Thursday 17 November 2022

Tale of the Ghost of a Wolf - Flash Fiction Story by Liza Wolff-Francis

Tale of the Ghost of a Wolf

Flash Fiction Story by Liza Wolff-Francis


Long ago in the town of St. Stephen, just in the foothills of the mountains, when children’s behavior challenged their parents, if a parent belted them or belittled them in ways they would not return from, the children turned into wolves. If able, they whimpered away from the abuse and so quickly did they begin to sprout fur that they would soon be unrecognizable to even the parents and would never be known as human children again.

There was once a family with a mother, father, and their two daughters. One of the girls had been adopted into the family when her mother died and the other had been born into the family. The family treated the girl who was adopted very poorly. They had heard stories in the town of children disappearing and becoming wolves if the parents mistreated them, but they believed these were just fables to make parents spoil children or to keep parents from making their children work at too young of an age. They didn’t believe the stories were real and they certainly didn’t ever think this could happen to a child of theirs and so, they were hateful to the girl they had adopted.

First, they spoke harshly to her or ignored her. They left her the table scraps to eat and gave her the oldest hand-me-down clothes that didn’t fit. The other girl who lived there loved her sister. In fact, both girls considered each other to be sisters even if the parents did not like the adopted girl. The one sister who had been born to the parents was given anything she wanted and she secretly shared with her sister whatever she could, giving her food, toys, clothes, and she tried to help her feel comfortable and loved.

One day, the parents called the adopted girl ugly and stupid. They didn’t even think about it, the words just came out. The girl felt sad, but other than that, nothing happened. When they did it again, the insults came with a slap across her face. The girl backed up in fear and then began to whimper. They came after her to hit her again and she ran out of the house. As she ran, she began to grow fur. Her face morphed from a human face to the face of a wolf and her body changed shape. The parents were pleased the child was gone, but in order to not raise suspicion in the town, they cried and looked for her and acted like they were worried and wanted her back. The adopted girl had begun a new life. She joined a wolf pack and would not return to be a girl, but would live among the wolves.

One evening, the new wolf missed her sister and wished to return to see her. She went as a wolf to the house of the family and found her sister playing in the garden. She approached her and even as a wolf, the sister recognized her. The parents came outside and saw their daughter petting a wolf and they began to yell and throw things at the wolf. That’s when the wolf turned into a ghost figure of the little girl and began to walk toward them. They stopped, first unsure if it was the little girl, then unsure if they were hallucinating or having a vision of some kind. When the little girl ghost got right in front of them, they scrambled backwards because they could tell it wasn’t her, but an apparition. As they backed away from her, the girl ghost then turned back into the wolf and walked away from them out of the garden.

The wolf came back to visit her sister again and again. If the parents went toward the wolf, the ghost of the girl ran toward them again, until they no longer came out when the wolf came and were always looking to make sure the wolf wasn’t around and if the wolf was with their daughter, always to watch from behind a curtain in the window. They had lost a freedom while the girl had gained one. And the sister who stayed behind, loved the wolf as long as they lived.

photo by Catherine Lazorko

Liza Wolff-Francis is a poet and writer with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Goddard College. Beginning in January 2023, she will be the Poet Laureate of Carrboro, North Carolina. She was co-director for the 2014 Austin International Poetry Festival. 

Her writing has been widely anthologized and her work has most recently appeared in Silver Birch Press, Wild Roof Journal, SLAB, and eMerge magazine. She has written reviews of poetry books that have been published on Adroit, Compulsive Reader, and LitPub. Her chapbook “Language of Crossing” was published by Swimming with Elephant Publications in 2015 and she lives in North Carolina.


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