When Tasha was asked about her childhood her first thought was the wolves, or more specifically the wolf. Her mother had always warned her to stay near the house when she played in the yard during the day because there were wolves in the area and it wasn't uncommon for them to wander farm properties in the winter when prey was scarce. But Tasha saw this wolf fairly often, always at dusk when it was nearly impossible to distinguish his frame from the shadowy woods except for his large gleaming yellow eyes. As a child she had only been curious and awed and as she had aged this curiosity grew, bringing her closer to the strange wolf, testing how close she could get to him before he would turn and disappear into the woods or her mother called her closer to the house, the rope that tied her to normalcy and domestic things like six p.m. dinners and Saturday morning cartoons persistently tugging her away from the mystery of the forest and the wolf.
She'd gotten close enough only once to see the color of it's thick, silky fur, and never closer than that.
He was a strange brown-red, like the color of burnt sepia or rust, or a varying mixture of both depending on the light. The color only accentuated his eyes which upon inspection Tasha realized weren't amber at all but a deep forest green. His legs however had changed from the brilliant red to black, like he'd been snuffling around in someone's fireplace. The wolf's size had been nothing less than formidable and his gaze had held the intelligence only a predator could muster. He could have dragged her mother into the woods with no trouble at all, not to mention herself and she'd only been eight at the time. Tasha would never forget the large paws or the unblinking green eyes. She had sat frozen on the chilly Autumn earth, in the middle of playing with her dolls before her wolf had turned and disappeared with a flick of his big, fluffy red tail after what felt an eternity of the two just watching one another. Tasha hadn't felt frightened of the wild animal, although even at that age she knew she should have been. She hadn't felt like she was in danger either, that sickness in her stomach that appeared when she saw the kids that picked on her on the playground hadn't been apparent when she'd spotted the wolf that day. She'd only been curious. Drawn to him.
From then on Tasha had always thought of the wolf as hers. She'd been an only child so she'd spent her time making imaginary games concerning the wolf or colored pictures of him, her teachers had seen nothing wrong with an active imagination but her mother had been more than slightly concerned. She had strongly chided Tasha's games and hindered her stories, explaining that it wasn't possible for a wolf to have such strange markings. As Tasha continued to mention the wolf, her mother's chidings became more severe.
Tasha stopped talking about her wolf, but she continued to see it. She also continued to hold onto it in her thoughts, when she was bored and her mother wasn't around Tasha still drew pictures of her wolf and hid them in her room. When Tasha thought there were monsters in her room at night it was the thought of her wolf protecting her that helped her sleep. Even as she got older the wolf still visited, she'd be laying out in the yard reading a book and she'd feel a pair of eyes on her and when she looked up she'd just catch a shadow disappearing back into the shadows of the forest.
Even on the night of her mother's funeral, when Tasha finally decided it was time to try to sleep she had heard a mournful howl as she turned off the kitchen light in the lonely little farmhouse.