All that's done is forgiven.
I howled out this cry, hoping beyond hope that Merikh could still hear me and would answer. But as I continued to listen, all that greeted me was silence. As the reality that he was really gone sunk in, the whole world became silent as well. The trees wouldn't speak to me, the bird's songs had disappeared, and even my lone howl seemed to be void and empty. Merikh's scent was gone. I couldn't even hear my own thoughts; the only words that echoed through my mind were Why? Why did it have to end this way? Why?
I was sitting near the river right next to the hollow log where he had been sleeping up until last night. Everything around me was so empty right now. For the first time ever, the rippling river wouldn't calm my soul. The scents of animals were gone and the sound of the wind and river was just a memory. The silence was overwhelming, oppressing. The feathers on the back on my neck swirled around as if searching for meaning in this emptiness.
As I stared into the river, watching my reflection as it cradled the moonstone around its neck with its sad brown paws, I remembered when Merikh told me how the necklace was a gift from his mother. He said it was more precious to him than anything else except for me. He was so sweet back then, licking me, bumping me playfully, and wagging his tail as if he didn't have another care in the world except for me. But when I understood the world, I rejected him. And then, after I realized the truth, it was too late. He was gone, leaving behind only this necklace. Nothing around me seemed to matter anymore.
Somewhere outside of the depth of my mind, I finally heard a sound, but it only served to worsen my feelings. My head sunk even lower to the ground as my ears picked up the cry of wolf cubs from Javid's tribe in the distance, who were born just recently. The cub's barking and yelping served only to remind me of what Merikh and I had planned together. We were going to have cubs of our own and start our own tribe, with both a mother and a father. If the way my stomach felt was any indication, I would have cubs soon as well, but without someone to help me raise them. Now I was alone.
We were so happy just a little while ago. He was so silly when it came time for us to mate, always sniffing and licking me. Merikh had such a funny way of flirting with me. We were both acting just like puppies. We became one and only one. There was nothing separating us, and he told me that we would be together forever. Nothing else mattered then, so why should it now?
It had all started out so innocently, before I found out about his past. I was a newly dispersed wolf, searching for a land to call my own and a partner to share it with. I had just been woken up by the sunrise, which was cascading colors down in a melody that always filled me with wonder. I stretched my legs out, and yawned, trotting over to where I could see the morning's call. As I stared at the sun's rays, bursting forth from the mountains, I began fiddling with the feathers on my brow, a sign of my tribe. I was so distracted that I didn't notice or even smell an alluring stranger nearby. He barked a greeting up at me, and I was so startled that I lost my footing and tumbled down, collapsing into him in a rather embarrassing spectacle. I looked up at this stranger and for an instant, a wave of fear washed over me. Images of blood and bared teeth flashed in my mind as I looked at his face, but as soon as the images had come to me, they were gone just as quickly.
"Are you ok? Hey, don't worry, I won't hurt you." His voice brought me out of my reverie, and I finally got a good look at him. His face and paws were a snow white color, and his eyes were a brilliant green. However, in a stark contrast to this, the rest of his body was a cold black-grey color, as if every part of his body but his face and paws had just been rolling around in ashes.
"Um...yeah, sure. Sorry about that. Hi!" My ears drooped down as I found myself more embarrassed than I would expect when I realized how handsome he looked, especially up close. I found myself staring at the moonstone with beautiful golden engravings in a necklace that he was wearing.
"I'm sorry for intruding if this is your territory, but you were an intriguing new scent, and I wanted to greet you. Are you a friend or a foe?" His voice carried a cautious curiosity that I found to be quite intriguing.
"I'm a friend for sure! This isn't my territory; I'm a dispersed wolf right now. My name is Shada, what about you?" My tail wagged rapidly as I waited for his answer, betraying my emotions.
"My name is Merikh, it's nice to meet you," he answered, bowing his head in a gesture of respect. "It's nice to know that there are such things as friendly wolves around here. I'd love to stay and chat, but I need to get moving. Life as a lone wolf isn't easy, that's for sure."
He must have been right about life not being easy; his body was very lean. I stared at him for several seconds as he started to walk away, noticing a slight limp in his front right leg. As his head turned from me, I also saw that the feathers on the back of his neck weren't black like the rest of his body; they were a deep red. It only took those seconds for me to realize that I didn't want him to leave me just yet. Acting almost like a cub, I trotted over to meet him, making a quiet whining sound and intentionally bumping his shoulder. For a second, he seemed interested and started to sniff me, but then he stopped, and looked down at the ground.
"Look...I know that you're interested in me, but I'm not the kind of guy that you're looking for. I'm not ready or strong enough to lead a tribe." His tail hung to the ground as he continued. "I'm just better as a lone wolf, that way I can't hurt anyone."
