Red Hair, Red Fur

The howls echoed in that dark night painting pictures of blood stained maws and sharp rows of teeth in the minds of the people in the ráth. All but one mind, anyway. It was a wolf moon, her father had said. It was wolf weather, the priest had intoned. Still, Aine ni Cathair was drawn to the hills and the cliffs and the open air. She donned a cloak and pinned it fast, pulling the hood up to hide her wild, red hair and her freckle-strewn face as she passed through the doors and into the night.
A steady rain fell and mist clung to the ground like man to a mystery, parting only slightly as Aine passed through. She carried no torch against the darkness and kept her steps light. The path to the cliff was a well-trod one and one she knew as she knew her own heart. That was why she was surprised to find something there she had never seen before: two torches, one to either side of the track.
Aine paused for only a moment before striding between them with determination and purpose. This was her place, her family’s land, and whoever was out here in the night would regret it if they were trespassing.
A lone figure stood beyond, a silhouette carved against the sky. They faced the sea and as Aine came closer, she could make out silver curls of hair.
“Gran? Is that you?”
The woman turned, a smile on her face as she looked at her granddaughter. Again, Aine hesitated. Her grandmother stood in the soaking rain beyond the torches with a knife in her hand, reflecting the light, and a fur over her shoulders.
“T’is, my dear. Come closer so I can see you.”
Aine took another step forward, hearing the howls echoing off the hillsides.
“Gran, why’re you out in the rain?”
The old woman chuckled softly.
“Why, the same reason as you, my dear.”
Another few steps brought Aine even closer before she paused.
“Gran, where’d you get that wolf skin?”
The woman reached to pat the fur of the skin thrown over her shoulders and smiled fondly, as though at a distant memory.
“Why, I’ve had it since I was your age, my dear.”
Aine stood only a single step away from her grandmother now and she could feel the fear warring with confusion in her gut.
“Gran, why’ve you got that dreadful big knife?”
The old woman flipped the blade in her hand and held out the hilt her to granddaughter.
“Why, so you can claim your own skin, my dear.”

The howls echoed in that dark night and the moon climbed further into the sky. The people in the ráth could hear the trembling call of a new wolf joining the hunt. Outside, a red wolf ran at the side of an old silver one, never as free before as she was now.


Only Squirrels

A golden wolf stood in the grass, sides heaving as she breathed heavily. Phyllis walked slowly towards her, trying her best to move quietly as she waited for the sun to rise. The first rays of light were just hitting the young wolf now and Phyllis sighed with relief as the fur slowly faded, leaving behind a girl her own age.
The young blonde turned, eyes large in her round face. There was a rip in the front of her dress from her hips all the way down to expose the slip underneath. Her cheeks were tear-streaked and her lower lip trembled even now.
“I…I don’t…I didn’t…”
The sleeves of her dress were gone, torn clean off at some point. How the majority of the dress had survived the night, no one would ever know. Phyllis stepped forward, hands shaking.
“Are you alright, Patty?”
“I’m scared.”
There was blood on her teeth, on her lips, on her hands.
“Phyllis, what happened?”
The tears were flowing again and her voice quavered as much as her hands shook.
“Did I… Did I hurt someone?”
Phyllis wrapped her arms around Patty, ignoring the blood and the dirt.
“It was only squirrels, Pat. Don’t you worry a bit.”
Phyllis turned Patty away, towards her old Dodge D-5, pointedly ignoring the bloody football jersey. Patty didn’t need that. Especially not right now.
“I promise, sugar. You didn’t do a thing you gotta worry about.”