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The Girl and the Bear
Sooner or later, the girl woke too. She first felt the funny pain of cold, then a terrible stiff aching when she tried to move a little. She could hear the noises of birds and morning and she thought to open her eyes. But it was hard, like they were closed for so long that they had settled, couldn’t be opened. Like a window painted shut. However, she persevered, and soon was blinking slowly, forced. Time passed like this and each part of her body began to wake little by little. First the eyelids, then the eyes, then her toes, and then her fingers and nose, until she could contemplate moving her torso, sitting up so to speak. Her stomach felt the kind of sweat that brings together the hot and cold, her belly shivered though she had been lying skin to skin for several hours. And her bones cracked apart as she moved. But soon enough the girl was able to kneel up, to turn herself away from the tree she had slept upon, to roll over on her bottom and sit legs in front, bent. As she did so she could see her legs were grey and purple with black scratches up and down, dirty brown scratches, black where the blood had coagulated. And terribly white and grey because of the cold cold snow. Her arms too were marked, though less so than her legs. And her fingertips were brown and grimy, nails clogged with black dried blood. She assessed her body.
The girl looked up from where she sat and saw the sky. It was white once again, still high. And she saw the land around. It seemed to her to be bigger, wider, lighter and less untidy than it had the weeks previous. Clearer. Here she sat and looked out for a little while. Until her mind told her that now would be a good point to get up, what with her having been in the snow all night. She thought wise to bathe herself and attend to her cuts, to light a fire and become warmer, to prevent her heart from giving out to the cold. Wait, she thought to her heart. Something made her think to her heart, as if it was important, as if something had happened about her heart. She couldn’t remember. And when she looked down at her chest it was just as it always was, white skin, unmarked, not even marked by the bears’ arrows. No, nothing. So the girl took the strength from her guts and rose up one step at a time, steady as she went. And she began to walk back to her tree.
It was a longer journey this time. Of course, because now she wasn’t running, and she wasn’t on fire. She was just tired. But she came to her home and she bathed in warm water, then once again in nearly scalding water, for she was still cold in the bones. Then she lit a fire and sat some more. And she cleaned her cuts which were red and pink now. And she sat for some hours, warming. She was thinking, and then she was sleeping. And she was dreaming of the bear.
Later on the girl awoke and she was warm and calmer. She looked out of her tree and saw that it was becoming dark. And she thought she saw creatures in the shadow light, but they couldn’t confuse her for she was calmer now. She thought to the confusion and pain, and she looked at it. as she was looking at it she pitied it. any pain that had been inside of her could no longer make her bite she thought. That’s not to say that the pain disappeared, but the girl realised that the love of the two arrows that had stabbed her in the heart was somewhat of a combatant against this pain. In spite of the blood loss they resulted in, the arrows were very dear to her. And she would sit with them a while, no need to be overwhelmed, no need to cry at the confusion. Rather, just sit a while. For one day it was sure that things would be different.
The truth about bears is that they are not such fierce creatures as they might a first appear. Bears can be very kindly and beautiful, as the girl knew from her own experience. The reason for their ferocity is their ancestry. A very great bear many years ago was terribly hurt by a man. The story is that the man came to find the bear in the forest, for he had heard of its great beauty and majesty. The bear was well known you see. Known for his wonderful chestnut coat that glistened gold in the sunlight, and was so soft as to heal the skin it touched, and known too for his strength, for the power he held in his hands. This bear was the king of bears. He was very kind, and showed excellence in catching fish, fighting and running. The fastest creature in the land, no one could outrun him. And his teeth were so sharp and white, his eyes so blue. The clearest blue you’ve ever seen. He was the king. Yet one day, the bear was found in the forest by a man. The man had searched him out, he caught him unawares and shot him in the leg. Though the bear was strong, he was left prone and unable to move, by the gun wound. And as he roared in pain and anger, the man tied him down so as to prevent the king from struggling or lashing out. The man took out a knife and considered the beautiful creature before him, then stroking the fur with the knife edge, and at last slicing the bear’s side, he took a piece of the golden coat. He did not listen to the terrible cries that the animal made, but instead flung the fur into his bag, and took now a pair of pliers with which he plucked one by one, each of the sharp, strong white teeth from the dark pink and bloodying gums. He put these too in the bag with the fur, before wiping his knife and tools on the suffering bear’s leg, and turning, leaving the forest with his goods. The story of this king of bears was told to every new bear since, and for this, the bears now are imbued with a fear and terror which arms them to fight, to growl and to protect.
It is worth remembering this history when you might meet a bear. And of course the girl knew this when she came to love the brown bear and the black bear, though she saw only beauty and kindness.
The Girl and the Bear
The night outside of her was very lovely. It was dark like Indian ink, but the sky was not too close to the ground. The air was very still and cold like it was made up of billions of tiny tiny crystals. And the animals were quiet, sleeping perhaps. The mountains were so enormous to the girl. Water came from her eyes as they were shut, and she could feel the burning up her skin again. Like fire paper. Her legs were pricked all over, heat in every pore. And she felt the same trying to break out of her body. She had to free him from beneath the surface. Her eyes opened and she spat into the snow, fearing she might choke if she did not. But her mouth quickly came dry and terrible again. The girl looked around her, at the tree upon which she rested, at the ground and at the forest ahead of her. She was searching with her eyes, quick, quick, looking around for a rock, something. Something sharp for cutting.
