The forest hadn’t yet awakened. The sun, nothing more then a half circle of pastel light, gave an eerie glow to the trees, lighting a child’s way. The earth yawned and a cool breeze rustled through leaves and grass. Very few animals were awake. The nocturnal coons and bats and wolves had just settled down and the other animals were not yet awake. The only living creature in the clearing was a small girl. Her age was unclear and her skin was as pale as the sky after a storm, she was almost never out during the day out of fear from her family. Her dark and lank hair fell to her waist, surrounding her slim frame like a veil. Pink lips parted to take in the moist air, she would have been pretty. A scar from her abusive father framed her pale green eyes. It was unapparent from the songbird’s view what she was staring at. The blue jay scooped up some red berries in his beak and lifted into the air. Upon coming closer, he realized she was staring at a limp figure on the ground. She was staring at a hound, one she knew very well. She didn’t think she loved the old creature, she wasn’t sure. It was the first dead thing she knew while living, other then her mother. But unlike her mother, the hound looked at peace. The girl’s last thought of her mother had a trickle of blood next to her temple. The girl had loved her mother, but she didn’t think she loved this hound. She had a name, one her mother had cooed fondly, not anymore. The name, along with her emotions, had been discarded by now, thrown into the mist, never to be heard again. A name so comforting, providing the protection only a mother could provide, gone. The girl was lonely, the hound loved her. She saved it from a brother trying to drown it. The hound was only a pup at that time, given a name by the girl, Salmon. He followed her no matter where she went with determination, like a salmon’s annual trip upstream. She wanted to love Salmon, but she couldn’t allow herself to, she couldn’t be hurt again. The first thing the girl was ever right about, Salmon had died. She wouldn’t hurt anymore. As she stared at the rust colored fur, she remembered Salmon living. All the walks by the river they shared, the scraps of food she saved for him, and the dead animals he saved for her. It was a known fact that dogs kill birds and squirrels, not Salmon. Salmon killed turkeys and deer, even foxes, which the girl skinned and sold for food for the both of them. Whenever the girl’s father hit her, the hound defended her. After these outbreaks, Salmon ran into the forest, licking his wounds from the drunk. The hound’s girl followed him, providing the protection and comfort only a mother could provide. She stroked his trembling hide and he licked her face. The forest finally awakened, but the shadow of death still hung among the bushes. The hound and his girl, the girl and her hound, one under the pale blue morning sky. She stared at the abused hound. Salmon. She saw herself. Salmon. The wind would flow and the sun would bake. Salmon. Finally she left the clearing, fighting to not love the hound, fighting to not be hurt. The dog in his silent death, hidden away from the child’s sorrow, hidden away from the child’s suffering. And Salmon was enveloped by the forest.
May 13, 2011