The Wolf’s Tale

It was one of those crisp Autumn days when the sun filtered through the leaves of yellow, orange and red. It looked as though all the woods were aflame with a great witches’ fire. Now, after chopping wood all afternoon, I lay there in the warmth of that arboreal tapestry, looking up through the branches at patches of blue and white sky. Lost in thought, I was stroking my beard when I heard the distant sound of small feet crunching along the nearby path. Reluctantly, but curious, I lifted my heavy head and sniffed the air. Notes of wine and cake, as well as something else more sweet and rare. Stealthily and swiftly, I followed that scent, drawn to it by instinct. Suddenly, my body crouched there on the forest floor and stiffened, operating on a knowledge separate from my consciousness—sensing a line to not be crossed, lest I give myself away too soon. Then I saw her traipsing along the path, carrying a basket, no doubt filled with those delights that first caught my attention. And she wore a red cloak—red as blood—with the hood pulled up over her head. I could just make out her small red lips against that fair skin. And those round, rosy cheeks! I thought of crisp, blush apples—of their crunch and juiciness. A long line of saliva escaped the corner of my mouth, waking me from my reverie when the wetness hit the dry leaves beneath my chin. Watching her in the distance, I felt her heat as a red flame burning along the path as she moved ever closer towards me. Finally, I stood up and slowly walked out toward the path to greet her. She had been deep in her own thoughts, humming along, and when she saw me, she exclaimed “Oh!” I then realized I was carrying my axe. Gentlemanly, I retreated a half step and gave a shallow bow. “I beg your pardon, I mean no harm. I’m only curious, what brings you this way?” I softly asked. She then relaxed a little and proceeded to chatter on about going to visit her Grandmother. I admit I was only half-listening to much of what she said, as I was intoxicated by a barrage of scents. As her red lips spoke and her rosy cheeks smiled, I thought again about that crisp apple in my mind’s eye. I thought of it’s juiciness—and I was thirsty. My heart raced, but I shook my head, suddenly, as if to tell myself No. She asked if I was okay. “Of course,” I told her “I’ve just been chopping wood all afternoon and am feeling a bit tired. That’s all.” Satisfied with my evasion, she mentioned how she wished she had brought flowers for her Grandmother. I told her there was a small clearing just yonder off the path, where there were the finest wildflowers she would ever see. Her doe eyes locked with mine and brightened. Then after a bit of reluctance, she left the golden leaf-strewn path in search of a bouquet, while offering thanks and bidding me good afternoon. I watched her as her red cape descended down the woody vale like a lit match upon a dying fire. It was then that I realized the sun was just starting to set. I paused there and looked up to the sky of my forest chapel. There I saw the round pale eye of the moon already awakening. It was a Blue Moon—the second full moon in one month. I held up the axe to my face and saw my reflection. It was happening again! In disgust, I threw aside the blade and simply started running in the opposite direction of the girl. Then I realized I was headed toward’s the girl’s Grandmother’s house. As I ran, my mind raced with my sudden mania. I thought, Perhaps, I will lock myself in the Grandmother’s house, pretend I am the old woman and yell at her to go away. For it was only a few weeks ago that I had shown up at that same house and practically swallowed the frail old woman whole. As I ran among the woods and my thoughts ran inside my head, the ember colors of the forest were draining to a deathly pallor beneath the twilight moon. I slammed open the entrance of the little house and threw myself upon the floor, where my body twisted and contorted yet again. I howled from the fiery pain and heard my brothers and sisters mocking me in the distance. When the girl finally arrived with her freshly picked flowers and other treats, the last light of the sun had just slipped into the earth. I swear I had wanted to make her leave. I would swear to God, if I believed He’d still listen. But then, I simply couldn’t help myself, anymore, and suddenly my plans changed. I’ll spare you all the details of how I tried to fool the girl. Though, I will say that as she stood there frozen in her crimson cloak, it was a remarkable thing—to see the realization dawning over her face. And I smirked in amusement when I, myself, realized that she’d found my axe and brought it back to me. At the end of the day, I haven’t always been what you’d call a very good man. However, it was still my misfortune to be cursed in this way. For now I am truly a beast by the light of the full moon.

 

~ M.