I wake up to some alarming things. I stare at the steel bottle in the early morning which is now full to the top with water again. But that’s not the strangest thing. No, the strangest thing is the blanket on the ground that contains bowls of food. In one bowl there is cooked meat, though I have no clue to which animal it belongs, and in another there is fruit. Berries mostly with some chopped apple.
I’m no wolf expert but I don’t think they can cook meat over a fire or chop apples into pieces. There must be a human following me, there must be someone living out here. How else is my water being topped up? How else is food just appearing beside me?
Maybe the wolf belongs to someone out here, maybe it’s a domesticated pet. I wish its owner would reveal themselves. I can’t even remember the last time I spoke to someone, the last time I had a real conversation.
I spend some time eating my way through the large chunks of meat. I can’t remember the last time I ate either. I listen to the birds singing above me. Their tunes are so relaxing. Once I’ve finished both bowls and I wait for the stomach ache to pass, I fold the quilt up and I carry it through the forest.
I approach a clearing and I am so happy to hear the sound of water. I push branches out of my way as I near the lake, it spreads for miles and it doesn’t look like anyone else is along the banks. I turn my eyes in all directions before I drag the heavy dress over my head. I pull with all of my might until it freely leaves my body. I leave it on top of the quilt and I approach the lake in my underwear.
I swarm inside the warm water, patting my bruised and dirty skin. The sun is strong today and I gaze up at it as I circle my arms. My energy ceases in minutes and I swim my way back to the bank. I sit for a while in the sun to dry myself naturally before I have no choice but to put the dirty dress back on. It’s either that or I walk around half naked.
As I fold the quilt up to leave, something catches my attention from across the lake. I squint my eyes into the grass, something dark is laying in it. It looks like clothing. My curiosity gets the better of me and I pace around the lake slowly, growing closer and closer to the strange thing on the ground.
I crouch down and I observe the materials that have been left here. I pick up a large dark grey shirt made of soft cotton, along with a pair of thick pants. I stand up and I look around frantically.
I’ve been here the entire time, how the hell did they leave clothes here without me seeing? Did they know that I’d stumble upon this lake? It is pretty close to the hole; it would be a fair assumption that I’d find it.
Whoever it is, I’m grateful.
I take my dress off again and I change into the clean and soft clothes. I bring the shirt up to my nose, inhaling a large scent of something sweet. I frown as I glance over my wedding dress. It really is beautiful and its multiple layers have probably kept me alive for the first two days but I have to part with it. I bury it as deep as I can underneath the grass, even if Lyle or his army find it, I’ll hopefully be long gone by then.
Walking without the weight of the dress pulling me down is definitely easier. I glide through the woods quickly. I’m hoping to cover even more ground today. I’ll be at the mountain by tomorrow.
I stop to take several breaks which I probably shouldn’t have done because now I’m behind with finding shelter for the night. It’s getting dark and I’m still surrounded by trees with no sign of holes or nests. I’m becoming agitated and paranoid. Every movement, no matter if it’s in the sky or on the ground, makes me breathe heavier as I near to having a panic attack.
I squeal as I meet the glowing amber eyes of something in the near distance. I relax as the wolf comes towards me. It cocks its head sideways and then starts walking in a different direction to the one I was planning on travelling. It turns around and growls at me.
“You want me to follow you?” I say. “But I was going to. . .” I point to the left.
The wolf growls again, snapping its teeth.
I humour it and I follow it along a narrow path. We walk for a short distance and then the wolf stops at an opening to what looks like a cave. It brought me to shelter. How does a wolf know that I need shelter? How does it know the needs of a human at all?
“Is your owner around here?” I ask it. “Can you take me to them?”
The wolf twists its head at me as it sits, giving me this bizarre look as though I’m talking crazy.
“There must be another human around here somewhere, right? Unless you are the one that keeps leaving me water and food. Tell them to come and talk to me, I’d like to thank them. Well. . . you can’t tell them but you know what I mean. Or can you?” I rub my head. “This is so confusing.”
The wolf makes a small puffing noise as I enter the cave. I cannot see a thing and that might be for the best because I can hear something scurrying away from me. I strangely feel safer with the wolf outside. I can see the glint of its eyes when it occasionally turns its head to investigate a noise. Its eyes are so bright, it’s like looking up at the sky and seeing stars. If it wasn’t for that glow then I’d assume that it has left but it stays outside the cave, almost like it’s guarding it.
I take a big sip of the water before I roll myself into the quilt and fall asleep.