Once upon a time, a feral wolf pup bounded through forests, avoiding its den and tasting freedom in its four furry feet. Come evening, the pup always returned to its shelter, where it tucked itself into corners, behind wastebaskets, under shelves, and became very, very good at mimicking nothingness to save itself an inch or two of pain from the harsh, snapping jaws around it.
Then, the little wolf grew, as wolves do, first from pup to teen, teen to adult, and its lengthening legs took it further and further away. And through its growing up, it saw how binding itself into knots to contort and fit the whims of others kept it safe and secure, and also, it kept the wolf silent.
The wolf bristled and despaired over the trade-off. Sometimes it howled its rage; at others, it drew attention to the cruel beasts around it. But mostly, the wolf shrank and stilled and stifled. What is survival but the things best kept tidily burrowed away?
But when moons’ gathered fullness, the wolf could not contain itself. The moon pulled like gravity at the hidden truths inside the tender creature. The wolf gave in, allowing itself to taste the dark divinity of freedom and want, and it yipped and raced and danced itself into frenzies, howls of enduring desire licking out its lips.
The howl was the problem. Each time it was unleashed, it became that much harder to put away. Somehow the howl seemed to grow and stretch, and over the years, it did not fold up so well into the wolf’s secret places anymore. The wolf’s chest could not hold it much longer. How the wolf tried to shove it down, twisting the howl in on itself, barely closing its meaty body around it. Until one day, the wolf wrote down its howl in the dirt. It thought to transcribe the sound, to give it form but only in summary. Nothing complete, nothing wholly described. Perhaps that would make it small again.
But the howl had other plans. At first, the howl seemed to obey. It appeared small, yet its resonance vibrated steadily and stealthily, its size and volume growing into a page-long subtle crescendo. The wolf did not see it until it was too late, until the howl had grown so big there was no longer a chest, a body, a box to contain it. The howl could no longer be resisted. It could only be borne, guided, but it could never, ever, never again be silenced.