The boy sat on the window seat in the music room staring at the puzzle that had eluded him for days now. Der Frau said it was because of male chemistry which confused boys and made men stupid that he was having so much trouble with his studies. But he was always so good with puzzles, wasn’t he? His music had even been affected; the keys of the piano seemed to move about of their own accord. His Uncle would be upset with him when he returned from Leipzig and read the tutors’ reports. All but one. Der Frau was forever his stalwart supporter. Perhaps she could intercede for him, convince his Uncle that it is this male chemistry that is to blame, not his lack of interest. Still, he just wanted to go outside and be a boy. Was that so much to ask of Uncle?
It was worse than he thought. Uncle was yelling at der Frau, but the boy could not understand what he was saying. He was using that secret language they shared. Suddenly, she began to yell and just as suddenly der Frau ran out of the study, crying. Uncle stormed into the foyer as though he wanted to go after her, then he saw the boy and without speaking, gestured for him to go inside to the study.
He woke up feeling uncomfortable. His nightshirt was tight around the neck and shoulders, his chest. He got up from bed and yanked his shirt, tearing, shredding it to get it off him. Something was wrong. He felt oddly, large. He went to the full-length mirror on the wardrobe and had to step back to see his full body. It took but the blink of an eye and his childhood was in the distant past and he was comfortable in his new adult body. But, there was something, lingering in his mind– a teasing memory he could not grab hold of and examine. He shook it off and dressed for breakfast in the new clothes he found in the wardrobe. He wondered how much more was expected of him: how much longer would he be a pitiful prisoner in this abysmal house.
He continued to have such thoughts for the next several days. It was snowing every day now and soon the river would begin to freeze. He remembered how much he loved to skate, but he couldn’t remember how many winters he had skated, recalling only the last winter. Or did he? He couldn’t remember the last time he went anywhere away from the cursed house. He would probably die here in this tomb and it would be his Uncle’s doing.
He was bored. There were no more tutors except for his piano teacher. He was expected to practice all day, every day, but he grew restless and began hating the piano, and der Frau. She spent much of her time with Uncle on the bottom floor of the house in Uncle’s “workroom”. He was beginning to suspect that his Uncle meant more to her than he could stomach. He was experiencing a man’s jealousy and had no one in whom he could confide. He felt alone.
His Uncle told him there would be a full moon this night. He planned to use that to his advantage and escape the hateful house and never return. He found it easy to get out of the house. It was hardly the fortress he had imagined. He chided himself for never having tried before. He followed the river, not knowing where it would lead but knew that people most often lived near rivers; towns were built near them for a water source. There, perhaps, he could find someone to help him.
The light of the moon felt hot on his skin. He began removing layer after layer of clothing, leaving them in the snow, paying no heed to the cold night. He reached a clearing and the full light of the moon reflected off his strangely glowing, naked body, sending powerful, concussive waves of pain and pleasure throughout him. He howled, laughing at how easily it came from him and howled again as pleasure outweighed the pain. And he thought of the beautiful Frau and ran back towards the house, running so easily and swiftly it felt as though he was flying.
Running sometimes upright, sometimes with his hands as well, he was at the house in no time at all and struck into the door of the bottom floor, knocking it off its hinges, hurling the shattered door aside, rushed in and abruptly froze… There she stood, his Frau, her arms extended, urging him to come to her. He was slowly closing in on her, feeling renewed pain, knowing pleasure was within reach, when he heard himself growling– something was wrong. He could smell him. He was behind him on the left. The creature that once was the boy turned and growled at Uncle and felt the stab of the hypodermic needle in his neck from behind. Der Frau and the man he called Uncle had done this before, to him. The creature fell to the floor. Before their eyes, it transformed, quietly sleeping, no longer the creature of myth and legend; just a boy who liked to skate on the frozen river and solve puzzles. Wolfgang was very good at puzzles.
Once More With Feeling #13; Cognitive Reflection
Photo prompt credit: Trynacu2
Word Count: 895
Wolfgang, in German: Wolf is of course for the predator, the wolf, and gang means “path” or “journey.” Der Frau simply means “the woman”.