005. The Wolf and the Seven Young Kids

by crfricke

*This post is part of A Grimm Project, a series of short fiction pieces using each of the Brothers Grimms’ Nursery and Household Tales as writing prompts. For more information about the project, click here. For more about the story which inspired this freewrite, click here.*

My mother was an expert seamstress, and she taught me well. My stitches, like hers, are smart and straight, not one a hair longer than any other. I can slip-stitch and blanket stitch or straight-stitch, and I can make hidden seam so delicate and pulled tight that the two pieces of fabric look they’ve been made into one by magic. You’d never know it was ever rent.

Each wolf, my mother taught me, though he speaks very rough, has a belly like silk. Easily split, easily rejoined. His knives, his claws, his teeth have little to do with a woman’s art, bark though they might.

A wolf is just another cloth to refit into something else—something tattered, with teeth like metal fringe, shows up at your door and what do you do with him? My mother taught me never to cower—she taught me to snip away at sinews, to slice muscles and fat like felted wool.

When her fingers went to work on that first wolf, I watched closely. Her delicate white nails became purple with the red dye of his blood. His left hindpaw twitched intermittently as my brothers and sisters leapt out from between the flaps of his belly. My mother’s white thread became scarlet, crimson, and cranberry as it passed through the wolf’s delicate hide to sew him up again. I was afraid at first, but now I know that this is the way of the world, and my mother—I had not know this, before, or perhaps I had, and just not realized it—is of the world, too, and knows how to deal with its evils. Villains are meant to be remade, with a sly and determined hand. If someone crosses you, you cannot be without skills.

Cate Fricke
August 2013

Vintage German stamp, courtesy of Flickr user vintageprintabledotcom

Vintage German stamp, courtesy of Flickr user vintageprintabledotcom