My body sunk low to the ground as his words sunk in. He started to walk away again, but I wasn't about to let him go so easily. Getting my jubilance back, I chased after him, saying "Well, we can still be friends, right? Maybe once you think about it some..."
"NO!" he barked out. When he saw how his outburst startled me, he quieted down. "Just forget it, ok? You're cute, but I'd never make a good father."
"Leave me alone!" he turned and began to lope away from me, his face downcast. I began to chase after him; I was too hyper at the moment to let him run away from me like that. As I began to chase after him, he increased his speed, galloping through the forest and the feathers on his beck blowing in the wind. Then, right when I thought that I was so out of breath that I couldn't continue, he collapsed on the ground, his face twisted in pain. I came up beside him, whining my concern. He ignored me and tried to get up, but his front right leg buckled under him. Being a rather stubborn fellow, he was finally able to stand, but when he tried to take a step forward, his leg collapsed again.
"Are you ok? What's wrong with your leg?"
He sighed as he lay on the ground, realizing that he was stuck with me. "It's from a bear attack when I was younger. My leg broke and never properly healed. Normally I'm ok, but sometimes when I overuse it, it just gives out on me."
I lay down beside him, smiling in spite of myself. "Well, it looks like we'll be here for a while. Now tell me about yourself, Merikh."
He turned, looking straight at me with his dreamy green eyes. He still seemed cautious, but appeared finally willing to get to know me. "You first." I didn't mind talking about myself one bit.
I trotted along the bottom of the mountainside, and realized that the rest of the world had become silent to me. I shook the oppressing doubts from my head as I tried to convince myself again that I had done the right thing leaving Shada behind. She's better off without me, I thought. After all, I would only hurt her more if I had stayed with her. It's for the best that I left. I came upon a familiar river, and began to quench my thirst as I struggled with my decision. Part of me wanted to go back, but I couldn't have that. I left her behind, and that's that. There's no good dwelling on the past anymore. If I want to survive alone, I will need to focus on myself again. When I finished drinking, my lone wolf survival skills began to kick in as my stomach growled hungrily. As I began to search for food, I tried to push all other thoughts from my mind, but found myself remembering what it was like a few months ago, during the night I first stayed with her.
After my leg gave out, she stayed with me throughout the night, and talked all about herself. She was so excited that she even started grooming my coat. It started as just licking my leg with the excuse to make sure that it was ok, but then she started licking me all over. I should have stopped her, but I didn't. Although I was trying to ignore it, I couldn't help but admire her beauty, and relish the sensational feeling of her tongue sliding along my fur. Her light brown and grey fur gleamed in the moonlight, and her golden eyes were inviting. I couldn't understand how she would just accept me so readily. I was an outcast a lone wolf who ran away from home at a mere 10 months. She didn't seem to care about any of that though when I explained it to her, and I soon began to be infatuated with her as well when I realized how much we had in common. She explained her past to me and how she was an only child. When I asked what happened and why she was an only child, her behavior completely changed for a moment. Her eyes became angry when she said that she didn't want to talk about it.
My tail twitched with concern as I tried to change the subject, and began to explain a bit about myself. I didn't talk about my father much at all I didn't want to get angry again and scare her off before she even got to know me. She asked about the engraved moonstone on my neck, and so I told her that it was a gift from my mother. I didn't say how my mother was already dead when I got it, and how my uncle gave it to me as her last gift for when I killed my first deer. I didn't explain how my mother died, or how my father mistreated her. I didn't explain how my father reacted when I got my first kill. I didn't want her to know about my past. I didn't want to risk her leaving me because I came from an unscrupulous tribe.
I mainly talked about what it was like being a lone wolf for most of my life, and all the struggles that came along with it. I told her how I liked eating berries for a snack, and how I became a great fisher. I told her about the time that I should have died, but someone came to save me.
I had been without any sustainable food for weeks, being constantly chased by other wolves from their territory. I had finally found a place where I could fish in an area that hadn't been claimed yet, but I was so tired that I couldn't focus. I failed rather miserably with each attempt to get food, and finally lay down in the grass along the river bed next to the lake, not having the strength to move anymore. Then, the strangest looking creature came up to me. Her head and upper body was a beautiful female grey wolf, but its back was made up entirely of a dolphin's tail. She didn't even have any back legs, and although she could still move surprisingly well on land she preferred swimming in the water. Drops of water dripped down her shiny coat while the amethyst around her neck gleamed in the sunlight. I thought that I must have been hallucinating, but soon found out that she was real as I saw her drop several fish in front of me from her mouth. Those fish saved me right then, and gave me the much needed energy and food to continue on.
