Behind “My Wolf Friend”

Throughout July, I wrote a three part story called My Wolf Friend. Inspired by a playlist compiled by my brother, it tells the story of a little boy and a wolf named Andrew, who together battle a pack of evil wolves.

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You can read the story here

My brother Andrew had compiled a playlist full of songs by Mumford and Sons, Of Monsters and Men, and other artists, which mention wolves.

The songs were:

Mumford and Sons: The Wolf

Of Monsters and Men: Wolves Without Teeth and Six Weeks

The National Parks: Monsters of the North

and Warren Zevon: Werewolves of London

The only one I did not use was Werewolves of London. It had a completely different feel than the others.

As I listened, a story began to take shape and each character began to have his own theme song. Eventually, I branched out into other songs, mostly incorporating more Of Monsters and Men.

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I Of the Storm

Mountain Sound

Empire

And Little Lion Man and Broad-Shouldered Beasts from Mumford and Sons.

child-997231_1920Some of the songs are very clearly related to the story, and some only incorporate one or two lines, or else simply inspired an idea. It was super fun to write, and I encourage you to listen to the songs and compare them to the feel and flow of the story.

Thank you to all the artists for your extraordinary music! Art inspires art, and it is a  splendid thing to participate in that.

“My Wolf Friend – The Final Part” by Elizabeth Russell

Start with Part 1 here

David“There is a boy in my castle. He is my friend and is waiting for his enemies.” I knew this was what Andrew was saying as he told the allies of my fate. He would bring soldiers to fight for my cause – I knew he would. But why did he not come? The night kept getting later, and still he did not come back to me. There were crashings and growlings outside the gates, a terrible roaring, snorting, and stamping and I trembled at the approach of my enemies. The oak door shivered on its hinges and I knew Andrew would not return before it crashed down. I looked around the courtyard and found my sword and shield, which were hanging where I had put them when we built the high walls, and standing guard in the dark, I got ready to meet my enemies.

With a mighty crash they rushed my castle, and there were more wolves than I had ever seen. I slashed with my sword and slew as they approached, but there were always more, and I slew again and again, crying out into the darkness, “Back, you foul beasts. Hiya! Take that!”

Alone, I fought those animals. Their blood had bathed me but still I did not falter, and all night long, I fought them. When there were at last too many, and I could not stand my ground, as they yapped at my bones to drink my strength, I finally ran away.night

The wolves were breathing heavily at my feet, tearing at me with their teeth as I disappeared deep into the woods. How would Andrew find me now?

I did not know it right then, but he had gone straight to Diane when he left me, and without hesitation, she had leapt from her bed and run to the castle. But just when she got there, she saw me disappear into the woods. So she followed me into the woods to take me home.

All of a sudden, I felt her warm arms around my chest, and I fell into her. My chest heaved but I fed on her strength and she gave me all she had. “I’ll give you the energy of my pumping blood,” she whispered, “If you will be the bones. Give me your endurance.”

“Let’s be wolves,” I whispered, “howling at the great white moon.”

“There’s no moon tonight,” she said.

“There never is unless the wolves howl at it,” I explained, surprised that she did not know this. “But they’ve all become enemies, and Andrew is not enough. We have to be wolves and light up the night.”

I couldn’t see her face, but I heard the smile in her voice. “You and me light up the sky? What a beautiful idea.”

I could hear the barking and growling coming closer – we were running out of time. “Quick!” I cried. “Howl!”

We lifted our faces to the dark sky and lifted up a howl of sharp beauty. Our voices trembled and blended, soprano notes floating high into the night. There was a faint glow, a silver disc shimmering like a reflection in water, and I was excited. It was working!

But then the wolves caught us. Her blood was on my bones, and I fled. I thought she was beside me, but when I looked back, they were carrying her away. I was too tired without her strength, and could not fight anymore. I sank into the ground and fell asleep.

I awoke to the sound of my dreams. Uncle was yelling at Andrew, telling him he couldn’t go, it was crazy, it was impossible, it was too much. When I opened my eyes, it wasn’t a dream because they were both standing in front of me. It was the first time I had woken to yelling and not thought it was my father.running-dog-2185090_1280

“They kidnapped her,” growled Andrew. I had never seen him mad before, but he was now. “They took her so you would save her.”

