Maria taught me to read not long after she found me bleeding and veiled behind bushes; the hunter’s failed target. I had arrows in my arms and one in my chest reminding me of how often I’d be hunted if I stayed on the reserve. She slowly plucked them from my skin, took my limp body in her arms, and sprinted, a complete blur. Maria’s curls blew effortlessly in the winds, a few twigs and dandelion heads finding their way in, caught but satisfied in their refuge. The most beautiful thing I had ever seen, I was caught just the same.
Twenty years ago I was left to wander. I spoke none, ate all, sprawled out on grasses with the sun warming my pale, nude skin, while the wolves protected and raised me. I had the freedom to run with nowhere to go, merely the fear of hunters entertaining their egos.
Cackles and grunts turned to shushing. With the men unable to locate my body, they kept shooting arrows until others had suffered in my place. Maria nursed me to health, gave me literature, and food lacking the tang of mud, while my pack lay dying on the reserve. She remained with me in natures of her own, and held my gently healing wounds. As we slumped in new grasses, I thought of loving her wholly, my hands in her hair replacing the twigs, those that once were; when she was just a girl, and I was but a wolf.