And What Big Teeth They Had
In the midst of a far off woods a small wolf with very large paws bounded down the path away from the home where his mother lay sleeping in bed. Sunlight dappled the floor of the woods and the little wolf snapped his baby teeth at the streams of light as if they were a tasty pigeon or squirrel.
In the middle of sleep, the young wolf had awoken very suddenly, his throat parched, and he had stumbled outside into the sunlight to drink water from the stream. Water dribbled from the young wolf’s chin as he looked up and saw, just a stone’s throw away, a girl in a bright red cape and hood. ‘My, what big round eyes,’ the little wolf thought. She blinked up at him. The little wolf felt something well up inside of his chest – at first he thought he may need to run behind a tree for he had had too much to drink too quickly, and then he thought he may be hungry, but instead of drooling over the thought of food his mouth had gone completely dry again. Then, for reasons he did not understand, he turned to the little girl, with her deep brown eyes and untamed brown hair and barked at her: “You must come home to meet my Mother.”
That’s it! The little wolf thought. He wanted to bring this girl, with her cute red hood, home to eat a marvelous dinner – of rabbits and berries and birch bark – with his mother. Then they could sit in the back of the den, playing games with the night crawlers and she could rub him behind the ears. The little wolf shivered at the thought of being pet and it took him a second to notice the whoosh of red as the cape whipped swiftly around. The little girl was walking away!
The little wolf bounded down the path after her. “You’re going the wrong way!” said the wolf. The little girl ignored him and sped up. Desperate, the little wolf reached out with his teeth. The girl pulled the cape closer and the little wolf’s jaws snapped shut on air. He fell flat on his tummy. The little girl turned around, and with the basket in her right arm, she bashed the little wolf on the head and ran away. Dazed and confused, the little wolf lay on his back, with the little girl and her pretty brown eyes looking down on him.
“My mother taught me not to be tricked by wolves. If I was her, I would have cut your heart out and cooked it by now. But I’ll give you this chance. Never try to trick me again, you little beast!”
The little wolf’s heart sang – it felt as if the little girl was cutting his heart out with her harsh words but at the same time, he wanted to know more about this girl, who was unafraid of his kind. He let out a tiny howl.
“Please little girl, come home with me, come to my home in the fat oak tree – I wish for you to dine with me!” he begged.
The little girl raised her nose in the air and turned around and the wolf watched her fade through the trees.
The next day, when the sun shone high and the little wolf’s mother was again asleep, the little wolf tootled through the trees. His paws dragged across the ground and his face was down.
“What’s wrong little pup?” said a voice from above. The voice came from a bird planted on the highest branch of pine tree. The little wolf squinted. He recognized the sparrow – the wolf wondered if he had eaten one of the bird’s siblings recently.
“Come on you charming little fellow, what has got you so glum?”
“I saw a girl with a pretty red cape – she looked pleasant and soft but when I asked for her to accompany me to dinner with mom in our fat oak tree she hit me with a basket and said no. I just want to get to know her.” said the little wolf.
“Did you growl at her?” the sparrow asked.
“Perhaps a little…” the wolf said, scuffing his paws on the piled up leaves.
The bird clapped his wing to his face and sighed. “It’s a girl, you stupid wolf. Girls will only respond if you compliment them.”
“Aha!” said the little wolf. “That’s what I didn’t do.”
“Try it, why not.” Said the sparrow. “That’s how I got my last four ex wives.”
The little wolf bounded to the path to sit and wait for the girl so he could compliment her on her lovely red cape. He waited all day and at half past noon, he saw the little girl skipping towards him. A wind blew from behind the girl, and the scent of lilacs and bacon wafted towards the wolf. ‘My, little girl, what delectable perfume you wear!’ thought the little wolf. When she neared the tree in the bend where the little wolf hid he sprang from a bush. He recited:
“You are so lovely, little girl – you have the thighs of a fresh chicken, and smell of a chortle house – your wild hair billows in the breeze like thistles – oh won’t you please come home with me? I’ll prepare you a dinner in my fat oak tree!” Just as the little wolf was about to compliment her big beautiful eyes, the little girl took a spatula from her basket and held it up, menacingly.
