“For the two of us, home isn’t a place. It is a person. And we are finally home.” – Stephanie Perkins
I lightly hit the cushioned snow covered floor as I ran forward. The bottom of my paws became damp until they felt numb from the wind nipping at me. The cold air flew against my body, trying miserably to slow me down. My dark brown fur with specks of black whipped back and forth in the winter winds that cooled my heated body. This weather didn’t stand a chance against me. The snowflakes clinging for dear life on my fur tried to strike a shiver through my body. There was a fire coursing through me, keeping me warm against the toughest days.
I pushed my aching legs further into the dense woods. I felt the muscles in my shoulder blades pressing against each other every time I brought my heavy paws down on the snow. My ears that normally twitched, able to hear anything for miles, were pressed snugly on the top of my head so the wind wouldn’t bother them. I narrowed my eyes to prevent any snowflakes to get past my long eyelashes that also had small snowflakes hanging down over me.
I let out a puff of air through my black nose and saw the warm air rise until the cold temperature seized it. As I swerved my body in and out of the tall trees bare of leaves in my path, I heard an even howl break through the comfortable silence. The sudden noise caught me off guard, causing my constant pace falter. I craned my neck backwards to see a pale white wolf appear miraculously next to me. Her electric blue eyes, standing out from the bland colors around us, connected with my caramel colored ones for a second. She had a speck of snow resting on her light brown snout that she didn’t seem to care about. She tilted her head to observe me for a second before were off, running towards nothing in particular.
The majestic white wolf ran next to me without any effort. She was used to rapidly moving between tree trunks to keep pace. Trying to be playful, she knocked her slim body against my shoulder. I nearly ran into a bush blanketed by pointed thorns and untouched snow if I didn’t move my hind legs in time. Practically tripping over my own paws, I stopped running. An irritated growl escaped my mouth before I could think twice about it, echoing before it became beautifully silent once again. I showed her my teeth as if daring her mess with me. With an annoyed exhale of the freezing air in my lungs, I turned my head away from her. In order to keep my thoughts occupied, I ran again and looked at the world around me.
My eyes crawled up the dull grey tree trunks bare of life and beauty. The sky above the trees were painted with white clouds overlapping each other, creating the look of a quilt, keeping our world warm enough to survive the winter.
I listened to the small animals scurrying on the ground, eager to get away from life’s dangers lurking after them. I heard the soft, barely audible, sound of the white wolf inhaling and exhaling through her nose. Our racing hearts beat rapidly until they became perfectly in sync with each other. We slowed our legs until we were strolling beside each other. Her graceful steps hardly made a paw print in the frozen ground while mine made deep marks, showing anyone where I have been. I noticed on the tips of her clean coat were drops of crimson blood, standing out brightly against her perfection.
She went hunting, I thought to myself. My stomach perked up at the thought of food. My deadly claws, ready to strike, came out, waiting for an animal to cross my path.
The sound of our footsteps stopped once we were at the edge of the forest where a cliff went down into an abyss of fog. My claws grabbed onto the edge of the smooth rocks from where I sat. The white wolf brushed up against me softly. She nuzzled her snout into the crook of my shoulder, breathing out her heated air onto my fur. My nose twitched out of habit from her gentle touch. I turned my body, causing her soft nose to press into the scruff of my neck where she let out a gentle growl rumble through her lithe body.
I kept my eyes trained on the world in front of me rather than on the wolf beside me. I looked at the snow surrounding us, cushioning the hard ground we slept on every night when the sky was littered with twinkling stars. I listened to the breeze whistling softly in my ears. I smelled the musty wood smell that clung in the air throughout the year.
Lightly, I scooted my paw on the ground to move the snow so I was able to touch the rough ground. I was so familiar with this land under me. The ground I have never left for my entire life. The ground that I was in charge of no matter what. The ground where my pack lived.
Humans called home a building they lived in where they were warm and safe at all times. To me, home was this forest around me. It was where I could run as fast as I could until my heart cried for a second of rest. It was where I could howl at night, waiting for my pack to find me on the edge of the forest where a fresh breeze calmed me down.
Home wasn’t a building to me. Home was this forest. It was where I was free to do as I pleased with the wolves I took care of. I protected this home with my life. I memorized every inch of this land. I knew each rock and tree almost as good as I knew my pack.
I tilted my head towards the white wolf that was resting by my side. Her legs rested on the ground along with her head. Her pointed ears twitched slightly, knowing my gaze was on her. She didn’t turn around to face me; she was perfectly content gazing at the fog crawling up the edge of the cliff.
Breathing out another warm breath of air, I rested my head on my paws laid out in front of me. The heat radiating off of the white wolf’s body warmed up my body, and for a moment it felt as if it was summer again. I swished my tail slowly on the ground and closed my eyes, enjoying the peacefulness the forest gave off. I breathed in the fresh air the forest gave off that I never got used to. Easily I imagined the exact layout of the forest without even trying. I felt like I was in my own world without any cares or worries. Nothing could ruin this moment. Nothing mattered.
My eyes were still shut when I felt the white wolf come closer into my side. Her body was much smaller than mine considering I was the alpha of the pack. She let out a soft huff of air and moved her head so it was resting by my front legs. I lifted my head and placed it above the white wolf’s soft furry neck. She easily blended in with the snow around us while I could easily vanish in with the trees behind us. We were both able to disappear into this forest where we could do anything. Resting my head down lightly on her fur covered in drops of blood, I let a small purr crawl out my throat.
We both breathed in small breaths until I heard her soft heartbeat slow down, telling me she had fallen asleep. My tail swished and I let my heart beat slow down along with the white wolf’s heart. As much as the woods were my home, this petite wolf who was playful, agile, and entrancing was all I needed. She was the only thing I would give up my life for. She was the one I would protect with my life. She was my life. She was my home. Wherever she was, I would be next to her. As long as I was with her, I was home, and that’s all that mattered in the moment.