1701 c/o Katharine Hargreaves


The wolf came to Walter in a dream while Abigail slept beside him. It reminded him of Penny; except with a longer snout and more muscle. In the dream he was walking through the back field where he first found her body; except here she was still alive. Walter walked toward her with a hand outstretched but when he was close enough to see her eyes there was nothing there—just white holes—and when he put his hand on her soft head he realized it was covered in black oil.

When Walter woke up Abigail was holding his hand. It was trembling like when he got the sickness last winter—the cough that wouldn't stop and brought the blood up from his lungs. That's when Abigail made the treatment. He watched her walk out into the woods bordering their land but standing made him tired and rather than wait he went inside to sleep again. Stillness sank over him like liquid as he shivered beneath the heavy blankets and listened to the wind flap wetly outside. He never heard Penny bark.

Abigail was still sleeping when Walter rose from their bed. He felt for his boots and hat and slipped out into the night in his long-johns. She wouldn't understand. There was something funny about Abigail that way. She didn't say anything about Penny when he found her. Walter kept walking as he went over that morning.

He had woken to his wife boiling something awful over the fire. Walter recognized the smell immediately—burning skin. But when he asked Abigail said it was leaves and bark and other things from the forest. It tasted like crud but Walter almost immediately felt better—like a ghost had left his lungs.

That winter had been hard on the animals but Abigail insisted he keep the dog outside. To keep away wolves which made sense except the way she said it—like there was fur on her tongue.

Walter found Penny just outside the fence. Her body was torn apart in the middle; intestines spilling. The cut was clean. That's what bothered him. He remembers seeing first her red fur against snow, some loose tufts of it drifting. His girl. Oh lord is what he said as he came up to the body. There was a black stone inside, like she had swallowed it. Only it was placed right on top. Oh baby girl Walter wept as he scooped up her soft head in his arms. Penny's face was blank. Such a sweet thing dead. He used his bare hand to cover all the red he could see, he thought maybe he this way he could white out the bad. Walter looked down at the black stone he had grabbed and felt something hot move inside him. Walter thought of his girl and of his oiled gun he kept above the fire. He shook his head and started homeward.