Pilar Garcia Claramonte, June 2023 Highly Commended

My Daughter the Wolf Therian

by Pilar Garcia Claramonte

My daughter was on all fours in the garden last night, howling at the moon.

“It’s just a phase,” her father said. “Something she’s seen on TikTok, probably. Nothing to worry about.”

Today, at breakfast, she announces that she’s descended from wolves. I swallow hard, recalling a photo of her birth parents. Her brother sniggers and asks if there’s a dead moose in her lunch-box.

She shows us her new profile on her mobile. “Hi. I’m Leaf. I’m a wolf therian.” In the photo, her face tilts forward so close to the camera that the nose appears unnaturally elongated, protruding towards the world with a menacing sneer. Unnervingly her, but different. She’s only twelve. I wonder if she senses the many ways in which that name, those words, could mark a distance between us.

She nuzzles up. Will I help her to make a tail? Something she can attach to herself and swing side to side. She might wear it to school, she says. Pinned to her uniform. My stomach lurches.

“What will the girls say in class?” We’d done our sums and moved her to a new school that term. Small classes, lush grounds might smooth the jagged edges left from her early childhood, before she was legally ours. Whatever it takes.

“Call me names?” She shrugs. “I’m adopted. I’m used to that.”

As she leaves for school, she looks tiny in her new, too large uniform.

I know exactly where I’ll find some faux fur for her tail.

About the Author

Pilar García Claramonte wishes that she had discovered the joy of creative writing much earlier in life. Now retired, she spends her time between the Kent coast, Oxford and the Basque Country, where she was born, trying to make up for lost time, aided and abetted by some great teachers and writing buddies.

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