"What big ears you've got." My voice trembled as he slid a hand down my back. "All better to hear you, love." He replied huskily, his lips millimeters from mine. "What big teeth you've got." My eyes dropped down to his lips. He paused. "All the better to eat you with." Then he sunk his fangs in my neck, as I scream in pain.
We've all heard the story of Little Red Riding Hood. How she stumbles upon the Big Bad Wolf on her trip to her Grandmother's house. We all know good wins in the end. They always do. Unfortunately, this is a different story. This is the story of Juliette, or also formally known as Red. Juliette has never quite fit well among her village and girls her age. Her passion for the snowy woods beyond the safe walls have only grown, curiosity dragging her in. Who knows what lies among the trees? Perhaps her worst nightmare. The Big. Bad. Wolf.
Since I was but a small child, my grandmother had told stories about the mysterious wolves in the woods beyond my village walls. My innocent six year old self believed her, sponging up every word she spoke into my head. I remember the days I would run to her small wooden cabin to the far corner of the village, my small winter leather boots compressing into the snow. Pushing the door open, I crept in, feeling the comfortable and warm environment around me, slowly melting the miniature snowflakes that had landed gracefully onto my long golden hair.
Her welcoming arms wrapped around my petite waist as I sat on her lap. Her gentle and skinny fingers brushed through my slightly knotted hair and I fell comfortably against her chest, my head just below her chin. Her silver hair was wrapped tightly in a bun above her head, her face clear from any loose strands.
"...Its fur the color of obsidian, blended within the surroundings of the night..." She continued with her story, her voice silky and soothing.
"Grandmother..." I interrupted. I had heard the story too many times before, though I had never asked this most obvious questions of all. "Doesn't the Big Bad Wolf eat... us?"
She chuckled lightly, her chest vibrating smoothly as I pressed my ear against her chest once again.
"No, dearie. Wolves are an intelligent race. They know exactly that killing a human would only bring a danger to their pack which they will later regret. Humans are the most dangerous creatures to roam this Earth." She started to braid my hair over my shoulder as she continued to explain. "You're only a child, Juliette, but perhaps later you will remember what I tell you."
"Mommy says that wolves are evil." I tugged on the finished braid across my right shoulder with a slight frown.
Grandmother's eyes darkened, her face scrunched in disgust in the mentioning of my mother. "Your mother does not appreciate the beauty in the living things. She and the rest of this miserable and cowardly village choose to hide in fear when wolf season approaches." She scoffed, no longer looking at me, but at the wooden door across the room, leading to the narrow dirt roads of the village grounds. "Cowards." She finally mumbled under her breath.
The silence was complacent, my eyes shutting for a brief moment as I lay, relaxed, against my grandmother's torso. I inhaled the calming scent of burnt wood and pine needles through my nose. I loved grandmother's place.
"Oh goodness! I almost forgot!" She lifted me off her lap and stood up, pacing to the small storage room in the back. I stood on the creaking wooden boards of the stairs leading the small room as I waited for her to come back. I nervously tugged on my braid. It was a habit of mine.
Grandmother had come back with a large silky looking cloth that settled against her right arm. But it wasn't the long length of the cloak that had caught my eye, it was its vibrant red color. It was such a bright and brilliant color that it would most certainly be impossible to miss a thousand miles away. The fabric looked thin, but it seemed like perfect clothing for the winter.
The gentle elderly women padded behind my small frame as I tugged on my braid continuously. Was this for me? As soon as I felt the smooth fabric against my shoulders, I looked down at the red stream of clothing pooling around my feet and spread around the wooden boards of the cabin floor. Grandmother then pulled the hood over my head. She laughed lightly as the hood dropped down below my nose. The cloak was definitely many sizes too big for my six-year old self. Giggles slipped from my lips as I ran to wrap my arms around my grandmother, stumbling on the blood red fabric seconds before colliding into her arms.
"Thank you, Grandmother. I love it. I love it, oh so much." I lifted my head to gaze at her brightened, wrinkled face. "I'll wear it every day for the rest of my life. It's so pretty." I gave her a whole missing-one-tooth smile. Red had always been my favorite color after all.
She pushed back the hood and let it slip down my back. "I knew you would, little red riding hood." I giggled at her nickname. Little Red Riding Hood.
When the time had come for me to head back to my mother, I said my goodbyes and left the cottage, my riding cloak gliding behind me on the compacted snow. I ran all the way home that day, as I knew my mother would get furious with me if I didn't come back home before sunset. Everybody had to be back home before sunset.
By the time I managed to finally reach the two story wooden home, there was not one soul outside, not even in the stores, boutiques, anything. The town was lifeless, the blinds were shut, and the doors were locked. It was quiet. Too quiet.
When I burst through the door of my home, I felt the sudden urge to stop and breathe in deep breaths of sweet oxygen. I had run too much for my small body to bare. When I looked up, I gasped and gulped as I saw my mother's worried and enraged face.
"Juliette…" She spat my name as she quickly made her way to door and locked it tight. She turned around to look at me and her gaze dropped down to my cloak. I felt shivers run down my spine as I quickly shook the crimson fabric off and settled it on the wooden chair near the small stone fireplace where a fire was dimly lit, keeping the room temperature warm for the passing night.
"I-I'm sorry, Mama. I promise I ran as fast as could." I hung my head low, my blond hair no longer in a braid as it pooled around my shoulders and my eyes, blocking my view of my mother's flaming face.
"I tell you every day, Juliette. Grandmother doesn't understand the consequences and dangers of staying late out after sunset. Now come child, let's get you cleaned up and ready for bed." She stretched out her hand and grabbed it, as we made our way to the small tub room upstairs beside our bedroom. I felt sick, my head throbbed and my lips had turned blue. Wolf season wasn't the warmest of them all.
Lying in bed, wrapped in my mother's arms protectively, I let my eyes droop slowly as I listened to the music of the forest beyond the village safe walls.
A small smile curled against my lips as I heard the steady howl of wolf.