Just an Old Legend Ch. 03byTaLtos6©
Helen sat looking mostly at the spot where the wolf had disappeared into the forest. It took a while, but her nerves settled, finally. What was this, she asked herself, what was happening here really? The other human footprints? She had no clue. How long could a footprint last undisturbed there on the beach in that sheltered place? From one good rainfall to the next, she supposed, and she didn't know when the last one had occurred. Must have been someone just stopping by, she thought. The cove was nowhere near the fields.
Her thoughts turned to the wolf. She found a lot of confusing thoughts there, and got up to head for the kitchen. She made a cup of tea, and sat trying to think it through rationally. This had to be done, she told herself, because she needed to come to a decision now. Was this wolf -- this animal - a threat to her? Well he sure was built for it, she thought, but really, was he? She admitted to herself that he'd scared the hell out of her with his appearance there on the beach, but he hadn't harmed her in the least. If anything, he'd tried to be friendly in a way. Well, as friendly as something like that could be. What about the bear- fighting thing? Was he protecting her? He sure seemed to be, but why would he? Why would something as clearly wild as that do anyone a favor? And a human at that? It didn't make much sense, but it had clearly happened.
She still discounted the tale that she'd been told right out of hand, now that she was clear-minded. True, he was huge for a wolf, and she had no explanation for that. She'd also never heard or read of a wolf that had been coal black with no other coloring. She wasn't an expert, but knew that timber wolves do not usually have that coloring, so there was another inexplicable detail.
Well, he sure wasn't usual, she thought, so there. Wolves don't usually try to make one's acquaintance either, do they? But he was obviously a wolf, and a black one at that. Back to the fighting, there had been blood on his paws both times, but she hadn't seen how that had happened, so who the hell knew? The blood down his front was self-explanatory. She also hadn't seen exactly how or why she'd been able to see that he appeared to stand up twice briefly. It had been far too dark to see anything definitively, and the fight had occurred on the far side of a small rise of ground. Maybe he was on a stump that she couldn't see from her vantage point.
Coming back to that, why would a wolf take on a bear single-handedly? Helen figured that wolves and bears would be competitors for much the same food, so it was natural that they'd be enemies, but she couldn't see a wolf behaving that way and actively attacking a bear alone. Her next thought made her smile. Well, she thought, this wolf was big enough to handle it, quite obviously. Unless she now began to see a whole pack of these Superwolves leaping around, it would be safe to assume that he's on his own here. A boy like that, she reasoned, wouldn't have much to fear from bears. Based on what she'd seen, it was obviously the other way around.
Her next thought was a bit disconcerting. What would a wolf like that eat? She looked at her own arm, the one that she'd extended to him. Well, he could eat people, though she could see that sooner or later that would have to end badly for him, or... her eyes opened wide at the thought. There were no cattle on the island. Perhaps the bears on this island were food? Her thoughts were heading farther away from what was really on her mind.
She looked at her hands holding the tea cup. Did she still want this island now? Anybody in their right mind, she thought, would do the only logical thing that was to be done. They'd get up tomorrow, pack their stuff -- maybe not even that -- and just get the hell away from this place. She smirked to herself. And that's if they slept the rest of the night at all and didn't just sit in the corner cowering in fright. She smirked again at her next thought. She herself didn't feel threatened in the least right here. She knew that right after she finished her cup of tea, she had every intention of going right back upstairs and going back to sleep. What was the matter with her, she thought? Hell, she felt like having another cup of tea!
Alright, there was still the issue to deal with. She didn't want a wolf for a pet, but could they just be neighbors? She wouldn't mind him hanging around once she got used to him if he had the side-benefit of keeping the bears away. But she couldn't base her purchase of the place on that assumption, she decided. Not without further indication from him that they might be able to coexist on the island. And that was one huge assumption in any regard, she realized. Well, she had a couple more days to decide before her meeting with Beamish. She stood up to turn on the kettle.
