Once there was a red wolf that lived alone. All of the other red wolves had been killed or driven off. But this last wolf, he stayed. He did all of the usual wolfish things; he lived in a cave high up in the mountain, he hunted the occasional flock for a stray sheep and he roaming the valley surrounding his den.
The wolf would appear from time to time late in the evening on the mountain trail, because his eyes glowing in the night they frightened herds boy or milkmaid coming home late from the fields. Stories rose up of great bloody teeth and long, lolling tongue and fiery red, hungry eyes.
But the most terrifying thing of all was the noise heard at night. High on the stark peak of the stony mountain the lone wolf howled. “Ahhh-ahh-oooooh!Ah-oooooh!” This was a howl that echoed of a thousand lonely midnights.
His wolf song froze men in their tracks and made women clutch their babies tight. It chilled to the marrow everyone who heard it... everyone, that is, except one person.
In the mountain village was a girl who had lived there all of her life, but no one really knew this girl. She spoke to folks, and they spoke to her yet no one really understood her. They puzzled over her wildish ways; the way she moved like a creature through the forest, slipping though the trees unnoticed and conent alone with the forest animals.
The girl would lie awake in her bed at night wondering why she felt so lost among the villagers. When she heard the call of the wolf on the mountain, right away she knew this was a voice that spoke to her of feelings she understood.
She realized she had to seek out this wolf and know why it cried in the night. Although she’d heard the horrible stories of fierce teeth, lashing tongue, and burning red eyes, she was not afraid.
One day, before the sun rose, she set out on the road to the mountain where the wolf made his den. It was a dangerous journey, the road was long and a steep, but the girl did not bring a walking stick or food or water.
She had never been this way before and the only map she had to guide her was her heart and memory of the wolf’s song. Towards the end of first day's travel she grew thirsty and hungry.
When darkness overcame her, she was forced to stop for the night in some trees near the trail. As she sat starving in the growing darkness, she thought for a moment about turning back and rushing blindly down the pat, back to the village. But she knew that was not the way for her. Shivering in the night she finally lay down to sleep.
As she slept she had a dream; the moon shone silver on the frosty mountain, the air was clear and crisp then the voice of the wolf rang out from the top of one of the peaks, calling out the way ahead “Ahhh-ahh-oooooh!Ah-oooooh!” She woke up with a start wondering if the dream had been real, if the wolf had actually called out to her in the night.
It was now dawn; she rose, even more hungry and thirsty. The path grew steeper and rockier.
As the sun moved high in the sky the girl noticed ahead of her a flock of birds swooping and playing in a small pool beside the road.
The girl rushed to the water, fell on her belly and drank. She walked on, thoughts came to her of quitting, but she reasoned if she did not continue she would never know what was at the end of the path or why the wolf cried so in the night.
After a long time she saw beside the path a clump of bushes she heard a noise. Looking up, she came face to face with a huge bear. The bear was only a few feet away in the bushes eating berries. The girl did not move. But the bear only stared and waited too... for a moment. And with one massive set of claws he began to pick and eat more of the ripe berries. The girl, realized that the bear was only hungry for berries. She began to breathe again and carefully picked and ate the delicious berries.
The path was becoming steeper and so much harder to travel. She was beginning to wonder when or how or if she would ever see her wolf.
Suddenly a stone tumbled; and the clatter froze the girl on the trail. When something large moved and leaped into the path her heart stopped, then began to beat again as she saw the visitor clearly. It wasn't the wolf but a small deer, a yearling. The two of them stared at one another for a moment, both curious, fearless, silent. The girl walked slowly toward the deer that started then scampered away up the mountain path.
The girl noticed the darkening sky and the cold chill of the deepening night air gathering about her. She continued along the steep path trying to keep her footing. Again she was wondering if she had been wise in coming here, if she had been right in seeking the wolf in such a lonely and desolate place. She was growing unsure of each step as she moved carefully and slowly up the path.
When suddenly... she saw something, felt something ahead. Was it a shadow crossing the moon? Her heart beat faster. Her head grew light, but her eyes stayed sharp as she stared ahead up the trail. She waited quietly for another sign, and soon came her reward. There on four paws, eyes’ reflecting her own bright gaze, head still as stone was the wolf.
She could not move. The red eyes, the great tongue, the huge claws flashed in her memory. But as she stared, she saw none of this. All she could see was the wolf whose song had drawn her here, now only yards from him, breathing in the cold night.
As she stood, peering into the wild eyes before her, remembering that sad, sweet song, she felt her heart soften and her fear evaporate. Her eyes filled with tears, she knew why she had come here. She knew that the song had been she heard laying wake in her bed was a cry for to banish aloneness. It had reached across the miles and it had guided her here.
As the girl faced the wolf, the wolf spoke back... with his howl. “Ahhh-ahh-oooooh!Ah-oooooh!” In that instant, the two, girl and wolf, were one heart.
It is said the girl never returned to the village. But as the clouds pass the moon one more wolf song can be heard in beautiful harmony echoing throughout the valley.
Copyright Liz Amini-Holmes 2012