Cold fingers clutch at my heart, squeezing and making me breathless. My legs tremble and I struggle to remain motionless. My breath pools in my throat, as I clench my jaw scarcely letting a stray whisper escape. I daren’t even let the leaves surrounding me quiver as the moon shimmers them with silver dust. I drop to the frigid ground as softly as I can and ignore the brambles biting my belly.
The moon disappears, shrouded behind indigo and I twitch, listening, feeling…
His feet crunch, on crispy frosted leaves, and twigs break beneath his step, and I hold my breath. Accustomed to the dark, I stare through the undergrowth. He stands, alert and brazen, and I stifle myself as a flood of moonlight touches him from behind the parting clouds.
“You’re not welcome!” he calls, his voice strained and tight, and his stance shifts as he lifts his gun.
Blood pounds and I can barely contain myself. My head swims, and the metaphorical knife he thrust through my soul years ago pierces deep.
I want to leap from the undergrowth, rush from the hedge, but instead I shiver from the passion that rises, from the hot blood that pumps through my veins. I fight the desperation that mounts.
“GO! Go now!” His voice breaks, and my heart splinters. “Please go…” he whispers, and my nerve begins to fail.
I sit back, hidden beneath the dense fretwork of branches and foliage. Then the screech of an opening window shatters the night’s silence and a voice demolishes my resolve.
“Dad, Dad, come back inside.”
He crumbles, and I watch as his defences drop. Fire ignites in my belly and I crouch, leaning forward. A snarl builds from the cauldron of coals within. He glances up at the window and the shaft of light cast down from his daughter’s bedroom behind her gaze. “Dad, it’s not safe out there, come back inside!”
Her voice ruins me.
I stare up at the girl, and douse the fire. Her raven black hair twists in the breeze and vapour, like dragon’s smoke, clouds her breath. I lower my ebony hackles. Her father is lost amid the desire to protect and the urge to listen to his child. I stare intently at the girl, and my eyes are wet. Her hair is caught by the wind as she leans out of the window. White stripes, old scars glow iridescent in the silvered rays against her neck and I bite back the ugly emotion that surges through me.
I got what I came for and withdraw, recoil, and let the frosty fingers of winter grab my heart again. The scars adorning her neck, though old and pale, serve well as a reminder. Sometimes a glimpse is all you need, sometimes love is more than being there, and sometimes you choose to walk a lonely path.
I shake the chill from my shaggy fur and pad softly away, leaving my two loves behind like my paw print trail.
I howl as the cursed moon climbs high in the open sky, then as it vanishes behind a curtain of gloom the darkness covers me and I melt into the night and the hope of the coming dawn.