I AM WOLF Chapters 1-4

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The First Change

―I am part of Tibolt‘s clan. A creature of the night. I wash myself in the shining sun and dance with joy in the glittering moonlight. I am loyal to a fault and sing in the midnight hours. I AM WOLF…‖ Alaynee said out loud to the youngling pack.

Her long flowing black hair looked as if the night sky had kissed it and given her silver strands. She circled the rest of the pack, still unchanged. The moon‘s reflection caused the shimmering lake to glow. She looked up in her tall thin human form and began to howl. A white light flowed from the moon as she raised her arms up in acceptance. It enveloped her. She felt her blood grow hotter and her heart beat faster. She knew what was happening, yet she tried with all her might to stay standing upright. Her mind, dizzy and faint for a moment. When the light disappeared, her spirit was in the body of a wolf. She felt the blood in her body flow faster. Oh the wonderful animalistic feelings were more powerful now than any other time. This was the first time she had changed. The rest of the wolf pack circled her as she transformed into the wolf. They fed off her energy and howled as she completed the transformation. Night. Moon. Glittering light. Such a rush.

She turned from human into the elusive white wolf with rare blue eyes. She looked at the rest of the pack and joined in the song of the midnight moon. She looked at them with her new wolf eyes. Everything was brighter around her. She lifted her head and smelled. She hadn‘t realized how fresh the forest really smelled. She heard the ants as they scurried across the forest bed and the smallest sounds from the rabbits as they rushed through the brush. She could hear the wings of the birds as they glided above her and the rustle of the trees as they spoke to one another. She felt the four legs under her and had to run as fast and

hard as she could. She looked at the pack leader and waited for the okay. The pack leader nodded his head and she took off. She loved the way the wind blew past her. Everything was more alive to her.

The woods moved past her in a blur. The soft ground was chilled and still, it felt like she had gone to heaven. She had never known such freedom. She stopped suddenly in her tracks because of a familiar smell. The rest of the pack halted as if by queue. She walked with silent reverence through the bushes.

On the shores of the lake was an old Indian man named Tiokasin Ghosthorse Yazzi. He was sitting by a fire with his back to the bush.

―I wondered when you would make your way to me tonight.‖ The old man said.

He tilted his brimmed hat towards the new wolf.

She let out a small playful bark and approached the man. She caught a piece of meat in the air he tossed to her. He looked one more time at the white wolf with a smile on his face.

―So daughter, how do you feel now that you have let yourself be free?‖ He asked.

She howled at the moon and jumped into the air. The old man laughed and placed his arm around her for a moment. He gave her a quick pet and said, ―Remember, this is a gift. Use it wisely. Oh and your mother said when the weekend is over you have to come home. You have school on Monday.‖ The old man said.

She raced off into the woods again. She could feel her laughter inside and it made her laugh harder when it came out in the voice of her wolf body. When she caught up with the rest of the pack they all howled more at the moon. She couldn‘t imagine ever having denied this side of herself, no matter how unfamiliar it was at first. Oh the sweet freedom of

it all.

The night grew small and the sun rose, bringing with it a kiss of morning dew. Everything had a crisp smell. All around her life seemed golden, fresh and new. The rising sun washed the night away as the wolf melted back inside. She wanted to feel human again. Alaynee realized at this moment that she was able to control the wolf in her and loved that side of herself even more. She walked through the woods, naked and alone until she reached the clearing where her father was. He sat on a log in front of a fire with a cup of coffee in his hand. Beside him was a bag with a change of clothes for her. She picked up the bag and disappeared behind the cover of the brush to change.

―Why didn‘t you tell me it was so wonderful?‖ Alaynee asked as she came out with her fresh clothes on.

―I couldn‘t. You had to find out for yourself. This was your time to change and join the pack. It was your choice to make. Now here we are. Want some breakfast?‖

He handed her a plate of bacon and eggs. She didn‘t realize how hungry she was until she took the first bite. They sat in silent understanding, looking out at the lake. It was a beautiful morning.


The bus ride was uncomfortable. The seats were too close together and the air in it smelled like old socks and fat sweat. He sat by the window next to a fat woman. Her stench filled his nose and made his stomach queasy. To top it off, the bright colors of her moo moo made his eyes hurt. He wanted to move to another seat, but they were all taken. She pulled out a romance novel and began to read from it. After a chapter or two she looked over at him and smiled. He looked away without a polite grin back. She pulled out a small container of baby powder. The combination of the two smells finally made him go to the bathroom and throw up. The bus jiggled a little while he was in the bathroom and his head hit the wall. He looked in the mirror to make sure none of it got on his face. He washed his hands with the toilettes that were provided, and then ran his hands through his wavy black hair. He was wearing a t-shirt, a hoody and a pair of Tommy jeans. He knew he wasn‘t trying to impress anyone, but he still wanted to look good. He walked back to his seat. The woman looked up at him and smiled again.

―I‘m heading out to see my family in Arizona. Where are you headin‘? Her voice had a long southern drawl.

He didn‘t feel very polite, but he felt his mom might find out if he was rude.

―To a town in the middle of nowhere. It‘s called Sisters,‖ he said as he sat down by the window again.

