Thursday, 24 November 2011

Story Time #3: Peter and the Wolf

Last week, my Creativity group went on a trip (with packed lunches and everything - I felt like a school kid again!) to a Wolf Sanctuary in Newbury. It was an amazing day. We got to walk with the wolves and even pet them (you also have to go through a process of making sure they accept you first - think the Hippogriff scene in Harry Potter 3). I think the fellah above is Motomo, he was cool. The only wolf there who wasn't raised by people so that was the closest he would come to the fence. Anyway, the link to Creative Writing was that our tutor set up a story competition afterwards - write a wolf story up to 1000 words based on the day's experiences. The winner gets to be published in the sanctuary's monthly magazine. So, without further ado, here's my entry into the competition. I've left the explanation we had to do on the end as you may find it interesting. Read on...

                                             Peter and the Wolf

Midwinter night in the forest; bitter cold and smothered in a blanket of pure white. There is a full moon; the only time man can venture out once the day has gone. Peter has left the comfort of the small cottage in the clearing and has gone with his grandfather to collect wood for the fire. He has just turned ten years old – this is his first time in the forest.          
The woods are feared in the village. Every child is told of the legends of the slavering, savage, starving wolves that live among the trees. They are the Devil’s acolytes. They come for your family in the night. They mean you great harm.
Peter and his grandfather go further into the forest. The old man sets to his work, contented, until a cold sweat erupts on his wrinkled forehead; the silence of the night has been broken by the low, melodious call of the wolf. The old man grabs the boy’s hand and runs back through the trees. Peter risks a glance back, catching a fleeting glimpse of something shooting towards them like a bullet – the speed it was going at! Suddenly, the boy trips, his fall cushioned by the soft snow. His grandfather keeps running; he has not noticed! Peter hears a course breathing coming closer. He is terrified but he is brave, he tells himself. He can face this wolf.
It was an awesome spectacle. Its pelt was as grey as storm clouds and its nose as black as the night itself. Peter could see how the sight of it could strike terror into a man’s heart. But there was so much more to it. It looks a proud creature; its sleek body held high, its slender legs standing firm – it knows it rules this land and that Peter is a foreigner.  The stories he had been told painted the wolf as a sly, cunning animal or a ravenous bloodhound. From where he stood, neither of these is true. After all, they haven’t harmed him. The boy stands and the wolf turns its head; the burnt orange of its eyes fixed on him. Peter stares closer and peers through the windows into the wolf’s soul.
It is afraid. Constantly. All the wolves fear the slavering, savage, starving humans, dreading that humans will come for his pack every day. The wolf is wise but cannot explain why it is persecuted so. It surely is in the company of wolves that man fell from grace.
Something is pushing at Peter’s legs, he turns; it is another wolf, smaller than the first. His yellow eyes are less melancholic though his pelt is the same gunmetal shade. This wolf is the other’s cub. Peter goes to pet the newcomer but the first steps forward. The boy faces the wolf - it seems to see into his soul too; sees his innocence and care. It relents. The smaller wolf is excitable, jumping and jittering as Peter rubs its underbelly, feeling its wiry outer coat and the thick fleece of fur beneath. Peter’s anxiety melted at the wolf’s warm touch and its giddy countenance. He is no longer afraid.
Another shape comes from the trees. This one is fairer than the others. It sees Peter with the cub, a look of apprehension in its eyes. But it gazes at the first wolf and seems to understand. It strides over to Peter. This is the mother of the cub and the first’s mate. Two of the pack have accepted him but the first wolf, the father, stands clear. It has spent so long mistrusting humans, believing that they mean him great harm. Yet this boy does not. It slowly approaches.

And so, under the cool rays of the moonlight, that makes the fallen snowflakes glisten like jewels, Peter began to walk with the wolf.

I was largely influenced by how we were told of the wolf’s persecution through the ages. I wanted to loosely use the tale of Peter and the Wolf to tell a story of a human who sees that both the humans and the wolves fear each other the same. The wolf pack is also based on Motomo, Mai and Nuka from the sanctuary.

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