AWW Ulfrheim HH CH1

HORSE’S HEART:
Ch 1, Aldarrök

HORSE

It was the end of an age. The end of life as we knew it. Aldarrök, she called it. An apocalyptic event in our microcosm. I’d been looking forward to it for years, playing out different scenarios in my head. But not once had I imagined the pain I felt when the day finally arrived. Or the effects it would, inevitably, have on our lives.

At 16, I thought I had it all figured out. My whole life laid out, like a road map, ahead of me. I was going to finish Year 9 and go to college in Sundsvall. I’d do the military service and move on to vet school in Uppsala. Sticking to the plan, I figured I’d be able to take over Solvogna from my dad before I hit 25. Then I’d be able to do right by my best friend. I’d provide for her. Keep her safe. Make up for all the shit life, and your grandmother, had thrown at her. It was a pretty solid plan, but for my failure to factor in the unpredictability of life.

I remember how we rode our bikes to school for the last time. Maybe I should have paid more attention to the scenery. Taken in the beauty of the landscape around us, or enjoyed the mingling scents of petrichor and exhaust fumes coupled with the unmistakable smells of the northern countryside. But I didn’t. I was so close to completing the first goal on my precious checklist, and that was all I could think of that morning. Well, that and a certain girl.

I had been Helen Svensson‘s boyfriend since the school dance in Year 6. She was the prettiest girl I’d ever seen. She had pale blue eyes, long blonde hair and lovely lips that were begging to be kissed. At least in my head. By Year 9, she was the most beautiful girl in our school.

Helen looked like a supermodel, and all the boys lusted for her. All the boys except me. Her boyfriend. I was putting on a good show, what with all the handholding and snogging my role demanded. We sat together at lunch, and she’d take every opportunity to wrap her body around mine. I even gave her some of my shirts and a bottle of my body spray so she could wear them to show off. But it wasn’t Helen Svensson who occupied my mind and caused my dick to behave like a deranged black mamba. Edda was.

She had been the first and last thought on my mind every single day since I was four. But for the past two years, awake or asleep, she was the one I was dreaming of. My best friend. My sister. My heart. I wanted it all with her. The ride or die. The happily ever after. That morning, en route to graduation, the 16-year-old me was toying with the idea of claiming her as mine and putting a collar on her to prove it.

Laughing at the thought of a tied down Edda, swollen with my cubs, I turned my head to check on her. She was riding my old dirt trail bike, looking every bit like a true Wolfmother. Her unruly black and silver hair was flying like a banner behind her.

She wore a pair of threadbare jeans; the knee-high biker’s boots I’d given her for Christmas; and her uncle’s old biker jacket. She had wrapped a black and white Palestine scarf around her neck, and she was wearing Mammanita‘s cat-eye shades to protect her light-sensitive eyes. Her eyes and lips were accentuated with the signature black kohl eyeliner and deep red lipstick she always wore back then. Man, she was hot!

By all means, Helen Svensson was a gorgeous girl, but Edda… What can I say? Edda was otherworldly. She always was. You know, I was four when I first met her at The Smithy, and I was convinced that she was a trollunge. A changeling.

She looked a bit like a badger with her wild silver striped, raven black hair. I thought I would drown in her deep blue eyes. They were like wells of swirling water with a sunflower floating on top. And you should have seen her nose. She had the cutest freckled little nose that she scrunched up when she laughed or contemplated what she wanted to say. She was adorable, and I ran to ask my father if we could keep her. To my chagrin, all the men gathered around the forge laughed at me.

“She’s a little girl, Peter. Liv is my granddaughter, and she’s a human just like you and me. She doesn’t need to be rescued,” the blacksmith told me. I didn’t believe him. No human I’d ever seen looked like that. And I was pretty sure I’d never meet another human who talked or behaved like her either. Truth be told, I’m still not convinced she was human. But meeting her that day, it changed my life.

The little changeling told me her name was Edda. Her grandfather had said it was Liv, but she didn’t like that name for some reason. She told me that the blacksmith was called Pappa Stig, and that his wife was Mammanita. I asked about her parents and she said her mum had gone to Hel, but she didn’t know where her dad was. Then we played Fenrir’s cubs.

We tumbled around, chasing each other around the forge, and all over the farmstead. We were howling to the moon so our missing pack members would hear us, and we raided Mammanita’s pantry when we were hungry. By the end of the day, we were best friends and pretty much inseparable.

Two years later, when the reception year started, Edda wasn’t there. I was really worried that something had happened to her, and I couldn’t concentrate on anything our teacher said. That day, I met Lowkey and Scooter, and I told them all about my weird wolf-girl friend. As soon as we finished, we walked all the way to The Smithy to check on her. Pappa Stig told us she wouldn’t be going to school until next year when it was compulsory. I was disappointed, but from that day on, we went straight to Edda’s at the end of each school day. For the next ten years, with very few exceptions, the four of us spent every single day together. I couldn’t imagine life without her. I still can’t.

But I digress. We were riding to Liden for the last time when it hit me just how much I would miss all of it! Every morning for the past two years, Scooter and Lowkey had been coming over to Solvogna to help Edda out in the stables. On weekdays, we’d finish all of her chores, and then we’d have breakfast together before mounting our bikes to go to school.

It was a 14-mile ride on Road 86 along Indalsälven. We rode in formation, with Edda on my left side, Scooter up ahead and Lowkey as our rear guard. The Cubbies who lived along the road would join up as we passed their homes. We rode our bikes as long as the weather permitted, then in the winter, we’d swap them for snowmobiles and race each other up the river. It was awesome!

I was a young and foolish boy back then, but I was well aware of how lucky I was to have my circle of friends. We were Fenrir’s Cubbies of Ulfrheim, and it was all thanks to Edda. Without her, we wouldn’t have had any of it. She was truly exceptional, you know, and a mind-boggling enigma.