“So it’s a trap,” uncle said it like it was an excuse.

“They are your enemies, and you left David and Diane to face them alone. If it hadn’t been for your fears we would have returned in time to save them.”

“Andrew?” I whispered and they both rushed to my side.

“David, oh David!” cried Andrew, and I felt his warm tears running down my cheeks as he bent his great head over my face. “Are you really alright? We thought we’d lost you.”

“There was so much blood,” whispered Uncle, who had fallen to the ground in shock. “We thought…we thought…”

“We thought they’d eaten your heart,” supplied Andrew and uncle shuddered. He didn’t understand war talk like me and Andrew.

“No,” I said, “but they drank all my blood and took my strength.”

Andrew nodded. He knew what I meant, but uncle was confused so my friend explained. “David cannot fight anymore. I must stay to protect him, and you must go save Diane.”

“I told you I can’t do that! I don’t know how to fight. Besides, it’s a trap – they’re standing in wait to kill me.”

“Uncle,” I said, “we all know how to fight. You’ve just forgotten. Here, take my sword. You can use it to save her.”

Uncle stood above me large and whole, and I lay beneath him beaten. But I saw now it was the other way around.

“How can I face my demons?” his voice shuddered from him in a moan. He was not asking us, but was facing away into the forest. “Oh, Melissa. You were my strong sister and I was your valiant warrior, but now I have forgotten how to fight. You left me to protect your child, and I am too weak. I stand alone in the darkness and hear the echo of my breathe, and though you may be the one who is dead, all I see is my ghost. I am shaking like a leaf – with all my flaws and all my faults,” he fell to his knees, clasping his hands before him up at the stars. “I am a wreck.”

My eyes followed his clasped hands up to the shining sky above us, and I saw the archer. But it was different this time. This time, the archer was my father. Then I saw the twins there too, and now it was my mother and uncle when they were children. The entire heavenly menagerie gathered behind them, ready for battle.

“Andrew,” I whispered to him so uncle could not hear. “Where are our allies?”

“Oh, David, I’m sorry – they would not follow me. They need a man to lead them.”

“David,” uncle’s voice startled us. “David, I have failed you. I left you to fight both our enemies all alone. I don’t know if I can defeat these wolves, but I will go save Diane.”

Then with my sword gripped tight, he ran away into the forest. As soon as he was gone, I jumped to my feet. I had energy again! Andrew quivered with excitement and stood ready.

“Come on, my friend!” I yelled. “Let us ride together, one purpose, one fight, one wolf in the night!” Then we flew through the land, calling upon all creatures to rally to our cause. We found the queen of the bees and she flew before her subjects. We met the prince of the foxes, and he gathered his army. We met the baron of the bears and his large family armed themselves for our cause. The sound of trumpets filled the forest, trembled the trees, and roused our hearts. Our blood boiled freely and we howled like the wind.

We descended upon the wolf den where uncle was slashing his sword and slaying his enemies and Diane was urging him on as she battled her captives. I thought to myself that she had the heart of a lion. We fought those wolves until the sun lit up the morning sky and the stars faded from view. We saw that the battle had brought us to the door of the castle, and we were standing on the drawbridge. Our allies left us to go back to bed, but Andrew, Diane, uncle, and I stayed.

“Look at that river,” Diane marveled. “How it rushes wild in the moat. This is a true castle, David.”

“There may be more enemies it will have to face,” said Uncle, “and foul weather.”

“It is made well of heavy stones,” declared Andrew. “Heavy stones do not fear foul weather.”

child-1835730_1920Uncle came over and put his hands on my shoulders. “I will never again leave you to face your enemies alone, my little one. You are my prince and I am your knight, and I am going to build an empire for you.”

“Let us be wolves!” I cried. “And howl at the moon.”

Uncle started to protest that there was no moon, but Diane put her hand on his shoulder. “Just trust us.” Then we all howled at the brightening sky, and it was not just soprano tones, but vibrating baritone and wild, deep throated calls that rose together in a complete sound beating against the sky. And just in the last moments when it was visible, the moon was a lacey, silver disc against the blue.

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The End

 

This story was inspired by a playlist my brother compiled called Wolves.

