I have always been different - and before you ask, no, not in that I’m poor, clumsy, bland, bald, ugly, crippled, blind, broken, crazy and or any other typical stereotype followed by that statement. But I digress. When I was born I was not like the others, and again I’m not talking about my strange personality (although there is that too). After all what mother, wolf or not, wants to see her pup come out half of two forms? Imagine your pup coming out with legs on its head — my situation is almost that bad. Besides, my dama, she didn’t deserve to worry about me so much, all 7 plus feet of me. She worried too muchin my opinion. It wasn’t like I was going to die because I wasn’t born pretty. Being ugly had yet to kill me after all.
Growing up (we’ll say different) hadn’t always been easy. I was born from a litter of five, my siblings are all perfect, and I mean that in both the sentimental and physical sense. It was difficult being raised with normal pups, especially after I reached six feet because getting into the den became a real big moose fart. Even with all of the bumps, my siblings were mostly accepting of me and I loved them for that. Oh and I do mean mostly — Koda, one of my litter mates, called me a monster on a daily basis. At one point he’d told me it would help me get a backbone someday. After twenty years of hearing him call me that I still wanted to sit on him every time he said it. Granted he had a valid point, I was kind of monstrous unable to take a two-legged shape or a four-legged one, just some weird mesh between the two. I was capable of standing upright with powerful hocks and large clawed paws like my four form. I was also covered in a thick black fur all over my body just like any wolf, but my shoulders and arms were similar to what their two forms would have, and although I could walk on all fours I was much more comfortable standing upright. I got the worst cramp in my back when I crouched down for too long and it wasn’t like I could blend in even when I was down there so might as well be comfortable. My muzzle was like my four shape and I had pointed ears thatconstantly swiveled to catch sounds on top of my head. By my tenth winter I was already 5.5ft and the other pups found my presence daunting and downright uncomfortable. Just so it’s clear, I don’t begrudge them for being afraid of me. After all I told you I am kind of... abnormal, and pups tend to shy from what they don’t understand. It wasn’t so much their rejection that bothered me, but the pack’s collective dismissal of me. In my entire life living here I’ve never been accepted by the pack no matter how hard I word for it. I’d tried for so many years to prove my worth to them, going above and beyond what any other wolf would have done. Dama had always told me that I should act like every other wolf and earn my place in the pack, so I had, or I guess I had tried. No amount of volunteering for skunk clean up, hunting (squirrels because I am a terrible hunter), cleaning, or den making had changed their perception of my outward appearance. I was too different in their eyes and it was for the best if I was just ignored. So, that’s how I endedup here, standing before my weeping dama as she clutchedher naked chest. Her face was flushed and her black hair was swaying in long waves around her as she sniffled. I really feltlike shit watching her cry because of me, but I’m sure this is for the best. I neededto make my own way in the world and find my own pack that would accept me for who I am - and I was certain there is one out there.
“Dama, don’t cry. I will be ok.” I rumbledin my deep growling voice, tryingto make it as soft as possible. It wasn’t much but I tried for her.
“Ira, my pup, youdon’t have to leave. The pack doesn’t hate you!” She beggedme with her wide tear-filledbrown eyes. I feltmy ears lay flat against my skull, her pitiful noises breaking my young weak heart. Hold it together Ira! Don’t you dare cave under those big doe eyes of hers, she knows they are your greatest weakness.
“Dama, I’m twenty. It’s time for me to find my own way.” I said, leaning down and pushing my nose into her cheek hoping it would give her even a small sort of comfort.
Behind her I saw my siblings, Corra, Biri, Lemira, Koda and Dega all watched with open amusement. Koda watched with the most amusement, his green eyes sparkling with the same deviousness I expected of him. “Don’t worry Dama he will scare off any predators… and prey before he gets far.” Corra snorted out a laugh while Koda grinned impishly.
Dama sighed as she wiped her red-rimmed eyes. “Don’t mind your siblings you know they love you as much as I do. We all want what’s best for you, Ira. I just worry because your so… gentle,” she said with a soft watery smile.
Yeah, gentle, what a nice way to put it. What she really meant was that I was a big scaredy squirrel, and no I was not going to argue with her on that, she was right. Once I ran into a young bear when I was about sixteen winters and I’d had more than a mild panic attack running from the creature. See what makes the story so embarrassing is that I was twice the size of the poor bear and I scared the life out of the creature when I ran into a tree and caused the think to fall over. That was a story Koda never let me forget...ever. Still, it didn’t matter I wasn’t going to be afraid to do this.
“Don’t fret so much, dama. I can take care of myself.” Liar, liar, furs on fire.
She huggedme, her warm arms wrapping around my waist in a soft grasp. “You will always be my favorite.” She whisperedinto my fur before she pulledback.
I grinned stupidly, hiding my pain behind the funny expression. I lookedpast my mother to my siblings who wereall smiling warmly at me, except for Dega whose face was set into a hard expression. It was a look I’d become used to over the years from him, but I’d hoped today would be a little different. I guess not. I prayeddeep in my heart that this wasn’t the last time I wouldsee them. Turning I walkedinto the woods and towards my new life with the same goofy smile on my face.
