but there’s still something wrong, the feeling of the dream reaming. Something’s not right. There’s Robin, arm wrapped around me, but I feel a chill breeze, and it’s only then that I realize the cabin door is open, and there’s a human form in the doorway.
I poke backward. It’s the only thing I know how to do in that moment, because the shadow is tall, and it’s probably a guy who just broke into the cabin and we’re all alone out here and fuck, why would be break into this cabin unless he saw us, unless he knows we’re two girls, and I’m sweating, suddenly, cold, ice cold, and Robin moans a little, and then breathes out in a rush, awake, and she’s sitting up beside me, staring.
I’m not quite sure what happens. One moment, Robin was sitting there, but then everything sort of…shifted. Was it the cabin shifting, or my eyes, or Robin? I don’t know, but where Robin was, there’s something suddenly a lot bigger, a lot bulkier, a lot…animaly-er…and there’s a deafening roar that rips through my body, and the shape hurls itself off the bed toward the form in the doorway, who’s very suddenly no longer there.
The shadow tears off after it in the woods.
I turn on all the lights. Nope. Robin’s not in the bed. I suppose that was Robin. Someone broke into our cabin. Oh my God, someone broke into our cabin, anything could have happened. I run my hands through my hair, sit down in the middle of the floor, rock back and forth, get up, pace, go to the stove and take the heavy iron skillet and sit back down again, holding it.
I don’t know how long it’s been. An hour? Five minutes? But there’s a crunch outside, of branches, of leaves, and then there, in the doorway is…I mean, it’s not a cat, it’s like a tiger or a panther, the shape of it, but it’s as red as Robin’s hair.
As I watch, the cabin blurs, the beast blurs, everything blurs, and then Robin’s standing there again, watching me with wide eyes, hands held out in front of her.
“Don’t worry,” she says, taking me into her arms, holding me close, squeezing me tightly. The skillet clangs to the floor, and I’m kissing her, holding her tightly, too, and she’s telling me that the stranger’s gone, that he’s gone, that I’m safe.
Vampires. Werewolves. What the hell ever.
Give me a werecat any night.
Sarah’s note: Sorry we’re a day late, guys! We were working very, very hard on the last bit of our Etsy update, which I finally finished posting yesterday. If you love what we do with our stories, consider hopping by the shop and seeing what other sparkly things we put out into the world! 🙂 ❤
Sarah Diemer is an award-winning author of lesbian young adult (YA), speculative fiction. Her debut novel, The Dark Wife, the YA, lesbian retelling of the Persephone myth won the 2012 Golden Crown Literary Award for Speculative Fiction, and was nominated for a Parsec Award (first two chapters of the audiobook). She writes her lesbian adult fiction under the pen name Elora Bishop, including the Sappho’s Fables: Lesbian Fairy Tales series, which she co-writes with her wife, author Jennifer Diemer.
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