Ancient History

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The Tale of the Woman and The Fruit Wolf

The woods were thick and twisted. Gnarled leafless trees huddled against the onslaught of the first winter blast of arctic cold. Snow fell softly at first and found the landing rough after a dusty, wrinkled autumn. The forest floor, covered in rocks, dead trees, grey-yellow aspen leaves pulled the white up over its elbows and shoulders. It was faceless, with stubble trees jutting out of the clean velvet mantle, hoary.

Trails like veins skirted trees and led the animals and people to sources of food and water. The trails led the animals and people home to thickets and caves and cabins. Now all paths were deeply obscured. Memory, scent, instinct would have to suffice.

The woman stood near the river which was gulping snow. It ran slowly, despite it’s greed. She pulled the drawstrings tight on her hood, tying a bow. The sun seemed to hum through the clouds. She’d follow the flow of the river to her front door. Miles away, her family waited for her. She thought about cupping their faces with her cold hands. The children would laugh and pull her to the chair by the fire. She began to walk. Usually, she’d sing all the way home, imagining the birds and animals would remember the songs and recognize their friend. Singing told her family she was right around the river’s bend. But it was too cold to sing. In the silence, she heard twigs snapping. She stopped to listen. She wasn’t alone.

Turning around, she saw the tidy prints from her boots and the mob of trees. Something was watching her, peeking out from under the skirts of evergreens like shy child behind her mother. She turned and walked more briskly, tuning all senses to the watcher. Faster she walked and faster it walked. Faster and faster they moved until she was running. River rocks that were normally covered in the spring by runoff waters slowed her, but she felt she needed to stay close to the water. It could be her only escape. They moved in tandem. “Leave me alone!” she screamed.

In answer, a howl.

Her stalker was a wolf.

The wolf leapt out of the trees with his teeth bared. He rivaled a black bear in size. Wiry white and grey hair framed his face like a lion’s mane, standing wild and shocked. His body was sleek, tapering from his broad chest down to his tail. But it was his eyes that made the woman drop to her knees, defeated. They reflected full moons, the hunt, blood, and tears. “Go away!” she screamed. He took a step toward her. “Go away!” again.

“Please…” she wailed. Maybe she was close enough to home for her husband to hear? They’d be listening for her songs, their ears hunting for her voice rising above the rushing water. “God, help me!” Her hand found a rock. She hurled it in his direction. It landed a few feet in front of him.

The wolf knew he didn’t need to waste his energy running. He sniffed the rocked. She threw another, but it fell short. She was weakening.

The sun’s hum was now a mournful drone, muted and low, a groaning hymn for gravesides. Here she was, at her own. She struggled to her feet. Whatever was going to come, courage. Courage. They stared at each other. She stood her ground, he moved toward her. She dug her boots into the deepening snow. He moved toward her. Water rushed on and on behind her back. It was the only noise she heard. Would he follow her into the dark water if she fell into the current? His muscles tensed and he crouched, growling. Just as she tipped back, he sprang. She caught him, wrapping her arms around his body and pulling him to her chest. They crashed into the shallow water.

The shock of the cold pried them apart. Both scrambled to their feet. They coughed and shuddered, sputtering and shaking. She looked at the wolf, who seemed half his former size. A strange scent began to rise from the water. The wolf lowered his head and slunk to shore, collapsing on the rocks. The scent grew in strength. The woman realized the odor was rising from the panting wolf. He weakly licked his paws, stood, and shook his body to dry. He walked to the woods and disappeared behind the linked arms of dead branches.

The woman forgot how cold and wet she was because the odor had overcome every sense. What was it? It was striking and familiar. Memories from childhood spun to the surface, breaking through until she saw as clear as day:

A picnic in a park. Mama calling her to a picnic table covered in favorite foods. Spicy fried chicken, creamy potato salad, sweet sticky watermelon piled on a paper plate with little flowers around the edges. Mama handed a paper cup to her. She took it, sloshing a bit of the bright red drink out onto her hand. She laughed and put the cup down, licking the red drops off. That taste! That smell!

Fruit Punch Koolaid! The scent rising from the wolf was Fruit Punch Koolaid!

The woman walked home.

This concludes my review of Wolfthorn Scent Old Spice Wild Collection Invisible Solid Antiperspirant and Deodorant.

(I recently shopped for new deodorant for my oldest teenaged son and this was what popped in my head when I took off the cap to smell it)

1 comment to The Tale of the Woman and The Fruit Wolf

  • Mom

    Well, what a fragrant imagination you have. So did you buy it and would he wear it is the question. I’m glad the old woman made it home to her family and cozy fire where she could dry off.

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