Closure | Teen Ink


October 16, 2019
By N GOLD, Eagle, Wisconsin
N GOLD, Eagle, Wisconsin
18 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Everything happens for a reason."

    The trees of the northern forest stood tall, creaking slightly with the wind. Sunlight peeked between the leaves to warm the terrain below. Streaks of light struggled to meet the ground, corrupted with pollen and the debris of a summer day. 

    Bodies tumbled through the soft, dry dirt of the clearing. Siblings wrestled playfully, tossing and turning between the small patches of grass. We were joyous and content. Mother watched patiently from the den, her keen amber eyes on alert; her gray ears perked with interest. The wolf flashed a loving smile as she panted in the summer heat. 

    A cry echoed through the clearing. For a pup bit too hard, or perhaps a claw snagged skin and delved too deep. It was a cry that told us we had gone too far. It caught Mother’s attention, and she crept quietly from the den. 

    There were five pups, and we were evenly split to the genders. However, one of us played rougher than the others. He was the largest–with a beige coat, long-limbs, and strong jaws. With large paws capable of engulfing our snouts and forcing submission. He was powerful. 

    Growling, Mother approached.    

    Our big brother’s ears flattened against his head, protecting themselves from our sharp, needle-like teeth. They did not have to travel far. 

    A few of us retaliated, nipping at his paws and pulling on his fur. But with another growl from our mother, we paused. Mother neared our big brother, nuzzling him to his side and scolding him harshly. His stomach faced the sky, a pallor surface spare the wind-burned nipples and the small dark inlet of his tummy. 

    Our big brother scattered away, but we followed him, nipping at his hind shanks. We tumbled down a dirt path further into the woods. Moss tickled our toes, dampening them with every step. We slid down a small slope, knowing well that we had tread far enough when Mother barked once. 

    We jumped onto our brother, wrestling in the undergrowth. He did not like it, and his responses were weak acts of retaliation. We pestered him more, tugging on his fur and scratching at his coat. 

    Our big brother was the largest. He was powerful, and he never whined, cried, or yelped. So when he yelled, we backed off. We had pushed him into the mud and trampled over him mercilessly. But our barks quietted, and our nips turned into soft licks of confusion and comfort. We cared for him, in that moment. Mother’s affection was no longer in the picture. 

    He was screaming at us. No, not at us. His tortured yelps were directed at something else. He was screaming at the wide mouth that held both of his front paws. It sprung from the ground, engulfing his limbs and baring its rusted teeth. Dirt flossed between the brown, shiny gray canines. We could see and smell the specks of blood corrupting the earthy undertones of soil.

    Mother trotted down from above, sidestepping the muddy slope and taking a wiser path of sod, chrysanthemums, and forget-me-nots–the flowers with the bitter-tasting petals. Mother approached her pup, growling at the beast that held him tight, and turning on us soon after–but only for a short while. Jealousy and shame pinned our ears to our skulls. 

    Blood slowly seeped from our brother’s paws, red dripping to the green moss below. 

    We watched her quietly as she nipped at the creature, but our big brother only cried more. Her teeth clanked against the predator, and it’s mouth foamed with flakes of plaque-like rusted crumbs. We went quiet and still. One of us whined. 

    Mother licked his wounds and aided him for hours. She wrapped her jowls around the beast, shaking her head in an attempt to free her son. But by that time, he could no longer scream, and all we heard were airy puffs of shouts and choked sobs. 

    Our tummies churned and snarled. The orb in the sky was slowly falling, and so were our eyelids. We could see the den up the slope as it darkened. We could smell the sweet scent of decay as it wafted off abandon scraps and the marrowless bones of yesterday’s breakfast. 

    Our mother tried to pull our brother toward the den, but he was heavy, and his body mixed with the mud. It painted his pale fur brown and matted the fibers. He crawled with his hind legs, but his limbs were still too weak. His front legs were always the strongest, as much of his weight often relied on them. The earth held him in its grasp, enveloping his body like the jaws of a Venus Flytrap. But our mother tried to drag him again, grabbing him gently by the scruff of his neck and pulling him toward the den. The safe, smelly space that was sandwiched between the rocks.  

    She tired quickly, but our mother was determined. She was crying now, so we cried too. Some of us wanted her to succeed. 

    There was a whisper in the wind, quick and fast. It made our ears flicker and raised our hackles. We jumped in unison, scattering for a second to look around. The sound was like the flutter of the weird, winged feather creatures Mother would bring us. Our stomachs growled more at the memory. 

    Mother fell against our big brother and went completely still. Was she tired? Our brother cried more, but Mother did not make a sound. 

    We neared her, smelling her fur and nudging against her side. Her body was heavy, and so were her eyelids. Amber faded and pupils unmoving. Her coat was mottled with the lost fletchings of a hunter’s arrow.

    We cried for her, each pushing at her sides and trying to help her up just as she had tried with our brother. He was still crying, too, but the fur of her neck muffled his screams.

