As soon as I step into the bedroom, I can tell that it’s not my Grandmother in the bed—it’s a wolf. Maybe I can get it to tell me what he’s done with my Grandmother. “My what a big nose you have today, Grandma.”
“Say it like you mean it,” said the wolf.
“You heard me. Say it like you mean it. Your voice’s too timid. Project! Project!” The wolf is flinging his arms around. He reminds me of my grade ten English teacher who made us each teach a class on Catcher in the Rye. I had nightmares. “And for God’s sake, keep your basket still. It’s shaking so hard the muffins are going to fall out. I don’t want to eat something that’s fallen on the floor.”
I want to say you’re a wolf for Pete’s sake, you’ve probably eaten worse things. I want to say you’ve insulted my Grandmother’s housekeeping, her floors are spotless. But I don’t.
The wolf adjusts my Grandmother’s glasses on his big nose. “Try it again. With gusto.”
“My what big eyes you have today, Grandma.”
“No. No. You’re skipping ahead. Start again at the beginning. Your basket’s still shaking. Would it help if you imagined me naked? I’ve heard that helps with stage fright.”
“Ewww, no. Gross.” I take a deep breath. “My what a big nose you have today, Grandma.”
“That’s a bit better,” said the wolf. “Stand up straight. It helps with your breathing. Don’t forget to breathe or your audience won’t breathe, either.” The wolf adjusts my Grandmother’s frilly nightgown. “The better to smell you with, my dear.”
“You sound just like my Grandmother.” I said before I could stop myself.
“Thank you. I’ve been told many times that I have a talent for mimicry. Many times. But please, stick to the script. And curl your toes. It helps to ground you and make you stand up straight.”
I curl my toes and project. “My what big eyes you have today, Grandma.”
The wolf puts his paws over his ears. “No. No. That’s all wrong. Say it like you’re saying it for the first time ever. Say it like you’re surprised.”
“But I’m not. I’ve known this story for years.”
"You’re arguing with me now? I’m in charge here. What I say goes. Let’s continue then. And remember—surprised! Surprised!”
I try to act surprised. “My what big ears you have today, Grandma.”
The wolf lets out a big sigh. “I don’t want to see your surprise. You look like one of those big-eyed kids on black velvet. I want to hear your surprise.”
I scream at the wolf, “Just tell me where my Grandmother is!”
It’s his turn to be surprised. “That was great. Didn’t know you had it in you. Okay kid, I’m going to give you a break.” The wolf takes off the glasses and rubs his eyes. “Hand over the basket. She’s in the attic.” He starts to unbutton my Grandmother’s nightgown and then stops and looks down. “What the hell. I’m keeping this.” He clamps onto the handle of the basket with his teeth and runs out the door on all fours.