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Crushed by the undertow, I landed upon the marble snow. Surrounding me was a field of white encircled by trees. Their bodies were stripped to the bone, naked from their leaves. Stars hung like candles in the sky, tossed beyond my reach. All was silent. But I could hear from where I stood the sound of a Raven flying through the woods. Gripped in its talons was a piece of my heart.
In the undergrowth, something stirred and a black swirl of smoke rose up to greet me. It was Wolf. Startled, I tried not to move, docile and afraid. He sensed my pain and approached me gingerly, crouching to my level. His eyes were fossilized wood, glimmering with amber. He told me he knew what the Raven had done to me. It had done the same to him, too.
"Heartbreak is like death," he proclaimed. "All you have left are memories, shared with the person who broke you."
I showed him where the Raven had torn my heart. In return, Wolf brushed against me with his fur. He nuzzled my cheeks until they bloomed with color. He tugged at my ear with his teeth, making me smile. When he pawed me with claws sheathed, my body responded with joyful abandon, welcoming a touch it craved so much. The stars had fallen at last, filling my body with light.
Night after night, Wolf sheltered me, his eyes watchful and wide. He wasn't a Wolf any longer but gentle and kind. In our eyes shimmered the same light, the type stars would cry. It was no longer cold outside.
The sound of the world was new, silken and glowing, shared by two. Gossamer threads sewed us together. When we weren't locked into one, we were playing—our eyes flashing, teeth bared, dancing and laughing as if it would never end.
He tried to stop being a Wolf and I forgot he was one. Strangely, I was growing accustomed to The Wild. Wolf loped by my side through the mountain trails, passing spring meadows sparkling with wild flowers, draped in silver green. I followed his shape. It had become as familiar to my eyes as the edge of a lake. Yet in his home every day was a matter of survival.
When he first snapped his teeth at me, I was alarmed. Ashamed, he rested his head in my lap and promised me he would shield me from harm. And he did. He scared everyone away until it was just me and him, and I had unknowingly become prey.
"Don't ever leave me," he begged. And I listened to his song, a wailing harmonica which was both painful and sweet.
"I am yours and you are mine," I replied.
At first I was enchanted by this illusion of protection and security. But before long, he started to compare my trusting innocence to that of a child's. He used this name to reduce me to something smaller, a morsel he could chew.
The land surrounding me became my home, but it wasn't mine. It was HIS territory. It was a map I had to know. He barked at me when I questioned his ways, until I was lost and confused enough that I took each blow without question. When I did try to stand my ground, he howled in rage. When I cried, it was a human emotion, not understood by a Wolf. When I clung to his fur, the coat which had warmed me in the deepest cold, he shook me off. I stared at him in disbelief, quivering with grief. "You are weak," he told me. And that's when I realized I didn't believe in anything he said.
I fled. The trees opened up to me. I ran alongside the river, its twisting ribbon calling me forward. I ran to where the wild flowers flowed, weaving through my hair, sweet as air. I ran and ran until there was nothing left to run from.
And that's when I understood that when the Raven had taken a piece of my heart, I had wanted someone to heal it. All along, that someone was me.