Now-a-days Red takes the car and drives the long way around the forest to reach her Gran's house. The new, shiny, tarred highway is marked only by the occasional carcass of a dead deer or wolf. She always slows down when she passes these silent, still bodies, death spreading entrails and blood with precision, making patterns, splatters on the unyielding black. How real and how strange is death and how innocent. She does not ever tell Gran about the bodies or that she slows down. Danger lingers, leisures on highways, lazily waiting for lonesome travelers.
On this morning, the mist still hangs, invades, exhales on the windshield. Red drives slowly, headlights on full, the aroma of buns and cupcakes filling the car. She sees something on the road, a shape, dulled black by the mist, indistinguishable almost, from the road. Roadkill. She swerves and looks as she passes by. Breathing?. Movement?. Imperceptible almost, imagination and pattern recognition. A few feet ahead she stops, gets out the torch and walks back. It’s a wolf. Bleeding. Gasping for breath. Dying.
She picks him up, carries him to the car and lies him down next to the basket of buns and cupcakes. Wet fur, blood, poop and the aroma of cupcakes. She is nearly at Gran’s. A turn to the left, a bumpy ride down the mud path till the trees almost close in and she is there.
The basket of bakes is forgotten in the car. The wolf is next to the heater and Gran is cleaning out his wound: a big gash along his mouth. The jaw is broken. ‘He will recover’, says Gran. ‘Let him stay here’.
A week later he is dead. Red still drives down to meet Gran. Alongside her runs a silver-black wolf keeping the roads safe from huntsmen.