“Is that all I am to you, wolf? A bag of bones wrapped in bacon? Take your empty compliments and shove them back in your mouth. There is more to me than meat on a stick.” The little wolf backed away and let the little girl pass. The scent of lilacs lingered for a long time after. The wolf trudged home. On his way back, a turtle poked her head out from the shell she was renting.
“Tsk, tsk.” The turtle said. She was old and wrinkled but she smiled patiently at the little wolf. “All those words and not a single present? How are you to woo the girl without presents?”
“Of course!” the little wolf howled in delight. How could he not have realized. He went in search of gifts to shower on the little girl. It took him late into the daylight to set it all up, but by the next morning, exhausted and dragging his feet, it was finished.
This time when the little girl wandered through the woods she would stop near the fork in the road to his house where the little wolf would hide. All night long he had caught mice, killed them and used their bodies to create a large heart. He had been very careful to cut them evenly so that the little girl might not be frightened and so that there was very little blood.
When the morning came, the wolf hid behind his boulder, and waited for the scent of bacon and lilacs to wander down the path. As he waited a snake slithered by. The snake looked from the dead mice to the little wolf and shook her long neck.
“Child, what are you doing?”
“I set out a present for the little girl – I wish to invite her to dinner, and complimenting her did nothing so I wanted to give her a gift.” The snake shifted uncomfortably.
“Child, Don’t you know anything? Little girls are scared of blood and mice – you must cover that up, quickly! I can smell her coming!” The little wolf, his nose twitching with the fresh scent of iron and pheasant, scrambled out of the woods to the fork. He kicked the dead mice down the slope and tried to cover them with the fallen maple leaves. On the edge of his vision he could see the little girl walking towards him and so he hid behind a flower patch. When the little girl reached the fork in the road she stopped. The wolf stretched his neck. To his horror, there, at the foot of the path, sat a small mouse, split cleanly down the middle. He had missed one! But the little girl did not run. Instead she kneeled down to the ground and took plastic gloves from her pocket. She seemed to be talking to herself. The little wolf perked up his ears.
“-And the ventral aspect of the thyroid shows swelling… hmm… that, in combination with this old puncture wound of the duodenum may have caused death through sepsis – I wonder…”
‘My, Little girl! What a fantastic knowledge of mouse anatomy, biology and history you have! And her voice tinkled when she wasn’t yelling too!’ Thought the little wolf. The little wolf looked for someone to tell him what to do. Gone was the bird in the canopy above. Gone was the tortoise, interfering with the youth. Gone was the snake, slithering to meet her family. The little wolf was on his own again. He stepped from the flowers. He thought about walking up to her but he stood far away. He didn’t notice that some of the mouse’s blood had fallen on the little girl’s sneaker, nor that a few leaves stuck out oddly in her flyaway hair.
“You again!” said the little girl. She turned sharply and brandished a knife at him.
“I just wanted to ask you what you were saying – What is a thyroid?” said the wolf.
“Why do you want to know?” asked the little girl.
“You just sounded so smart and I was told you would run away from the dead mouse.”
“Run away?” said the girl. Leaves drifted among the trees and new patches of sun opened into the woods. “Why would I run away from a dead mouse? When I can learn so much from it? Why run when I could learn?”
“Then why do you run away from me?” said the wolf. He thought about lifting a paw and padding closer to the girl but did not. He stood where he was.
“My mother said wolves are dark and bad because when she was young and wore this hood, one tried to eat her and grandma for good.” The young wolf nodded.
“That is why you ran when I asked you to come for dinner!” She thought I would eat her! The little wolf’s ears flattened. “I was told not to approach humans – a human killed my great grandfather. But you were so pretty and I wanted to meet you –“
“But I don’t want to just be pretty- “ said the little girl, blinking her big eyes.
“And then I was told you would talk to me if I showered you with gifts and then I was told not to frighten you!” The little girl shook her head and put down her basket.
“And now?” The little girl asked.
