Those of you who have read one of my other pieces, "Half Asleep", will recognize this as being a prequel to that one.
Distant sounds of laughter and bursts of sweet joy take him back in time. Green smudges all over his body, as they roll in the freshly cut grass; drops of water sparkle for a moment in the sunlight, before falling and soaking him wet. Somebody pokes his cheek hard – if only his brother would quit it. One more shove – a powerful one, this time – and he’s back in the present.
Cold, steel bars keep their harmful curiosity at bay, but their sticks have found their way through and are now poking him with a queer animosity. It comes as a shock the idea that even though there are crowds gathered around, all fussing and demanding his attention, he feels more alone now than in the times when the only care in the world was to take care of his needy, baby brother.
He seeks the face of his Master – his new Master – in the mob, the only familiar look in the eyes of these strangers; his raw features make him easy to spot in the bunch. He’s here and he’s there, questioning one and answering another, throwing him a quick glance from time to time, as if to make sure he is behaving. At times, he could swear he was addressing him, but his words get lost in the buzzing of the crowd, taking with them the hopes of an explanation.
* * *
A shout makes him snap back to reality – he had been staring at his Master for more than five minutes now, with no reaction to his words. Another day went by with him on autopilot, his wandering thoughts trapped inside his mind. His muscles ache as he stands up with difficulty, stepping out of his cage and following the smell of meat.
He picks it up with awkward movements, and that’s when it happens, that’s when he hears it: the call of the wild. His kind was made to hunt and provide for him and the family, not spend days encaged, waiting to be fed. With an agility he forgot he had, he throws himself over the man, the taste of the blood bringing with it the memories of the first time they met; their fight and his capture.
Ah, sweet revenge. But his acute mind exercises his numb body and payback is put off for another time; he jumps away and puts as much distance as possible between him and his Master – his old Master. He stops to breathe and turns his head, wasting only a glance on the man, who is nurturing his wounds.
With the fresh air of the night in his nostrils, filling his lungs and sharpening his senses, he starts running. The wild wolf is free once more.