I could feel it closing in behind me. The big presence was gaining on me. It was angrily determined and possessive. I couldn’t understand why the huge presence was angry, but I could feel my heart jump faster like it was trying to catch up with something else.
Pulling my attention away from the silhouette, which never fell away, I saw the cliff racing towards me. Panic shot through my veins. But what I didn’t expect was the low rumble from behind me. I looked again – never slowing – and saw the unmistakable golden eyes of a wolf. They squinted, daring me.
I ran faster. The cliff pulled me closer, and suddenly I wasn’t so afraid. I was ready for what came after the cliff.
But the cliff didn’t come.
Instead I was pulled back by the sharp, but...gentle...teeth of the wolf. I was so shocked by the sudden shove backwards, and the gentleness of the hold that I froze as the black wolf with golden eyes caged me in, standing over my shaking body. I shook from the adrenaline and the unknown. What would this menacing wolf do next? I wanted to find out.
I watched the wolf, with his lips pulled all the way back, lick his upper pearly whites. My breath caught in my lungs. I waited.
Then my eyes snapped open and I stared at the ceiling – my skin sticky. Once again, the dream evaporated right where the answers would have come, and the sheets soaked up my sweat.
I lie there on my back for a few minutes, riding the emotional roller coaster. I’m confused, I’m angry; I’m beyond frustrated with whatever is holding the answers I want.
My confusion comes from the fact that the dreams are the same every night. The same scene. Snowy, with lashing wind pushing me forward. Same cliff. Rushing closer as I run for it. It protrudes out in front like it wants to be the death of someone. The wolf is the same. Same thick black coat. Same emotions pour off of him. Feelings I can feel and only should with my mate. And his eyes! Oh gods, his eyes that glow in the dark; gold with twin flames dancing alive within them. He was always after something, and it was always me.
Then when he would hover over me, my back buried in the cold snow, his eyes would snatch mine and I would be under some sort of spell. I would watch as he panted with great heaving breaths, and he would always lick his teeth in agitation. Once he thought I wasn’t going to go anywhere, his facial features wouldn’t seem so harsh and his lips would begin to relax.
His posture would never change, though. Always stiff and at the ready. His snout would be raised above me, ready to strike if I gave him a reason to. His eyes never changed, always sharp with a determination I didn’t understand.
At the forefront of my mind, the dreaming portion, I would be afraid of this wolf I only began to understand as my beautifully primitive predator. I was his prey, and he would chase me until I was between his teeth. But deep down, in my mind I knew there was meaning. I realized after every night of the same dream and the details gluing themselves to me, that he wanted me for a reason only I had the power to figure out. It was my job to help him find what he has been yearning for his whole life.
I think I knew what it was.
Throwing the covers off with a sharp yank, frustrated with the answers I couldn’t find laying here in bed; my naked legs grew goose bumps from the sudden chill.
I began to mumble to myself about all the bad things that could ever happen to me, and I get a phantom wolf that doesn’t want to give me the answers I desire for my well-being. I’m on the verge of going insane.
The more I thought about the dangerous, infuriating wolf-ghost that wouldn’t give me time to have some peace of mind, I became angry; and more determined to find out what in the gods names he wanted with me. Storming out of my bedroom and standing there in absolutely nothing, my gaze snapped this way and that making eye contact with every thing in my living room.
I then threw my front door open, huffing with anger because I wanted some damn answers. Walking with a clipped step through still, silent trees it didn’t take long for nature’s touch to pierce the red haze that covered my vision. I slowed my walking and for the first time since I woke from my dream, I could feel the cool fresh air enter my lungs and brush against my skin, dancing across my shoulder blades. I could finally see the green colored foliage; the sliver of moon shining brightly. Its light bouncing off everything.
I reached the creek, after a walk of emotions bouncing back and forth between anger and calm. Collapsing with a huff that lifted my side bangs away from my luminous blue eyes, I looked off into the distance as I let my heart settle. Then my ears caught the sound of the lapping waves, desperately trying to reach for my bent legs.
Dipping my fingers into the chilly water, it pulled away, but another push of water came towards the rocky shore. I completely submerged my hands in the creek and rested my hands on the bedrock below. My legs were soaked from the damp pebbles and dirt while I had water up to my elbows. I was on my hands and knees with my butt resting on my heels; breathing deeply. I didn’t care if I looked like a crazy naked woman waiting for some one to jump me. I needed this. The waters calming touch, after an emotional roller coaster which left me drained and at the same time ready to scream and whimper with the over load.