The forest rushed past him in a blur. There were high cliffs on both sides. The small two-lane road weaved around the mountains. The beauty of the surroundings didn‘t escape him. He looked at the edges of the capped mountains in the distance. ‗I wonder how high that is.‘ He hadn‘t been to Sisters to live since he was nine years old. Though he didn‘t have

very many memories of the town, he felt an odd familiarity to the place. He looked at the woman with a slight twinge of guilt about the way he treated her.

She looked as if she was about to ask another question then chose not to. In the background he heard a small child screaming at the top if its lungs, and across the isle there was a conversation taking place about business and how hard things were getting. He felt like telling everyone to shut up. He put his earphones on to drown out the noise instead. He sat in silence with a heavy heart. He could feel the anger from the lie his parents told him. He knew they had to be getting a divorce and didn‗t want to tell him. He thought about the last conversation he had with his parents. They both had a worried look on their faces.

―Your mother and I feel this is what is best for you. We love you and we know what you‘re going through. We just want what‘s best for you.‖ His dad put his arm around his mother. She tensed up a little and looked down at the table.

―I don‘t want to go! I will stay out of trouble! I‘ll make better grades and stop fighting all the time!‖ Jonah yelled. His anger began to take over again.

Jonah felt his heartbeat rise. He almost felt like he could hear his parents‘ thoughts. For a moment the world looked black and white. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. His heart slowed down. He felt strange for a moment. His black curly hair tingled along with his arms and legs. The sensation left his body. Once again he felt like himself.

His impassioned pleas fell on deaf ears. His parents looked at one another. They didn‘t speak, still Jonah felt like they were hiding something from him. His mother‘s long black hair lay across her shoulders. He had always been told he looked like his mother. He believed it since his father had blonde hair and blue eyes. He looked so different from him accept in the eye color. Jonah had the same blue eyes as his dad.

―I know you mean what you say, but this is something you have to do,‖ his mom said. Her voice was calm and firm. She meant every word she said. Jonah could sense something beneath the surface. He knew they were holding something back.

His parents sat there holding hands. Jonah knew it was a united front. He slammed the chair to the table and stormed to his room. He turned his earphones on full blast and fell asleep. The next day he was on a bus to Sisters, Oregon.

The bus passed a sign that read, ―Home of the largest wolf population in America‖

Great, just what I want to see, the biggest wolf population and Faith Hope and Charity.

“Protect her,” a whisper sounded in his head.

Jonah looked behind him to see if someone had leaned forward and said it to him. The young couple sitting in the seat behind him were holding hands and sleeping. Jonah dismissed the whisper and put his earphones on again and closed his eyes.

The bus stopped. He grabbed his bag and waited his turn to exit. He was glad he was in the back of the bus. He didn‘t want to be here. He hated the idea of leaving his city. He loved Portland. He loved the way the city flowed. He loved sitting in waterfront park and feeling the energy of the people as they passed.

For him, this town looked like a slow meandering pace of nothing but boredom. His disappointment at the sight of the town grew the longer he looked around. There was a diner called Alive at Five where the bus stopped. He looked around for someone to acknowledge him. The few people who got off the bus to stay were met with hugs and cheer. He stood alone…waiting…for someone…anyone. He went into the diner and sat at the bar. A small stout woman came to take his order. She looked at him for a while before

she said anything.

―What?‖ he asked.

―You have the look of your mother. People call me Big Sal. I‘m your mother‘s best friend. We grew up together here. Welcome to town, Jonah.‖ She smiled at him. She waited for a minute for him to lose the confused look on his face.

―How did you know it was me?‖ he finally asked. He didn‘t try to hide his defensive wall. He was used to people knowing who he was without him knowing them in return. The problem he had was that he didn‘t know any of the people in the town. Yet, she knew him just by looking at him.

―Like I said, you have the look of your mother. I used to babysit you when you were little. I‘m surprised you don‘t remember. We used to laugh all the time. You were the cutest kid. You and Daniel were inseparable. You really don‘t remember, do you?‖

―No, I don‘t. I guess there wasn‘t a lot to remember,‖ Jonah replied.

―Well, you cried when you left. You even asked me to take you and raise you. Maybe the memory is too painful so you blocked it out. Any who, welcome home. Now what can I get ya?‖ she asked.

Jonah ordered a burger, fries and a Dr Pepper. He pulled out his wallet to pay the bill. She laughed at him. ―No charge this time. Consider it a welcome back dinner on me.‖

Jonah raised his eyebrows a little shocked. ‟That would never happen where I‟m from.‟ He put his wallet back in his pocket, and then asked, ―Hey you wouldn‘t happen to know my grandparents, would you?‖

Big Sal let out a hearty giggle. ―Bobby Joe and Lynn, sure everyone knows them. He‘s the sheriff here. Not that we really need one. Still, nice to have one when things come

up though. Oh I forgot to tell you, he called when you were eating and asked me to tell you to be patient, he‘ll be here soon.‖ She laughed and slapped herself on the head, ―You know sometimes I would lose my head if it wasn‘t attached.‖ She was still giggling when she walked away.

The bus reloaded and left. He was tempted to hop back on and let it take him to where ever it was going. ‟Let me go. All I would have to do is get on the bus and disappear.‟ Something inside him stopped him. He could‘ve sworn he heard his name called when a breeze went past him. An old 78 dodge pick-up pulled into the parking lot. A giant man about 6‘ 8‖ got out of it. He had long salt and pepper hair pulled back and braided. He wore an old cowboy hat, a pair of jeans and a button down blue shirt with a black leather vest with intricate bead work.

