Howling in the night. The cries of conflict. The cries of mating and socialization, too. The cries, also, of loneliness. The cries, in fact, of those who have a lot to say.
I sat on the porch and listened to those cries. My cigar lay on the railing, as half-forgotten as the glass of whiskey at my elbow.
I had no time for such, the appurtenances of civilization; the cries were too much. The wolves were there, at my door.
For too long I had ignored them. For too long I had tried to live as folks told me I should. And, for too long, I had failed.
Oh, there had moments of success; moments of highs to beat any endorphin or drug. But also there had been lows; the lows of pain and loss. The lows that not even your family wants to hear about.
For far too long those lows had drowned out what was important, in fact.
A stumble, it took. A tripping fall into a brook, and a string of curse words to make the universe itself blush. I had looked up, then…
I had looked up into the blue, blue eyes of a wolf…
A shake of her head — as frustrated with me as I was with myself, I guessed — and she turned and walked away.
No queen on her throne had half the presence of that wolf. Animals, we call them. Animals who will break their own bodies to help their packmates escape bonds we would find inescapable. Animals who, in no uncertain terms, put the good of the pack’s children ahead of their own. Animals who, when you get right down to it, have more humanity than do we.
I sat there, then, and listened to those cries.
I listened, and I thought back over my life. I thought back over the years and decades, over the opportunities lost and the roads not taken. I thought, also, of all those lost along the way.
A drag on the cigar, then, and a deep gulp of the whiskey, and I joined the howling. I had lost, too…