Pulling away from the position and the water, I just ended up repositioning myself so I sat back with my heels and calves underwater. My hands carried my upper body weight behind me and I looked up at the sky. I sighed, the water ever so present and thankfully stronger than the presence of my dark thoughts. My dreams that werenít necessarily nightmares.
Then of course the wolf’s golden eyes did inch their way forward to the front of my mind, and the feel of the water and sight of the sky no longer soothed me. I needed a better distraction.
Standing so fast, like I had been bitten, I turned and ran knowing the constant threat of my dreams were only on the edge of my consciousness. As the picture of the wolf’s eye threatened to cut through my soul, my bare feet slid across foliage and sank into soil that covered the roots of trees.
Distancing myself further and further away from the peace and calm of the creek, the darkness of the forest closed in. I could feel the cold, just like my dream. I could feel the absence of life in the trees, nothing to hide my presence from a looming shadow behind, just like my dreams.
I ran faster. My dreams and my reality fusing together.
I knew there were leaves on the trees...they were sparse; but there. Still, the darkness and chill of the wind blocked out the green foliage and the chirps of birds that woke up in the early morning.
I was climbing up a hill now and my gaze became tunneled. I needed help. I needed a different presence to calm me instead of the fur that keeps brushing against my skin. It was coarse and uninviting. I looked behind me as if the wolf was right there, and saw the flash of yellow eyes. I ran faster. Then I realized it was a deer.
I still ran. I didn’t care what kind of animal it was. I still ran.
Bursting through tree’s that were far and few between, I was gasping when I saw her form bent at a patch of soil – her garden. I wanted to cry with joy. She could help me.
“Kaia.” I breathed out thankful. She became aware of me as her posture changed, but she never turned.
“Hello sister,” she responded and kept her hands in the dirt. The normality of her answer calmed my flooding nerves.
I came to stand behind her, observing the work she’s been doing for awhile now. “It’s looking good,” I commented, feeling hesitant, like I had intruded and came here for a stupid reason.
Placing the roots of a group of wild Tall Bellflowers in the hole she dug with her fingers, Kaia looked over her shoulder. At that moment the itchy feeling of something watching me, and the rough fur against my calves washed a glaze over my eyes. Looking down at Kaia as if she could help my dilemma, she gave me this you’re-being-ridiculous look.
I finally sighed and came around to kneel four feet away – on the other side of her garden. “I needed to think,” I spat out before she had a chance to ask. If she did ask I think I would have stammered my way through the truth.
“And why do you find yourself at my garden?” Kaia inquired further, firmly pushing the dirt around the flowers, giving them a new home. I pictured her firm fingers pushing away the demon that was the wolf out of my head. It worked...for a moment.
“Because I like the quiet.” Simple, but we both knew that was only half the answer.
Digging another hole to fill with roots of a flower, Kaia continued her work. I watched her for a long time, mesmerized and comforted by the chore she was doing. She planted all the clumps of flowers she had set aside in all twenty-four holes. Then gave them life, and I figured I should start speaking now or it would get awkward.
“I’ve been having dreams,” I was confused about how and what to tell her. Should I tell her every thing? That this wolf was hunting me, and I wait for him every night because I know he's going to be there. Will she believe me? Is she even the right sister to tell? How can I explain that something is coming, but I don’t know what. My brows furrowed and I slightly shook my head. No I wouldn’t tell her. Not yet.
Kaia sat up resting her soil-dyed hands on her bare thighs, giving me all of her attention like I was going to say something; or tell her a story. She was too late. I decided against it. I looked down at the flowers now, studying their beauty and realizing Kaia had brightened them up slightly. They needed water though. I sighed, the memories of every dream flitting through my mind all at once: gold eyes, Mid-night black fur, and the stark jagged edge of the cliff. I needed to let something out, so that this feeling of the inevitable would ease away.
“I can’t make sense of these dreams. It’s all emotion, and not all mine.” I couldn’t tell her what I wanted to say, that there was also a menacing, determined wolf chasing me towards a cliff and I think I want to jump off.
Then I saw that distracted look cross her eyes and she asked, “Kallan, did you hear that?”
Changing topics, which happened more than often with Kaia, she rose to her feet when I shook my head. Kaia must have heard a tree, the one thing none of us could hear. Kenna, Camira, I...we could not hear the voices of the trees. We were all nymphs of Nature, but only Kaia could communicate with the forest.
I let her go comfort the tree, because although I needed her here...desperately, I also knew while I was trying to tell her my issues she would ultimately be distracted.
When she glided quickly though the trees, my clear consciousness went along with her. I squeezed my eyes closed and whispered “Please, please, please. Why now?” I don’t know whether I was talking with the darkness of my dreams or to the gods who as of yet have not answered my prayers. Apparently they're arrogant asses and like to watch their children beg for mercy.
