OOC:I wrote this a long, long time ago. 1 or 2 years, actually. I found it while cleaning out my documents and, though it's not my best work, I thought it was sort of cute in a weird cheesy way. Enjoy? XD
Did you know?
Wolves can sing.
To human ears, all you can hear is a soft howling; a beautiful hymn that makes you want to stop and listen. The dirge of a wolf is a wonderful song, even if the human ear can only hear a wordless melody.
To wolves, howling isn't just used for communication. It's also song. If a wolf is happy, he'll howl it out to the world. If he is sad, he'll howl a mournful song, and other wolves within ear shot will join in on the beguiling chorus of broken melody.
As for me, I enjoy listening. Even if I don't understand it I enjoy seeking out the songs at night, when the wolves are still out hunting. I would walk out and lay on the ground near the forests, steering clear of the darkness, but close enough that, if I listen hard enough, I can hear them singing. Sometimes the song is the same, sometimes it's different. But every time, it's beautiful.
When I told my parents about their song, they laughed and called me a foolish child. "Sandra," they chided, "didn't you know? Wolves are extinct!" then they would laugh again and ruffle my hair and call me cute. It didn't matter to me though. I quite enjoyed my own secret. I would sneak out and go to the same spot every night and listen. I grew to understand the tone; I would know if the wolves were happy or sad or angry. I could even hear fear in their music.
One night, I heard them sing of Paradise. Although I couldn't hear their words, the wistful howl had my arms prickle with goosebumps and my heart hammer wildly with exhilaration. The song was unlike anything I've ever heard before. I just knew they were singing about Paradise.
Although I was a child, I wasn't stupid. I heard the rumors; all the adults in town talked about it. I knew about the 'possible existence of wolves' and that they were 'looking for Paradise.' My brother told me Paradise is heaven, but for wolves—it's what they dream a perfect world to be. I asked him if humans went to Paradise, but he had simply laughed and said "No, Sandra, humans go to heaven with God. Paradise is just fantasy." When I asked if Heaven was too, since Paradise was the same thing, he got angry and told me that was blasphemy, so I never spoke of it again.
One day, a sunny Sunday afternoon, we were leaving church. I was holding onto brother's hand, since mother was ill and father had to stay home with her. He led me down the steps of the church and we began to head into town. Then I saw it; a large brown dog lying near the forest, blood oozing from his jaws. Instead of screaming I tugged my brother's sleeve and pointed.
"Brother, we need to help it."
He tugged me away. "No," he said. "It's dangerous. Leave it."
"But it will die!" I cried.
"Then let it die," he said. I cried and struggled with him all the way home. He didn't tell father about it and went upstairs and left me in the kitchen with father. I climbed onto the kitchen chair and smoothed out my Sunday dress.
"Daddy," I said, "what's heaven like?"
He put down the cup he was about to fill up. "Heaven?"
"Yes," I said. "Tell me the story about heaven."
He stared at the cup sadly. I really wanted to reach out and pat his back, because he looked like he wanted to cry.
"Heaven…" he sighed. "I d'nknow anymore, Sandra."
I was silent. I watched him drink some stinky liquid then go back to mother, leaving me alone in the kitchen. I walked up to the counter and took the bottle father drank, and then put it back in the cabinet before I grabbed a loaf of bread and an extra wool blanket. Then I set off.
Thankfully, the walk to the out fields, where the church was, wasn't far from town. It wasn't too far a walk, though my feet did hurt by the time I got there. I hadn't had time to change out of my dress, so I worried over it hoping mother wouldn't get angry at me for forgetting to take it off. Lately, she's been getting weaker, so I knew even if she was angry she wouldn't yell. Lately, she only cried.
I was a bit surprised when I saw the animal was still there. I walked up to it, not scared at all, and kneeled beside it. It opened its eyes and lifted them to me. I smiled.
"Hello," I said. "I'm Sandra."
It snorted, but didn't move. I unrolled the blanket and draped it over the dog's body, before setting the bread near its nose.
"If you get hungry," I said. "Are you a wolf?"
It blinked at me.
"I'm sure you are," I said, running my fingers through its soft fur. "You're big and pretty like one. I listen to you sing all the time, you know. You have a beautiful song. Want to sing with me?"
I didn't know any songs except church ones, so I began to sing Amazing Grace. Mommy used to sing me that all the time. The wolf didn't sing but he listened. His ears perked and his eyes closed, and it made me happy and shy at the same time that he enjoyed it so much. After the song was over I wiped the blood off its muzzle with my bare hands then wiped the blood on the grass.
"Feel better soon," I said. "You can keep the blanket. I can't come back…but I'll be listening for your song, okay?"
It might have been my imagination, but its expression seemed gentle.
"Okay," I agreed, scratching his (I can assume it is a he) ears before I kissed the tip of his nose. Even if the wolf was nice, brother was right, it may be dirty and I didn't want to get sick. So its nose should be fine. "Sleep well."
I stood and ran home. I bolted inside and cleaned my dress and took a bath. By the time I was clean and the dress was away, father was sober and making dinner, brother helping him. They weren't angry so they didn't notice I had left at all. We ate meat that night and I could only think of the wolf and worry over him. We were putting dinner away when I piped up again.
"Where does a wolf go when it dies?" I stared straight at brother. "If Paradise doesn't exist, where does the wolf's soul go?"
Father answered instead. "Where else? It 'aint goin' nowhere, Sandra."
I sniffed. "Does too," I said. "God made people, and people go to heaven. He made animals, so animals should be allowed to go, too."