Two weeks later
Why had I been smiling? I’m such an idiot, smiling about walking into the woods all by myself. I hadn’t realized how much I really relied on my pack. It figures I learnedmy lesson this way, in the middle of nowhere. Growling I pulleda sharp burr from my tail, and another, and a million more. There was so many I couldn’t reach them all matted into my butt fur. Oh mother green nature, I was a burr ass. Thank every living creature that Koda was not here to see my complete How did I think this was smart?
More like illogical.
I will just prance off into the woods, all 7.2ft of me and find a mythical pack that will look at me and see I’m a perfect fit for them. Was I insane? Growling again I tried to reach for more of the debris on my butt with very little success. This was what I got after finding a denbig enough for my huge ass only to get covered in so many forest friends I couldn’t move without being poked. Two week of terrible life choices could really make me appreciate the simple tolerance my pack had given me, especially when they pulled the burrs out of my butt fur. Oh, what I would give for someone to pull them out right now. Sitting down on my warm makeshift nest of leaves I sighedpitifully at my situation. Ok, it wasn’t so bad, I had eaten well enough - rabbits, squirrels, and berries - I’d even found some old dens from absentwolves. Alas I had not caught a scent or sight of any wolves nearby, which was just peachy. “No one said it would be easy!” Talking to myself out loud seemed to help. “I will find a pack, make them fall head over heels in love with me, and then I…” I paused. Well, I guess I didn’t really know what after I found a pack that would take me in. Getting them to fall in love with me would be a hard enough feat in itself. Obviously I wasn’t the desired mythical creature walking out of the woods, I didn’t have a horn or goat hooves. “OK!” Standing I wagged my tail a little to shake off the loose leaves. “This isn’t hard!” Picking a direction I startedoff with a new sense of determination. I was going to find a new pack! Nothing was going to stand in my way, not even myself! I can do this and I was going to.
Sadly this burst of purpose lasted till about noon, at around that time I beganto talk myself through the five stages of grieving.
Stage 1. Denial. “I am walking towards nothing, there are no other packs out there that will take in a big old fluffy monster like me.”
Stage 2. Anger.“Stupid! I am the dumbest wolf mutant - probably the only one - out there! What did I think I’d find? Packs of other wolves just leaking out of the trees? I hadn’t seen another pack in my entire life! UGGGHH!!” I then proceededto claw at a tree till I felt somewhatbetter. P.S Mr. Oak tree, I am very sorry for mutilating you.
Stage 3. Bargaining. “Dear Mother Nature, would you be so kind as to not shatter my pride when I have to return to my old pack? Or better yet just throw me a new one that will love me? I’ll give you anything? Also I think you owe me a favor or two after the whole fucking me up at birth thing. Just saying.” Obviously, the bitch didn’t listen and I was just talking to myself….again.
Stage 4. Depression. “Why me? Did I do something so heinous? I’m doomed to only be loved by my birth family. How will I ever go on in the world alone and broken?” At this point I proceeded to get snot all over my black fur and make my blue eyes bloodshot. Thankfully, it’s not in my nature to be depressed so it was a short stage, but still I had a lot of boogers crusting up my fur afterwards.
Stage 5. Acceptance. “It’s ok. I’ll live alone of the rest of my life. I’m ok being a hermit. No one to bitch about me not fitting into the den, no more having to eat the same amount as all the other smaller wolves. I would do well on my own.”
That's where I ended up, in the realm of acceptance. Not like I can change anything about it. I mused, cringing when I looked at my crusty snot-covered fur. It was then I realized as I looked around I’d only walked about five miles and it’s been more than three hours. Basically, if I was in a race with a tortoise, it would not only beat me but be able to do the whole five miles again and still get there before me. Now that was something to cry about. Sighing dejectedly I marched on and almost cried again when I passed a very familiar scratched up oak tree. Moose farts.
Finally, at around dusk, I came across a stream. I’d thankfully only walked in circles for half the day so I was going to count that as a win and leave it in the past. The water from the stream gurgled in a soft motion as I walked into its depths, washing off today's nasty experience and sadly the stench. “I smell like a mistake, a rotten oversized mistake.” I griped as I splashed water onto my fur, dirt and sweat falling off in a depressing cascade. Hopefully I didn’t kill too many fish with my toxic waste. Then again I could eat them for dinner— The sounds of low yips and little growls made me stop my ministrations, my head cocking to the side as my ears sprang forward. I recognized that sound, but disbelief made me second-guess myself. I was proven right when two small grey pups wandered out from the woods, nipping and rolling as they played.
Shocked I just stare at them with my muzzle hanging open and eyes wide. I have been looking for a pack for over two weeks now and the first sign of any of them is two little pups. It took them a moment before they noticed me, but when they did their shocked expressions were hilarious. Their little jaws hung open while their eyes widened to reveal pure black orbs of panic. When they started to scream in pitiful wails I began to worry. This was the first chance at finding a pack I’d had and if they thought I had harmed their babies I would be royally screwed.
