Jeremy Driggers didn't just love coyotes. He envied them. He wanted to be one, and gradually grew less and less guarded about it. He drew coyotes in his notebooks in class. He watched Warner Bros. cartoons and rooted against The Road Runner. He wrote letters to the editor defending coyotes going through garbage cans in suburbia.
Jeremy wasn't very outgoing in or out of class, so no one paid much mind to him or his coyotes. He wore coyote T-shirts to class and even put a tail hole through a pair of pants, but no one asked him about it. At night, rather than socialize, he would lie outside and stare at the sky, obsessing about being a coyote.
This continued from high school into college. Jeremy signed up for several clubs where he hoped to meet like-minded individuals, but they never came at it from the same angle. They cared about camping and hunting, or endangered species, or Native American culture. No one else expressed interest in becoming a coyote, so he wasn't about to volunteer it either.
The Internet wasn't much better. There, people wanted to talk about werewolves, which were boring, or therianthropy, which Jeremy wrote off as pagan religion he wanted no part in. He looked online every night he wasn't outside to look at the sky, but if anything, it was worse than offline, where at least he knew better than to get his hopes up.
Jeremy had a morning Statistics class where he, like others, had a hard time staying awake. Jaded, he took to drawing coyotes and werecoyotes in his notebook. He never nodded off again in class, but he became more lost than ever before in thought, and he began drawing more and more elaborate coyotes and werecoyotes until one day the class took notice.
"Young man, are you listening to me?" asked professor no-name.
"Ha ha! He's drawing wolves!" shouted an acne-ravaged blond fellow beside him.
"Werewolves!" laughed a redhead beside the blond fellow. "Lots and lots of them! Even naked werewolves!" This threw the entire row into fits of laughter.
"They're not wolves," Jeremy muttered. "They're coyotes."
"Oh, excuse me!" replied the redhead. "Naked werecoyotes!" he clarified, and now the entire section was laughing, some nervous, some not.
Jeremy felt himself grow hot. "I like coyotes. You g-g-got a problem with that?" he snapped without making eye contact.
Apparently the redhead did. "You like naked coyotes! Don't be ashamed, you're just a coyotephile!"
Someone who knew Jeremy's name joined in, singsong: "Driggers is a coyotephile! Driggers is a coyotephile!" Professor no-name tried to restore order, but no one noticed.
A girl with glasses walked over to Jeremy, and he softened, smiled. Someone willing to give benefit of the doubt!
"Werewolves, ha ha," she laughed, then stared deep into Jeremy's eyes. Love at first sight? She was sort of pretty.
"Hey, everyone, look!" she said, and almost poked Jeremy in the eye with her pointer finger. "Werewolf boy even looks like a werewolf! His eyebrows grow together!" It was true. You had to look for it to see it, but his eyebrows did barely connect, when he forgot to trim them.
Jeremy turned beet red. Fifty people shouted "Werewolf boy!" at him from every direction, and acne-ravaged blond fellow tugged at his notebook. Jeremy wrested it away from him, bent but untorn, as total strangers commented on whether the back of his neck and the backs of his hands were sufficiently hairy for a werewolf.
On the verge of tears, Jeremy spoke up once more. "Coyotes! Not wolves! I hate wolves! I hate werewolves! Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!"
A custodian took advantage of the silence to point out Jeremy's fingers were all about the same length.
Now crying, Jeremy grabbed his backpack and ran from the classroom, never to return. Echoes of laughter remained in the background until he was outside. He would drop the class or switch to some other section, or switch to some other campus if that was what it took never to deal with that again.
That night after dinner, Jeremy walked limply to his room. He took off his jacket, shoes, socks, and shirt, replacing it with his favorite coyote shirt instead. He wasn't defeated, just demoralized. He sat down at his computer, wishing he could just turn into a coyote and not live vicariously through the Internet to roleplay so instead. He patted the hole in his pants, willing a coyote tail to push out through it. He knew better but didn't care.
He stole glances out the window at the sky as he surfed the Internet. He chatted with a few friends but didn't discuss his day at all. He didn't want to talk about it, just forget it ever had happened. That is, forget it ever had happened except to remember never to let his guard down again.
At moonrise, he wished the same as always to become a coyote. He hardly paid attention as his skin took on a greyish shadow. Or as his feet stretched out a little, then a little more. His ears slid up his head, and his nose and mouth grew a little closer together. He didn't react until his fingers were stubby enough and his fingernails sharp enough to interfere with typing.
"Dammit," he complained, and adjusted his pants and his chair to accommodate the beginning of a tail. He also adjusted his computer monitor because the brightness bothered his eyes, which warmed from brown to hazel to yellow.
He overcompensated, because at first all he could see in the monitor was his own reflection, covered from pointy ears to hind paws in the same fur as usual. His eyes welled up with tears again.
Blubbering, he sat down and demanded, "Why me? Why me? Coyotes! Not wolves! I hate wolves! I hate werewolves!" Then he went back online and barely tolerated the ramblings of people who had no idea how cliché werewolves are, and that werecoyotes are so much more interesting.