―You must be Jonah. I haven‘t seen you since you were nine. I‘m Robert John Greywolf. Most people call me Bobby Joe. I‘m your grandfather,‖ the old man said. The old man grabbed one of his bags. ―Sorry I‘m late. I had a meeting to attend,‖ Bobby Joe said. He reached his hand out to shake Jonah‘s.

Jonah raised his eyebrows when he looked at the size of his hands. Jonah hesitated, then shook his hand. They felt callous and rough. Jonah looked up at him with wide eyes. He gulped a little.

This guy could squash me like a bug. Jonah thought.

Bobby Joe reached out down to pick up Jonah‘s other bag. Jonah climbed in the truck without saying a word. The old dodge had a stick shift with a picture of a wolf on the knob. A single feather on a beaded necklace hung from the mirror. A thermos sat on the seat in the middle along with a few cassette tapes.

―You don‘t talk much do ya?‖ Bobby Joe asked.

―Not much to say I guess. You know I didn‘t want to come here,‖ Jonah said. He put the headphones back on and clicked the ipod‘s play button.

Jonah stared straight ahead, aware of the old man next to him. He remained quiet taking in the scenery. There were three mountains lining the horizon. Jonah sat up a little to get a better look. The three mountains looked familiar to him. „Jonah, allow yourself to be free.‟ He turned his iPod off. ―Did you say something?‖

―Those are called Faith, Hope and Charity. That‘s where the town gets its name.‖ Bobby Joe said, taking advantage of the question. It‘s a small town, but I would bet money you will learn to love it here,‖ Bobby Joe said. He looked over at Jonah. He had soft, peaceful blue eyes. He was a man of few words.

―Ok, whatever you say,‖ Jonah replied with an unconscious roll of his eyes. He tried to hide his distain about being forced to come out to the middle of nowhere.

Bobby Joe just grinned. The rest of the ride was filled with silence.

They pulled up to a small dirt road and followed it back to a two story cabin nestled in the woods. The cabin had large windows in the front. A giant porch wrapped around to the right where it lead to a deck. There was a fire pit built into the deck. A wooden arch hovered over a table and chairs. A porch swing sat on the porch. There were chickens pecking in the yard. A horse pen was a few yards away with a beautiful black mare eating. There were two newer trucks and a car in the driveway to the left. A woman walked out of the cabin. She looked young for a grandmother. Her long black hair flowed gently down her shoulders. She raised her hand up to block the sun from her face.

―That‘s your grandmother, Lynn Greywolf. You will show her respect,‖ Bobby Joe

said in a firm voice.

Jonah was taken aback by the firmness in his voice. He understood the old man meant what he said. He felt like saying ‗or what‘ then decided against it. He knew it would get him in trouble. He got out of the truck and waved at his grandmother, forcing a smile on his face. He turned to reach for his bags and rolled his eyes.

―Glad you‘re here, Jonah.‖ Lynn said.‖ She had a nice smile, full of warmth. Jonah noticed she also had a graceful way about her walk. She seemed to glide to them.

―Me too,‖Jonah said. He rolled his eyes a little. He let out a small sigh.

―Now, I know that‘s not true. Still, it‘s good you‘re here.‖ She smiled. She hugged Jonah. ―Go on in. I have to feed the chickens,‖ she said.

As Jonah walked towards the cabin, he overheard his grandparents talking.

―Do you think he knows?‖ Lynn asked.

―No, but give him time. He will come to it. He is a Greywolf. He will be ok,‖ Bobby Joe said.

Jonah didn‘t turn to ask what they were talking about. He knew it had to be that his parents were getting a divorce and it was his fault. He chose not to. He wasn‘t ready for the answer to the question. He walked into the cabin. He was shocked by how beautiful it was. The walls were covered in dry wall and painted a soft eggshell color. A chandelier hung in the foyer. There were paintings of wolves and Native American art. Beneath one of them there was a framed card that read, To my wonderful friends on their 50 wedding anniversary. Love Cathy Yazzi.

A twinge of guilt filled his heart. He couldn‘t understand what happened to his parents. They always seem to be happy. They hardly ever fought. He didn‘t know why they

would be getting a divorce. His only conclusion was that it had to be because of him.

Lynn showed him his room. It was a small room with an iron bed, desk and dresser and no decorations on the wall. There was one small window, just big enough for Jonah to squeeze through. The bed had a handmade quilt and a pillow.

‗All the comforts of home,‘ Jonah mumbled to himself.

―I‘m sorry, I didn‘t hear you,‖ Lynn said.

―I said all the comforts of home,‖ Jonah repeated.

His frustrations began to show. Lynn stood in the room looking at him.

―I took out anything that made this look like a room I decorate. Your stuff from your room should be arriving by freight any day now. Anything else?‖

―No, I don‘t want anything else. I don‘t even want to be here,‖ Jonah snapped.

―Ok, well, I will let you get settled. We will have dinner in a little while,‖ Lynn replied.

―I don‘t want anything. GOT IT!?!‖ Jonah yelled. He knew the moment it came out of his mouth he would regret it. He didn‘t mean to yell, it just happened. Doesn‘t it always when you‘re a kid?

