Again I am the first in the Author Aerobics Challenge! This week’s challenge was Setting, and the theme was Home. Now I must admit, sometime’s I’m a little flighty and don’t exactly adhere to the theme. (Sorry Tessa!) But there is a bit of home mixed in here, isn’t there?
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Peka flung the door open. Snow flew up in her face, eddying around her and blowing into the clingy fur that lined her parka. She slammed the door behind her, and grabbed the pail by the stoop. Halfway down the icy walk, she looked up—directly into the eyes of a wolf no more than ten feet away.
Instantly, Peka froze, and squinted. It killed her to do it—everything inside her wanted to turn and run back into the brick house, to dive back into the warmth and safety. Warmth and safety were rarely found here outside.
When she was a little girl, back in “Warmer times,” she had been taught: When you lock eyes with a wolf, you never look away. Never. She stood, determined, trying to gather up some courage to channel through her icy-blue irises. Still, nothing came. The wolf stepped closer.
Peka tried harder, lowering her head so she was nearly looking through her eyebrows, hoping to intimidate the despicable creature. She knew there were more than one hanging around. Here in the Westlands, where there was one wolf, there were at least a dozen—usually more—behind it. Many packs had been spotted these days—a pack as big as a hundred was seen up near the Suderleigh Cliffs not a mile away. Peka had a terrifying thought: Perhaps this wolf was part of that pack?
The dog brazenly stepped two steps forward. The wind scratched across the hard ground ruthlessly, blowing the thick fur around the wolf’s neck into a frenzied mane. The wolf’s eyes were a crystal-gray. And much more determined that Pekas.
But Peka stood, stone-faced, heart beating in her throat. She realized that she no longer had the pail, and at the same time saw it rolling in circles near the creature that was now backing up apprehensively. Did I just throw that at him? Peka wondered in awe. A new courage was found in her.
Finally, baring its teeth, the wolf trotted up to her. Peka, resolutely, stood still as it snapped at her ankles. Jumping up, it put both front feet on her shoulders, the hair on its back bristling.
And then, to Peka’s relief—that was it.
The wolf, like a shadow, quickly descended, and slipped away, looking back now and then, ears down, tail between its legs. It disappeared across a field of snow, into the black glow of storm-clouds on the horizon.
It had worked. Peka picked up her pail and headed for the well, whistling confidently. But nobody heard her—her notes were swept away in the whirling wind.