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 tuned 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; for then 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, letting the chains wrap around her wrist.

    How came she to be chained, she didn't know. But she had 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. In that story, someone had loved her. In that story, a villain was at fault.
     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. No villain. At night she came to the tree and the chains, and there she stood, until once again the earth turned upright—for a reason that had no story.
    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. 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 hit her flesh like points of knives as long as day lasted.
    But then came the howling nights.
    The first began as darkness, black as pitch. For a moment, the girl felt it's haunt. But just as quickly, the horror fell away and a rightness took its place. As though the world being covered in its darkest night had already found itself aright. She stopped eating, placing her bread and meaty bones to the ground. For, suddenly, 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, one black as pitch, and 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.
    It was then that she was ready to be a wild thing, free as she had always wanted—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 had been trapped for so long? There had been no villain. She had simply been trapped by waiting.

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