Saturday, May 17, 2014

Prompt: Red and Her Wolves

Thanks to Tania Marin for permission to use her lovely image "Red and Her Wolves"!
Check out more of Tania's art on and Facebook.

Red leaned into the woodcutter’s hug, squeezing her arms around his waist as she pressed her cheek against his chest. “I can’t believe it’s over.”

“You’re safe now, Red. She’ll never hurt you again. No one will.”

Kasha, the alpha female of the white wolves, pushed her head against Red’s thigh and moved to sit in the open doorway. The wolves had all groomed each other clean while Red and the woodcutter said their goodbyes. Their coats gleamed in the moonlight as they gathered outside the small cabin that had been Red’s hell for so long.

Since her dying mother sent her through the forest to live with her grandmother. The old woman had welcomed her with open arms that first day, and cuddled her close that night. In the morning, she put Red to work washing the floor, and when it wasn’t clean enough, beat Red’s bare bottom and legs with a birch switch until she bled. That had been the beginning.

The wolves’ den had been Red’s only refuge, and one she carefully protected from her grandmother and anyone else who entered the forest. But every time she fled to the wolves, she knew eventually she must return to her grandmother’s cold rage.

The woodcutter found Red sobbing over Kasha’s mate. Kento had led hunters away from the den, but ran afoul of a poisoned arrow. The hunters didn’t eat wolf meat. Red found Kento lying in the forest stream, blood and foam trickling from his wound and his mouth. She knew better than to touch him there, but she had pulled his head onto her lap and swept her long black hair over his white fur until his eyes dimmed and his body cooled. Where her hair mingled with his fur, it faded from black to white.

Unquestioning in the face of her grief, the woodcutter dug a grave and helped carry Kento and lay him in it. He covered the wolf’s body with the dirt and rocks from the riverside. Finally he pulled Red up from the ground and hugged her tightly to him. Still unspeaking, he led her to his hut deep in the forest.

He asked her to stay, but she knew she had to return to her grandmother, or the cruel old woman would send hunters after her. If they found the wolves’ den, they would kill them all.

Since then, Red had spent as much time in the forest as she could manage to escape from her grandmother. Kasha accepted the woodcutter around her pups, and he traded cuts of deer for tender rabbits that the wolves caught.

The wolves found delicate, pungent truffles that Red carried home as a peace offering. The woodcutter planted apple trees that bore the brightest, sweetest apples Red had ever tasted. These prizes gave her reason to spend more time in the forest, and sometimes pleased her grandmother enough to allay a beating.

Until one warm day, Red left her long cloak at home, choosing a light summer tunic instead. When she returned, her grandmother pointed to the wolves’ white hairs and the woodcutter’s short black hairs and beat Red until she was bloody from head to toe.

She crept out of the house that night on hands and knees, and Kasha found her lying in the stream, not far from Kento’s grave.


Dogs in House
Houdini, Brindle

Jesse Cook, “Havana”

Time writing
30 minutes

May word count

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