February 15, 2022

The Wolf and The Wind, By James Dodds

 

There once was a time when birds talked as well as sang, wells granted wishes, and rainbows spied out pots of elven gold. In that time, magic, both great and small, was commonplace among mortals adept enough to believe, understand and use it.


One such person, a woman named Phaedra, dwelt at the edge of the woods, just past the tilled fields of the village, in a cozy cottage nestled under a grove of ancient trees. The villagers sought Phaedra out for cures, love potions, warding charms and her mastery of “the sight.”

 

Phaedra’s mother was ailing. Phaedra packed a basket of food and remedies, some magical, some simple herbs. Turning to her child, she said, “Daughter, take this to your grandmother as quick as ever you can.”

 

Her daughter, Morgan, wise beyond her ten years, snatched her scarlet cloak and hood from the hook. “Yes, mama.” As she turned to go, Phaedra pressed a small whistle into her hand. “In case of trouble, use this,” she commanded. “But remember, your wits are your true magic.” Her daughter nodded. She stepped out onto the stoop, surveyed the woods surrounding the path and set out at a trot. Her mother watched the forest shadows reach after the girl, dark forms that melted back into the woods as the girl hastened past.

 

Morgan paused for breath where the path forked three ways. As she pondered her choice, a big wolf sauntered up. “Lost, are you?” he asked. Grinning, he padded around the girl in an ever-shrinking circle. Morgan fumbled about in her basket. The wolf stopped directly in front of her, his hungry yellow eyes all a-glow. The girl held up a morsel of meat long enough for the wolf to get a sniff, then tossed it into the air. The wolf leapt up and snap! went his jaws. Morgan pulled another tidbit out of the basket, flinging it even higher. The wolf eagerly devoured this one too. But the clever girl had fed him one of her mother’s poultice ingredients: a bundle of shredded horseradish root!

 

The bad wolf’s eyes and nose gushed rivers. He howled in pain and dashed away, desperately seeking water. Morgan raced up the middle path. As she scampered, her hood flew back, revealing golden curls that sparkled in the sunlight.

 

Presently she came across a little house with a thatched roof. The door stood wide open. Morgan slipped inside, quickly bolting the door after her. She whirled around to find… an empty room. No one was home. Three chairs huddled around the fireplace. Three beds stood under the back window. And three bowls of warm porridge rested on the table, issuing steam that shimmered in the air.

 

As Morgan leaned over to sniff the porridge, the door rattled violently against the bolt. Outside, the wolf snarled, “Little girl, little girl, let me in, let me in!”

 

Morgan’s sudden fright turned to anger. She marched to the door and firmly said, “No! You are a bad wolf! Not a tooth, not a whisker, not even a hair of yours shall enter this house.”

 

The wolf gnashed his large teeth in rage. “Little girl,” he growled. “I can blow the leaves off the trees. I can blow the tufts off dandelions from a mile away. I will blow this door down and then gobble you up in three big bites!” He marched ten paces back from the door and began to huff and to puff.

 

As the wolf raged outside, Morgan put her mother’s whistle to her lips. She waited until a high, keening wind buffeted the door. It shook against its hinges and the bolt quivered sharply in the bolt-hole. Taking a deep breath, Morgan blew gently on the whistle. Out of nowhere, a counter-wind smothered the wolf’s effort. She heard him grunt with surprise. Here’s a surprise, she thought. She tooted on the whistle and a sharp gust knocked the wolf head over heels. He yelped as his head struck a rock.

 

Twice more the wolf attacked and twice more the girl beat him back. The third time, she spun in a circle, blowing the whistle as hard as she could. A whirlwind descended on the wolf, picking him up and flinging him against a tree.

 

Morgan opened the door and peered out. The big wolf lay face down, groaning and gasping for breath. “Oh, Mr. Wolf!” she called. “You won’t be dining on me today, but there is some nice porridge here you might enjoy.” She skipped on up the path until she was out of sight. Wanting to see what the wolf did next, she ducked into the forest and crept back to the little house.