Shada yelped with glee as she recognized the person who I was describing. Her name was Mondeis, and had been a close friend to Shada when she was grieving over the death of her family members. Our bond became closer as we realized that we had a mutual friend. Mondeis had helped out both of us when we needed it, and had been a friend to us ever since. She lived in the lake most of the time, but came out often to watch the sunrise or help out others. Neither of us was able to visit Mondeis that much, because she was outside of the territory of Shada's tribe and I was always wandering. However, both of us had found her to be a valuable source of wisdom when we needed it.
The constant doubts that I had about myself began to disappear that night. I wasn't about to let a female wolf outdo me in flirting anyway, so I cautiously began to pursue the relationship. Besides, she was very beautiful. And so, I began to allow myself to love her in return. My mistake.
My brown tail dragged along the ground as I walked along the river, trying to make sense of it all. The sun broke through the clouds, and shone through the tree branches onto my face, but instead my body shivered. Even the sun couldn't warm me. The silence of the world still hung in the air as I remembered all that had led up to this point. How could Merikh just leave me like this? It might have taken some time, but I thought that I had forgiven him for everything. How could I forgive him now that he has left me alone in silence? If only he knew right now that I had decided to forgive him. If only I had been able to forgive him right away like I had done earlier.
We were traveling together for a few days, and he grew on me each time I looked at him. His body was very lean and made up mostly of muscle; he didn't have much fat on him. Several scars ran along his neck to the front of his body, but he wouldn't talk about them.
He was so sweet; he caught me several fish when we were near the river. He gradually became more comfortable around me, and we began teasing each other, chasing each other, and flopping tails over each other's back. Finally, one day, my curiosity got the better of me. He was really sweet, in his shy sort of way, but I still didn't know that much about him. The scars on his back and his past were unknown to me. From the way he acted and spoke, it was like he was trying to hide something from me, some dark secret almost like the black fur that engulfed most of his body. And besides, I was curious, and when I get really curious, I can't leave anything alone. At first he just ignored me and tried to change the subject, but one time as I was trotting along with him, my ankle bracelets clacking against my fur, I just had to know. Maybe if I hadn't pressed him then, things would have turned out differently.
I started out trying to approach the subject casually. "Why does that necklace mean so much to you? You say that you ran away because you hated your tribe. However, you seem to treasure that necklace and moonstone more than anything. Why?"
For a second he was quiet, and I wondered if he was even going to answer me. Then he finally spoke up, speaking quietly. "I already told you, my mother gave it to me. She was different from everyone else, and actually cared for me. But..." his voice drifted off, leaving the sentence unfinished.
"But what?" My curiosity was killing me.
"Forget it." The sternness in his voice told me that he didn't want to discuss the subject further.
Well, so much for being casual, I thought. "Look, if this is going to work, you'll need to at least tell me what tribe you came from. Tell me about your father and your family. Knowing each other intimately both mentally, emotionally and physically is what it means to be mates, right?"
"Oh yeah? Well what about your own father? You haven't told me anything about him, or about what happened to your litter mates! Admit it." His voice lowered and turned into a growl as he continued. "We all have secrets that we want to keep. And we have damn good reasons for not telling anyone about it." His eyes flashed fiercely as his mind seemed to take him to a time that he didn't want to remember.
I lowered my head in apology. "I'm sorry. You see, I never really knew my father. At least you had one. I would give anything to see my father right now. You should be thankful that you at least had a father." A tear began to roll down my cheek. However, it stopped as soon as I saw his reaction to my words.
He stopped moving, and his breathing became faster as his limbs began to shake. "Be thankful? You...know....nothing!" he barked out fiercely. "Do you really think that every father is worth remembering?! My father was a monster, I hated him!" He turned toward me, anger burning inside his green eyes. "My mother died when I was just a cub because he didn't care for her like he should."
"I...I'm sorry," I stammered out, my head hanging low. "I didn't know that he hurt you."
"Oh, he did more than just that. His abuse... his cowardice... his disappointment with me... his anger!" With each word, he stepped closer to me, his teeth gleaming with blood thirst. "You'll never understand the hell that I've gone through!"
I found my tail between my legs as I stepped backwards with his each advancing step. He was nothing like the shy wolf from the other night; he was now a terrifying beast. A long-lost memory began to slowly resurface as I saw him look at me, and I found myself looking back in fear. "Merikh...please calm down. I'm sorry if you had a heartbreaking childhood, really I am. But...you've got to let it go.,.right?"
My words seemed to reach him as he broke his angry stare at me, and began looking around the area. "I need to kill something..." he snarled, his voice lower than I had ever heard. With that, he leapt into the bushes and snapped his jaw down with a stunning speed that must have been the result of his constant fishing. Finally, as a rabbit's blood ran through his teeth and his face, he began to calm down. As he ripped into the rabbit for fresh blood, filling himself up with meat, his countenance changed as his muscles relaxed, his breath slowed, his fur stopped bristling, and he once again became the shy wolf that I had fallen in love with.
