She smelled of soap and spoke with a slight lisp. She had come to the boy’s house every Tuesday night for the best part of a year so his parents could take square dancing lessons at the new cultural center — his mother’s idea. The sitter would reheat, as best she could, the food his mother left and they would eat together in front of the television. They played dominoes or built castles with his father’s bridge cards though none of these activities mattered much to the boy. What he wanted most, what he longed for, was bedtime.
Every week, she read him the story of the wolves. She made him listen close for their howls and made him feel the strength of their paws and the ruggedness of their pelts and by the time she would get to the last page, he could feel their tired breaths on the back of his neck.
Years later, he told the story to a journalist, adding that this early experience with the sitter had been the creative impetus for his career as a film director. This was a lie, but the unknowing journalist tracked down the sitter and insisted on a reunion at the woman’s house. Of course, there would be a full camera crew and a reality-show producer. This was the standard.
The woman was sweet but did not remember much. She had been babysitting a great deal at the time, she said, and always read stories to the children. She later became a teacher but was now retired. When the producer handed her a copy of the from which to to read, she laughed: “You poor dear. Those wolves ran away a long time ago.”
No amount of talk would unbind her memory.
In the end, they settled for a picture. The producer said he might salvage bits of the conversation for a video blog.
Home, he took out the book and started to read.
Once upon a time two wolves decided to catch the moon . . .
“The wolves” is the 19th installment of Project 105. Each story or article of Project105 is illustrated with a hand-embroidered piece of art which is then gifted to an individual who expresses an interest in art and writing. Preference is given to first time art owners and to those who might not otherwise have access to art. To learn more about Project 105 or to sign up and become eligible to receive a Project 105 illustration visit www.pmneist.com/project105