Archive for April, 2009

A strange offering: sheep and wolves

I’m back, so blogging will now resume and, since the norm for me has been that, whenever I return from a period of absence, I come back with something off-center like a poem or whatever, I figured I’d keep the trend alive now with a story. You’ll notice it is a variation on a children’s tale, but I think the tweaks hit closer to the truth of it all. Hope you enjoy.

Once there was a wolf. He was not very uncommon for a wolf. He was no taller than most other wolves. Nor was he shorter than most others. His fur was no longer, nor coarser, nor greyer. His feet were no faster, nor slower. His tail wagged no more or less, and his teeth were just as long and sharp as any wolf his age (which was not very old, nor very young). And like any wolf, it was in his nature from time to time, when he was hungry, to eat whatever other, smaller animal he happened across in the woods. This, though it was a quite normal fact about wolves, often pained him a bit for, though he had to eat, he did not like the hurt it caused for those other creatures. This pain was always a short one though, since it’s sting would quickly be drowned out by the delicious taste of fresh meat. Thus was the life of our quite ordinary wolf.

On one particularly cold day, during one particularly harsh winter, our wolf found himself having gone from one sunrise to the next and well into that day without having had a single bite to eat. He was quite hungry, and had even considered trying to eat some of the berries or roots that the other animals fed on, but he didn’t have the faintest idea where to look for them and didn’t imagine they’d be very tasty anyway. As it happened though, just as he had become most faint from hunger, he wandered into a clearing in the forest to find a lone sheep sleeping and shivering under a pile of fallen brush. Excited at the sight of a warm, nourishing meal he pounced upon the sheep and devoured  it, feeling only the faintest bit of remorse, which had been numbed by the cold and hunger pains.

After quite a long time of eating (for the sheep had been a particularly large one of his kind, and the wolf, in his hunger, had devoured all but the skin of the poor creature), the wolf lay back in the snow full and happy, but after a moment he began to shiver from the cold, just as the sheep had. Too tired to head back to the den where his warm bed of fur and leaves was, he began to look around for a place to nestle up for the night. Realizing that he had left only the skin of the sheep, he decided to crawl up, where the sheep had lay, and cover himself with the warm fur. As he lay there, swaddled in the skin of the sheep, he again began to feel that bit of sorrow at having killed, and that pain was especially strong on this occasion, for not only had he taken the sheep for food, but he had also taken its warm coat and, as he driffted off into cozy sleep, this was his last thought.

When the sun had risen enough to shine on the eyelids of our wolf, he woke to find that spring had come on the dawn. He had slept all through the night and well into the morning, and throughout his rest he had shivered and nestled himself just so in the sheeps skin that it covered him just right: head to head, back to back, tail to tail. Emerging from the bed of fallen brush, with the sheep’s clothing clinging to him well, he wondered where he was, and how he’d gotten there, for the combination of fatigue and   cold and the large meal had made him sleep very deeply. After walking lazily through the spring-warmed woods he came to a small, clear pool of water left by the melted ice. Thirsty, he walked over and began to lap and suck it up. As he drank through, something strange gripped at the back of his mind. The face staring at him from the surface of that clear pool was not a wolf’s face, but a sheeps!

Startled and confused, he stumbled back, wondering what to make of it all. Finally it came to him, and he siezed upon a great hope – it had all been a dream! All the hunting, the carnage, the lowing of sheep and howling of foxes as he tore at their flesh – it had all been a nightmare! Though he was not quite (just not quite) sure he believed it, he let this thought wash over him like a cleansing wave, and as he sat by that pool, the wolf in sheep’s clothing wept deeply for joy that it had all been a dream.

Years passed, and our sheep never again saw, or even thought of the den, or the hunts, or his life before that spring. He spent his days roaming about the hills and fields where other sheep fed and lived their sheep lives. And, though the light of every sunrise revealed a new stain in the grass, and another devoured creature, he always met them with horror, saying, ”this is the work of the wolves”.


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