“You seem interesting to talk to. I wish to know you better.”
The little girl smiled but it faded like melting frost. The sun faded behind clouds. “You cannot take me, not back with you, to your house in the fat oak tree.” The little girl wrung her hands together. Slowly she walked across the crunching pine needles of the woods to the wolf. She lay a soft hand on the wolf’s head and patted his head awkwardly.
“If you cannot come home with me, through the woods to my fat oak tree… what If I were to go with you? To your dinner feast and maybe dessert too?” The little wolf held his breath, gazing into the big round eyes of the little girl. The little girl nodded and took the little wolf’s paw in her hand. They walked down the path towards the little girl’s cottage on the edge of the woods. The little girl told the young wolf to wait outside and jumped up the steps and through the door. The little wolf sat in front of the house and listened to the power lines swaying above. The sun shone weakly through the clouds. The little girl popped her head out of the door and beckoned the little wolf to come inside.
The wolf only realized he was nervous when he stepped through the door and a thousand eyes stared at him from everywhere. They were the heads of animals, stuffed and mounted on the wall. Bison and beavers and woodchucks and hogs: froggies and eels and squirrels stuck in bogs. There were duckbills and deer heads and fawns and their stags – And there, above the mantle place was fixed a great cougar. Nowhere, the pup realized, was there a wolf-skin. The little wolf gulped. At a sturdy round table there sat the wolf’s little girl, her broad hairy father, her mother dressed in a coat of animal tails, and four steaks, medium rare. The smell was too enticing and the young wolf approached, crossing over the skin of a fox as he did.
“This is my friend, the wolf.” The little girl said, hanging her coat on the radiator next to her chair.
“A pleasure.” Said the mother. Her eyes were daggers, digging into him. The girl’s father merely grunted.
“Bon’apetite!” The little girl cried, and the family and the wolf tucked into their steaks with vicious appetite. The wolf chewed his food nervously and wiped his lips carefully. When they had all finished a silence sat over the table and the eyes on the walls started at the little wolf. After a few minutes searching for something to say, the wolf got up and bowed that he should be on his way.
“Wait just a moment.” The girl’s mother said. “You must not leave now. We have only just met.” The women stood up. She was holding a knife. Before his eyes the wolf saw pass his entire life. He had never eaten enough shrews! He was too young to die! The woman approached, with the knife pointed down. She held it firmly in her hand. The wolf backed into the wall. He looked at the little girl – her smile was pink and her big eyes excited and laughing. The woman came towards him with the knife and it shot passed the wolf’s face like a cobra. The wolf closed his eyes.
“Here, little wolf, a treat for the road –“
The wolf opened his eyes. To his surprise he found a piece of cake, concocted of venison meat and cream cheese frosting on a plate and a white paper doggy bag. “I have packed one for your mother as well!” said the woman. The wolf breathed a sigh, and sat down where he was on the rope welcome-mat. He ate the entire slice of venison cake in one bite.
“Please,” the woman said, “do come again – our daughter likes you so much and you have little to fear- in fact I have a proposal to put in your ear.” The woman sat down backwards in a hand-carved chair. “You wish to spend time with our dear little girl? How about this. We are hunters, and you are a hunter. We would like you to come with us on a hunt some time. You can keep what you catch and anything else you might find.” The little wolf nodded, he was delighted no doubt. The little girl ran to him and hugged him full out.
“Your mother is welcome to join us and live here!” The little girl laughed. “She can sit by the fire, and we can feed you extra scraps. We can all go hunting and you’ll fall asleep on our laps!” The wolf agreed heartily and licked the girl on the face. She didn’t taste yummy, only a bit like stale bread. But the wolf was happy to be employed and not dead.
So this is the story of how dogs came to be. A wolf followed a girl, and they made each other happy. The little wolf brought his mother and they lived just inside. They guarded the doors, and they caught creatures that ran – and balls that were thrown and they played on the land. And the wolf grew older with the girl at his side getting kisses and petted and venison scraps on the side. They hunted and played and ate well ever more. And what big teeth they had. And what big teeth they had.
©2015 Lex Vex