Edda was the strongest person I’ve ever known, yet she was terribly fragile. She could be a proper alpha bitch, but she was always our loving Wolfmother at heart. She was as fierce as she was fearless, yet she could be apprehensive and, somehow, even acquiescent. She was brave and brilliant, but she could also be shy and submissive. But above all, she was the glue that held us all together. The girl whose dreams and fantasies had created our universe. She was the one who turned a group of misfits into a tight-knit pack.

Anyway, as we neared the road leading up to the church, you could tell that the gravity of the situation had begun to sink in. There were none of the usual shenanigans and we were all uncharacteristically quiet. All that remained of this part of our life was the graduation ceremony. Well, that and the leavers’ party that would begin in the afternoon and run to the end of the week. Three days of beers and barbecues. Three nights of sharing tents with the mosquitoes at some remote campsite. The End.

We parked up by the old guesthouse next to the church. I think that’s when it first dawned on me that I should pay more attention to what’s right in front of me. That unless you’re present in the here and now, you miss out on the stuff that really matters in the end. I realised, I wouldn’t have any other memories of our last ride to school together than what Edda looked like that morning, and that the weather was nice. Both of which would be nice enough memories to hold on to, but what about the rest of it? What memories did I want to have of the last three days with my brothers?

I left that train of thought and got off my bike when I heard Hunter and Tank approaching with the northern Cubbies. They were soon followed by Wolf and Garm with our lot from the other side of the river. By the time all of us had parked up, there was 38 Ulfrheimers present. But only one of them had my undivided attention.

Edda took her leather jacket off and used her fingers to comb through her windswept hair. She had one of my old wifebeaters on, half-tucked into her jeans, and something about that image brought out a predator I never even knew I had in me. I knew she had to catch up with Baker and go warm up her voice, but I didn’t like the idea of letting her out of my sight. And I hated the fact that plenty of guys were checking her out. When she bent over her rearview mirror to reapply her lipstick, I had to stop myself from going over there to claim her as mine. But I was foolish, not stupid.

She was pissed off enough as it was, having to go to church for a school function. Every year she lectured the teachers on the many reasons why a school should be non-denominational. In essence, they all agreed with her, but they said it was a matter of space as no other place could house all of us at the same time. They basically told her to suck it up and accept what she couldn’t change. Stupid people. Fish would sprout legs before Edda would ever accept something that was wrong. I could have told them as much, but I never did. I guess I was grateful she had an outlet for her frustrations. And a bit of authority-bashing always seemed to take the edge off her.

No, I knew all too well that hitting her with what she would refer to as my “alpha-male bullshit,” on top of the church issue, was a spectacularly bad idea. With Angel‘s assistance, I’d almost managed to convince her to come along to the leavers’ party, and there was no way I was going to jeopardise that. The alternative, Edda staying home alone with my mother, was unthinkable. I wouldn’t allow it. So, I stayed put, watching her fish a pack of cigarettes out of her back pocket and stalk off to the church.

An hour later, Baker popped out for a fag and told us it was time to get seated. We filed into the church and filled up the bench rows one by one starting from the back. We took up nearly a quarter of the seats between us. Not bad for a club that had started with two little kids running around pretending to be wolf cubs.

Helen showed up with her friends, and she was smiling and waving when she saw me. She managed to squeeze past Hunter to come and plonk herself down on my lap. I was just about to tell her to get off when Baker began playing the intro to Blue Virgin Isles on the piano.

Shivers ran down my spine, and I had goosebumps all over my skin, as Edda’s voice sang out from the loft above us. She had changed the text a little, but in essence, it was still a melancholic song about a childhood lost. She was singing about us, and every single word pierced my soul. “Darling, we fell to the ground, fell just like the leaves when they’re brown. Rain keeps on falling like tears from my eyes, but you made it all worth my while.” I nearly choked when I realised she was saying goodbye to me! To all of us.

Helen scoffed. “Thank god they made the bitch stand in the loft at least.”

Scooter smirked, but his eyes were cold when he turned to her. “Jealous much, Helen?”

“Me? Jealous of that cow? As if!”

“Oi, back off.”

“Or what?”

I felt Scooter tense up, and saw the imminent threat in his eyes. “Or you won’t like it,” he said.

I felt Scooter tense up next to me. “Or you won’t like it,” he said, and I saw the imminent threat as he trained his eyes on me. She was never the sharpest tack in the box, Helen, but she had enough sense to give over at that.

Now, if Edda’s farewell song shook me, it was nothing compared to Scoot doing what I never had. You see, Helen was always tormenting Edda, and what did I do about it? Nothing. Angel and Hunter did, of course. And Lowkey kept telling me told me to man up. But Scooter was never one to notice petty squabbles. Until he did and challenged me in the process. Things would get violent if I couldn’t stop my girlfriend from attacking my girl. I never saw that one coming, that’s for sure.

Checking my watch, I figured we had two more hours before we could get out of there and Aldarrök would be upon us.

© 2021 Lïnnéa Lucifer & Evalena Styf. All rights reserved.

The right of Lïnnéa Lucifer and Evalena Styf to be identified as the Authors of the Work has been asserted by them in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

Apart from any use permitted under UK copyright law, this publication may only be reproduced, stored, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means, with prior permission in writing of the publisher.

First published online in 2021 on www.aswewrite.com and on Wattpad.

All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

www.aswewrite.com

So, this is the rough first draft of Chapter 1. I’m sharing these to show my writing process and I will be sharing my edits too in the future. If you liked what you read, please share using the buttons below and leave a comment.

Thank you!

//Lïnnéa x

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