Once upon a time, there was a girl who grew up with a wolf. The wolf did not raise her; from the time she was small, she learned to raise herself. But the wolf taught her many things. Some of them were useful later, and some of them scarred her to the core.
Early on, the girl learned that the wolf would consistently pace around her, snarling. Sometimes he was bold enough to come and take a small nip at her, tearing skin. Eventually these nips grew to small bites, and the girl was consistently tending to the wounds of the wolf.
The girl would have gotten away, if she but knew how. But little girls have no knowledge of how to escape wolves. So the girl stayed. She never went near the wolf and refused to be close to him unless he came near her. Quite plainly she was terrified of this beast who had no care for her other than to take bites out of her little body.
One night she woke up to the wolf beside her bed, snarling. He paced around her bed, around and around and around. The girl was stiff with fear. It was night, the time of terrors, and she didn’t know what lay in the darkness beyond the wolf. Maybe there was a pack of wolves just waiting to tear into her skin! As the wolf walked around and around her bed, baring his teeth, he hissed, “I will eat you someday, little girl. You can’t survive me. I will drink your blood and shred your skin from your bones.” Suddenly he was on top of her snarling and snapping at her, taking chunks of skin. The little girl screamed. But the wolf didn’t stop. After what seemed like endless screaming, endless tearing, the wolf jumped off into the night.
But everything was changed after that night. The poor girl’s face was mauled. Her little mouth, especially, had taken a severe hit. With tiny fingers, she stitched her mouth closed, whispering, “I can’t scream. I can’t scream. I can’t scream.”
And she didn’t. In fact, she became totally silent. After 2 more long years of silence had passed, she decided the best way to deal with this wolf was to pretend she liked him. She could pretend she liked it when he took little digs out of her skin. When he snarled at her and kept her frozen in fear, she could pretend he was saying sweet things. She could pretend he was telling her that he loved her.
And so it grew so that the girl never spoke, but when the wolf would come near, she would wrap her hands in his fur and pet him softly. She would kiss him tenderly even as he stole bits of her flesh from her bones. She would walk beside him even with blood dripping down her arms and legs. Soon, it seemed the pain both became deeper and less noticeable simultaneously.
The girl began to subtly look like the wolf. As she knotted her fingers in his fur, they became claw-like with nails sharpened for the kill. As she kissed him on the forehead, suddenly she was licking him with a pink tongue that snaked in and out of a long snout. After some time she dropped on all fours and padded along beside him. He still snapped at her, but now she had fur to protect her from the stinging pain. She didn’t bleed anymore. She simply walked beside the wolf as he continued in his threats of violence.
One day, she was a full grown wolf. She looked in the mirror with shame at what she saw. She often left the side of her wolf-companion now, but every time she looked in the mirror, she shuddered with revulsion. It was his face staring out at her, his cruelty still as sharp as the first day she’d felt his teeth in her skin. Her head was always dropped in shame.
More shame flooded her as she began to take small bites out of others. Lovers, friends, family; none were immune. She hated herself each time she ripped skin off their bones. But her heart hurt so much and she knew no other way to live. As shame consumed her, she took more and more away from those she loved.
Finally one day she was all alone. Even the wolf who had been by her side her whole life had left her. He had said she wasn’t fun to play with anymore. He left without a backward glance. The rest had been chased away by the bite marks she left in their bodies and hearts. She howled mournfully, despairingly, up at the moon.
All of a sudden there was a rushing sound, and before her stood a familiar figure. For she saw her own self, in the little girl form. The familiar pink jumper, white shirt, and unkempt brown hair could not be mistaken. Nor could the tears in the little girl’s eyes. The little girl hiccuped and wiped them away, bottom lip jutting out.
The woman-wolf howled again, feeling wounded. The little girl started crying even more. The wolf didn’t know what to do. How did she help this little girl stop crying? She felt helpless. Finally, she stood and walked a circle around the little girl. The little girl stiffened in fear and the wolf winced in recognition. She crept closer to her little girl self and hesitantly reached up and licked her face.
The little girl’s eyes had squeezed shut in anticipation. But they flew open the moment the pink tongue touched her face. She stared at herself-the-wolf in surprise. Then the little girl began not just to cry, but to weep, big sobs from somewhere deep inside. The wolf realized she was crying too. She licked away the girl’s tears and the girl wrapped her arms around the wolf’s neck and cried.
Presently, the wolf realized her claws had changed. Her snout had changed. Now she was quietly kissing away tears on a little girl’s cheek, smoothing her back with strong hands, and sitting with the little girl pulled into her lap.
“It’s gonna be okay,” she said. And the little girl knew that it would.