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I sit on the porch
The dark woods around me
Insects chirping
And listen
To the distant sounds of the party

It is a party thrown for me,
By my parents.
A party I didn't want—
Strangers crowding into our little house
People I don't know
Pinching my cheeks
Muttering lies about
"How she's grown!"

I escape to the woods
Fleeing the lights
And the cheerful, pointless chatter
And crouch in a dark clearing
Reveling in the silence
And the dark.

A flash of movement
And a wolf creeps into the clearing
I freeze in fear
Breath making tiny white puffs in the air
Terrified to move
Terrified to stay still.

The slim, strong, deadly animal
Looks at me
Dark, intelligent eyes.
Like my own.
We stare in silence
Caught in the spell of the winter woods.

Then I whisper,
"You're alone, too?"
The beautiful, elegant head
Seems to dip in a nod
And then the wolf
Proud, fierce, and yet gentle,
Turns and vanishes into the shadows.

I walk slowly back to the house
Returning to my party
Where I wasn't missed.
Before I go inside
I turn
For one last look.
Hoping somehow
She had come to say goodbye.

The trees are still and empty.
Disappointed, I reach for the door
And then stop—
A sound from the forest.
A long, lonely howl.
It starts out rough
But spirals up into a sweet, sorrowful note
That sounds like tears
And ends.

I think of the wolf
Alone in the forest.
I face the trees and whisper,
"Me too."

The Wolf Coley Scheppegrell
Coley Scheppegrell, 13
Charlotte, North Carolina