The Night the Girl Howled
The night revealed no moon. The rustle of the wind blew through the tall boughs of trees that hid the stars. And down on the ground a girl sat waiting for the world to right itself.
For that was what she did every night, since the day she had been chained to the thickest trunk of the tallest tree in the forest. She was in tune to the earth’s turning, and it was what kept the monotony of her imprisonment at bay. By keeping tap to the rotating rhythm, she could wait for day, when her chains would melt, and she was free to do as she wished, until once again, night would fall, and she would come, bidden by some unknown spell, and let the chains wrap around her wrists.
How came she to be chained, she knew not, but concocted a story of some loving parents who, for want of a fire in their hearth, had felled a young tree to the great forest’s displeasure. She repeated this story to herself night after night, until she almost believed that it was true.
The truth, however, was quite different, for she had no memory of parents, no knowledge from whence she came. Only that at night she came to this tree and these chains, and there she stood, until once again the earth turned upright.
Of late, she found that she had grown in all directions. As though she were stretching upward for want of the expanse of the night sky, and sideways for want of darkness. And always she was hungry—ever eating and never satisfied. And even the sun brought no solace when her chains melted away, for she sought to hide herself from its piercing rays that had begun to hit her flesh like points of knives all the day long.
But then came the howling nights.
The first began in darkness, black as pitch—an occasion that came within it’s time. But the girl felt a rightness with it. As though the world being turned had already found itself aright. She had stopped eating, placing her bread and meaty bones to the ground, for she was satisfied.
And then, somewhere in the great forest, a creature howled.
That was the first night.
But the next was the same.
And the night after that, black as pitch, the creature howling.
Until the night when the girl howled back.
That was the night her chains snapped, when she broke lose, and ran free, wildness seeping from her every step as though she oozed with the very substance of it. It was then that the pinpricks of stars fell like a thousand rain drops, yet still remained aloft. It was then that the moon beamed streaming light.
And it was then that she was ready to be a wild thing, free as she was wont to be—her chains no more than pools of water, small mirrors for the moon’s light, only found again as water to be sipped from when other sources ran scarce.
Why was it, then, that the girl was trapped for so long? She had simply been trapped by waiting.