I tried to call upon the water, and realized I had none near by. I wanted to scream in frustration, and I began to pant. I was the Nymph of Water for Gods sakes!
I screamed into my hand, almost rocking, as panic clawed at my insides just like I wanted to claw at my brain cells that allowed me to dream. The scream had time to build over the past hour, and my eyes rounded more as I felt my own vocal cords strain to the point of breaking.
After my melt down, I firmly placed my fingers into the ground – my fingers reached the edge of Kaia’s garden and I immediately felt water deep down. My mood brightened as much as it could. I pulled the droplets that clung to the soil up and the water reached the roots of my sister’s flowers.
I felt better knowing I used my ability for her flowers instead of anything destructive.
I rested, shoulders no longer tense, as Kaia came upon me out from the trees. She was studying me. I knew she could tell the air around me was different, calmer. I just hoped to the gods she didn’t hear my scream. Kaia bent her body in the same formation as it was before she ran off, and went to place her hands in the soil again.
I watched her fingers mush into the damp cold soil “You gave them a drink.” It wasn’t a question, because Kaia had the proof, and we both knew I did it. I needed the simple action while she was gone.
“I think they missed you and needed some sustenance,” I said gently. I tried to hide the rawness of my throat as I spoke. I hope she didn’t notice.
Kaia looked at me and I think she under- stood, at least a little.
I watched her sit back and grab tufts of grass, stiff because of the growing cold. She was watching me, but I gave her not an inch of my attention. I had my eyes glued to the garden that was now unnaturally green in the bleakness of the morning cold. Autumn was now turning to winter. Quicker than I wanted it to; but one can’t control Mother Nature.
All at once I found a new subject to talk about. That’s what it was like with Kaia. It was never an easy flowing conversation. You always had to find something to talk about. But I still had that sisterly connection with her. I knew I loved her; it was just hard at times.
“Kaia,” I started, not sure what to say next.
I waited for her to answer the way she always did. It sounded so formal to most of us. It was her way of showing love. “Yes, Sister?”
I gave Kaia a strong look across her garden, trying to read her. What should I say next? I wanted a distraction from my consistent dream, but I had to work for it. I watched Kaia breathe. I watched her facial features tighten and then forcefully relax. It was a death. Watching her watch her garden I tried to read what she was trying to tell me.
I tried to read through the heartbreak of the past and the insecurities that shut her down long ago. Kaia and I, we are the last of us. The last to find our mate. So help me gods, if Kaia didn’t find her mate, or a man who could pull her out of her shell, I don’t know what would happen. Kaia may just exist for the rest of her years. No more emotions.
I sighed and stood, placing myself at her side. I reached behind our torso’s and placed my hand over hers in the tuft of ridged grass. “A death?”
I almost pulled away in shock when her heart spilled out her brown eyes, and she rested her temple on my shoulder. I hope she didn’t feel my flinch. As I thought her raw emotion was pulled back in and she was the sister who believed she couldn’t feel and had no future. No second chance at love.
Picking up her hand I cupped it gently between mine and tried to repair what I couldn’t see. Soon her features smoothed over even if they looked cold and rock hard. That’s how she hid herself though. I understood that. I understood her the way I understood Camira and Kenna. I also understood that I was destined to be the ‘mother figure’ because I was the eldest. Something I didn’t really want but grew into.
I used my healing ability...or tried to...but my emotions ended up being triggered and it was the mother in me. Something I needed in this moment, for Kaia, and many others. I touched her with the tenderness and love that our mother never gave her.
Then her hand shook, and my hands were like a vise grip around her fingers. Kaia’s breath seemed to freeze as I tried to sense her fatigue. Instead I sensed her fear and anxiety clashing with mine. Then it happened again and I threw her a sharp look; fueled by the fear for a sister who won’t properly take care of herself. My anger at her rash decision began to boil and flow like a rushing waterfall.
“Kaia, why haven’t you given yourself the pleasure you need?” I put every thing behind the question. I knew she felt the worry, anger and demand that she answer me. I guess this is where the other side of mothering comes in.
She ignored me and the tension in the air only grew thicker. “So how’s Camira doing?”
“Why don’t you go ask her?” It was a hard question, filled with the remnants of a subject ignored.
“You know why.” And I did.
Kaia was hard and shut out from the world because of the past, but that didn’t give her the excuse to ignore her family. It was hard, for all of us, but some how she connected with us and we all connected with her. We need each other and I think most of all she needed us.
Before I left I told her to go visit Camira and Dagon, and figure out a way to find herself a partner.
The dream was still swimming in the back of my head, but I had control...for now.