The doorbell rings.
“She’s here!” Amelia Hanson cries out, racing down the corridor toward the front door.
“Be careful, dear. Remember what the doctors said.” Albert Hanson races behind his overly-sensitive wife.
It is August, 1993. Their youngest daughter is returning home, after being lost for five years.
“We have waited very long for this; please do not refuse me one more second of holding my baby.”
“The girls are all up stairs?” He runs his fingers through his smooth, dark curls while fixing his tie in the mirror.
“Yes, just like Peggy suggested.” Amelia checks herself in the mirror, also. “You think she will accept us?”
“Yes, my queen, don’t worry. We are her parents, and she will know we love her.”
Albert nods to his wife, who flings the front door of their luxurious mansion open, just as Peggy Hall gears up to ring the doorbell, once more. “Oh, my goodness!” Amelia looks down at her seven-year-old daughter, Azura Hanson.
“Mrs. Hanson, please,” the social worker pleads, as Azura moves behind her. She is frightened by her own mother. “Hey, sweet girl, do you remember when I showed you pictures and spoke to you about these nice people?” She places her folders, over-stuffed with paperwork, on the concrete while stooping to speak with Azura. The little girl nods, slowly, and tightens her grip on Peggy’s hand. “Do you remember how we say hi?” Azura looks confused by her words. “How do we? Umm…” Peggy struggles to find smaller words to help her understand. She raises her hand and waves to Azura, saying hi, repeatedly, until Azura giggles and waves back. Her stunning, blue eyes disappear behind blushing cheeks.
She struggles to mimic the sound she hears coming from Peggy, finally releasing a well fought “hi.”
“Very good, Azura. I’m so proud of you!” Peggy gives her a hug, gently. “Now let’s say hi to your mom and dad.” Peggy turns Azura to face her speechless parents, but her eyes will not leave the social worker’s face. She eagerly awaits instructions on how to perform every action required of her.
Peggy gives a melodramatic hello to the gape-mouthed Hanson couple. Azura waves at her parents, but continues to keep her focus on her social worker. “Very good, beautiful.”
“Please, come in.” Albert pushes his traumatized and ridged wife out of the way. Amelia stumbles backward, catching her balance with her husband’s help.
“Please, come in, Azura.” He speaks, gently, to his daughter, fighting the urge to scoop her up into his arms. Albert Hanson is the proud business owner of a highly- lucrative business, supplying new technology to companies around the globe. When their daughter went missing, they fought hard to keep it private, fearing threats from criminal optimists. They knew if she was kidnapped a ransom note would soon follow her disappearance. After one month, they were certain someone in search of money had not kidnapped their daughter.
Peggy nods as she begins moving toward the open door, only to be jerked back by Azura, who refuses to budge. “Sweetie, it’s okay. This is your home.” She touches Azura’s soft, large curls. “We had to shave her head bald. I’ll explain later, if you’d like.”
“That’s quite alright. We are very grateful for all you have done for our baby,” Albert replies.
Azura shakes her head no, defiantly, and looks back at the car they arrived in. Peggy quickly understands her fears, remembering how highly responsive she was to her surroundings. “I know this is new, but I’m here for you.”
Azura nods in reluctant agreement. She cautiously follows her social worker into the home, clinging onto her hand and skirt. They make their way through the mansion and into a grand living room. As they sit on the sofa, Azura pins herself against Peggy.
“I apologize for this.” Peggy struggles to straighten her clothing. She finally gives up; releasing a heart-felt sigh as she gently runs her fingers over Azura’s precious head. “This is a lot for her in one day.”
“I apologize for my wife.” Albert looks back at Amelia, who is walking like a zombie toward them. He swiftly approaches her, takes her by the arm and pulls her into an out-of-sight area of the room.
Peggy watches as Azura stands and peeks around the corner, curiously. “Are you worried, sweetie? It’s okay, everything is alright.” She is wondering if maybe this should have been thought out more.
Azura rushes back to Peggy’s side, clinging to her as Mr. and Mrs. Hanson return. “My apologies.” Amelia breaks her silence as she gingerly enters the room carrying a stuffed animal. Azura’s eyes brighten as she finds interest in the toy her mother is holding. “Hello, Azura, I’m your mommy. Do you remember Mr. Popples?” She holds the small, stuffed, brown bear in front of her daughter.
“Do you remember him, Azura?” Peggy feels Azura’s grip lighten.
The bear seems to pique her interest as she slowly reaches for it. Everyone does their best to control their excitement as Azura takes the toy from her mother. Amelia wants, so badly, to hold her youngest daughter and tell her how sorry she is for failing her as a parent. She wants to let her know how much she missed her, and tell her she will never let her out of her sight, ever again.
At the age of seven, rescuers find a feral child living amongst a pack of wolves, in the wilds of Canada. When she was two, her family took a vacation to Algonquin Park, in Ontario, Canada. On the last day of their trip, the family of nine was preoccupied, packing and cleaning up the campsite. Everyone assumed Azura Hanson was in the RV, napping. Her mother, Amelia Hanson, insisted they do a head count before her husband, Albert Hanson, drove off. It was then they discovered Azura was missing.
For the next five years, Mr. and Mrs. Hanson searched for their lost child. They never gave up, even when everyone else did. Every year, they revisited the campsite, in Algonquin Park, spending countless hours searching for signs of their daughter. No one knows how the wolves found her; all they do know is she became one of their own. Azura roamed around freely, under the watchful eye of her wolf mother. At night, she would gather all her offspring, including Azura. With the warmth of her body, the mother wolf would keep them all warm. Azura was fed and kept alive by animals most people fear in the wild. Her heart loved being a part of the pack. Everything she needed to know and understand about life, she learned from them.
Azura vividly remembers strolling through the woods, collecting berries, and playing close to her pack when a hunter came across them. She must have frightened him, since he instantly lifted his shotgun and pointed it directly at her. The wolf mother lunged at him, the gun fired, killing her, leaving Azura and the new offspring orphaned. The hunter did not wait around to be discovered by other wolves, when he realized it was a mother wolf. Azura cried with her siblings. She wailed, holding onto her wolf mother’s fur, begging her to wake up. Hours later, the hunter returned with a search party and a full rescue team. Azura and the young pups were captured. The wolf pups were taken to a wild-life refuge, and Azura was admitted into a nearby hospital, in Canada.
When her parents came to identify her, they could hardly believe their eyes. Her mother knew, instantly, this was their long, lost daughter, but her father needed to see the results of a DNA test. Azura could not speak any understandable words. She had an array of grunting noises to communicate her wants and needs. At night, she would howl, hoping to hear back from her pack and be reunited with them. For the first six months, she refused everything human. Her hair stayed in one tangled clump, because she fought off the staff when they attempted to groom and care for her.
When Peggy Hall first began working with Azura, she feared she would never be reformed, or reach an acceptable social level to be re-entered into society. However, she refused to give up on her. Finding a way to communicate and reason was imperative to the success of reforming Azura. Reluctantly, her parents agreed to let her stay in Canada, with Peggy Hall, in hopes that when she was ready to return home she would be in a state of mind they could handle.
To everyone’s amazement, she learned quickly. Although, she needs constant attention, patience, and structure, Azura is coming along, nicely. Most areas of her life have been carefully reformed, and she is now able to re-enter society. However, one area of her life is misunderstood. Her parents refuse to talk about it, openly, and insist on keeping her closely, and privately, watched. They have no clue how to tame the beast that comes out of her when she is enraged. They just hope one day she will be perfectly normal.