top of page

The Freedom of Truth & The Comfort of Lies

The first time was not a lie. His mother let him watch the sheep all by himself. He had shouted:

“Wolf! Wolf! There is a wolf!”

But his mother hadn’t come soon enough and the wolf left a blue-ish purple bite across his leg. However, a limp wasn’t the only thing he had been left with after the attack, his senses had also been enhanced.

The scents of his father’s cooking became so poignant that it brought him headaches, the whistle her mother used to call the sheep with pierced through his skull, and the grass he loved laying down on became so itchy it made him scratch till his nails broke skin.

He never told his parents anything of this, for them the only difference between their little baby and the boy who cried wolf was the cane he sometimes used, and the tattoo of teeth said beast left.

He had heard the stories of children whispered by the river bank, men whose sense became sharper and turned into beasts around the full moon, devouring not only sheep but the toddlers of whichever village they happened to visit. The boy had never turned into a monster under the full moon, though there were moments in which the world became too much for his human body and he changed it for the one of his attacker.

He was already an outcast. The only boy of the village who had dared challenge the doctor when this one said he was a girl. His parents had also fallen into scrutiny as they decided to take the word of his child instead of the priest-who-doubled-as-medical-professional.

So he had learned to lie. He didn’t flinch when his mother turned the volume of the radio a bit to loud for his liking, he said that his father’s stew was delicious even when it tasted like ash to his tongue, at school he would hear the children’s stories about wolf monsters and then he would add two more lies to the tale.

“They are not only hungry,” he would say, “they are bloodthirsty. The human flesh is their favorite.” And the children would see him with a mix of fear and admiration.

The boy has never wanted to eat human flesh when in wolf or human form, just a few chickens.

The boy became an expert liar, his word came to be believed even more than that of the priest who had mislabeled him. People saw him as a boy…and nothing more.

Until a new shepherd came to live in his village.

They were neither men nor women, they had said. When the children of the village asked the boy if that was possible he said yes, the first truth he had told since he was bitten. They were a child, if on the older side, but they had come here to work on their uncle’s farm so people called them The Shepherd.

The Shepherd, the villagers would murmur among them, had the uncanny ability to sniff out liars and force them to tell the truth. They discovered that the professor of the village had never studied what she taught, they uncovered the mayor’s relationship with the sheriff of the town, and announced that the innkeeper’s orange juice she served didn’t have oranges in it but rather tangerines.

The Boy had done his absolute best on not interacting with them. He didn’t even say hi as neighbors were supposed to do when they saw each other. However, he could not get away when The Shepherd started hanging out with the group The Boy told his stories to.

The Boy was afraid that when the Shepherd would hear his stories, they would see right through him and discover the monster he was talking about was himself. Therefore The Boy did what he did best and told a lie.

“The Shepherd is a werewolf,” he said as he sat near the river bank.

The children shuddered, no one called the monster men by name, terrified that by uttering it the wolves would arrive at the village and kill them all.

The children started to run away from The Shepherd but also from The Boy, they stopped meeting at the river bank.

“It's just, it's so close to their house, you know?” said one of the children, “And I guess to your house too. We are meeting in the town plaza now, near the fountain. You can come if you want.”

But The Boy’s parents would never let him go there by himself. Not to mention his leg couldn’t take a walk like that each day, back and forth. Still he came to the river bank to play with his toy-boat every other day after his dad would pick him up from school.

One day when the loneliness was all-consuming, he found The Shepherd resting on the grass near the river. They had a book resting on their lap, that they raised to their head every once in a while to read a few pages- it looked very uncomfortable.

Maybe it was the aching longing of companionship that beat The Boy’s fears, maybe it was the peaceful melody of the water running through the pebbles.

“What are you reading?” The Boy asked from the other side of the river.

“Words,” The Shepherd said.

“What do the words say then…and do not say stuff.”

The Shepherd stayed quiet for some time, trying different answers in their mind before saying:

“Truths hidden in metaphors.”

“So…” The Boy asked for elaboration.


“I prefer stories,” The Boy said. “Ones of valiant knights and brave ladies standing up against the terrors of the world, creating clever plans to defeat the big bad wolf.”

