Millie was seven years old when she met her first Wendigo. A terrible creature with milky eyes and carnivorous teeth and skin pulled taut over iron bones—it crept down from the Forest like an arctic fox over snow.
Mother trapped it in the house, and burnt the whole thing down until nothing remained, save an almost-human skeleton smoldering in the embers.
When Millie asked about the creature, Mother, anointed by the falling snow, said only, “Millie, there are monsters in these Woods,”
And Millie, shaking and roofless, asked, “And we are here also. Are we monsters?”
“No child, we are not,” was Mother’s response, and Millie believed her.
Long nights never change. The toothed moon rises and the silver trees beckon, growing, until those who linger are swallowed whole.
Now Millie wanders nightly in the Woods, seduced by singing trees and the flirting, blue moon. She converses, miming stories with her hands until she learns to speak the Wild Language and she, herself, becomes Wild. She befriends the Forest, and the lonely Forest, jealous, steals her for itself.
Millie, for all her Wildness, does not belong there. The Forest eats her from the inside out until she becomes corroded and decayed—hollowed out like a rotted log.
Long nights never change, whether spent home, or drowning in dirt and snow. Time passes just the same as it always has. Winter gives way to Spring.
She finds bones blooming from the snow like crocuses at the dawn of March. Thinking it a wolf-pardoned blessing, she sucks them clean of marrow until she ought to be sated but never is. The hunger breeds hunger, and she grows more wolfish with every second. Millie, greedy and gluttonous, searches the snow and finds, therein, her fatal flaw; in place of fur, she finds, instead, a head of human hair.
The curse is set, disregarding intention and ill-knowledge. Teeth and fingernails are pushed out and replaced. Bones stretch. Skin is pulled tight. Antlers push through the roof of a youth-softened skull. The hunger-pains fester like an abscess, putrefying human-nature until it becomes unbearable—a constant agony that crawls under her skin like beetles. It drives her creeping down the Forest like an artic fox over snow, returning to a burning, boiling, bristling home to feed on childish memories, and the love of a Mother who cannot bring herself to destroy the pains of her labor.
Somethings never change—long nights, hunger, and the flirting moon. There are monsters in these Woods. And we are here, too, starving.
Katherine C. Frye is a theater major at Utah Valley University. She began writing in the third grade with a series of ghost stories all titled, “The Shark-Alligator” (none of which contained a single mark of punctuation which Katherine adamantly defended as an “artistic choice” so as not to receive low marks.) She recently won awards for her ten-minute play, “Synesthesia”, which was produced in the Utah New Works Ten Festival.