The wind blew cold across her cheeks as she sat against a tree, hugging her knees to her chest. Her eyes sightless studied the ground between her feet, looking for some meaning behind what had just happened. She painted a morose picture: her thick brown hair spilling over her shoulders, forming a sort of tent around her, her dark brown eyes watery and wide, her purple dress torn and disheveled. It had been weeks since It had happened and still, she couldn’t bear to do more than scavenge a few nuts here and there in the forest to stay alive. She wasn’t sure why exactly she was keeping herself alive. It wasn’t as if she really had a purpose in life anymore…
He had been killed. The one man who had seen her as an individual, who had seen her, not her sister. And now… he was gone. She didn’t know who she even was now… For so long, she had simply done whatever he had asked, no matter what. She was rudderless, adrift in a world she didn’t know, didn’t recognize, and didn’t seem to have any color. Maybe she should just drift off. No one wanted her now. Her family never did, even when she was little. It was always about her sister…Her sister would be queen so her sister needed to take lessons and be dressed in pretty gowns and go to balls and spend time with mother and… everything that she didn’t get to do and be. She should just… stop.
The time drifted by as she sat motionless. Her mind was blank. She heard her heart in her ears and the beat drowned out any other sound around her. The hairs on her arms rose against the chill, but she didn’t notice. She was one with her heart, willing it to slow, to stop, to end her suffering.
She raised her head, confused. That name… she hadn’t used that name since… since he first brought her to his castle.
She looked around and saw large golden Light Wolf in beige robes, a shepherd’s crook hung from his elbow. His eyes were golden brown, shining bright down at her. His fur looked like spun gold. She was overcome with a desire to touch his fur and she reached out, just to feel it. He stayed still as she came closer. Her fingers brushed his neck fur and she gasped: it was so soft! Her dark brown eyes found his, her brow furrowed, “Who…?” her voice cracked, unused to speaking after so long alone in silence.
“I am the one who loves,” his voice was strong and flowed to her like honey.
“Loves…” that word sparked in her heart though she was not sure why, “Me?”
This did not make sense. She had been used, needed for some purpose, but love never factored into it. She had loved him, but she wasn’t sure he had ever loved her. Provided, sure, cared for, definitely, but love wasn’t in her upbringing. Besides, who was she to be loved? She had no purpose. She was of no use anymore. She had no purpose. So why would she be loved? Her eyes locked to his, now narrowed and distrusting.
She leaned back from him suddenly, taken aback. Tears ran down his face, darkening his fur as they ran and fell in the dirt between them. She frowned at them, her head turning slightly to the side.
“Yes, Sara. I love you. I have always loved you and I’ve always been here. Right here, by your side. I was there when you were in the garden, playing alone. I was there when you first played with him. I was there when he took you away. I was there when he kept you locked away. I was there when he hurt you. I was there even when you gave in to him. I was there.” He took a step forward, slowly crouching before her.
She shook her head, “No. He never hurt me! He gave me meaning! Purpose!”
The tears ran faster and soon there was a puddle in the dirt between them. He reached a paw down into the puddle and mixed it until it became mud. He took some of the mud in his paw and extended toward her forehead.
“I was there when you attacked Silk. I was there when you fought against the Meadow. I was there when you hunted for the sword. I was there when you killed Wolfgang. I was there.”
She shuddered back against the tree, trying to escape his reach but also desiring his touch. And it came. He smeared the mud across her forehead and she felt it cool and wet against her skin.
Her eyes flew open and she saw. She saw him take her away. She saw herself crying in a cell talking to her neighbor, that werewolf. She saw herself in a small room strapped to a table, a stunted rat-like man inserting needles into her skin, laughing as she screamed. She saw him come in, smiling down at her, touching her. She saw herself change, becoming harder, her aura darker. This golden Light Wolf had been right…he did hurt her…
“He, Nis, hurt you so you would do what he wanted, be what he wanted. I never wanted this life for you. I was always there. And I am here now as well. Come back to me, Sara. Come to me and you will find peace.” He stretched his arms out and sat on his haunches, his bushy tail wrapped around his paws.
Tears ran down her face now. The pain was more than anything else she had ever felt. The pain she had repressed and kept hidden for years and years and the pain she had run from since he, since Nis, died that she had let consume her until she was nothing, was now cascading through her, remembered and felt as clearly as every hurt that had happened in her life.
Klisssss. Kliss… Don’t listen to him. The pain is good. The pain is life. Embrace it now and stay with me… the voice snaked up behind her like smoke, he doesn’t understand your suffering!
She closed her eyes tightly, wishing everything to end, wishing for it to be over.
“Sara. You are loved. I love you.”
Her eyes flew open again and met his eyes, looking for the lie. She couldn’t see any lies in his face, but she did not know what to think! He had made her hurt! He had shown her her worst memories! He had shown her what she had wanted to forget!
But he hadn’t lied about it. He hadn’t told her that what happened didn’t happen or wasn’t painful. He had just shown it to her. And, maybe most telling, he called her Sara, not Klis.
She reached out her hand and grabbed his paw, “Help me.”
He nodded and drew her softly to him, holding her closely and firmly but loose enough to allow her to leave if she wished.
She breathed in his smell, centering on his heart beat and his warmth. The smoky voice had ceased as soon as she had grabbed his paw. She was with him and for the first time in as long as she could remember, she felt safe.
After what seemed like an aeon, she drew back from him, wiping her nose with the back of her hand.
“What do you want me to do? What do you want me to be?” she said, her voice quiet, her eyes not quite meeting his.
“I want you to live. I want you to be you. I want you to know love and to learn love. But Sara, baby steps. We’ll walk together and as long as you want to seek me, you will grow to love and grow into yourself. It won’t be easy, but I will be here to help you along the way. And I will never leave you. You can hold my hand as long as you need.” he rose with her, helping her to her feet and wiping her tears from her cheeks and straightening her hair, “What do you say?”
Sara, for she was Sara even if she couldn’t really remember herself as that name, sighed a deep and relaxing sigh, “I think I want that too.”
He smiled and they turned and walked together, him talking softly to her and she listening intently. Baby steps.