    A rumble in the bushes made our hackles rise once more, and we fell back to the treeline, still reluctant to abandon her. We moved closer to the den, but stood at the entrance to watch them. Our paws were inches away from the line that separated the dark shade and the dusk’s light. The bitter-sweet draw of flesh and tendon was a forgotten temptation behind us.

    Big bodies moved on two paws, nearing Mother. They looked like the foliage beneath our feet. Like the blood-spattered moss and sod, yet they forgot the chrysanthemums and poisonous forget-me-nots. 

    “Call 9-1-1,” one said. 

    “But Dad, they will see the trap.” The voice was higher, and the creature was significantly smaller. Still bigger than our big brother.

    “It doesn’t matter.”

    Their words were irrelevant, for we only looked at their eyes and the areas surrounding them. They were not challenging, nor were they seeking us. We were not important, but our brother was. 

    They took our brother that day. They took our mother too. But she did not fight them, which was unlike her. She always waited for us. 

    We waited for her. 

    Our den never moved. We stayed sandwiched between the same stones on the same slope. The marrowless bones grew brittle over the years, but they did not move. They may have shrunk in size as we hungered and gnawed at them, but they were still there. 

    There were four of us. We never got as big and strong as our mother or our brother. The winged creatures were hard to catch, and the fluffy, jumping rodents were too fast. 

    And even though we failed to catch prey, more and more bones joined the pile of brittle, marrowless skeletons. 

    It took a long time for our big brother to return. 

    I was sandwiched in the crevice of rock, nose an inch away from the nearest line of light. It was a distinct cut between shade and the midday sun. 

    Leaves crackled and the smell of crushed chrysanthemum petals grew pungent.

    It was a body with a backpack. It stood on two paws, so I growled. But it did not look like leaves, foliage, and pine needles. It smelled like fake, artificial trees, rubber, and oils. Like greasy, overcooked meat. A familiar smell, for the buildings were edging closer each year, urbanizing the once sound soil. 

    The thing–the man–stayed at a distance. He rotated around the den as if it were the centerpoint of his attention. He was too smart to slip on the slope again. 

    “Shh,” he hushed. He saw me, and I knew it because our eyes met. My amber to the dull green-grey. “It’s o-okay, I p-promise.”

    His smile was either one of submission or challenge. But he lowered to his haunches, palms up and unthreatening. There was nothing in them. No arrow.

    He smelled familiar. The scent of his sweat lingered in my sniffling nostrils. My dark wet nose glistened as it passed over the line dividing shade and sun. My throat rumbled. 

    It was a dumb move, but he looked away. My instincts wanted me to jump and grab him, but my muscles were far too sore and dehydrated. He looked to the slope, the rocks, and the dried up creek. To the wilting flowers and chopped-down trees. 

    “Where are the others?”

    The pause was long enough to hear the distant beeps of metal, man made machinery. The tilt of my head was the only reaction to give. But my lips went right back to a defensive grin of spit and foam. 

    “You were always the smartest,” he stuttered. 

    When he moved his large paw, I growled. Spit flew in his direction, wetting the dirt beneath my claws. The noise merged into a gagging cough of sickness, sending mist and particles of dirt into the wind.

    I could feel his unhappiness. He was silent long enough to hear the hum of the highway overlapping the buzzes of the nearest beehive. He tried to inch closer, but my snarl was the loudest noise of all. 

    He sat there a while, watching me watching him. 

    I backed into the den over time, focusing on his scent. 

    He reached around into his backpack, pulling out its contents and forgetting to maintain eye contact with me. 

    I did not leap. My jowls were wet and filled with sticky drool. My tummy churned and snarled. The unreachable flecks of flesh and foraged trash decayed in my cavities, so I knew I was starving and he was vulnerable. On his haunches with his hands preoccupied. But I still could not jump. I did not leap with my jaws open to seek his windpipe. 

    Because the smell. The sweat and chemicals wafting from his overworn shirt. 

    He looked at me again, and I saw it. The gray in his eyes that matched Mother’s shaded fur. The pale fur that covered his neck and migrated up his face to meet his snout. He was always the largest of us–with a beige coat, long-limbs, and strong jaws.

“Goodbye, Brother.” 

    And he was gone, leaving an artifact in his place. When his scent finally faded, I stood on feeble legs, grabbing it gently between my teeth and pulling it into our den. 

    It was a lump of soft fur, dried skin, and familiarity. Warmth, truth, gray fur, and glass, amber eyes. 

The author's comments:

This piece works on symbolism and is based off true events that have occured (or have been rumored to) over history. Some reading must be done between the lines. The work was an author's introduction to first person plural–and later on, the classical first person single. I, the author, am trying to prove perspectives can be changed in a story under the right context, and it is not impossible. Hopefully I have succeeded.

Similar Articles


This article has 0 comments.