Shadow child

Shadow child

By Irina Samuels

Shadow child

To my little sister Katy, I dedicate her ink-and-paper twin.

I hear the cry of my mother and aunts, calling my wolf name. I run back to the den to stand watch over my newborn wolf cousins. My mother nuzzles me and gutterally said, "Mila, Mila." I look into the glittery green eyes of my mother. "Beautiful wolf mother," I whispered. She joins the aunts and uncles, leaving me and my older cousin Raul to watch over the puppies.

That's me, Mila. Raised by wolves, and yet so different from them. I look over at Raul and he beckons to me. I sat by his side and said, "How many must we watch tonight?"

"Twelve," he replied. I smile and snuggle closer to him, burying my face in his grey fur. Beautiful smells, war smells fill my nose as I pull my hair over my toes. I hear the guttural cry of my father, the alpha male of the pack. They had made a kill. One of my baby cousins woke up and began to cry for her mother. I pulled the little cub close to me and whispered,

"Don't cry, little one." I sang softly to her and she fell back to sleep. "Well done, Mila," he whispered and thumped his tail against my leg. I heard the thumping footfalls of my wolf family. My mother and father arrived, with my aunts and uncles dragging two deer along behind. Once my father and mother had eaten, my aunts and uncles ate. Then, Raul and I ate our fill. Finally, Raul and I went to rouse the puppies for their dinner. Once they were happily suckling on their mothers, my father came forward and sat beside me.

"Mila, my little one," he crooned. I leaned against his massive side, my head sinking into his black fur. "Mila, it is time you went on a hunt with the rest of the pack. You are able enough now, different though you may be."

"Yes, Father, yes yes!" I said. I leapt to my feet and loosed a howl at the full moon. All at once, the pack sang along. Together, we sang to the moon, thanking the Great Creator for this wonderful opportunity, and this beautiful night.

I gamboled over to Raul and told him the wonderful news. He turns his grey eyes on me. His small grey eyes, always knowing, never seeing. This is why Raul never hunted. Raul was born without sight.

"Good, Mila! Good, good Mila!" He said, glad for me. But beneath his happiness, I sensed something more. Sadness. Perhaps, even, jealousy. I know that it was Raul's dream to hunt with the rest of the pack. That could never happen though. He sighed and lay down beside me. I curled up next to him and gave myself to sleep.