It included songs from:

Of Monsters and Men

Mumford and Sons

and The National Parks

Photo of moon by Breno Freitas on Unsplash

“My Wolf Friend – Part 2” by Elizabeth Russell

A voice called my name from far away. I usually wake up in the middle of the night thinking that my dad called me. If he ever does call me again, I want to make sure I hear him.

But when I opened my eyes to the orange glow of the nightlight, it wasn’t my dad calling me. It was Andrew. I hadn’t realized before when we were outside just how big he was. He was gigantic! The whole room was full of his gray and white hair, and his eyes looked like full moons in the darkness.

priss-enriquez-180336“David, get up,” his deep growl rumbled urgently. “We have to escape before your enemies arrive.”

“I saw one earlier, peeking at me through the window.”

“That was their scout who they sent ahead. Soon, the whole pack will descend upon you. Quick, get on my back and I’ll take you somewhere safe.”

I stood up on my bed to reach his mighty back, nuzzled my legs into his thick hide, and felt the rise and fall of his warm breathing beneath me.

“Are you holding tight?” His words vibrated through me. “Very good, here we go.” With a mighty leap, we rose out of the house, above the weather-cock of the barn, and into the dazzling stillness of the stars.

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Dad told me the stars are a menagerie. I love that word, ‘menagerie’. I had to practice it fifteen times before I could say it right, and now I just say it to myself sometimes because I like it so much.

“Do you see the cluster right there?” Dad once asked me, pointing to the sky from our favorite spot by the backyard fence. “That’s an ox. And that one, it’s a scorpion. If you’re ever lonely, you just have to remember the heavenly menagerie.”

Now, flying through the air on the back of my friend, the scorpion reached out his claw to me, and I touched it, smiling because I knew his tail held no poison. The bear bellowed and Andrew howled back. I laughed because I couldn’t understand the words, and liked not understanding.

Andrew’s leap had taken us so far up in the air that I had forgotten about the ground, but as we descended, I remembered my enemies.

“What will we do about them?” I asked him.

“Your enemies will not stop until they have destroyed you,” he said solemnly. “We must mount a defense.”

He landed beside our wooden castle with its turrets and moat. Bounding across the entry, he slid me off his back in the courtyard and turned the lever to raise the drawbridge. “That will deter them for now. We must form a plan.”

I was ready to fight. I clenched my fists and took my prepared stance. “Let them come!”

Andrew laughed at me and shook his majestic head. “You are a true warrior, David. But you cannot face this pack alone.”

“I have you.”

“And you always will. But we are not enough. I am going to go find you allies.”

“What are allies?”

“Friends. People to fight with you.”

“But you’ll leave me alone.” My heart dragged me down and I fell to the floor with my head in my hands. “Please don’t leave me alone. In the dark.”sad-child

He sighed sadly and nudged my hands, then licked the tears from my cheeks. His breath was warm and comforting, and I buried my face in his coat. sad boy“I don’t want to leave you, you’re my best friend. But I am not enough to protect you. If I don’t find more defenders, they will rip down the doors and I will fight to my dying breath – they will not touch you so long as I live.” His words, fierce and emphatic, tore from his chest. “But they will kill me, and then they’ll kill you, and I cannot let that happen. I will not! So I must go, and I must leave you alone. You will be safe here for awhile, and I’ll come back – I promise.”

He parted from me as Moses’ mother must have done when she put him in the Nile, and leaping over the turret walls, disappeared into the night.

“My Wolf Friend – Part 1” by Elizabeth Russell

“There are wolves in my backyard,” I told my uncle this morning. “Some of them are my enemies.” He seemed to find my statement humorous, so I said nothing more about it. After all, some people just don’t understand.

When I finished the Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich he gave me, I headed out to the little dip in the property behind the house. It was my uncle’s property, but he didn’t seem to know much about it. He didn’t know about the rabbit warren beneath the root of the third biggest tree, he didn’t know about the abandoned fox hole in the hill, and he didn’t know about the fallen tree limb that was big enough to build a fort behind.

