THE LONE WOLF
Once a lone wolf felt a yen for the company of strangers. Not that it sought what increasingly passed for “intimacy,” by any means. From collecting virtual “friends” online who outnumbered the world’s total population of wolves to casual sex in the moonlight that neither party wanted to remember the following day, such desperate attempts at escaping loneliness struck the wolf as precisely the ultimate expression of it. The same for hushed calls to a sibling you hadn’t seen in years to rescue you from a seedy bar before some foxy young thing’s date came to after being KO’d, got up from the floor, and went for your throat again. No, what the lone wolf sought was at most a few words now and then with a kindred soul who was content to share a mutual respect for one another’s secrets. Something not too far removed from the self-imposed silences that for years had served the wolf as an uneasy truce with solitude. How do you enter the lives of others without losing some of your own, it had always wondered? Or let them enter yours without losing even more? Countless degrees of separation hardly seemed enough to guarantee one’s identity remained intact. Yet why this apprehension? Why did the lone wolf feel unable to relax around others or run in their packs without all the while secretly keeping one eye on the shadow that it cast? Almost as if it feared a moment’s lapse in vigilance might bring on a loss of self altogether in the onrushing gray of the crowd. Then suddenly the desire would come again for another shadow to cross its own and find in their union just enough freedom from the restive life to escape for a time from its own wilderness: those endless spaces where too little could become too much in an instant and leave you panting with fear at what might lie over the next rise yet still racing headlong towards it. Could the presence of another ever protect you from that? From the distant crouch of your own life out there at the edge of endurance? As quiet in its wait for you as the night, and as dark.
Copyright © 2020 by Geoffrey Grosshans