“Shhh, you’re ok, I’m not going to hurt you.” I lifted my hands in a harmless gesture. This only seemed to frighten them even worse. They yelped in terror before turning back to the woods and running like their lives depended on it. Seeing my only chance at finding a new pack run back into the woods I rose quickly from the stream, dropped to all fours and took chase.
“Wait please!” I shouted after them, my voice sounding menacing when I shouted. I knew it wasn’t helping, but I was getting desperate as I chased them through the underbrush the small branches digging into my skin like needles as I ran frantically after them. I watched as their little furry tails disappeared into the nearest bush and growled in frustration. How would I find them again? What if I lost my only chance?
The blunt force that hit me at full speed to my side knocked the breath right out of me as I rolled to the side and hit a tree with a sharp force. My fangs clanged together plainfully in my head while my arms and legs became a tangled mess together. Whining in pain, I clutched my abdomen as I try to take in a breath. What had hit me? I noticed loud growls emitted from all around me as my pain became less mind numbing. I cracked my eyes open to see massive paws not far from my face. Tracking up I saw the most beautiful wolf in my entire life baring his massive white fangs down at me. Everything faded as I stared up into his angry black eyes. He was by far the most beautiful creature I had ever seen, with the appearance of soot blotches all over his body and black ears and black tipped tail. Slowly his lips relaxed and began to cover his fangs, curiosity replacing his rage. Granted, I could understand why he might not be so happy with me at the moment. It probably hadn’t look good chasing the pups through the woods growling ‘wait’ over and over again. Looking over his shoulder I realized that he was not alone, there were five other wolves staring at me with anger and disgust and I knew for sure that it was disgust because I’d seen that look so many times in my life before.
“I…” take a deep breath, “wasn’t trying to hurt them.” I gasped a little from my tender ribs, he’d really hit me hard. “I just didn’t want to lose the only chance at finding a pack.”
He stopped growling completely and watched me with calm dark orbs as his pack members kept a defensive stance around us. “How do I know you weren’t just caught?” His deep growling voice was similar to mine, In four form, vocal cords weren’t as strong and voices tended to be deeper, huskier, like this beautiful wolf in front of me. His voice captivated me, my heart fluttered pathetically in my chest while my tail tried to wag against the forest floor. I really liked this wolf, he’s so pretty, so pretty. Shit! Focus Ira, stop staring at the pretty alpha!
“What are you?” He rumbled, completely trumping the last question.
Had to ask the most awkward questions didn’t he? “I’m a wolf, but I was born kind of stuck in between. I wasn’t trying to hurt them, I was looking for a new pack and then I saw them and I haven’t seen another wolf in weeks. Anyways I’m sorry that I scared them, I didn’t mean to...scare them.” I pandered off, a sudden realization sticking a knife into my young budding hopes. What was I doing? A wolf like this would only see what everyone else saw: Broken, mistake. I looked down away from the wolf's strong gaze. Looking into those strong eyes and telling this beautiful creature I was a mistake was a big slap of reality. What had I been thinking going on my own to find a new pack? Granted, my siblings would do the same thing, but I didn’t have the luxury of being normal.
There was a distinct pause before his deep voice responded. “You are different.” The ash wolf said with what seemed like surprise.
I glanced up at him and saw his black eyes looking all over my form caressing every part of me before landing back on my face. I leaned up, still clutching my ribs and used the tree for support against my back. We continued to stare at each other for some time, him trying to gauge how big a threat I was, and me trying to hold in my hopes. I would do anything to have a wolf like this one look at me like I wasn’t something that shouldn’t exist. I watched as he looked over his shoulder quickly to the pups who were shivering behind one of the wolf’s legs, their eyes still wide with fear, but otherwise unharmed. “Come,” was all he said as he turned his back to me and walked past the other wolves. One tan she wolf snarled as she approached the male, her hackles rising.
“Zora, he tried to kill the pups!” She snarled. “You can’t let it near the pack.”
He barked at her, his black ears pinning as he reprimanded her. “Naga, if a creature that size had intended harm it would have easily caused it to the pups. Remember who is your alpha before you speak freely again.”
“I only want to protect the pack.” She growled but backed off from the male wolf.
“Do not question my decisions, Naga.” He looked over his shoulder at me as I stared at the the two of them. Did he really mean what I think he meant? Was he giving me a chance? My breaths came in quick gulps as I watched their leader. “Come,” was all he said as he and the group started back into the woods.
With a joyful yip I got up and winced when I remembered I had barrel-rolled into a huge oak tree. Thankfully I was pretty tough, only benefit to being the way I was. Scrambling after them I made sure to keep them in my sights but a good distance between them.
As I watched the alpha walk away I made myself a promise. No matter what I would do whatever I had to do - I would make sure the alpha wouldn’t regret his decision to give me this chance.