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It was while I was building the fort that I met Andrew my wolf friend. He is gray and silver with a streak of brown on his back and he liked my fort.wolf-2096652_1920 “I will help you build it,” he told me. “We must make it strong enough to keep out your enemies.” When we finished the fort, it was bigger than a castle and surrounded by a twelve foot moat. I tried to show uncle, but he was busy working, and he couldn’t see the tall spires around the warehouse that jutted into the peninsula of his property. “I’ll see it later.” He handed me his oily rag that he rubbed all over the tractor spokes. “Put this in the shed and then get ready for bed.”

I think the night is a little scary and a little exciting. Mom says it’s the same world only more magical, but dad says it’s God’s way of reminding us everything must end. When uncle came to put me to bed, I asked him what he thought the night was, and he said it was when the earth turned around so the sun was on the other side. I don’t think he understood my question. Uncle sat on the bed with me and read from The Blue Fairy Book, but he doesn’t do it like mom. He doesn’t give them voices. He listened to me say my prayers, and when I asked what he wanted to pray for he said, “Nothing. Just say your prayers.”

“Do you want the nightlight on tonight?” he asked from the doorway.

I said no.

“Do you want the door open?”

“No.”

He closed it so that I was completely enfolded in the cold darkness. I lay staring at the varied shadows on my ceiling and thought about mom. Finally, I dropped my stockinged feet onto the carpet and padding across the room, stretched up on my tiptoes and flicked the nightlight switch. It was an orange light with a revolving shade casting shadows of animals onto the walls. One of them was a wolf.

I opened my door a crack and then went to my chair by the window. When you go to your window when it’s dark outside, at first all you see is darkness, but if you stare long enough, you start seeing things. Usually, I see the tree line behind my uncle’s property with the white lights of the city casting a haze above them. Sometimes the moon is out and makes it so I can see other things, but tonight it was dark and black, and even the city seemed asleep. The only thing I saw were two bright lights staring at me through my window. I stared back until they blinked at me to show they were eyes, and I jumped a bit. I opened the window, but they were gone.dog-647528_1920

Although I should have thought it was Andrew, I didn’t. I knew it was a different wolf, and my spine prickled. Maybe my enemies were coming for me.

My uncle’s slow, sad voice drifted from the kitchen and around the crack in my door. “…makes up something new every day. It’s still two months until school starts and he has no friends. I don’t have time for him. He plays all alone all day behind the back lot.”

The back lot. That was where I played. I tiptoed along the wall until I stood just outside the kitchen door, then brought my chin down to my knees and listened.

“I don’t know what’s good for him, Diane. I don’t know what to do with him. Sure, yes, he’s a good kid. He never does anything wrong. That’s not what I mean, that’s not the problem. He never,” he paused, like there was a half-hiccough in his throat. “He never talks about them. Instead, he talks about wolves and enemies and castles. No, don’t say that. Yeah, well, I don’t want to hear about it. If he is stunting his psychological development, then so be it. He’ll grow up demented and insecure, but what can I do about that? Don’t go there: we’re not talking about me, we’re talking about him.”

He kept talking but I wasn’t interested. He was talking to Diane about somebody, and getting upset about it. I liked Diane. She was uncle’s friend who came by every day, and sometimes she brought us food. She had long legs and long hair, and I always thought about the word tight when I saw her. She had tight riding jeans and boots, and a tight pony tail. I asked her to live with us yesterday, but she laughed at me. I didn’t mind; sometimes you don’t mind when adults laugh at you.

“Between you and me, David, I wouldn’t mind that. But your uncle’s a bachelor and used to it, and it’ll always be that way.”

Even though I wasn’t sure what she meant, I nodded. I was too busy that day searching for a place to build my fort to listen to adults explain things. It was that afternoon that I found the fallen tree limb behind the warehouse.

“David.” I looked up at my uncle standing tall above me. “David, why are you out of bed?”

His face was haggard and his large hands hung limp by his sides. I knew he was too tired to punish me. I stood up to save him the trouble. “I’ll go to bed now.”

His voice paused me half way down the hall. “Wait, did you hear what I was saying to Diane?”

“Uh-huh.”

“What do you think about it?”

“About the good kid?”

His mouth twitched beneath his short beard. “Yeah.”

“Is he your friend?”

His shoulders dropped even further. “No, he’s not my friend.”

“I think he needs a friend then or he’ll be lonely. I was lonely until I met Andrew.”

“Ok, go to bed David, and stay in this time. I’ll see you in the morning.”