by Sophia Tellen

A symbol of long-ago dreams surfaces, and finds a home.

Shadowy brooding possesses my soul. Clouds hover over the rose garden. Where does promise dwell? A story overshadows me, invades. I move aside uneasily. What will this story tell? Tightness grips my stomach. It spreads upwards, hits between the ribs. I am back in constriction. Back behind the Iron Curtain, back in my hometown. I have just returned alone from the mountain village to which my father packed us off in such haste this summer. I am back from the Mountain of Wolves.

It was there one winter, when the village was covered with snow, that my father was out with his first two daughters. It was there, when the Berg was white with snow, that the rabid wolf came racing towards them, gnarling with foam. And it was there that winter that my father simply turned to face him, and with his good left arm tightly fisted, bashed him on the nose. (The story was told and retold in our family, of his courageous act, and how he had made the wolf turn and slink away, but how, thereafter, my father had to have twenty injections, straight into the belly).

In the town below the foreign soldiers had moved in and were looking for girls. I, child, am six or so.