I’ve been working on an idea for a kids book compilation for a while and figured, in the true spirit of the Inklings, I’d share one my stories. It also happens to line up a bit with our current season and I’m in the mood for a story. So…here we go
Long ago and far away a young girl by the name of Hope ran as fast her feet would carry her. She lived just outside of the village where her family grew wheat and barley for the all the towns people. The golden fields of grain would have a beautiful site in the mid-day sun had it not been for the tears in her eyes.
Without a word to her mother, Hope burst through the door and ran to her bed. She wanted to be alone, but unfortunately for her, the tiny house did not offer much in the way of solitude.
“What on earth is this about?” Her mother called from the kitchen. Hope didn’t reply.
Stomping the dust from his feet, Hope’s father announced his arrival. “Hope? Are you okay?” Her mother directed him the bed where Hope sat crying, looking at the window. He sat down next to her and waited.
Finally, she spoke. “The kids at school call me weird and won’t be my friends.”
“Weird, huh? Why would they call you that? I don’t see a third arm, or nose on your knee?” Hope fought her smile.
“I was telling them about the wolf that…”
“You’re not goin’ on about that wolf again, are you?” Hope’s mother sighed. “These silly stories need to stop. You’re great wolf isn’t real.”
“Come now, maybe we just haven’t seen the one Hope here tells us about. Just because I haven’t seen it doesn’t mean it isn’t real?” Hope looked to her father who showed no hint of doubt. “Come, let me tell you something that I have seen and know to be real.” He pulled Hope to himself and wrapped her in his arms. “There are people in this world who do not find joy in their own life and so they try to steal it from others.”
“Do you believe me, daddy?” Hope pulled back watching his reaction.
“I will never doubt you,” he said as leaned forward and kissed her on the forehead.
Hope’s resolve to prove she was not weird steeled. That night she would go into the woods, find the wolf herself, and capture it herself.
As her father and mother held hands by the evening fire, Hope quietly gathered what she thought would help her catch a wolf. Her bag was small, but she fit a piece of meat she stole from dinner, a sash to collar the beast, and a pair of scissors to protect herself. It wasn’t much, but it would have to do.
The full moon shone into the window and the night wind howled…or was it the wolf? Hope looked to see her parents sound asleep. Quietly she snuck out of bed and into her shoes. She shouldered her pack and sneaked quiet as a mouse out the door.
The forest sat dark and still against the gentle sway of the field of grain. Hope would prove once and for all, to the kids at school, to her mom, even to her dad, that she was right about the wolf.
A short distance into forest, she found a trickling brook. In the mud of the bank she saw paw prints and knew she was in the right place. She laid out the piece of meat and took up position behind an old stump, sash and scissors in hand.
She grew cold and pulled her knees to her chest. Her eyes grew heavy and closed them for just a moment.
Then, she heard it. A rustling in the trees. A huffing and puffing…sniffing. She peaked over the old stump and watched as a figure emerged from the shadows. It gulped the meat down in a single bite. Hope gasped. The beast looked in her direction with its glowing yellow eyes. It sniffed the air then howled. The sound echoed through Hopes body and she ducked behind the stump. The beast drew closer until finally it blocked the light of the moon. Hope turned to see a wolf larger than any horse she had ever seen, growling, eyes trained on her. She ran.
She ran as fast as she could go, but the beast ran faster. She jumped logs and ducked branches, but the beast continued to gain. Suddenly, her foot caught on a rock and she tumbled. She scrambled but the beast was upon her. She pressed her back against a tree, turning her head and closing her eyes. She felt the hot breath of the beast as it huffed in her face. She waited to feel his sharp teeth. She waited longer. Finally, she opened her eyes to see the wolf walking away.
The great wolf is real! She could not believe it, yet she also knew all along.
“Wait!” She called out to the wolf. It did not stop. She followed it. The wolf was not interested in her. If it was, she figured it would have done so by now. It seemed to be looking for something.
After another failed attempt to get the wolf’s attention, she noticed a trail of something dark on the ground behind it. She reached down and touched it. It was blood. She looked up and saw that the wolf had a wound on his hind leg and favored it slightly as it walked. She ran to catch up and then reached to touch it. The wolf growled and she pulled her hand back.
“Please, let me help you.” The wolf stopped and looked at her. It didn’t move. She stepped closer. It remained still. She looked at his leg and saw that there was a small silver twine too small for his large leg. It cut into its flesh cut deeper with every movement. Without hesitation, she pulled the scissors from her bag. The wolf growled and Hope stopped.
“There is a string there. I’m going to cut it.” The wolf turned his head away but didn’t move. Hope pushed her scissors into the wound and snipped the wire. With a flash light the wire dissolved. The wolf was still bleeding. Hope untied the sash she had intended to collar the wolf with and used it to bandage his leg.
“I hope that helps,” she said smiling at it. The wolf looked at the bandage and back at Hope. It’s luminescent yellow eyes staring at her. It turned and bound into the woods.
Hope turned and retraced her steps back to the brook, and back to her home. She was sad she could not prove anything, but also felt good for having helped the great wolf. She snuck back into bed but could not sleep. She watched the moon dim and fade as the morning light grew bright.
Hope arose, tired, but ready for the day. She moved about her daily chores and thought if she should tell anyone of her experience with the wolf. She was startled out of her thoughts by a knock at the door. Her father and mother looked at each other in surprise. The stranger knocked again. Hope’s father opened the door and stepped outside. Hope could hear what sounded to be a pleasant conversation, though she could not understand what was being said. Finally, her father opened the door and welcomed a large man into their small home. He was hairy and burley. His presence seemed to fill the whole house.
“This here is Honore, he’s new in town and a baker. He will be working with us come harvest.”
“A baker? How wonderful! Our town has been needing one sorely.” Hopes mother welcomed him in and offered him breakfast, which he accepted with graciously.
This was excellent news for everyone, but Hope could not find it in herself to be excited. She still had to go to school. She still had to face the kids that called her weird, and she had to do it alone.
Hope gathered up her school books and said her goodbyes. Honore’s gaze was heavy on her as he watcher her prepare to leave.
“May I ask what has you so down, child?” Honore asked. His voice scratchy, almost a growl deep in his throat. Hope did not answer.
“Oh, the kids are teasing her for going on about her great wolf,” her mother said dismissively as she set food on the table.
“See here,” Honore said as he leaned towards her. Hope looked up and met his eyes which changed to a bright glowing yellow, then back to dark forest green. “What do a bunch city kids know about wolves, huh? What matters is what you know.” He nodded to her then stretched, revealing her sash wound about his leg
Hope’s heart filled with joy. She walked to school with a bit of a skip knowing full well what the kids would say. It wouldn’t matter though. They couldn’t steal her joy because she knew the truth and had made a new friend.