Sometimes being human is an awful lot of work. This is from Kelly Sandoval.
The wolf came back the next day, and the next, and the one after that. I made a point of sitting outside when he came, my fingers busy with stitching heat and calm into a tunic. After the fourth day, he stopped snarling.
“Why?” he asked, on the sixth day, his voice rough from all his useless howling.
“Ahh, see. That’s a boy. They don’t push creatures out of the Tower Unwoven without first forcing sense upon them. That much, at least, I’ll say for them.”
That, and no more.
“This is sense?” He rocked in place, a constant side–to–side motion that made me itchy for motion.
“Yes, Wolfling. Sense. No use fighting it. You are what you are now. Running about in the altogether and letting yourself starve won’t change what’s been done to you.”
“Forget why,” I said, not ready to speak of the Tower. “It happened. And here we are.”
“You aren’t my pack.” From him, it was an accusation.
“I’m no one’s pack.” And how long had it taken to make a truth of that statement? Wolves are not alone in their clinging.
“My ma said lone wolves are trouble.” The words were coming easier to him, the mind they’d forced on him rising to its use. Humanity is like that. You let it have a bit of your soul, and next thing you know, you forget to dream of flying.
“I’m sure she did,” I said. “And I’ve been trouble enough, in my time. But I’m too old to trouble now.”
He shrugged, a gesture that started in his shoulders and moved down his spine. “What about my pack?”
“Best not to dwell on them.” Best for both of us not to dwell on old packs. “I can’t give you answers, Wolf. What I can give you is a pair of trousers.”
He slept beside my woodpile that night, kept warm and restful by the embroidery on the clothes I’d made him. The next morning I brought him porridge, grateful for the start of a new routine. I had chosen solitude over a pack of my own with its wants, and its cruelties, and its love for me. Seeing him, wary and needing in the watery dawn light, gave shape to the quiet of my exile.
“Up with the sunrise, my boy. Come along, now. Sit.” I settled him on the porch in a relatively human posture. He snatched the bowl from my hands when I held it out, and dove into it face first, hunching possessively as if I might snatch it away.
“Easy, now,” I said. “You’ll not starve while I’ve got you.”
Now, old birds may like to talk but there’s song and there’s nattering on for the sake of the sound. Suffice it to say the wolf learned quickly. He came inside, he learned to hold a spoon, and, other than the issue of the bath, he never tried to bite me. I waited for him to speak of leaving, as those before him had. But wolves aren’t like cats or eagles. They don’t get restless in company.
I should have pushed him from the nest. It would have gone better if I had. But, selfish old thing that I am, I let him stay.