The Last Wolf

I needed one more person to agree to sell their house, and a large bonus would be mine after she moved out. Large equipment surrounded the town like giant monsters ready to devour their prey. Only one person stood in the way, and her name was Madison. She sold items alongside a lonely road.

I approached her and looked at the small wooden figures that she sold. I picked up a wolf. The painted eyes seemed to look right at me, and the teeth looked sharp. When I touched one of them, it pricked my finger, and a drop of blood fell on my shoe. I became so entranced that I almost forgot why I was here.

“I see you like the wolf.”

“It’s beautiful,” I said.

“It’s just like the one I saw.”

“There’s none around here.”

“I saw one,” she stood up. “Up there.” She pointed at the hills that poked out of the woods. “The last wolf.”

I decided not to argue with her. “I’m Jake.”

“Madison.”

I bought the wolf. If there were any real wolves around here, the developers couldn’t build here.

“Did you have lunch?”

“No,” I said and put the wolf figure in my pocket.

“Then stay here, and I’ll bring lunch for us.”

I stood speechless, afraid of ruining the moment.

Madison returned with two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, along with potato chips on paper plates and two cans of soda. It reminded me of my childhood. I couldn’t stop smiling when I ate it.

She then spoke slowly. “I can never leave; my grandmother raised me in this house since I was a child.”

Getting her to sell the house just got a lot harder. Eventually, I had to use a bathroom. I asked her where I could go, and she pointed toward her house and led me there while she waited outside. A cat inside hissed at me.

“Don’t worry about Zelda. She’s all hiss and no bite or scratch.” I avoided the cat, but Zelda watched me like she knew I was up to something.

“I’m sorry, but you have to go,” Madison said when I returned.

“Did I do something wrong?”

She glared at me. “Meet me here tomorrow morning; I will show you a wolf.”

I tossed and turned all night, thinking of her.

The following day, Madison was waiting for me wearing fingerless gloves. “Let’s go. Try to keep up.”

She followed a trail up a steep hill. In a few minutes, I was out of breath. She kept going without looking back. The wolf figure kept poking me in the pocket like a thorn in my side.

She pulled out a pair of binoculars when she reached the top and waved me forward.

“There,” she pointed.

I saw it. It was a wolf.

“Well,” she said.

“I can’t believe it.”

“I guess this changes your plans.”

“What?”

“I’m no fool. Nobody comes here without a reason. I know why you’re here.”

“Let me explain.” She knew.

She turned away. “I saw inside your car.”

“I.” She put her hand up.

“We better get back,” she said, “I think it’s going to snow.”

I called the office and told them about the wolf, but they wanted pictures, so I climbed the hill the next day. The wolf was still there.

I took pictures, and it remained frozen in place, but there were wolf tracks in the snow all around it.

I threw a rock at it, and it stayed there. I overcame my fear and walked toward it, making as much noise as possible, but it remained frozen. It hit me then.

It was fake. Madison fooled me, and I laughed out loud.

I tried to follow the tracks to see if they led to Madison’s house, but I lost them in dense brush.

I forgot what it felt like to care about someone else, or maybe I never did, but now I was so lonely. I didn’t want to be alone forever.

I took out the little wolf and rubbed it like a magic lamp. I hoped at least one wish would come true.

I sent the wolf pictures and wrote they would have to find another site to build their park or whatever they planned. I walked to what I hoped would be a chance for a happier future for me, but it was a long shot.

Madison answered the door when I knocked. “What do you want?”

Zelda, the cat, hissed at me, and I deserved it.

“Do you sell peanut butter and jelly sandwiches here? I heard they’re the best around.”

She pulled on the strands of hair that tried to cover her eyes.

“For now, they’re free.” She stepped to the side and held the door open.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I’m stopping the developer, but I was curious, how did you make the wolf tracks?”

“Tracks?”

“Yea, on the hill. Lots of them.”

She stared at me. “I didn’t make any tracks.”

We both looked up at the hill and then walked inside together.

Zelda stopped hissing, but I decided to wait a while before I tried to pet her.

The equipment would be moved to another location in the morning, leaving this town alone after Madison stopped the monsters from devouring it. I wouldn’t be going with them.

~

Within a few weeks, people started moving back to the town; many of them didn’t know that Madison had saved it, but I will be sure to tell them.

On the hill, a fierce gust of wind hit the fake wolf. It wavered back and forth before falling over. Its eyes remained open, staring into the sky until the snow covered them.

Before the fake wolf was covered entirely, something brushed the snow off it. A real wolf’s large paws swiped at the fake wolf, then tapped at the imposter and sniffed the air. The wolf looked down on the town, and then a howl caught its attention. It came from higher up in the hills. The wolf shook its body and then disappeared into the woods, followed by the rest of the pack.

Author Bio: William Falo lives with his family, including a papillon named Dax. His stories have been published or are forthcoming in various literary journals. He can be found on Twitter @williamfalo and Instagram @william.falo.

Photo by Mariah Krafft on Unsplash.

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