Chapter 1: A Strange Sighting
The audience was on their feet. Their applause was thunderous. Julietta smiled broadly and bowed in all directions to her imaginary fans. Something caught her eye just as she was getting ready to jump up and down to celebrate her successful rendition of a woman who had just lost her favorite pet.
Julietta stared hard into the forest ahead of her to see what had moved there in the fog just a while ago. She loved the beauty of the green forest set against the background of a sky that was usually azure blue.
On foggy days the view was just as charming because she loved the charming atmosphere leant by the sense of mystery that the fog presented. She loved to imagine what was beyond her immediate view.
She was just about to turn around and get ready to head home when her eyes adjusted well enough to the fog to see what looked like a big, white wolf a distance into the woods. She looked away and checked again.
“Am I seeing things?" she asked below her breath. It really was a wolf that was apparently staring straight back at her.
Julietta felt her knees tremble. What if the animal charged at her? She stepped back slowly and stopped immediately when she realized that the lake was a short distance behind her. She could fall in.
She glanced at the wolf. It did not seem interested in following her, so she stood still for a short while. She then turned around slowly so that she could head back home. It was getting late, and the wolf was just staring right now. Julietta looked away to glance at the path and when she looked at the wolf again it turned around and disappeared deeper into the woods.
“How strange!" Julietta gasped breathlessly. She decided not to go after the wolf because it was almost dark now. So, she walked to the footpath, which led home. She couldn't believe that she had been rewarded with a glance at a big white wolf.
Julietta sang all the way home, where she lived with her parents in a comfortable three-bedroom cottage-style house. They also had a lovely, small garden with a fence around it which was fenced off with a picket fence for privacy.
“What is wrong with you?" Mrs. McGreeves asked when Julietta almost dropped a plate while she was laying the table. “Your mind is everywhere but here," Mrs. McGreeves complained.
“I'm excited about the new play at school," Julietta responded quickly. She was not going to tell her mother that she was spending time hanging out at the lake by herself. So, she would contain herself until she saw her friend Emile at school tomorrow.
“What is the play about?" Julietta's mother asked curiously. She did not want her daughter to be so taken up with drama lessons at school. She and her husband wanted Julietta to become a doctor one day. So, she needed to focus more on mathematics and science and less on drama.
“It's about a lonely woman who lives with her dog and then one day the dog goes missing and the woman ends up being beside herself with panic and anxiety," Julietta responded with sincerity.
“How sad," Mrs. McGreeves responded half-heartedly. Julietta did not mind because she knew that her mother was not that excited about her love for acting. She had realized early enough in her life that her parents only wanted her to study medicine.
Later that night, as she lay in bed, Julietta recalled the moment when she laid eyes on that magnificent wolf. It was out there in the fog. Emile might think that it was only her imagination.
“I will tell him anyway," she told herself before falling asleep.
Julietta dreamt about being in a fantasy world where she was a queen surrounded by many subjects who were sometimes human and sometimes animals. They bowed down to her and tried to fulfill her every wish.
She woke up feeling disappointed that the dream was not real. Then she remembered the wolf in the forest.
“I'm sure that it was real," she said to herself while she brushed her hair in front of the mirror. She couldn't wait to tell Emile, her friend ever since she had first gone to St John's School.
“I'm coming with you tonight," Emile said in a determined tone in response after Julietta told him about her encounter with the wolf.
“What if you frighten it away?" Julietta asked. She was suddenly not so sure about whether it had been a good idea to tell Emile about the wolf. Maybe it was only her imagination because it was already dusk when she saw the wolf. She wondered whether she should perhaps have treasured the experience for herself before sharing it with anyone else.
“It wasn't frightened away by you, so why would I frighten it away?" Emile asked. “You said it was very big anyway, so why would it scare easily?" he continued.
“Its size doesn't make a difference," Julietta objected. “Alright, then let's go there together, but we should practice caution," she suggested. She immediately lowered her voice when she noticed that some children were drawing closer out of curiosity because she and Emile were talking with their heads close together..
“Yes," Emile responded. “You know that I am always cautious whenever necessary," he said just as the school bell rang to indicate the end of break time.
Emile came rushing up to Julietta at the end of the school day.
“I have to practice basketball today so that I can be ready for standby duty for today.
“So, you will have to sit on the bench in case someone gets hurt?" Julietta asked.
“Yep," Emile responded with a forced smile. “It's my turn." He did not like being called upon at the last moment.
“Oh, no," Julietta responded. “Did they only inform you now?" she asked.
“Yes," Emile answered in disappointment. “But I can always go to the lake with you tomorrow," he added quickly.
“Oh, of course," Julietta agreed. She was surprised to realize that a part of her was relieved about the fact that Emile was not accompanying her to the lake anymore. It suddenly felt like her own private experience, and she did not want to share it yet. She wondered why she was so impulsive sometimes.
“I will go home quickly and get my cell phone so that I can take a photo of it," Julietta promised. “Then you can share in the experience as well for today."
“That's a good idea," Emile agreed before turning around and heading for the sports grounds.
Julietta then did exactly as she had promised and rushed towards the bus, which would take her home.
When she arrived at home, she went straight to her bedroom to collect her cell phone, which she was not allowed to take to school with her.
“Are you going to do homework in the park again?" her mother asked. Julietta only told her parents that she focused well when she did her homework in the park.
“Yes, Mom," Julietta lied. She did not want her parents to know that she went as far as the woods and the lake by herself.
“I will have to start taking a walk," Mrs. McGreeves announced suddenly. “I think I should walk with you. The park is not so far, for starters," she added with a sudden sparkle in her eyes.
“Uhmm…excuse me Mom?" Julietta responded in alarm. “Where do you wanna go?"