Seeing him with a rabbit in his mouth began to stir up my memories again, and a moment, scenes of blood and a black wolf began to flash through my mind. The sound of a soft whine of sorrow brought me out of my own thoughts. Where was it coming from? I looked down, and saw that Merikh lay on the ground, his white paws covering his face and attempting to hide the tears running down it. His limbs were still shaking as he realized what he had almost done.
Although shaken a bit from the experience, his pitiful state touched me, and I let out a whine of my own as I joined him on the ground, licking the tears off of his face.
His voice cracked with grief as he tried to apologize to me. "You know that I'd never hurt you, right Shada? It's just...it's so hard sometimes. I try to forget my life as a cub so much that when I do remember it, I'm just...so angry at my father. Sometimes I just can't control myself. Please...please forgive me."
"Of course I will," I answered, continuing to lick him. "It's my fault as well; I shouldn't have brought it up after you said not to. You're overreacting, anyway. We all have our flaws; the trick is to accept them and do our best to overcome them, not run away from them. I know that you would never hurt me."
"But I don't want to become like my father. I don't want to risk the chance that I might not be a good father or not provide for you well. Heck, with my leg, I might even be a hindrance. This is stupid; I should never have let myself get close to somebody like this."
I placed my paw over his back as he tried to get up. I knew that he would try to run away after this, and I wouldn't let him. "Look," Merikh said. "I'm not running away from my flaws. I just don't want anyone to get hurt because of me.
"Mondeis once told me something. She said that 'just as a war is fought, so love is waged inside the heart. Never give up fighting for those you care about.' I won't let you give up right now; we're too close for this. Don't you care about me? Don't you know that leaving will only hurt more than anything else?"
We had been together for only a few days, and Shada already knew my thoughts. I chuckled as I remembered her caring golden eyes. But she was wrong about one thing; leaving was for the best. She would only hurt more if I stayed with her, and I wouldn't let anyone go through what I had to go through. She had no idea just how angry I could get. I tried to shield her from myself and the world, but it was a mistake. When she knew everything, and was free to make a truly informed decision, she rejected me, just like I deserved.
But I listened to her then, and agreed with her. I decided to stay, amazed at her acceptance of me just as I was. After that...incident, we were inseparable. We became as close as the grains of sand on the beach, and as happy and brilliant as the stars in the sky. Even as we traveled, we were constantly bumping each other, leaping on each other, and placing our paws around each other's neck. At night time, we groomed each other, mouthed each other's muzzles, and were always touching noses. As we slept side by side, the warmth of her body made me feel as if I was living in heaven. Finally being able to be close to somebody was the most ecstatic feeling that I had ever experienced. The warmth of her breath, the gleam of her eyes, the flow of her movement and light brown fur against the snow around her; all of this made me happy. Merely the scent of her made me giddy during that time. We were both deeply in love with each other.
Soon, we had found a territory of our own and began making a den. As the time approached, we started touching each other more and more, and were continually nuzzling. When the time came, we both foolishly thought that we would be together forever. It was probably a mistake to leave her with cubs on the way, but they were still better off without me. Besides, with my limp, I would only make thing worse for them. Having no father is better than having a hated and feared one. I'm nothing but trouble.
When the initial shock of his departure had finally faded from me, I found myself sad and angry at the same time. I had always wanted to have a complete family, so that my cubs wouldn't have to experience what life was like without a father like I had. Now that Merikh has left me, I would have to provide for them by myself, and live without the love of my life. How could he just leave me like this? How could he be so selfish? How could he break my heart by just going away? Then it hit me. I had caused it. It was his decision to go, but in my confusion I had almost forgotten the words that I said to him that fateful night. I asked never to see him again.
We were lying together like always, and I realized that I had never told him why I was an only child. I explained to him how I had been playing outside with my litter mates, when rogue wolf attacked us. The only reason that I survived is because my mother came over to us and chased the other wolf off. All of my other litter mates were killed.
"To be honest, I don't remember that much of it; all of my memories of the event are a blur. I do remember that I vowed to never forgive the wolf that had attacked us. I'm sorry for never telling you before, but, well, it's just so hard to talk about, you know? Because of that, I've decided to never hurt or attack another wolf, so that they will never experience the loneliness that I did." I turned my head to look at Merikh, and found an expression of horror on his face. He stammered, and opened his mouth several times as if to try and speak, but no words came out. I asked him if everything was ok, since his whole body was shaking. Was there a bear around? I didn't smell anything dangerous or out of the ordinary. He stood there for what seemed like forever with a look of fear and grief in his green eyes. A tear began to form along his cheek when he finally turned and ran away.
"Merikh, wait!" I chased after him as my mind raced with all that could be wrong. But nothing could have prepared me for what he had to say.