One of the floorboards creaked out on the porch, and even before she snapped her head around, she knew what -- or who - she'd see out there. It still came as a shock to see the size of him there looking back at her through the window. The yellow eyes regarded her with a bit more interest and a lot more curiosity now. She smiled at the animal, and waved her hand slightly. His response was that nutty head-tilt of his, and then his tongue appeared as he panted a little. Helen had a thought, and remembered that the porch was open at both ends as well as the middle. He could just back away if he felt he needed to, so she did about the least logical thing that could be done, but it made sense to her in an odd sort of way.
She got out a large pot and filled it with water.
Carrying it to the door and fumbling for a second, she got the door open and cautiously walked out, talking to him the whole time in a low calm voice. He backed up, and almost turned to leave.
"Aw, come on," she said a bit sadly, "I don't have anything for you here. I'm trying the only thing I can think of, Buddy."
The head tilted again, but he stood still and, she noted, he didn't tense. A big plus in her favor as far as survival was concerned, she thought, though that could change at any time. She walked forward and set the pot down, backing carefully away a step. He regarded her for a few moments, and then stepped forward to sniff at the pot. The mosquitoes were having a field day with her. She felt them, but didn't dare try to swat one right then. She felt the edge of one of the chairs against the side of her leg and very slowly sat down. It wouldn't matter much, but she wanted him to see her relaxed and not as a threat -- not that she could ever manage to be that to him. After what seemed like twenty minutes, he began to drink, experimentally at first, and then more quickly. His eyes never left her the whole time, so she began to speak to him again.
"I don't know what to do," she said with a bit of a sigh, "I have a chance to buy this island, Buddy, and I think I can do it. But I'd have thought the big question for me would have been 'Do I really want to live here?'. Well, I'm pretty sure now that I do, you know? I'm not sure yet how to get through the winter here, but that's not the big issue right now. You are."
She was a bit surprised when he stopped drinking for a second, and licked his lips, but then he began again. "Well anyway," she continued, "I do seem to like you quite a bit, and since you haven't killed me yet, I'm kind of thinking that you don't mind my being around here. I was sort of wondering if we could get along like neighbors, you and me."
Helen knew that he couldn't understand her words, but it did make her feel a little less nervous to talk to him, and she admitted to herself that she really liked the way that he seemed to be listening to her anyway. She was surprised at how she wasn't even looking at him now. She found her gaze looking down at the boards in the darkness and the alternating pattern of light and dark cast by the light in the kitchen through the bars on the windows. She realized that he'd stopped drinking and looked over at him again.
His eyes still looked steadily at her, but they seemed a bit less cold to her as he stepped a bit closer. The intelligence was still in evidence, however. She began to reach toward him again, "I wanted to thank you for today, what happened with the bear or um, bears, maybe, if that was another one. I don't know if he or they would have attacked me, but I know that I'd have probably been in big trouble without you there. So thanks, ok?"
She touched his long ear and ran her finger behind it for a second before scratching lightly there, "I don't know much about wolves and I think you're pretty different from the little bit that I do know, but I'll tell you what, I'm going into town tomorrow to get some things and groceries. I don't think it would be a good idea to try and tame a guy like you, but I don't see why I can't do you the odd favor. So I'm going to see if I can get some big old soup bones. I want a couple to make soup and stew with, but I think you can have the rest if you'd like." She smiled widely now at him and the way that he seemed to take everything that she'd said in.
She began to stand up slowly, "I've got to get some sleep now. I hope I see you around tomorrow sometime." She said it with a smile, and he watched her walk back to the door. Helen made sure to turn her back to him as she walked. Well it had worked the first time.
As she opened the door, she looked back, and he still stood there looking at her. The tongue appeared again as she told him goodnight. Without another word, she turned out the light and walked up the stairs with only a quick side ward glance that told her he still stood there on the porch. She was covered in mosquito bites, but it didn't matter that much to her. Helen's mind was almost made up as she got back into bed, and she was asleep very soon after.
