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A Howl In the Night, Unheard

Bridget Norquist's first novel, The Albatross Agency (a fantastical story about an all-bird detective agency) won her free admission to a young writers' conference when she was in sixth grade. Since then, she has continued to write fantasy, science fiction, and young adult fantasy. She is currently working on her next award-winning novel.

Dear Prudence,
There's something going on with my daughter. I've found her bed empty and her window wide open every morning for the past few weeks. At first I thought she was just over at her boyfriend's, but then he asked me if I thought she might be "going through something." Well, obviously she is! My husband thinks it's drugs, but you should see the way this girl eats. The other night she stole my corned beef right off my plate and tore into it like a crocodile in a duck pond. And she's vegetarian! Or was. Now she has double portions, all meat--you should see my grocery bill! I don't know if it's the change in her diet, or what, but her hair used to be thin like mine and now it's super thick, as full as our Golden Retriever's but softer than alpaca. She also has a new obsession with nature videos and wild animals. Yesterday, she wallpapered her room with pictures torn out of old National Geographic magazines and Sierra Club calendars. You should see it, it's so eerie. All these animal eyes, staring at you from every direction. They look so... hungry.
Our girl used to be captain of the cheerleading squad, a ray of sunshine. Please, tell us how we can bring her out from behind this dark cloud.
A Mom at Her Wits' End
Dear Wits' End,
In Dr. Emmet Barber's excellent book, Understanding the Adolescent Mind, he reminds us that our teenage years can be full of "switchback turns of personal identity." We change so much during that time, in our bodies and our social anima. We swing from interest to interest and group to group as a means of discovering who we really are. Your acceptance and understanding will be key to helping her through this transition--the first of many.
The more you try to force her to conform to your ideals, the more she'll pull away. Try to let go of who she was. Embrace who she is. Go camping together. Take her to the zoo to see the wild animals up close. You may have a budding zoologist, wildlife photographer, or veterinarian on your hands. We should all be so lucky to have a child who finds her direction in life so early.
In addition to Barber's fantastic text, professional counseling will give your family the tools you need to navigate this change together. In time, I assure you, she'll come out from behind that cloud all on her own.
Stay strong,
Questions, comments? askprudence@smokiehillsherald.com
Dear Prudence,
I didn't know about your column until my friend's mom told me about it--I hope you can help me. My girlfriend's parents were killed last night, in the woods. A park ranger found their bodies a few yards from their campsite. It was freaking horrible. Police said it looked like they'd been attacked by a wild animal. They found my girlfriend by the river, covered in blood. She's not, like, a suspect or anything, but she hasn't been herself lately, you know? She keeps asking me to do weird stuff, like chain her up in our basement whenever there's a full moon. Seriously, she asks me that! She keeps saying that if I loved her, and I understood how much she loved me, I would do it. I want to help her get through this, but that seems kind of extreme. My parents don't want her staying with us anymore if she keeps acting like this. What should I do?
Lost and Still In Love
Dear Lost,
If I were you, I would never chain a loved one up in the basement! Furthermore, I am required by law to inform the police if I think you're going to carry out such abusive, criminal behavior. But you're not capable of such a terrible act, am I right? Of course I am.
Your girlfriend has been through a lot, and from what you're telling me, the full moon might be a trigger for her trauma. Don't let her push you away. Isolation is not the answer! On those nights, get the whole family together. Make it light and fun, like movie or game night. In addition, Dr. Emmet Barber's third book, Closing the Circle, Community Support Around Teenage Traumas, is a fantastic resource. Have patience, stay steady. You and your family will help her navigate these rough seas, and your relationship will be that much stronger for it.
My Best,
Questions, comments? askprudence@smokiehillsherald.com
Dear Prudence,
I've been going through a tough time lately but I think I've finally figured some things out. For one, this town is too small for me. So I'm leaving Smokie Hills forever. But before I go, there's something I have to do.
The moon is bright over your house tonight, so bright I can see each blade of grass on your lawn and its needle-thin shadow. It shines brighter than the computer screen on your face as you type your column; brighter than the dawn.
Oh, and Dr. Emmet Barber can kiss my wolfy a--.
Printed with permission from Prudence. Her final piece of advice: a warning to us all. RIP.
Joseph Arden-Miller
Editor in Chief
Smokie Hills Herald
The End
This story was first published on Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

Author Comments

My biggest challenge with this story was to write four distinct character voices in so few words, while also trying to make them humorous and dark. I first wrote "A Howl in the Night, Unheard," at the 2015 Odyssey Writing Workshop. It will always remind me of the fun and talented people I met that summer, and our mutual appreciation for werewolf stories.

- Bridget Norquist
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