 

Not feeling at all big or bad, the wolf crawled into the cabin. Famished, he gulped down the porridge, licking the bowls clean. Exhausted, with a full stomach, he curled up on the biggest bed and fell fast asleep.

 

The girl was about to continue on to Grandmother’s house when three enormous shadows loomed across the path. She shrank back and fearfully watched a family of grouchy bears lumber past. Papa Bear grumbled about how hungry he was. Baby Bear couldn’t stop whining. Mama Bear cuffed Baby Bear and gritted her teeth at Papa Bear.

 

Snarling at each other, the bears shoved through the door. Silence fell as they gazed around their home. Crouched outside the window, Morgan felt their anger spiral up until Mama Bear saw the muddy wolf on her clean bedsheets and shrieked, “You filthy beast!” The hungry bears fell on the wolf and gobbled him up.

 

Shortly thereafter, Morgan let herself into her grandmother’s house. There, on the loom, was a half-finished love blanket, with the letters M O R already woven in. Grandmother sat up in bed and grinned at her daughter’s daughter.

 

“Oh Grandmother, what a big smile you have!” said Morgan.


James Dodds has been published in 2100: A Health Odyssey and The Avenue magazine. He bides his time on a quiet plot of land just west of Spokane, Washington. He collects original Oz books and never wavers in his search for the perfect fried chicken recipe.

Cover Image: John Everett Millais
Cover Design: Amanda Bergloff 

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed the story. It was fun to go along with this mash-up of a classic.
B.T. Schauer

Unknown said...

Loved this! Susan Raymond

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed the story; twists and turns. The last sentence made me smile.😁

Unknown said...

I had a lot of fun mixing and matching three of my favorite tales. Thank you for reading it.

Unknown said...

And it’s feedback like this that keeps me tapping away at the keyboard. Thank you.

Unknown said...

Some stories seem to fight me the entire way through. This one, however, just flowed out my fingertips and onto the screen. Except for the last two paragraphs. I knew it had to be a variation on the classic lines from the original, but the exact wording and the previous paragraph’s setup escaped me for several hours. When I finally struck upon it, I knew it was The One.

Lynden Wade said...

What a fun story! Ingenious interweaving of three different tales.

willow_pink said...

The mashup characteristics of the wolf are very clever!

willow_pink said...

The mashup of the characteristics of the wolf is very clever 🐺

Janet R Webb said...

New and old all together! I enjoyed the unexpected twists in the story that seemed familiar and not all at once. The final sentence was the icing on the cake!

Anonymous said...

Very nice story! I enjoyed the modern twists on old tales.

Anonymous said...

What a fun story! I’d like to see more of this author’s work.

James Dodds said...

Thank you, Brian!

James Dodds said...

Thank you, Lynden!

Crys Harpole said...

Well done, enjoyed it!

Unknown said...

Very Fun and Creative! Loved it and laughed all along.

James Dodds said...

Thank you! It was fun pulling the same bad guy from two other stories.

James Dodds said...

The first and last sentences are the crucial ones. I’m glad you like this one!

James Dodds said...

I’ve always loved fairy tales. This is the first one I’ve had an opportunity to write. I think this is a great magazine and I enjoyed working with the editor. So I plan to send her more stories in the future. Fingers crossed!

James Dodds said...

Thank you Crys! Now you know what I’ve been up to since leaving you and the rest of the gang.

James Dodds said...

Just what I was aiming for! Thank you - you made my day. Heck, you made my whole week!

HulderMN said...

Wonderful mashup-- Goldilocks got game!

Lucinda said...

A delightful romp in the woods! Nicely done, James!

Mary Jo Robertiello said...

A lovely, spirited mashup of three fairy tales. I saw that Mr. Dodds collects original Oz books. The Ozstories were my favorite books. Most people don't know what magic and fun exist in the ones after The Wizard of Oz but I'm sure Mr. Dodds does.

Anonymous said...

Very easy to read, exciting, and comforting

SO proud of my cousin, James!

Susan

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