Wolves

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There are three things you need to know before reading this.

I am a child.

I am a child.

I am a child.

There are people screaming and running past me, but I am standing still on the bridge watching as the wolves approach.  They aren’t charging, they aren’t pouncing.

Not yet.

They are snarling just enough to show their teeth.  Their fur is standing on end.  Their giant paws are landing softly on the ground, still ever the silent predator long after they stopped caring about sneaking up on their prey.

They know they will win.  They see the people fleeing.  They hear the sound of panic, of voices crying out it wasn’t supposed to be like this.  The people running past me can feel the ground crumbling beneath their feet, and I understand their panic.  They grew up on solid ground, they were told it would never shake, and so they never saw this coming.

My first steps were made on this trembling ground.

Like a sailor used to the roll of the sea, I am steady on my feet as the world falls apart.  As I watch the destruction approach.

As I stand in its path.

My hair is caught by a wisp of wind, escaping my red oversized hoodie.  The approaching wolves are close enough to notice me now, and they pause.

They don’t know what to do with a child.  In their packs, the children are gathered by the elders and carried away from danger.  In their packs, the children follow when the others flee.  In their packs, the children have not yet learned how to fight.

I am not from their packs.

I was born screaming, ready to fight for a breath of air.  My parents held me, they taught me, they showed me their love for this world whose downfall they mourn.  I have barely begun to know my surroundings.  I have only just started to understand this home of mine.  But I am not willing to hand it over to the wolves without a fight.

And I am not alone.

Hunter ambles to my side, his father’s wood axe held loosely in his hand.  He looks over to me and smiles, and I return the look, for this is how we bare our teeth.

Isobel stands behind me with books in hand.  They used to laugh at her stacks of books, but paper can cut deep and hardcovers are heavy, and the words she collects are sharpest of all.  They don’t laugh anymore, but she does.  She can still see the beauty in fire.

Jack walks up with his sister Ellie.  Hand in hand, they wait beside me.  Their icy blue eyes take in the chaos and do not look away.  You might as well chip away at icebergs than take them on as an enemy.  They have each other, and that is all they need.

Anna leaps onto the bridge’s rail, holding the cables to keep her balance as her long copper hair gets caught by the wind.  She looks down at the raging river below us then back at the wolves, raising an eyebrow at them, challenging them to be fiercer than the water she loves.  I’ve watched her swim against the current.  The wolves don’t stand a chance.

We are gathering at the end of this bridge, forming a line of defiance with still more coming.  This is where we have decided to make our stand, with abandoned cars and a stretch of pavement all that lies between us and these wolves.

The world fell apart to their claws within a few short decades, but that does not terrify us.  We were born into this chaos.  This is what we know.  The wolves are growling, uncertain, unsteady.  They are on our playing field now, and their balance is wavering.

I narrow my eyes at the leader and dare him to try to cross the line I’ve drawn.  They had better approach with caution.  If they were smart, they’d turn and run.  They should know from the looks in our eyes.  There are three things they should run from.  There are three things they ought to fear.

We are children.

We are children.

We are children.

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