In today's story, Wolves, two brothers share time away from their pack
Today's prompt was suggested by one of my younger listeners, Lincoln McMullan. Thanks, Lincoln! If you have a prompt idea, send me a word or phrase and it may be used in a future story. You can reach me through social media or my website.
As always, the story was written from the prompt, with no planning and very little editing. If you enjoy today's story, please share it with your friends and leave a review for Freely Written. Thank you!
More about Susan Quilty
Susan Quilty mainly writes novels, including two standalone novels and her current YA series: The Psychic Traveler Society. Susan's short stories for Freely Written are created during quick writing breaks and shared as a way to practice her narration skills before she dives into recording audio versions of her novels.
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Below is the transcript for Season 1, Episode 94 of Freely Written, a podcast by author Susan Quilty:
Welcome to Freely Written where a simple prompt leads to a little unplanned fiction.
[Light piano music]
Hi, friends! I’m Susan Quilty and today’s prompt is Wolves.
Today’s prompt came from one of my younger listeners, Lincoln McMullan, who asked if I could write a story from the word wolves. Thank you for the great suggestion, Lincoln! I love when friends and listeners suggest prompts, so please feel free to send me a word or phrase for a future story!
If you’re new to Freely Written, here’s how it works: I sit down with a prompt and write whatever comes to mind, with no planning and very little editing, and then share that story with you.
Freewriting like this is a great creative exercise. It’s a different approach to how I carefully outline and research my novels, and I really enjoy the freedom of letting a story flow wherever it wants to go.
Let’s jump in and see where the story led today:
The moon was a silver disk in the cloudless night sky. A field of stars stretched above the treetops, and a chorus of frogs sang from the reed-lined pond. A storm had washed through the forest in the late afternoon, leaving the night air cool despite it being the height of summer.
Lorik prowled between the tree trunks at the edge of the forest. Where the trees thinned, he could see distant mountains rising to meet the starry sky. He came to this quiet part of the forest often. The view tickled his earliest memories. Glimpses of a life he couldn’t quite remember, back when he was a cub and the pack lived closer to the base of those towering mountains.
A rustling of branches drew Lorik’s attention. His brother, Aldin, padded softly over broken twigs and came to sit beside him, his tail swaying slowly. They both looked toward the mountains with the silver moon shining high above.
“You’re out here again,” Aldin observed. His voice was neutral, but Lorik knew Aldin didn’t like it when he wandered far from the pack alone.
“What do you remember?” Lorik asked hopefully. “From the time before.”
Aldin growled lightly and shook his shaggy head. He couldn’t understand why his little brother was fascinated by the far-off mountains when they now lived in a plentiful forest.
“Aldin, please,” Lorik pushed gently.
They were the youngest wolves in their pack and their elders rarely mentioned the time before. When they did, it was in hushed tones with bowed heads. Lorik understood that life had been harder then, and the pack was grateful to have found their new home, but it bothered him that he couldn’t remember a time that everyone else knew well.
“There’s not much to tell,” Aldin answered at last. “We lived closer to the mountains where food was scarce, and danger was high. The pack decided to look for a better home, which we found after a long trek.”
“I remember some of the trek,” Lorik said. “There was a large open area that took ages to cross and a river that was cold and wild.”
“Mother carried you by the nape,” Aldin sighed, bringing up memories of the rushing water and pull of gentle teeth at the back of Lorik’s neck.
“And you saved me,” Lorik added, “when the current pulled me from her grasp.”
Lorik’s memories of that near-tragedy were vivid, though they came more from the retellings he’d heard than from his own recollections. It was a well-known story among the pack. The tale of how they’d almost lost their youngest cub during the trek from the time before. Until his brave brother swam after him and dragged him back to safety.
The story pleased Lorik. He liked being the main character in a tale that was a prominent part of their pack history. Though, he often wished he had been the brave older brother instead of the young pup being rescued.
“I hate that story,” Aldin growled, startling Lorik from the delightful images playing out in his mind.
“You what?” Lorik’s fur stood on end as he turned to face his brother. “How can you say that?”
“Why do you like it?” Aldin snapped back. “I hear that story, and I feel sick inside.”
“But it was a proud moment!” Lorik insisted. “You were a hero!”
“And you were nearly swept away!” Aldin’s voice rose with an emotion he rarely showed. “I didn’t know I could save you. When I swam after you, all I felt was fear. I still feel that fear every time that story is told.”
“But you did save me!” Lorik argued urgently. “There’s no need to be afraid anymore.”
“Did I?” Aldin snarled. “You’re always asking for stories of the time before. Always coming back here, to the edge of everything, away from the pack. You separate yourself, always looking back.”
“What’s wrong with looking back?” Lorik bristled with confused hurt. “The whole pack remembers the time before. Why shouldn’t I try to remember it, too?”
“We don’t try to remember,” Aldin growled. “We try to forget. To move on. You’re the only one wandering out here, on your own, where anything could happen.”
Both brothers had gotten to their feet during this heated exchange. They stared at each other, hackles raised, and teeth bared. It was a strange argument, Lorik realized. He didn’t understand how it had started or why Aldin was so angry. Unless…
“You’re worried about me,” he told Aldin in wonder. “You’re afraid something will happen, and you won’t be here to save me.”
Aldin looked away sharply, turned, and began walking into the forest. Lorik followed hesitantly. He was pleased that his brother cared so much but also sorry to be a bother.
They moved into the deeper shade of the forest, where stars could only be seen through occasional gaps in the dark canopy. As they walked, they listened to the sounds of the frogs and crickets, followed by a distant howl.
The mood mellowed as they turned a familiar bend, making their way toward home.
“I’m not a cub anymore,” Lorik said into the silence. “I can take care of myself now.”
“I know,” Aldin agreed with a sigh. It wasn’t an apology, but it was a sign that his anger had settled.
“I could even save you if I had to,” Lorik boasted recklessly.
“Now let’s not get carried away,” Aldin laughed.
He veered closer to Lorik, purposefully nudging his shoulder. Lorik playfully nudged back, adding a little vigor to show his full-grown strength and causing Aldin’s paws to skitter on a patch of loose pebbles.
“Watch it!” Aldin warned, still laughing as he bumped Lorik into the grass as the edge of their path.
“Or what?” Lorik countered, jumping back with a light nip at Aldin’s neck.
That did it. The brothers tousled amid nips, growls, and laughter, knocking each other against fallen logs and into scratchy brambles. The skirmish quickly turned to a chase, kicking up grit and snapping loose twigs as they raced through the forest. Rodents scurried out of their way, and nesting birds took to the sky with disgruntled squawks.
The chase came to a crashing halt near the edge of a clearing where moonlight glinted off the surface of a small pond. Frogs splashed beneath the water as the brothers dropped to the ground, panting, and laughing. The air was cool and the sky was clear as they rolled onto their backs and waggled their legs like young pups.
“I’m glad the pack came to the forest,” Lorik said, staring up at the moon.
“I’m glad the river didn’t sweep you away,” Aldin replied, his eyes set on a very bright star.
The brothers listened to the sounds of the forest. The chirping of crickets and croaks of frogs.
It was a beautiful night, and they were happy to enjoy it together.
Thank you for joining me today. I like the wolf brothers that showed up in this story and can imagine them having many happy adventures in their forest home.
If you enjoyed this story, please share it with your friends, and leave a review for Freely Written wherever you listen to podcasts.
If you’re inspired to write your own short story about wolves, I’d love to hear it! You can connect with me on social media or through my website: SusanQuilty.com Links are in the show notes.
Until next time, try a little free writing of your own. Let go of any planning and see where your imagination takes you.
[Light piano music]