My Favourite Story
“Tell me a story, Grandma”, said the little girl, jumping excitedly in to her bed. She cherished the moments she had with her grandmother, a warm, kindhearted lady with long, silver hair and tiny little glasses. The girl bounced on her bed while she waited for the elderly relative to sit down next to her and tuck her in.
“What story would you like to hear this time?”
“The girl! The girl and and and the family. She lost her family,” the young lady was exhausted from all of her bouncing.
“Really? You don't want to hear anything new?” the Grandmother teased.
“No! It's my favourite story!”
“Alright dear, settle down.” The girl snugged herself further in to her covers and hugged her bear closely as she listened intently for her grandmother to begin the story.
As you said, this is the story of a girl who lost her family. This was a long time ago, you see, and they didn't have a lot of the things we do, like heat and air conditioning.
I can't even imagine that, Grandma.
I know dear, we are very fortunate. Anyway, this happened on a cold winter's night, similar to our night. This little girl-
Yes, Rania. Her family was killed. It was a different time back then. Some bad men- they came and they killed her family while she cowered under her bed.
I don't like this part of the story, Grandma.
I know dear, but it's over. Rania was fortunate. She survived the night. But she was all alone after that. You see, her family had been poor and could only afford a tiny house on the outskirts of town. She was far away from anybody. She had no one else. She would need to fend for herself.
Luckily Rania was a resourceful girl. She could gather a lot of food on her own and occasionally a villager would take pity on her when she managed to make her way in to town. As the seasons passed and she grew, she learned how to sew her clothing and adjust it for her growing body. She was young when this happened,
Exactly, so she grew fast. At first, she was quite sad. She'd lost her mother and father and brother and grandparents even! Her whole life was shook up.
They all lived together?
Yes, dear, that's all they could do. They couldn't afford other properties. So after they died, Rania was quite sad. Sometimes she would run through the woods near her house, run for miles, until she reached the edge of a cliff. And sometimes.... well sometimes she would think that maybe she should meet her parents in the afterlife.
On one such evening, crying on the cliff's edge, she heard a rustling sound behind her coming from the woods. She was scared. She was wondering if this was God's way of telling her she should jump, that he wanted her in Heaven.
I think He was trying to send her a different message.
I do too, dear. And maybe so did she. Because, even with her heart racing and her legs trembling, she got up and slowly walked towards the noise.
That's when she spotted him. A wolf. A big one, at that. She was still quite small then and the wolf seemed to tower above her. His eyes were sharp and his silver fur was illuminated under the moonlight. He stood there and watched the girl, not moving. Rania wasn't sure what to do. What would you do if you saw such a huge beast and you were all alone?
I'd feel very scared.
So would I. So was she. But she was also courageous, our young Rania, and curious. She found the wolf to be quite breathtaking. And also, I think, a little lonely. Maybe she felt some of herself in that wolf. He was without a pack, her without a family.
“Did you lose your family too?” she spoke. Barely a sound came out as she spoke these words. She had not spoken in months, and it was hard for her. But she tried. Her voice was so meek that perhaps you and I couldn't have heard it from the same distance, but wolves, well, their hearing is on a whole other level! She continued to walk slowly towards him. She reached her hand out as she approached, almost to let him know her intentions. Would he attack? Would he let her touch him? No, instead, he walked away slowly. Rania was alone again.
But as we both know, that was not the last she would see of the wolf. As the seasons continued to change and the years went by, she would occasionally glimpse him through the trees. He almost seemed to be watching over her, so she began to think of him as her guardian. She named him Lykos and would begin to wave and smile when she saw him. He would usually return the greeting by walking away. She found herself going to the cliff less and less as the years went on, but she would still go in to the woods to see him. As she got older, she started taking odd jobs from the villagers to take care of herself better. They would usually give her goods in exchange for her work. When she got meat, she would usually share it with her wolf friend. He still wouldn't approach her though, so she'd leave it on a stone in the forest and back away. When he felt safe, he would go an eat it.
He was shy, wasn't he, Grandma?
I guess you could say he was, dear. But even a shy wolf can be worn down as is what happened a few years after their first meeting. Rania had gone to the cliff again. While no longer did she want to jump, she did love the scenery below. The rustling noises came, not scary anymore, but comforting. Rania smiled to herself, knowing her guardian was watching her. A surprise came though, when she turned ad found him not two feet away. This was the closest she had ever been to Lykos. He stood there, staring at her the same way he always did. She reached out to him. Would he accept her affection.
Yes, that's right. Rania's hand touched his furry head. She didn't move for a moment, confirming it was alright, and then she pet him. He seemed to enjoy it and so did she. She'd made a friend.
