Without a word, she dropped to the ground. Feeling the earth beneath her feet, she whipped around; senses heightened by the feeding. Each small movement within the forest pierced her ears.
She hated this part. It was too much. It was all too much and yet it was nothing.
She moved swiftly along, careful to keep her footfalls light. The hour was coming when the forest would no longer belong to just her. She didn’t want to be around when it was time to explain.
Reaching the road she gave her body a full shake. Her long silky fur receded as she stood. She tossed a match over her shoulder and it instantly ignited the dry underbrush. All evidence would be soon lost in the cleansing fires. One more cycle under her belt. She watch the blaze pick up in her rearview mirror as she sped off.
“No!” she screamed, her body jolted awake, sweat soaked the bed. It had been this way every night since she’d lost him. The same dream replayed itself over and over.
Woods, running, crunch of leaves, time to go.
She’d looked back to find him gone.
A deep growl shook the trees. She called out over and over again for him.
She turned to slink back toward their site, but the brightening sky stopped her.
It was too late.
She threw her pillow over her face thinking of the trip back in the next day. It was stupid. But she couldn’t bear the thought of a blaze overtaking him. The dawn would be painful enough.
She’d found him, part of the forest now; his form one with the tree. He starred up at the sky keenly. His eyes permanently open to each passing cycle though he’d never transition again.
She ran, paws pounding the earth. She wasn’t even trying to shield herself now. What was so worth protecting? Her life? A life spent in solitude. No closeness. No one, just her.
She’d once seen a large shadow cross her path and she’d chased it, hopeful. A Kodiak, its body was large and powerful but its mind was a mess of primal triggers and reactions.
She listened, her inferior human ears detecting dogs howling. They’d soon find the bodies, her bodies. They’d know it wasn’t a bear or a coyote. It was always too neat. Too clean. “Respect must be given,” he’d always said.
The sounds moved toward her and yet she remained, only easing away when their orange vests broke the tree line.
Close. She felt her heart pound, strangely satisfied.
“You know we are meant to be alone, right?”
She’d followed him through the darkness until the cycle was complete. He’d known she was there. She’d felt his mind edge into hers. She’d felt agitation, anger, but a bit of curiosity. It was enough that she’d continued on his tracks. She’d felt. And it was wonderful.
“We’re solitary creatures. So, leave me. Find your own grounds,” he’d said, slamming the door and driving away. She’d wondered if he’d felt her gaze follow him through the dust cloud.
Next cycle she’d stayed back, careful to stay just out of his reach. It was then she’d noticed the scratches along the bark and the scrapings that had left broken limbs behind. An invitation! Maybe she wasn’t the only one who longed for a bond with another.
The night air had felt strangely evocative, like it was willing her to climb higher, jump further, and stretch the boundaries of her nimble body. This was life. This is what she’d been missing.
Once you find out how it can be, how it should be, you can’t go back. She understood this now, like he’d understood it then. Those moments, that connection, it had been temporary; never meant to be. But there was no going back to what was and what was wasn’t much at all.
“You know we’re meant to be alone, right? We’re solitary creatures.”
She gripped the bark, claws digging deep. Her jaw clenched. She starred up at the sky keenly, ready and willing the dawn to come and for a moment, as the rising sun warmed her, she felt loved.
710 words for Yeah Write’s Weekly Speakeasy Challenge. Maybe this will be my new prompt home now that Trifecta has closed their doors.
Stay positive & love your life.
Random thought: To be truly alone would be one the worst curses I can imagine. To know connection and then lose it, alone again, maybe the very worst of all.