Julietta stared at her mother in disbelief. She couldn't believe her ears. Of all days, her mother chose to accompany her today.
“Don't you keep saying that I should get some exercise?" her mother asked indignantly.
“Yes, but in the afternoon. It won't be fun for you with all the school children around," Julietta tried to explain. It was as good a time as any for her mother to visit the nearby park. But Julietta herself was not going to the park and today was not a day for revealing the truth about her afternoon expeditions. Even her friends knew that her parents would not allow her to go to the forest and the lake on her own.
“So then, when should I go, according to you?" Mrs. McGreeves asked impatiently.
“In the morning, when other ladies are out there instead of all the children," Julietta answered with a kiss on her mother's cheek before she grabbed her homework bag and ran out the door.
“I think that I should be the judge of all that," Celia McGreeves shouted after her daughter.
Julietta did not want to waste any further time, listening to her mother. She ran almost all the way to the forest.
When she arrived there Julietta could not believe her eyes. There were people everywhere around the lake. Some were even having a picnic on the grass.
“Why today when I want to see the white wolf again?" she complained to herself dismally. “It's all because of the fine weather," she commented as an answer to her own question.
So Julietta walked over to a spot underneath a tree. She sat down there and took out her books.
“I can just as well do homework anyway," she said in a practical tone of voice.
She read for a few moments but was distracted by the voices around her, so she looked around a little bit. A middle-aged looking lady smiled at her and Julietta spontaneously smiled back. She made sure that her smile was not too friendly though.
“Why can't they just leave so that the wolf can come out?" she thought in frustration.
“You're actually thinking that it is coming out only for you," she said to herself inwardly and suppressed a giggle as she moved her glance towards the lake itself, where two small boats were afloat. The day was sunny. That's why so many people had come out, Julietta realized, but it still upset her that her “private spot" had been taken over by all these strangers.
She returned her focus to her homework and set out to complete her tasks.
When she looked up next, Julietta found herself almost alone. A mother and two children were hastily packing up their picnic basket as they prepared to leave the lake. There was not much daylight left. Her homework was done, and it was time for the wolf to appear because it was becoming foggy enough.
Julietta slowly packed up her homework bag, pretending to leave as well. She didn't look at the departing family because she did not want them to start a conversation with her.
When she rose and glanced in their direction again there was no sign of the little family. They did not waste time with leaving. She looked around the deserted place. It seemed as if the group of people who were there for the afternoon had never existed.
Julietta rushed over to stand near the lake again so that she could observe the forest.
After a while of staring at the exact spot where she had seen the white wolf the night before, Julietta shook herself physically.
“He won't necessarily be standing in exactly the same spot like a spook, silly!" she reprimanded herself out loud.
So, she averted her gaze and scanned the rest of the foggy forest scene in front of her. There was no sign of a wolf. Was it shy or did it simply have somewhere else to be tonight?
It was getting too dark to be there by herself anyway, so Julietta turned around in disappointment.
“It was that silly crowd!" she blurted out to no one in particular. “That, or my imagination," she resolved reluctantly as she walked away from the lake with hasty steps.
When she reached the road, she took the street which led to her home, but after a few steps, she stopped. It did not feel right to show up at home with her disappointment written so clearly on her face. Julietta was not good at hiding her emotions.
“I will rather go to Emile since he expected to go to the lake today anyway," she told herself. So, she turned back and turned into Emile's street. Her head hung low, and her chin touched her chest as she walked dejectedly down the well-lit street.
“Oh, cheer up!" Emile exclaimed in disbelief when he saw how disappointed his friend was. He ruffled her curly brown hair to lighten up her mood. “Tomorrow is still another day and the day thereafter," he added with a smile.
Julietta looked at him in surprise as she sat down on the chair that he pointed out to her. Since when was he so light-hearted about disappointment? He usually carried on for days on end whenever someone made “sour" comments about his artwork.
“Okay then," Julietta responded. “You haven't shown me your latest paintings yet," she commented with a raised eyebrow.
“Come along and see them then," Emile offered. He confidently led the way to the small gallery at the end of their lounge.
“When is your mother coming home then?" Julietta asked while she gazed at the paintings on the wall. Emile's mother was usually at home by this time.
“She went to talk to someone about donations towards her foundation for disabled children," Emile replied.
Julietta noticed for the first time that Emile's latest paintings were rather unusual. He usually painted house pets but this time he had ventured into wild animals like bears, jaguars, and even wolves.
“Your imagination is rather keen for you to be able to draw such animals from mere memory," Julietta commented as she frowned at the paintings.
“Who says they were done from mere memory?" Emile asked.
“Oh?" Julietta responded in shock. “So, when have you seen a jaguar in real life?"