Once again he felt his heart race. His arms and legs tingled. The room looked black and white. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He felt like punching the walls around him. He clenched his fist and continued to breath. His heart slowed down again. Bobby Joe entered the room. Lynn looked at him and left. Bobby Joe looked huge in the small room. He towered over Jonah in size. He was afraid to look at the tall man. He knew he had done wrong and he was sure he was about to get hit. He closed his eyes and waited for the punch.

―Tomorrow you belong to me. Don‘t think about going anywhere this weekend,‖ Bobby Joe said. The man of few words walked out of the doorway and down the stairs.

He tossed his backpack on the bed. ―Whatever. Where am I going to go? I‘m in the middle of nowhere,‖ Jonah mumbled.

He heard the footsteps stop for a moment. He held his breath in hopes that the large man didn‘t hear him. The footsteps started again. Jonah let out his breath. He sat on the bed and fell back.

―Bright and early,‖ Bobby Joe yelled. Jonah stood up again. He waited for his grandfather to come back in and slap him. His parents never hit him. He couldn‘t understand why he thought his grandparents would. Anger filled his mind and heart. He was in a world he didn‘t understand, a town he didn‘t want to be a part of living in a stranger‘s home. Granted they were his grandparents and he had some memories of them. But, for the most part, it was strange.

Jonah dropped his bags on the floor and fell face first into the bed and screamed into the pillow. He hated feeling like he was not wanted and that his parents were getting a divorce because of him. He hated being in the small room and most of all he hated the feeling of being alone. His heart weighed heavy at the thought of being unwanted in this world. He pounded his fist on the bed to keep tears from forming. The feelings of depression set in, spiraling him into a deep dark sleep.

He dreamt he was running in the woods on four legs. The wind brushed past him. The trees called his name. He felt a freedom he had never known. He wasn‘t alone. There were others with him, running beside him. He stopped to look around. Things looked different. The night had a certain glow to it. Soft rainbow colors flowed from everything

around him. Then, out of nowhere, he heard the laughter of a little girl. He looked around to see where it could be coming from. Out of the corner of his eyes, he saw a blonde child chasing a fairy with red hair. He woke up just when the little girl was approaching him. Jonah looked at the clock; Dam, he signed, 1:00 A.M. Then he rolled over and went back to sleep.

Before dawn, Bobby Joe went to Jonah‘s room with a pitcher of water and poured it on his head, shocking his system into a state of chaotic consciousness. Jonah jolted out of bed yelling, ―What the hell man?‖

Bobby Joe stood in the doorway. ―Get up. You are mine today. You will treat Lynn with respect, and when today is over, you will also treat me with respect. Now, get up and get dressed. Lynn has breakfast ready,‖ Bobby Joe said.

Jonah did as he was told without saying another word. His eyes were still slits when he walked into the kitchen. He sat at the table, still looking down. Lynn put a plate of biscuits and gravy in front of him, along with a plate of bacon, eggs and pancakes. She tousled his hair. Jonah ducked out of the way on instinct. Bobby Jo cleared his throat. Jonah looked up at Lynn with a guilty look on his face.

―You will learn I am not the enemy here, Jonah. Now eat up because I have a feeling you will need all the energy you can get today,‖ Lynn said. Her voice had a calming effect on him. She reached over again to tousle his hair. This time he didn‘t move. Bobby Joe gave her a small nod.

―Eat up. You have 15 minutes,‖ Bobby Jo said.

Holy shit man.

Jonah began shoveling food into his mouth. He didn‘t bother to look up from his

plate accept to take a drink. He ate so fast he almost didn‘t taste the food. He could feel the two of them looking at him. They were also eating. Lynn took her time, while Bobby Jo finished off his plate early.

―Let‘s go.‖ Bobby Jo said.

The sun peaked across the horizon, bringing light and life to the cold dark forest around the cabin. He hadn‘t noticed it last night, but there was a barn in the back, behind the cabin. Jonah followed Bobby Joe to the horse corral.

―Go in the barn and grab a shovel. There are also bales of hay. You‘ll need it in a little while. Rake up the horse crap and put it in that wheel barrel over there. Then take the manure to the garden over there. You will need gloves, because you can‘t just dump the wheel barrow and leave it. You have to spread it evenly throughout the garden. You‘ll have to mix some hay with it. When you‘re finished grab the hay and spread it out over the ground at that end of the corral. When you‘re finished with that, let me know,‖ Bobby Jo said. He turned and walked away without another word.

The red barn was small compared to the cabin. There was an upper loft and three stalls with horses on each side. Each stall had a set of reigns hanging on a hook on the outside. There were a few cats in there along with a couple kittens. A rope hung from a pulley in the center. There were two newer saddles and a couple old worn out looking ones sitting on saw horses. A whip hung on a nail. To the left, a large work stand made out of wood shelved a variety of tools.

Jonah grabbed the shovel and a pair of gloves off the work bench, and then proceeded out to the horse corral. Little by little he shoveled all the horse manure into the wheel barrow. His muscles stung a little. Sweat poured down his face. He wiped it with his

forearm. His hands hurt from using the shovel. His knuckles felt a little stiff. He took the gloves off and opened and closed his hands to get the blood flowing through them again. He grabbed a water bottle from the small cooler his grandfather left for him. The cool water felt like ice in his mouth.

