We heard stories of the wolves in the woods.
The wolves with the hungry eyes and grabbing claws. They didn’t always look like wolves, didn’t always show their teeth. At first. They would wait for little girls like me, dressed in our red cloaks and fluttering gazes. Wait until we had no choice but to cross the woods and tasted the barest hint of bravery on our tongue. That first taste. Bravery can make us stupid. Reckless. Trust when we should have been hard. Sometimes they appeared as pleasant strangers, sometimes as a helping hand, sometimes they act as if they are friends. Sometimes lovers. They draw the girls in.
They don’t like the word no.
They ease and lure and make us ignore that itch in the back of our head that says to run. Nothing good can be found with wolves.
And then the girls are gone. Teeth gnash, flashes of red. Gone.
We fear the wolves in the woods. Become afraid to leave, to wear red, to draw attention. Become invisible, become meek, don’t attract the wolves. Don’t fall prey.
Fear is like a poison. It grabs hold, slips through our defenses, make the strong shake and crumble under the possibility that they could be like the girls in red. It grows and grows and douses fires and cools spirits. Makes us hide. Possibility. The possibility is enough to drive us to docility.
But not all of us.
Sometimes fear isn’t a poison but a virus. Sometimes it doesn’t break us but turns us into something else, something tired and angry and unbreakable. Angry that the wolves are there. Angry that little girls must fear red. Angry at being invisible. They want fear to make us meek but it can twist our hands into claws and sharpen teeth into fangs. It can turn pretty eyes into glowing, flaming coal and make our mouths water for a taste.
Revenge. Justice. Maybe just the taste of that fear the wolves love so much.
Sometimes fear creates something more than scared little red girls and hungry wolves. Sometimes it creates monsters…
We didn't fear red anymore.