As she began explaining her past, the world began wavering around me. Images of blood, a rabbit, and an angry mother wolf slammed into me and I began to understand the truth. I staggered, digging into the ground to make sure that I was still standing. As soon as I was actually able to, I ran away, running mindlessly until I found myself by a river. I stopped, trying to find comfort in the trickling flow of the water, but for once, finding only turbulence.
Soon, I found Shada next to me, trying to make sure that everything was ok. But everything wasn't ok, everything was terribly wrong. I unconsciously tried to make my body as small as possible as I told Shada everything. I could hardly make out any words as I realized how devastating this was; I was even covering up my face with my paws, as if I was trying to find some light in the darkness of my body and soul. I hadn't realized until that night the she was the one from before, but I knew for sure then.
Life was very difficult after I ran away from home at such a young age. I was labeled as an outcast, and was treated as such from every wolf that I met. Every place where there was food was already taken, and I was forced to live off of little meat and sustenance. At the time when the newly born cubs would be around 3 months, I had been without any food except for berries for 3 weeks. I was so hungry that I couldn't think straight and didn't even care about other wolf's territory anymore; all that I cared about was getting some fresh meat.
The lack of food was effecting my emotions strongly; I was getting angry at almost anything, and for no reason. I had finally managed to track down a rabbit, but right when I thought that I had it, another wolf killed it instead. The world swirled around me as I stared up in confusion at what had to have been just a cub. The next moment I was filled with fury, acting irrational.
"That food is mine!" I snarled, my upper lip curling, baring my angry, bloodthirsty teeth.
The cub stepped back, objecting rather foolishly to my claim. "But...my dad told me that whoever gets the kill can eat it." The mention of the word "dad" was the last straw. Unable to control myself, I went insane. The adrenaline that was the only thing keeping me alive surged through my blood as I became consumed with fury. I found my body lunging forward, and my jaw chomping down on what I only could recognize as food and fresh meat. I relished in the smell of fresh blood for only a moment before greedily gulping down the tasty meat. But my hunger wasn't satisfied, and so I chomped down again on the next thing that moved. And again and again and again.
The next thing I knew, I was being attacked by another wolf that was much larger than me. It grasped me by the neck and threw me to the side with strength that I didn't know existed, even in an adult wolf. I blinked my eyes, trying to see through the blur of my mind what had just happened. When I finally saw the scene before me and understood what I had done, I was shocked. The cub's mother snarled at me fiercely, so I turned tail and ran, hoping that she would be too concerned with her cubs to chase after me.
I had never felt so guilty for what I had done until Shada told me what had happened to her. I was the rogue wolf; I was the one who killed all of her litter mates, causing her to be an only child and never growing up with siblings to play with. She was an only child because of me. Now that we both recognized this, I knew that things would never be the same again.
His story hit me like a ton of bricks. Merikh was the one. Merikh killed my brothers and sisters. Merikh was the wolf that I had vowed to never forgive. All of the flashes came together as I finally remembered the face and body of the wolf that attacked us. His body was black, but his face and paws were white. Merikh.
"How ... how ... HOW COULD YOU!" I barked out, filled with anger and regret that I never knew I had. "You murdered them! You killed them all! Melissa, Alex, Stephen, Emily, all of them! You killed all of them, and for what, food?!" My fur bristled as body instinctively took an aggressive position.
His back arched and his tail went between his legs as he whimpered out "I...I...I'm sorry. I shouldn't have done it. I just couldn't think straight, and...I'm sorry. I didn't mean for you to hurt this way," he added, a tear falling down across his face.
"Do you have any idea what it was like, growing up without any brothers or sisters? Do you know how hard it was to see them brutally murdered before my own eyes? If it wasn't for Modeis' help, I might have never recovered from that! I cried for days on end, and despised that wolf with my life. I was wrong about you," I cried out, tears running down my cheeks as the truth sank in. "You're no better than your own father!"
"How dare you..." Merikh turned his face at me and his voice became low again, but I didn't care. "How dare you compare me to him." He rose up, no longer in a submissive pose, but angered by my words. I knew that I was striking at a sensitive area, but I didn't care. In fact, I was deliberately trying to hurt him. I wanted him to feel how I felt.
"You're worse than your own father even," I cried out. "He might have abused you, but at least he didn't kill anyone!"
His green eyes began to fill with anger. Yes, I thought, he is hurting. I wanted him to hurt. "You fool; my father killed more than you know. He practically killed my mother by not taking care of her, and he killed all sorts of other wolves just because he wanted to expand his territory. He murdered others just for the sake of power. I only did it to survive, and you DARE compare me to him?" We stood both facing each other, each snarling and our fur on end. He looked like he was deciding whether to kill me or to cry from anguish he still seemed sorry for hurting me. But it was too late to be sorry.