From that day, Rania and Lykos got closer. She would pet him and he would visit her at her home regularly. Sometimes he would sit with her while she washed her clothes, or watch over her as she slept. While they couldn't speak to one another in a common language, they formed a special bond. They were like a new family, a new pack. They cared for each other and helped each other. It was a special relationship.
As the years went by and Rania grew older, Lykos also grew older. Sadly, because he was a wolf, his life would not last as long. Rania could already begin to see signs of age in him. He walked with a limp and he didn't have the energy he used to. He would pant a lot and have more trouble digesting some of his food. He slept a lot more. Rania was very sad, but tried to cherish their remaining time together.
How long had it been since they met, Grandma?
Oh a long time, dear. Probably about 6 or 7 years.
Wow, that's a long time.
It is, child. Rania had known Lykos for most of her life at this point! Lykos was quote old in wolf years and he had spent it caring for Rania. But, you see, Rania was also blossoming in to a lovely young woman by this time. Some of the village men had begun to take notice when she would come to town.
But she was still very young, Grandma!
Indeed, she was. But you see, women used to be married much younger back then. It was a different time. So these young men were taking notice when eventually one managed to work his way in to her life. He was fairly well to do and respectable in the town. Normally he would have taken a more affluent bride, but Rania's beauty was not something to be ignored. So he perused her relentlessly, offering her everything he and his family had to their established name. He was also a rather charming fellow and Rania felt herself longing for companionship. They two of them began their courtship and spent a lot of time together. Sometimes at his house, sometimes at hers. And when they would spend time at her house, Lykos would keep his distance and watch from the forest.
Was he sad?
I don't know. Maybe he was. Rania was growing up and moving on without him. But she still always made time for her wolf friend. She wouldn't abandon him, especially when he probably didn't have much longer to live.
Lykos, fortunately, did manage to hang on for a while longer. A year, maybe two. We don't know exactly. Rania had been married to this young man and had moved in to his home. But still she would not forget Lykos. She would come and visit him every few days and bring him some of the best chunks of meat money could buy. She would sit with him and pet him. Her husband grew jealous. He was jealous of this special bond she had with this wolf. He was jealous that a few times a week he would lose his wife to this creature of the wild. Rania tried to explain to him.
“He's old. He's not long for this world anyway. Do not be so jealous!” But he did not accept this. Being a man used to getting what he wanted, he hired hunters one night to find Lykos. And to kill him.
Rania awoke on that dreadful night. The night the hunters had come to the house to receive a portion of their payment upfront. They were going to kill the wolf soon. Her husband thought she was sleeping, but she head every word. She grabbed one thing, as silently as she could, before slipping out of the window. Once outside, she ran with all of her might on that cold evening under the moon. She ran to the forest as fast as she could.
She found Lykos. He did not look well. His age was catching up to him more and more, it was a miracle he had lived this long. She held him. She held him in her arms and cried and cried. She cried more than she ever had before. This was her friend, her love. And one way or another, he would die soon. But she wanted him to go out with dignity and peace. She would not let them kill him. He laid on the ground, his breathing was off. She pet him on the head, on the body.
“I love you,” she said. He raised his head. It was all he could muster with his remaining strength but it was enough. She understood.
She heard the footsteps, far but near. They would get here soon. She had to stop them. She ran towards the noise. There was only one hunter.
“Where are the others,” she asked. He didn't answer. They had probably split up to cover more ground.
“Where are they?!” she screamed. That was all it took for the others to come running back. There were three in total. She didn't hear their words, didn't want to hear their words. She grabbed a stone and threw it as hard as she could! It hit the first man in the head and he fell over, blood dripping from his forehead. He was at least unconscious. The other two rushed towards her she didn't hesitate. She stabbed one of the men. While she did that, she felt her own back get warm. Very very warm. She screamed as the burning sensation increased, and she leapt towards the last man and stabbed him too. She knew where to hit, she had hunted for her own food when she was younger. It was done. The deed was done.
Sadly, Rania had suffered a similar fate. One of the hunters had hurt her too. With her energy gone, all she could do was crawl back to her friend, to her Lykos. Every foot she crawled, she lost more and more of her life. But she would make it. She would be with Lykos.
When she reached him, he had already passed. He was uninjured, his life had just been drained away by time. At least he could die peacefully. She curled up with him and soon joined him in the afterlife where they were together forever in Heaven.
“That was a sad story, Grandma. But I liked it because...”
“Because they were happy together, even in Heaven. Do you think they were happy, Grandma?”
“Very much so. I think they're up there right now, laughing and running through the woods together.”
“Well then maybe it was a happy story.”
“I agree, kiddo. I think this was truly a happy story.”
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