"Animals and people are different," father said. Brother stayed silent. "It's two diff'rnt things."
Usually I didn't mind father's thick southern accent; he had married momma, a rich man's daughter, when she visited him in the south to buy plantation. So it reminded me of their love story and made me happy. I always loved it. But at the moment it only added fuel to the fire in my spirit.
"No," I complained. "Then if they don't go to heaven, Paradise does exist."
Father grit his teeth and I knew he was angry, but I didn't stop.
"Wolves are pretty creatures, daddy. They're real nice to us. Maybe people think they're all dead because they hide from us, since we drove them to hide. I think they deserve Paradise. Maybe more than we do."
"That's a load of bull shit!" Father suddenly screamed. "Heaven and Hell and Paradise—it's all bull shit!"
I cringed back.
"Wolves—who cares 'bout damn wolves! Yer mommas dyin' and you go spewin' shit about wolves! That's rumor, rumor! All them damn mutts 're dead, y'hear!"
I began to cry. Brother went to comfort me but father got to me first. He grabbed my hair and yanked me back, slamming me against the wall.
"SHUT UP!" he screamed, spit flying onto my throbbing scalp. "I SAI' SHUT UP DAMN GIRL!" he slammed me against the wall harder. I began to wail. He just kept slamming me against the wall harder and harder and wouldn't stop. I felt dizzy and could only scream louder. I could hear brother screaming in the back, crying, begging father to stop, but he didn't stop. He eventually threw me to the floor and kicked me. His boot smashed my face and I tasted blood, then he kicked me again, this time in my stomach.
"Dad!" I heard brother. I couldn't see; everything was off focus and I could only taste blood. I was choking on it. Horrified, I gasped and coughed on my own blood, crying and clawing at daddy's blood-stained jeans, unable to breathe. He only kicked me again, this time knocking my head back. I flew back against the wall.
"DAD!" brother hollered. "DAD STOP IT! YOU'RE GONNA KILL HER!"
"Kill her," he panted, then kicked me again, harder this time. I coughed up blood and could breathe a little better, but then more blood came up and I couldn't make any sound. I lifted my bleary eyes and saw brother crying and scurrying toward something—the fireplace, toward the rifle resting above it. It was daddy's prize rifle; he loved that rifle. He used it back at the farm as a teenager to hunt and put down the cows and chicken to sell to the towns. It was his treasure.
And now brother was holding it in his hands and pointed it at daddy's head.
"Stop hurting her," he sobbed. I gasped and tried to sit up and daddy turned to me. I don't know if he was going to kick me again or help me up, but it doesn't matter, because next thing I know a screeching shot trembled the air and daddy fell down dead.
I think I fainted then.
I woke up some time later. I was warm and I felt better. I was in a bed in a room I didn't recognize. I could breathe but my body hurt all over.
"The wolf," I said dizzily. "Is he ok? Did he eat?"
"Sandra?" brother whispered hoarsely. "Oh gawd, Sandra," he choked and embraced me gently, burying his face into my neck. I held him too and remembered what happened. I didn't let go though.
"Daddy?" I asked.
"He's dead. I killed him."
I closed my eyes. "He's in heaven though. I think he's happier there. He hated me."
Brother was crying; I could feel his tears on my hair and neck.
"He didn't hate you," he said. "God, Sandra, he loved you."
I didn't believe him but I nodded anyway. "Momma?"
"She's fine, she slept through the whole thing," he said.
"How?" I asked. "We were pretty loud."
He laughed through his tears and kissed my head. "You should sleep."
"Okay," I said with a yawn. "But, can you do me a favor?"
"Yeah?" he asked with a smile. "What is it?"
"Check on the wolf for me," I said quietly, closing my eyes. "The one by the church. Please?"
"Okay," he said. I fell asleep with a smile on my face. But when I woke up I was screaming and crying for daddy, because I suddenly realized he was really dead and not coming back. The people in the hospital (I didn't know that was where I was until they burst into the room) had to soothe me and give me a weird needle and medicine. Then I fell asleep again. I woke up again a while later and brother was there. This time I didn't scream; I only cried and he held me and we cried together, and I guess that helped a bit.
After we were done crying brother said,
"The wolf isn't there."
"He's okay?" I asked.
"Oughta be," he said. "There was no blood."
I guess he took the blanket and ate the bread, or something, since brother didn't seem to be angry at me for going back to help it. I was happy with that. I had to stay in the hospital for longer, and sometimes whatever medicine they had given me when I first got here wore off, I would black out from the pain. But eventually I didn't need any medicine and the pain turned to a dull ache.
Brother took me home a while later. We still went to church regularly, and I heard rumors of what happened while I was out in the hospital. I guess brother went to trial and they pleaded him not guilty, since it was self defense, and he got let off. But some people had bitter views about him and the ones who did I gave them a good glare. But it didn't matter, because I know the real brother, so even if everyone thinks he's a killer, I know he isn't.
Mother died soon after brother got a job to try to earn money to buy this new medicine shipped in from the Americas, but brother didn't quit. He said he needed to take care of me. We got a lot of pity since we lost both out parents so close together, but brother and I never separated, not once, and I think that's a good job on his part, 'cause he kept his promise to protect me.
Even though I can't afford school any more, and we had to sell our house and move to brother's boss' housing, I'm still happy. I like to think I have that brown wolf as my friend now, and his voice probably healed by now and is real nice-sounding. I'm content, because every night, I go to that clear area near the forest and lie down. I close my eyes and listen. If I listen closely enough, I can hear it; the song of the wolves.