Once upon a time, they caught a wolf and her mate. They put them in a cage. For years, the wolf howled, begging for release. She hated the zoo. But her mate was content there, even happy. And so, the wolf eventually stopped howling at the moon, and concentrated on creating a wonderful den within the confines of the zoo. She and her mate had cubs, and they raised them to adolescence.
Sometimes the wolf would see the moon over the bars of her cage and she’d long to howl, but she’d turn her face away and continue to make her den as nice as she could. She connected with good resources, and she and her cubs were well taken care of. She told herself to be grateful – and most of the time, when the moon didn’t sing, she was. She had all the food she needed, she was safe, she was warm.
But her mate started to grow thin and tired. He was brought out to display every day. He didn’t complain, but his fur started looking patchy, and he didn’t have the energy he once had. The wolf, who had been taking excellent care of herself (having nothing else to do) grew worried. She made the den as nice as she could, and ministered to him when he was home, but she had no power to lighten his load. Even if she were to go on display, it was him the crowds wanted, not her.
One day, someone came by and rattled the door to their cage. No, not the door that her mate was brought out through when on display, but the door that they’d been shoved through, once upon a time. Someone looked in on them from that side… Someone who caused her to trust irrationally… and words were spoken that she could not understand.
Hope, long buried, raised its head, and the wolf threw her head back and howled with everything she had within her. She instantly hung her head in shame. Her heart’s desire added a burden onto her mate, already sickened by his daily parade. But she could hear the words outside her cage… what were they saying? She’d heard rumors that sometimes, animals were released back into the wild… would they do that for her family?
She started dreaming of fresh air and peace. She remembered her mate, so happy as the alpha of their pack, and how he had thrived, directing the other wolves and caring for them. She looked around at her beautiful den and she felt a pang – there was much here to be grateful for. Shame came again… why should she want something else?
She paced. And then the zookeeper came to her – the one whose words she’d heard outside her cage. He sat with her and petted her, calming her fears. She still didn’t understand what he was saying, but she grew to trust him. He brought her treats, and comforted her.
Now she was filled with confusion – she trusted the zookeeper utterly, but at the same time she’d never been a tame wolf. She knew he’d never hurt her, and had her best interests at heart… but she didn’t know what he might do, or when he might choose to do it.
Hope had stirred up trouble… trust gave her peace… and every day, the wolf grew to hope more, and to be more peaceful. But would she ever find herself running free?
What will the zookeeper choose?