is that he gave himself away. His mother always said he was vain, that he preened too much before the mirror. She caught him sometimes alone in his room, flashing his teeth at himself, looking formidable. Narcissism, she said, does not suit a wolf. It would do him in. Too late, the woodsman already on him with his knife, the wolf thinks of his mother, the scent of rabbit in her fur, how she kept him close when he was frightened by thunderstorms, how he curled against her belly and pressed his nose against the damp earth. The woodsman smells of wet wool and licorice schnapps and is so quick; he opens the belly with one swipe. Mistake! the wolf thinks, I will fix this. And also: his mother must not know. Vanity, she would shake her head. I told you. The girl had a grosgrain ribbon at her throat, red, so close he could have undone it with a single claw, but still he opened his mouth. Still he had to show off: The better to eat you with. Idiot. There is a great deal of blood on the floorboards but it cannot matter. My mistake, he wants to tell the girl and her grandmother. No harm done! He will hurry home, put himself back together. He will stitch up his belly with thick black thread.

jennifer buxton

The Wolf's Lament

 

 

Jennifer Buxton has an MFA in fiction from the University of Virginia. Her fiction has appeared in Epoch, Puerto del Sol, and Blue Penny Quarterly, among other places. She has taught writing in a variety of venues, including The Writer's Center in Bethesda, Maryland, the University of Virginia, and the UVa Young Writers Workshop.