How Loba Became a Wolf
by Lily S-S
St. Paul’s Episcopal School, Oakland CA
I was running through the thickets of vines, my almond-colored skin scratched and bleeding, and my deer skin dress brown with mud. The wind screamed at me, “Give up, give up! They’re going to get you!” The pack of wolves was chasing me with a lot of speed, but I noticed one wolf lagging off to the side. I didn’t have time to wonder why.
They were closing in around me, drooling red saliva. I screamed but who could hear me, out in the vastness of nowhere. I was going to die. The pack let one wolf slowly creep toward me, circling, breathing hard. The next second: a flash of white teeth and a searing pain in my neck. My hand touched a bloody gash on my throat, then everything went black!
I woke up to the sounds of heavy breathing. My first thought was that the wolves were still there waiting to pounce. The second thought (more of a hope) was that they had left and the heavy breathing was just my own. Was it just my imagination, or was that a paw instead of my hand? I must be hallucinating. I slowly opened my eyelids. My whole body was covered in matted gray fur. My paw reached up to where the wolf had bit me. Where the gash had been was now thick fur.
I stood up slowly. I noticed that I was standing on my hands and knees… odd. I looked closer at my body. In the time that I apparently had fainted, I had turned into one of them. A wolf!
I began testing out my capabilities by running in large circles.
Before I was able to test anything else, I heard a twang and I looked up to see an arrow stuck in the tree behind me. I had missed death again, just by a second. I turned in the direction that the arrow had come from. At least ten hunters stood in a circle around me pointing their spears and arrows at me.
I tried whimpering, to get their sympathy. When that didn’t work, I panicked. Just when I thought my luck had finally run out, I heard growling from behind me. All the hunters started retreating, looking terrified. I looked around to see why they were backing away. Hundreds, no more like thousands, of wolves were coming toward us. The hunters scattered in fright.
When all the hunters had gone, one very old wolf came walking towards me, until it was just a few feet away. It spoke in a low husky voice, “ Young child, we saved you because you are one of us, but why do you smell like a hunter?” I…. I…I stammered. I was lost for words. So, instead of lying to him, I told him the truth.
I went to talk but what I heard was just growls.
After I finished, he paused. “Come with us.” They took me back to where they slept and cared for me as their own, and acted like what I had told them on the night we met had not meant anything. What I didn’t know was the old wolf could see my future. Until one day when I heard him say, to the rest of the pack, “There will be a time when she will not want you to kill a human for food. Listen to her.” They asked why, but he never told them.
A few years went by and the old wolf passed away. Then one day my pack and I trotted toward a nearby pond for some water, filled with delicious looking trout.
I saw a girl walking along the other side of the small pond. The girl was humming a tune that I remembered learning back a few years, when I used to help my mom cook dinner. The girl came closer to us, making whistling sounds that were meant to show that she was coming toward us in peace. I took a step backward in surprise. The girl was me!
My pack licked their jaws hungrily! I tried to stay calm. In a weak voice, I said, “Let’s try to find another source of food.” But they didn’t listen. When the girl realized she was going to become dinner, she sprinted away. The pack followed in hot pursuit. I followed, lagging a bit behind.
While I slowly jogged behind the pack, it occurred to me, “Didn’t this already happen?” along with a name: Loba.
When I reached the rest of my pack, they had already circled around the girl. Before they could pounce, I put my body between them and growled, “NO!” They looked surprised, even I was a bit surprised, but they did as I said. They turned, and I watched them leave.
I stayed. I would catch up to them later. I turned around slowly.
She was still there. I was going to ask her to do something, but I would have to tell her my story before. I took a deep breath, and began. To my amazement, the words that I spoke came out in a human voice, and I began to tell my story to the human me.
After I finished I paused and then told her, “I need you to go back to your village and start a wolf clan. This wolf clan will be special, because you will gather as many people as you can and sing safety songs around a campfire, to protect the wolves from any harm.
Will you do this for me, in return for saving your life?” I asked.
“Yes”, she replied. And I watched her walk away.
“And that is the story of Loba, our great ancestor,” said Coyote, “who founded this wolf clan! And we gather in this long house to remember her great gift to us!”