It was a cold evening in early fall after school when Tony made his usual hike to his favorite place, a place he called his own. It was a small cleared spot in the middle of the woods just south of the back forty acres of unfarmed ground that looked like a meadow this past spring. It was a place he had found early in the spring, a place he would go to dream of halving a wolf of his own, a wolf that would look like and behave like Lily. As he walked through the now overgrown meadow, he remembered when early this spring the meadow was green with a lush carpet of tiny while flowers that his mom called “lilies of the valley.”
Although Tony was not entirely sure that she believed it, his mother had said that finding Lilies of the Valley in southern Illinois was a good sign. Because the flowers were called Lilies, their sighting only confirmed Tony’s conviction that someday he would see the wolf called Lily. As much as he had believed that spring and summer, as time went on and there still had been no sign of a wolf, Tony was beginning to lose his faith. Although there was the constant growl and howl of coyotes in the background, a wild wolf had not been seen in the area in years. Yet each one of the thousand times Tony had walked this path, he kept his eyes on the tree line, in hopes of finding his wolf. He was still searching.
The cold wind blew straight through his open coat and felt like ice cubes on his back. He felt himself shiver in the cold. He zipped his lightweight fall jacket and raised the collar to block out some of the wind as he climbed into the tunnel through the hill. About six inches of water stood at the bottom of the tunnel and immediately the wet felt like ice against his toes but Tony did not seem to notice as he climbed out the other side. He kept his eyes focused on the tree line, just knowing that some day he would see what he was looking for. After all, Dad had always said, “If you believe something hard enough, who knows what can happen.”
As he walked through the young trees at the beginning of the woods, he noticed the sun was already beginning to fall behind the trees. Sunset came so much earlier now. He would have to hurry if he was going to make it to his secret spot before dark. When he came to the clearing, his eyes surveyed the circle of grass and the edge of the forest. He spotted a green katydid half hopping and half flying towards the trees. He could hear it’s customary sound, “Katydid.”
For a few minutes, Tony followed the relative of a grasshopper back into the trees. He pushed a rock out of the way and watched the brown earthworms as they slithered silently back into the dirt. Tony picked up a few bright red and orange maple and oak leaves he could use for his leaf collection at school. He would show them to his mother when she asked where he had been, which she was sure to ask. She never liked it when he stayed in the woods after dark. Yet it was not really dark, the goden fingers of sunlight still made their way through the trees when the sun wasn’t hiding behind the grey clouds. The clouds were the fluffy dark grey kind, with a darker grey bottom that Mom would call snow clouds, even though it was only early Autum.
Suddenly as the wind whistled through the trees, reminding Tony that winter was not that far away, something caught Tony’s eye. Whatever it was; it moved quickly like a grey streak of light against the golden overgrowth at the edge of the woods. Instinctively Tony knew in his heart he had found what he had spent half a year looking for; but where did it go?
As he moved slowly toward the overgrowth, listening to the howl of coyotes in the background, Tony felt the first raindrop on his cheek. “Not now,” he thought. “I know it is here. I have to find her!”