“Edith,” said her father, sighing.
“What are you looking at?”
“Uh, nothing,” she answered, quickly looking down.
“There are no ‘sky people.’ You have to give up those childish ideas and grow up.”
“Okay,” she said.
“You don’t believe me, do you?” he said, shaking his head. “If there were people looking at us from the sky I would be able to see them.”
“I think we all see different things,” whispered Edith, more to herself than to anyone else.
“If you don’t stop this nonsense, you’ll leave me no choice but to send you away to a place that can care for…for…people like you.”
“Everyone already thinks you’re strange and I won’t stand for it. Do you understand?”
“I do,” she said. “Perfectly.”
“Now go and play in your room until dinner.”
Edith ran up the stairs to her room, opened her closet and pulled out her duffle bag. She threw her clothes into it, a few books, her favorite stuffed bunny, three candy bars, a package of gum, and her piggy bank. She zipped it and went to the window. It was just getting dark and she could hear her parents in the living room. She dropped the bag to the ground and climbed down the trellis after it.
She was glad that she thought to wear her jacket. Fall was fast approaching and the nights were getting colder. She walked, cutting through the woods and staying off the main drags, until she was well out of town. She was getting hungry, so she ate a candy bar and started humming song she heard yesterday. She heard rustling in the trees but she wasn’t afraid, she knew the woods and the beings who lived in them. It was a wolf and she stopped until he came closer. “Hi,” she said, kneeling down so that he could put his head on her shoulder while she hugged him. “I love you, you great fuzzy puppy.” The wolf knocked her over and rolled on the ground next to her. She giggled and rubbed his tummy. “I’m going on an adventure,” she said. “Actually, I’m running away from home. I should have done it sooner but I was too little.” The wolf frolicked around her and took her wrist in his mouth, dragging her forward.
“Where are we going?”
The wolf wagged his tail then let go of her as he darted ahead. She ran after him and another wolf was suddenly running next to her. She smiled and ran faster, loving the feeling of her speed and freedom. She tired more quickly than her friends but they finally came to a small cottage in a part of the woods she had never seen before. Three wolves were sitting at the door waiting for her. They whined and squeaked with excitement. When she came to them and kissed each and everyone, the door opened. The wolves ran inside while she stood there looking at the woman in the doorway.
“Well? Are you just going to stand there all night, or are you going to come inside?”
The wolf came out, latched onto her arm, once again, and pulled her into the house.
“I’m your teacher,” said the woman, as she walked to the stove, to turn off the screaming tea kettle. “Sorry,” she said to the wolves. They have better hearing than we do and I try to never let the kettle make noise. So, you’re the one the wolves have been telling me about.”
“They brought you here, didn’t they?”
“Yes, but I’m not quite sure why.”
“Did you leave your home for good?”
“They you’re ready to begin your lessons.”
“I thought you said she was smart,” said the woman, to the wolf next to her.
“I am smart,” said Edith, loudly. “I just have no idea what’s going on, that’s all.”
“I’m your magick teacher. My name is Lilly. Now let’s have a cup of tea and get started.”
“What else would I teach you? I’m no good at math,” she said, bending over with laughter. “Math,” she repeated, slapping her knee.
“I can do some math and I can spell and read anything.”
“That’s nice but you talk to wolves, don’t you? You know and see things other people don’t, if I’m not mistaken, so yes, magick lessons.”
“Am I going to live here?”
“I don’t see why not. I have the room. I supposed you could live with the wolves but you would eventually smell like them…”
A low grown issued from the other guests.
“You know what I mean,” she said, looking at them. “Would you like to smell like us?”
They cried and put their paws over their noses.
“That’s all I’m saying,” snapped Lilly. “Don’t go getting your fun in a bunch.”
“Won’t my parents find me?”
“How? We aren’t in that world any longer. They can’t even get here. They’ll pretend to look for you but really, they’ll be relieved that you’re gone because they don’t understand what you are and you frighten them.”
“Are you worried about missing them?”
Edith thought for moment and then said, “Not at all.”
“That’s because they aren’t really your parents.”
“Girl, they never could have produced one such as yourself. They have no magick at all. Dull as a….”
“Rock?” asked Edith, smiling.
“No. Rocks are wise and they know things from the very beginning of time.”
“Oh, sorry, I just thought…”
“You’ll learn. You’re just a babe, you’ve had no one to guide you, so don’t be hard on yourself, just open to what’s coming and embrace your true self.”
“I don’t know what my true self is,” said Edith softly. “I mean, up until this morning I was just Edith Sitwell, of 4 Maple street Lane.”
“You were never that person. You’re a changeling.”
“You’re a fairy, girl, a fairy. You were switched at birth.”
“I am? I was?” sputtered Edith, her eyes wide.
“Of course you are,” said Lilly, leaning forward, pressing a napkin and two ginger cookies into Edith’s hand.
The wolf came up to Edith and nuzzled her neck, then grabbed a cookie and ran into the kitchen.
“He came with you. He’s been watching over you since the beginning. They all have but he’s your wolf. His name is….”
The wolf growled at Lilly and bared his teeth.
“What are you snarling at me for? I didn’t name you, did I?”
The wolf sat down and made a chuffing noise.
“He doesn’t like his name,” said Lilly. “Thinks it’s not a proper name for a wolf.”
“We can rename him, if that’s what he would like,” said Edith. the wolf put his paw on her lap and smiled. “What would you like to be called?”
The wolf made a few noises and then waited.
“Really?” asked Lilly. “Out of all the names in the universe, that’s what you want to be called?”
The wolf remained firm.
“He wants to be called Dark Wing, or Bob,” said Lilly.
“I like Dark Wing,” said Edith, happily.
The wolf threw back his head and howled.
And that’s how Edith’s story began.