“Most people do,” said The Shepherd, changing the page of their book. They licked their finger as if they were a fancy city socialite.

“Read me a poem,” The Boy said, eager to be the listener for the first time.

The Shepherd looked at him, observed him from the tip of their head to their toes. The Shepherd sat up and read:

And the wolf showed its fangs

for little girls have great power.

They shout:

Werewolf! Werewolf! Werewolf!

And the hunter strikes him down.

“I told the children of the town you were a werewolf.”

The Shepherd looked disappointed at The Boy, sighed and continued reading their book in silence.

The afternoon stretched. The Boy’s leg was not killing him per se but around that area. For some reason, he needed The Shepherd to know that it was nothing personal, it was just the first lie his mind could weave and he didn’t have time to look for another.

“Why are you a freak?” The Boy asked instead.

“Excuse me!” The Shepherd retorted but didn’t look up from their book.

“Why can’t people lie to you?” The Boy tried again with kinder words, which he often left forgotten in the back of his mind.

“They can. They do.”

“But you don’t fall for them.”

“I am not stupid.” The Shepherd looked at him, implying…

“I am not stupid!” The Boy snapped.

The Shepherd hummed and combed through the pages of his book.

“I am the best liar in town.”

“A good liar wouldn’t have said so.”

“I made people believe I am human for years.”

“Aren’t you though?” The Shepherd finally looked at him. And they just had such a smug expression, so self-inflating as they sat on the other side of the river with the sun shining on them. It annoyed The Boy.

“No, I am a werewolf.”

The world went quiet again. Or maybe there was just an eternal high note ringing through The Boy’s ears.

All the time pretending he couldn’t hear his parents talk from his room, all the practice he had to do to not gag at the constant smell of cows poop, all the moments he trained himself to not transform under the full moon -no matter how much he itched too.

All the lies he told: Yes, he did his homework. No, Lila didn’t take his lunch. That he liked pudding and soccer, that Ms. Honey was in love with Mr. Roberto, etc. Everything came crashing down with just one truth.

“Interesting,” The Shepherd said, “I am not. I guess you are a fine liar then, if your friends believe you, or they are just stupid too.”


“They aren’t good friends, leaving you here with me. The wolf.” The Shepherd made a scary face and then laughed it away.

“Aren’t you scared?”

“Why would I be scared of a bad liar?”

Slowly the boy who lied became little by little the werewolf he was.

Two days after The Werewolf’s confession, The Shepherd stole caroling rigs from their uncle and crossed to the other side of the river bank. They went to an overhanging branch nearby, The Werewolf told his lies while The Shepherd saw the hidden truth in them.

“You aren’t a bad storyteller,” they said, bouncing the minnow against the mud to lure in the fish.

“I told you, I am the best in town.”

“Mmm, continue lying to yourself.”

They captured one fish and a half. The Shepherd drew a fire and was about to put the half alongside with the fish to cook, when The Werewolf stopped them.

“Wait I! I, eh, I actually prefer my meal raw.”

The Werewolf tossed the juicy salmon-pink half at the werewolf’s plate, it was delicious.

“Can you hear the people in town?” The Shepherd asked a different day, as they both walked back to their homes from the river.

“Sort of,” The Werewolf replied, “It's like little murmurs, like those voices in your head you almost always don’t pay attention to.”

“What do they say?” A beat, “About me?”

“Mostly lies. That you’re eh… a werewolf, sorry about that, or a witch, or are possessed by an evil spirit and that is why your parents don’t want you with them. But also some truths.”

“What truths?”

“That you are a snob.”

“I am not. You’re all idiots.”

“Hey! I am the intelligest!” The Werewolf joked.

“What do they say about us?”

“That you lured me with your witchcraft and plan to eat me the next full moon.”

“That is worse than your lies!” Then they thought, “You’re not going to eat me the next full moon, right?”

The Werewolf shook his head.

“I don’t eat people. And also you probably taste horrible.”

“You probably taste like shit too.”

“Then I’m happy to know you won’t eat me.”