Helen had been right on the money about a few things, one most of all. There was a lot of processing power sitting behind those yellow eyes. He sat and watched her as she went up the stairs, watching her disappear from the top down until at last her feet disappeared. He heard her footfalls on the floor above and the creak of the bed as she got in and put her head down. He sat down on his haunches for a while, considering.
He'd been staring at her for most of the time for a reason that she'd never have considered. Staring and listening to the sound of her voice and the words that she'd said. He'd also been picking up her scent. It had been this that had caught his attention a few days ago, and he'd mostly been following her around ever since, he was so taken with it.
Every person has their own individual scent to a creature with a well-developed sense for it. He'd watched her as she'd worked, the heat of the work bringing out more of her wonderful smell. He appreciated the strange scents that she seemed to add to it, but it was this one, her own individual scent that captivated him to a degree. Quite a degree, he admitted to himself -- enough for him to have stood there watching her over the bush until she'd looked up. He still couldn't believe his carelessness. Up till then, he'd watched her intently as she swam in the cove, marveling at her form. All of that had made him wonder about her, wonder enough to force his decision to walk down to the beach for a better look at this creature.
He'd sensed her fear of him, but it had amazed him that she hadn't lost her mind on the spot in her fear. That she'd tried to feed him blueberries and stroke his face had shocked him. What she didn't know was that he loved blueberries too, but though he'd eat them off of about any other surface, he'd be damned if he was going to eat them off the sand there on the beach, and his mouth wouldn't let him eat them without some difficulty -- not like this, anyway.
He considered the wonder of her some more. This hadn't been what he'd expected from her even now. She'd heard him there on the porch, and again mastered her fear to give him a drink of water. This human female who sat drinking tea in the middle of the night and even brought him water -- all while completely naked. He'd never seen anything like it.
He'd almost snorted when she'd asked him not to take her arm off and again just now with her statement that he hadn't killed her yet. He hated the taste that the flesh of humans left in his mouth. He'd rather eat squirrel than humans. He'd tasted human tissue a time or two as he'd fought in his own defense, but eat it? Never had, and he wasn't about to start now. But this new talk that she was on about, he loved to listen to her soft voice. She wanted to buy the island? What did that mean? He had a thought that it might mean that there might be less people tramping around. He had a hope that it was what would happen. And she wanted to live there? Alone? He thought he could manage that as he thought of her nude form again as one hell of an improvement in the scenery.
He was amazed that she'd thanked him for intervening with the bear. True, the animal would have found her fairly quickly both times, and it might not have gone well for her. Why had he done it? He wasn't certain, but he did not want harm to come to her now that they had seen each other. He didn't want this strange feeling to end soon, and the bear might have done that. Other than that, the bear was just as meddlesome as any of his kind, too slow and stupid for his own good.
He thought about her again, and how she looked as she walked without clothes. He tried to remember how long it had been since he'd held a woman. It must be over seventy years now, not that it mattered.
Listening again, he filtered out the usual night sounds, one by one, until he could hear her soft deep breathing. It told him that she slept. He had a strong urge to go to her now. Just to be there. Just to watch her sleep. He shook off the thought, and began to walk away. As he entered the forest, he remembered another thing that she'd said. Something about getting him soup bones.
He gave it up. He couldn't get the tongue inflections like this. Muscle groups shifted until he stood up tall on two legs in a halfway form that he preferred above the others. Maybe like this, he thought. Maybe if he practiced a little. He'd never really tried. Never had a reason to. A sigh escaped him. Not like her, he thought.
He smiled to himself. "Soup bones." He liked her more and more. He began to walk through the black night a little quicker now, as silent as death, walking to where he knew there was a fresh kill. Her talk about soup bones had made him hungry.
Helen was up early the next morning. A quick coffee while she reflected and then she was on her way with her long wavy chestnut-colored hair in a loose braid. The day was looking a bit iffy at this point, but the ancient dial-up connection that she'd set up told her that storms were possible in the evening. Based on that, and the morning sunshine, she walked down to the cove, but now she kept her thoughts clear and paid attention, ready to change direction at the first sign of a bear. At first she thought that she was being just a bit paranoid, but it seemed to be a better plan than bumbling into one.