When he reached the garden he was surprised by the size of it. Though the season was already almost gone, there were four rows of corn, a couple rows of watermelons, and there were also three different kinds of squash, carrots, vines of green beans and a couple rows of tomatoes. In the last row were pots of strawberries. Jonah was surprised he hadn‘t noticed any of this when he first arrived. He dumped the wheel barrow and began to shovel the mixture into the garden. When he was finished, Bobby Jo came over to inspect his work.

It‟s quiet out here. I don‟t feel like I have to drown out the noise.

―Break time. Come on,‖ Bobby Jo said. He gave Jonah a pat on the back.

Bobby Jo handed a Gatorade to him. A cold tingling sensation filled his chest as the liquid flowed through his body. He took a breath. Bobby Joe handed him a ham and cheese sandwich.

―Thank you,‖ Jonah replied, scarffing the sandwich down.

He looked at the tall husky man unsure about what to say. He did feel a little guilty about the way he had treated his grandmother. After all, she was just trying to make him feel at home. He didn‘t want to call the place home. The quiet that surrounded him began to grow on him. He started to feel an inner peace he hadn‘t known before. It was a foreign feeling to him.

―I‘m um…well, I shouldn‘t have—‖ Jonah began. He stopped midway, unsure how

to continue.

―It‘s ok. We all make mistakes. I just hope you learned your lesson,‖ Bobby Joe said. He patted him on his back. ―I am the master of my fate, the creator of my destiny. I decide. Jonah, learn from your mistakes. Be wise. Live a good life. Choose to be the man you want to be. Those are the best words of wisdom I can give you.‖

Jonah lifted his eyebrows a bit. He was surprised by the change in his tone and even in his mannerisms. No one had ever spoken to him in such a profound way. A momentary silence filled the air while Bobby Joe let Jonah digest what he said.

―I have never been so sore in my life. I worked really hard,‖ Jonah smiled a little.

―I know you did. I know your heart more than you realize. There is a lot you will learn. This is just the first step along the path of life.‖

Path of life? Now he‟s going all Confucius on me?

Bobby Jo grinned and handed Jonah back his gloves. ―Come on, we need to cut some wood. We stock it now for the winter. I really appreciate your help with this.‖

My help? He appreciates my help. Never heard an adult say that accept mom. I miss her.

Bobby Jo walked to the barn. He brought a couple chainsaws and put them in the back of the truck. They climbed in and drove towards town. Just before they got to town, they turned off on a dirt road. The winding dirt road lead to a small patch of trees the community set aside for cutting firewood. There was a sign attached to a lockbox on the gate that read, ―Donations here,‖ and a big smile face. Bobby Jo put a few bucks in it and opened the gate. The dirt road grew smaller as it wound its way through to the middle of the lot. Bobby Jo stopped the truck. The two of them got out. Bobby Jo handed Jonah a chain

saw and asked, ―Have you ever used one of these?‖

Jonah‘s eyes gleamed as if he had just been handed a present on his birthday. ―No, I‘ve never even seen one, at least not up close and personal.‖

Bobby Jo laughed. ―Well today you get to learn. Here look at this, turn it on here, hold the safety switch, set the choke, then pull this handle here as hard as you can. When it fires up, give it a little gas to make it idle. Once it starts idling right, push the choke back in. That simple. Now first rule of using a chainsaw is to always check and make sure the chain is tight. Pull on it right here. See? It‘s good and tight. No go ahead and start her up. Oh hey, when you want to use this, make sure it has oil in it by checking this right here.‖

Jonah had a look of apprehension on his face. The light weight surprised him. So did the ease of the choke and the light pull he had to use in order to start it.‖

The chainsaw grumbled with ease. Jonah‘s hand tingled from the rapid motion. He walked over to a tree to cut it down. Bobby Jo tapped him on the shoulder to hand him a pair of safety glasses. He then pointed to the lower part of the tree. ―You want to cut there, and at an angle. Form a V like this.‖

Bobby Jo waved his chainsaw in the air to show him how it was supposed to be done. Jonah nodded his head in understanding. The tree hit the ground with a hard thud. Jonah looked at Bobby Jo for approval. They removed any unwanted branches then cut the tree into travel size. There was more wood than the truck could handle. Bobby Jo and Jonah stacked up the extra in a pile by the gate for another person to have. They did this to two more trees then called it a day. Jonah walked the branches to a pile to be burned.

―Why did we cut more than we were taking?‖ Jonah asked.

―There are a few people in town who are too old and unable to do this. Tiokisan will

take the extra to them. This is part of the donation. The money is just used to plant more trees to replace the ones we cut down. That‘s what the lot is for.‖

They take care of each other here, Jonah thought.

―Yep, We take care of each other here.‖ Bobby Joe said.

Jonah lifted his eyebrows for a split second, surprised by Bobby Joe‘s last remark.

It was nearly nightfall when they reached home. Red and pink brushstrokes filled the sky. This was God‘s artwork, a gift to the people he loved. The truck pulled in by the barn. Jonah got out and opened the barn doors, waiting for Bobby Jo to back the truck in a little. The two of them piled the wood into a corner in the back. When they finished, Jonah looked at Bobby Jo, tired, but waiting to see what else he wanted him to do.

