The wolf’s howl wafted on the night air through Red’s open tower window. Alone on her cot, she stared at the raftered ceiling as the lupine call penetrated every cell of her person. Fingers tingling, she clenched them against her sides, trying to fight back the desire stirring within her.
Grandmother locked her in this room to keep her safe. The doctor dismissed Red’s condition as hysteria, accompanied by profuse sweating, fever, and tremors of the hands. The strange urges abated during the waning or waxing moons. But when the moon swelled into its new or full phases, the symptoms worsened. Red would thrash about so hard on the stone floor, bruises appeared on her body the next day.
Once, delirious, she’d run naked into the garden. Unable to force open the heavy wrought iron gate or scale the high stone wall, Red had tried to crash through a privet. Instead, branches scraped her skin, drawing blood. When she’d wiped her index finger across a smear and tasted the life force, Grandmother had slapped her across the face. Staggering back, Red had stared at her, unable to understand why the old woman couldn’t accept what had happened.
Neither of them – Grandmother or the doctor – assumed the wolf bite Red incurred was anything but. The wound healed with only a faint scar as a reminder. But it was the inner wound no one saw.