I sit in the center of a quaint town square with my ten year old Grandson sitting on my lap. He looks up at me and states, “I would be mighty grateful if you would tell me the story of the great meeting.”
My Grandson smiles wildly, with gratitude piercing out of bright blue eyes that could once have been in my mirror. The boy hops off my lap and takes a seat directly in front of me. I clear my throat and call out, “Gather round one and all. Those who’ve heard the tale, and those who have never heard. Those who believe, and those who doubt. All are welcome to the telling of how the Humans met the Were-Humans, and the Mutt who was stuck in between.”
As I do after every story announcement: I sit quietly and wait while many locals, and virtually every tourist, finds a place to sit while they listen to this story.
Once the square is filled with a seated audience; I grin and recall a time when more than just my eyes resembled my Grandson, “I’m the youngest of three boys. This story takes place when I was a mere twelve years old." I explain to them, "My oldest brother, Jed, was twenty two, and our middle brother, Warrick, was about to turn eighteen. It was the summer after our parents died, and Jed was still getting use to being our caretaker. The last thing he wanted was more responsibility, but it was Jed who caught the girl stealing clothes off our line.”
“Hey!” He yelled out the window.
I guess he surprised her, because she turned around and ran so fast into a sheet that she plucked it clean off the line, and tangled herself up something fierce.”
Jed approached the girl carefully. She looked up at him and huffed. Jed couldn’t help but laugh. Then he squatted down and said, “You mind tellin’ me why you’re stealin’ clothes from my brother?”
The young girl thought for a bit. “I need to be covered, and have no clothes of my own.” she answered.
Jed looked at her peculiarly and inquired, “Why would a girl your age, be without any clothes?”
I’m guessing she didn’t know how to answer that, because she remained quiet while staring up at him blankly.
Jed followed up with another question, “Why would you steal a boy’s clothes instead of a girl’s clothes?”
The question appeared to peak the girl’s interest. She struggled to sit up, and then looked in Jed’s eyes and asked, “What are girl’s clothes?”
Jed pointed to a dress on a neighbor’s line and explained, “That is a dress, and it is what a pretty young girl like you is supposed to wear.”
The girl made Jed laugh when she looked at the dress, then back at the sheet tangled around her, and finally at him. “I guess I can wear this, but it’s not very comfortable.” she replied.
Jed helped her up and told her, “These clothes are still drying, let’s go see if Riley has an outfit he can give you.”
I was in the kitchen when they came in, trying to pretend like I hadn’t been watching everything through the window. Jed walked her to the living room, and sat her on the couch. He turned to me and asked, “Can you find her an outfit?”
I slipped off to my room and came back with a blue t-shirt and a warn pair of jeans, that fit her nicely, and a pair of black tennis shoes, that turned out to be too small for her. Jed had to go into the stored clothes and get an old green pair of tennis shoes that Warrick had outgrown, but I was yet to fit into.
I wanted to tease her about having such huge feet, but Jed was already staring at me as if he knew what I was thinking, and I didn’t want to make him angry, so instead I asked her, “What’s your name?”
She looked at me in a puzzled way.
“What do people call you?” Jed clarified, “Like my name is Jed, and this is my little brother Riley.”
“We have another brother named Warrick, but he’s not here right now.” I added.
She thought for a moment before replying, “Most of my family calls me Mutt, or Half Breed. My Mother calls me Precious One, and my Father calls me Unwanted.”
Jed shook his head and told her, “None of these will do.”
“Then you can give me a name to be called.” She announced.
I laughed and informed her, “That’s a job that would be perfect for Warrick if he was here.”
I could see by the way she moved her eyes around that she didn’t understand why naming her would be a job for Warrick, and not us, but before she could ask any more questions a wolf howled in the distance. She immediately jumped up and declared, “My family is waiting, I have to go now.”
She ran out the door without another word, wearing shoes she never tied, and paying the price as she stumbled away as quickly as she could. Once she hit the tree line she disappeared.
As she crossed the yard Jed yelled out, “Don’t be a stranger, come and visit whenever you want.” Since she didn’t respond he wasn’t sure if she heard him or not. He shrugged his shoulders and told me, “That is one strange girl, yet I can’t help but want to be there for her.”