―Good work today. Let‘s go inside to see what Lynn has made for supper.‖ Bobby Jo said.

Jonah‘s muscles felt tired and sore, but still for the first time in a long time, he felt at peace inside. The two of them walked into the house. The smell of fried chicken, biscuits and corn filled the air. The light was dimmed a little. The table was set. There was butter, salt and pepper and napkins in a rack in the middle of the table. Two tall glasses of ice water sat in front of each plate. Both Jonah and Bobby Jo sat down.

―Wash up first,‖ Lynn said. She smiled at the two of them. ―You already know,‖ she said to Bobby Jo.

―I was just testing you. Besides everything smelled so good,‖ he smiled. He leaned in and kissed her on the cheek. She playfully whacked him on the behind.

When Jonah finished washing his hands, he went to his grandmother and placed a kiss on the other cheek. ―I‘m sorry about this morning.‖

―I forgave you the minute it happened. Thank you,‖ Lynn said. She reached up to tousle his hair; this time Jonah didn‘t move. He smiled at her then sat at the table ready to eat.

The Trip to Town

For the next couple weeks, Jonah stayed at his grandparents‘ house. He didn‘t stray far. Chores—that was a word he was becoming accustomed to. It was an everyday thing. Early rise and feed the horses. Then head over to make sure the garden is watered. They weren‘t too bad though. After the day he mouthed off, he knew they could be worse.

When the sun rises, the whole forest seemed to wake from its hibernation. A glittering reflection from the morning dew made the whole area feel like it was covered in gold…all fresh and new. Jonah watched this every morning. Little by little, he felt his anger subside from having to move to the small town. He still didn‘t understand why he had to move to Sisters. He had his suspicions, but none of them had been confirmed.

Bobby Joe came out from the barn. ―‖Want to go to town?‖ he asked.

Jonah looked back from the horses. ―Sure,‖ he said. They climbed into the truck, ―So what are we going for?‖

―Well, you haven‘t had a chance to see it. I thought we would go to Alive at Five. Oh, here. It‘s your allowance.‖ Bobby Joe handed Jonah a couple hundred dollars.

―Wow, this is my allowance? Cool,‖ Jonah said.

The drive to town was quiet after that. Jonah wasn‘t sure of what more to say about the allowance. It was more than he got at home. But then again, he did work harder here than he ever worked his whole life.

When the winding two-lane road passed Broken Top Mountain, Jonah felt his heart race a little more. In his mind he heard drums beating and songs from the past. He reached over to turn the radio on to block out the sounds.

Bobby Joe stopped him. ―That is part of our past you‘re feeling. Let yourself feel

it,‖ he said.

―I don‘t understand.‖

―You will. You need to learn to allow yourself to let nature in. There is a lot of our heritage that you‘re going to learn…soon,‖ Bobby Joe said.

Jonah sat there, uncomfortable and confused. The beating of the drums pounded harder and louder. Heart raced. Mind spun. Arms tingled. The song he heard was the song of the wolf. When they went around the bend, a howl from a wolf echoed in his mind. The whole thing faded. Relief rang through all his pores.

―I feel like I‘m going crazy,‖ Jonah said.

―I know. But you‘re not,‖ Bobby Joe answered.

―Care to share?‖ Jonah asked.

―When you‘re ready. Yes. Until then, no,‖ Bobby Joe said.

Frustration mounted inside his chest. ‟Damn it,‟ he thought. From the corner of his eyes, he saw Bobby Joe grin a little when he took a deep breath in to release some of the tension.

They arrived in town…finally. It felt like the longest ride he had since the trip on the bus. So much was left unsaid. Jonah didn‘t understand why, but he knew arguing with his grandfather wasn‘t going to get him anywhere.

The town was bustling, as much as it could for a small town. Cars lined Main Street in front of all the shops. It was the end of tourist season. All the shops had small tables set up in front with little trinkets and what not‘s on sale to entice passerby and others who were just strolling down the street. A horse and buggy walked in a slow pace down the side of the street with a couple. The sign on the back said, ―Just Married.‖ They were in their own

bubble of splendid joy. Jonah felt a little jealous of their pure joy. It was something he had never felt.

They pulled into Alive at Five. The whole place was buzzing with people eating lunch. Jonah stopped in his tracks when he saw her again—the girl with the long, beautiful hair and legs to match. For him, she made the whole place light up. She walked passed him and looked him in the eyes with a smile still on her face. His heart pounded so hard he thought for sure she was going to hear it.

A guy came up to him. ―Jonah, right?‖ the kid said.

―Yeah,‖ Jonah replied.

―It‘s me, Daniel.‖ the kid said.

―No way. Daniel. Man, long time no see. The last time I saw you was two days before we moved to the city. Remember? We put a fire cracker in old man Carter‘s mailbox because he yelled at us for the football landing in his yard,‖ Jonah said.

―Yep, man do you know how long I was grounded for that? I thought that was why you moved away.‖ Daniel said. ―So, I hear you moved back?‖

―Yeah. For now,‖ Jonah said.

―Well, why don‘t you join us. I‘m sure you‘ll remember everyone,‖ Daniel said.

―Ok, hey, let me tell my grandpa about it,‖ Jonah said. He felt a little weird saying that. Daniel nodded his head in understanding.

