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Wolf-Ely Writing Project: Day 92

(This is the fourth in a series of posts that chronicle my year-long writing project. I'm writing fiction to explore how wolves and the legalization of wolf hunting and trapping affect residents in northern Minnesota. This post is the beginning of my second story in progress, an early draft. For more information about this project, please scroll down to Wolf-Ely Writing Project: Day 1, or click here.)

 A Million Suns

Gloria was afraid it would come to this. First it was the deer. Now it could be the wolves. She’d warned Len about hunting on her land. Hell, she took his deer stands—all three of them expensive aluminum high-tech tree perches—and locked them up in the shed.

“Mom,” he said when he came into the house last fall. “Got my first deer.”  He stood in the kitchen decked head to toe in camouflage he’d bought new from Cabela’s. “I shot three of them.” He tracked mud across the tiles to the fridge. “Hot damn. Am I some shot, or what?” He cracked open a Hamm’s and guzzled half the can before wiping his mouth on his coat sleeve.

Len was her oldest of five children from two marriages. She and her first husband moved from one low-rent apartment to another in Minneapolis. Then when Len came along about the same time they both lost their jobs, they decided to chase their dream, to live off the grid—before there even was a grid. They bought 20 acres of forest south of Greenstone. It was wild and cheap land. Gloria’s Eden. The first year they lived in a tent while they built a cabin from the pines they'd cut to make a clearing. The second year they had twin girls. The third year they drilled a well. The fourth year they got electricity. The fifth year, a divorce. The girls stayed with Gloira. Len left with his father to live back in Minneapolis. He spent the next three decades breathing exhaust as a student, a bus driver for the public schools, then the owner of a courier service. He was a good driver, sure, but Gloria always wondered how he had handled those city kids, him being so pudgy and soft in the gut—and in the head. He’d always been a whiny, brooding child and he seemed to have never grown out of his need to prove to people he was otherwise. 

“What did you go killing deer on my property for?” She asked Len. At 38 years old, he’d never shot a thing in his life until now. But after signing the last divorce papers giving his wife custody of their three children, he’d developed a sudden interest in hunting. “Just because you could?”

“Goddammit, Mom,” he said. “Yeah. I could. I did. Chill out, why don’t you.” He sucked down the rest of his beer and stomped on the can with his new hunting boots.” I gotta go get me my venison.” He smiled and slammed the door on his way back out to his car.

They were does, three of them. And ever since Len shot them, all winter she’d hardly seen a deer pass through the clearing out back. Hadn’t seen one stop to sip at the crick that ran along the edge of the forest.

That’s when the wolf came...


Wendy Skinner is a fiscal year 2014 recipient of an Artist Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature; and by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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