She saw nothing suitable. Her eyes were blind and confused with water and the very cold air. It was difficult for her to see, and all she could feel as she reached out around her was snow and tree, wet and permanent and ungraspable. Yet she just had to free the thing. So the girl took a hold of her leg and bit down. To no avail. Her teeth were too cold and not sharp enough, so she tried to scratch with her fingers. Better. She dug into her skin and dragged her nails hard across the skin. Many times, again and once more. Until she saw her hands becoming bloody and wet, her legs were cut too, slippery with blood and yet still burning, trapped, no release at all. She scratched and scored her skin, but all that lay beneath was blood. Well of course, what was she thinking of? The blood dripped down into the snow, corrupting orange upon white like a dirty, awful stain. Bright and ugly red, the snow soaked it up. And it was cool as the girl knelt, so she stayed a while. And her eyes and lips she felt them sting, and she saw blackness and whiteness in the back of her eyes. And then she saw a knife or a rock. No, it was a knife. She saw it so clearly before her, so shiny and tempting in the black and red bloodshot. So she reached and reached, she put out her arm to take a hold of the knife. Good. And she did what she had to do. She cut out her heart and buried it in the snow. Good.
Some hours passed and the night too. The sun rose behind the white sky and gave light to the mountains, cold and white. And the day was here again, the land showed itself, though it was still covered by the white snow, even some newly fallen. The girl was seated, her stomach flopped upon her thighs and face in the dirt and snow, and around her were marks of brown and red dissipating into the surface. Fading and dirtying. Weak and human. They circled her kneeling body like a star, like a halo. And the animals began to awake in the forest.
Final part soon to come!
The Girl and the Bear
She had become resentful and full of fear. And she was yearning for her tree, but this was very confusing for her because the black bear was full of kindness and had only ever shown her care and goodness. Nevertheless, every day the girl would wake and want to scream so loudly, but she was gagged. She was trapped too, tied up in a strait jacket and unable to escape the consequences of her own actions. Not but two days or so ago, the girl had allowed the bear, encouraged him, to shoot her in the heart, but she never thought that this would be the result. The arrow had become lodged, but her heart had begun to hurt. Hurt with a strange pain. A terrible guilty pain that came to infect her brain too. The girl was so angry and hurting and sad inside. And she knew that it was her fault. The problem was that there is not room for two arrows in one heart, and the girl had already been shot. Two punctures in one heart can lead to a great loss of blood. So in spite of all the honey and gifts that the kind and gentle black bear had bestowed upon her, the girl could not help but feel a horrible pain from inside of her beating chest. The pain was long and dirty and oppressive, and felt like a darkness crawling inside of her mind, eating at her thoughts, and taking away her soul. She couldn’t help but feel that she was doing something very wrong, that although she had love in her heart, it was poisoning her from the inside out. The days went on, for the girl was strong and kept the sense in her mind. Though she was suffering this strange pain, she could still hear the voice of her reason telling her of all the more pain that she might release if she let herself act upon her feelings. She remained constant, closed and quiet. Silent. She kept to wearing the gag and the strait jacket, and she stayed with the kind black bear, trying always to keep loving her friend, to ignore the place inside her chest where he had shot his arrow. Never did she cry out, only tears came inside. Tears of sadness and shame and guilt. And one can get used to pain if one doesn’t cry out. One day the girl became especially aware of the pain, and she thought she just couldn’t stand it any longer. She was terribly confused. And perhaps she ought to have realised, but no, she could not. She could not see clearly, she could not remove the gag, but then too she could not supress the indignation or pain. It was agony in her body. She lay that night beneath the moon, inside of the home she had built, but her mind was restless and her body full of discomfort. Itching and sweating, she writhed. Her skin was hot and sore, and the hurt was burying all the way through to her organs, and to her mind. She tried very hard to sleep, to remain, to calm, but at last her body was boiling so much with the wretch emanating from her heart would not stay still. Like a beast residing within her, he was eating her insides and finding his way out, preventing her sleep. So the girl sat up, she leapt up and climbed out of her tree. She hastened out, fast, fast and she didn’t care that her bones bashed against the trunk as she clambered. And she didn’t care that the air was so dry and painfully cold as to kill. She was so hot. And compelled. So she ran through the forested area, though she tripped and fell upon the uneven frozen ground. She ran to the edge of the trees until she fell down onto the snow, for it was snowing at this time of the winter. Everywhere was under layers and layers of snowfall. White and thick. Too thick even to feel the grass and mud beneath as you ran across the surface. The sky was very dark blue, and very vast and high. The girl stopped for just a second as she reached the forest edge. She breathed in. then she began again to run, following the path by memory, as the floor was only white. Not so fast now for she was beginning to feel the cold eating at her skin. Her body was in part burning, sweating, gasping for air and cool refreshment, and in part numb and frozen, unable to move for lack of energy. At first she couldn’t feel this, or at least was not concerned to notice, but after a time of running, her feet simply couldn’t continue onward. She stopped as she came to a number of trees beginning another forest area, and leant upon a dark and dirty wood, a wide tree trunk, moist and cold. The girl breathed for quite some time. Heavily, and leaning upon the bark. Her arms and legs and stomach were sore and stinging, hot still and itching. And she closed her eyes for a time.
Fourth part coming soon!