Jessica was eight years old and she had a secret. It wasn't a normal secret, like the surprise birthday present you buy for your mum, or the secret codeword that gets you into the club that you and your friends made.
No, Jessica was a werewolf.
She had always been a werewolf, or at least for as long as she could remember. There weren't any pictures of her as a werewolf baby, but that was probably because her mum and dad didn't take any. They weren't werewolves, by the way, her mum and dad, but they did know about Jessica. They would always make sure to leave a piece of fresh steak in the garden every full moon, and to have a nice warm bath ready for when she got home from running through the forest.
There was no forest anymore though. Jessica's dad had lost his job and they'd had to sell their big house in the country, which had acres and acres of trees and fields for Jessica to run around in. Now they lived in a small terraced house in the city, made of boring red brick and with a tiny back garden. No longer would she be able to chase the farmers sheep, dig holes beneath the trees, or howl at the moon from her favourite rock. She was stuck in the city and she hated it.
To make things worse for Jessica, not only did she have to live in a new house, she also had to go to a new school! She loved her old school, with Mrs Murphy and Mr Callahan. They were always so good to her, helping her with her sums and her joined up writing, and all of her friends were there too; Sophie, Oscar, Emily and Harry. She didn't know anyone at her new school, no one at all, and as everyone in the country knew, city children were weird.
It was the fourth of September and the first day of the new school year. Jessica's mum had taken her to the reception desk and there they met the very pleasant Mrs Sandlewood, the school secretary. She gave Jessica her very own book bag (with the school's logo on it), and told her that she would be going into Mrs Haversham's class.
“She's a little bit nervous,” Jessica's mum said to Mrs Sandlewood.
“No I'm not,” Jessica said grumpily.
“She is a bit,” Jessica's mum whispered, “but she'll be okay in an hour or two.”
“It's all perfectly natural,” Mrs Sandlewood said with a beaming smile. “Here at Sunny Brook Academy, we're all just one big happy family! And Mrs Haversham is lovely, she'll make Jessica feel very welcome.”
“Oh, I know she will,” Jessica's mum replied, returning the big beaming smile.
The bell rang suddenly, startling all three of them. Mrs Sandlewood placed a friendly hand on Jessica's shoulder and said, “Time to go and meet your class.”
“Have a lovely day in your new school,” Jessica's mum said cheerfully. “I'm sure you'll make lots of friends in no time!”
“Humph,” Jessica replied. “New school's are rubbish.”
“Well I don't think so,” Jessica's mum said with a smile. “But I'll pick you up tonight and you can tell me all about it.”
Just as Jessica was about to be lead away, her mum pulled her in for one last hug. “Remember,” Jessica's mum whispered into her ear. “Keep your secret. You can't let anyone find out.”
Jessica nodded and, before she knew it, Mrs Sandlewood was escorting her down the corridor to Mrs Haversham's classroom.