Not feeling terribly creative today. Here’s an oldy-but-goodie:
Let me start by saying that it wasn’t my fault – none of this whole ugly mess. In fact, when I tell my story, I’m sure you’ll see that I was the victim here. I did nothing wrong – I was as polite and kind as I should have been. I’m sure you’ll see that. And I’m sure, by the time I’m done explaining, that you’ll understand.
First, I would like to point out that it was, in fact, my home. The forest has always been my home – long before any people settled there. Actually, if I were less kind and generous, I would say that the people who settled their village in and around my forest were invaders – evil-doers who cut down the trees to build their homes and hunted the poor, sweet innocent creatures that I have come to know as friends.
But seeing as I am actually very kind and generous, I won’t say anything of the sort. Instead, I simply choose to begin my story.
It was a beautiful day in the forest – warm and lovely. The sunlight poured through the trees, dappling the path with delicate, lace-like patterns. I was minding my own business, just wandering around in my forest when she came along.
She was a lovely little girl, skipping along the path. Her golden hair was nearly as bright as the sunshine and it looked quite becoming, bouncing against the bright red of her cape.
What was I supposed to do?
She was a guest in my home. Never mind that she had ventured into my home uninvited, she was a guest nonetheless. It would have been quite rude on my part to ignore her – to let her pass without saying hello, at the very least.
And I may be many things, but I am never rude. I am the politest of wolves and – all of my friends will attest to this – a very friendly host.
So, like the kind, gentle wolf that I am, I walked up to the child and introduced myself. She was a very nice child and we had quite a pleasant conversation. The little girl informed me that she was walking through my woods in order to get to her grandmother’s house, deep in the heart of the forest.
Her grandmother was another unwelcome invader. But of course, I let this pass without mentioning it. It would be a rude thing to say to a guest. And I am never rude.
She was, she told me, visiting her dear Grandmother, because the poor old lady wasn’t feeling well. The little girl was taking the trip to deliver some goodies that her mother had made – biscuits and cookies and one delicious-smelling carrot cake. And the girl meant to keep her Grandmother company for a time as well. Because really, the only thing worse than being sick, she told me, is having to be sick alone.
I quite agree. Being sick is much more tolerable when you have someone to keep you company and help take care of you. And soup nearly always tastes better when you don’t have to make it yourself.
I’ve learned this through personal experience and let me tell you – that little girl was very wise for her age.
It’s a shame what happened later, really. Although, as you’ll see, that isn’t my fault.
We chatted for a little while. She explained about her poor old Granny and told me that her lovely little cottage was straight down the forest path a little way and that her mother had warned her quite specifically, not to stray from the path.
Her mother had also told her not to speak to strangers. But then, I wasn’t a stranger was I? The little girl and I were practically best friends at that point – I certainly didn’t count as a strange.
Really, I’ll tell you, there is nothing the least bit strange about me. I am the most normal, well-adjusted wolf I know.
In return for her cheerful attitude and the joy of the conversation, I told the little girl about a lovely patch of flowers, just a little ways off the path – a mere few feet, really. I suggested that, with very little effort, she could make her Grandmother a lovely bouquet and that the poor, sweet old lady would feel very much better with some fresh flowers to brighten up her home.
The little girl agreed with me, as I knew she would. She was, after all, quite a clever little girl. And nothing cheers a sick person quite like the sight of some beautiful fresh flowers.
And once I showed her the flower patch, she set right to gathering and arranging the flowers.
Of course, I left her to her business, not wanting to distract her any more than necessary with my conversation.
But I am a very considerate wolf. And having heard that her poor old Granny was sick, I thought that the only decent thing to do was to pay her a visit myself.
After all, being sick is quite miserable, but it’s all the more so when you’re alone. And I knew that the little girl wouldn’t arrive at her Grandmother’s house for quite some time.
Yes, I decided. That would be the perfect idea. Invader or not, no one deserves to be sick by themselves. And so, I decided that would do the kind, neighborly thing. I would go sit with the little girl’s grandmother and keep her company until the child finally arrived.
I got there quickly. I know my woods quite well and therefore do not need to be concerned about taking the forest path. I also knew exactly the lovely little cottage the little girl was talking about. After all, these are my woods. And there are not so many lovely little cottages in my woods that I can forget where they are.
So, within a few minutes I had arrived at Granny’s front door. I had even picked some apples along the way – lovely, red, ripe ones. Because I feel, that while fresh fruit is good for you in general, it is an even better idea when one is feeling ill.
I knocked politely.
The sweet old lady opened the door right away. I’m afraid that she was expecting to see her granddaughter – and not me. My appearance must have given her quite a shock – perhaps I forgot to brush my fur that day? I don’t understand why she was so upset. But upset she was.
Upon opening the door, the old lady shrieked and ran, bolting into the little house. I walked in after her. I could not, after all, leave her in such a state of panic. It would not do for her granddaughter to see her like this.
I was simply trying to place my paws on her shoulders, to get a firm grip on her and explain that everything was quite all right – I didn’t want to hurt the poor old dear.