My fur settled slightly as I understood the depth of his pain. No one should have to live with an abusive father, but I still didn't care enough to stop. My own pain was way too deep to just let this go. Now that I knew everything, I hated him. I despised him. "I don't care. You're nothing but a monster. You're nothing but a limping lonely wolf that has an anger problem and hurts anyone that he comes across! Just go to hell, Merikh! Run away, just like you ran away from your pitiful family!" His eyes widened with each remark as he struggled with his building rage from each of my insults.
Finally, in his fury at my words, Merikh lunged at me, biting into my fur. As blood began to fill his mouth, I yelped in pain, but attacked him back, slashing at his shoulder with my sharp teeth. He jumped back in pain, and as he tasted my blood, he finally began to calm down, a familiar look of fear and sorrow overtaking his face.
"I...I don't know you, Merikh. And I don't think that I ever want to see you again. If any of our time has meant anything to you, you will leave and never come back. Go chase your own demons; I don't want them around me anymore." I growled fiercely at him, and he turned his black tail to me, and ran away.
After a few seconds, though, he paused, and said "I'll be at the normal spot if you ever think that you can look at my face again."
"Just go." My voice was weaker than I expected it to be. After that, he kept on running. Just when he was almost out of my sight, however, his leg collapsed from underneath him again, and he began limping away, doing his best to move without using his front right leg.
An ounce of compassion began to enter into my angry soul as I realized how much pain he was in. My growling softened, and I turned around three times right where I was before curling up in a ball and crying myself to sleep.
I limped away from her, trying to escape from the reality of what just happened. What scared me the most, perhaps, was that when I attacked her, for a second, I was ready to kill her. I was so angry after she brought up my family that I became a monster, just like she said. The taste of blood made me want to eat more, and rip her throat out until she slashed at my shoulder, bringing me back to reality. Then I stared at the Shada that I had grown to know and love, seeing the feathers on her back stand on end, and her teeth showing her anger at what I had done to her.
I was still in a state of shock after realizing that I was the one who killed her own litter mates. At the time, it was just survival. That's what survival of the fittest is, isn't it? The strong survive, and the weak die off. But if we all believe that, will the world ever become a better place? What about kindness to others, what about forgiveness? Would she ever be able to forgive me? Would she ever even wish to see me again? Could I ever face her again, knowing what I had done? Could I even forgive myself? I was too confused to answer those questions for myself, but I knew someone who could help.
On my way to the lake, though, I stopped, overcome by emotions. I lifted up my head, and howled my head off till I didn't have a voice left. All of my anger, doubts, sadness, frustration, and anguish were poured out in that solemn cry, all night long. I looked up at the moon, and saw that it was waning. God was frowning at me.
I didn't know that it was possible for me to be so angry before, but what he had done was unforgiveable...wasn't it? Of course it is, I tried to tell myself. That incidence where my litter mates were killed scarred me greatly. I realized after blowing up at Merikh that I had never let all of my anger and emotions about the event out before. I had just always kept it inside, trying to forget it.
I had never been so torn in my life like I was then. For a while I contemplated if life was even worth living. I stared at the sun, but didn't find any warmth and life in its rays. I wanted to escape from it all. I wanted to forget that I had ever met Merikh. But at the same time, I still cared for him. I couldn't just forget all the time that we had spent together, and all of the moments that we had shared. He was truly sorry for what he had done. Despite how much hurt and anger was in my heart from the past, when he killed my litter mates, another part of my heart wanted to reach out to him, and apologize. Unfortunately, that part of my heart hadn't won the harsh battle that it was fighting inside me. A battle was going on one of anger versus compassion, hatred versus forgiveness.
But at that time I just wasn't ready. I couldn't forgive him yet.
My leg was still bothering me the next day as I walked slowly towards the lake. I was feeling a bit better after howling all of my emotions out last night, but I still felt lost and very tired. Was it all destined to go wrong like this?
If any of our time has meant anything to you, you will leave and never come back. These words from Shada echoed in my mind constantly. Leave and never come back. Maybe she would be better off without me...
When I reached the lake, I found Mondeis, sitting on a rock and watching the sunset. Every time that I saw her, I was still amazed; this half-wolf, half-mermaid creature sure was something else. Her face was entirely of a wolf, portraying years of wisdom and experience, but never failing to have compassion as well. The grey fur that covered her upper body began to fade as a scaly skin began to take its place down her lower body. Soon, scales, covered her entirely, and a mermaid's tail made up her back. She could swim quickly in water, and spent most of the time there, but could still use her upper legs to pull herself along the ground above water, moving much like a seal would.
I approached her hesitantly, not wanting to interrupt her as she watched the sun rise. Soon though, she noticed me, and turned, taking a good look at my face with her moon grey eyes. "I sense that the sun is not shining on you today, young one."
"Well...it's kind of hard to explain..." But I did anyway. I told her everything. All that time, she quietly listened, and I could tell that she was concerned.