―He made you do chores, didn‘t he?‖ Daniel asked.

―Yeah, how‘d you know?‖ Jonah asked.

―One time, I was so mad at my parents, they sent me to live with him for a week. I never disrespected them again. I tell ya, I would rather be grounded then face the wrath that

is Bobby Joe, ever again,‖ he laughed.

Jonah walked toward Bobby Joe, who waved him on. ―Go. Have fun,‖ he said.

He walked over to the group of guys sitting at a table in the middle of the floor.

―Hey,‖ he said.

―You guys remember Jonah, right?‖ Daniel said. ―This is Dakota.‖

―Oh man, I remember you. Are you still as quiet as you were then?‖ Jonah asked.

―Uh, yeah,‖ Dakota replied.

―And this mad man here is Utah,‖ Daniel said,

―What‘s up man?‖ Jonah asked.

―You don‘t remember me, do you?‖ Utah asked.

―No, sorry, why?‖ Jonah asked.

―When we were in Mrs. Fines class and I got everyone in the whole class to play follow the leader,‖ Utah said.

―Oh yeah. I remember now,‖ Jonah said. ―I was grounded for a week because of that little stunt. Whatcha been up to, Man?‖

―Not much. I know a little magic now, wanna see some?‖ Utah asked.

―Sure,‖ Jonah said.

―No, c‘mon man, not this again,‖ Daniel said.

―What? The man wants to see my magic trick,‖ Utah replied. ―I‘ll be right back…mmmoowwhhhahahha,‖ Utah joked.

He disappeared behind the double doors to the kitchen. Jonah looked at Daniel, who shook his head. ―Just remember you asked for this,‖ he said.

Utah came out with a bowl full of water and a broom handle. Utah climbed on the

table and said, ―Attention everyone! I, the great U-dini am going to perform a levitation trick for all who are eating at this fine establishment. I need a volunteer. I believe this nice young man is willing to help.‖ He pointed at Jonah.

―With your help, I‘m going to make this bowl of water levitate.‖ Utah took the bowl of water and placed it flat on the ceiling. Then placed the broom handle under it in the center. ―If you will please, come up here and hold this,‖ Utah said.

Jonah climbed on the table and held the broom handle. Utah laughed.

―Ok, now whatever you do, don‘t let go until I say the magic words.‖ Utah could barely contain his laughter.

―One, two, three. Ok, let go of the broom handle.‖ Utah said.

He busted a gut when the bowl full of water fell on his head. Laughter broke out all over the restaurant. Jonah laughed with them. ―You punk ass,‖ Jonah said.

―Hey dude, welcome back man. It‘s been a long time,‖ Utah laughed. He slapped him a high five and a guy hug. ―Thanks for being a good sport,‖ he said.

―No problem. I know I have to keep on my toes around you now,‖ Jonah laughed.

He looked across the room at the table where the beauty that made his heart beat and smiled. She smiled back and turned away towards her friends and whispered something to them that made them all look at him. He blushed a little and turned back to the guys.

A waitress came to the table. ―What can I getcha?‖ she asked.

―Bacon cheese burger, fries, coke and a towel,‖ he said.

―Ok, hey we charge extra for towels,‖ she smiled. ―Kidding hon. I‘ll be right back with your towel.‖ She turned and walked away. After three steps she looked back and


―Better watch it, she‘s a cougar,‖ Utah joked.

―Shut up, man.‖ Jonah said. ―Besides, I‘m interested in someone else.‖ Jonah said.

He looked over at the table where the group of girls sat to see if the girl was looking at him. His heart raced; he still felt out of place with the people at the table. It was good to see them, but a lot of time had passed and all of them had changed. Like he did, they grew up.

Jonah finished his meal and went to leave. ―It‘s been good seeing you guys again, but if I don‘t get home at a decent time, well, you know.‖

―Jaja yah, we know,‖ Daniel said. He almost had a little irritation in his voice.

When Jonah went to leave, Utah yelled, ―Try to stay dry man.‖

Jonah just gave him a head nod and walked out the door. Bobby Joe was waiting outside with the truck. ―I thought for sure I was walking home,‖ he said.

―Naah, I had a few other errands to run. Ready?‖ he asked.

―Yeah. Thanks,‖ Jonah said. It was the first time since he arrived in Sisters he thought it wouldn‘t be as bad as he thought.

Jonah couldn‘t get his mind off of the girl he had now seen twice since he had been in Sisters. Who was she? Why didn‘t he ask? He wondered to himself.

‗Stupid, stupid stupid,‘ he thought.

―So, how was it seeing all your old friends again?‖ Bobby Joe asked.

―It was good. Man Dakota got huge,‖ Jonah said.

―Yeah, he‘s an enforcer of sorts around here. What about Daniel?‖ He asked.

―He‘s cool,‖ Jonah replied.

―The two of you couldn‘t be separated when you were kids. They are a good group of kids. I‘m sure you‘ll fit right in again,‖ Bobby Joe said.

―Well, we‘ll see. I‘m usually a loner at school. It‘s not that I don‘t have friends. I just didn‘t really fit in with them. I always feel…different,‖ Jonah said.

―You are different. Here things will be different for you. You‘ll see,‖ Bobby Joe said.

