written by Ani King | illustrated by Haejin Park
Our mothers were wolves. They roamed the great, cold northern night in a pack, electric purple van screaming down county roads from party to party, where they caught boys named Jesse and Jason and James with their abundant thighs and sharp eyes and clever tongues.
Our mothers were never afraid of anything. They teased their hair up in the bathroom and smoked cigarettes and lined their eyes in shades of blue as if preparing for battle, while Metallica or Quiet Riot or Joan Jett poured out of their tinny radio speakers.
Our mothers were never careful. They drank Mohawk vodka and the Beast and Boone’s Farm out of plastic cups. They danced until dawn, howling their names at the moon: Tall One, Heartless One, Pretty One. They knew the music and the boys and the trouble would follow them, and they bared their teeth at the darkness, ready to bite out chunks and swallow it mouthful by meaty mouthful.
Our mothers were ferocious. They carried us in their round, swollen bodies and listened to Boston or Chicago or Journey while they built our cribs from the bones and fur of their enemies at KMart. They snapped and snarled and ate their meals bloody and raw.
Our mothers hunted together. They roamed the untrustworthy streets of daylight in Tall One’s tan minivan, or Heartless One’s wood-paneled station wagon, but rarely in Pretty One’s beefy black Chevelle, because it was too loud and we would wake up and howl with the engine.
Our mothers worried that we were too wild. They watched us jump from great heights, and bare our teeth at boys named Logan, Hunter, Chad. They chased us, afraid, when we ran through the night, windows open to the chill wind that called their names and ours: Dark One, Loud One, Vicious One.
Our mothers grew careful. They drank decaf coffee and pale chablis and went to bed at reasonable hours, with men named Dan and Roger and Will, caught with their good sense and generous smiles. They cut their hair and combed it down and washed their faces. They tucked their teeth away. Tall, wooden speakers stood silent.
We watch our mothers sleep, our mothers who were wolves, who never gave caution a sidelong glance. We see them twitch and dream in their sleep. We hear the usually silent howl escape in the dark after they’ve been out, and we know that we are our mothers’ daughters, and the night waits for us to travel the great, cold north in a pack, screaming down county roads, blaring the music our wolf mothers listened to.
About the artists:
Haejin Park is a New York based freelance illustrator. She graduated from Rhode Island School of Design with a B.F.A. Illustration in 2015.
Ani King lives in Lansing, Michigan. She has work published at Every Day Fiction, Rose Red Review, Strange Horizons, and other really marvelous places.