Wolf-month by J.B. Mulligan

Tom came from a place where January was not January but was called Wolf-month. His name was not Tom either, but it was easier to say in his new home than his true name.

January was called Wolf-month back home, since that was when the wolves came down to the edge of the villages, drawn by hunger and the smell of living meat: goats, cattle, children…. The eyes of the wolves were arrowheads of flame among the trees. Their howl was hunger. Some nights, the protection of the wooden walls seemed barely adequate.

His wife insisted that they get a dog for the children. The people next door had a little dog, all yips and floof and quick little legs. Their dog was a big brown lazy thing, which each night went in circles next to Tom’s feet, then curled into sleep as Tom read the paper.

The dog loved Tom. Tom didn’t love the dog. When it shivered in its sleep, and its legs twitched, Tom knew it was hunting. When it played with the children, his wife laughed and Tom bared his teeth in a rigid smile.

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