eing eaten alive by the wolf was the best thing that ever happened to me. It was also the worst.
The story goes that when he knocked on my front door I was so myopic or senile that I thought he was Jenny, my granddaughter. But my eyesight, and my mind, have never been keener.
That’s the scandalous truth: I knew all along that I was letting the wolf into my parlor.
There was a moment, after he knocked, when I shuffled to the door and heard his heavy breathing on the other side, that I remember well: A moment of decision. The porch creaked under his weight. The scent of his musky fur wafted in through the cracked window. I looked through the peephole and saw his huge, black eyes, peering back at me.
I thought about my life. I thought about the endless afghan I was crocheting, the tea steeping on the stove that I made each day in the hopes of a visit from children or grandchildren who rarely bothered, the loneliness since my husband had died six years before.
And then I opened the door.
The wolf was bigger than I could have imagined. He flowed into the room and filled it with his bulk. He brought with him the scent of the forest, and the mysteries of the shadows were close on his heels. He was a creature older and greater than I could comprehend.
His eyes as he regarded me were not full of malice, as you might think. They were wise, intelligent eyes...but they were hungry.
He opened his mouth and I smelled the sickly-sweet scent of fresh blood and chewed meat. His great jaw touched the floor, and I climbed into his mouth, as one would mount the steps of a carriage, using his fangs as hand-holds. Once I was comfortable on his tongue, his jaws snapped shut, and I was swallowed whole.
Encased in darkness, I was squeezed into the creature’s gullet, and from there his stomach, where I rested in a pool of acid. It was painful and horrible and wonderful all at once. It reminded me of birthing my daughters, when the pain was so intense that it seemed to consume the world, and my focus became a needle-sharp point. All the loneliness and sadness and bitterness was swept away in a wash of pain.
And then the creature roared, and I was jostled, and then a great split appeared, spilling light into the tight darkness of the beast’s stomach. Two pairs of hands reached in and pulled me out, into the light.
Jenny and the huntsman poured water over me and scrubbed the acid from my skin. I trembled and wept. They wrapped me in Jenny’s red cloak and put me in bed with a cup of tea steaming on the nightstand.
The next morning I found that the wolf’s carcass had been taken away, all except the head. The huntsman wanted to take that too, but I told him I wanted it. He gave me an odd look, but as so often happens, I got my way, because it’s excusable to be a bit eccentric when you’re my age.
The wolf’s head is mounted on my wall. I wish I had his skin, so I could wrap myself in it, but I make due. The floors are still stained red with his blood, and on those lonely nights when no one visits me, and the acid burns on my legs itch, I curl naked on the floor beneath his massive jaws and remember what it was like to be alive.
Brief bio: Sarah Hans was once a morbid child obsessed with vampires, ghosts, and werewolves. Now she's a morbid adult whose horror stories appear in anthologies such as The Crimson Pactand Candle in the Attic Window. You can follow her adventures at http://sarahhans.com/