A canopy of glittering stars filled the sky above her, stillness wrapping around her like a comforting quilt. Taking in a deep breath, the cool night air filling her lungs, Elise preferred the forest over the stifling heat and bright glare where she came from.
Beneath her feet, the forest floor was spongy and the aroma of night-blooming jasmine wafted toward her. Elise pivoted slowly, surveying her surroundings. The path was identical in either direction, the trees towering above her. She should be frightened, alone in a strange place, but she wasn’t.
A slight breeze caught the skirt of the silky white gown she wore, rustling leaves on the path. Elise instinctively followed the small whirlwind of leaves. The air became cooler the further down the path, and she wanted to turn back but couldn’t, her feet unwilling to move in any other direction. She took another step and a tall creature, with a man’s body and the head of a wolf stepped into her path.
Elise screamed, stepping backward so quickly she nearly fell over a large tree root. The wolf-like creature reached out, his long fingers, bony and hair covered, and grabbed her arm, thick pointed nails digging into her skin.
Attempting to tug her arm from his grasp, Elise demanded, “Who are you?”
“You do not recognize me?” His voice was deep, resonant, soothing.
Elise stared at him before she answered. His face was covered in soft tawny fur, white fur covering his chest. He was wearing a brown waistcoat and riding pants, black boots on his feet. There was something comforting about him.
She answered, “I think I should, but I cannot remember.”
“I am Lupin.”
“I… I know that name.”
He smiled, his teeth human-like except for the large pointed canines. “We’re friends. You summoned me.”
“I did? Why would I do that?”
“Because you have a decision to make.”
His golden eyes glowed with warmth, “You must choose which direction you wish to travel. Do you continue the way you’re going or turn around?”
“Why do I have to choose?”
“All creatures must choose when the time is right. The question is whether this is your time.”
“I want to continue the way I was going.”
“Then I will accompany you.”
The tall wolf-man and the golden-haired young beauty walked together down the path. With each step, Elise became paler, her skin taking on a blue tinge, her step slowing. Her strength failing, she collapsed into Lupin’s arms.
Sinking to the ground, he cradled Elise in his arms, whispering, “Now before it is too late, will you let me take you the other way?”
Barely conscious, Elise nodded, “Yes.”
Lupin swiftly carried her in the opposite direction. She began to regain consciousness, her skin turning warm and pink. She opened her eyes to find him watching her.
“Are you feeling better?” She nodded. “Then I will put you down.”
“You made your choice. I must leave you now.”
“Do not worry, I will always be with you.”
Elise reached for Lupin as everything faded.
“I don’t understand, the only thing she’s said in days was this stupid toy’s name.”
“You brought it to her. That’s what matters, she’s getting better.”
Elise slowly opened her eyes, finding her father leaning over the bed. He smiled, “Young lady you gave us a scare, but you’re going to be fine.”
Elise felt soft fur against her arm. Her favorite toy, a wolf in riding clothes was tucked next to her. She touched his snout, whispering, “Thanks.”
Flash fiction written for the Moderated Selected Writing Exercise (#writingprompt) on the Writer’s Discussion Group community on Google+. The prompt for this exercise is a painting called The Wolf by bluefooted. Her art can be found here…. http://gorillaartfare.com/author/bluefooted/