The rest of the drive home was quiet. Bobby Joe took a different route back to the cabin. He didn‘t hear the drums this time. For once, he felt a little normal. Whatever that meant. The image of the little girl popped in his head again just before they arrived home. The softest voice he had ever heard said, ―You will be her protector in the real world. I can only guide her from here.‖

―So much for normal,‖ Jonah thought.

The Feel of the Wolf

The sun setting glow could be seen just across the treetop of the horizon. Soft hues of oranges and reds covered the sky letting the whole world know it was time for the day to be over. School was about to start; to Jonah that meant wondering if he was going to fit in with his group of long-lost friends. For some reason, one he couldn‘t explain, he felt connected to them. Funny thing was, it wasn‘t just them he felt the connection with. He couldn‘t understand what was going on inside him. His sudden fast-beating heart made him feel like he just ran a marathon.

It‘s strange how the body is able to tell you what it needs and wants. Jonah was going through more changes inside then just the normal teenage growth spurts everyone experiences. For the most part he was sure he was going insane and wondered how he was going to hide it from his grandparents along with everyone else. He hated feeling different. It was the worst feeling in the world. Most of the time he walked around sure people could see just how different he was on the inside, even if he wasn‘t sure of just how different he was himself. That didn‘t matter though. Not when you‘re a kid who just wants to fit in.

He was drawn to the group in town a couple days ago. They made him feel like he belonged. Everyone needs that sense of belonging. What would they think if they knew he heard a voice in his head talk about being a protector? He didn‘t know and he wasn‘t about to find out. The move to Sisters was hard enough, he didn‘t want to become a pariah right out of the gate. He decided to keep the voice a secret.

A note was on the table along with an apple. ―We won‘t be home tonight. Can‘t explain now. Dinner is in the fridge. Love Lynn.‖

―Yees, I have the house all to myself,‖ Jonah said aloud.

He pulled the plate out of the fridge and put it in the microwave. The smell of fresh roast beef gave Jonah an odd feeling. Normally he couldn‘t smell anything in the microwave until the door was opened. He brushed it off figuring he was just hungry. The sun was little more than a glimmer in the background. Jonah loved this time of day. Everything was peaceful. It struck him that Bobby Joe was right, the place grew on him faster than he expected.

He went out to the porch and kicked back in one of the chairs to eat his dinner and watch the sun disappear into the night. ―Full moon,‖ he thought.

Peace. Serenity. Solace. All felt good. The anger he felt when he first arrived had been squashed by everything around him. He began to eat his roast and potatoes, thinking maybe his parent were right in sending him here. After a few bites, the sun set gracefully beyond the horizon, allowing the night sky to shine in all her glory. Jonah‘s heart began to beat rapid and steady. Arms and legs tingled like something was trying to get out of him. He dropped his plate on the ground when he heard a wolf‘s howl in the distance. ―Let yourself be free,‖ something said. He was almost sure it was what the wolf howl meant.

Jonah rushed inside the house and picked up the phone to call his mom. ―Come on, pick up, damn it,‖ he said into the phone.

The phone went to voicemail. Jonah felt the anger well up again. ―This is your son. Remember me? I think I‘m losing my mind,‖ he said into the phone then hung up.

His head began to spin and his stomach ached. With everything he had, he tried to regain control of his body. He leaned on the counter to stay standing tall, fighting the need to lean over and curl up in a ball on the floor. He didn‘t understand what was going on. All he knew was he didn‘t like not being in control of his body. His mind began to spin so fast,

he passed out on the floor and landed with a thud.

In his mind‘s eye he saw a pack of wolves, racing into the night. He could smell the breeze, oh such a sweet smell it was to him. Almost intoxicating was the best description he had. He watched in the distance as a white wolf drank from the lake. She was so beautiful. He didn‘t know how he knew she was a she; all he knew was he was sure of it. When he looked in the lake and saw the reflection of a black wolf with gold eyes he panicked. I‘m not a wolf. I‘m seriously losing my mind. Everything around him had a glow from some inner place. It looked like someone had taken a rainbow out of the sky and washed over all the forest, including the rocks.

His mind felt like it went in fast forward to a clearing. Drums beat in the background. A bonfire raged in the middle of the clearing with a group of men and woman danced around it to the beat of the drums. A tall man with leather-looking wrinkled skin and long silver hair stood next to a little girl with bright, blond hair. He took some ash from a bowl another man handed to him and brushed it on her forehead. Then waves of smoke from the bowl wafted in her direction.

Jonah went to back away from the scene when the wrinkled man looked in his direction and said, ―You are going to protect his child.‖

Jonah woke up on the floor, unaware of how long he had been out. When he stood up, his legs felt weak, but his body stopped tingling and the pain was gone. He looked at the clock on the wall. 1 am again. Another dream about a little girl. This time he was another creature entirely. There was something oddly familiar with the way it felt to be the wolf. He didn‘t understand it, and really, he didn‘t want to. Jonah walked up stairs and fell into bed. His body felt beaten and his mind weary. So many changes were going on inside him. He

was sure he was losing his mind.

―How long does it take to lose your mind? At what point do you finally say I‘m crazy and if you say you‘re crazy, does that make it true?‖ Jonah pondered while he fell asleep. This had happened too many times now for him to think he was normal. Once again whatever that was. He knew he wasn‘t in the group.

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