Listen close, my beloved children, and I will tell you the story of the Rabbit and the Wolf.
Not so long ago, in this very same land, there was a young hare named Rabbit, a fluffy white fellow, who one day found himself wandering among the trees, imagining how it must feel to be a wolf.
Unlike the rabbits, he thought, the wolves are never afraid. They stalk the forest as kings, going where they want and when they want to, and they are fast and strong and need not cower from any creature they meet. Yes, thought Rabbit, how wonderful it must be to be a wolf!
In the same woods, not far away, Wolf was trudging glumly over the fallen leaves, sniffing the air in search of his supper.
How easy it must be to live as a rabbit, he mused, so peaceful and so merry. Nobody ever runs from a rabbit or looks on one with suspicion. And they never know hunger, for there is always grass and fallen fruits about to feed on. Wolf sighed and wished he were a rabbit, while at the very same moment Rabbit closed his eyes and wished he were a wolf.
A mischievous Tree Spirit nearby happened to hear both their thoughts and fancied she might amuse herself by granting them their wishes. She plucked up the soul of Rabbit and placed it into the body of Wolf, and she drew out the essence of Wolf and replaced it in the body of Rabbit. When her enchantment was complete, she bade them each go forth to live life as the other and then return again in one week’s time to speak of their adventures.
Wolf eagerly went to live among the rabbits, but before long he grew disenchanted. The gentle games the rabbits played did not amuse him. He had no taste for grass or vegetation of any sort. And, in truth, he longed once again for the thrill of the hunt. Though every outer aspect of him appeared as that of a rabbit, inside, he realized, he would always be a wolf.
Rabbit was similarly discontented by life as a wolf. He lived in constant fear of the other wolves, certain they would discover his disguise and set upon him. He missed his rabbit friends and tried once to approach them, but they fled in terror. And he could not hunt, so he spent the whole of the week hungry, alone and afraid.
After the seven days had elapsed, the Tree Spirit returned and asked them what they had learned. Rabbit confessed that he no longer yearned to be a wolf, and he now understood that he was born to be a rabbit and would be glad to live as one for the rest of his days.
Pleased, the Tree Spirit turned then to Wolf, who – rather than answer – vomited a ferocious snarl and leapt upon Rabbit. With newly-sharpened teeth and nails grated into razors on the rocks, Wolf tore into the neck of his lupine other. Though bigger and stronger, the stunned Rabbit knew not how to fight and was helpless to defend himself. As the air swelled with mournful howls, Wolf clawed and slashed and ripped until blood erupted from his victim’s butchered throat, and Rabbit fell twitching to the grass and died.
The Tree Spirit gaped in horror and asked, “Why have you done this?”
And Wolf answered, “When the gentle creatures look upon me, they see only a rabbit. But when I look back, it is through the eyes of a wolf. From this day forward, I will live among the weak and the trusting, killing all that I wish, and I will never go hungry again.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Christopher A. Micklos is a writer, director and producer whose non-fiction writing has appeared in numerous print and digital outlets over the past several years. His award-winning first feature film, THE NURSERY, was distributed worldwide by Uncork’d Entertainment in 2016; and his second feature, THE HEADMISTRESS, is expected to be released in 2021. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin, USA, with his wife and daughter and their monstrous mini-labradoodle, Ygor. THE RABBIT AND THE WOLF is his first published short story.
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