Word Count 499
By Sharon Collins
The horror of Storm’s passing fades slowly. Yysha grieves still, and believes so should Frost and Shadow. They may have in the beginning, but do so no longer: in their hearts, I believe they are glad to have his share of the food.
Rising to block the attack of his brother and sister, I did not see Storm fall. In the eye of my memory, I imagine his small paws scrabbling to keep hold of the ledge, his bright eyes wide with fear. In the ear of my memory, I hear Yysha shriek as she twists and leaps toward him, missing him by a hands-breadth. I hear his cry and then I hear nothing but the waves and gulls. Turning, I find Yysha lying face down peering into the darkness. Sobbing, she does not move for a long time and when she does, her green eyes are dark. Frost and Shadow slink deeper into the cave when she strikes at them. I move close, shielding them, protecting her. She does not understand.
‘Yysha, we must obey the Law of the Forest; I tell her, licking away the tears reflecting in the firelight. It seems she weeps blood for my son. Turning away, she refuses to answer and despite the darkness, disappears over the edge of the cave’s mouth. By the light of the moon, she climbs down to bring Storm’s battered body back. She lays him before the fire and together we clean away the blood. She cradles him; the soft fur atop his head nuzzled to her neck, and sings the Grief Song. When she is done, she wraps him in the cape of my mother’s brindled fur. I wonder what she thinks to do next. Will she keep him here with us? This is something I hope she does not do. But Yysha surprises me. Calmly she goes to her basket of special yellow-brights the color of blood and chooses as many as the fingers on her hands and one more, larger than the rest. Humming to herself, she wraps and sews them onto a strip of leather. Her humming calms us, even Frost and Shadow who creep slowly back to the firelight. We watch as she carefully unwraps Storms little gray head and carefully ties the leather necklace around his small neck. Kissing him on his black nose she wraps him back up, and carries him deep within the cave.
On her way, back to the fire, she stops at the pool and gathers some of the sticky mud from the bottom into her clay bowl. Unable to help themselves, my remaining children crowd close, as do I, to better watch what her fingers do next. Yysha squeezes and pinches and smooths the mud into the shape of a perfect, little wolf pup. Pushing two black pebbles into where eyes would be, she then smashes the large yellow-bright and adds the bits of blood around the neck and suddenly we understand; she has captured Storm’s spirit.