By Tayler Buchannan
A Note from the Author:
I was asked where a piece like mine would fit within an issue that is mainly composed of very different stories examining the way we, as authors, write and also why we do so. The answer is that I wasn’t 100% sure at first, until I realized why I wrote it. To me, this story is less of a dark fairy-tale and more of an examination of the human mind and its potential to sometimes not mold with society’s expectations, and instead develop its own—often twisted—reality. The fears and desires Nora feels are often ones that many other people feel, but do not share. So while this story is most likely a different vibe than all the others, I believe it is still a look at the structure and demands of society, while also keeping true to the tone and style of writing that I enjoy the most.
Wednesday March 28th, 1962
My husband does not think I am a fit mother, this I am certain of. It has been three weeks and he has not let me hold my daughter since that first day she came into the world. Instead, I am forced to stay in this attic, my only company being this pen and paper for which I am writing this. Perhaps it is for the best, or so I am told. You see, my husband believes me to be ill. Very ill indeed. Since the birth, I have been told to stay on bed rest. At first this was to last a few days, but my mood has not since improved, nor do I think it will anytime soon. David is quite right indeed, I was not blessed with the natural gift of motherhood. I deserve this punishment.
Tuesday April 3rd, 1962
Days have continued to pass and as of now, I can hear my daughter wailing from her nursery. I hope the nurse goes to her soon, the sound, that terrible high-pitched cry is enough to drive any sane woman insane. And I am no sane woman. How awful is that? A mother, horrified and appalled by her daughter’s cry. I am still very, very ill. David came to visit me today, he has been travelling as of late. I feel he does not quite look at me the same way now that he knows how I really am. Still, he chose to look past my incompetence’s and presented the gift of more paper, for which I am grateful. I shall use the new paper to draw, which I have not done in months since we have moved to this house. Sad as I was at first, since the house is located far away from any civilization, I must admit the view from the attic is beautiful. Vast green hills surround the premises and off into the distance you can see the bottom of the mountains until the peaks disappear in the sky. Quite an inspiring site for an artist like myself. I think I shall attempt to draw now.
Tuesday April 10th, 1962
I cannot stand to be in this room for one more second. Lately I’ve been hearing cries, longing cries. Not the sounds of a child, but of an animal. Most likely wolves. It haunts my dreams and does not cease when I wake. The doctor came today, he has brought more pills that I am to take twice daily. In my mind I thought I ought to share the noises I’ve been hearing, but shame stopped me from doing so. It is not ladylike to hear noises, nor does it bode well for my recovery either. Still the noises continue, all day and night their cries ring in my ears. Calling to me. I wish to speak with David about this, but I fear he will keep me up here forever if I do. Then I will never see the baby.
Thursday 12th, 1962
I’ve taken to drawing the wolves. I am sure that is what the noises are now. A pack of them, lurking somewhere outside where I cannot see. So I draw them. Small wolves, large wolves, females, males. They have absorbed my mind. Such beauty in these creatures, lean and graceful yet by nature vicious. I wish to see just one, one to justify that this is truly what I’ve been hearing. I hide my drawings from David when he visits. It is hard, I have quite the collection in just these past few days. God, I wish I could just see one. To leave this room and walk outside and really see one. To watch it run, how freeing that must feel. It’s late tonight but I cannot sleep. I have stayed up the past two nights dreaming of running with the wolves. The first thing I’ll do when the doctors declare that I am no longer ill is step outside and find them.
Friday April 13th, 1962
Something strange is happening to me. Today I felt fur on my face. I felt it! It was real. For a second my human nose turned into the long and elegant snout of a wolf. My ears elongated, my nails became sharp claws, and oh I swear it’s the truth! It has to be, for something to feel so lifelike, so, so right, it cannot be anything other than the truth. But who can I tell…surely not the doctors. No, no they’d lock me away in an asylum. Oh how I just want to claw away at these walls, my family is waiting for me. I know it! That is why they cry. For me. I can hear them howling now, I shall howl back. Patience loves, I shall be free soon.
David walks into the house and can hear howling coming from Nora in the attic. It’s the fifth night in a row she’s been making this ruckus. The doctors have tried every medication in the book but nothing seems to be taking. Unfortunately, he is running out of options and perhaps Dr. Claremont was correct, a facility may just be the best place for his wife. He continues to walk down the hall to the nursery where his beautiful girl lays peacefully asleep. How sad it will be for her, having a mother that cannot show love properly but perhaps for the best. An absent mother is a better option that a deranged one.
Painful hunger is all Nora felt as she paced around the small attic almost fully transformed. Course grey fur has sprouted from every pore on her body and her hands and feet have turned into paws. It has been what she had been waiting the entire week for. First the snout would not leave her face no matter how hard she tried to will it away. She knew it was only a matter of days before the rest of her body followed suit. She may be an unfit wife and mother to humans, but to the animals she knew she would be great. The hunger though, how painful it was. No wonder the wolves hunted as often as they did, it was almost unbearable. She needed to eat and soon. Patiently Nora sat, waiting the rest of the night for her husband to leave when morning came. Then it was time for her to leave the last remaining human attachments that she had.
What David comes home to find after his day at the office is not for the faint of heart. Proceeding slowly to the door that was left wide open, he cautiously enters the house. The inside, eerily silent, has been torn upside down. Pillows have been torn open and the walls have been clawed at with what looks like sharp nails, but that is not what stops his heart. Blood, vibrant and fresh mars the walls and the floor. He drops his suitcase and runs down the hall following that path of blood leading to the nursery. He enters and buckles. It has been demolished, the crib is cracked and broken and the walls are scratched to pieces. And the blood, the blood is everywhere but no sign of his daughter or the nurse. Crawling backwards he shouts for the nurse, for his wife, for anyone. Dazed he continues to the kitchen, eager to call to the police. Instead he faints because there, on the floor, is his darling wife fast asleep. Soaked in that same vibrant blood that mats her blonde hair and stains her nightgown. And there, cradled in her arms, is the half-eaten corpse of his beautiful baby girl.