It was winter’s night, with dusted snow sitting on the hard and frozen soil like powder. The tangled trees were weighted down by patches of it, making way for little light to pass through and shine on the three moving shadows in the late hour. They moved swiftly through the snow, taking care not to snap any twigs or make any noise.
One paused in protest to listen, as if it had heard a sound, and when nothing but a bird flapped its wings and flew away, continued on its way with the other two behind. It was an odd way to be walking, to be on all fours, but perhaps it was normal for pups, for they never made a move to stand on their hind legs or to even stand at all. The night was chilly, and the wind blew through their thick fur, ruffling it. The smaller shadows shivered, for their fur wasn’t thick enough yet to warm them in the chilly evening.
One stumbled and fell, letting out a small shriek that soon turned into a quiet roar. Curious creatures, bears.
The largest shadow towered over the smaller form, and bent its head to grab at the youngest’s fur, and when she looked up, the youngest dangled; its fur caught in-between her teeth, though unharmed. Suddenly the clouded skies shone brightly, with the moon at its fullest, to reveal a large brown furred bear, and two smaller forms hunched together in a small ball.
Then the eldest shook herself, starting to walk lazily once more with her pups behind her. They had barely taken a few steps before a bang ran throughout the eerie forest, and the mother, now panicked, quickly made to grab for her children.
But another bang rang out, startling her. and then another, and then another, until the terrifying sound was just behind them. When the last one rang, it took a few moments for the eldest to realize it had been gunshot, for blood poured out of her chest, and she nuzzled her children with a weak wail, and hit the hard soil. The pups wailed loudly, but stopped midway at the sound of a twig snapping, and took off running farther into the knotted branches of the forest and didn’t glance back a single time.
A few days later, the pups had found themselves out of the forest and resting on a sidewalk, and just as they were starving and weak enough for their legs to shake every time they stood, a blond-haired girl just happened to pass by while going to school, and saw the poor creatures.
They were curled up on the ground, shivering slightly from the skin piercing wind. The girl had a surprisingly soft spot for animals, and grabbed at her bag, searching it wildly for her ham and cheese sandwich. She had been saving it for lunch, but the little fellas looked like they needed it more.
They perked up in joy as she threw the sandwich on the hard soil. The second it had hit the ground, the pups were attacking it, and moments later only bread crumbs were left over. Their beady black eyes bore through her, and she gently neared their small and thin forms.
They shied away from her outstretched hand at first, but then were more comfortable and stood their ground, and the girl ruffled their fur affectionately with a beaming face. The soft hairs on the small bears felt soft to the touch, only making her want to touch it more.
But before she did, her golden eyes fell on her watch, and she took away her hand and leaned down to kiss their furs each goodbye. She started running away from the tangled trees of the forest which cast long, towering shadows on her retreating form.
She did not know if she would see the bears again, but her attention was on them the whole day, and she did not remember a single lesson. At night she tossed around restlessly, unable to sleep without knowing their well-being. So, she stared blankly at the wall.
Irritated, she trudged to the window and swung it open to get air, and found the moon with its usual chain of glittering stars surrounding it.
Every night since she was small, she would open her window and admire the stars, and found she had forgotten to do that tonight, so she started to count them one by one in hopes of keeping occupied. Her eyes wandered to her hand, and she clenched and Unclenched it as if coming to a decision.
She grabbed her knapsack which sat on the green bedside table, snuck to the kitchen and grabbed some raw meat from the freezer, and then tip-toed back to her room.
However, as she was nearing the blue doorway of her bedroom, she felt a floorboard creak beneath her and stopped, listening for any noises of stirring. And when nothing but the occasional light snores of her parents sounded in her ears, she carefully trotted the rest of the way to her bedroom and climbed out the windowpane.