The Bear with Pale Fur

Bear 1

 “you came and I was crazy for you and you cooled my mind that burned with longing”

In the forest on the west side of the island there was a deep woodland grove filled with life and excitement. There were animals and creatures, who had made the woods their home and they lived in peace among the trees and plants. In the fresh, moist soils the chokecherry trees grew, dark and slender under the oppressive skies. There were currant bushes with red, black and white berries, which became rich purple as they ripened under the warm sun, and cottonwood trees plentiful with white fluffy catkins, standing a hundred years old near the banks of the rivers. The woodland was made deep blue with fine spruces littering the forest floor and tall with golden aspens creating a vibrant canopy, home to birds and mammals of all kinds. Woodpeckers induced a cacophony of music in the trees, tapping on the bark to release the sap and feasting on beetles and larvae. At night, red foxes roamed the woods, listening for prey, hunting for frogs, insects and fallen apples, and by day garter snakes crawled through the earth, searching for worms and leeches, and hiding from predators. The forest housed thousands of honeybees, who produced the sweet golden ingredient that fed so many inhabitants of the land. They clustered around their hives, drones and workers all fast and busy, working for their queen.

In the forest life abounded and there were creatures of all sizes living side by side. There was a girl who lived alongside the flora and fauna. Her name was Agnótita and she was wild and beautiful, the most beautiful of the daughters of the forest. She was strong and smart and had dark eyes and long chestnut hair. Her skin was white and pure and from it drew deep red blood when she cut herself on thorns and branches.

With her home the forest, Agnótita made use of her skills in finding food and shelter. She lived inside a tree, which sheltered her from the storms that from time to time hit the island, but she was missing one thing that she longed for. She yearned for a companion. One day in the early morning Agnótita saw through a crack in the trees a tall upright shape, a figure. She was intrigued and came closer to see more clearly the person she had glanced. Immediately, on seeing clearly the figure standing before her, Agnótita fell in love. She longed to hold the bear with pale fur.

He was tall, present, and covered with a golden fur, which glinted under the early morning sunshine. He moved slowly and his pale fur was almost luminous as he did so. Agnótita found the bear and he too fell in love with her. But circumstances dictated that they could not be together. He was an animal, fierce and wild, and she was a mere mortal woman. Nevertheless, the pair decided they could not be apart. They hid in secret inside the tree that was home to Agnótita, the bear cradled his love, squashed and cramped against the branches and leaves.

For Agnótita knew that the bear was indeed a man trapped inside the body of bear. She knew that tragedy had befallen him and he was doomed to live out the rest of his days as the bear with pale fur. She did not care what he had done to incur the wrath of the gods which turned him into a bear, she cared only for he man she loved and decided to stay with him, hiding out of sight. The pair lived together for years until Agnótita grew old and frail, and eventually died. She was turned into a sycamore tree on the edge of the forest. This broke the bear’s heart once again and he roamed the forest day and night trying to glimpse the woman he had loved, but finding only a tree where she used to be.

The Girl and the Bear

The Girl and the Bear

Third Part

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.

Brown Bear

Fourth part coming soon!