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8 Mar

Wolves from the Sky

by Liz Fyne

It rained wolves in sheep’s clothing. From far away, they looked like giant, fluffy white dandelions wafting in a cool spring breeze.

Wolves can be weightless when they choose. Their bodies are lean and slender. We crowded all around to see those diaphanous wonders fall to the ground, delicate fey filigree, sheep wool like I’d never seen with marvelous patterns. Then the wolves crawled from beneath, dark and snarling. They said it was time for them to marry. One wolf, one person.

They stood on their hind legs when they talked. They held us in their spell. I walked down the aisle wrapped in a sheer floral lace dress like I wore a field of wildflowers. That’s how it was with the wolves, earth and insects and animals, no beginning, no end. My wolf betrothed pulled back my veil. He kissed me with stinking black lips, long slavering tongue. Elk gutted for wedding dinner. We ate straight from the stomach.

*

He scratched red scarlet streaks in my white tender flesh, he couldn’t help it, when we rutted in the city now overgrown with forest. I don’t know how the forest came so fast. Trees seemed to walk with legs of roots.

My belly grew large with child. I lived in what once had been a house. Now the windows were broken, the floors were strewn with leaves and feathers. I’d lie nights on the porch swing, entranced by the moon. I’d never noticed, how it hummed to the stars. The stars hummed back. I’d catch the shadow of my wolf spouse, long and jagged as he stood on a great stone precipice, howling his love.

*

When the wolf-only meetings started late summer, I didn’t mind. No one did. Afterward, we danced around the bonfire, wolves and people, adults and tiny wolflet children. Our shadows were strange and alien. Wolf legs, human legs, spastic and quivering. I breathed in. Wolves breathed out, hot and fetid. I couldn’t get enough. None of us could. It was impossible, I didn’t understand, that once I’d survived just among people.

*

I spent my days tending sheep, all of us did. Sheep tending was for people. No grown wolves could get near. I trailed my wooly charges amid boarded up store fronts, streets empty except for rusted-out cars. Honeysuckle cascaded through broken windshields. I collected the flowers in my hands. Wolflets clustered to lick sweet nectar from my fingers. I hummed them lullabies. I told fairy tales and nursery rhymes. Sheep watched with wary eyes.

*

The wolves left before dawn on the first day of fall. They were so stealthy, no one noticed as they crept from beside us, snuck through the doors. We woke to empty homes. We stood in the cold morning mist, gazing at the sheep that had been slaughtered and skinned. Their bodies were red and glistening. Their eyes were round and open. Their corpses steamed in the chill.

The wolves took our children, our darling wolflets. I fell to the ground. I couldn’t stand. So long now, I breathed in, wolves breathed out. I crawled on my hands and knees along the overgrown sidewalk, choking and gasping. All of us did. When we could walk again, we were confused. Our city was neglected. Our homes were filled with fur and feathers. Our lives, our jobs, had been abandoned, and no one knew why.

The wilderness receded from the city. I don’t know how it happened so fast. I thought I saw trees walking with roots of legs. I closed my eyes. When I opened my eyes again, trees were normal.

I told my friends I’d had strange dreams, something about wolves. They said how odd, they’d had the same thing. Maybe we’d seen a movie, read a book.

I married. I had children with bright rosy cheeks and long golden hair. They trailed me to the park, along streets bustling with people. At night, sometimes I’d sit with them on the porch swing. I’d hum lullabies. I’d tell them a fairy tale I’d heard long ago, how one morning, in a land far far away, wolves fell from the sky in sheep’s clothing. It was a silly tale, but they loved it.

Liz Fyne has degrees in biology and neuroscience, and she spent over ten years working in biomedical research before she turned to writing fiction. Her unpublished literary novel, “The Speed of Free Fall,” was a finalist in the 2020 Book Pipeline Unpublished contest, and she has published multiple short stories. You can learn more about her at lizfyne.com. Follow her @lizfyne.