When I was finally done, I told her how I was feeling. "The truth is, I don't know what to do. I know that she's my mate, but I don't think that I could ever show myself to her again."
"Take heart, young one, there is always hope. As long as Shada is alive, there is always hope. Just give her some time, I know that things will work out if you just give it a chance." Her voice was soothing and kind, but I just couldn't believe it. It sounded too perfect.
"Take heart? Did you hear what I did? I...I killed...her siblings...I...how can...it's just?" I stammered, overcome with grief again as I thought about what I did. She calmly waited for me to gather myself before I continued, "I'm sorry, but life just doesn't 'work out'. Trust me."
"It will if you give it a chance. You will never get anywhere in life if you keep on running away, Merikh."
"I'm not running away just because I like it you know, I'm running away because I don't want her to get hurt because of me. Twice already I've gotten so angry that I was ready to kill her. I don't want that to ever happen. I don't want our children to ever have to see that."
"Listen, just as a war is fought, so love is waged inside the heart. Never give up fighting for those you care about. Don't give up the fight. Don't leave her behind. You think that it will be better for her if you leave, right?"
I pondered the question for a while. "She asked me to leave, Mondeis. She asked me because she knew herself that it would be better for her if I left."
"Are you ready to make a life-changing decision because of words said to you in anger? Give her another chance. Don't the ties between you two as mates go deeper than that? Deep inside, I know that you don't want to leave her."
I sat there in silence for what seemed like an eternity. Mondeis was right; I didn't want to leave Shada behind. But right when I was beginning to think about going back, the memories of when I killed her siblings came back. I remembered a look of fear on a young cub's face, and that same look earlier when she asked about my family. Then I remembered her anger at me last night, and her asking me to leave. Everything that we had been through together meant too much to me for me to stay with her any longer.
"I'm sorry Mondeis, but the fact that I love her is the very reason that I need to go. I'll stay until my leg fully heals, but after that, I will let her live her life without me. It's for the best. Thanks for the help; it's always good to be able to talk to someone."
"Wait!" Mondeis called out to me. She pleaded with me to stop, but I had made up my mind. I went away, leaving behind Shada, the love of my life. It was for the best. Wasn't it?
I walked aimlessly down the river, exhausted after trying to hunt all day, but finding it impossible to concentrate well. But it wasn't just all of the running and stalking that was the cause of my exhaustion; the whole matter with Merikh lay heavily on my heart. I still wasn't willing to resolve it, and that had been eating away at me for a couple of days. I knew that I needed to do something, but I couldn't come to ends with what to do. Deep down, I knew what I really had to do, forgive him, but the rest of me couldn't bring that to terms with everything else that Merikh had done, who he was. A murderer.
There were moments where I was laughing at all that Merikh and I had been through. I remembered all of the sloppy and whiskery kisses that we shared. I remembered his warm tongue lapping my face, and his cold wet nose, touching my own. I remembered his alluring scent, and his friendly, whacking tail. I remembered us grooming each other, and our playful chases of each other. At times like those I wondered why I had even left him, and why I had gotten angry at him.
Then there were moments where I was snarling at all that Merikh and I had been through. I remembered his demon-like face as he attacked Melissa, my sister, ripping her throat out for meat. I remembered his blood-thirsty grin as he almost attacked me when I had asked about him family. I remembered how hard it was to get over what happened to me, and when I almost died because of Merikh. I remembered the nights where I cried myself to sleep. I remembered how my mother never recovered, and was always somewhat depressed. I remembered when Merikh attacked me after I yelled at him. At times like these, I wondered why I had ever loved him, or why I had even begun to think about forgiving him.
I was so confused and torn apart. I knew that I had to do something about how I was feeling, so I decided, although a bit unwillingly, to go to someone I knew who would be able to help me. My soul felt like it was ripping in two, and if I didn't do something to resolve this issue, that I would die. My mother was far away, but I knew someone close by who could help me, and who had always been there to help me whenever I needed help.
I passed a familiar hunting trail, and continued on to the lake where Mondeis lived. I wasn't exactly keen on admitting all of my problems to her, but deep inside I knew that she was the only one who could help me right now. Besides, I was tired of constantly second-guessing myself. I just wanted things to be right again.
It was nighttime by now. I came to the lake, and began lapping up water right above the cave where Mondeis stayed; it had always been my way of knocking on her door. I heard what sounded like a yawn from below, followed by some splashing. Then she came out of the water and greeted me, her amethyst necklace reflecting the moonlight. No matter how many times I saw it, I always loved her amethyst.
"Hi Mondeis, I'm sorry for waking you. I just...I need to talk to someone."
"Don't worry about it, young one; I've been waiting for you as a matter of fact. Please, sit. Merikh has been by here."
I hung my head in shame. "So...you know everything, then?"
"Yes. You hurt him a lot when you yelled at him, you know."