Down in the cove, the thin sunshine had already warmed the place in the absence of the cool breeze. Helen looked around and decided that today would probably not leave her time to rent a chainsaw, but she wasn't bothered by a day here or there. She forced herself to wait about five minutes before looking up along the rim, but laughed anyway when she did because she saw him there. Today she felt a lot less trepidation, and though something told her not to, she waved at him anyway, and in a few seconds he trotted toward her across the sand. Her smile widened as she noticed that today his tail wagged more. It wasn't a "Thank God you're here" wag like you'd get from your dog, but she did see it.
She thought they must have looked like a comical pair - the wolf and the woman - he stood listening to her, and she spoke of her plans for the day as she stood with her hands in the front pockets of her jeans wearing an old cable knit sweater over top. She had lots of time yet, she decided, and this had to be the only warm place on the whole island today, so she enjoyed it. She spoke of how she'd be really pleased once she'd gotten the beach cleared, and said that this was what she'd always wanted as she sat down. He seemed to sense the way that he loomed over her and stretched himself out as he enjoyed the sound of her voice.
Helen was prattling on and she knew it. But whenever she stopped talking, he looked at her intently, so she found herself smiling at him and talking some more. At one point, he had his great head down on the sand near her leg, and she reached over to tousle the fur on top. Her reward was a deep and satisfied groan, and he slowly collapsed onto his side against her. His weight against her thigh pinched a bit between him and the ground, but it was no problem to adjust her position while staying in contact with him. She went on, wondering if it might be better to block the inlet with a tree or something to keep trespassers out,. "I did see a man's footprint here yesterday. Right over there. That wouldn't bother me that much, but I want this place to sunbathe, and I'd like to be sure that nobody can just sail on in here in a canoe or something."
He took it all in as he stretched just a bit to push his nose under the edge of her sweater. He sniffed and then inhaled, getting the sweater's wool-ish smell, along with the denim, the fabric softener, and traces of the detergent. He filtered all of these out, and he was left with the smell of this human's soft skin. Thinking about that, he noticed the traces of soap, but it didn't distract him. He reveled in it all, but the moment was broken when he snorted playfully and his nose touched her bare side. Helen's reaction was a ticklish one, and he pulled back when she flinched with a laugh. She looked hard at him now that he'd rolled back upright and looked back at her.
Her expression turned to a shocked smile, "You're trying to play with me!"
He held the look for a moment, and then picked up the nearest paw and placed it across her forearm. It was heavy, but she wasn't pinned or anything. She looked at him and thought she saw a playful challenge in his expression. She pulled her arm free and tried to grab his foreleg just above the paw. The reaction was instant. He pulled it back, but the expression was unchanged, so Helen reached for the other one suddenly. He pulled that one back too and his head dove for her arm. She felt his wet tongue and the edges of his teeth, but he only used enough pressure to hold her. She laughed and pulled her arm free to try for his paw again. This continued until she had to call a halt because his nails were scratching her arms up. He was contrite, however, and licked her hand a little.
"It's about time I headed into town. Thanks for the fun, Buddy." She wasn't sure if it had been such a good idea to play with him like that, but he'd shown a lot of restraint, and it wasn't lost on her that he could have easily broken the skin of her arm with his teeth. Truth be told, her arm was feeling a bit bruised, but it had still been fun. She stood up and began to walk up to the rim with her large friend tagging along. She stopped near the wildflowers to admire them now and then, before walking on her way. Every so often she'd let her arm rest lightly across his shoulders as they walked. He didn't seem to mind, she noticed and felt more and more like she'd managed something wonderful to gain his acceptance like this. As they neared the rocks leading down to the dock, she turned.
"I'm going to go into town now, but I'll be back with food for me and maybe some for you too. I have to see what I can find, but the folks at the grocery seem to be pretty helpful. I'll see you when I get back, I hope." The wolf stood watching as she walked down to the dock.