The full moon came and the werewolf transformed for the first time since they were little, fur covering his body as a tail grew out of his coccyx, all by the peaceful embrace of lycanthropic magic and moonlight. His room became a narrow cage, he couldn’t more than limp around back and forth unless he broke something when turning around. He laid and slept the night with the comforting scents of his mom and dad nearby.

“Are you going to turn into a wolf?” The Shepherd asked in the morning.

“I already turned last night. I’m okay, no more itchiness.”

“You can turn with me. I’m not afraid of disheveled dogs.”

“Hey, I’m not scruffy. My fur is lucious.” He struggled pronouncing lucious.

They parted ways. The Werewolf went back to school and The Shepherd to work in their uncle’s farm; when they met again The Werewolf transformed and The Shepherd stroked their hand against his tawny brown fur.

“You are right. Your fur is pleasing.”

They laid in the grass, basking in the rays of a spring sun.

“Thanks for trusting me,” The Shepherd said, and then decided to return the favor. “My family- my parents, they were having troubles with their relationship, money and the world in general. They are scared of me- that they can’t lie to me, so they sent me here.”

The Innkeeper used to say to her patrons that lying made you prone to addiction but The Werewolf knew that the freedom of truth was all the more appetizing than the comfort lies could make, therefore he made a decision: he told his parents about his wolfish nature.

He found them together in the kitchen, the night was lazy, not yet turned black but rather a prussian blue that hid the stars.

He took a bit of balsam and rubbed it against his knee. The werewolf sat at the chair his mother used to reach the condiments in the highest stand and clear his throat.

“Dad, Mum. Can I have your attention?”

The black steely gaze of his mother and glassy brown of his father fell upon him.

“You remember the wolf that attacked me as a child?” His parents nodded, it was difficult to forget traumatic events, “Well, it didn’t just bite my leg, it…they…they were a werewolf.

I…I am one too.”

The Werewolf’s parents looked as if he had said that the sky was pink, but it was in two specific moments of the morning and noon.

His mother let out a piping laugh in little puffs.

“You are being ridiculous,” his dad said in a dry tone.

“Your imagination has gone a bit too far,” said his mom. Her giggling echoing in her tone.

“But it's true!” The werewolf said, “I have heightened senses! I can turn into a wolf! Why won’t you believe me!?”

They believed him when The Werewolf told his parents the name they chose for him cut his soul into tiny pieces when it was uttered, so they gave him another one. They believed him when he told them that after the wolf bit him he couldn’t walk again the same way as he used to.

“Turn into a wolf then,” they said.

And he tried. He forced the wolf he had buried in a mountain of lies to dig up, come out, but it wouldn’t for an audience that wouldn’t believe the trick.

“Your whole honesty shtick is bullshit, you know?” He told The Shepherd in the morning.

“Mmm-hmm,” The Shepherd acknowledged, “But your lying one too.”

“Why won’t they believe me?” The Werewolf asked, watching a half-moon slowly getting swallowed by the blue sky.

“They are afraid.”

“Fuck that. They’re adults, they should know better.”

The Shepherd sighed and took his hand. Two different shades of brown woven together.

“You know how it is, you aren’t supposed to talk about monsters when is the truth.”

The Werewolf squeezed the Shepherd’s hand.

“I don’t want to lie anymore.”

“It's going to hurt but you can stop.”

The Werewolf stopped.

Little by little, as his parents saw him cowering at loud noises, salivating for raw meat, and howling at the moon, they realized the truth. They were scared by it, this truth came with rumors of fangs and claws that drew blood, but as time went by they let the reality settled in and it became as normal as having a kid who was brunette.

The Shepherd and The Werewolf continued meeting at the river’s bank telling fairy tales and reading poems hidden in the bright green grass.

And with time The Boy who was The Werewolf made peace with that fact.


Ari Ochoa Petzold (they/xe), is a writer in process that likes dancing to old music and history, one of their goals in mind is to bring to the world stories about the human condition told through the intersectionality of being queer and latine. Find more of xyr work in the Sea Glass Magazine, Graveyard Zine, #Enbylife, Hooligan Mag and at Instagram in @Ari_gibberish.

bottom of page