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Wolf, or Faith in the Future

Michelle Ann King writes SF, dark fantasy, and horror from her kitchen table in Essex, England. She has worked as a mortgage underwriter, supermarket cashier, makeup artist, tarot reader, and insurance claims handler before having the good fortune to be able to write fulltime. Find details of her stories and books at transientcactus.co.uk.

I wish it would rain.
I mean, it does rain, obviously. Every Tuesday at midnight, every Friday at noon. It's not a bad arrangement. Everybody's asleep on Tuesday, and ducking inside for an early lunch on a Friday is never a bad thing.
But if you do get caught in it, it's okay. It's good rain. Never too hard, never too cold. Never a nasty, needling torrent that stung your face and soaked you even if you had an umbrella, because it somehow managed to come down at the perfect diagonal angle to get underneath.
No, this rain is soft and has the icy edge taken off, even on Tuesday nights. It's refreshing, like a cool shower on a hot day. It's perfect rain. Of course it is. I still keep an umbrella, though. I have a special stand for it and everything. Once a month or so, I dust it.
We had a dog, back in the days when it used to rain properly. A big thing, all bristly grey fur and sharp white teeth, that terrified the neighbors. Terrified everyone, really. My father used to say she was fourteen parts wolf and one part grizzly bear. My mum said not to believe him, but I always did. Every word. He said the dog would protect us from burglars, and that was true. We didn't have much, but what we did have was safe as houses. Which was a strange thing to say, really, since most houses didn't seem that safe at all.
We have a dog now, too. She's allowed to roam free up and down the staircases, in and out of the rooms, around and around the gardens. I told my son she's fourteen parts wolf and one part grizzly bear, but he didn't believe me. He said she has way more than fifteen parts, and got the schematics out of the box to show me. And what was a wolf, anyway?
I don't remember my old dog's name. Our current dog doesn't have one. We've still never been burgled, though. Of course we haven't. They don't make burglars any more.
My father's been dead for a hundred and fifty-five years. 'It's all going to be so much better,' he used to say. 'You wait and see.'
I believed him. Of course I did. I still do. So I carry on waiting.
My middle daughter is having a baby. I tell her what the definition of having used to be, and she's stunned. She has nightmares for three days, and my husband is furious with me. We've left all that kind of horror behind, he reminds me. I apologize, and offer to pay for a wipe. She accepts my apology and my money, and everything goes back to normal. I promise my husband I won't do it again.
Times change, situations change, people change. Needs change. I understand that. Of course I do.
Language changes, too. Evolves. We have a whole new dictionary now, words for things that didn't exist before. And a different definition of horror. Or maybe that's just me.
I name our dog Wolf, and tell my son it's an ancient word that means faith in the future. I'm not sure if he believes me or not.
We go for a walk in the gardens, Wolf and I. The day is clear and fine, the flowers brightly colored. I tell her to sniff the sweetly perfumed breeze, and she does as she's told. She's a very obedient dog. Of course she is.
She asks me if I want her to display the chemical composition of the air, and I tell her that won't be necessary. I can tell it isn't going to rain.
The End
This story was first published on Monday, November 4th, 2013

Author Comments

This story was born during a dull rainy day, when I was thinking, "come on, we live in the future--why haven't we found a way to control the weather yet?" Then, I started thinking about what else might get controlled, and whether it would actually be a good thing.

- Michelle Ann King
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