My ears tilted forward as I grew a bit defensive. "He deserved it! If he was here, then he told you what he did. He told you how he killed me litter mates!"
"Yes, he did." Mondeis' calm voice was annoying. How could she be so calm after knowing everything? How could I forgive him after what he did?
"We never deserve kindness, Shada. But the key difference between good and evil is if that kindness is showed anyway, whether it is deserved or not."
I turned my head away. "It's not that easy, Mondeis. He can never erase the pain that he has caused me."
"What about your life together? Are you ready to give it all up because of something like that? You can't change the past, but you can change the future. Don't let his past actions make you forget who he is right now. He loves you very much."
"Yeah...I know. But...I vowed that I would never forgive the wolf that killed my siblings, and yet...he's my mate now. I keep on playing everything through in my head, and I still can't make sense of it. No matter what though, I just can't forget what he did. I'll never be able to forget."
"Forgiveness is one of the most difficult things that we are called to do," she said, here serene voice speaking forth truth. "However, forgiving someone doesn't mean that you forget what he's done. What it does mean is that although you know what he has done, you choose to accept him anyway, despite what he has done. You treat him as if he never did that deed. You become one again, and live a happy life."
Shada looked at the ground, as she realized that Mondeis was right. "I just...I don't think that I'm strong enough. I can't do it." I lay down on the ground, beginning to cry again. "I can't, I just can't do it!" It's a terrible thing to confess that I can't forgive someone. But it's true. Every time that I tried then, I remember my brothers, my sisters, and his angry face. I couldn't do it.
"Nobody's pretending that it is easy. Forgiving someone is sometimes harder than anything else. But it's also one of our highest callings. It's what makes us better than those who just survive for survival's sake. It makes us better than simple bloodthirsty savages. It makes us who we are. What do you think your father would want you to do?"
I found myself staring at an ant walking along the ground, autonomously working, just like every other day for him. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that she spoke the truth. "You're right, of course. You're always right. You know, you've always been like a second mother to me, Mondeis, thank you. I...I'll try. My mother often told me about my father, Ahura. She said that although he was passionate and very determined with a spirit that would not give up, my father was at the same time gracious to others, no matter what. I want to be the same. I'll forgive Merikh, and try to make things right." The moment that I forgave him, it felt as if a weight had lifted off of my shoulders. A weight of bitterness and hate was taken off of my soul, and I felt free again.
"You'll want to hurry, Shada. He said that he would leave as soon as his leg healed. It seems that he thinks you are better off without him. He's being terribly hard on himself."
I ran off as fast as I could, excited to tell Merikh that I had forgiven him and was ready to be his mate again so that we can raise our family together.
And here I am. I came too late, only finding his moonstone necklace at where he was last. Even though he didn't leave me a message, the moonstone spoke a thousand words to me. It told me how much he cherished our time together and how much he loved me. It told me how hard it was for him to leave me, but that he thought I would be happier without him. He couldn't have been more wrong.
It's only going to be harder with him gone. I've always wanted to have a large family with a mother and a father, but now my children will have to go through what I did; never knowing their father. However...if I can forgive him for everything else, than I suppose that I can forgive him for leaving me as well. It will be a hard life, but I can still do it. Besides, I'm sure that Mondeis will help me when she can.
Despite being alone now, I still am happy in a way. Although he did leave, and it didn't all work out in the end, I have forgiven him, and will always be ready to accept him should he choose to come back. I still love him.
A year later, everything is still the same. Even though Merikh left me, Merikh and I will always be connected, although we might never see each other again. Although he is far away, on this night, one year later, somehow I reach out to him with my thoughts as I howl at the full moon.
It's been a year since he's been gone.
It's been a year since I left.
Your cubs are grown now, and they still want to meet you some day.
They should be grown, never having to be near a wretched wolf like me.
I should never have told him to go away.
I should never have told her I love you.
I've forgiven him now.
I can't forgive myself.
Although still at times sad, my life has been a happy one.
Although I'm still alive, I'm alone and I've never known what joy is like since then.
If only he knew that I was ready to accept him again at any time.
If she knows that real me, then she will never allow me close.
If only I had forgiven him sooner.
If only we had never met.
If only things had turned out differently.
If only I had stayed alone; keeping her away from myself.
Why can't this just work like normal?
Why did the fates deceive me into thinking that it could have been so easy?
Everything turned out so wrong.
Everything was just a mistake.
I still love him.
I still love her.
Now I'll never know what it would have been like.
Now she's been better off without an outcast like me.
I've forgiven him, why won't he come back and let me tell him?
I can't forgive myself, but it's better off that way. I'll just hurt her more if I go back.
And so, on this night, one year later, I cry out again. I cry out, howling the words that I've been trying to say to you for a long time, but you still aren't ready to hear.
All that's done is forgiven.