Wolves

It’s been a busy few months – promoting the books which launched before Christmas and also working through edits to a new novel. I thought I’d share a very short snippet with you here. Our setting: Finland.

Grandpa Heikkila used to wrap us in furs and sit with us on the deck of the cottage, even when the sky was white with cold and the ice had spread across the lake. Our father would call to him, say bring them in, they’ll freeze, and Grandpa Heikkila would call back laughing: they won’t freeze, these young wolves won’t freeze.

We were young wolves, Grandpa Heikkila said, and like young wolves, we would have to learn to live in the cold.

Once, he said, a long time ago, wolves had short hair, fine hair like the hair on our arms, soft to the touch. The wolves roamed the forest through the seasons, but in the winter they would shiver as they ran between the trees, scared of what they knew was coming but not able to do anything to change it.

Death would take them in the winter, in the cold.

As time passed, the wolves learned to accept death. They travelled in bigger packs, they had more pups. When death came whispering, stroking their fine hair gently like a mother, they could leave their dead behind and pretend they had never been. The pack carried on, hiding their grief.

One day, Grandpa Heikkila said, a wolf was born that was different from the others. His fur was longer, better to protect him against the deepest sadness of the cold. In the winter, he was strong and fast. He could hunt and chase and fight through the long dark months of snow and ice. He became the father of the wolves, sire of all the pups. As each new cub was born, its fur thick and long, the pack celebrated, forgetting a little more each time how weak they had once been.

“Now,” Grandpa Heikkila said, “the wolves are kings of the forest. But it is not the size of the pack that makes them strong, it’s not the sharpness of their teeth or even the length of their fur.”

He looked down at us with a smile.

“All it took was one little pup to be born lucky.”

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