Cozy Flash: “A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing”

It’s one of those lazy days.

Scout had meant to get up earlier, she really had. But their bedroom window had caught the morning sun so perfectly, kissing her face and encouraging her to stay in bed just a few minutes more, a few minutes more…

She’d been out late last night, after all. She wouldn’t admit to it, would accuse anyone who mentioned it of believing in old wives’ tales, but there had been something about the moon, almost full and calling to her. The night had been well lit enough that she’d strayed from her usual path, running full tilt through the woods like she was young again, playing Pack with the neighborhood kids.

She’d fallen into bed well past midnight, Gwen waking up just long enough to tease her and comb the burrs from her fur before tucking her wooly head under Scout’s chin and passing out again.
Scout won’t admit to this, either, but she stayed up for another hour at least, running her claws gently through Gwen’s curls, hardly able to believe that this is her life—a house all her own, on a plot of land the perfect size for her and Gwen and this love they share.

So she’d gone and slept in, let Gwen and the sun get up without her.

Now, as she finally opens her eyes to the day, she smiles, still caught up in the peace of the night before. Her body is the pleasant kind of sore, the type of ache that only living a good, full life brings her.

…Speaking of full, damn but she’s hungry.

And just as she thinks this, she catches a whiff of something delicious, and she’s already moving to get out of bed before her brain catches up.

The smell of fresh bread is a hook in her stomach, pulling her across the cold wood floor of this shared bedroom, grabbing for the first article of clothing she happens to touch.

It’s a sweater, soft and warm, white except when it catches the light and shows off that it is in fact the palest hint of blue.

It hangs well past her waist, and she indulges in how she can tuck her hands away completely in the too-long sleeves.

Gwen isn’t that much taller than her, but she is soft in all of the ways that Scout is not. Back when they first met, Scout had worried at what would happen when this beautiful woman bumped against the scars and claws that make Scout up. But she knows better now, knows that each curve and line of Gwen is strong in its softness, that her kindness is not because she has never known the harsh angles of the world, but because she has, and has chosen to be kind, time and time again.

Scout takes the steps two at a time, loving how strong her muscles feel she jumps the last four steps. It’s been a long journey to get her body to a place where it feels like hers, and her brain to a place where she is allowed to love it. But she is a woman built for marathons, built for the chase, and somewhere between meeting Gwen and falling for her, she had pulled herself out of the pit that had been her past, pursued happiness with a doggedness that her ancestors would have been proud of.

Gwen is standing in their kitchen, her cane set off to the side but within reach, so it must be a good pain day, one of the suncatchers Scout had made out of the seaglass Gwen collected painting rainbows across her face. It’s a familiar sight, and the way it hits Scout, steals the breath from her lungs, that’s familiar too.

Scout means to say something. Tease her over how her version of a lazy day involves fresh baked bread and blackberries she’d undoubtedly picked with the dawn. Make some smooth comment about how delicious she looks.

But Scout does neither of these things, because it is a lazy day, and her brain is still three strides behind her mouth.

“I missed you,” she says, and it’s not true, not really. There’s no fear in waking up alone, not here, not in this cottage they built for each other. But it’s also not untrue, because Scout misses Gwen like breathing. It’s just easier, when she’s around.

And Gwen, her darling Gwen, she doesn’t make fun. She doesn’t doubt, or roll her eyes, or make some vague comment about dogs and loyalty.

She just giggles, reaches out to run one hoof down the arm of her own sweater.

“I missed you too,” she says, as sincere as the sunrise, and Scout has had enough.

The kiss is just off-target, catching the corner of Gwen’s smile.

Lazy isn’t such a bad thing, she thinks, as Gwen’s giggles spill into full-blown bleating delight. Maybe lazy is actually just comfort in a small, sun-speckled life.

And there is nothing wrong, with loving a comfortable, well-built life.

— Ziggy Schutz

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