The First: Red

Don’t cringe; it’s Grandmother. She is putting a blanket over you and tucking you in, even though you’re sitting up and don’t feel like sleeping. The color is hideous, but the blanket itself is warm and inviting; everything about it is just like the hooded shawl you used to love. It almost makes you not want to throw up the food you didn’t want to eat, but did for the sake of dear sweet Grandmother. It will probably be useful later. It’s cold and windy right now, foreboding a snowstorm that will probably hit tonight. Hopefully, the town won’t be overwhelmed. Hopefully, there will be enough firewood.

A warm mug is being pushed into your hands, one that smells of tea—pomegranate, the flavor that used to be your favorite. Now, it just makes you feel all sick and disgusting (then again, everything about you is now, so the feeling isn’t really new). Take it anyway. Despite her age, Grandmother is trying so, so hard to make you forget everything that makes you feel sick, which makes you feel grateful (but it isn’t working). Just don’t let her too sad eyes catch you tossing it out your window.

She doesn’t tell you a story—which is sad, because you miss her stories—but she reminds you of her love and assures you (and herself) that she will see you in the morning. Wouldn’t it be nice if things went back to the way it used to be? Those days when everyone you loved was happy and didn’t hurt each other? Of course, those times are behind you—but hoping doesn’t seem to hurt right now.

Wait until she is out of the bedroom, then spill the tea out. The hideously colored, but warm blanket will just have to suffice.

From the deepest part of the forest, perhaps the center, a cry is released—a sound that resembles the howl of a wolf.

Remember to breathe, in and out. It is all right now. Of course it isn’t out there, running through the trees clothed in its kill’s hide with its axe in one hand and shotgun in the other, a man hiding amongst fellow beasts. The creature is long gone. It won’t come back.

Continue to hope so.

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