The Woods and the Wolf

Her feet carried her slowly, unwillingly, down the forest path.  A hush had fallen, and the gentle clatter of branches and the quiet squeak of the fresh snow under her boots were the only sounds she could hear.  The wolf was pacing her out at the edges of sight, no more than a grey whisper among the grey trees.  It wouldn’t come any closer, not yet, but she could feel it waiting.

She pulled the crimson cloak closer around her against a cold she barely felt.  It had been a gift from her grandmother, a token of an affection that now made her skin crawl.  Under the sun, the cloak flamed, impossible to miss.  Here, under the trees at the last tail of dusk, it faded to the color of old blood, melting into the dark as if it belonged there.  The obscurity was strangely comforting.

She knew what waited for her at her grandmother’s house, but even now, she could hardly believe it.  Perhaps that’s why her feet kept moving, kept treading the familiar path.  They’d always told her she could trust blood, but they’d never said which side of her blood to trust.  She might have known the ones with words to say it were the ones whose lies would slice at her, so subtly that she didn’t even know she’d been cut.

A mournful howl from the wolf broke the air, and the suppressed tears were suddenly painfully close to the surface.  She pushed at the tears and the wolf, and gritted her teeth, thinking of the woodsman they planned to sell her to and trying to be angry.  One overheard phrase this morning, and all those half-heard conversations had suddenly made terrible sense.

She could go, alone, and accept her fate, or… Her boots squeaked on through the snow, her feet getting colder with each reluctant step.  She thought she’d been loved, the chancy lineage that had come to her through her mother forgotten.  Years.  Years, and she’d never for a moment suspected.  Who were the beasts, then?  The ones who roamed the dark woods, or the ones who walked upright and did such things as this?

She staggered to a halt and swayed, the snow falling white around her.  She thought of the sharp eyes and brittle smiles, the lying embraces and treacherous affection.  She looked at the crimson cloak, faded almost to black in the darkness.  Then she stepped off the path, raised a hand, and called the wolf in.

 

This week’s Write at the Merge prompt at Write On Edge gave us a snow fall and a secret revealed for inspiration; so here’s another retold fairy tale for you.  Thanks for reading!

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  1. Bee says:

    I love this take on Red Riding Hood — excellent way to use the prompt!

  2. I love the elements of the tale, familiar but with a new twist. Nicely done!

  3. NC Narrator says:

    Absolutely a home run! Loved pretty much everything about the story – the sense of betrayal was palpable and I loved the resolution.

  4. cait says:

    This is one of my most favourite fairy tales! Nicely done twist on it, too. I like the phrase, “brittle smiles”. Conveys the picture so well!

  5. Katie says:

    What a great twist on the fairy tale. Very well constructed. We should be sorry for the wolf.

  6. Jennifer says:

    Good for her. Better the wolf then men I think in this tale. I will echo the other comments here that it was nice take on the tale. Very Once Upon a Time!

  7. Frelle says:

    Great job with the prompt!!! I loved the last paragraph especially!

  8. angela says:

    Such a dark twist on an already dark tale. I like that she is taking control of her own destiny, no matter the consequences of aligning with the wolf.

  9. Valerie says:

    Sharp eyes and brittle smiles…

    This take on the classic fairy tale was simply brilliant!

  10. Cameron says:

    Oh, now that’s fun! Which side of the blood to trust, indeed. I love your retellings, clever and lovely to read.

  11. Tina says:

    Very beautifully written. The setting was eerie, right out of a horror movie, and I loved your vision of an old story.

  12. great twist and take on a familiar tale

  13. sonya says:

    That was very well done! I like the edge you gave it, made it more authentic I think. Good job!!

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