But it was, coincidentally, as I was reaching out to take a firm (but gentle) hold on her – and I was just opening my mouth so that I could explain the situation – at that exact moment, the poor old lady slipped on her bedside rug.
And wouldn’t you know it?
Completely on accident, the old lady tumbled right into my mouth. I swear I didn’t mean to – but you really can’t help but swallow once something is in your mouth. It’s a physical instinct, isn’t it? I didn’t mean to swallow her whole, but I’m afraid I did.
That was when I began to panic – what had I done?
I had arrived simply to comfort the poor old lady and instead I had swallowed her. And what was I supposed to do? Her lovely little granddaughter was arriving in a few minutes’ time – and she would expect to see her poor, sick Granny.
There was nothing else to do. I couldn’t disappoint the beautiful child. She expected to see her Grandmother. And so she would, even if I had to be her Grandmother. I couldn’t break her heart, could I?
So, I arranged the apples I had brought in a little bowl – and they were very pretty. I put on Granny’s spare nightgown and her nightcap and pulled the covers all way up to my chin.
I did not have to wait long.
After a few minutes of lying in the bed, I heard a firm little knock against the door.
I put on my best Grandmotherly voice and spoke.
“Come in, Child,” I said – for I still did not know the little girl’s name. And it really would not do for a Grandmother to ask a Grandchild what her name is. So I worked around it.
The little girl opened the door and stepped inside.
“I’ve brought you fresh flowers, Grandma,” she told me. “They’re quite lovely. And I’ve brought you some sweets that Mama baked especially for you – some chocolate chip cookies and the cheddar biscuits you like so much. She even made her special carrot cake. And I think there’s some extra goodies in there she didn’t even tell me about. I’m sure you’ll love them.”
The child lay her basket and bouquet down on the wooden table and turned to face me, a bright, beautiful smile on her face.
“I’m sure they’ll fix whatever ails you, Grandmother,” she said.
“I’m certain they will, Dear,” I answered.
The bed lay in a shadowed part of the room, where the sunlight from the window did not filter. And I was glad. I am not stupid. And I know that a wolf looks nothing like a grandmother. But I was hoping that the shadows, with a clever combination of clothing and blankets, would convince the child enough that I could send her on her way back home.
Perhaps, I thought, I could convince her that whatever disease bothered her Grandmother was horribly contagious and that she should quickly run home if she did not want to catch it.
Yes, that seemed like a solid plan.
But as I was formulating my plan, the little girl had come closer. She was looking at me in a curious way, head tilted slightly to the side, as though she was trying to figure out a puzzle.
“Why, Grandmother,” she said. “What big eyes you have.”
I had, in fact, forgotten that I have such lovely large eyes – they often seem to glow in the dark, or so my friends have told me. Still, I tried to cover.
“All the better to see you with, my dear,” I told her.
The girl took another few steps closer.
“And Grandmother,” she said, tilting her head further. “What big, strong arms you have.”
Again, I had hoped the shadows and the blankets had hidden this. I will admit, I have a rather impressive physique – usually that’s an asset. Not so in this case.
“All the better to hug you with, my dear,” I answered.
She took several more steps. It was a small cottage and she was close enough now that I could grab her, if I wanted to. Not that I wanted to. I am, after all, a very nice wolf.
“Oh, Grandmother,” she said. “What large teeth you have.”
She took one more step forward, eyes growing large as she gazed at me.
“All the better to -”
I didn’t have a chance to finish the statement, which might very well have been a good thing, for I didn’t really have an answer for her. She saw through the shadows and the nightgown (which was rather flattering, if I do say so myself) and she saw me for what I am – not her Grandmother, but a wolf.
Her shriek pierced the air as she pulled back, beginning to run away. I reached for her hand – not to detain her, but to explain. I wanted to explain the whole sorry incident – to tell her about her Grandmother.
It was, after all, a complete accident. I was sure she would understand. Little girls can be very understanding.
But instead she tried to get away from me as quickly as possible, which, for a healthy little girl, can be very quickly indeed.
I missed my grip on her hand and even as I started opening my mouth to explain, I saw the tragedy in the making.
That dratted rug – the thing was a hazard. That silly Grandmother should have gotten rid of the thing a long time ago – then we wouldn’t be having these sorts of problems.
But the little girl, quick though she was, tripped over the rug and lost her balance – even as I opened my mouth, drawing breath to explain. And I’m sorry to say that the poor little thing fell in. And I couldn’t help it. I swallowed her whole.
Am I ashamed of myself? Of course I am.
I am a dignified wolf. And I usually do not behave in such ways.
To swallow people whole?
A dignified wolf such as myself always cooks them first. In fact, I’ve developed a delicious recipe for human tikka masala, should you ever wish to borrow it.
I’m sure you know the rest of the story – the huntsman, with his sharp (so very sharp…) ax, the grandmother and the child and the happily ever after.
I am sure, reader, you know that I did not get my happily ever after. And I’ll never truly understand why.
After all, I did nothing wrong. I behaved with absolute politeness, kindness and decency. You’ve seen how those humans have twisted the story around. I am not to blame in this, not one little bit. And I’m sure, having heard my story, that you agree with me.
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