Photo in the public domain by Jack Kurzenknabe
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Wolf Slave 5 – Alex Ankarr
He sits and looks as learned as he’s capable of, over them, and lets his mind wander a little. Ree: it’s been ever so long since he last heard that name. First he heard it, he thinks – thinking back hard, and his brow furrowing a little – when he was little more than a toddler, perhaps three years old. That was when his mother – slave-born, too – was moved to a new household, and most of his memories begin at around that time. There was another little boy in the household, except sometimes he was a puppy instead. He was one of the master’s family, and Penn remembers him still, although not well. His name was Ree.
Most of his memories from that point until he was six are tangled up with Ree: in fact most of them are either of Ree and himself, or his mother and himself, and really precious little else. Almost like brothers, he supposes, they were: or as near as you can get, when one’s of the master class, the wolves, and the other is slave and human. The adults, both slave and servant, and wolf, thought them precious: yes, they must have been adorable, he supposes, tumbling and fighting and playing together, mostly in the most perfect amity. Ree had been a little older, a year or two: Penn had adored and followed him slavishly – the irony of it. One of his most vivid memories is of Ree as a wolf, and the two of them playing in an orchard: Ree tripping him up and leaping all over him, play-growling then licking his face until he’d giggled and he’d almost wet himself.
They’d been happy, pretty nearly perfectly so. He hadn’t hated wolves, back then: hadn’t had the sense or the information to do it. He doesn’t think of Ree frequently, now: can’t remember the last time he did so. But it’s strange to look back, and have it occur to him that one of the people he’s loved most in his life, thus far, was a wolf. There’s an irony in it.
When his mother was sold and took him with her, he’d kicked up a storm of rage, because leaving Ree behind was clearly unacceptable. The matriarch of the household, normally chilly and distant, had even got herself involved and patted his head, picked up her son and leaned them close enough in together that they could grab each other angrily and wail. ‘Poor little brat,’ she’d said with rough sympathy. ‘That’s the way of the world, I’m afraid: they’d both better get used to it.’ He can remember it, even now, clear as day. He can remember the anger that swirled inside him, too.
In the new household, with the new masters, they’d been much less happy, and even his mother was unsettled. He’d missed Ree horribly: but wasn’t allowed to write, or remain in touch in any way. It wasn’t deemed appropriate. Then, six months in, his mother had died, and it was a wolf’s fault. So, Penn hates wolves, now: not only for that reason, but it doesn’t help any.
© Copyright Alex Ankarr 2013 All rights reserved to the author. No inspirations for characters drawn from real-life individuals, no resemblance to real individuals intended.