By Kieron Walquist
In the black wax of midnight, she floats in the sky. Hungry for blood. Always starving.
We hunt for the moon, our mother. We lure boys and girls into the trees by a siren song too sweet to shake. Upon a stone altar, they die screaming. And under her frosty flame, we dance, naked but bathed in red, howling.
It’s the price we pay. For youth. For beauty.
But our mother favors her pet, the wolf, over us. How it bays and barks to her! How it runs wild beside her white, wintry wash! Freely, she begins to bless the cur with rare tricks and talents—we’re left to suffer over dusty pages in ancient books and slave over boiling cauldrons of root, moss and mushroom brews. It’s not fair.
As we wither and wrinkle, we look to the sky. What did we do to lose her love?
Nightly, the wolf kills for the moon. Sheep, humans—everything with breath, body and blood. The ravens we send to spy on the hound return, squawking about how the wolf shape-shifts and devours little girls in red hoods and how the wolf cloaks itself in the wind and tears apart shepherd boys as an invisible force. We try our best to compete—riding our broomsticks and building houses out of candy—but we’re no match.
The wolf is too strong. We’re too old.
Against our oath to the moon, we take our broken books and cracked cauldrons and teach the girls of the village our ways—girls with soapy skin and starry smiles we long for. Year after year, we practice, and it isn’t until a decade later that we’re ready to cast the spell.
Together, we curse the wolf into a man, leaving him to wobble across the forest like a fawn. Powerless. Only capable of turning back into a wolf when our mother’s full.
In our victory, we forget that man has his own power. The man we made warns the church of our coven and we’re hunted down like animals. Put on trial. Found guilty. Sentenced to burn at the stake.
We cry out to our mother for mercy. But the sky is dark.
Kieron Walquist lives in Missouri. His stories can be found in CHEAP POP, Electric Cereal, Gingerbread House, Gone Lawn, The Molotov Cocktail, Purple Pig Lit and elsewhere.