“Wolf! Wolf, Wolf, WOLFIE — STOP! Noooo…”
“Did you leave your dinner unattended at the table again?”
“How many times have I told you not to get up until you’ve finished your meal? Did Wolfie eat it all?”
“Yes, Mum. I hadn’t even started. Is there more?”
“No, there isn’t more. I suppose you’ll want takeaway again, because you can’t go to bed hungry.”
“Sorry Mum, I really didn’t mean for it to happen. I’m happy to have something cheap and quick, maybe McDonald’s drive-thru?”
“That’s the third time this week you’ve let the dog have your dinner. I’m starting to wonder if you’re doing this on purpose.”
“What! Mum, I would never.”
“Hmm. Well this is the last time I’m giving in to your McDonald’s drive-thru backup. If you let the dog get your dinner one more time, you’re going to have to find another way to eat.”
“You said that to him last time. You’ll never let him go to bed hungry, you love him too much.”
“Wolf? What the hell?”
“WOLFIE? YOU CAN TALK??”
Mother and child stared in disbelief (and mild terror) as their talking German Shepherd pulled up a chair and seated himself at the table. He motioned for his humans to take their seats, too.
“Sit,” said Wolf.
“I’m going to tell you a story,” he said, “the story of a child who cried to the wolves.”
“I’m a Mum, I know that story, all Mums do. And it’s ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’, not ‘a child who cried to the wolves.’ Why are you talking, and why are you telling us this story?”
“Have you always been able to talk, Wolfie? Mum, I knew he could talk!”
“Quiet,” said Wolf.
They were quiet.
“Once upon a time, there was a Child, appointed to mind her family’s sheep. She spent her day outdoors, usually up in a tree, playing with her dolls, and watching the sheep from a distance. They were boring, both dolls and sheep. The dolls did nothing. The sheep weren’t much better. They just stood around eating grass and baa-ing, and if she ever went near them to play, they headbutted her and knocked her onto the ground.”
“She tried to find other children to play with, but they had all been appointed to tasks of their own. The grown ups had no time. Life was torment and there was no rest.”
“One day, as she was sitting high up in the branches, listlessly tapping her leg with a doll, she saw something exciting in the distance: a wolf. She squinted and tried to focus: yes, there was no doubt about it, it was certainly a wolf. A wolf! How exciting, wolves didn’t often wander this way. She wondered if it was lost.”
“Wolf! Wolf, wolf, WOLFIE!” she cried out into the distance. She jumped up and waved her arms to get their attention. Her dolls fell out of the sky onto the ground. A grown up happened to pass by. He heard her cries, assumed she was under attack, and quickly called the attention of a small mob. They rushed to her rescue and found no threat.”
“Where is the wolf, Child?” a grown up asked.
“Over there, in the distance,” the Child responded.
All the grown ups looked, squinted, focused — but there was nothing.
“Are you a little liar? Did you lie about the wolf?” another grown up asked.
“What! No, I would never.”
The grown ups didn’t believe her.
“You’ve wasted our time, Child. Don’t cry wolf when there is no wolf.”
“But there WAS a wolf,” she protested. “I saw it with my own eyes!”
“Liar,” they grumbled, and went on their way.
“Days passed, and there was no new excitement. Tap, tap, tap, went the doll on the Child’s leg, high up in the branches. The skin on her leg was tender, and beginning to bruise. But at least it felt like something. Suddenly, she saw the wolf again. But this time, it wasn’t just one wolf, it was a small pack. And they were closer than before!”
“Wolves. Wolves, wolves, WOLVIES!” the Child squealed in excitement. “WOLVES, OVER HERE!”
“Within minutes, a mob had assembled again, fearing the Child was under attack. They came with sticks and tools and whatever they could find, yelling and hurrying each other, to save both the Child and the sheep. But when they arrived, as before, they found no sign of trouble.”
“Why do you cry wolf!” a grown up exploded.
“Because I see them!” the Child answered earnestly.
“You are a LIAR,” another grown up hissed, “and you have cost us all time away from work. Back to yours!”
“The Child watched sullenly as the grown ups went away. ‘Next time, I won’t let them find out,’ she thought to herself. And she made a plan for when the wolves came back again.”
“Soon enough, the wolves returned. Even closer, this time. The Child slid down the tree trunk, ran across the paddock, climbed on top of the fence, and silently hoped they would look her way. And they did. Her excitement grew as they skulked closer. They seemed cautious, and she didn’t know why. She was just a little Child on her own, no mean grown ups to scare them away this time! But they stopped a little way away from her.”
“The Child needed a way to earn their trust, to invite them closer. All she had were her dolls and the sheep. Could she interest them in either? She waved a doll at them. They looked uninterested. She didn’t blame them. Dolls were SO boring. She hopped off the fence and started to walk towards the sheep, wondering how she could convince the sheep to walk back to the fence with her. They really were just as boring as the dolls, and she was sure the wolves wouldn’t want to play with them, either. But she was desperate for new friends, and so she had to try.”
“As she approached the sheep, she heard soft footsteps behind her. She turned around. The wolves had entered the paddock! There they were, a majestic pack, a few feet away. She gasped in awe. ‘Hey there, wolvies,’ she whispered softly. They came closer still, and one came right up to her and sniffed her clothes. She reached out and patted its nose.”
“Oh — you are friendly! And your face is so soft. And oh! You do like the sheep, you and all your friends!”
“The Child watched the wolves devour all the sheep — every last boring one. The ones that ate grass, the ones that baa’d, and the ones that had headbutted her to the ground.”
“Oh, you are SO interesting. I like you much better than the sheep!”
“The wolves had their fill, acknowledged the Child’s assistance, and skulked away, returning the way they came. The Child smiled to herself, picked up her boring dolls, and climbed back up the tree. There were no more boring sheep to mind, and the dolls still did nothing, but now she had new friends — and their occasional visit would be something for her to look forward to.”
Mother and child looked expectantly at Wolf, waiting for him to continue.
“Well?” Mum said. “What happened next? What did the grown ups say when they found out what had happened?”
Wolf paused. “Who cares? They didn’t believe the Child when she told them what she saw.”
“But the wolves ate all the sheep — they would have to believe her now!”
Wolf said nothing.
“What about the Child — was she safe? Did the wolves come back for her after having eaten all the sheep?”
Wolf said nothing.
“Mum, I’m hungry.”
Mum sighed. “This was a shitty story, Wolf.”
And she took her child to the McDonald’s drive-thru so he wouldn’t go to sleep hungry.