The Wolf in the Night in the Heart of the City

The wolf trots into the snowbound city, moving silent as sorrow in the shadows. It moves down the center of the white streets, slipping alongside the pools of light thrown by infrequent streetlamps. Occasionally it pauses and listens with lifted head, as though something is calling it in the cold and the night.

The wolf, black as despair, silver as ice, finally stops before a dark building, tall and abandoned, laced with graffiti, and jumps up to place his front paws on the windowsill. Inside, there is a sickly glow of candlelight seen through black lace. He whines, softly, and then whines again in the cold.

Inside a girl, thin as lost hope, sits on a filthy mattress. She is dressed in torn black and tatty lace, clumpy black shoes, badly dyed black hair. In the candlelight it is difficult to tell if the shadows around her eyes are cosmetic or the kind of tiredness that goes straight down to the bone. She is all sharp angles and anger hiding despair and loneliness.

The girl has a razor blade, and is tracing the seventeenth cut in the fragile skin of her inner arm. Old scars cross and recross her arms. Some are done in patterns of four, as if ravaged by an animal’s claws. Some she did with glass, others with razors, some with the point of a compass. They let the pain out so that she is able to go on a little longer.

The black wolf whines again and scratches, hard, against the frost-flowered windowpane. Startled, the hard girl looks up, smudged eyes wide; she stares at him for a moment, then turns her face away, disbelieving. She begins to work on her wrist.

The wolf cries, and falls back from the window to land on all fours. Keening softly, he trots back up the street a few paces, then turns, visibly shivering, to look in the girl’s window. He howls, like a soul breaking, like a tear in the web of the world, then launches himself towards, and through, the window.

A moment later the black-haired girl, mascara frozen into tracks on her cheeks, looks into his hot-gold eyes. Trembling, she reaches out on hand to touch his mane, to dislodge a tinkling rain of shattered glass onto the filthy mattress. She moves onto her knees, closer to the enormous animal, and offers him her arm.

He hesitates, then begins to lap at the blood, both drying and fresh; he sobs in his throat and she draws him in closer. She is crying now, stoking his long tousled hair back from his forehead, taking him closer into her arms; he puts his arms around her and sobs into her shoulder.

Deep in the icy heart of the city they hold each other, where love makes fantasy flesh.