Chapter 32: Change of Direction
I lay on the makeshift fur bed I made myself last night, resting on my stomach lazily with a good size of
the pelt over the top of me, hands crossed under my chin as I watch the early morning birds peck at the
scraps I left on my cooking stone. Dancing around and merrily, eating what little I left behind. The fire
has long smoldered out and everything around me is dewy with early morning moisture. Everything still,
and peaceful, in the morning glow of a newly rising sun, and oddly still. I made it through another night,
and I’m still here, waking with a better mood with every day this pans out.
I didn’t find a cave or shelter last night, so curled up in the bear pelt, that took me a full four days to
scrape and clean and dry out in the sun on the hottest rocks I could find. I’m no expert in tanning, or
preserving pelts, but it works enough, even if it’s a bit stiff and smelly, and it’s worth lugging with me
every day, despite the added bulk and weight. I sliced it into four manageable sizes for rolling and
binding on my back, two for under me at night, spread out like a thin mattress with some comfort, one
rolls up as a make shift pillow, be it a stiff one, and is currently off to one side, and the largest piece I
flip fur down and lay over me as a weatherproof blanket, covering on top of the single blanket I carry
with me. It keeps me dry anyway, because I don’t need the warmth, but I do like the coziness it
provides me, even in caves. It gives me a sense of security, and not feeling as exposed when caught in
a black surround made of slightly rough fur.
I’ve been sleeping a little better since that battle. I don’t know if it’s because I learned something about
my own strength, and it boosted my confidence, or if it was just having some slight comfort to use as
bedding, and the knowledge I did this all by myself, that helps me sleep a little easier. My senses are
not as unstable and panic wired lately, and I feel less on edge.
I mean, I still keep one eye open at all times and stay alert, but I’m not as nervy as I was, and I don’t
feel quite so bereft in terms of low mood. I feel capable, like I’ve gotten through the worst and I know I
can do this. A newfound self-respect in my own capability, that’s changing my whole outlook. Maybe
skinning a bear and dealing with that disgustingness showed me I have way more stomach than I
thought I did.
I’m learning to turn at will too, improving that ability and can almost turn in my sleep now without a
second thought. Easy as breathing the more I do it, and I can sustain it for longer as my stamina builds.
I can even turn singular parts, like my hand, without a full body turn, which means I’m gaining the
control I needed. Like Colton, who uses his eyes to warn when he doesn’t want to use his alpha gift, or
turn fully … I’m learning how to do it. I can physically feel when I make my eyes change now.
The weird thing though, is my paws and stomach, they seem to be whiter than I remember, with each
turn, and without a mirror to fully inspect myself, I can’t tell if I am losing grey. It sounds stupid, but I
think my grey fur is falling out, or getting lighter, and I don’t know why. My legs, I’m certain were fully
grey, but now, my feet are white too, and I don’t know if maybe I just remember them dirty, or it was
dark the first time I turned, but they’re snow white now.
I yawn and stretch out lazily, rolling over under my makeshift cocoon, the rough fur grazing my naked
skin in an oddly comforting way, and turn to gaze up at the clear sky this morning. Almost tropical blue
and cloudless, with no hints of bad weather or rain like a few days back. A great day for an early start,
and as I’ve come up against some uphill terrain in a pretty thick part of forest, I should savor some of
this before I hit the shadows of the canopy. It’s dusky and gloomy in the dense parts and I like to find
clearings to settle at night, so I can wake with the light.
I made a direction change after I set off from my bear battlefield too. Maybe it was the newfound self
confidence in my abilities, maybe it was the adrenalin clouding my brain, but I decided to embrace my
gut instinct and head east, just like my gut kept telling me to do. It’s not like I have anyone dictating
otherwise, or any destination I am aiming for.
