This year Platform Youth Culture has collaborated with TasWriters in a creative writing opportunity designed to showcase creative pieces from talented young Tasmanians aged between 12 and 25. As part of this project, young writes were given the opportunity to learn from and develop their creative writing skills by receiving valuable feedback for their submissions from published authors such as Kate Gordon, Christina Booth and Anne Morgan along with the opportunity to participate in a series of creative writing workshops run by Arianne James, Project Coordinator at TasWriters.
RED IN HER LEDGER
Red smirked inwardly. He thought she didn’t know.
She knelt and carefully picked a handful of delicate white flowers. Tucking them into her satchel, she watched his shadowy figure slip away between the trees.
This is for you, Pa. She turned and wandered up the path, inhaling the damp, earthy scent of the forest. Stepping over mossy roots and stones that jutted out of the trail, she thought about how long she would have to delay before reaching the cottage. Red didn’t mind; Gran could handle herself, she would enjoy her walk and take her own sweet time.
It would take a while for the poison to kick in anyway.
His large, furry ears flickered as he listened to her footsteps grow faint.
Fool, he thought.
The sentiment went both ways: upon introducing himself minutes ago, the idiotic child had scratched his paw with a knife in a pitiful attempt at bravery. She was also a fool to fall victim so easily. The only reason he hadn’t eaten her was so he could ensure both girl and crone ended up on his plate.
The cool breeze ruffled his dark fur, carrying the scent of prey. A rabbit was digging at the base of an oak nearby. It hadn’t been that long since he’d eaten, but a light snack before the main course wouldn’t hurt.
He wound his sleek body around the trees, drawing closer. Crouching just out of the rabbit’s line of vision, soundlessly he reached out over-
His great paw slammed the unfortunate creature into the ground. In one swift move, hooking it with a claw he tossed it into the air and snatched it up with a crunch.
Though easy hunting was good, the thrill of the hunt itself made him feel powerful. Cunning.
Hunting granny and the kid would be so much more fun.
And the village will be next.
Standing in the shadows of the forest, the Wolf watched the old lady puttering about in her kitchen, stringing up herbs.
His black lips curled. Humans were so mundane.
As she disappeared out of sight for a moment, he heard a door open. But the sound was hollow and seemed to come from the ground.
Aha, he thought. A basement would come in handy while he waited for the girl.
It hadn’t been hard to convince her that the long way was ‘much prettier than the shortcut,’ and that her poor old grandmother would surely appreciate some flowers that only happened to grow along that path.
Darting across the clearing and up the creaky stairs, he knocked lightly on the door and waited, his tail curled around himself.
“Come in, Red,” called a frail voice. “I’m in the basement.”
Letting himself in, he went straight to the basement door and slammed it shut. Grabbing a broom propped against the wall, he jammed it through the door handle and listened.
A muffled shout echoed through the door, but it was soft and indistinguishable, even to the skilled predator. Perfect. This would be one of his most daring ploys, but he might as well enjoy it. Besides, what could go wrong?
Finding the old lady’s bed, he buried himself in a mountain of blankets. He wrinkled his snout. The whole house reeked of almonds and dust, and it made him feel nauseated and a little light-headed.
Half an hour passed. How long does it take to pick flowers? he wondered. She should be here by now.
The front door opened, interrupting his thoughts. “Hey, Gran!” It was the girl.
He cleared his throat and replied hoarsely: “Hello, dear. You’ll have to let yourself in; I’m in my bedroom.”
The footsteps paused outside the bedroom door. “Are you ok, Gran? Your voice sounds a bit… rough.”
“Oh yes, I’m fine dear,” he rasped, “just feeling under the weather. Come in, come in.”
Red narrowed her eyes. She was expecting some kind of devious scheme, but pretending to be her grandmother? What was he trying to pull?
Cautiously, she stuck her head in to find the Wolf swaddled in Gran’s blankets, paws and ears and tail sticking out. She hid her laugh with a cough. “Oh dear, I must be coming down with something too.” She coughed again for good measure. “Goodness, Gran, what big ears you have.”
He stared. “All the better to hear you with, my dear.”
She stepped into the room. “And what big eyes you have.”
They glittered dangerously. ”All the better to see you with.”
Red studied him and moved closer, just out of his reach. “And Gran,” she said tilting her head innocently, “what big teeth you have.”
All his muscles were tensed, waiting for the perfect moment. She was so close he could hear her breathing.
He laughed darkly and sat up slowly. “All the better to ea-”
“Eat with?” she interrupted. “Good thing I brought cake, right? I left it in the kitchen.” She turned her back – turned her back on him – and left the room.
Red felt rather than saw the Wolf deflate as she went to the kitchen.
The silence was deafening. Even the birds had ceased their endless twittering. Her hand rested discreetly on her dagger.
A floorboard creaked. She ducked and whirled around, narrowly missing a savage blow to the face. She threw her dagger at his foreleg, winning her precious seconds as he howled and crashed into the wall.
She ran through the kitchen and slid behind the couch in the loungeroom, her heart thudding against her chest.
He snarled and rubbed his head, then winced and licked at the blood seeping from his foreleg. Gritting his teeth, he hobbled into the kitchen. “You can’t hide from me, child,” he hissed.
This was too much effort for what should’ve been an easy catch. He stumbled into the loungeroom, limping on three legs. The floor swayed beneath his feet, and a wave of nausea swept over him. “What… what have you done to me?”
The girl suddenly appeared. Two girls, no three. All blurring into each other.
“Finally,” her voice echoed distantly. “I was worried I hadn’t used enough.”
Used… what? Poison? How had she poisoned him? Through the haze, something clicked. His eyes lazily fell over the cuts on his leg. His chest grew tight. “You knew.”
The old lady was standing next to her. “Well done, love. The potency was just right.”
The girl shrugged. “I brought you some more oleander to replenish the stock.”
They were ignoring him while he was gasping for breath. He heard them, but nothing was processing. Oleander? They had poisoned him. “Why?” he wheezed.
The girl turned to him, her expression hard. “Because monsters like you took my papa away from me. For fun.” She stepped closer, and his vision darkened. “I won’t let wolves like you hurt anyone else. I owe it to my father, and your demise puts me one step closer to settling the debt.”
The ground came up to meet him and his eyes glazed over. The grandmother was standing over him too. But now, he noticed, she had a crossbow levelled at his head. He swallowed.
And it all went black.