It paid off, and after I did a spot check tree climb to see which direction the mountain lay, I surveyed the
land and noted that south was taking me towards clear landscape, fields, and open lands with the hints
of a town or city ahead. East was taking me into the mountains, with dense woods, a lot of lower hills
and cliffs scattered in continuous canopy cover, and a lot of forest to get lost in. I don’t want to be
among people if I can help it, so my decision was made. East it was, and since then I feel strangely
It’s like the stirring aching feelings were not all about Colton, and home, and being alone. As soon as I
hit my new direction, something inside of me stopped praying on my thoughts, constantly filling me with
a sense of wrong and despair. It’s almost like I answered something that had been bugging me, and
maybe I should just embrace the fact my instincts were telling me east made more sense. Which it
does, even if I’m no longer heading away from the mountain, but sort of parallel to it now. I feel like I’m
far enough that I will never accidently stray into the path of a Santo, even if they do come miles for
whatever reason. It’s a big world, and it would be minimal for a chance encounter.
There’s no wind today and I have enough scraps from a deer I felled last night for a breakfast. I
smoked a lot of the left over through the night, in a makeshift canopy I stuck over the fire, and let some
dry out in the sun before it went down, so I don’t need to stop for food today at all. I can eat the semi
cured or dried meats and push on. I also packed enough raw in my backpack for later. Now I have a
goal in mind, and a new plan, I’m raring to go. The sense of feeling lost is momentarily quiet and it’s a
good feeling to have respite in some small way.
Last tree I climbed, I caught onto a large distant mountain, not too dissimilar to ours, with a base
dipped in the luscious green of the forest kissing its feet. I want to get there. The trek looks a couple of
days, and in the woods as dense as this, I can hyper speed with no fear of being seen. There are no
people, but the trees are so closely grown that I may have to take detours into clearings to push
through some of it to proceed in that direction. It’s proper wild land, not man planted and spaced out,
and barely grazed by human intervention. Perfect for a lone wolf who wants to disappear into oblivion,
never to be found again.
The mountain is the goal, and I hope when I get there, I can find a more permanent dwelling so I can
start improving my home comforts. I’m capable of being crafty with my hands, and if I find a cave big
enough, I might be able to fashion some necessary things, like clay pots, maybe a chair from woven
branches. The more I can make my final landing spot seem half civilized, maybe the more certain of my
future I will be. Eventually the homesickness will stop, and maybe one day, thinking about him will go
away too. I can’t deny I’ve still cried in low points, and woken with him in my dreams, his touch on my
skin, his lips on mine, his voice bringing me home.
Those have been the hardest points, where I woke with longing, to find he wasn’t really here and reality
slapped me in the face, the sound of him still lingering in my mind and weakening me to want me to
reach out and link him. Just to hear that sultry, husky, reassuring tone for real. It would break me for a
moment, I’d cry it out, and then feel numb for a while until the sun came up and reminded me why I
should only hate him and never give him more than my anger.
So far, I’ve retained the strength to not open the link and just touch him, even for a tiny fraction of a
second. I don’t want to feel him in my head, because if I do, my strength will evaporate, and I might
give up entirely at a time I’m only starting to come into my own. I need to stay strong for myself.
I’m not going to lie and say I don’t miss a real home, beds, carpets, and all the luxuries of the valley,
but I’m free. I can go where I want, answer to no one, and it’s not like I have any sort of desire to find a
mate now, so there’s no point in being around wolves. My heart will always belong to him, even if he’s
denied it and moved on. I would rather be alone than lie about my love for someone new, just to have
company. Resigned myself to the fact, I’ll love him until I pass, no matter how many years that takes.
I make swift work of getting up and pulling my now dry clothes off the rocks. I washed everything
yesterday and slept naked in my fur bed, in the hopes of feeling less grubby today, less scraping by,
and more pulled together. Washed myself head to foot with the last of my soap, braided my hair into
two plaits hanging down each side of my head to let it dry. I was starting to feel scruffy and feral lately
and needed to remind myself that I’m still part human, and the little things, like grooming, can make a
world of difference. I feel somehow determined, and cleaner, like I have an actual